Tag Archives: Nicole Melleby

October 2023 Deal Announcements

Adult Fiction

Sunday Times-bestselling author of A MARVELLOUS LIGHT Freya Marske‘s SWORDCROSSED, pitched as Ellen Kushner’s SWORDSPOINT meets LEGENDS & LATTES; a second novel pitched as Grey’s Anatomy meets A DEADLY EDUCATION; an untitled novel; and an untitled novella, to Ruoxi Chen at Tor, in a six-figure deal, in a four-book deal, for publication in fall 2024, by Diana Fox at Fox Literary (US).

Continue reading October 2023 Deal Announcements

New Releases: March 2023

Scoreless Game by Anna Zabo and L.A. Witt (1st)

Scoreless Game (On the Board Book 2) by [Anna Zabo, L.A. Witt]At nearly thirty-one years old, Pittsburgh Griffins captain Elias Karlsson’s hockey years are numbered. Everything is changing around him, including his eleven-year friendship with Nikolai Sidorov. Elias would give anything for Nisha to be a permanent part of his life, but their once bedrock-strong bond has broken into a million pieces, and Elias doesn’t know why. More than anything, Elias wants his friend back, but if that isn’t an option, maybe it’s time for him to look outside of hockey for someone to be there with him when hockey isn’t an option anymore.

Nisha’s world is splintering apart. He’s been in love with his two best friends for years, but now one of them has someone. The other, Elias, is searching for everything Nisha wishes he could give him… but he’s looking for it in anyone but Nisha. The farther his friends slip away, the deeper the loneliness sinks in and the bleaker his empty future looks. What can he do but numb the pain in the only ways he knows how?

On the eve of the season opener, Nisha’s unexplained absence threatens the cohesion of the team and puts him and Elias on a collision course of strong wills, broken hearts, and shattered trust. In the end, they may lose the very thing that matters most to them both: each other.

Buy it: Amazon

Boy Like Me by Simon James Green (2nd)

Boy Like Me (Paperback)In the margins of a book’s pages, sparks fly as a teenage romance begins. But in this time and place, sparks like that can only ignite trouble.

It’s 1994 and thanks to Section 28, there can be no mention of gay relationships in UK schools. When a kind librarian leads Jamie to a disguised novel in the library that reflects his own confused feelings towards boys, Jamie sees that he’s not the only one who has checked the book out. Will Jamie and this mystery boy have the courage to meet – and if they do, what will it take to hold on to each other?

Buy it: Bookshop UK | Waterstones

City of Secrets by Alex London (7th)

This is the third book in the Battle Dragons series

City of SecretsIn a modern mega-city built around dragons, one boy gets caught up in the world of underground dragon battles and a high-stakes gang war that could tear his family apart.

Banished from Drakopolis to a desolite frontier town, Abel and his family must face a harsh new reality: life without dragons. Far from the lights and lizards of the megacity, Abel’s new home effectively bans the creatures. Anyone caught smuggling dragons are hauled away by the ruthless sheriff.

The only exceptions to this rule are the dragon rodeos, rare occasions where dragons are brought in from the city to perform for the town’s mining families.

Abel has made it his mission to free mistreated dragons from captivity. Is he willing to risk everything to help the beleaguered beasts?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Immeasurable Depth of You by Maria Ingrande Mora (7th)

How do you face your fears when everything is terrifying?

Fifteen-year-old Brynn can’t stop thinking about death. Her intrusive thoughts and severe anxiety leave her feeling helpless—and hopeless. So after her mom interprets one of Brynn’s blog posts as a suicide note, she takes extreme measures, confiscating Brynn’s phone, blocking her Internet access, and banishing her to stay with her father who lives “off the grid” on a houseboat in the Florida mangroves. Isolated from her online friends—her only friends—Brynn resigns herself to a summer of mind-numbing boredom and loneliness… until Skylar appears.

Skylar is everything Brynn isn’t—sultry, athletic, and confident. Yet Brynn feels at home around this fearless girl who pushes her to try new things and makes her belly flutter with nerves that have nothing to do with anxiety. When Brynn discovers that Skylar is trapped in the bayou and can’t tell her why, she resolves to free her new crush from the dark waters, even if it means confronting all of her worst fears.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

My Dear Henry by Kalynn Bayron (7th)

A teen boy tries to discover the reason behind his best friend’s disappearance―and the arrival of a mysterious and magnetic stranger―in misty Victorian London, in Kalynn Bayron’s My Dear Henry, a gothic YA remix of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, sixth in the Remixed Classics series.

London, 1885. Gabriel Utterson, a 17-year-old law clerk, has returned to London for the first time since his life― and that of his dearest friend, Henry Jekyll―was derailed by a scandal that led to his and Henry’s expulsion from the London Medical School. Whispers about the true nature of Gabriel and Henry’s relationship have followed the boys for two years, and now Gabriel has a chance to start again.

But Gabriel doesn’t want to move on, not without Henry. His friend has become distant and cold since the disastrous events of the prior spring, and now his letters have stopped altogether. Desperate to discover what’s become of him, Gabriel takes to watching the Jekyll house.

In doing so, Gabriel meets Hyde, a a strangely familiar young man with white hair and a magnetic charisma. He claims to be friends with Henry, and Gabriel can’t help but begin to grow jealous at their apparent closeness, especially as Henry continues to act like Gabriel means nothing to him.

But the secret behind Henry’s apathy is only the first part of a deeper mystery that has begun to coalesce. Monsters of all kinds prowl within the London fog―and not all of them are out for blood…

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Lies We Sing to the Sea by Sarah Underwood (7th)

59470553Each spring, Ithaca condemns twelve maidens to the noose. This is the price vengeful Poseidon demands for the lives of Queen Penelope’s twelve maids, hanged and cast into the depths centuries ago.

But when that fate comes for Leto, death is not what she thought it would be. Instead, she wakes on a mysterious island and meets a girl with green eyes and the power to command the sea. A girl named Melantho, who says one more death can stop a thousand.

The prince of Ithaca must die—or the tides of fate will drown them all.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

So You Want to Be a Popstar? by Zachary Sergi (7th)

61398983Everly Brooks knows she has what it takes to be the next big singer-songwriter. At least, that’s if she could get her onstage presence to stop feeling so wooden and blossom like her rich, moving lyrics. The reality signing competition, SO YOU WANNA BE A POP STAR? is her chance at proving to the world—and herself—that her talent and artistry can mean something more than just live streams and online videos.

Vinny Vecchi thought he was heading toward a life full of makeup, wigs, and werking it on the drag stages of NYC. But a powerful diva voice is a precious thing to waste and, in need of money to make his drag dreams come true, SO YOU WANNA BE A POP STAR? is the next best thing. However, surrounded by competitors with clear brands and sharpened musical identities, he wonders if he can break through while still discovering himself.

When a group performance on the show goes viral overnight, Everly and Vinny find their careers unexpectedly tied together. Along with their competitors—influencer Dea Seo, pop-punk CeCe Winnifred, and heartthrob Stern Green—these five artists are forced to become the newest pop super group: Jeweltones.

You, the reader, get to make choices that will make or break Everly, Vinny, and the group’s meteoric rise in this interactive novel. Will you mend the cracks to help Jeweltones shine bright, or will they burn out under pressure? The choices are yours to make!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Tell the Rest by Lucy Jane Bledsoe (7th)

Delia Barnes and Ernest Wrangham met as teens at Celebration Camp, a church-supported conversion therapy program—the dubious, unscientific, Christian practice meant to change a person’s sexuality. After witnessing a devastating tragedy, they escaped in the night, only to take separate roads to their distant homes.

They have no idea how each has fared through the years. Delia is a college basketball coach who prides herself on being an empowering and self-possessed role model for her players. But when she gets fired from her elite East Coast college, she’s forced to return to her hometown of Rockside, Oregon, to coach at her high school alma mater.

Ernest, meanwhile, is a renowned poet with a temporary teaching job in Portland, Oregon. His work has always been boundary-pushing, fearless. But the poem he’s most wanted to write—about his dangerous escape from Celebration Camp—remains stubbornly out of reach.

Both persist in the mission to overcome the consequences and inhumane costs of conversion therapy. As events find them hurtling toward each other once again, they both grapple with the necessity of remaining steadfast in one’s truth, no matter how slippery that can be.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen by KJ Charles (7th)

57102663Abandoned by his father, Gareth Inglis grew up lonely, prickly, and well-used to disappointment. Still, he longs for a connection. When he meets a charming man in a London molly house, he falls head over heels—until everything goes wrong and he’s left alone again. Then Gareth’s father dies, turning the shabby London clerk into Sir Gareth, with a grand house on the remote Romney Marsh and a family he doesn’t know.

The Marsh is another world, a strange, empty place notorious for its ruthless gangs of smugglers. And one of them is dangerously familiar…

Joss Doomsday has run the Doomsday smuggling clan since he was a boy. When the new baronet—his old lover—agrees to testify against Joss’s sister, Joss acts fast to stop him. Their reunion is anything but happy, yet after the dust settles, neither can stay away. Soon, all Joss and Gareth want is the chance to be together. But the bleak, bare Marsh holds deadly secrets. And when Gareth finds himself threatened from every side, the gentleman and the smuggler must trust one another not just with their hearts, but with their lives.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Faithless by C.L. Clark (7th)

This is the sequel to The Unbroken

In the second installment of C.L. Clark’s Magic of the Lost trilogy, soldier Touraine and princess Luca must return to Balladaire to reclaim Luca’s throne and to face the consequences of dismantling an empire.

The rebels have won, and the empire is withdrawing from Qazal. But undoing the tangled web that binds the two nations will not be easy, and Touraine and Luca will face their greatest challenge yet.

Luca needs to oust her uncle from the Balladairan throne once and for all and take her rightful place as Queen. But he won’t let go of power so easily. When he calls for a “Trial of Competence” and Luca’s allies start disappearing from her side, she will need to find a way to prove her might. And she knows someone who can help…

Touraine has found a home in the newly free country of Qazal. But she soon realizes that leading a country and leading a revolution are two very different tasks. And, even more importantly, if Luca’s uncle doesn’t ratify the treaty, the Qazali could end up right back where they started.

Together, the two women will have to come overcome their enemies, their history, and their heartbreak in order to find a way to secure Luca’s power and Touraine’s freedom.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

In Memoriam by Alice Winn (7th)

In MemoriamIt’s 1914, and World War I is ceaselessly churning through thousands of young men on both sides of the fight. The violence of the front feels far away to Henry Gaunt, Sidney Ellwood and the rest of their classmates, safely ensconced in their idyllic boarding school in the English countryside. News of the heroic deaths of their friends only makes the war more exciting.

Gaunt, half-German, is busy fighting his own private battle–an all-consuming infatuation with his best friend, the glamorous, charming Ellwood–without a clue that Ellwood is pining for him in return. When Gaunt’s family asks him to enlist to forestall the anti-German sentiment they face, Gaunt does so immediately, relieved to escape his overwhelming feelings for Ellwood. To Gaunt’s horror, Ellwood rushes to join him at the front, and the rest of their classmates soon follow. Now death surrounds them in all its grim reality, often inches away, and no one knows who will be next.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Something Wild and Wonderful by Anita Kelly (7th)

Something Wild & WonderfulWhen Alexei Lebedev finally comes out to his conservative community, it does not go well. That’s how he ended up on the rugged Pacific Crest Trail, hoping he can figure out a new life plan in the thousands of miles it’ll take to walk the famed hike. He’s prepared for rattlesnakes, blisters, and months of solitude. What he’s not prepared for is the ray of sunshine named Ben Caravalho.

Charismatic and outgoing, Ben’s personality and infectious laughter is a stark opposite to Alexei’s quiet, reserved demeanor. But no matter how determined Alexei is to hike the trail alone, it seems he and Ben can’t avoid being drawn to each other. Through snow crossings and close calls with coyotes, Alexei inches closer to letting Ben in. As Alexei learns of Ben’s loving family and supportive friends, he begins to get a taste of what found family and belonging could truly feel like. But just as Alexei starts to let down his defenses, a sudden change in plans reawakens his fears—and he must discover if he has the courage to face something even scarier than the trail less traveled: letting himself fall.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Confidence by Rafael Frumkin (7th)

57580217Two lifelong friends, occasional lovers and constant conmen find themselves on top of the world after founding a company that promises instant enlightenment to its users in this thrilling, brainy caper about scams, schemes, and the absurdity of the American Dream.

At 17, Ezra Green doesn’t have a lot going for him. He is shorter than average, gap-toothed, Internet-addicted and halfway to being legally blind. He’s also on his way to Last Chance Camp, the final stop before juvie.

But Ezra’s summer at Last Chance turns life-changing when he meets Orson, brilliant and Adonis-like with a mind for hustling. Together, the two embark upon what promises to be a fruitful career of scam artistry. But when they try to pull off their biggest scam yet – NuLife, a corporation which promises its consumers a lifetime of bliss – things start to spin wildly out of control.

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

Mimosa by Archie Bongiovanni (7th)

MimosaBest friends and chosen family Chris, Elise, Jo, and Alex work hard to keep themselves afloat. Their regular brunches hold them together even as the rest of their lives threaten to fall apart. In an effort to avoid being the oldest gays at the party, the crew decides to put on a new queer event called Grind–specifically for homos in their dirty thirties.

Grind is a welcome distraction from their real problems: after a messy divorce, Chris adjusts to being a single parent while struggling to reconnect to their queer community. Elise is caught between feelings for her boss and the career of her dreams. Jo tries to navigate the murky boundaries of being a supportive friend and taking care of her own needs. And Alex is guarding a secret that might change his friendships forever.

While navigating exes at work, physical and mental exhaustion, and drinking way, way too much on weekdays, this chosen family proves that being messy doesn’t always go away with age.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Older (7th)

Mimicking of Known SuccessesOn a remote, gas-wreathed outpost of a human colony on Jupiter, a man goes missing. The enigmatic Investigator Mossa follows his trail to Valdegeld, home to the colony’s erudite university—and Mossa’s former girlfriend, a scholar of Earth’s pre-collapse ecosystems.

Pleiti has dedicated her research and her career to aiding the larger effort towards a possible return to Earth. When Mossa unexpectedly arrives and requests Pleiti’s assistance in her latest investigation, the two of them embark on a twisting path in which the future of life on Earth is at stake—and, perhaps, their futures, together.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Sotto Voce by Suzanne Clay (7th)

Sotto Voce (Clover Hill Romance Book 5) by [Suzanne Clay]Harmony Stevens spends her mornings running errands for pay and her nights working the midnight shift at Sunrise Diner. Yes, her life might be small, but after putting her own dreams on hold long ago to serve as caregiver for her recently-deceased mother, there is little for her to pursue outside of Clover Hill. With too many debts to pay and too many regretful memories in her silent home, she can’t imagine living big and pursuing music like she’d always planned. Her one bright spot is a handsome insomniac regular at work by the name of Oliver—until the moment she sees a new wedding band on his finger.

Years ago, Garrett and Oliver Quaite made a home in Clover Hill, where spoonie Garrett could give vocal lessons from the comfort of home and Oliver could offer affordable telehealth therapy services to the local community. Though ardently devoted to each other, their massive hearts led them to open their marriage years ago. There are always new passions, joys, and experiences to explore, and they’re happy to do so hand-in-hand.

When Garrett overhears Harmony singing, he’s immediately a heart-eyed goner for this siren. With the negotiation of a service exchange—errand running for vocal lessons—an opportunity opens up to finally develop the gifts Harmony’s been repressing for years. But the moment she realizes her handsome married regular is Garrett’s husband, she wonders if she should’ve killed the symphony in her heart before it even began.

Will Harmony sustain the dissonance of her grief-stricken life? Or will Garrett and Oliver give her a soft place to land?

Buy it: Amazon

The Sister Split by Auriane Desombre (14th)

The Sister SplitAutumn is looking forward to summer vacation. She and her best friend plan on going to all the best ice cream places their stomachs can handle–and in NYC, the possibilities can’t get any sweeter.

Linnea is still not over the fact that her dad has found love after her parents’ divorce. Luckily, she can take out all her feelings on the tennis courts for a winning summer.

But then Autumn and Linnea discover the news: their parents are getting married. Autumn will be moving to the suburbs to live with her soon-to-be stepdad and stepsister, which means kissing the fun summer with her best friend goodbye. For Linnea, she knows her dream of getting her parents back together is officially over.

Devastated, the two of them come up with an idea: if they can split up their parents, their lives can go back to normal. As Autumn and Linnea secretly try to sabotage everything from date nights to wedding planning, the two of them discover that having a sister is not the worst thing after all . . . but will they learn about love in a whole new way?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

I Will Find You Again by Sarah Lyu (14th)

Welcome to Meadowlark, Long Island—expensive homes and good schools, ambition and loneliness. Meet Chase Ohara and Lia Vestiano: the driven overachiever and the impulsive wanderer, the future CEO and the free spirit. Best friends for years—weekend trips to Montauk, sleepovers on a yacht—and then, first love. True love.

But when Lia disappears, Chase’s life turns into a series of grim snapshots. Anger. Grief. Running. Pink pills in an Altoids tin. A cheating ring at school. Heartbreak and lies. A catastrophic secret.

