Tag Archives: Paranormal

Exclusive Cover Reveal: The Fell of Dark by Caleb Roehrig

I am delighted to welcome Caleb Roehrig back to the site today for an exclusive cover reveal of his upcoming paranormal romance The Fell of Dark, releasing July 14, 2020 from Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan and helping usher vampires back into YA!

Caleb himself had some words to say on that, so before we get to the cover you’re all here to see, let’s give the book some context, shall we?

(Okay, fine, I’ll tease it a little first. Happy now?)

But now, for real, is Caleb Roehrig:

***

Ten years ago, I read an interview with a literary agent that said: “Unless your manuscript has vampires, werewolves, or shapeshifters, you can’t get published in YA.” This was actually okay with me. I was part of the original cult following for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I longed to craft stories that had the same blend of thrills, humor, and emotional impact.

I wrote a novel about a girl, bitten and left for dead, who gradually develops abilities and cravings she doesn’t understand. She had a gay best friend that didn’t do much—because it was implicitly understood that gays had to be polite and peripheral if they wished to take up space—and she was caught between the attentions of two gorgeous vampire boys. I intended it as the first in a series of five novels…but, of course, it was never published. By the time I realized vampires were a popular trend, it was already far too late to jump on the bandwagon—a lesson I learned the hard way. But I’d sketched the entire series out, including some dramatic twists I could never quite get out of my head, and privately I hoped that someday I’d get the chance to raise my vampires from their untimely graves.

The Fell of Dark is a book that took a decade to see the light of day. I altered most of the plot and all of the players, the main character changing from a straight girl to a gay boy—because that was the story I had really wanted to tell all along—and I condensed my planned five-part series into a single novel that is stacked to the rafters with thrills, humor, action, pathos, magic, mayhem, and make-outs. This cover by Rich Deas evokes the pulp horror underpinnings of the gritty side of my vampire tale, where the stakes are nothing less than the end of the actual world—while still also managing to convey the cheeky humor and apocalyptic frustrations of a gay teen’s first attempt at romance. It’s perfect, and I can’t wait for readers to dive in.

The only thing August Pfeiffer hates more than algebra is living in a vampire town.

Located at a nexus of mystical energy fields, Fulton Heights is practically an electromagnet for supernatural drama. And when a mysterious (and annoyingly hot) vampire boy arrives with a cryptic warning, Auggie suddenly finds himself at the center of it.

An ancient and terrible power is returning to the earthly realm, and somehow Auggie seems to be the only one who can stop it.

Preorder now!

Fave Five: New and Upcoming Witches in YA

For even more YA witches, click here. And yes, this post has seven 2019-20s, not just five. What can I say? We’ve been blessed.

The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling (sequel coming in 2020)

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer (Upcoming in 2020)

When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey (Upcoming in 2020)

The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (Upcoming in 2020)

The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke (Upcoming in 2020)

Bonus: It doesn’t yet have a title, and it isn’t out until 2021, but it’s never too early to get Adrienne Tooley’s debut on your TBR! And though they’re yet not on Goodreads to add, The Contemporary Witches of Salem by Sol Santana and The Witches of Silverlake by Simon Curtis will be arriving then as well!

Double Bonus: You can also catch a sorceress in Reverie by Ryan La Sala, a wizard in I’m a Gay Wizard by V.S. Santoni, and a strega in The Storm of Life by Amy Rose Capetta, sequel to The Brilliant Death!

How “In the Way of All Flesh” Got Gay: Death, Desire and Self Discovery

Please welcome Caitlin Alise Donovan to the site today to talk about In the Way of All Flesh, a paranormal f/f YA releasing on September 1, and how a book that didn’t begin queer sure ended up that way! First up, here’s a little more on the book:

donovanbookGloomy teenager Manee Srikwan wears long sleeves and keeps her hands to herself for a good reason–whenever she touches a person for the first time, she sees a vision of how they will die. Manee’s weird powers cause those around her nothing but misery and she’s long resigned herself to a life of loneliness. But her vivacious classmate, Stephanie Pierce, changes all that. She smashes through every wall Manee puts up and overturns every expectation. Much to Manee’s shock, Stephanie believes her about her powers. What’s more, she insists they can stop the deaths Manee sees from happening. When the two of them are together, it feels like they can do anything.

As the girls grow closer, Manee’s feelings for Stephanie blossom into love. She yearns to be more intimate but is anxious about breaking her all-important “hands-off ” rule. When she finally gives in to temptation, she sees a terrifying future where Stephanie is murdered—and Manee is her killer! Now Manee has a choice to make—will she fight this fate or let it rule her?

Buy It: RegalCrest

And here’s the post by author Caitlin Alise Donovan!

When talking about my book, In the Way of All Flesh, it often gives me a start to recall this was not originally a love story. Queer desire is the beating heart of the narrative and I can’t imagine the book without it, yet that story does exist. Its unfinished and clumsily scribbled in a beat-up journal, but it’s out there somewhere. A part of me longs to lay eyes on this strange, hollow shell of a story, but it’s unlikely I ever will. I wrote that draft when I was in high school, more than a decade ago. That scrappy little journal is lost to the ages.

When I look at things I wrote when I was younger, it jumps out to me that I always told queer stories. My stories were always centered on relationships between women and the token boyfriend for the protagonist was perfunctory at best. So when I got the idea “what if someone could see people’s future deaths and saw they would kill someone they loved?” I just automatically defaulted to the main character being a girl and her loved one being her female “best friend”. I would never for a second have thought to make her loved one a guy.

