Tag Archives: Prince of the Palisades

Happy Black History Month 2023!

Happy Black History Month! Like the other eleven months, it’s an excellent time to buy queer books by Black authors! (Want even more recs? Check out previous posts!)

Please note that 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.

Books to Buy Now

Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert

61356545Bradley Graeme is pretty much perfect. He’s a star football player, manages his OCD well (enough), and comes out on top in all his classes . . . except the ones he shares with his ex-best friend, Celine.

Celine Bangura is conspiracy-theory-obsessed. Social media followers eat up her takes on everything from UFOs to holiday overconsumption–yet, she’s still not cool enough for the popular kids’ table. Which is why Brad abandoned her for the in-crowd years ago. (At least, that’s how Celine sees it.)

These days, there’s nothing between them other than petty insults and academic rivalry. So when Celine signs up for a survival course in the woods, she’s surprised to find Brad right beside her.

Forced to work as a team for the chance to win a grand prize, these two teens must trudge through not just mud and dirt but their messy past. And as this adventure brings them closer together, they begin to remember the good bits of their history. But has too much time passed . . . or just enough to spark a whole new kind of relationship?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Cameron Battle and the Escape Trials by Jamar J. Perry

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

Eternally Yours by Patrice Caldwell

Give in to this irresistible paranormal romance anthology filled with tales of the mortal and the monstrous. In Eternally Yours, fifteen of today’s bestselling writers explore love in its many forms . . .

Contributors include Kalynn Bayron, Kendare Blake, Kat Cho, Melissa de la Cruz, Hafsah Faizal, Sarah Gailey, Chloe Gong, Alexis Henderson, Adib Khorram, Anna-Marie McLemore, Casey McQuiston, Sandhya Menon, Akshaya Raman, Marie Rutkoski, and Julian Winters.

Vampires and merpeople, angels and demons—the stories in this anthology imagine worlds where the only thing more powerful than the supernatural, is love.

A girl in a graveyard goes on an unexpected date, a shipwrecked sailor makes a connection on a forbidden island, a piano melody summons a soul mate. Creatures of folktales and legend, of land and sea, of centuries past and life after life, all wrapped into one spellbinding compendium. Once you sink into its pages, it’ll never let you go.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Friday I’m in Love by Camryn Garrett

Mahalia Harris wants.

She wants a big Sweet Sixteen like her best friend, Naomi.
She wants the super-cute new girl Siobhan to like her back.
She wants a break from worrying—about money, snide remarks from white classmates, pitying looks from church ladies . . . all of it.

Then inspiration strikes: It’s too late for a Sweet Sixteen, but what if she had a coming-out party? A singing, dancing, rainbow-cake-eating celebration of queerness on her own terms.

The idea lights a fire beneath her, and soon Mahalia is scrimping and saving, taking on extra hours at her afterschool job, trying on dresses, and awkwardly flirting with Siobhan, all in preparation for the coming out of her dreams. But it’s not long before she’s buried in a mountain of bills, unfinished schoolwork, and enough drama to make her English lit teacher blush. With all the responsibility on her shoulders, will Mahalia’s party be over before it’s even begun?

A novel about finding yourself, falling in love, and celebrating what makes you you.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Death by Society by Sierra Elmore

Seventeen-year-old Carter Harper may have created an award-winning iPhone app and have a 3.93 GPA, but her successes are overshadowed by brutal bullying, debilitating depression, and biting loneliness. Tired of being treated as the popular girls’ plaything, Carter hatches a plan to gain their respect, and maybe even gain a bit of popularity of her own. When that doesn’t work, she thinks her only choice is to die by suicide.

Abby Wallace is a member of “the POPS” (the Petty, Oppressive, and Popular Shitbags, according to Carter)—subordinate only to Kelsey, her best friend with benefits. The ambitious poet destroys reputations without care—especially Carter’s—to prove how cool, cruel, and strong she is, all while pushing down her past trauma and secret guilt. But she faces an unexpected adversary when Kelsey tries to make Carter her new pet project. Angry and betrayed, Abby pushes Carter to the edge—facing consequences she never could have imagined.