And the shocking truth that will change everything about the way Chase sees Lia—and herself.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

Dear Medusa by Olivia Cole (14th)

Cover for Dear MedusaSixteen-year-old Alicia Rivers has a reputation that precedes her. But there’s more to her story than the whispers that follow her throughout the hallways at school—whispers that splinter into a million different insults that really mean: a girl who has had sex. But what her classmates don’t know is that Alicia was sexually abused by a popular teacher, and that trauma has rewritten every cell in her body into someone she doesn’t recognize. To the world around her, she’s been cast, like the mythical Medusa, as not the victim but the monster of her own story: the slut who asked for it.

Alicia was abandoned by her best friend, quit the track team, and now spends her days in detention feeling isolated and invisible. When mysterious letters left in her locker hint at another victim, Alicia struggles to keep up the walls she’s built around her trauma. At the same time, her growing attraction to a new girl in school makes her question what those walls are really keeping out.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Solomon’s Crown by Natasha Siegel (14th)

60522607A pair of thrones between us, and my heart clutched like a rosary within his hands . . .”

Twelfth-century Europe. Newly-crowned King Philip of France is determined to restore his nation to its former empire and bring glory to his name. But when his greatest enemy, King Henry of England, threatens to end his reign before it can even begin, Philip is forced to make a precarious alliance with Henry’s volatile son—risking both his throne, and his heart.

Richard, Duke of Aquitaine, never thought he would be King. But when an unexpected tragedy makes him heir to England, he finally has an opportunity to overthrow the father he despises. At first, Philip is a useful tool in his quest for vengeance . . . until passion and politics collide, and Richard begins to question whether the crown is worth the cost.

When Philip and Richard find themselves staring down an impending war, they must choose between their desire for one another and their grand ambitions. Will their love prevail, if it calls to them from across the battlefield? Teeming with royal intrigue and betrayal, this epic romance reimagines two real-life kings ensnared by an impossible choice: Follow their hearts, or earn their place in history.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Ravensong by Cayla Fay (14th)

Neve has spent lifetimes defending the mortal world against the legions of hell with her two sisters.

Unfortunately for Neve, in this lifetime, she is the only one of the Morrigan—a triad of Irish war gods—still stuck in high school and still without her full power. She’s been counting down the days until her eighteenth birthday, when she finally gets to shed the pretenses of humanity and grow into her divine power.

But then she meets Alexandria. And Alexandria is as determined to force Neve into some semblance of teenage normalcy as she is haunted by her own demons—both figurative and literal.

As they grow closer, Neve decides that humanity—and, perhaps, love—isn’t so detestable after all. Which makes it all the more dangerous when she realizes that something in Hell wants Alexandria, and it’s be up to Neve and her sisters to save her before Alexandria’s past catches up to all of them.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Different for Boys by Patrick Ness, ill. by Tea Bendix (14th)

61084889Anthony “Ant” Stevenson isn’t sure when he stopped being a virgin. Or even if he has. The rules aren’t always very clear when it comes to boys who like boys. In fact, relationships of all kinds feel complicated, even with Ant’s oldest friends. There’s Charlie, who’s both virulently homophobic and in a secret physical relationship with Ant. Then there’s drama kid Jack, who may be gay and has become the target of Charlie’s rage. And, of course, there’s big, beautiful Freddie, who wants Ant to ditch soccer, Charlie’s sport, and try out for the rugby team instead. Ant’s story of loneliness and intimacy, of unexpected support and heart-ripping betrayal, is told forthrightly with tongue-in-cheek black-bar redactions over the language that teenagers would actually use if, you know, they weren’t in a story.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Pack of Her Own by Elena Abbott (14th)

Pack of Her OwnNatalie Donovan jumps at a friend’s offer to stay in the family cabin for a month—she desperately needs the chance to get away from, and get over, her messy breakup. She doesn’t count on the owner of the local diner making her heart pound and her body desperate to be touched.

Wren Carne is a lone wolf. As an Alpha shifter, she has no pack and maintains her territory without causing drama, just the way she likes it. When she checks on the girl staying in a local cabin, she’s not expecting her wolf to identify the human as her One True Mate.

As fallout from their pasts encroaches upon the sleepy town of Terabend, Wren must decide if she wants a pack of her own, while Natalie worries that her secret—she’s transgender—might be too much for Wren.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Blue Hunger by Viola di Grado, trans. by Jamie Richards (14th)

60784816After her twin’s death, a solitary young woman leaves Rome for Shanghai, the city where her brother Ruben had long dreamed of opening a restaurant. Teaching Italian to Chinese students, she meets a mysterious girl named Xu, who is also running from a turbulent past: a violent father, an absent mother, and an extended family who wishes she’d been a boy. Xu’s house is dingy and full of rotting food, like a museum of decomposing organic matter. In the gloom of abandoned textile factories and dilapidated slaughterhouses, the two discover an extreme dimension where biting, swallowing, and taking each other in are part of the erotic ritual.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Brother & Sister Enter the Forest by Richard Mirabella (14th)

61342030After years of severed communication, Justin appears on his sister’s doorstep needing a place to stay. The home he’s made for himself has collapsed, as has everything else in his life. When they were children, Willa played the role of her brother’s protector, but now, afraid of the chaos he might bring, she’s reluctant to let him in.

Willa lives a carefully ordered life working as a nurse and making ornate dioramas in her spare time. As Justin tries to connect with the people she’s closest to—her landlord, her boyfriend, their mother—she begins to feel exposed. Willa and Justin’s relationship has always been strained yet loving, frustrating and close. But it hits a new breaking point when Justin spirals out of control, unable to manage his sobriety and the sustained effects of a brain injury.

Years earlier, in high school, desperate to escape his home life and his disapproving, troubled mother, Justin falls into the hands of his first lover, a slightly older boy living on his own who offers Justin some semblance of intimacy and refuge. When Justin’s boyfriend commits a terrifying act of violence, the two flee on a doomed road trip, a journey that will damage Justin and change his and his family’s lives forever.

Weaving together these two timelines, Brother & Sister Enter the Forest unravels the thread of a young man’s trauma and the love waiting for him on the other side.

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Proud Pink Sky by Redfern Jon Barrett (14th)

A glittering gay metropolis of 24 million people, Berlin is a bustling world of pride parades, polyamorous trysts, and even an official gay language. Its distant radio broadcasts are a lifeline for teenagers William and Gareth, who flee toward sanctuary. But is there a place for them in the deeply divided city?

Meanwhile, young mother Cissie loves Berlin’s towering high rises and chaotic multiculturalism, yet she’s never left her heterosexual district—not until she and her family are trapped in a queer riot. With her husband Howard plunging into religious paranoia, she discovers a walled-off slum of perpetual twilight, home to the city’s forbidden trans residents.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

A Manual for How to Love Us by Erin Slaughter (14th)

61319761In these unconventional and unpredictably connected stories, Erin Slaughter shatters the stereotype of the soft-spoken, sorrowful woman in distress, queering the domestic and honoring the feral in all of us. In each story, grieving women embrace their wildest impulses as they attempt to master their lives: one woman becomes a “gazer” at a fraternity house, another slowly moves into her otherworldly stained-glass art, a couple speaks only their basement’s black box, and a thruple must decide what to do when one partner disappears.

The women in Erin Slaughter’s stories suffer messy breaks, whisper secrets to the ghosts tangled in the knots of their hair, eat raw meat to commune with their inner wolves, and build deadly MLM schemes along the Gulf Coast.

Set across oft-overlooked towns in the American South, A Manual for How to Love Us spotlights women who are living on the brink and clinging to its precipitous edge. Lyrical and surprisingly humorous, A Manual for How to Love Us is an exciting debut that reveals the sticky complications of living in a body, in all its grotesquerie and glory.

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Feed Them Silence by Lee Mandelo (14th)

What does it mean to “be-in-kind” with a nonhuman animal? Or in Dr. Sean Kell-Luddon’s case, to be in-kind with one of the last remaining wild wolves? Using a neurological interface to translate her animal subject’s perception through her own mind, Sean intends to chase both her scientific curiosity and her secret, lifelong desire to experience the intimacy and freedom of wolfishness. To see the world through animal eyes; smell the forest, thick with olfactory messages; even taste the blood and viscera of a fresh kill. And, above all, to feel the belonging of the pack.

Sean’s tireless research gives her a chance to fulfill that dream, but pursuing it has a terrible cost. Her obsession with work endangers her fraying relationship with her wife. Her research methods threaten her mind and body. And the attention of her VC funders could destroy her subject, the beautiful wild wolf whose mental world she’s invading.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

Bitter Medicine by Mia Tsai (14th)

As a descendant of the Chinese god of medicine, ignored middle child Elle was destined to be a doctor. Instead, she is underemployed as a mediocre magical calligrapher at the fairy temp agency. Nevertheless, she challenges herself by covertly outfitting Luc, her client and crush, with high-powered glyphs.

Half-elf Luc, the agency’s top security expert, has his own secret: he’s responsible for a curse laid from an old assignment. To heal them, he’ll need to perform his job duties with unrelenting excellence and earn time off from his tyrannical boss.

When Elle saves Luc’s life, they begin a dangerous collaboration, but their chemistry blooms. Happiness, for once, is an option for them both. But Elle is loyal to her family, and Luc is bound by his true name. To win freedom from duty, they must make unexpected sacrifices.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

The Shattered Lands by Brenna Nation (16th)

The Shattered Lands (Paperback)18 years after her disappearance, the princess has returned. But what is left of her kingdom?

Sapphire finds herself in Eriobis with a crown, a castle and too many handmaidens to count. And so her life begins as the heir to the throne of a country she doesn’t understand – a country ruled by magic and secrets.

That’s before she meets Ashes. A dark witch with the power to destroy Sapphire’s life and kingdom. But Ashes also happens to be the only person that can help her discover the truth.

And the answers might unravel the very world she’s come to know.

Buy it: Waterstones | The Book Depository

Penny for Your Heart by Season Vining (16th)

58948525. sy475 At fourteen, Penny Winters fell out of the closet and in love with her best friend, Misa Ito. But before they truly understood their feelings, Misa and her family were gone. Over a decade later, when Penny secures a job at a top New York advertising agency, she has a second chance at first love when she’s introduced to the lead account executive, Misa.

But the road to happiness is riddled with potholes. Misa is still impossibly beautiful, but super cold. And Misa shows no recollection of Penny—the girl who once showed her how to skateboard, make daisy chain crowns, and shared every secret with. On top of that, there’s the huge engagement ring and photo of a handsome man on Misa’s desk. The butterflies Penny feels don’t seem one-sided, and she wants answers.

Penny has no idea that she’s begging for the impossible. Getting Misa to admit anything means asking her to do the impossible: put aside her career and her father’s expectations to give into her heart. Which has always belonged to Penny.

Buy it: Amazon

Camp QUILTBAG by Nicole Melleby and A.J. Sass (21st)

57737479Twelve-year-old Abigail (she/her/hers) is so excited to spend her summer at Camp QUILTBAG, an inclusive retreat for queer and trans kids. She can’t wait to find a community where she can be herself—and, she hopes, admit her crush on Laura Dern to kids who will understand.

Thirteen-year-old Kai (e/em/eir) is not as excited. E just wants to hang out with eir best friend and eir parkour team. And e definitely does not want to think about the incident that left eir arm in a sling—the incident that also made Kai’s parents determined to send em somewhere e can feel like emself.

After a bit of a rocky start at camp, Abigail and Kai make a pact to help each other find their footing, all while navigating crushes, their queer identities, and a competition pitting cabin against cabin.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Dear Mothman by Robin Gow (21st)

Dear MothmanHalfway through sixth grade, Noah’s best friend and the only other trans boy in his school, Lewis, passed away in a car accident. Lewis was adventurous and curious, always bringing a new paranormal story to share with Noah. Together they daydreamed about cryptids and shared discovering their genders and names. After his death, lonely and yearning for someone who could understand him like Lewis once did, Noah starts writing letters to Mothman, wondering if he would understand how Noah feels and also looking for evidence of Mothman’s existence in the vast woods surrounding his small Poconos town. Noah becomes determined to make his science fair project about Mothman, despite his teachers and parents urging him to make a project about something “real.”

Meanwhile, as Noah tries to find Mothman, Noah also starts to make friends with a group of girls in his grade, Hanna, Molly, and Alice, with whom he’d been friendly, but never close to. Now, they welcome him, and he starts to open up to each of them, especially Hanna, who Noah has a crush on. But as strange things start to happen and Noah becomes sure of Mothman’s existence, his parents and teachers don’t believe him. Noah decides it’s up to him to risk everything, trek into the woods, and find Mothman himself.

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The Witch and the Vampire by Francesca Flores (21st)

The Witch and the VampireAva and Kaye used to be best friends. Until one night two years ago, vampires broke through the magical barrier protecting their town, and in the ensuing attack, Kaye’s mother was killed, and Ava was turned into a vampire. Since then, Ava has been trapped in her house. Her mother Eugenia needs her: Ava still has her witch powers, and Eugenia must take them in order to hide that she’s a vampire as well. Desperate to escape her confinement and stop her mother’s plans to destroy the town, Ava must break out, flee to the forest, and seek help from the vampires who live there. When there is another attack, she sees her opportunity and escapes.

Kaye, now at the end of her training as a Flame witch, is ready to fulfill her duty of killing any vampires that threaten the town, including Ava. On the night that Ava escapes, Kaye follows her and convinces her to travel together into the forest, while secretly planning to turn her in. Ava agrees, hoping to rekindle their old friendship, and the romantic feelings she’d started to have for Kaye before that terrible night.

But with monstrous trees that devour humans whole, vampires who attack from above, and Ava’s stepfather tracking her, the woods are full of danger. As they travel deeper into the forest, Kaye questions everything she thought she knew. The two are each other’s greatest threat—and also their only hope, if they want to make it through the forest unscathed.

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Life is Strange: Steph’s Story by Rosiee Thor (21st)

The official origin story of LiS fan-favourite Steph Gingrich featuring LGBTQ+ romance, inevitable heartbreak, and the punk-rock beginnings of Drugstore Makeup.

“So, what kind of lesbian are you?”
“The kind that… likes… girls?”
“Same.”

Setting the stage for her appearance in Life is Strange: True Colors, this official Steph Gingrich novel sheds light on the Drugstore Makeup years and the story of how Steph crash-landed in Haven Springs, Colorado.

Steph Gingrich has finally run out of couches to surf. Now she’s back at her dad’s place in Seattle to figure out what she wants to do with the rest of her life.

Steph fills her time working at the local gamer café during the day and running RPG sessions at night, that is until Izzie whirls into Steph’s existence clutching a crumpled stack of band posters. Izzie is electric: a punk, a girl who likes girls, and a hella good guitarist. Turns out the punk life is exactly what Steph needs. She loves the music, the art, and the fashion, but most of all she likes the girl. Entranced, she offers to drum for Izzie, forming the band Drugstore Makeup.

A hit in more ways than one, Drugstore Makeup compete in a battle of the bands before deciding to tour the offbeat punk venues of America. But Steph and Izzie soon find themselves on different wavelengths, unable to communicate, and needing different things.

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Belle of the Ball by Mari Costa (21st)

Belle of the BallHigh-school senior and notorious wallflower Hawkins finally works up the courage to remove her mascot mask and ask out her longtime crush: Regina Moreno, head cheerleader, academic overachiever, and all-around popular girl. There’s only one teensy little problem: Regina is already dating Chloe Kitagawa, athletic all-star…and middling English student. Regina sees a perfectly self-serving opportunity here, and asks the smitten Hawkins to tutor Chloe free of charge, knowing Hawkins will do anything to get closer to her.

And while Regina’s plan works at first, she doesn’t realize that Hawkins and Chloe knew each other as kids, when Hawkins went by Belle and wore princess dresses to school every single day. Before long, romance does start to blossom…but not between who you might expect. With Belle of the Ball, cartoonist Mariana Costa has reinvigorated satisfying, reliable tropes into your new favorite teen romantic comedy.

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The Future King by Robyn Schneider (21st)

This is the sequel to The Other Merlin

Fresh from an epic victory over sorceress Morgana Le Fay, Emry Merlin should be flying high. She no longer has to hide that she’s a girl wizard in Camelot, and the battle has made her fall even more in love with Prince Arthur. Even her hapless but beloved twin brother Emmett has joined her at court.

But Emry is hiding secrets, and she’s not the only one. Her magic has become unpredictable and deadly, and she’s been warned by the king to stay away from his son. Despite the prophecies deeming him the One True King, Prince Arthur knows he doesn’t have what it takes to rule Camelot—until a terrible tragedy forces his hand. And though Guinevere is hooking up with the hottest guy in the palace, it’s not who she’s actually betrothed to . . .

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Lucha of the Night Forest by Tehlor Kay Mejia (21st)

Lucha of the Night ForestA scorned god.
A mysterious acolyte.
A forgetting drug.
A dangerous forest.
One girl caught between the freedom she always wanted and a sister she can’t bear to leave behind.
Under the cover of the Night Forest, will Lucha be able to step into her own power…or will she be consumed by it?

 

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Flux by Jinwoo Chong (21st)

Page 1Four days before Christmas, 8-year-old Bo loses his mother in a tragic accident, 28-year-old Brandon loses his job after a hostile takeover of his big-media employer, and 48-year-old Blue, a key witness in a criminal trial against an infamous now-defunct tech startup, struggles to reconnect with his family.