It never occurred to me to examine why I was so interested in writing intense relationships between women. It never occurred to me to make these characters anything but “best friends”. I was very removed from my own queerness and queerness in general in high school. If you had asked me about “gay subtext” in my stories back then, I would have goggled at you in confusion.

I revisited the idea for In the Way of All Flesh in college years later. By then, I had started to question my orientation and gotten more involved with the queer community. Now I looked at this story of a girl and her best friend and saw something I hadn’t before.

The relationship between the two girls, now called Stephanie and Manee, is intense and fraught. The main conflict of the story is that Manee can’t touch her friend for fear of seeing a gruesome vision of her death. And looking at this, I realized: Stephanie and Manee are obviously in love, aren’t they?

It blew my mind how much this simple idea improved the story; how much everything make sense now. I mean, doesn’t being in love make not being able to touch Stephanie way harder for Manee? Isn’t that more of a conflict, doesn’t her yearning make more sense that way? It was a very “duh” moment, this obviously always needed to be an element in a story, it was the story. You don’t really agonize over not being to touch a “friend”! But I didn’t see this at all when I was fourteen. That’s what heteronormativity will do to you. I’m glad I grew out of it.

Beta readers pointed out to me that there’s also a lot of queer subtext in the fantastical premise. Manee’s issues with physicality and her terror at the thought of touching the girl she loves parallel a young queer woman’s struggle with her sexuality. And even though I didn’t do it consciously, there’s lots of queer anxiety wrapped into the dramatic hook of the story.  After all, isn’t the idea that entering a queer relationship is a death sentence (or at the very least a ticket to unhappiness) deeply ingrained in our media and culture? There’s entire lists dedicated to keeping track of all the gratuitous lesbian deaths in media. And Manee finds out a nebulous fate has decreed she’ll literally deliver death to the girl she loves if she crosses that line into a physical relationship. Can she fight that? That’s the question that drives the whole narrative.

It’s wild how this was clearly a queer story from the very beginning, but it took years for that to emerge. And once it did, so many things about the story made sense, retroactively.

But, hey, I guess you could say the same thing about the story’s author.

***

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Caitlin Alise Donovan is a writer, teacher, blogger, poet and, above all, a huge geek for fiction (especially fantasy). Her dream of being an author began in the third grade when she started scribbling down stories about twin detectives and murderous ghosts in stray notebooks. Her passion only grew with age. Now she has a MFA in writing from Queens University in Charlotte and she has been published in several literary journals, including The Great Smokies Review. She has written professionally about fantasy, sci-fi and pop culture for several online companies, such as Epicstream. 

When not creating novels, Caitlin works as an online ESL teacher and does freelance writing through her Patreon. She currently resides in North Carolina with her trouble-making cat.

Website: caitlinalisedonovan.com E-mail: caitlinalisedonovan@gmail.com

 

Fave Five: LGBTQ Witchy YAs

Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey

Hocus Pocus & the All-New Sequel by A.W. Jantha

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta

Bonus: Many of the stories in the Toil & Trouble anthology edited by Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe are queer! And for Middle Grade, try The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag.

Double Bonus: Check out how many amazing ones are coming in 2019, including The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta, The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, and These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling. Yes, I’ll probably post these again next year.

 

Fave Five: Sapphic Plus-Size Protagonists

Shhhh it’s really six. Tell no one.

The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Bearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw

The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman

Final Draft by Riley Redgate

Rainbow heart

Valentine’s Day Reads for Under $5!

You know what’s awesome about capital-R Romance? (And capital-E Erotica?) You don’t need a Valentine’s date to enjoy ’em! Here’s a shopping list of some great Valentine’s Day reads all over the map in terms of length, genre, and rep, and all under five bucksno reservations, champagne, or chocolate hearts required.

(Trans rep has been noted with a T, for those specifically looking!)

Free

Catalysts by Kris Ripper (m/m/m, contemporary)

Among the Living by Jordan Castillo Price (m/m, paranormal)

Off Campus by Amy Jo Cousins (m/m, contemporary NA)

Queerly Loving, vol. 1, ed. by G. Benson and  Astrid Ohletz (anthology)

$0.99

Caroline’s Heart by Austin Chant (m/f, T, paranormal)

Team Phison by Chace Verity (m/m, contemporary)

My Heart is Ready by Chace Verity (f/f, fantasy)

A Night at the Mall by M. Hollis (f/f, contemporary)

In Memoriam by Nathan Burgoine (m/m, contemporary)

Daybreak Rising by Kiran Oliver (f/f, fantasy)

Rulebreaker by Cathy Pegau (f/f, sci-fi)

A Special Delivery by Laura Bilo (m/m, contemporary, holiday)

Mothmen by Kaelan Rhywiol (m/m/f, paranormal BDSM)

After Midnight by Santino Hassell (m/m, sci-fi)

The Disastrous Debut of Agatha Tremain by Stephanie Burgis (f/f, fantasy)

The Cuffs, Collars, and Love series by Christa Tomlinson (m/m, price is per book)

 

$1.50-1.99

Sparks Fly by Llinos Catheryn Thomas (f/f, sci-fi)

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown (f/f, contemporary YA)

Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman (f/f, contemporary)

Long Macchiatos and Monsters by Alison Evans (m/nb, contemporary)

The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian (m/m, historical)

Deep Deception by Cathy Pegau (f/f, sci-fi)

Avi Cantor Has Six Months to Live by Sacha Lamb (m/m, T, fabulist YA)

 

$2.99

How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake (f/f, contemporary YA)