Carter and Abby’s tumultuous relationship comes to a boiling point when Abby stops Carter from attempting suicide. But what happens when their shared enemy tries to come for them both again, and they end up in the unfortunate position of trying to protect one another? If Carter and Abby can stand each other for more than three minutes, they can stop Kelsey’s court of misrule from harming more girls.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Cool. Awkward. Black. ed. by Karen Strong

Real or imaginary, geekdom is where it’s at in this multi-genre YA anthology that celebrates “the geek,” with stories by some of today’s top bestselling, critically acclaimed Black authors.

Contributors include Amerie, Kalynn Bayron, Terry J. Benton-Walker, Roseanne A. Brown, Elise Bryant, Tracy Deonn, Desiree S. Evans, Isaac Fitzsimons, Lamar Giles, Jordan Ifueko, Leah Johnson, Amanda Joy, Kwame Mbalia, Tochi Onyebuchi, Shari B. Pennant, K. Arsenault Rivera, Julian Winters, and Ibi Zoboi.

A girl who believes in UFOs; a boy who might have finally found his Prince Charming; a hopeful performer who dreams of being cast in her school’s production of The Sound of Music; a misunderstood magician of sorts with a power she doesn’t quite understand.

These plotlines and many more compose the eclectic stories found within the pages of this dynamic, exciting, and expansive collection featuring exclusively Black characters. From contemporary to historical, fantasy to sci-fi, magical to realistic, and with contributions from a powerhouse list of self-proclaimed geeks and bestselling, award-winning authors, this life-affirming anthology celebrates and redefines the many facets of Blackness and geekiness—both in the real world and those imagined.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

As You Walk on By by Julian Winters

Seventeen-year-old Theo Wright has it all figured out. His plan (well, more like his dad’s plan) is a foolproof strategy that involves exceling at his magnet school, getting scouted by college recruiters, and going to Duke on athletic scholarship. But for now, all Theo wants is a perfect prom night. After his best friend Jay dares Theo to prompose to his crush at Chloe Campbell’s party, Theo’s ready to throw caution to the wind and take his chances.

But when the promposal goes epically wrong, Theo seeks refuge in an empty bedroom while the party rages on downstairs. Having an existential crisis about who he really is with and without his so-called best friend wasn’t on tonight’s agenda. Though, as the night goes on, Theo finds he’s not as alone as he thinks when, one by one, new classmates join him to avoid who they’re supposed be outside the bedroom door. Among them, a familiar acquaintance, a quiet outsider, an old friend, and a new flame . . .

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Minus-One Club by Kekla Magoon

60316977Fifteen-year-old Kermit Sanders knows grief and its all-encompassing shadows. After losing his beloved older sister in a tragic car accident, nothing quite punctures through the feelings of loss. Everywhere Kermit goes, he is reminded of her.

But then Kermit finds a mysterious invitation in his locker, signed anonymously with “-1.” He has no idea what he’s in for, but he shows up to find out. Dubbed the “Minus-One Club,” a group of his schoolmates has banded together as a form of moral support. The members have just one thing in common—they have all suffered the tragic loss of someone they loved.

The usual dividing lines between high school classes and cliques don’t apply inside the Minus-One Club, and Kermit’s secret crush, the handsome and happy-go-lucky Matt (and only out gay student at school), is also a part of the group. Slowly, Matt’s positive headstrong approach to life helps relieve Kermit of his constant despair.

But as Kermit grows closer to Matt, the light of his new life begins to show the cracks beneath the surface. When Matt puts himself in danger by avoiding his feelings, Kermit must find the strength to not only lift himself back up but to help the rest of the group from falling apart.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Black Queen by Jumata Emill

The Black QueenNova Albright, the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High, is dead. Murdered the night of her coronation, her body found the next morning in the old slave cemetery she spent her weekends rehabilitating.

Tinsley McArthur was supposed to be queen. Not only is she beautiful, wealthy, and white, it’s her legacy—her grandmother, her mother, and even her sister wore the crown before her. Everyone in Lovett knows Tinsley would do anything to carry on the McArthur tradition.

No one is more certain of that than Duchess Simmons, Nova’s best friend. Duchess’s father is the first Black police captain in Lovett. For Duchess, Nova’s crown was more than just a win for Nova. It was a win for all the Black kids. Now her best friend is dead, and her father won’t fact the fact that the main suspect is right in front of him. Duchess is convinced that Tinsley killed Nova—and that Tinsley is privileged enough to think she can get away with it. But Duchess’s father seems to be doing what he always does: fall behind the blue line. Which means that the white girl is going to walk.