So begins Jinwoo Chong’s dazzling, time-bending debut that blends elements of neo-noir and speculative fiction as the lives of Bo, Brandon, and Blue begin to intersect, uncovering a vast network of secrets and an experimental technology that threatens to upend life itself. Intertwined with them is the saga of an iconic ’80s detective show, Raider, whose star actor has imploded spectacularly after revelations of long-term, concealed abuse.

Flux is a haunting and sometimes shocking exploration of the cyclical nature of grief, of moving past trauma, and of the pervasive nature of whiteness within the development of Asian identity in America.

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The Fake by Zoe Whittall (21st)

After the death of her wife, Shelby is suffering from prolonged grief. She’s increasingly isolated, irritated by her family’s stoicism and her friends’ reliance on the toxic positivity of self-help culture. Then, in a grief support group, she meets Cammie, who gives her permission to express her most hopeless, hideous feelings. Cammie is charismatic and unlike anyone Shelby has ever met. She’s also recovering from cancer and going through several other calamities. Shelby puts all her energy into helping Cammie thrive—until her intuition tells her that something isn’t right.

Gibson is fresh from divorce, almost forty, and deeply depressed. Then he falls in love with Cammie. Not only is he having the best sex of his life with a woman so attractive he’s stunned she even glanced his way, he feels truly known for the first time in his life. But Gibson’s friends are wary of Cammie, and eventually he, too, has to admit that all the drama in Cammie’s life can feel a bit over the top.

When Gibson and Shelby meet, they realize Cammie’s stories don’t always add up. In fact, they’re far from the truth. But what kind of a person would lie about having cancer? And what does it say about Shelby and Gibson that they fell for it?

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Metamorphoses by Evan Kennedy (21st)

Metamorphoses springs from Ovid’s epic poem to explore the slipperiness of identity. In poems that shift registers from travelogue to elegy, from nature documentary to a simple record of the realities of daily life, Kennedy focuses on transformation, personal and collective, in an empire in decline, in a world transfigured by ecological upheaval.

Like a fever dream over Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, Kennedy has one foot in Ancient Rome and the other in contemporary San Francisco, acknowledging the “transformations of this city [he] loves” into “awful condos of steel and glass” alongside Victorian homes. The poet shores up fragments against this cultural decadence through the cultivation of a wry pagan mysticism, whether he’s offering devotions to Attis and Apollo, banishing Madonna from his pantheon, or placing twink emperor and notorious prankster Elagabalus in the East Bay. The book’s transformations even extend to its central conceit, as Kafka bursts into the proceedings to dispute Ovid’s claim to the laurel.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | City Lights

Into the Light by Mark Oshiro (28th)

Into the LightIt’s been one year since Manny was cast out of his family and driven into the wilderness of the American Southwest. Since then, Manny lives by self-taught rules that keep him moving―and keep him alive. Now, he’s taking a chance on a traveling situation with the Varela family, whose attractive but surly son, Carlos, seems to promise a new future.

Eli abides by the rules of his family, living in a secluded community that raised him to believe his obedience will be rewarded. But an unsettling question slowly eats away at Eli’s once unwavering faith in Reconciliation: Why can’t he remember his past?

But the reported discovery of an unidentified body in the hills of Idyllwild, California, will draw both of these young men into facing their biggest fears and confronting their own identity―and who they are allowed to be.

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The Quiet and the Loud by Helena Fox (28th)

George’s life is loud. On the water, though, with everything hushed above and below, she is steady, silent. Then her estranged dad says he needs to talk, and George’s past begins to wake up, looping around her ankles, trying to drag her under.

But there’s no time to sink. George’s best friend, Tess, is about to become, officially, a teen mom, her friend Laz is in despair about the climate crisis, her gramps would literally misplace his teeth if not for her, and her moms fill the house with fuss and chatter. Before long, heat and smoke join the noise as dis­tant wildfires begin to burn.

George tries to stay steady. When her father tells her his news and the painful memo­ries roar back to life, George turns to Calliope, the girl who has just cartwheeled into her world and shot it through with colors. And it’s here George would stay—quiet and safe—if she could. But then Tess has her baby, and the earth burns hotter, and the past just will not stay put.

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Chlorine by Jade Song (28th)

ChlorineRen Yu is a swimmer. Her daily life starts and ends with the pool. Her teammates are her only friends. Her coach, her guiding light. If she swims well enough, she will be scouted, get a scholarship, go to a good school. Her parents will love her. Her coach will be kind to her. She will have a good life.

But these are human concerns. These are the concerns of those confined to land, those with legs. Ren grew up on stories of creatures of the deep, of the oceans and the rivers. Ones that called sailors to their doom. Ones that dragged them down and drowned them. Ones that feasted on their flesh. Ones of the creature that she’s always longed to become: mermaid.

Ren aches to be in the water. She dreams of the scent of chlorine–the feel of it on her skin. And she will do anything she can to make a life for herself where she can be free. No matter the pain. No matter what anyone else thinks. No matter how much blood she has to spil

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Loki’s Ring by Stina Licht (28th)

Gita Chithra, the captain of the intergalactic ship The Tempest, is used to leading her crew on simple retrieval and assistance missions. But when she receives a frantic distress call from Ri, the AI she trained from inception—making her like a daughter to Gita—she knows she’s in for something much more dangerous.

Ri is trapped in the depths of Loki’s Ring, an artificial alien-made solar system, and says everyone in the vicinity has been infected and killed by a mysterious contagion. Gita and her team investigate, only to discover horrors at every turn, and are soon stranded themselves, leaving them vulnerable to infection and attack.

Forced to call on an old friend to help them out of this mess, Gita must succeed or risk losing everyone she’s ever loved.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

Jamie by L.D. Lapinski (30th)

Jamie by [L.D. Lapinski]Jamie Rambeau is a happy 11-year-old non-binary kid who likes nothing better than hanging out with their two best friends Daisy and Ash. But when the trio find out that in Year Seven they will be separated into one school for boys and another for girls, their friendship suddenly seems at risk. And when Jamie realises no one has thought about where they are going to go, they decide to take matters into their own hands, and sort it all out once and for all.

As the friends’ efforts to raise awareness eventually become a rooftop protest against the binary rules for the local schools, Jamie realises that if they don’t figure out a way forwards, they might be at risk of losing both their friends forever.

Buy it: Waterstones

Most Anticipated Middle Grade Fiction: January-June 2023

This post contains titles published by HarperCollins. Please note that the HarperCollins Union has been on strike since 11/10/22 to get a fair contract for their workers, and this site very much supports that effort. Visit the HarperCollins Union linktree to learn how you can support their fight for a fair contract: linktr.ee/hcpunion.

Cameron Battle and the Escape Trials by Jamar J. Perry (January 31st)

This is the sequel to Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms

After his first adventure as the Descendant, Cameron can’t sit through seventh grade classes. Especially when his mother is still trapped in Chidani and his father is still missing. But he encounters a particularly nasty bully in his new school, and it doesn’t take long for Cameron and his trusty friends Zion and Aliyah to realize that the troubles of Chidani won’t stay away for long.

With the Book to guide them, Cameron and his crew end up transported to Chidani sooner than anticipated–and the gods and goddesses they encounter don’t intend to make Cameron’s journey easy. Can he finally outwit and outlast the villainous god set on destroying their worlds?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Continue reading Most Anticipated Middle Grade Fiction: January-June 2023

New Releases: May 10, 2022

Children’s

Mighty Red Riding Hood: A Fairly Queer Tale by Wallace West

In this clever twist on a traditional tale, a boy who loves his frilly, swishy riding hood turns the tables on a big, bad, bullying wolf!

Better not mess with Little Red when he’s got on his favorite frilly red riding hood! It makes him feel happier than a pig in mud, more special than a birthday cake, and mighty as a firecracker. Nothing’s gonna stop him from being himself…Not even a big ol’ bully of a WOLF! With admirable spunk and a heaping helping of southern humor and hospitality, Little Red finds a way to crack the shell of the closed-minded wolf’s perception of frills and bows.

This refreshingly spirited version of the classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood explores the challenge of staying on your path when confronted by strangers who don’t want to understand you.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Middle Grade

The Science of Being Angry by Nicole Melleby

58328432. sy475 Eleven-year-old Joey is angry. All the time. And she doesn’t understand why. She has two loving moms, a supportive older half brother, and, as a triplet, she’s never without company. Her life is good. But sometimes she loses her temper and lashes out, like that time she threw a soccer ball—hard—at a boy in gym class and bruised his collarbone. Or the time jealousy made her push her (former) best friend (and crush), Layla, a little bit too hard.

After an incident at Joey’s apartment building leads to her family’s eviction, Joey is desperate to figure out why she is so angry. A new unit on genetics in her science class makes Joey wonder if maybe the reason is genetic. Does she lose control because of the donor her mothers chose?

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The One Who Loves You The Most by medina

have never felt like I belonged to my body. Never in the way rhythm belongs to a song or waves belong to an ocean.
It seems like most people figure out where they belong by knowing where they came from. When they look in the mirror, they see their family in their eyes, in their sharp jawlines, in the texture of their hair. When they look at family photos, they see faces of people who look like them. They see faces of people who they’ll look like in the future.
For me, I only have my imagination.
But I’m always trying.

Twelve-year-old Gabriela is trying to find their place in the world. In their body, which feels less and less right with each passing day. As an adoptee, in their all-white family. With their mom, whom they love fiercely and do anything they can to help with her depression. And at school, where they search for friends.

A new year will bring a school project, trans and queer friends, and a YouTube channel that helps Gabriela find purpose in their journey.

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Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor by Xiran Jay Zhao

59365584Zachary Ying never had many opportunities to learn about his Chinese heritage. His single mom was busy enough making sure they got by, and his schools never taught anything except Western history and myths. So Zack is woefully unprepared when he discovers he was born to host the spirit of the First Emperor of China for a vital mission: sealing the leaking portal to the Chinese underworld before the upcoming Ghost Month blows it wide open.

The mission takes an immediate wrong turn when the First Emperor botches his attempt to possess Zack’s body and binds to Zack’s AR gaming headset instead, leading to a battle where Zack’s mom’s soul gets taken by demons. Now, with one of history’s most infamous tyrants yapping in his headset, Zack must journey across China to heist magical artifacts and defeat figures from history and myth, all while learning to wield the emperor’s incredible water dragon powers.

And if Zack can’t finish the mission in time, the spirits of the underworld will flood into the mortal realm, and he could lose his mom forever.

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Every Bird a Prince by Jenn Reese

Every Bird a PrinceThe only time Eren Evers feels like herself is when she’s on her bike, racing through the deep woods. While so much of her life at home and at school is flying out of control, the muddy trails and the sting of wind in her face are familiar comforts.

Until she rescues a strange, magical bird, who reveals a shocking secret: their forest kingdom is under attack by an ancient foe—the vile Frostfangs—and the birds need Eren’s help to survive.

Seventh grade is hard enough without adding “bird champion” to her list of after-school activities. Lately, Eren’s friends seem obsessed with their crushes and the upcoming dance, while Eren can’t figure out what a crush should even feel like. Still, if she doesn’t play along, they may leave her behind…or just leave her all together. Then the birds enlist one of Eren’s classmates, forcing her separate lives to collide.

When her own mother starts behaving oddly, Eren realizes that the Frostfangs—with their insidious whispers—are now hunting outside the woods. In order to save her mom, defend an entire kingdom, and keep the friendships she holds dearest, Eren will need to do something utterly terrifying: be brave enough to embrace her innermost truths, no matter the cost.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Young Adult

Dead End Girls by Wendy Heard

In one week, Maude will be dead. At least, that’s what she wants everyone to think. After years of research, Maude has decided to fake her own death. She’s figured out the how, the when, the where, and who will help her unsuspectingly. The why is complex: revenge, partly. Her terrible parents deserve this. But there’s also l’appel du vide, the call of the void, that beckons her toward a new life where she will be tied to no one, free and adrift. Then Frankie, a step-cousin she barely knows, figures out what she’s plotting, and the plan seems like it’s ruined. Except Frankie doesn’t want to rat her out. Frankie wants in.

The girls vault into the unknown, risking everything for a new and limitless life. But there are some things you can never run away from. What if the poison is not in the soil, but in the roots? This pulse-pounding thriller offers a nuanced exploration of identity, freedom, and falling in love while your world falls apart.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Café Con Lychee by Emery Lee

58782892. sy475 Sometimes bitter rivalries can brew something sweet

Theo Mori wants to escape. Leaving Vermont for college means getting away from working at his parents’ Asian American café and dealing with their archrivals’ hopeless son Gabi who’s lost the soccer team more games than Theo can count.

Gabi Moreno is miserably stuck in the closet. Forced to play soccer to hide his love for dance and iced out by Theo, the only openly gay guy at school, Gabi’s only reprieve is his parents’ Puerto Rican bakery and his plans to take over after graduation.

But the town’s new fusion café changes everything. Between the Mori’s struggling shop and the Moreno’s plan to sell their bakery in the face of the competition, both boys find their dreams in jeopardy. Then Theo has an idea—sell photo-worthy food covertly at school to offset their losses. When he sprains his wrist and Gabi gets roped in to help, they realize they need to work together to save their parents’ shops but will the new feelings rising between them be enough to send their future plans up in smoke?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson (May 10th)

57320535. sy475 Lou has enough confusion in front of her this summer. She’ll be working in her family’s ice cream shack with her newly ex-boyfriend—whose kisses never made her feel desire, only discomfort—and her former best friend, King, who is back in their Canadian prairie town after disappearing three years ago without a word.

But when she gets a letter from her biological father—a man she hoped would stay behind bars for the rest of his life—Lou immediately knows that she cannot meet him, no matter how much he insists.

While King’s friendship makes Lou feel safer and warmer than she would have thought possible, when her family’s business comes under threat, she soon realizes that she can’t ignore her father forever.

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Nate Plus One by Kevin van Whye

53241053. sy475 Two boys. Two bands. Two worlds colliding.

Nate Hargraves – stage-shy singer-songwriter – is totally stoked for his cousin’s wedding in South Africa, an all-expenses-paid trip of a lifetime. Until he finds out his sleazeball ex-boyfriend is also on the guest list.

Jai Patel – hot-as-hell high school rock-god – has troubles too. His band’s lead singer has quit, just weeks before the gig that was meant to be their big break.

When Nate saves the day by agreeing to sing with Jai’s band, Jai volunteers to be Nate’s plus-one to the wedding, and the stage is set for a summer of music, self-discovery, and simmering romantic tension. What could possibly go wrong . . . ?

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

Adult

First Time for Everything by Henry Fry

Danny Scudd is absolutely fine. He always dreamed of escaping the small-town life of his parents’ fish and chip shop, moving to London, and becoming a journalist. And, after five years in the city, his career isn’t exactly awful, and his relationship with pretentious Tobbs isn’t exactly unfulfilling. Certainly his limited edition Dolly Parton vinyls and many (maybe too many) house plants are hitting the spot. However, a visit to the local clinic reveals that Tobbs might not have been exactly faithful. In fact, Tobbs claims they were never operating under the “antiquated” terms of monogamy to begin with. Oh, and Danny’s flatmates are unceremoniously evicting him because they want to start a family. It’s all going quite well.

Newly single and with nowhere to live, Danny is forced to move in with his best friend, Jacob, a flamboyant non-binary artist whom he’s known since childhood, and their extravagant group of friends living in an East London “commune.” What follows is a colorful voyage of discovery through modern queer life, dating, work, and lots of therapy—all places Danny has always been too afraid to fully explore. Upon realizing just how little he knows about himself and his sexuality, he careens from one questionable decision (and man) to another, relying on his inscrutable new therapist and housemates to face the demons he’s spent his entire life trying to repress. Is he really fine, after all?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies by Misha Popp

58896183The first time Daisy Ellery killed a man with a pie, it was an accident. Now, it’s her calling. Daisy bakes sweet vengeance into her pastries, which she and her dog Zoe deliver to the men who’ve done dirty deeds to the town’s women. But if she can’t solve the one crime that’s not of her own baking, she’ll be out of the pie pan and into the oven.

Parking her Pies Before Guys mobile bakery van outside the local diner, Daisy is informed by Frank, the crusty diner owner, that someone’s been prowling around the van—and not just to inhale the delectable aroma. Already on thin icing with Frank, she finds a letter on her door, threatening to reveal her unsavory secret sideline of pie a la murder.

Blackmail? But who whipped up this half-baked plot to cut a slice out of Daisy’s business? Purple-haired campus do-gooder Melly? Noel, the tender—if flaky—farm boy? Or one of the abusive men who prefer their pie without a deadly scoop of payback?

The upcoming statewide pie contest could be Daisy’s big chance to help wronged women everywhere…if she doesn’t meet a sticky end first. Because Daisy knows the blackmailer won’t stop until her business is in crumbles.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Siren Queen by Nghi Vo

“No maids, no funny talking, no fainting flowers.” Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill—but she doesn’t care. She’d rather play a monster than a maid.