A Matter of Disagreement by e.e. Ottoman (m/m, steampunk, T)

Roller Girl by Vanessa North (f/f, contemporary, T)

In Her Court by Tamsen Parker (f/f, contemporary)

The Good Listener by Delilah Fisher (m/f/f, contemporary erotica short)

Dating Sarah Cooper by Siera Maley (f/f, contemporary YA)

HeartOn by Amy Jo Cousins (m/m, contemporary)

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde (f/f, contemporary YA)

So Sweet by Rebekah Weatherspoon (m/f, contemporary)

Fleur de Nuit by Cat Montmorency (f/f, contemporary)

Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver (f/f/f, SFF, T)

Take Me Home by Lorelie Brown (f/f, contemporary)

Forget Her Not by Elle Spencer (f/f, contemporary)

Shatterproof by Xen Sanders (m/m, paranormal)

Defying Convention by Cecil Wilde (m/nb, contemporary)

Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall (m/m, contemporary YA)

Lipstick Stain by Cheyenne King (f/f, contemporary erotica short)

Cloaked in Shadow by Ben Alderson (m/m, fantasy YA)

No Rulebook For Love by Laura Bailo (m/m, T, contemporary)

 

$3.99

Of All the Girls by Michele L. Rivera (f/f, contemporary)

The Doctor’s Discretion by e.e. Ottoman (m/m,  historical, T)

Start Here: Short Stories of First Encounters ed. by Ronald S. Lim and Brigitte Bautista (anthology)

Coffee Boy by Austin Chant (m/m, T, contemporary NA)

Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler (f/f, contemporary NA)

True Letters From a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan (m/m, contemporary YA)

Secret Heart by Danielle Dreger (f/f, contemporary YA)

Think of England by K.J. Charles (m/m, historical)

Villains Don’t Date Heroes by Mia Archer (f/f, sci-fi)

Seduction on the Slopes by Tamsen Parker (m/m, contemporary)

Fire on the Ice by Tamsen Parker (f/f, contemporary)

Daring Fate by Megan Erickson (m/m, paranormal)

Keeping Her Secret by Sarah Nicolas (f/f, contemporary YA)

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by JC Lillis (m/m, contemporary YA/NA)

A&B by JC Lillis (f/f, contemporary YA/NA)

Just Business by Anna Zabo (m/m, contemporary)

The Final Rose by Eliza Lentzki (f/f, contemporary)

Overexposed by Megan Erickson (m/m, contemporary NA)

Wild by Hannah Moskowitz (m/f, contemporary YA)

3 by Hannah Moskowitz (f/m/f, contemporary YA)

Darkling by Brooklyn Ray (m/m, T, fantasy)

 

$4.49-$4.61

The Gravity Between Us by Kristen Zimmer (f/f, contemporary NA)

Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler (f/f, contemporary YA)

Spy Stuff by Matthew J. Metzger (m/m, contemporary YA, T)

What it Looks Like by Matthew J. Metzger (m/m, contemporary, T)

 

$4.99

Style by Chelsea Cameron (f/f, contemporary YA)

Chord by Chelsea Cameron (f/f, contemporary NA)

Cinder Ella by S.T. Lynn (f/f, fantasy, T)

Strong Signal, Fast Connection, Hard Wired, and Mature Content by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell (m/m, contemporary)

The Butch and the Beautiful by Kris Ripper (f/f, contemporary)

The Queer and the Restless by Kris Ripper (m/f, contemporary, T)

Heart of the Steal by Avon Gale and Roan Parrish (m/m, contemporary)

Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon (f/f, contemporary NA)

Outside the Lines by Anna Zabo (m/m/f, contemporary)

The Love Song of Sawyer Bell by Avon Gale (f/f, contemporary)

Hold Me by Courtney Milan (m/f, contemporary NA, T)

Illegal Contact and Down By Contact by Santino Hassell (m/m, contemporary)

Rum Spring by Yolanda Wallace (f/f, contemporary)

Queerly Loving: Volume One ed. by G. Benson and Astrid Ohletz (anthology)

Bearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw (f/f, paranormal)

Takeover by Anna Zabo (m/m, contemporary)

Documenting Light by e.e. Ottoman (m/nb, contemporary)

Casting Lacey by Elle Spencer (f/f, contemporary)

Far From Home by Lorelie Brown (f/f, contemporary)

An Unstill Life by Kate Larkindale (f/f, YA contemporary)

Hamilton’s Battalion: A Trio of Romances by Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole, and Rose Lerner (has f/f and m/m stories, historical)

The Violet Hill series by Chelsea Cameron (3 f/f stories)

 

Exclusive Excerpt of Changing Loyalties by Nicole Field!

Excited to have Nicole Field on the blog today, with an excerpt from her brand-new paranormal romance, Changing Loyalties, which kicks off the Shadows of Melbourne series and just happens to feature a beautifully named main character 😉 Come check it out!

When Dahlia finds the body of her father, a werewolf brutally murdered and left to die alone, she’s left with more questions and grief than answers. But who or what killed him remains unknown, and it soon becomes clear her father isn’t the killer’s only target.

Adding to the growing pile of mysteries in her life is the new job—for a company that seems to be run by the kind of people who have no qualms about murdering werewolves. Even more frustrating, Dahlia’s new boss, Bianca, is curt and rude—and far more intriguing than seems fair.

Buy it!

And now, here’s the excerpt!

Bianca watched Dahlia go, exhaling slowly even as she unclasped her hands. Were she her direct employer, she might have suggested Dahlia be let go of right then. But Personal Documentation was hardly a normal company, and Bianca found she admired Dahlia’s spunk.