Duchess is determined to prove Tinsley’s guilt. And to do that, she’ll have to get close to her.

But Tinsley has an agenda, too.

Everyone loved Nova. And sometimes, love is exactly what gets you killed.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

And Other Mistakes by Erika Turner

60405251For most of her life, Aaliyah’s home situation hasn’t been great, but she’s at least had her childhood best friend and role as a cross-country star to balance it out. But once she got outed by a church elder last spring, everything came undone — including Aaliyah.

Now, senior year is about to start and she is determined to come back faster and wiser. No more letting other people define her. No more losing herself to their expectations.

Except… well, with new friends, old flames, nosy school counselors, and teammates who don’t trust her yet, the route already feels rough. And what’s with the new girl, Tessa, who gives Aaliyah butterflies every time she looks at her? Regardless, she’ll be fine. Because this is the year to prove to everyone―and most of all, herself―that she’s more than her mistakes. After all, even Aaliyah can’t outrun everything.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

A Dash of Salt and Pepper by Kosoko Jackson

Xavier Reynolds is doing less than stellar. He just got dumped, was passed over for a prestigious fellowship, and to top it all off he’s right back home in Harper’s Cove, Maine (population: 9,000). The last thing he wants to do is to work as a prep chef in the kitchen of the hip new restaurant in town, The Wharf. Especially since the hot, single-father chef who owns it can’t delegate to save his life.

Logan O’Hare doesn’t understand Xavier or why every word out of his mouth is dipped in sarcasm. Unfortunately, he has no choice but to hire him—he needs more help in the kitchen and his tween daughter, Anne, can only mince so many onions. It might be a recipe for disaster, but Logan doesn’t have many options besides Xavier.

Stuck between a stove and a hot place, Logan and Xavier discover an unexpected connection. But when the heat between them threatens to top the Scoville scale, they’ll have to decide if they can make their relationship work or if life has seasoned them too differently.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Feels Right: Black Queer Women and the Politics of Partying in Chicago by Kemi Adeyemi

In Feels Right, Kemi Adeyemi presents an ethnography of how black queer women in Chicago use dance to assert their physical and affective rights to the city. Adeyemi stages the book in queer dance parties in gentrifying neighborhoods, where good feelings are good business. But feeling good is elusive for black queer women whose nightlives are undercut by white people, heterosexuality, neoliberal capitalism, burnout, and other buzzkills. Adeyemi documents how black queer women respond to these conditions: how they destroy DJ booths, argue with one another, dance slowly, and stop partying altogether. Their practices complicate our expectations that life at night, on the queer dance floor, or among black queer community simply feels good. Adeyemi’s framework of “feeling right” instead offers a closer, kinesthetic look at how black queer women adroitly manage feeling itself as a complex right they should be afforded in cities that violently structure their movements and energies. What emerges in Feels Right is a sensorial portrait of the critical, black queer geographies and collectivities that emerge in social dance settings and in the broader neoliberal city.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Books to Preorder

My Dear Henry by Kalynn Bayron (March 7, 2023)

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

Starting from Scratch by Jazz Taylor (April 4, 2023)

Starting From Scratch Final Cover.jpgJanie believes there’s a best way to do everything. When she sticks to a schedule, she and her mom can tackle anything. But Janie’s perfect schedule—and her life—are getting shaken up this year. Her new stepmom, Keisha, is moving in, along with her daughter, Makayla.

Worst of all? Makayla brings a cat with her. And Janie hates cats.

Even though it’s hard, Janie tries to welcome Makayla to her new school. And honestly, she maybe does too good a job. Soon, Makayla is volunteering with Janie’s beloved Sunshine Club, and Janie’s friends all love her. The only one who pays any attention to her anymore is Makayla’s nosy cat. It feels like her new sister is taking over! What’s a gal to do with a copycat in her life?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Blood Debts by Terry J. Benton-Walker (April 4, 2023)

60784432Thirty years ago, a young woman was murdered, a family was lynched, and New Orleans saw the greatest magical massacre in its history. In the days that followed, a throne was stolen from a queen.

On the anniversary of these brutal events, Clement and Cristina Trudeau—the sixteen-year-old twin heirs to the powerful, magical, dethroned family—are mourning their father and caring for their sick mother. Until, by chance, they discover their mother isn’t sick—she’s cursed. Cursed by someone on the very magic council their family used to rule. Someone who will come for them next.