But in Luli’s world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her. For those who do survive to earn their fame, success comes with a steep price. Luli is willing to do whatever it takes—even if that means becoming the monster herself.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Bad Girls by Camila Sosa Villada, trans. by Kit Maude

This was originally published in Spanish as Las Malas

59237338. sy475 Born in the small Argentine town of Mina Clavero, Camila is designated male but begins to identify from an early age as a girl. She is well aware that she’s different from other children and reacts to her oppressive, poverty-stricken home life, with a cowed mother and abusive, alcoholic father, by acting out—with swift consequences. Deeply intelligent, she eventually leaves for the city to attend university, slipping into prostitution to make ends meet. And in Sarmiento Park, in the heart of Córdoba, she discovers the strange, wonderful world of the trans sex workers who dwell there.

Taken under the wing of Auntie Encarna, the 178-year-old eternal whose house shelters this unconventional extended family, Camila becomes a part of their stories—of a Headless Man who fled his country’s wars, a mute young woman who transforms into a bird, an abandoned baby boy who brings a twinkle to your eye.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

A Long Way to Fall by Elle Spencer

Bridget Berg grew up on the slopes of Elk Mountain, Utah. The daughter of a famous downhill skier, she was chasing her own Olympic dreams when her father’s unexpected death forced her to take over his ski lodge. It’s her home and she’ll protect it at all costs―especially from her insufferable neighbors.

Kennedy Fleming is only in Utah to put her dad’s vacation home on the market. She has no interest in living there. That is, until she meets her sexy redheaded neighbor. Sure, she’s rude and unwelcoming, but Kennedy isn’t one to shy away from a challenge.

When Kennedy makes a discovery that could cause Bridget to lose everything, she’s forced to choose between her family and her heart. There’s a mountain of history between their families, but as tempers rage and sparks fly, they’re about to discover that a love worth fighting for is right in front of them.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Misrule by Heather Walter

This is the sequel to Malice

The Dark Grace is dead.

Feared and despised for the sinister power in her veins, Alyce wreaks her revenge on the kingdom that made her an outcast. Once a realm of decadence and beauty, Briar is now wholly Alyce’s wicked domain. And no one will escape the consequences of her wrath. Not even the one person who holds her heart.

Princess Aurora saw through Alyce’s thorny facade, earning a love that promised the dawn of a new age. But it is a love that came with a heavy price: Aurora now sleeps under a curse that even Alyce’s vast power cannot seem to break. And the dream of the world they would have built together is nothing but ash.

Alyce vows to do anything to wake the woman she loves, even if it means turning into the monster Briar believes her to be. But could Aurora love the villain Alyce has become?

Or is true love only for fairy tales?

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Why in Paris? by Harry F. Rey

Why in Paris?In the late summer of 1936, a budding young photographer from Vienna named Anders travels to pre-war Paris. His mother sends him ostensibly to attend art school… and to survive as a Jew. But Anders is ready to explore his other secret: his sexuality. Living with over-the-top escort, Claude, above Giovanni’s gay bar, Anders and Claude build their lives among the ruins of Bohemia in Montmartre. Anders soon falls for Jean, Claude’s bitter rival in the escort scene. Anders captures Jean’s beauty with his camera lens and sells the photos by the Seine to make a living. One buyer, a wealthy American socialite, David, comes along and presents Anders with a scandalous new venture.

With David’s film camera, they set up a secret studio, capturing incriminating reels of the rich and powerful committing all manner of compromising acts. As Paris falls to Hitler and the occupation takes hold, senior Nazis commandeer David’s mansion as their personal brothel. Anders and David begin secretly filming the Nazis’ trysts, scattering the evidence across Paris. Anders’s old flame Eilas returns to Paris as an SS officer, and Jean has hatched a plot with the Resistance to assassinate Eilas’s superior, the head of the SS in Paris. Amidst betrayal, love, and blackmail, who will survive these plots is far from certain.

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Everything for You by Chloe Liese

59824159. sy475 Gavin
We’ve been teammates for two years, but it feels like a lifetime that Oliver Bergman’s been on my last nerve. A demanding captain and veteran player, I’m feared and friendless, while he’s the beloved rising star, all sunshine smiles and upbeat team spirit. To make matters worse, he’s obscenely attractive. In short: he’s genetically designed to get under my skin.

Avoiding Oliver has been my survival tactic on and off the field. But when Coach drops the bomb that we’re now co-captains, avoiding him becomes impossible, and keeping the truth from him–let alone my distance–is harder than ever.

Oliver
Life was great until soccer legend Gavin Hayes joined the team and proved he’s nothing like the guy I grew up idolizing. Instead, he’s a giant–albeit gorgeous–grump who lives to rain on my parade. I’ve sworn off pranks since entering the public eye, so rather than settle our differences the Bergman way, I’ve had to settle for killing Gavin with kindness. There’s just one problem: killing him with kindness is killing me.

To make matters worse, Coach gives us an ultimatum: put an end to our enmity or say goodbye to being captains. I’m prepared to be miserable while we meet her demands and make nice, but the last thing I expect is to discover an explosive attraction we can’t help but act on, and worse yet, to realize the man hiding beneath Gavin’s gruff exterior is all I’ve ever wanted.

Buy it: Amazon

In the Trap by Jessica Cranberry

For Hazel, an introvert with a knack for people watching, campus life is awkward and hard and…lonely. That is, until she starts to let her guard down around her roommate, Maeve—who’s fun and has a wicked flair for drama. Could there be more than just a friendship here? Maybe. But Hazel has a lot of family trauma to work through before figuring out the other big parts of her life. For now, she’s just happy to have someone to talk to.

All seems to go well until a night in the Trap—the university’s green space—leads to a tense encounter with some drunk guys. When one of the guys ends up dead, Hazel is implicated, and she and Maeve set out to solve the crime before police can connect either of them to it. But how can two amateur sleuths put together a solid case to hand over to the police in time? By following the campus online diaries, that’s how.

Set at the beginning of the internet age, people are just starting to share all their deepest, darkest secrets via the World Wide Web, yet the assumption of online anonymity may be a critical mistake. As the perpetrator posts their criminal diary for public consumption, Hazel and Maeve scramble to use technology to piece together the murderer’s identity. Can they hack their way out of becoming suspects? And if so, could they ever go back to their boring majors?

Buy it: Ninestar Press

Non-Fiction

The Women’s House of Detention by Hugh Ryan

58951004The Women’s House of Detention, Greenwich Village’s most forbidding and forgotten queer landmark, stood from 1929 to 1974, imprisoning tens of thousands from all over New York City. The little-known stories of the queer women and trans-masculine people incarcerated in this building present a uniquely queer argument for prison abolition. The “House of D” acted as a nexus, drawing queer women down to Greenwich Village from every corner of the city. Some of these women—Angela Davis, Grace Paley, Andrea Dworkin, Afeni Shakur—were famous, but the majority were working-class people, incarcerated for the “crimes” of being poor and improperly feminine. Today, approximately 40 percent of people in women’s prisons identify as queer; in earlier decades, the percentage was almost certainly higher.

Historian Hugh Ryan explores the roots of this crisis of queer and trans incarceration, connecting misogyny, racism, state-sanctioned sexual violence, colonialism, sex work, and the failures of prison reform. At the same time, The Women’s House of Detention highlights how queer relation and autonomy emerged in the most dire of circumstances: from the lesbian relationships and communities forged through the House of D, to a Black socialist’s fight for a college education during the Great Depression, to the forgotten women who rioted inside the prison on the first night of the Stonewall Uprising nearby. This is the story of one building and so much more: the people it caged, the neighborhood it changed, and the resistance it inspired.

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January 2022 Deal Announcements

Adult Fiction and Poetry

C.E. McGill‘s OUR HIDEOUS PROGENY, pitched as a queer take on the Mary Shelley classic, in which an aspiring paleontologist and great-niece of Victor Frankenstein attempts to make her name in the patriarchal world of Victorian science by creating her own monster, only to reevaluate what monstrous truly means, to Wendy Wong at Harper, in a good deal, in a pre-empt, for publication in spring 2023, by Tamara Kawar at ICM, on behalf of Sue Armstrong at C+W (NA).

Author-illustrator of TURNING JAPANESE MariNaomi‘s I THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME, a mixed media forensic journey into false memory and lost queer friendship, pitched as invoking Michelle Tea and Lauren Redniss, to Michael Nava at Amble, for publication in November 2022, by Gordon Warnock at Fuse Literary (world English).

Stonewall Award winner and Lambda Literary Award finalist Lucy Jane Bledsoe‘s TELL THE REST, about the friendship between a women’s basketball coach and a poet, who are deeply connected by a church-supported conversion therapy camp for teens where they survived and their other friend disappeared, whose missions to understand the events of that summer have landed them both back in Oregon—their paths hurtling toward each other once again, to Johnny Temple at Akashic, for publication in spring 2023, by Reiko Davis at DeFiore and Company (world).

Theodore McCombs‘s EXIT ARIAS, a story collection spanning past, present, and parallel lives, using space opera, quantum physics, calculus, and ecology to explore themes of queer difference in a monstrous world, pitched as Garth Greenwell meets Ted Chiang, and a follow-up novel expanding on one of the stories, to Deborah Ghim at Astra House, in a two-book deal, for publication in spring 2023, by Kirby Kim at Janklow & Nesbit (world).

CCA professor, editor of NO STRAIGHT LINES, and cartoonist Justin Hall’s untitled graphic novel, mixing memoir and historical narratives to weave together San Francisco’s queer history with the author’s own journey as a gay man, to Charlotte Greenbaum at Abrams ComicArts, for publication in spring 2024, by Anjali Singh at Ayesha Pande Literary (world).

Jane Kindred’s KING OF THIEVES, the second in her queer Demons Of Elysium series set in a Russian-inspired heaven, to Rachel Haimowitz at Riptide Publishing, in an exclusive submission, for publication in April 2022, by Sara Megibow at kt literary.

Scholar, critic, and poet Stephanie Burt’s 30 SUPER GAY POEMS, an anthology of LGBTQ+ poetry celebrating queer love, sex, visibility, and joy, alongside expository essays, to Sharmila Sen at Harvard University Press, by Matt McGowan at Frances Goldin Literary Agency (world).

Lambda Literary and Columbia MFA teaching fellow Javier Fuentes’s COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN, a queer, international, cross-class romance centered on a young, undocumented New York pastry chef forced to return to Spain, where he struggles to adapt to his new home and finds shelter with a wealthy, charming, and troubled man, who suffers major shocks of his own, to Shelley Wanger at Pantheon, for publication in 2023, by Maria Cardona at Pontas Literary & Film Agency (world English).

NEA, Stegner, and Fulbright fellow, Lambda Literary Award finalist, and author of INTO EACH ROOM WE ENTER WITHOUT KNOWING Charif Shanahan’s TRACE EVIDENCE, a poetry collection that explores the liminality of mixed-race identity, the tension of queer longing and desire, the difficulty of being present in a divided social world, and the violent legacy of anti-Blackness in the contemporary U.S. and abroad, to Alyssa Ogi at Tin House Books, for publication in winter 2023, by Annie Hwang at Ayesha Pande Literary (NA).

Author, screenwriter and playwright Paul Rudnick’s FARRELL COVINGTON AND THE LIMITS OF STYLE, the story of an absurdly handsome, fabulously wealthy young man from one of America’s most powerful, arch-conservative families and the middle-class New Jersey drama student he falls in love with at Yale, and how their tumultuous, 50-year relationship triumphs against the forces of homophobia, the Hollywood closet, AIDS, and the wrong shoes, to Peter Borland at Atria, in a pre-empt, by Esmond Harmsworth at Aevitas Creative Management (NA).

Tori Anne Martin’s THIS SPELLS DISASTER, pitched as a queer take on How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days; in which a scatterbrained witch fears she must have accidentally given her famous crush a love potion when she starts to flirt with her, and to break the spell, she must prove how wrong they are for each other, all while falling harder herself, to Sarah Blumenstock at Berkley, in an exclusive submission, for publication in 2023, by Rebecca Strauss at DeFiore and Company (world).

K.D. Casey’s FIRE SEASON, a contemporary m/m romance in which a newly sober Jewish pitcher befriends-with-benefits his team’s recently divorced, definitely straight star player; and DIAMOND RING, in which estranged former teammates reunite for one last run at a championship, fanning old resentments and old sparks between them, again to Stephanie Doig at Carina Press, in a nice deal, in a two-book deal, by Deidre Knight at The Knight Agency (world English).

Children’s and Middle Grade Fiction

Author of HOW TO BECOME A PLANET Nicole Melleby‘s SAM I AM and MARINA IN THE MIDDLE, the first two books in THE HOUSE ON SUNRISE LAGOON series, about a blended family with two moms, five daughters, and one giant dog crammed into a ramshackle seaside home in coastal New Jersey; pitched as in the spirit of The Vanderbeekers, to Krestyna Lypen at Algonquin Young Readers, in a three-book deal, for publication in summer 2023, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world).

Kate Fussner’s O&E, pitched as a queer in-verse retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice, in which two middle school girls learn to love each other and themselves as they fight not to lose one another, to Sara Schonfeld at Katherine Tegen Books, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2023, by Eric Smith at P.S. Literary Agency (world English).

Laura Silverman, ed.‘s FIRSTS AND LASTS, an anthology including multiple genres from classic contemporary to suspense to fantasy that celebrates all of the thrilling first experiences and momentous last experiences of your teenage years, with contributions by Adi Alsaid, Keah Brown, Monica Gomez-Hira, Kika Hatzopoulou, Shaun David Hutchinson, Amanda Joy, Loan Le, Joy McCullough, Yamile Saied Mendez, Anna Meriano, Nina Moreno, Tess Sharpe, Rachel Lynn Solomon, Diana Urban, and Julian Winters, to Anuoluwapo Ohioma at Penguin Workshop, for publication in fall 2023, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world).

Shelley Rotner and Gwen Agna’s TRUE YOU, a picture book about trans and gender nonconforming kids that leads with inclusivity, love, and empathy, accentuating trans and genderfluid joy, with photography by Rotner, to Chris Krones at Clarion, at auction, for publication in fall 2022, by Liz Nealon at Great Dog Literary (world).

Rebecca Mix’s THE MOSSHEART’S PROMISE, when a 12-year-old sets out in search of a cure for the mold that’s eating her mother alive, she makes a horrifying discovery: her entire world is actually trapped inside of a giant, rotting terrarium they were meant to leave 100 years ago; now she has only five days to find the exit—or they’ll be trapped for good, to Kristin Daly Rens at Balzer & Bray, in a good deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2023, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world English).

Non-Fiction

Video essayist and activist Rowan Ellis‘s debut HERE & QUEER, an inclusive guide for all queer girls packed with advice and info about LGBTQ+ culture, relationships, history, and pride, illustrated by Jacky Sheridan, to Lucy Menzies at Quarto Books, for publication in May 2022, by Tamara Kawar at ICM (world).

Contributor to The New Yorker and The Atlantic and New York Public Library fellow Michael Waters‘s THE OTHER OLYMPIANS, uncovering the stories of several European athletes who publicly transitioned gender in the 1930s and who were widely embraced by society until the intervention of the International Olympic Committee; a largely forgotten history that provides new context to the experiences of trans and intersex athletes, and uncanny parallels to the ways we police gender today, to Jackson Howard at Farrar, Straus, in an exclusive submission, by Michael Bourret at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world).

Comedians and Very Gay Paint founders Nic Scheppard and Jenson Titus’s A VERY GAY BOOK, a parody textbook about how everything in history, science and the arts—from sports to statistics to soup—is gay, to Allison Adler at Andrews McMeel, for publication in spring 2023, by Adriana Stimola at Stimola Literary Studio (world).

Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Middle Grade Fiction: January-June 2022

Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms by Jamar J. Perry (February 1st)

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

Drew Leclair Gets a Clue by Katryn Bury (March 1st)

58311999. sy475 Drew Leclair knows what it takes to be a great detective. She’s pored over the cases solved by her hero, criminal profiler Lita Miyamoto. She tracked down the graffiti artist at school, and even solved the mystery of her neighbor’s missing rabbit. But when her mother runs off to Hawaii with the school guidance counselor, Drew is shocked. How did she miss all of the clues?

Drew is determined to keep her family life a secret, even from her best friend. But when a cyberbully starts posting embarrassing rumors about other students at school, it’s only a matter of time before Drew’s secret is out.

Armed with her notebooks full of observations about her classmates, Drew knows what she has to do: profile all of the bullies in her grade to find the culprit. But being a detective is more complicated when the suspects can be your friends. Will Drew crack the case if it means losing the people she cares about most

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The Best Liars in Riverview by Lin Thompson (March 8th)

55884944. sx318 Aubrey and Joel are like two tomato vines that grew along the same crooked fence—weird, yet the same kind of weird. But lately, even their shared weirdness seems weird. Then Joel disappears. Vanishes. Poof. The whole town is looking for him, and Aubrey was the last person to see Joel. Aubrey can’t say much, but since lies of omission are still lies, here’s what they know for sure:

-For the last two weeks of the school year, when sixth grade became too much, Aubrey and Joel have been building a raft in the woods.

-The raft was supposed to be just another part of their running away game.

-The raft is gone now, too.

Aubrey doesn’t know where Joel is, but they might know how to find him. As Aubrey, their friend Mari, and sister Teagan search along the river, Aubrey has to fess up to who they really are, all the things they never said, and the word that bully Rudy Thomas used that set all this into motion.