Besides, she wouldn’t need to let Dahlia go if Dahlia simply chose not to come back again for her next shift.

But Bianca had a feeling that wasn’t going to happen. She’d seen a certain curiosity in Dahlia’s eyes. Certainly there had been the hunger for knowledge that so many people who came through induction experienced, but Bianca also thought she saw a thirst for power. Maybe that had been just her wish to verbally overpower Bianca, but she was pretty sure there was something else driving that. There’d been violent reactions before when people found out that Personal Documentation was a front for the Sisterhood, but this one had seemed personal.

It was so different from the previous two times she’d talked to her. The first time, Dahlia had seemed no different to any other bubbly intern. Bianca had already known she had the job, so that interview held little interest. The phone conversation hadn’t been enough to give Bianca much of an idea of who Dahlia was beyond that.

But today…

A smile tugged at her lips. She was already looking forward to the possibility of a second round. In whatever form it took. Provided she showed up again, she definitely wanted to get to know this kickass girl better.

Bianca looked down at the time as it read in the bottom corner of her screen. Less than three hours and she would find out if there was at least an immediate future here for Dahlia.

Three hours later, Dahlia looked less fuming and paler. Bianca frowned. Surely the knowledge that other people outside of her own close knit group knew about the supernatural elements in this world wasn’t something that had shaken her up so thoroughly. The conversation they’d had in Bianca’s office couldn’t have left her this upset?

“Are you all right?”

Dahlia looked up at her, as though surprised Bianca would care. “I’m here, aren’t I?”

“You are.” Bianca looked her up and down. “Based on what you said this morning, I wasn’t sure.” The words were a calculated attempt to pull her out of herself.

Dahlia narrowed her eyes, but she didn’t rise to the bait. “Maybe I’ve decided that the resources here could be useful to me.”

“Of course you did,” Bianca said, taking the seat beside Dahlia. “That’s how we all start here.”

“Even you?” Dahlia sounded unconvinced.

Bianca couldn’t help but laugh at that. “Especially me.”

Dahlia just looked stunned at the sight of Bianca laughing. Bianca just smiled, biting her lip at the corner as she contemplated Dahlia. “Do you really think I’m a complete monster?”

“Well,” Dahlia said. “Maybe not a complete one.”

“That’s something,” Bianca said, with another laugh.

The laughter did seem to be doing its part to relax Dahlia slightly. Very slightly. “Come with me,” Bianca said on a whim.

Again, Dahlia suddenly looked distrusting. “Where?”

Bianca rolled her eyes. “We’re in the middle of the city. I suspect anywhere is more fun than here. Besides, I don’t think sitting in front of a computer screen is exactly what you need today.”

*****

Nicole writes across the spectrum of sexuality and gender identity. She lives in Melbourne with her fiancee, two cats, and a bottomless cup of tea. She likes candles, incense and Gilmore Girls.

Guest Post: LGBTQ Superhero Recs by Tansy Rayner Roberts, author of Girl Reporter!

Please welcome Tansy Rayner Roberts to LGBTQReads today! She’s the author of Girl Reporter, a bisexual f/f superhero novella, out today, and she’s here to rec some more LGBTQ superhero stories!

*****

I’ve been thinking about LGBTQ superhero stories a lot lately, because a) I’ve been reading lots and they’re great, b) I’ve been writing one! But also c) the kids in my life have always loved superheroes and so I’ve spent a lot of their childhoods looking at how those stories are shaped, and what they offer in the way of crunchy, learning-to-human content.

I know for my daughters, some of their first introduction to queer fictional characters came through comics and other superhero narratives –and there’s a lot more of this around than when I was a teenager. I think the only LGBTQ characters I came across in comics before I was 20 was one unrequited kiss between Fire and Ice Maiden in Justice League America, and a brief passing mention from Tasmanian Devil that he was gay, dropped into the background of a comic about something else. I didn’t even learn about Blue Beetle/Booster Gold slash fiction until I was in my thirties. Talk about deprived!

Ahem. There’s some cool stuff out there now. Here are some of my favourite LGBTQ superhero stories across various media.

Young Avengers — still one of my favourite comic series, often held up as a shining example of queer representation. Volume I (2005-2012 told across several mini-series, check out this post for reading order) introduced the epic love story of Billy Kaplan and Teddy Altman, whose romance has survived superhero boot camp, space invasion, depression, and family drama (where one side of the in-laws are magical and/or supervillains and the others are intergalactic royalty from two warring alien races, holiday dinners are always awkward). The fact that they’re two boys in a romantic relationship has actually been the source of least conflict in their lives, which is refreshingly normal.

Volume 2 of Young Avengers (2013-2014) now available as three trades or a fabulous hardcover omnibus, added bisexual genius Patriot, and heroic dimension-stomper lesbian America Chavez (who also had two moms).

Which brings us to America, written by Gabby Rivera, a comic that launched in early 2017 and brought us Marvel’s first queer Latin-American character with her own series. The trade of the first story arc has just dropped and is absolutely worth grabbing!

Another Marvel comic often singled out for queer representation is Runaways (one of my daughter’s all-time favourites). The original run written and drawn by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona (2003-2004) introduced a bunch of teens who go on the run after discovering their parents are supervillains. Karolina Dean’s identity as a lesbian was brought out quite gradually through the original comic (though her awesome rainbow light “costume” was a heavy hint, and her sexuality was later made more overt. She ended up in a serious romance with Xavin, a shapeshifting and gender-shifting alien.