Cristina, once a talented and dedicated practitioner of Generational magic, has given up magic for good. An ancient spell is what killed their father and she was the one who cast it. For Clement, magic is his lifeline. A distraction from his anger and pain. Even better than the random guys he hooks up with.

Cristina and Clement used to be each other’s most trusted confidant and friend, now they barely speak. But if they have any hope of discovering who is coming after their family, they’ll have to find a way to trust each other and their family’s magic, all while solving the decades-old murder that sparked the still-rising tensions between the city’s magical and non-magical communities. And if they don’t succeed, New Orleans may see another massacre. Or worse.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Pomegranate by Helen Elaine Lee (April 11, 2023)

61273768Ranita Atwater is “getting short.”

She is almost done with her four-year sentence for opiate possession at Oak Hills Correctional Center. With three years of sobriety, she is determined to stay clean and regain custody of her two children.

My name is Ranita, and I’m an addict, she has said again and again at recovery meetings. But who else is she? Who might she choose to become? As she claims the story housed within her pomegranate-like heart, she is determined to confront the weight of the past and discover what might lie beyond mere survival.

Ranita is regaining her freedom, but she’s leaving behind her lover Maxine, who has inspired her to imagine herself and the world differently. Now she must steer clear of the temptations that have pulled her down, while atoning for her missteps and facing old wounds. With a fierce, smart, and sometimes funny voice, Ranita reveals how rocky and winding the path to wellness is for a Black woman, even as she draws on family, memory, faith, and love in order to choose life.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Small Joys by Elvin James Mensah

Could I one day inspire happiness in others, the same way he seemed to do in me?

It’s 2005 and Harley has dropped out of college to move home, back to rural England where he works a dead-end job at a movie theater. Estranged from his father and finding every attempt at happiness futile, he is on the verge of making a devastating final decision. Fortunately for him, things don’t go according to plan, and his attempt on his own life is interrupted by his new roommate, Muddy.

Muddy is everything Harley is not: white, ostensibly heterosexual, freewheeling, confident in his masculinity. Despite their differences, a deep friendship blossoms between them when Muddy takes Harley under his wing and shows him everything that, in his eyes, makes life worth living: birdwatching, karaoke, rugby, and the band Oasis.

But this newfound friendship is complicated. It has enormous repercussions for the pair’s romantically entangled friend group—with Chelsea, an overbearing striver whose generosity they begrudgingly rely on; with Finlay, her raffish and uncouth boyfriend; and with Noria, who despite her simmering confidence is smarting from a series of unreturned affections. And then there’s the violent affair with an older man that Harley finds himself slipping back into…

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Rosewater by Liv Little (April 25, 2023)

62596601Elsie is a sexy, funny, and fiercely independent woman in south London. But, at just 28, she is also tired. Though she spends her days writing tender poetry in her journal, her nights are spent working long hours for minimum wage at a neighborhood dive bar. Not even sleeping with her alluring coworker, Bea, can quell her existential dread. The difficulty of being estranged from her family, struggle of being continually rejected from jobs, and fear of never making money doing what she loves is too great. But Elsie is determined to keep the faith, for a little longer at least. Things will surely turn around. They have to.

But when Elsie is suddenly evicted from her social housing, her fragile foundations threaten to collapse entirely. With nowhere left to go, Elsie turns to her childhood friend, Juliet, for help.

Among Juliet’s mismatched cushions and shelves lined with trinkets, Elsie is able to breathe for the first time in years. But between their reruns of Drag Race and nights smoking on the balcony, something else soon begins to glimmer in Elsie’s heart . . . Sometimes what you’ve been searching for has been there all along. Can Elsie see it in time?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Ellie Engle Saves Herself by Leah Johnson (May 2, 2023)

62134135Ellie Engle doesn’t stand out. Not at home, where she’s alone with her pet fish since her dad moved away and her mom has to work around the clock . Not at the bakery, where she helps out old Mr. Walker on the weekends. And definitely not at school, where her best friend Abby—the coolest, boldest, most talented girl in the world—drags Ellie along on her never-ending quest to “make her mark.” To someone else, a life in the shadows might seem boring, or lonely. But not to Ellie. As long as she has Abby by her side and a comic book in her hand, she’s quite content.