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Ellen Outside the Lines by A.J. Sass (March 22nd)

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

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

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

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Rabbit Chase by Elizabeth LaPensée and K.C. Oster (March 29th)

59342979. sx318 Anishinaabe culture and storytelling meet Alice in Wonderland in this coming-of-age graphic novel that explores Indigenous and gender issues through a fresh yet familiar looking glass.

Aimée, a non-binary Anishinaabe middle-schooler, is on a class trip to offer gifts to Paayehnsag, the water spirits known to protect the land. While stories are told about the water spirits and the threat of the land being taken over for development, Aimée zones out, distracting themselves from the bullying and isolation they’ve experienced since expressing their non-binary identity. When Aimée accidentally wanders off, they are transported to an alternate dimension populated by traditional Anishinaabe figures in a story inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

To gain the way back home, Aimée is called on to help Trickster by hunting down dark water spirits with guidance from Paayehnsag. On their journey, Aimée faces off with the land-grabbing Queen and her robotic guards and fights the dark water spirits against increasingly stacked odds. Illustrated by KC Oster with a modern take on their own Ojibwe style and cultural representation, Rabbit Chase is a story of self-discovery, community, and finding one’s place in the world.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Alice Austen Lived Here by Alex Gino (April 5th)

Sam is very in touch with their own queer identity. They’re nonbinary, and their best friend, TJ, is nonbinary as well. Sam’s family is very cool with it… as long as Sam remembers that nonbinary kids are also required to clean their rooms, do their homework, and try not to antagonize their teachers too much.

The teacher-respect thing is hard when it comes to Sam’s history class, because their teacher seems to believe that only Dead Straight Cis White Men are responsible for history. When Sam’s home borough of Staten Island opens up a contest for a new statue, Sam finds the perfect non-DSCWM subject: photographer Alice Austen, whose house has been turned into a museum, and who lived with a female partner for decades.

Soon, Sam’s project isn’t just about winning the contest. It’s about discovering a rich queer history that Sam’s a part of — a queer history that no longer needs to be quiet, as long as there are kids like Sam and TJ to stand up for it.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Different Kinds of Fruit by Kyle Lukoff (April 12th)

58925325Annabelle Blake fully expects this school year to be the same as every other: same teachers, same classmates, same, same, same. So she’s elated to discover there’s a new kid in town. To Annabelle, Bailey is a breath of fresh air. She loves hearing about their life in Seattle, meeting their loquacious (and kinda corny) parents, and hanging out at their massive house. And it doesn’t hurt that Bailey has a cute smile, nice hands (how can someone even have nice hands?) and smells really good.

Suddenly sixth grade is anything but the same. And when her irascible father shares that he and Bailey have something big–and surprising–in common, Annabelle begins to see herself, and her family, in a whole new light. At the same time she starts to realize that her community, which she always thought of as home, might not be as welcoming as she had thought. Together Annabelle, Bailey, and their families discover how these categories that seem to mean so much—boy, girl, gay, straight, fruit, vegetable—aren’t so clear-cut after all.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

In the Key of Us by Mariama J. Lockington (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.

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

Moonflower by Kacen Callender (May 3rd)

MoonflowerMoon has been plunged into a swill of uncertainty and confusion. They travel to the spirit realms every night, hoping never to return to the world of the living.

But when the realm is threatened, it’s up to Moon to save the spirit world, which sparks their own healing journey through the powerful, baffling, landscape that depression can cause.

From this novel’s very first utterance, author Kacen Callender puts us behind Moon’s eyes so that we, too, are engulfed by Moon’s troubling exploration through mental illness.

Moon’s mom is trying her best, but is clueless about what to do to reach the ugly roiling of her child’s inner struggles. At the same time, though, there are those who see Moon for who they are – Blue, the Keeper, the Magician, Wolf. These creature-guides help Moon find a way out of darkness. The ethereal aspects of the story are brilliantly blended with real-world glimmers of light. Slowly, Moon grows toward hope and wholeness, showing all children that each and every one of us has a tree growing inside. That our souls emerge when we discover, and fully accept, ourselves.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Real Riley Mayes by Rachel Elliott (May 3rd)

Fifth grade is just not Riley’s vibe. Everyone else is squaded-up, except her. Her one friend moved away. All Riley wants to do is draw, and her grades show it. One thing that makes her happy is her favorite comedian, Joy Powers. Riley loves to watch her old shows and has memorized her best jokes. So when the class is assigned to write letters to people they admire, of course Riley’s picking Joy Powers!

Things start to look up when a classmate, Cate, offers to help Riley with the letter, and a new kid, Aaron, actually seems to get her weird sense of humor. But when mean girl Whitney spreads a rumor about her, things begin to click into place for Riley. Her curiosity about Aaron’s two dads and her celebrity crush on Joy Powers suddenly make sense. Full of humor and heart, this is a story about friendship, identity, and embracing all the parts of yourself that make you special.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Science of Being Angry by Nicole Melleby (May 10th)

58328432. sy475 Eleven-year-old Joey is angry. All the time. And she doesn’t understand why. She has two loving moms, a supportive older half brother, and, as a triplet, she’s never without company. Her life is good. But sometimes she loses her temper and lashes out, like that time she threw a soccer ball—hard—at a boy in gym class and bruised his collarbone. Or the time jealousy made her push her (former) best friend (and crush), Layla, a little bit too hard.

After an incident at Joey’s apartment building leads to her family’s eviction, Joey is desperate to figure out why she is so angry. A new unit on genetics in her science class makes Joey wonder if maybe the reason is genetic. Does she lose control because of the donor her mothers chose?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The One Who Loves You The Most by medina (May 10th)

have never felt like I belonged to my body. Never in the way rhythm belongs to a song or waves belong to an ocean.
It seems like most people figure out where they belong by knowing where they came from. When they look in the mirror, they see their family in their eyes, in their sharp jawlines, in the texture of their hair. When they look at family photos, they see faces of people who look like them. They see faces of people who they’ll look like in the future.
For me, I only have my imagination.
But I’m always trying.

Twelve-year-old Gabriela is trying to find their place in the world. In their body, which feels less and less right with each passing day. As an adoptee, in their all-white family. With their mom, whom they love fiercely and do anything they can to help with her depression. And at school, where they search for friends.

A new year will bring a school project, trans and queer friends, and a YouTube channel that helps Gabriela find purpose in their journey.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Language of Seabirds by Will Taylor (May 17th)

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

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The Civil War of Amos Abernathy by Michael Leali (May 24th)

56587962. sy475 Amos Abernathy lives for history. Literally. He’s been a historical reenactor nearly all his life. But when a cute new volunteer arrives at his Living History Park, Amos finds himself wondering if there’s something missing from history: someone like the two of them.

Amos is sure there must have been LGBTQ+ people in nineteenth-century Illinois. His search turns up Albert D. J. Cashier, a Civil War soldier who might have identified as a trans man if he’d lived today. Soon Amos starts confiding in his newfound friend by writing letters in his journal—and hatches a plan to share Albert’s story with his divided twenty-first century town. It may be an uphill battle, but it’s one that Amos is ready to fight.

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Small Town Pride by Phil Stamper (May 31st)

Jake is just starting to enjoy life as his school’s first openly gay kid. While his family and friends are accepting and supportive, the same can’t be said about everyone in their small town of Barton Springs, Ohio. When Jake’s dad hangs a comically large pride flag in their front yard in an overblown show of love, the mayor begins to receive complaints. A few people are even concerned the flag will lead to something truly outlandish: a pride parade.

Except Jake doesn’t think that’s a ridiculous idea. Why can’t they hold a pride festival in Barton Springs? The problem is, Jake knows he’ll have to get approval from the town council, and the mayor won’t be on his side. And as Jake and his friends try to find a way to bring Pride to Barton Springs, it seems suspicious that the mayor’s son, Brett, suddenly wants to spend time with Jake. But someone that cute couldn’t possibly be in league with his mayoral mother, could he?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

New Releases: October 2021

The Citadel of Whispers by Kazim Ali (1st)

YOU are Krishi, a Whisperer studying ancient, secret magic at the Citadel. A secret visitor arrives late one night with news of the encroaching attack by the powerful Narbolian empire, who are poised to possess all of the kingdom of Elaria. Will the decisions you make protect the many wondrous people of this rich, fantastic world?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros (5th)

Chicago, 1893. For Alter Rosen, this is the land of opportunity, and he dreams of the day he’ll have enough money to bring his mother and sisters to America, freeing them from the oppression they face in his native Romania.

But when Alter’s best friend, Yakov, becomes the latest victim in a long line of murdered Jewish boys, his dream begins to slip away. While the rest of the city is busy celebrating the World’s Fair, Alter is now living a nightmare: possessed by Yakov’s dybbuk, he is plunged into a world of corruption and deceit, and thrown back into the arms of a dangerous boy from his past. A boy who means more to Alter than anyone knows.

Now, with only days to spare until the dybbuk takes over Alter’s body completely, the two boys must race to track down the killer—before the killer claims them next.

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Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper (5th)

Emmy Harlow is a witch but not a very powerful one—in part because she hasn’t been home to the magical town of Thistle Grove in years. Her self-imposed exile has a lot to do with a complicated family history and a desire to forge her own way in the world, and only the very tiniest bit to do with Gareth Blackmoore, heir to the most powerful magical family in town and casual breaker of hearts and destroyer of dreams.

But when a spellcasting tournament that her family serves as arbiters for approaches, it turns out the pull of tradition (or the truly impressive parental guilt trip that comes with it) is strong enough to bring Emmy back. She’s determined to do her familial duty; spend some quality time with her best friend, Linden Thorn; and get back to her real life in Chicago.

On her first night home, Emmy runs into Talia Avramov—an all-around badass adept in the darker magical arts—who is fresh off a bad breakup . . . with Gareth Blackmoore. Talia had let herself be charmed, only to discover that Gareth was also seeing Linden—unbeknownst to either of them. And now she and Linden want revenge. Only one question stands: Is Emmy in?

But most concerning of all: Why can’t she stop thinking about the terrifyingly competent, devastatingly gorgeous, wickedly charming Talia Avramov?

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The Gold Persimmon by Lindsay Merbaum (5th)

Clytemnestra is a check-in girl at The Gold Persimmon, a temple-like New York City hotel with gilded furnishings and carefully guarded secrets. Cloistered in her own reality, Cly lives by a strict set of rules until a connection with a troubled hotel guest threatens the world she’s so carefully constructed.

In a parallel reality, an inexplicable fog envelops the city, trapping a young, nonbinary writer named Jaime in a sex hotel with six other people. As the survivors begin to turn on one another, Jaime must navigate a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Haunted by specters of grief and familial shame, Jaime and Cly find themselves trapped in dual narratives in this gripping experimental novel that explores sexuality, surveillance, and the very nature of storytelling.

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Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman’s Fight to End Ableism by Elsa Sjunneson (5th)

A Deafblind writer and professor explores how the misrepresentation of disability in books, movies, and TV harms both the disabled community and everyone else.

As a Deafblind woman with partial vision in one eye and bilateral hearing aids, Elsa Sjunneson lives at the crossroads of blindness and sight, hearing and deafness—much to the confusion of the world around her. While she cannot see well enough to operate without a guide dog or cane, she can see enough to know when someone is reacting to the visible signs of her blindness and can hear when they’re whispering behind her back. And she certainly knows how wrong our one-size-fits-all definitions of disability can be.

As a media studies professor, she’s also seen the full range of blind and deaf portrayals on film, and here she deconstructs their impact, following common tropes through horror, romance, and everything in between. Part memoir, part cultural criticism, part history of the Deafblind experience, Being Seen explores how our cultural concept of disability is more myth than fact, and the damage it does to us all.

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Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle (5th)

52295479When Becca transfers to a high school in an elite San Francisco suburb, she’s worried she’s not going to fit in. To her surprise, she’s immediately adopted by the most popular girls in school. At first glance, Marley, Arianna, and Mandy are perfect. But at a party under a full moon, Becca learns that they also have a big secret.

Becca’s new friends are werewolves. Their prey? Slimy boys who take advantage of unsuspecting girls. Eager to be accepted, Becca allows her friends to turn her into a werewolf, and finally, for the first time in her life, she feels like she truly belongs.

But things get complicated when Arianna’s predatory boyfriend is killed, and the cops begin searching for a serial killer. As their pack begins to buckle under the pressure—and their moral high ground gets muddier and muddier—Becca realizes that she might have feelings for one of her new best friends.

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The Swank Hotel by Lucy Corin (5th)

At the outset of the 2008 financial crisis, Em has a dependable, dull marketing job generating reports of vague utility while she anxiously waits to hear news of her sister, Ad, who has gone missing—again. Em’s days pass drifting back and forth between her respectably cute starter house (bought with a “responsible, salary-backed, fixed-rate mortgage”) and her dreary office. Then something unthinkable, something impossible happens and she begins to see how madness permeates everything around her while the mundane spaces she inhabits are transformed, through Lucy Corin’s idiosyncratic magic, into shimmering sites of the uncanny.

The story that swirls around Em moves through several perspectives and voices. There is Frank, the tart-tongued, failing manager at her office; Jack, the man with whom Frank has had a love affair for decades; Em and Ad’s eccentric parents who live in a house that is perpetually being built; and Tasio, the young man from Chiapas who works for them and falls in love with Ad. Through them Corin portrays porousness and breakdown in individuals and families, in economies and political systems, in architecture, technology, and even in language itself.

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The Throwback List by Lily Anderson (5th)

57007818. sy475 Welcome to Sandy Point, Oregon: a sleepy beach town that’s home to a giant anchor statue, a sometimes-karaoke-bar, and Frosty’s questionably legendary Sunday Sundae Surprise. A town Jo, Autumn, and Bianca thought they’d left far behind when they graduated high school, finally moving on to greener pastures than the midway point for tourists heading to the Goonies house. But life seldom goes according to plan.

Bianca Boria-Birdy, former prom queen and valedictorian, has always been an overachiever. As she juggles managing the family tattoo parlor, caring for her grandmother, and adjusting to a new marriage, Bianca’s schedule becomes stricter than ever, with no room for disruption. What she really needs is a vacation, but not even Bianca Boria-Birdy can achieve the impossible.

Autumn Kelly used to be an actress. Now she teaches drama at Sandy Point High. She may have had to kiss her movie-star dreams goodbye, but molding the next generation of performers has given her life meaning in a whole new way. Until the sudden reappearance of her ex-best friend throws everything off-balance.

Jo Freeman has it all together. With a cool job in Silicon Valley, connections at the trendiest fitness studios, and a down payment on her dream condo, she’s well on her way to reaching every one of her goals before thirty. Or she was, before she got fired and landed right back home with her parents and teenage sister.

When Jo finds an old bucket list in her childhood bedroom, it sets the three women on a path that brings them closer to one another with each task. And it just might lead to a life none of them could have planned.

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The Savage Kind by John Copenhaver (5th)

Philippa Watson, a good-natured yet troubled seventeen-year-old, has just moved to Washington, DC. She’s lonely until she meets Judy Peabody, a brilliant and tempestuous classmate. The girls become unlikely friends and fashion themselves as intellectuals, drawing the notice of Christine Martins, their dazzling English teacher, who enthralls them with her passion for literature and her love of noirish detective fiction.

When Philippa returns a novel Miss Martins has lent her, she interrupts a man grappling with her in the shadows. Frightened, Philippa flees, unsure who the man is or what she’s seen. Days later, her teacher returns to school altered: a dark shell of herself. On the heels of her teacher’s transformation, a classmate is found dead in the Anacostia River—murdered—the body stripped and defiled with a mysterious inscription.

As the girls follow the clues and wrestle with newfound feelings toward each other, they suspect that the killer is closer to their circle than they imagined—and that the greatest threat they face may not be lurking in the halls at school, or in the city streets, but creeping out from a murderous impulse of their own.

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Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing Up with the AIDS Crisis by Matilda Bernstein Sycamore (5th)

Every queer person lives with the trauma of AIDS, and this plays out intergenerationally. Usually we hear about two generations—the first, coming of age in the era of gay liberation, and then watching entire circles of friends die of a mysterious illness as the government did nothing to intervene. And now we hear about younger people growing up with effective treatment and prevention available, unable to comprehend the magnitude of the loss. But there is another generation between these two, one that came of age in the midst of the epidemic with the belief that desire intrinsically led to death, and internalized this trauma as part of becoming queer.

Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing up with the AIDS Crisis offers crucial stories from this missing generation in AIDS literature and cultural politics. This wide-ranging collection includes 36 personal essays on the ongoing and persistent impact of the HIV/AIDS crisis in queer lives. Here you will find an expansive range of perspectives on a specific generational story—essays that explore and explode conventional wisdom, while also providing a necessary bridge between experiences. These essays respond, with eloquence and incisiveness, to the question: How do we reckon with the trauma that continues to this day, and imagine a way out?

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A Carnival of Snackery by David Sedaris (5th)

57190758. sy475 If it’s navel-gazing you’re after, you’ve come to the wrong place; ditto treacly self-examination. Rather, his observations turn outward: a fight between two men on a bus, a fight between two men on the street, pedestrians being whacked over the head or gathering to watch as a man considers leap­ing to his death. There’s a dirty joke shared at a book signing, then a dirtier one told at a dinner party—lots of jokes here. Plenty of laughs.