There’s a new Runaways comic just started this year, written by Rainbow Rowell. I’m loving this trend of giving popular superhero comics franchises to established YA authors. There’s also a TV show coming out soon (finally) which will hopefully stick to the diversity of the comics – the fact that they cast a slender actress to play Gert means I’m not getting my hopes up, but we’ll see.

In TV superhero-land, our family has recently discovered Steven Universe, which has some wonderful queer representation including an unusual family structure. Steven, the son/reincarnation of a fallen alien superhero, lives with her three female teammates/best friends the Crystal Gems who are training and raising him along with his Dad. Steven’s entire foundation story is built on the narrative of women loving women, romantically as well as platonically. Steven himself identifies strongly with female heroes, often imagines himself as a woman, and sometimes forms a female ‘fusion’ with his best friend/love interest Connie.

We’ve also been watching Season 2 of Supergirl, which has had its ups and downs but did present us with a coming out storyline around Kara’s sister Alex, including a reasonably healthy (eventually) romantic relationship with Maggie Sawyer — a character often linked romantically in comics with Batwoman, one of the rare lesbian characters of the DC superhero universe.

My favourite Batwoman portrayal is in the DC Bombshells series by Marguerite Bennett, a World War II Alternate Universe which features only female superheroes. Here, Kate Kane is a baseball player in the women’s league as well as a vigilante crimefighter.

The series is wonderful precisely because it is an AU — so openly queer characters allowed to be happy despite the historical background, as well as having superhero adventures without male characters getting in the way. Harley Quinn/Poison Ivy appear along with dozens of other beloved DC women — including Wonder Woman, depicted for the first time in a relationship with a woman in an official DC title (she has since been officially acknowledged as bisexual in the main comics continuity — here’s hoping the movies follow suit!).

But what about fiction? Superhero YA fiction is really just starting to gain traction in the market with some fantastic releases over the last few years, including Gwenda Bond’s Lois Lane YA series, Shannon Hale’s Squirrel Girl, and C.B. Lee’s Sidekick series.

I really liked the supporting character of Bells (a shapeshifting trans teenager) in Not Your Sidekick (2016), and was delighted to see that the second book in the series, Not Your Villain (2017), featured him as protagonist since he was clearly getting up to all kinds of mischief when his best friend Jess wasn’t paying attention.

That one’s high up on my to-read list, as is Sovereign (2017), the second volume of the Nemesis series by April Daniels, which has a trans girl superhero as protagonist. In the first volume, Dreadnought (2016), I was deeply affected by Danny’s painful and at-times emotionally wringing story.

My favourite recent YA superhero story is still Superior by Jessica Lack, which was published by the Book Smugglers in 2016, as part of their Year of the Superhero. This fun story is a romance between a Jamie, a superhero intern and his counterpart Tad, intern to a supervillain. The classic set up of hero/villain romance works great with this story which is just so beautifully and cleverly written.

Though really, it’s worth checking out The Book Smugglers’ entire Year of the Superhero collection of stories, with a special shout-out for Hurricane Heels, a collection of “magical girl” superhero adventures, with f/f romance as well as friendship.

Superhero stories are a great way to tell stories about difference and diversity; so many of the classic tropes in the genre are about being outsiders, transition, metamorphosis, keeping secrets, the importance of teamwork and support systems, finding a new family, and perception vs reality. For a long time, superhero stories in the comics at least were so busy trying to distance themselves from being a ‘kiddie’ platform that they missed out on some great opportunities to bring in new readers and tell stories about young, new characters facing a superhero reality. Thankfully that’s in the past and some of the most interesting and successful superhero comics of the last decade or more have been about teenagers. I hope to see some new LGBTQ characters appearing in the superhero comics universes (and just as importantly, giving ongoing series and support to the characters who already exist, as happened this year with America and Iceman). But really, when it comes to superhero stories with influence, it’s the Marvel (and now DC) movieverse that needs to step up.

Where’s our Young Avengers movie? Why is Harley Quinn being stuck in a movie franchise with the Joker instead of Poison Ivy? Can Wonder Woman get a girlfriend in the sequel?

What are your favourite LGBTQ teen superheroes, and who would you like to get their own solo comics title or movie?

Tansy Rayner Roberts is a fantasy and science fiction author who lives in southern Tasmania, somewhere between the tall mountain with snow on it, and the beach that points towards Antarctica. You can hear Tansy ranting and raving about all things science fiction feminist on the Galactic Suburbia podcast, and all things Doctor Who on the Verity! podcast. She also reads her own stories on the Sheep Might Fly podcast.

Her new novella, Girl Reporter, published by Book Smugglers Publishing, is available now.

Exclusive Cover + Excerpt Reveal: (Un)Masked rerelease by Anyta Sunday and Andy Gallo

Today on the site, we’re celebrating the re-release of (Un)Masked by Anyta Sunday and Andy Gallo, a gay paranormal NA romance, which was previously published by Dreamspinner Press but now has new editing and a new cover! Here’s the blurb:

Walker has two wishes: to perform the play of his dreams alongside his best friend at Wellington’s Tory Street Theatre, and to meet that special someone. Someone he’d go to the ends of the earth for. Someone who might only exist in fairy tales.

When Jay meets accordion busker Lethe Cross, it’s like living a dream come true. Lethe’s music captivates Jay, and he resolves to meet the man who plays so beautifully. But then he discovers Lethe’s life is more like a nightmare. The phrase “down on his luck” can’t begin to cover it. Determined to help, Jay does some snooping for answers—and winds up on the wrong end of a centuries-old curse. The good news is there’s a way to break it. The bad news is it might cost Jay his life.