Too bad life didn’t bother checking in with Ellie. Because when a freak earthquake hits her small town, Ellie wakes up with the power to bring anything back to life with just her touch. And when a video of her using her powers suddenly goes viral, Ellie’s life goes somewhere she never imagined—or wanted: straight into the spotlight.

Surviving middle school is hard enough. Surviving middle school when paparazzi are camped out on your front lawn and an international pop singer wants you to use your powers on live tv and you might be in love with your best friend but she doesn’t know it? Absolutely impossible.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Homebodies by Tembe Denton-Hurst (May 2, 2023)

62558851Mickey Hayward dreams of writing stories that matter. She has a flashy media job that makes her feel successful and a devoted girlfriend who takes care of her when she comes home exhausted and demoralized. It’s not all A-list parties and steamy romance, but Mickey’s on her way, and it’s far from the messy life she left behind in Maryland. Despite being overlooked and mistreated at work, it seems like she might finally get the chance to prove herself–until she finds out she’s being replaced.

Distraught and enraged, Mickey fires back with a detailed letter outlining the racism and sexism she’s endured as a Black woman in media, certain it will change the world for the better. But when her letter is met with overwhelming silence, Mickey is sent into a tailspin of self-doubt. Forced to reckon with just how fragile her life is–including the uncertainty of her relationship–she flees to the last place she ever dreamed she would run to, her hometown, desperate for a break from her troubles.

Back home, Mickey is seduced by the simplicity of her old life–and the flirtation of a former flame–but her life in New York refuses to be forgotten. When a media scandal catapults Mickey’s forgotten letter into the public zeitgeist, suddenly everyone wants to hear what Mickey has to say. It’s what she’s always wanted–isn’t it?

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

The Secret Summer Promise by Keah Brown (May 9, 2023)

62675014THE BSE (Best Summer Ever) LIST!

1. Blueberries
2. Art show in ShoeHorn
3. Lizzo concert
4. Thrift shop pop-up
5. Skinny Dipping at the lake house
6. Amusement Park Day!
7. Drew Barrymarathon
8. Paintball day

Oh, and ….

9. Fall out of love with Hailee

Andrea Williams has got this. The Best Summer Ever. Two summers ago, she spent all her time in bed, recovering from the latest surgery for her cerebral palsy. She’s waited too long for adventure and thrills to enter her life. Together with her crew of ride-or-die friends, and the best parents anyone could ask for (just don’t tell them that), she’s going to live it up.

There’s just one thing that could ruin it: Her best friend, Hailee, finding out Andrea’s true feelings. So Andrea WILL fall out of love with Hailee – even if it means dating the cute boy George who keeps showing up everywhere with a smile.

Do we want Andrea to succeed? No! Does she? We’re not telling!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Yards Between Us by R. K. Russell (May 16, 2023)

60021329In 2019, R.K. Russell broke the mold when he came out as bisexual in an essay for ESPN that ignited the sports world. Now, in his powerful memoir, The Yards Between Us, he shares his story and explores his love of football, men and women, walking the devastating tightrope of keeping his sexuality secret, the tension between his private and public lives, and the importance of crashing through barriers.

Told through the people and moments that have shaped him, Russell traces the highs and lows of his life in and out of football, from his early life as a shy kid struggling with the expectations on a Black boy and the pull between his quiet nature and his athletic ability,  to being drafted by his hometown team the Dallas Cowboys, and then on to seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills. And as his time in the sport comes into full bloom, Russell realizes that keeping his secret in the NFL is easier than in college when life and football are so much more connected to social worlds.

Through being cut, injured, and frustrating setbacks, Russell’s confidence lags as the secret of his sexuality weighs heavier and heavier. And when that frustration is combined with the devastating loss of his best friend and sole confidant, the darkness that follows also brings a deep understanding that perhaps it’s time to make a change. In Los Angeles, against the backdrop of the swaying palm trees and warm sands of Malibu, Russell falls in love and it’s the final push he needs to stand up for every part of himself—a professional athlete, a writer, a son, a friend, a lover, a bisexual Black man. In The Yards Between Us, R.K. Russell shows us the life-changing power of embracing who you are and fighting to make space so others can do the same.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Transmogrify! ed. by g. haron-davis (May 16, 2023)

Transmogrify

Transness is as varied and colorful as magic can be. In Transmogrify!, you’ll embark on fourteen different adventures alongside unforgettable characters who embody many different genders and expressions and experiences—because magic is for everyone, and that is cause for celebration.