These diaries remind you that you once really hated George W. Bush, and that not too long ago, Donald Trump was just a harm­less laughingstock, at least on French TV. Time marches on, and Sedaris, at his desk or on planes, in hotel dining rooms and odd Japanese inns, records it. The entries here reflect an ever-changing background—new administrations, new restrictions on speech and conduct. What you can say at the start of the book, you can’t by the end. At its best, A Carnival of Snackery is a sort of sampler: the bitter and the sweet. Some entries are just what you wanted. Others you might want to spit discreetly into a napkin.

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Greedy: Notes from a Bisexual Who Wants Too Much by Jen Winston (5th)

56898297If Jen Winston knows one thing for sure, it’s that she’s bisexual. Or wait—maybe she isn’t? Actually, she definitely is. Unless…she’s not?

Jen’s provocative, laugh-out-loud debut takes us inside her journey of self-discovery, leading us through stories of a childhood “girl crush,” an onerous quest to have a threesome, and an enduring fear of being bad at sex. Greedy follows Jen’s attempts to make sense of herself as she explores the role of the male gaze, what it means to be “queer enough,” and how to overcome bi stereotypes when you’re the posterchild for all of them: greedy, slutty, and constantly confused.

With her clever voice and clear-eyed insight, Jen draws on personal experiences with sexism and biphobia to understand how we all can and must do better. She sheds light on the reasons women, queer people, and other marginalized groups tend to make ourselves smaller, provoking the question: What would happen if we suddenly stopped?​​

Greedy shows us that being bisexual is about so much more than who you’re sleeping with—it’s about finding stability in a state of flux and defining yourself on your own terms. This book inspires us to rethink the world as we know it, reminding us that Greedy was a superpower all along.

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A Tale of Two Omars by Omar Sharif Jr. (5th)

The grandson of Hollywood royalty on his father’s side and Holocaust survivors on his mother’s, Omar Sharif Jr. learned early on how to move between worlds, from the Montreal suburbs to the glamorous orbit of his grandparents’ Cairo. His famous name always protected him wherever he went. When, in the wake of the Arab Spring, he made the difficult decision to come out in the pages of The Advocate, he knew his life would forever change. What he didn’t expect was the backlash that followed.

From bullying, to illness, attempted suicide, becoming a victim of sex trafficking, death threats by the thousands, revolution and never being able to return to a country he once called home, Omar Sharif Jr. has overcome more challenges than one might imagine. Drawing on the lessons he learned from both sides of his family, A Tale of Two Omars charts the course of an iconoclastic life, revealing in the process the struggles and successes that attend a public journey of self-acceptance and a life dedicated in service to others.

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

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

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The Other Man by Farhad J. Dadyburjor (12th)

Heir to his father’s Mumbai business empire, Ved Mehra has money, looks, and status. He is also living as a closeted gay man. Thirty-eight, lonely, still reeling from a breakup, and under pressure from his exasperated mother, Ved agrees to an arranged marriage. He regrettably now faces a doomed future with the perfectly lovely Disha Kapoor.

Then Ved’s world is turned upside down when he meets Carlos Silva, an American on a business trip in India.

As preparations for his wedding get into full swing, Ved finds himself drawn into a relationship he could never have imagined―and ready to take a bold step. Ved is ready to embrace who he is and declare his true feelings regardless of family expectations and staunch traditions. But with his engagement party just days away, and with so much at risk, Ved will have to fight for what he wants―if it’s not too late to get it.

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Tonight We Rule the World by Zack Smedley (12th)

Owen Turner is a boy of too many words. For years, they all stayed inside his head and he barely spoke—until he met Lily. Lily, the girl who gave him his voice, helped him come out as bi, and settle into his ASD diagnosis. But everything unravels when someone reports Owen’s biggest secret to the school: that he was sexually assaulted at a class event.

As officials begin interviewing students to get to the bottom of things, rumors about an assault flood the school hallways. No one knows it happened to Owen, and he’s afraid of what will happen if his name gets out. He’s afraid that his classmates will call him a word he can’t stand—“victim.” He’s afraid his father, a tough-as-nails military vet, will resort to extreme methods to hunt down the name of who did it. And he’s afraid that when Lily finds out, she’ll take their relationship to a dark, dangerous place to keep Owen quiet. Then, one day, Owen’s fears all come true. And it will take everything he’s got to escape the explosion intact.

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Special Topics in Being a Human: A Queer and Tender Guide to Things I’ve Learned the Hard Way about Caring for People, Including Myself by S. Bear Bergman, ill. by Saul Freedman-Lawson (12th)

58231506. sx318 As an author, educator, and public speaker, S. Bear Bergman has documented his experience as, among other things, a trans parent, with wit and aplomb. He also writes the advice column “Ask Bear,” in which he answers crucial questions about how best to make our collective way through the world.

Featuring disarming illustrations by Saul Freedman-Lawson, Special Topics in Being a Human elaborates on “Asking Bear”’s premise: a gentle, witty, and insightful book of practical advice for the modern age. It offers Dad advice and Jewish bubbe wisdom, all filtered through a queer lens, to help you navigate some of the complexities of life—from how to make big decisions or make a good apology, to how to get someone’s new name and pronouns right as quickly as possible, to how to gracefully navigate a breakup. With warmth and candor, Special Topics in Being a Human calls out social inequities and injustices in traditional advice-giving, validates your feelings, asks a lot of questions, and tries to help you be your best possible self with kindness, compassion, and humor.

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Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Saenz (12th)

This is a sequel to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

56980548In Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, two boys in a border town fell in love. Now, they must discover what it means to stay in love and build a relationship in a world that seems to challenge their very existence.

Ari has spent all of high school burying who he really is, staying silent and invisible. He expected his senior year to be the same. But something in him cracked open when he fell in love with Dante, and he can’t go back. Suddenly he finds himself reaching out to new friends, standing up to bullies of all kinds, and making his voice heard. And, always, there is Dante, dreamy, witty Dante, who can get on Ari’s nerves and fill him with desire all at once.

The boys are determined to forge a path for themselves in a world that doesn’t understand them. But when Ari is faced with a shocking loss, he’ll have to fight like never before to create a life that is truthfully, joyfully his own.

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The Light Streamed Beneath It by Shawn Hitchins (12th)

56996748A modern gay memoir exploring love, death, pain, and community that will resonate long after the last page A lifetime of finding punchlines in his heartache comes to a shuddering stop when comedian and writer Shawn Hitchins loses two great loves, five months apart, to sudden death. In this deeply poignant memoir that combines sober self-portrait with tender elegy, Hitchins explores the messiness of being alive: the longing and desire, scorching-earth anger, raw grief — and the pathway of healing he discovers when he lets his heart remain open. Never without an edge of self-awareness, The Light Streamed Beneath It invites the reader into Hitchins’s world as he reckons with his past and stays painfully in the present. As he builds an embodied future, he confronts the stories that have shaped him, sets aside his ambition, and seeks connection in what he used to deflect with laughter — therapy, community and chosen family, movement, spirituality, and an awareness of death’s ever-presence. A heartrending and hope-filled story of resilience in the wake of death, The Light Streamed Beneath It joyfully affirms that life is essentially good, as Hitchins weaves his tale full of tenacious spirit, humor, kindness, and grit through life’s most unforgiving challenges.

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Trailer Park Trickster by David R. Slayton (12th)

This is the sequel to White Trash Warlock

56914971They are my harvest, and I will reap them all.

Returning to Guthrie, Oklahoma, Adam Binder once again finds himself in the path of deadly magic when a dark druid begins to prey on members of Adam’s family. It all seems linked to the death of Adam’s father many years ago—a man who may have somehow survived as a warlock.

Watched by the police, separated from the man who may be the love of his life, compelled to seek the truth about his connection to the druid, Adam learns more about his family and its troubled history than he ever bargained for, and finally comes face to face with the warlock he has vowed to stop.

Meanwhile, beyond the Veil of the mortal world, Argent the Queen of Swords and Vic Martinez undertake a dangerous journey to a secret meeting of the Council of Races . . . where the sea elves are calling for the destruction of humanity.

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Madder: a Memoir in Weeds by Marco Wilkinson (12th)

“My life, these weeds.” Marco Wilkinson uses his deep knowledge of undervalued plants, mainly weeds—invisible yet ubiquitous, unwanted yet abundant, out-of-place yet flourishing—as both structure and metaphor in these intimate vignettes. Madder combines poetic meditations on nature, immigration, queer sensuality, and willful forgetting with recollections of Wilkinson’s Rhode Island childhood and glimpses of his maternal family’s life in Uruguay. The son of a fierce, hard-working mother who tried to erase even the memory of his absent father from their lives, Wilkinson investigates his heritage with a mixture of anger and empathy as he wrestles with the ambiguity of his own history. Using a verdant iconography rich with wordplay and symbolism, Wilkinson offers a mesmerizing portrait of cultivating belonging in an uprooted world.

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Unwritten Rules by KD Casey (12th)

Zach Glasser has put up with a lot for the sport he loves. Endless days on the road, playing half-decent baseball in front of half-full stadiums and endless nights alone, pretending this is the life he’s always wanted.

The thing is, it could have been everything he ever wanted—if only he’d had the guts to tell his family, tell the club, that he was in love with his teammate Eugenio Morales. Well, ex-teammate now. When Zach wouldn’t—couldn’t—come out, Eugenio made the devastating choice to move on, demanding a trade away from Oakland. Away from Zach.

Three years and countless regrets later, Zach still can’t get Eugenio out of his head. Or his heart. And when they both get selected to play in the league’s All-Star Classic, those feelings and that chemistry come roaring back.

Zach wants a second chance. Eugenio wants a relationship he doesn’t have to hide. Maybe it’s finally time they both get what they want.

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Thronebreakers by Rebecca Coffindaffer (12th)

This is the sequel to Crownchasers

45011657Alyssa Farshot never wanted to rule the empire. But to honor her uncle’s dying wish, she participated in the crownchase, a race across the empire’s 1,001 planets to find the royal seal and win the throne. Alyssa tried to help her friend, Coy, win the crownchase, but just as victory was within their grasp, Edgar Voles killed Coy—and claimed the seal for himself.

Broken-hearted over her friend’s death, Alyssa is hell-bent on revenge. But Edgar is well protected in the kingship. Alyssa will have to rally rivals, friends, and foes from across the empire to take him down and change the course of the galaxy.

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Just One Wedding by Chelsea M. Cameron (14th)

Just One Wedding (Castleton Hearts Book 3) by [Chelsea M. Cameron]Charli Sweet is happy to be living in Castleton, Maine with her roommate Natalie and working at her aunt’s bakery doing their social media management. She is, promise. So what if she can’t stop thinking about her ex who dumped her in dramatic fashion a year ago by changing the locks on their apartment? It takes a long time to get over a breakup.

Charli is more than happy to have her cousin Linley’s wedding to focus on. That is until she meets Linley’s wedding coordinator, Alivia Ackerman. Or meets her AGAIN. It’s not Charli’s fault that she went to a bar and hooked up with a stranger right after her breakup. It’s also not her fault that the stranger turns out to be planning her cousin’s wedding and now things are… awkward. And tense (in the sexual sense).

Can Charli ignore her previous history with Alivia (and her growing feelings) and focus on her cousin’s wedding? Or will the distraction of Alivia prove too great for her to resist having another taste and losing her heart in the process?

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Of Trust and Heart by Charlotte Anne Hamilton (18th)

53257693. sx318 sy475 The Great War changed everything for Lady Harriet Cunningham. Instead of being presented at eighteen, she trained to be a nurse and shared forbidden kisses with her colleagues.

But now in 1923, at the age of 24, Harriet is facing spinsterhood.

It’s not such a ghastly prospect to her, but as the daughter of the Earl of Creoch, there’s a certain expectation that she must meet. So, in a last attempt to find a match for their daughter to see her safe and secure, they send her to her aunt and uncle in New York.

Only when she gets there, she and her cousin, a man who, like her, suffers from the weight of expectation from his father, decide on one last hoorah as a memory to hold close to their heart in their later life.

But when they arrive at the speakeasy hidden beneath a small bookstore, Harriet finds herself entranced by the singer. No matter how hard she wants to please her family and do her duty, she finds that there’s something about the woman that she can’t stay away from — that she can’t ignore her heart. Which is loudly calling for Miss Rosalie Smith.

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This is Our Rainbow ed. by Katherine Locke and Nicole Melleby (19th)

The first LGBTQ+ anthology for middle-graders featuring stories for every letter of the acronym, including realistic, fantasy, and sci-fi stories by authors like Justina Ireland, Marieke Nijkamp, Alex Gino, and more!

A boyband fandom becomes a conduit to coming out. A former bully becomes a first-kiss prospect. One nonbinary kid searches for an inclusive athletic community after quitting gymnastics. Another nonbinary kid, who happens to be a pirate, makes a wish that comes true–but not how they thought it would. A tween girl navigates a crush on her friend’s mom. A young witch turns herself into a puppy to win over a new neighbor. A trans girl empowers her online bestie to come out.

From wind-breathing dragons to first crushes, This Is Our Rainbow features story after story of joyful, proud LGBTQIA+ representation. You will fall in love with this insightful, poignant anthology of queer fantasy, historical, and contemporary stories from authors including: Eric Bell, Lisa Jenn Bigelow, Ashley Herring Blake, Lisa Bunker, Alex Gino, Justina Ireland, Shing Yin Khor, Katherine Locke, Mariama J. Lockington, Nicole Melleby, Marieke Nijkamp, Claribel A. Ortega, Mark Oshiro, Molly Knox Ostertag, Aida Salazar, and AJ Sass.

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The Days of Afrekete by Asali Solomon (19th)

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.

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Little Thieves by Margaret Owen (19th)

(Vanja is demisexual.)

54017820Vanja Schmidt knows that no gift is freely given, not even a mother’s love–and she’s on the hook for one hell of a debt. Vanja, the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, was Princess Gisele’s dutiful servant up until a year ago. That was when Vanja’s otherworldly mothers demanded a terrible price for their care, and Vanja decided to steal her future back… by stealing Gisele’s life for herself.

The real Gisele is left a penniless nobody while Vanja uses an enchanted string of pearls to take her place. Now, Vanja leads a lonely but lucrative double life as princess and jewel thief, charming nobility while emptying their coffers to fund her great escape. Then, one heist away from freedom, Vanja crosses the wrong god and is cursed to an untimely end: turning into jewels, stone by stone, for her greed.

Vanja has just two weeks to figure out how to break her curse and make her getaway. And with a feral guardian half-god, Gisele’s sinister fiancé, and an overeager junior detective on Vanja’s tail, she’ll have to pull the biggest grift yet to save her own life.

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On Top of Glass by Karina Manta (19th)

56905045An insightful memoir from a figure skating champion about her life as a bisexual professional athlete, perfect for readers of Fierce by Aly Raisman and Forward by Abby Wambach.

Karina Manta has had a busy few years: Not only did she capture the hearts of many with her fan-favorite performance at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, she also became the first female figure skater on Team USA to come out as queer. Her Modern Love essay “I Can’t Hate My Body if I Love Hers” was published in the New York Times, and then she joined the circus—Cirque du Soleil’s on-ice show, AXEL.

Karina’s memoir covers these experiences and much more. Attending a high school with 4,000 students, you’d expect to know more than two openly gay students, but Karina didn’t meet an out-lesbian until she was nearly seventeen—let alone any other kind of queer woman. But this isn’t just a story about her queerness. It’s also a story about her struggle with body image in a sport that prizes delicate femininity. It’s a story about panic attacks, and first crushes, and all the crushes that followed, and it’s a story about growing up, feeling different than everybody around her and then realizing that everyone else felt different too.

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City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn (October 19th)

53962017As darkness closes in on the city of shattered light, an heiress and an outlaw must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other.

As heiress to a powerful tech empire, seventeen-year-old Asa Almeida strives to prove she’s more than her manipulative father’s shadow. But when he uploads her rebellious sister’s mind to an experimental brain, Asa will do anything to save her sister from reprogramming—including fleeing her predetermined future with her sister’s digitized mind in tow. With a bounty on her head and a rogue A.I. hunting her, Asa’s getaway ship crash-lands in the worst possible place: the neon-drenched outlaw paradise, Requiem.

Gun-slinging smuggler Riven Hawthorne is determined to claw her way up Requiem’s underworld hierarchy. A runaway rich girl is exactly the bounty Riven needs—until a nasty computer virus spreads in Asa’s wake, causing a citywide blackout and tech quarantine. To get the payout for Asa and save Requiem from the monster in its circuits, Riven must team up with her captive.

Riven breaks skulls the way Asa breaks circuits, but their opponent is unlike anything they’ve ever seen. The A.I. exploits the girls’ darkest memories and deepest secrets, threatening to shatter the fragile alliance they’re both depending on. As one of Requiem’s 154-hour nights grows darker, the girls must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other before Riven’s city and Asa’s sister are snuffed out forever.

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That Dark Infinity by Kate Pentecost (19th)

(Flora is bi.)

56881045By night, the Ankou is a legendary, permanently young mercenary — the most fearsome sword for hire in all of the Five Lands, and its most abiding mystery. But when the sun rises, a dark magic leaves him no more than bones. Cursed with this cycle of death and resurrection, the Ankou wants only to find the final rest that has been prophesied for him, no matter the cost.