Aaaand here’s the cover!

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But wait, there’s more! Check out this (long!) exclusive excerpt!

From the sidewalk, I spied Lethe cutting strokes through the rippling water. The gray glow of morning made it look as if he swam through satin waves. A cool breeze reminded me just how cold those satin waves would be. I zipped up my jacket, dropped the bag with my towel in it, and perched on the concrete wall.

His arms arched over his head in firm strokes, his head twisting for air on every third stroke. He stood up suddenly, whipping the water from his hair and running a hand through it. He searched the length of the beach several times before he caught sight of me.

He beckoned me over. Each move of his hands pulled me toward him.

“You’re here,” he said.

“Gristle just about killed me for waking him up so early. You always up at this time?”

“The beach is deserted now.” He glanced toward the sea, worrying his bottom lip. “Who’s Gristle?”

Flatmate,” I blurted a little too quickly. “My best mate.”

His shoulders loosened and he looked at me. “Did you come to swim or watch?”

I stripped down to my swimming trunks and tiptoed into the sea. “I should have stuck to watching.”

Lethe laughed and kicked water at me. “You would deprive your other senses of all this?”

I stared at the gently lapping water and not the rivulets of water dribbling down his bare chest. “This is quite the sensory feast.”

“Dive in before I pounce on you.”

“I’m not sure you understand how threats work, Lethe.”

“Who said it was a threat?”

My breath caught, and I waded toward his soft, beckoning smile.

When I reached him, Lethe kicked onto his back. His gaze flickered to me before landing on the clear sky above. His green eyes glittered. If one could see a soul, then his was deep, haunted yet determinedly hopeful.

It reminded me of Gristle at the zoo, living life to the fullest because he claimed death danced in his shadows.

I dove under the water, letting the shock of it numb a sudden shiver. I came up under him and tackled his waist.

Lethe twisted under water with me, bubbles bursting out of his smiling lips.

We messed about in the water for only a few more minutes before Lethe dragged us out. I’d grabbed my stuff and drifted to his towel.

Lethe scrubbed his face. “Haven’t done that for ages.” He smiled at me. “Thanks.”

I choked on my own thanks. I’d not had so much fun with anyone other than Gristle for, well, I couldn’t even remember when.

“Maybe we could do this again?” His voice wavered, and he vigorously rubbed at his hair.

“I am all about indulging in sensory feasts.”

Lethe grinned. “On the discussion of feasts. What about breakfast?” He gave me a once over, lingering at my scrawny waist. “You shouldn’t skip breakfast.”

I forced a laugh and hurriedly pulled on my top and pants. Grabbing my bag, I twisted the street. “See you, then.”

He clasped my shoulder and steered me back around. “I think it came out wrong.”

I raised a brow.

He looked at me, gaze flickering nervously from my eyes to my shoulder. “Will you have breakfast with me?”

* * *

I arrived earlier than the four previous mornings, in time to see Lethe wading into the sea. His muscles flexed with each step, and once he hit waist height, he dove under.

Dropping my bag and towel next to his, I followed after him. My body exploded in goose bumps as the first cold waves cuffed my ankles. Sand sank underfoot as the water dragged itself back in. I quickly dunked into the water and gasped from the cold.

Lethe caught sight of me and waved. I swam over. A hand glided over my back, and I jerked upright, treading water.

“Morning,” Lethe said, smiling, as he circled me. “What brings you here so early?”

You. “I wanted to repay the favor, so I made us breakfast this time. It’s more a picnic, but I wasn’t sure of your schedule. How long do you have?”

Lethe flipped onto his back. Water rippled around him, and I threaded my fingers through the tiny waves. “Have I told you the perks of working as a street musician? Other than the stellar pay?”

I laughed. “In that case, sign me up.”

Lethe splashed water on my face and pointed to the fountain. “Want to race?”

I kicked off, taking my advantage and swiftly made it to the fountain, not too far behind Lethe.

“You’re improving,” he said with a smile. “Another couple weeks, and you’ll be a match for me.” He ducked under the water, only to pop up on my other side. He sliced the top of the water with his hand so it sprayed in my face, then whacked my upper arm. “You’re it.”

I lunged after Lethe, managing to jump on his back halfway to shore. I dunked him under the water.

A rueful grin quirked his lips when he came up gasping for breath. Barely two steps away, Lethe leaped onto my back. His knees locked around my sides and hands pressed my head under water. He didn’t hold me under long, letting go with a little tap to my shoulder. Breathing out a bunch of bubbles into the water, I came up. Lethe remained jammed against my back, his chest expanding against me as he breathed.

When he loosened his grip, I twisted and faced him. Water dribbled down his hair, over his scar, plopping on his lips. I pulled my gaze away from his mouth and combed a hand through my wet hair, pushing the locks off my face. “Up for another race?”

He stared into my eyes and my heart exploded into a gallop. I imagined him leaning in, brushing his lips against mine with the murmured words I like you too, Jay.

I slammed my eyes shut and water stirred as Lethe backed up.

He stroked toward the fountain, and I followed, the ghost of his touch still curved against my back.

“You look hopeful.” Lethe stroked over to where I clung to a jutting edge in the fountain base. He latched a hand on the same edge and pulled himself closer.

Although salt water dominated my sense of smell, I detected a hint of something peppermint and spicy coming from Lethe’s hair.

Lethe tilted his head, watching me. “Really hopeful.”