Featuring stories from:

  • AR Capetta and Cory McCarthy
  • g. haron davis
  • Mason Deaver
  • Jonathan Lenore Kastin
  • Emery Lee
  • Saundra Mitchell
  • Cam Montgomery
  • Ash Nouveau
  • Sonora Reyes
  • Renee Reynolds
  • Dove Salvatierra
  • Ayida Shonibar
  • Francesca Tacchi
  • Nik Traxler

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Forever is Now by Mariama J. Lockington (May 23, 2023)

54502830I’m safe here.

That’s how Sadie feels, on a perfect summer day, wrapped in her girlfriend’s arms. School is out, and even though she’s been struggling to manage her chronic anxiety, Sadie is hopeful better times are ahead. Or at least, she thought she was safe. When her girlfriend reveals some unexpected news and the two witness a violent incident of police brutality unfold before them, Sadie’s whole world is upended in an instant.

I’m not safe anywhere.

That’s how Sadie feels every day after—vulnerable, uprooted. She retreats inside as the weeks slip by and relies on her phone to stay connected to the outside world. When Sadie’s therapist gives her a diagnosis for her debilitating panic—agoraphobia—she starts on a path of acceptance and healing. Meanwhile, Sadie’s best friend, Evan, updates her on the protests taking place in their city. Sadie wants to be a part of it, to use her voice and affect change. But how do you show up for your community when you can’t even leave your house?

I can build a safe place inside myself.

That’s what Sadie learns over the course of one life-changing summer, with some help from her family, her best friend, an online platform for activists, and a magnetic crush she develops for the new boy next door.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Late Americans by Brandon Taylor (May 23rd)

In the shared and private spaces of Iowa City, a loose circle of lovers and friends encounter, confront, and provoke one another in a volatile year of self-discovery. At the group’s center are Ivan, a dancer turned aspiring banker who dabbles in amateur pornography; Fatima, whose independence and work ethic complicates her relationships with friends and a trusted mentor; and Noah, who “didn’t seek sex out so much as it came up to him like an anxious dog in need of affection.” These three are buffeted by a cast of poets, artists, landlords, meat-packing workers, and mathematicians who populate the cafes, classrooms, and food-service kitchens of Iowa City, sometimes to violent and electrifying consequence. Finally, as each prepares for an uncertain future, the group heads to a cabin to bid goodbye to their former lives—a moment of reckoning that leaves each of them irrevocably altered.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Art of Congressional Love by Sierra Elmore (June 12, 2023)

Unlike her private school classmates, 17-year-old and Yale-bound Kennedy Devon wasn’t born into a life of privilege. In fact, Kennedy and her mother are homeless. Kennedy refuses to be pitied, so she hides her secret from her friends and her girlfriend, Gwen Clark.

Kennedy’s secret is discovered when Senator Clark, her girlfriend’s father, finds out she’s homeless. Kennedy blackmails him into giving her a home and then some because she wants power and opportunity, to be a future President. He agrees that if she becomes his summer intern and excels, he’ll mentor her through the world of politics.

Only, at her internship, she discovers that Senator Clark is hiding a scandal so explosive it could tarnish his legacy.

Now Kennedy is caught between being loyal to the girl she loves, the senator who can wreck her life, and the country she hopes to serve. Because somebody’s life is going to implode, and she needs to make sure it’s not her own.

Buy it: Amazon

You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kalynn Bayron (June 20, 2023)

Cover for You're Not Supposed to Die TonightCharity Curtis has the summer job of her dreams, playing the “final girl” at Camp Mirror Lake. Guests pay to be scared in this full-contact terror game, as Charity and her summer crew recreate scenes from a classic slasher film, Curse of Camp Mirror Lake. The more realistic the fear, the better for business.