When the kingdom of Kaer-Ise is sacked, Flora, handmaiden to the royal family, is assaulted and left for dead. Wounded, heartbroken, and the sole survivor of the massacre, Flora wants desperately to be reunited with the princess she served and loved. She and the Ankou make a deal: He will help Flora find her princess, and train Flora in combat, in exchange for her aid in breaking his curse. But it isn’t easy to kill an immortal, especially when their bond begins to deepen into something more….

Together, they will solve mysteries, battle monsters, and race against time in this fantasy novel about sacrifice, love, and healing by Elysium Girls author Kate Pentecost.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

What’s the Matter with Mary Jane? by Candas Jane Dorsey (19th)

This is the second book in the Epitome Apartments series

A wise-cracking, grammar-obsessed, pansexual amateur sleuth is thrust into the world of the uber-rich when her enigmatic, now-famous childhood friend breezes back into her life begging for help with a dangerous stalker Our nameless postmodern amateur sleuth is still recovering from her first dangerous foray into detective work when her old friend Priscilla Jane Gill breezes back into her life and begs for help. Pris, now a famous travel writer, fears she’s being stalked again after a nearly fatal attack by a deranged fan a year earlier. In Pris’s dizzying world of wealth and privilege, nameless meets dreamy but sinister tech billionaire Nathan and his equally unnerving sidekick Chiles. Pris’s stalker is murdered outside her book launch, and the shadow of obsession continues to stalk Pris. With no one she can totally trust, nameless knows she’s not going to like the answer ― but she delves into her old friend’s past, seeking the mastermind behind Pris’s troubles before it’s too late. Bunnywit does his level best to warn them, but no one else speaks Cat, so background peril transforms into foreground betrayal and murder. In the second installation of the Epitome Apartments Mystery Series, our heroine walks a dangerous path in a world where money is no object and the stakes are higher, and more personal, than ever.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

Meet Me in Madrid by Verity Lowell (26th)

56923251Charlotte Hilaire has a love-hate relationship with her work as a museum courier. On the one hand, it takes her around the world. On the other, her plan to become a professor is veering dangerously off track.

Yet once in a while, maybe every third trip or so, the job goes delightfully sideways…

When a blizzard strands Charlotte in Spain for a few extra days and she’s left with glorious free time on her hands, the only question is: Dare she invite her grad school crush for an after-dinner drink on a snowy night?

Accomplished, take-no-prisoners art historian Adrianna Coates has built an enviable career since Charlotte saw her last. She’s brilliant. Sophisticated. Impressive as hell and strikingly beautiful.

Hospitable, too, as she absolutely insists Charlotte spend the night on her pullout sofa as the storm rages on.

One night becomes three and three nights become a hot and adventurous long-distance relationship when Charlotte returns to the States. But when Adrianna plots her next career move just as Charlotte finally opens a door in academia, distance may not be the only thing that keeps them apart.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Tink and Wendy by Kelly Ann Jacobson (26th)

57680483. sy475 What happens when Tinker Bell is in love with both Peter Pan and Wendy?

In this sparkling re-imagining of Peter Pan, Peter and Wendy’s granddaughter Hope Darling finds the reclusive Tinker Bell squatting at the Darling mansion in order to care for the graves of her two lost friends after a love triangle gone awry. As Hope wins the fairy’s trust, Tink tells her the truth about Wendy and Peter―and her own role in their ultimate fate. Told in three alternating perspectives―past, present, and excerpts from a book called Neverland: A History written by Tink’s own fairy godmother―this queer adaptation is for anyone who has ever wondered if there might have been more to the story of Tinker Bell and the rest of the Peter Pan legend.

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

The Golden Hour by Niki Smith (26th)

The Golden HourStruggling with anxiety after witnessing a harrowing instance of gun violence, Manuel Soto copes through photography, using his cell-phone camera to find anchors that keep him grounded. His days are a lonely, latchkey monotony until he’s teamed with his classmates, Sebastian and Caysha, for a group project.

Sebastian lives on a grass-fed cattle farm outside of town, and Manuel finds solace in the open fields and in the antics of the newborn calf Sebastian is hand-raising. As Manuel aides his new friends in their preparations for the local county fair, he learns to open up, confronts his deepest fears, and even finds first love.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Perks of Loving a Wallflower by Erica Ridley (26th)

57007959As a master of disguise, Thomasina Wynchester can be a polite young lady–or a bawdy old man. She’ll do whatever it takes to solve the cases her family takes on. But when Tommy’s beautiful new client turns out to be the highborn lady she’s secretly smitten with, more than her mission is at stake . . .

Bluestocking Miss Philippa York doesn’t believe in love. Her heart didn’t pitter-patter when she was betrothed to a duke, nor did it break when he married someone else. All Philippa desires is to decode a centuries-old manuscript to keep a modern-day villain from claiming credit for work that wasn’t his. She hates that she needs a man’s help to do it–so she’s delighted to discover the clever, charming baron at her side is in fact a woman. But as she and Tommy grow closer and the stakes of their discovery higher, more than just their hearts are at risk.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl (26th)

50638223The Descendants meets Pretty Little Liars in this story of four reimagined fairytale heroines who must uncover connections to their ancient curses and forge their own paths… before it’s too late.

After the mysterious death of their best friend, Ella, Yuki, and Rory are the talk of their elite school, Grimrose Académie. The police ruled Ariane’s death as a suicide, but the trio are determined to find out what really happened.

When Nani Eszes arrives as their newest roommate, it sets into motion a series of events that no one could have predicted. As the girls retrace their friend’s final days, they discover a dark secret about Grimrose—Ariane wasn’t the first dead girl.

They soon learn that all the past murders are connected to ancient fairytale curses…and that their own fates are tied to the stories, dooming the girls to brutal and gruesome endings unless they can break the cycle for good.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Another Kind by Cait May and Trevor Bream (26th)

56817014Six kids search for a new place to call home in this middle grade graphic novel debut by comic creators Cait May and Trevor Bream, for fans of Marvel’s Runaways and The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag. Another Kind is not your average monster story.

Tucked away in a government facility nicknamed the Playroom, six not-quite-human kids learn to control their strange and unpredictable abilities. Life is good—or safe, at least—hidden from the prying eyes of a judgmental world.

That is, until a security breach forces them out of their home and into the path of the Collector, a mysterious being with leech-like powers.

Can the group band together to thwart the Collector’s devious plan, or will they wind up the newest addition to his collection?

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

We Light Up the Sky by Lilliam Rivera (26th)

55891831Pedro, Luna, and Rafa may attend Fairfax High School together in Los Angeles, but they run in separate spheres. Pedro is often told that he’s “too much” and seeks refuge from his home life in a local drag bar. Luna is pretending to go along with the popular crowd but is still grieving the unexpected passing of her beloved cousin Tasha. Then there’s Rafa, the quiet new kid who is hiding the fact that his family is homeless.

But Pedro, Luna, and Rafa find themselves thrown together when an extraterrestrial visitor lands in their city and takes the form of Luna’s cousin Tasha. As the Visitor causes destruction wherever it goes, the three teens struggle to survive and warn others of what’s coming–because this Visitor is only the first of many. But who is their true enemy–this alien, or their fellow humans? Can Pedro, Luna, and Rafa find a way to save a world that has repeatedly proven it doesn’t want to save them?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Baggage by Alan Cumming (26th)

There is absolutely no logical reason why I am here. The life trajectory my nationality and class and circumstances portended for me was not even remotely close to the one I now navigate. But logic is a science and living is an art.

The release I felt in writing my first memoir, Not My Father’s Son, was matched only by how my speaking out empowered so many to engage with their own trauma. I was reminded of the power of my words and the absolute duty of authenticity.

But…

No one ever fully recovers from their past. There is no cure for it. You just learn to manage and prioritize it. I believe the second you feel you have triumphed or overcome something – an abuse, an injury to the body or the mind, an addiction, a character flaw, a habit, a person – you have merely decided to stop being vigilant and embraced denial as your modus operandi. And that is what this book is about, and for: to remind you not to buy in to the Hollywood ending.

Ironically maybe, much of Baggage chronicles my life in Hollywood and how, since I recovered from a nervous breakdown at 28, work has repeatedly whisked me away from personal calamities to sets and stages around the world. It is also about marriage(s): starting with the break-up of my first (to a woman) and ending with the ascension to my second (to a man) with many kissed toads in between! But in everything, each failed relationship or encounter with a legend (Liza! X Men! Gore Vidal! Kubrick! Spice Girls!), in every bad decision or moment of sensual joy I have endeavored to show what I have learned and how I’ve become who I am today: a happy, flawed, vulnerable, fearless middle-aged man, with a lot of baggage.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Tell Me I’m Worthless by Alison Rumfitt (28th)

57307172. sy475 Three years ago, Alice spent one night in an abandoned house with her friends Ila and Hannah. Since then, things have not been going well. Alice is living a haunted existence, selling videos of herself cleaning for money, going to parties she hates, drinking herself to sleep. She hasn’t spoken to Ila since they went into the House. She hasn’t seen Hannah either.

Memories of that night torment her mind and her flesh, but when Ila asks her to return to the House, past the KEEP OUT sign, over the sick earth where teenagers dare each other to venture, she knows she must go.

Together Alice and Ila must face the horrifying occurrences that happened there, must pull themselves apart from the inside out, put their differences aside, and try to rescue Hannah, who the House has chosen to make its own.

Buy it: Waterstones

Most Anticipated LGBTQA Middle Grade: July-December 2021

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

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

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

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

A Touch of Ruckus by Ash Van Otterloo (September 7th)

Tennessee Lancaster has a hidden gift.

She can pry into folks’ memories with just a touch of their belongings. It’s something she’s always kept hidden — especially from her big, chaotic family. Their lives are already chock-full of worries about Daddy’s job and Mama’s blues without Tennie rocking the boat.

But when the Lancasters move to the mountains for a fresh start, Tennie’s gift does something new. Instead of just memories, her touch releases a ghost with a terrifying message: Trouble is coming. Tennie wants to ignore it. Except her new friend Fox — scratch that, her only friend, Fox — is desperate to go ghost hunting deep in the forest. And when Tennie frees even more of the spirits, trouble is exactly what she gets… and it hits close to home. The ghosts will be heard, and now Tennie must choose between keeping secrets or naming an ugly truth that could tear her family apart.

Magic and mayhem abound in this spooky story about family legacies, first friendships, and how facing the ghosts inside can sometimes mean stirring up a little bit of ruckus.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Other Boys by Damian Alexander (September 7th)

In Other Boys, debut author Damian Alexander delivers a moving middle grade graphic memoir about his struggles with bullying, the death of his mother, and coming out.

Damian is the new kid at school, and he has a foolproof plan to avoid the bullying that’s plagued him his whole childhood: he’s going to stop talking. Starting on the first day seventh grade, he won’t utter a word. If he keeps his mouth shut, the bullies will have nothing to tease him about―right?

But Damian’s vow of silence doesn’t work―his classmates can tell there’s something different about him. His family doesn’t look like the kind on TV: his mother is dead, his father is gone, and he’s being raised by his grandparents in a low-income household. And Damian does things that boys aren’t supposed do, like play with Barbies instead of GI Joe. Kids have teased him about this his whole life, especially other boys. But if boys can be so cruel, why does Damian have a crush on one?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

The Insiders by Mark Oshiro (September 21st)

San Francisco and Orangevale may be in the same state, but for Héctor Muñoz, they might as well be a million miles apart. Back home, being gay didn’t mean feeling different. At Héctor’s new school, he couldn’t feel more alone.

Most days, Héctor just wishes he could disappear. And he does. Right into the janitor’s closet. (Yes, he sees the irony.) But one day, when the door closes behind him, Héctor discovers he’s stumbled into a room that shouldn’t be possible. A room that connects him with two new friends from different corners of the country—and opens the door to a life-changing year full of magic, friendship, and adventure.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

City of Thieves by Alex London (September 21st)

54671391. sy475 In a modern mega-city built around dragons, one boy gets caught up in the world of underground dragon battles and a high-stakes gang war that could tear his family apart.

Once, dragons nearly drove themselves to extinction. But in the city of Drakopolis, humans domesticated them centuries ago. Now dragons haul the city’s cargo, taxi its bustling people between skyscrapers, and advertise its wares in bright, neon displays. Most famously of all, the dragons battle. Different breeds take to the skies in nighttime bouts between the infamous kins―criminal gangs who rule through violence and intimidation.

Abel has always loved dragons, but after a disastrous showing in his dragon rider’s exam, he’s destined never to fly one himself. All that changes the night his sister appears at his window, entrusting him with a secret…and a stolen dragon.

Turns out, his big sister is a dragon thief! Too bad his older brother is a rising star in Drakopolis law enforcement…

To protect his friends and his family, Abel must partner with the stolen beast, riding in kin battles and keeping more secrets than a dragon has scales.

When everyone wants him fighting on their side, can Abel figure out what’s worth fighting for?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

This is Our Rainbow ed. by Katherine Locke and Nicole Melleby (October 19th)

The first LGBTQ+ anthology for middle-graders featuring stories for every letter of the acronym, including realistic, fantasy, and sci-fi stories by authors like Justina Ireland, Marieke Nijkamp, Alex Gino, and more!

A boyband fandom becomes a conduit to coming out. A former bully becomes a first-kiss prospect. One nonbinary kid searches for an inclusive athletic community after quitting gymnastics. Another nonbinary kid, who happens to be a pirate, makes a wish that comes true–but not how they thought it would. A tween girl navigates a crush on her friend’s mom. A young witch turns herself into a puppy to win over a new neighbor. A trans girl empowers her online bestie to come out.

From wind-breathing dragons to first crushes, This Is Our Rainbow features story after story of joyful, proud LGBTQIA+ representation. You will fall in love with this insightful, poignant anthology of queer fantasy, historical, and contemporary stories from authors including: Eric Bell, Lisa Jenn Bigelow, Ashley Herring Blake, Lisa Bunker, Alex Gino, Justina Ireland, Shing Yin Khor, Katherine Locke, Mariama J. Lockington, Nicole Melleby, Marieke Nijkamp, Claribel A. Ortega, Mark Oshiro, Molly Knox Ostertag, Aida Salazar, and AJ Sass.

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

The Golden Hour by Niki Smith (October 26th)

The Golden HourStruggling with anxiety after witnessing a harrowing instance of gun violence, Manuel Soto copes through photography, using his cell-phone camera to find anchors that keep him grounded. His days are a lonely, latchkey monotony until he’s teamed with his classmates, Sebastian and Caysha, for a group project.

Sebastian lives on a grass-fed cattle farm outside of town, and Manuel finds solace in the open fields and in the antics of the newborn calf Sebastian is hand-raising. As Manuel aides his new friends in their preparations for the local county fair, he learns to open up, confronts his deepest fears, and even finds first love.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

A-Okay by Jarad Greene (November 2nd)

When Jay starts eighth grade with a few pimples he doesn’t think much of it at first…except to wonder if the embarrassing acne will disappear as quickly as it arrived. But when his acne goes from bad to worse, Jay’s prescribed a powerful medication that comes with some serious side effects. Regardless, he’s convinced it’ll all be worth it if clear skin is on the horizon!

Meanwhile, school isn’t going exactly as planned. All of Jay’s friends are in different classes; he has no one to sit with at lunch; his best friend, Brace, is avoiding him; and–to top it off–Jay doesn’t understand why he doesn’t share the same feelings two of his fellow classmates, a boy named Mark and a girl named Amy, have for him.

Eighth grade can be tough, but Jay has to believe everything’s going to be a-okay…right?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Candidly Cline by Kathryn Ormsbee (November 9th)

Born in Paris, Kentucky, and raised on her gram’s favorite country music, Cline Alden is a girl with big dreams and a heart full of song. When she finds out about a young musicians’ workshop a few towns over, Cline sweet-talks, saves, and maybe fibs her way into her first step toward musical stardom.

But her big dreams never prepared her for the butterflies she feels surrounded by so many other talented kids—especially Sylvie, who gives Cline the type of butterflies she’s only ever heard about in love songs.

As she learns to make music of her own, Cline begins to realize how much of herself she’s been holding back. But now, there’s a new song taking shape in her heart—if only she can find her voice and sing it.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Authors in Conversation: Nicole Melleby and Eliot Schrefer

Today on the site I’m delighted to welcome frequent LGBTQReads guest Nicole Melleby, author of one of yesterday’s fabulous new releases, How to Become a Planet, and site newcomer Eliot Schrefer, whose The Darkness Outside Us releases June 1st!

Yes, we’re bridging the MG/YA divide here. A rare occurrence on the site, but there is a connection between these authors! Want to know what it is? Read on…

Nicole: Hi Eliot! I’m excited to be doing this interview with you. A fun fact that most people might not know: you were my mentor in grad school, so you’ve actually gotten to see me grow from the baby writer I used to be. It makes it even more fun that we’ve both got books out this year that in some capacity–yours literally and mine as more of a metaphor–involve outer space! (And, of course, are both queer!)

The Darkness Outside Us is such a great addition to LGBTQ+ YA shelves. For those who weren’t as lucky as me to get their hands on it before its June 1st release, why don’t you tell us a little bit about it?