I dipped my head forward and lightly pressed my lips against his. The taste of salt flowed into my mouth; he felt softer than I’d imagined.

It lasted less than a couple of seconds before I pulled away. “Really, really hopeful.”

His breath caught and he grabbed my arm and kicked a leg around mine. His mouth met mine again. Our lips parted, and a gentle tongue flicked against mine. A gasp left me, and Lethe’s lips curved into a smile.

I let go of the fountain, wrapping both arms around Lethe, and deepened the kiss. We sank under the water, limbs entangled, gripping at each other. Salt stung my eyes as I looked at Lethe underwater. His hair swirled upward around him and light glowed around him. We broke our kiss and stared at each other. A cloud of bubbles burst from Lethe’s mouth as he laughed, and it sounded like music.

We pushed our way back to the surface and both hauled in air. I sucked in a good third breath, and Lethe splashed water in my face. I spluttered and coughed. His merry laugh taunted me and I chased after him, dunking him under when I got a good hold.

“We’d better go in.” Lethe looked back toward the shore, a frown forming between his brows. “We’ve stayed out here too long.”

Grabbing our bags and towels, we dashed for the outdoor shower. Lethe hurriedly scrubbed seawater from his hair.

I stepped under the spray with him and tentatively touched his chin, lifting his head. Water beaded at the ends of his eyelashes and trailed over the tips of my fingers. “What’s going on?”

Lethe bit his bottom lip. “Nothing.”

“Nothing doesn’t hightail out of the water every morning.”

“Which eyebrow is my scar?”

I gently drew my thumb over the cut in his eyebrow and he sighed and leaned into me.

“What are you running from, Lethe?” I whispered into his ear.

***

Anyta is a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. She loves to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love. Some of her favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.

Anyta writes a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy. Her books have been translated into German, Italian and French.

Member of Romance Writers of America.

Connect with Anyta: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Andy Gallo’s stories capture how he wished he’d spent his formative years, instead of how it really happened. Unfortunately for his characters, they find themselves infused with some of Andy’s less noble qualities.

A hopeless romantic, Andy writes seated next to a hundred year old Smith Brothers typewriter he inherited from his grandfather. He also dreams of superheroes and wizards and sees no reason why two men with superpowers can’t fall in love just like everyone else. Although not all of his stories have a paranormal bent, a touch of the supernatural never derailed a good read in his mind.

Married and living his happy every after, Andy helps others find their happy endings in the pages of his stories. He and his husband of more than twenty years spend their days rubbing elbows with other parents as they raise their daughter. Embracing his status as the gay dad, Andy sometimes has to remind others that one does want a hint of color even when chasing after their child.

Connect with Andy:  Website | Facebook

New Releases: September 2017

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (5th)

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: they’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news is: there’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—an unforgettable day that will change both their lives forever.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * Indiebound

I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin (5th)

Dear Best Friend,
I can already tell that I will hate everyone but you.
Sincerely,
Ava Helmer
(that brunette who won’t leave you alone)

We’re still in the same room, you weirdo.
Stop crying.
G

So begins a series of texts and emails sent between two best friends, Ava and Gen, as they head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. From first loves to weird roommates, heartbreak, self-discovery, coming out and mental health, the two best friends will document every moment to each other. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship be able to survive the distance?

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * IndieBound

The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic by F.T. Lukens (7th)

Desperate to pay for college, Bridger Whitt is willing to overlook the peculiarities of his new job—entering via the roof, the weird stacks of old books and even older scrolls, the seemingly incorporeal voices he hears from time to time—but it’s pretty hard to ignore being pulled under Lake Michigan by… mermaids? Worse yet, this happens in front of his new crush, Leo, the dreamy football star who just moved to town.

Fantastic.

When he discovers his eccentric employer Pavel Chudinov is an intermediary between the human world and its myths, Bridger is plunged into a world of pixies, werewolves, and Sasquatch. The realm of myths and magic is growing increasingly unstable, and it is up to Bridger to ascertain the cause of the chaos, eliminate the problem, and help his boss keep the real world from finding the world of myths.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

Spinning by Tillie Walden (12th)

Poignant and captivating, Ignatz Award winner Tillie Walden’s powerful graphic memoir, Spinning, captures what it’s like to come of age, come out, and come to terms with leaving behind everything you used to know.

It was the same every morning. Wake up, grab the ice skates, and head to the rink while the world was still dark.

Weekends were spent in glitter and tights at competitions. Perform. Smile. And do it again.

She was good. She won. And she hated it.

For ten years, figure skating was Tillie Walden’s life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing at ice rinks across the state. It was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But over time, as she switched schools, got into art, and fell in love with her first girlfriend, she began to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fit in with the rest of her life, and whether all the work was worth it given the reality: that she, and her friends on the figure skating team, were nowhere close to Olympic hopefuls. It all led to one question: What was the point?The more Tillie thought about it, the more Tillie realized she’d outgrown her passion–and she finally needed to find her own voice.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren (12th)

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * Target * The Ripped Bodice * Audible 

Jaya and Rasa: A Love Story by Sonia Patel (12th)

Seventeen-year-old Jaya Mehta detests wealth, secrets, and privilege, though he has them all. His family is Indian, originally from Gujarat. Rasa Santos, like many in Hawaii, is of mixed ethnicity. All she has are siblings, three of them, plus a mother who controls men like a black widow spider and leaves her children whenever she wants to. Neither Jaya nor Rasa have ever known real love or close family―not until their chance meeting one sunny day on a mountain in Hau’ula.