55200663Eliot: Nicole! How amazing is this?! If only we could go back to 2014 and tell baby Nicole and Eliot that they’d one day be having this conversation, and doing gay space book events together (you can check us out together virtually on June 8th hosted by Best of Books.) I’ll have lots more to say and ask about the years in-between later, but for now, yeah, let me tell you about The Darkness Outside Us. It’s set 400 years in the future, when Earth is locked into a cold war between two remaining countries. When the first settler of Titan trips her distress signal, the countries have to mount a joint mission to rescue her—with one astronaut from each country onboard. They start as enemies, but wind up developing feelings for each other, even as they discover that their mission isn’t what they thought it was. At all.

You gave me some awesome feedback on the manuscript, and changed its course! I love this new phase of our lives when we’re peers and friends. The world has some really devoted Melleby fans (“Mellefans”?) in it. It’s been awesome to see your accolades and masses of happy readers—I know how excited they are about reading How to Become a Planet. Would you tell us about Pluto’s story? 

Nicole: You gave me feedback on an early draft of PLANET, too, back when it had an entire arson subplot (when in doubt, add fire?) There are no fires in the finished draft, but How to Become a Planet is about a 12-year-old named Pluto who loves outer space, her single mom, her family’s pizzeria, and running around the boardwalk with her best friend Meredith. The novel starts right after Pluto is diagnosed with depression and anxiety, after a month of missing school, finding it too hard to get out of bed, ignoring Meredith’s phone calls, and arguing more and more with her mom. Because of this, Pluto can’t help but wonder how she can try and feel like herself again. Pluto-the-planet isn’t a planet anymore, and Pluto-the-person doesn’t know where she fits anymore, either.

So, Eliot, you are no stranger to kidlit (Mr. Fancy Pants two-time National Book Award Finalist) but, and correct me if I’m wrong, this is your first YA novel with explicitly queer characters. I’m living for gays in space, but why did you decide to write this story now, and has your experience writing gay characters been any different than your other work?

Eliot: I think I’m ten Earth years older than you (though just 0.04 Pluto years!), and it’s been a big ten years for children’s literature, and books in general, around LGBTQIA+ themes. Though there were important early queer works already when I started writing YA, for the most part books were either about queerness or they had no queer characters, with little in between. For the most part, my narrative instincts don’t lean toward romance, so I had characters in most of my books who were driven by other interests, not romantic ones.

With THE DARKNESS OUTSIDE US, though, my first moment of inspiration was the book’s big (no spoilers here!) plot twist, which requires two people to be trapped on a ship together. That got me thinking of a romantic storyline, and the romance I came up with was true to my own (gay male) identity. I continue to be a plot-first sort of writer, but this plot really called for these two boys to be on a ship, falling in love. Cue the gaaaays in spaaaace!

In writing their romance I was inspired by Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot, where he writes about how seeing Earth from space “underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another.” Nicole, I’d love to know how our conception of space and (non?) planets works in HOW TO BECOME A PLANET, whether literally or metaphorically or anything in between!

Nicole: When I sat down to write PLANET, what I really wanted to do was show that mental illness can be a lifelong issue. I wanted to let Pluto explore what it meant for her, now that she has this diagnosis, moving forward. How does it change her? Does it change her? What does it all mean? Which, in turn, made me start thinking about Pluto-the-planet. When I was in middle school, Pluto was still a planet, and all of a sudden we were told, “no wait, we changed the definition of what makes a planet, so Pluto doesn’t qualify anymore.” What did that mean? Was Pluto-the-planet suddenly different? No, of course not. The definition changed, but Pluto was exactly the same as it was, and still is, as when I learned about it back in middle school. All of its properties are still exactly the same. Getting a depression diagnosis for Pluto-the-person is just like Pluto-the-planet getting a new definition. It doesn’t change who she is; if anything, it gives her a clearer understanding of who she is.

If you’ll allow me to be sentimental for a moment, having you for a mentor in grad school helped me have a clearer understanding of myself, too, and who I was as a writer and a person–particularly one who writes about queer characters and stories. We also had the privilege of launching Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Writing for Children concentration in their creative writing MFA program, you as a professor and me as one of the first batch of students under that concentration. I learned a lot from you (I’m done stroking your ego after this) and I thought I’d ask, if you could teach student writers like myself only one thing, what would that be?

Eliot:  Oh, please don’t be done stroking my ego! Nicole, one of the things I love so much about Pluto’s story is how you make her depression feel real and intimate and not like some huge crisis that ruins the lives of “other people.” It’s just part of life, and part of being a person in the world. That’s something I love so much about your novels—even though my life experiences might not always match your characters’, you’ve brought me so cleanly and simply into their minds that I still feel this very close kinship to them.

I should answer your question, though! Lately I’ve been thinking that one of the most important things student writers have to learn is the power of withheld information. I feel like every protagonist should have a secret, even if they’re not consciously hiding it. The instinct as a writer is to tell the reader everything about a character’s situation, as quickly and efficiently as possible. But instead I think it’s so much more powerful to hint at all the things the reader doesn’t know yet, and take your time as an author revealing the information, producing dramatic tension all the while. The first chapter of The Hunger Games is a total master class of this, and I think that’s a big part of the book’s huge success. On this craft topic, do you have any thoughts to share about handling backstory and frontstory in the early part of a book? How do you do it in Pluto’s case?

Nicole: In fairness, The Darkness Outside Us also is pretty damn good at doing exactly that–both of your characters have things they play close to the chest, and the plot twists (don’t even think you’ll get spoilers out of me, reader) in your book speak for themself in terms of knowing exactly when to reveal certain parts of the story.

For Pluto in particular, it was important to me to tell a story from the perspective of what happens after the diagnosis. Which meant that I had to decide how much of the first chapter to bog down with what came before the diagnosis. I wanted to explore the results and consequences instead of showing the entire journey that led to the doctors and medications. I introduce the idea that Pluto needs to be tutored over the summer, and that’s because she missed a lot of school. Her best friend Meredith is upset and mad at Pluto, and that’s because Pluto stopped calling and hanging out with her during the school year. These are the things that happened before the novel started that are part of the reason Pluto ended up with the diagnosis, but I didn’t need to spend the time at the start of the book detailing that.

This craft conversation actually reminds me of the essay I had to write for you during grad school, where I analyzed the moment in a handful of MG/YA books where the author “outs” the character to the reader. It’s again one of those important decisions as a writer: when and how do I reveal this piece of information to the reader. Do you remember what that moment is for Ambrose? (This is just a warm up question, don’t get too comfortable.) For Pluto, its revealed by her slowly developing a crush on Fallon, which was nice to write on my end, because Pluto doesn’t really have an “oh, I might be queer” moment. She just has an “oh, I think I like Fallon” moment.

Staying on the craft conversation: my real question for you is, since Darkness is a SFF novel that takes place in an alternative futuristic version of our universe, what was the worst part about having to develop and world build your idea of this future, and, also, what was the best part?

Eliot: I that essay so much! I learned so much from you, working with you on that. And I remember your presentation of it was also about your coming-out journey, and had half of the MFA cohort in tears.

As far as outing Ambrose: he comes from a really progressive country, 400 years in the future. I let myself imagine how far we might have come by then. They’re well past labels at all, so when Kodiak (who’s from a less progressive society) asks Ambrose if he’s gay or bi or what, Ambrose busts out laughing, because the question sounds like it’s out of a historical fiction. That’s one of the things I love most about sci-fi, that you can imagine better futures, not just worse ones. That was the best part, creating a character and giving him a kinder, more inclusive place to live in.

The hardest part was trying to make a believable future, tech-wise. I tried to imagine evolved technologies, but I’m sure someone actually from 400 years in the future would crack up at my version of future tech. Kind of like how everyone in the 1960s was convinced we’d have robot maids and be riding around in flying cars by now.

Nicole, my last question for you: You stopping by Pluto’s house for breakfast, ten years after the events of HOW TO BECOME A PLANET. How’s she doing? (More important: what does she serve you to eat?)

Nicole: Ten years after the events of PLANET, Pluto would be around 23 years old. She’s doing well–she kept up with her therapist and her doctors and took her medication. There were some bumps along the way, because as Pluto learns throughout the course of the book, mental illness isn’t an exact science and things change and she still has her ups and downs. But she knows who she is and she’s proud of it. I don’t think she studied astronomy or a related science when she got to college–I think while she’ll always love her connection to space and still read and learn as much as she can about it, I think she’ll grow to spread her wings a little bit. Astronomy is what connected her with her mom, and they still share that, but I think Pluto would find something to make completely her own. Still in the sciences–maybe health science? Maybe she’s going to be in a lab somewhere someday helping to advance the resources available for kids with anxiety and depression, just like her.

And, of course, she would serve me some sort of breakfast pizza!

Eliot, thank you so much for joining me in chatting about our upcoming releases. I’ve been a fan of yours since that first year at grad school, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be able to sit down and gab about our queer books. Thank you Dahlia at LGBTQ Reads for hosting us!

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ELIOT SCHREFER is a New York Times-bestselling author, and has twice been a finalist for the National Book Award. In naming him an Editor’s Choice, the New York Times has called his work “dazzling… big-hearted.” He is also the author of two novels for adults and four other novels for children and young adults. His books have been named to the NPR “best of the year” list, the ALA best fiction list for young adults, and the Chicago Public Library’s “Best of the Best.” His work has also been selected to the Amelia Bloomer List, recognizing best feminist books for young readers, and he has been a finalist for the Walden Award and won the Green Earth Book Award and Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award. He lives in New York City, where he reviews books for USAToday.

Nicole Melleby, a born-and-bread Jersey girl, is an award winning children’s author. Her middle grade books have been Junior Library Guild Gold Standard selections, recipient of the Skipping Stones Honor Award, and a 2020 Kirkus Reviews best book of the year. Her debut novel, Hurricane Season, was a Lambda Literary finalist. She lives with her partner and their cat, whose need for attention oddly aligns with Nicole’s writing schedule.

April 2021 Deal Announcements

Adult Fiction

2021 Tin House Scholar Luke Dani Blue’s PRETEND IT’S MY BODY, a collection of stories exploring dysphorias of gender and reality, trans teen psychics and tornado survivors, con artists and runaways, mothers who are daughters and daughters who are sons, ultimately asking if there’s a real self, and if so, what does it look like, to Lauren Rosemary Hook at Feminist Press, by Adam Schear at DeFiore and Company (world English).

London Writers Award winner and activist Henry Fry’s FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING, about a shy 20-something who, discovering his boyfriend will never give him what he wants (monogamy), moves into an East London “commune” and, with the help of his madcap flatmates and inscrutable therapist, sets out in search of his most authentic self, exploring the exuberance of queer life with many missteps along the way, to Jesse Shuman at Ballantine, and Bhavna Chauhan at Doubleday Canada, at auction, in a two-book deal, by Hayley Steed at Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency (NA).

Iowa MFA candidate Jenny Fran Davis’s DYKETTE, following a young aspiring writer and her partner over the course of a dysfunctional 10-day getaway with two other queer couples; exploring the nuanced contradictions of intimacy, jealousy, and desire, to Ruby Rose Lee at Holt, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, by Miriam Altshuler at DeFiore and Company (world).

Author of SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT Meryl Wilsner‘s MISTAKES WERE MADE, pitched as a raunch-com in which a college senior has a one night stand with a stranger, who she later learns is her friend’s mom, to Vicki Lame at Griffin, for publication in fall 2022, by Patrice Caldwell at New Leaf Literary & Media (NA).

Hugo Award-winning blogger Foz Meadows‘s A STRANGE AND STUBBORN ENDURANCE, a m/m epic fantasy romance about a closeted young nobleman preparing for a political arranged marriage to a foreign princess — but when his sexuality is revealed, he’s offered marriage to her brother the prince instead, to Claire Eddy at Tor, in a good deal, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2022, by Hannah Bowman at Liza Dawson Associates (world English).

Cartoonist and Associate Editor of The Nib Matt Lubchansky‘s BOYS WEEKEND, part autobiographical fiction, part satire, and part SF horror, following Sammie, who a year after they come out as trans must navigate a bachelor party weekend on El Campo, a hedonistic floating wonderland in international waters, while a murderous cult tries to take over the island, to Anna Kaufman at Pantheon, by Kate McKean at Howard Morhaim Literary Agency (world).

Iowa MFA candidate Jenny Fran Davis‘s DYKETTE, following a young aspiring writer and her partner over the course of a dysfunctional 10-day getaway with two other queer couples; exploring the nuanced contradictions of intimacy, jealousy, and desire, to Ruby Rose Lee at Holt, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, by Miriam Altshuler at DeFiore and Company (world).

Courtney Kae‘s debut IN THE EVENT OF LOVE, a queer rom-com that finds an L.A. event planner back in her rustic mountain hometown over the holidays for a career-saving gig, where she discovers that the sexy lumberjane owner of the tree farm she’s there to revive is the same girl who broke her heart seven years ago, to Elizabeth Trout at Kensington, in a two-book deal, by Claire Friedman at Inkwell Management.

Author of A LITTLE LIFE Hanya Yanagihara’s TO PARADISE, spanning three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment, about lovers, family, loss, and the elusive promise of utopia; opening in 1893 in an alternate version of America, where New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems) and the fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means; in a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father; and in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist’s damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him—and solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearances, to Doubleday, for publication in January 2022, by Anna Stein at ICM (US).

Season Vining‘s PENNY FOR YOUR HEART, an LGBTQ+ #OwnVoices rom-com in which two childhood friends who were separated by fear and discrimination reunite and struggle to find the authentic love they’ve long been missing, to Nikki Babri at Tule, in a three-book deal, by Amy Brewer at Metamorphosis Literary Agency.

Children’s Fiction

Nicole Melleby and A.J. Sass’s CAMP QUILTBAG*, in which a 12-year-old and 13-year-old attend a queer summer camp for very different reasons and make a pact to help one another find their footing at camp, all while navigating crushes, their queer identities, and a competition pitting cabin against cabin, to Krestyna Lypen at Algonquin Young Readers, for publication in spring 2023, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret for Melleby, and Jordan Hamessley at New Leaf Literary & Media for Sass (world).

Young Adult Fiction

Author of the forthcoming MAY THE BEST MAN WIN Z.R. Ellor’s ACTING THE PART, in which a teenage actor questioning their gender identity starts a fake relationship with a costar to convince their showrunners to give their on-screen f/f couple a happy ending, to Stephanie Guerdan at Harper Teen, at auction, for publication in fall 2022, by Kaitlyn Johnson at Belcastro Agency (world English).

Molly Horton Booth and Stephanie Kate Strohm‘s TWELFTH GRADE NIGHT and KING CHEER, the first two books in the Arden High series, set at a modern-day high school where magic and fairies are real, the LGBTQ themes of the original plays are more than subtext, and the drama is quite literally Shakespearean, illustrated by Jamie Green, to Kieran Viola at Disney-Hyperion, with Rachel Stark editing, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2022, by Alexander Slater at Trident Media Group for Booth, Molly Ker Hawn at The Bent Agency for Strohm, and Chad Beckerman at The CAT Agency for the illustrator (world).

Sarah Rees Brennan‘s FENCE: DISARMED, the second original novel based on the graphic novel series created by C.S. Pacat and Johanna The Mad, following the boys of Kings Row to a training camp in Europe where they face elite fencers, ex-boyfriends, expulsion, and an infamous character, to Mary-Kate Gaudet at Little, Brown Children’s, for publication in summer 2021, by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media (world).

Non-Fiction

Author of BLACK WAVE, MODERN TAROT, and AGAINST MEMOIR Michelle Tea‘s KNOCKING MYSELF UP, following the author’s journey to get pregnant as a 40-year-old, single, queer, uninsured woman, venturing into the very straight world of prospective motherhood and artificial reproductive technologies, and the often hidden and taboo truths of women’s bodies, bringing her wild, transgressive community along for the ride, to Peter Kispert at Dey Street Books, in a six-figure deal, at auction, by Alison Lewis at Zoe Pagnamenta Agency (world English).

Coauthor of AVA GARDNER: A LIFE IN MOVIES Anthony Uzarowski‘s FRIENDS OF DOROTHY: A CELEBRATION OF LGBTQ+ ICONS, about larger-than-life characters who over the decades inspired LGBTQ+ people, creating controversy, challenging conventions, and sometimes putting their own lives on the line in order for new generations to live in a more equal and accepting world, illustrated by Alejandro Mogollo, to Kevin Stevens at Imagine Publishing, in a nice deal, for publication in 2023, by Lee Sobel at Lee Sobel Literary Agency (world).

Journalist Jessie Stephens‘s HEARTSICK, using interwoven narratives of a diverse group of three people—a middle aged married woman who falls in love with someone who is not her husband, a 20-something queer woman who moves to London and starts dating the wrong person, and a young man who has never been in a relationship before and falls head over heels as you can only do in first love—whose lives are altered by major heartbreak, to explore the devastation of love, our need for connection, and how relationships transform us, to Serena Jones at Holt, at auction, for publication in spring 2022, by Daniel Lazar at Writers House, on behalf of Macmillan Australia (NA). (Previously published in Australia.)

*Deals originally published in Publishers Marketplace (c) 2021.

Queering up your shelf, one rec at a time!