The unlikely love that blooms between them must survive the stranglehold their respective pasts have on them. Each of their present identities has been shaped by years of extreme family struggles. By the time they cross paths, Jaya is a transgender outsider with depressive tendencies and the stunningly beautiful Rasa thinks sex is her only power until a violent pimp takes over her life. Will their love transcend and pull them forward, or will they remain stuck and separate in the chaos of their pasts?

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

Initiates of the Blood by Cecilia Tan (18th)

Mira, a dom in New York City, is delighted when Clive, a one-time playmate, turns up at a BDSM party. When a fire breaks out, Mira frees Clive from captivity; they are rescued by a group of magic-workers calling themselves the Circle of Light. Skeptical, Mira must accept that magic is real when a ritual saves Clive’s life and ties his soul to hers.

Erotic play strengthens their bond and deepens their love for each other…a love they share freely with the Circle, save those who must hold themselves apart from the pleasures of the flesh. Mira’s idyll is shattered when the Circle is attacked by the Partisans of Fire, who want control over the Circle’s ancient knowledge.

Set in contemporary New York, Initiates of the Blood combines sex, blood magic, and romance into a stimulating, sensual, satisfying tale.

Buy it: Indiebound| Powell’s | Chapters/Indigo | Amazon | Google Books | Tor Books

Release by Patrick Ness (19th)

Adam Thorn doesn’t know it yet, but today will change his life.

Between his religious family, a deeply unpleasant ultimatum from his boss, and his own unrequited love for his sort-of ex, Enzo, it seems as though Adam’s life is falling apart.  At least he has two people to keep him sane: his new boyfriend (he does love Linus, doesn’t he?) and his best friend, Angela.

But all day long, old memories and new heartaches come crashing together, throwing Adam’s life into chaos. The bindings of his world are coming untied one by one; yet in spite of everything he has to let go, he may also find freedom in the release.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * Books of Wonder

Kaleidoscope Song by Fox Benwell (19th)

South Africa is loud. Listen. Do you hear the song and dance of it? The chorus of Khayelitsha life? Every voice is different, its pitch and tone and intonation as distinct as the words we choose and how we wrap our mouths around them. But everybody has a voice, and everybody sings…

Fifteen year old Neo loves music, it punctuates her life and shapes the way she views the world. A life in radio is all she’s ever wanted.
When Umzi Radio broadcasts live in a nearby bar Neo can’t resist. She sneaks out to see them, and she falls in love, with music, and the night, but also with a girl: Tale has a voice like coffee poured into a bright steel mug, and she commands the stage.

It isn’t normal. Isn’t right. Neo knows that she’s supposed to go to school and get a real job and find a nice young boy to settle down with. It’s written everywhere – in childhood games, and playground questions, in the textbooks, in her parents’ faces. But Tale and music are underneath her skin, and try as she might, she can’t stop thinking about them.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * IndieBound

Fortitude Smashed by Taylor Brooke (21st)

Fortitude Smashed 900px FRONTAfter scientists stumbled across an anomalous human hormone present during moments of emotional intimacy, further research created the ability to harness the direction of living energy and pinpoint when two lines will merge. Personalized chips are now implanted beneath the thumbnails of every infant, where glowing numbers count down to the moment they will meet their soul mate.

Fate is now a calculation.

But loving someone isn’t.

When Shannon Wurther, the youngest detective in Southern California, finds himself face-to-face with Aiden Maar, the reckless art thief Shannon’s precinct has been chasing for months, they are both stunned. Their Camellia Clocks have timed out, and the men are left with a choice—love one another or defy fate.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N 

The Love Song of Sawyer Bell by Avon Gale (25th)

Victoria “Vix” Vincent has only two weeks to find a replacement fiddle player for her band’s summer tour. When classically trained violinist Sawyer Bell shows up for an audition, Vix is thrilled. Sawyer is talented, gorgeous, funny, and excited about playing indie rock instead of Beethoven. Their friendship soon blossoms into romance, even though Vix tries to remember that Sawyer’s presence is only temporary.

Sawyer’s parents think she’s spending the summer months touring Europe with a chamber ensemble. But Sawyer is in dire need of a break from the competitiveness of Juilliard, and desperately wants to rediscover her love of music. Going on tour with her secret high school crush is just an added bonus. Especially when Vix kisses her one night after a show, and they discover that the stage isn’t the only place they have chemistry.

But the tour won’t last forever, and as the summer winds down, Sawyer has to make a tough decision about her future—and what it means to follow her heart.

Buy it: Riptide

In Her Court by Tamsen Parker (29th)

Newly minted professor Evangeline “Van” Thompson’s academic dreams have turned into nightmares. She can’t wait to escape the pressure cooker of the university to spend the summer at Camp Firefly Falls with her bestie, Nate.

Unfortunately, Nate breaks his leg halfway through the season, and his little sister Willa fills in for him as resident tennis instructor. Van has fond memories of the blonde moppet, but when Willa shows up at camp, she’s not so little anymore. She’s grown into a bombshell and a menace on the tennis court—why do those skirts have to be so short, anyway?

Willa Carter has had a crush on Van Thompson since the third grade but Van’s always been more interested in hanging out with Willa’s older brother. Not much seems to have changed—Van’s managing the camp’s web presence while Willa rocks her tennis whites.

Camp will be closing in a few weeks, and Van’s barely spoken to Willa despite sharing a cabin. But when the two get thrown together to plan the last session of camp, s’mores might not be the only thing getting sticky and sweet before the season’s out…

Buy it: Amazon * iBooks * Kobo