But the last weekend of the season, Charity’s co-workers begin disappearing. And when one ends up dead, Charity’s role as the final girl suddenly becomes all too real. If Charity and her girlfriend Bezi hope to survive the night, they’ll need figure out what this killer is after. Is there is more to the story of Mirror Lake and its dangerous past than Charity ever suspected?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Can’t Let Her Go by Kianna Alexander (June 20, 2023)

Can't Let Her GoPeaches Monroe and Jamie Hunt are core members of their Texas friend squad and have so much in common. They’re successful at their careers in personal care. They take Austin’s “Keep It Weird” vibe to heart, each leaning into their own unique talents and sense of style. And they’re both ready to go on to even bigger things. Is pushing past the boundaries of friendship into something deeper one of them? The red-hot fantasy is there…but so is real life.

Jamie’s college dreams will take her far from her hometown. She’s already road-tripping to possibilities from San Antonio to Houston. And Peaches has obligations of her own. Not only is she planning to expand her business, but she’s taking care of her family after her mother’s passing, leaving her overwhelmed and under pressure.

No matter how perfect Jamie and Peaches are for each other, is this the right time for romance? Finding their true selves comes first. Only then can they hope to pursue a future of lasting love—together.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The King is Dead by Benjamin Dean (July 18, 2023)

Heavy is the crown James has been born to wear, especially as the first Black heir to the British throne. But with his father’s recent passing, and with a new boyfriend to hide, James is woefully unprepared for the sudden shine of public scrutiny.

When his secrets come spilling forth across tabloid pages and the man he thought he loved has suddenly disappeared, James finds himself on the precipice of ruin. As every detail of his life becomes public knowledge, his sense of safety is shattered and the people he trusts the most become the likeliest suspects.

What dangers lurk behind the palace walls—and will the new king find out before it’s too late?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Monstrous by Jessica Lewis (September 12, 2023)

Don’t go outside past dark. Come straight home after church. And above all—never, ever, go into Red Wood.

These are the rules Latavia’s aunt tells her as soon as she arrives in Sanctum, Alabama for the summer. Weird, but Latavia isn’t here to solve any scary small town mysteries; she’s here for six weeks and six weeks only, and then she’s off to college and won’t look back. Still, Sanctum has its perks—mainly, the cute girl who works at the local ice cream shop.

But Latavia can’t ignore how strange her aunt’s tiny town is. The residents are suspicious of her and at times hostile, and it’s clear she’s some kind of outsider. That’s proven when Latavia is dragged out of her house in the dead of night, into the forbidden Red Wood, and presented as a human sacrifice to an ancient monster.

Latavia won’t be eaten without a fight. She’ll do whatever she has to do to survive—even if that includes making a deal with the monster, endangering her crush and family, and even risk turning into a monster herself.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

A Crown So Cursed by L.L. McKinney (September 19, 2023)

This is the third and final book in the Nightmare-verse

Alice and her crew are doing their best to recover from the last boss battle, but some of them keep having these. . . dreams: visions of a dark past―and an even darker future. Sadly, the evil in Wonderland may not be as defeated as they’d hoped.

Attacked by Nightmares unlike any they’ve ever seen, Alice will have to step between the coming darkness and the mortal world once more. But this time is different. This time, the monsters aren’t waiting for her on the other side of the Veil.

They’re in her own back yard.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Alex Wise vs. the End of the World by Terry J. Benton-Walker (September 26, 2023)

Alex Wise feels like his world is ending. His best friend, Loren, is leaving town for the summer, his former friend and maybe sort of crush Sky hasn’t spoken to him since he ditched Alex on first day of sixth grade, and now his mom is sending him and his annoying younger sister, Mags, on a cruise with the dad who abandoned them. And, as if things couldn’t get worse, a creepy shadow monster may or may not be stalking him.

But none of this could prepare Alex for the actual end of the world. Too bad that is exactly what’s coming, after the definitely-real Shadow Man kidnaps Mags and she is possessed by the ancient spirit of Death—one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Luckily (depending on who you ask), Alex is possessed as well by a powerful god who imbues Alex with their powers in an effort to stop the Horsemen…if he can figure out how to use them. So begins an epic battle between good and evil: Alex, Loren, a grumpy demi-god, and Alex’s fourth grade teacher vs. Death, Pestilence, Famine, War, and the waves of chaos and destruction they bring to LA and soon the rest of the globe. Just your average summer vacation.

Alex is more used to being left behind than leading the way, but now he’s the only one who can save his sister—and the world. That is, if he can unlock his new powers and and see himself as the hero he is.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Forest Demands its Due by Kosoko Jackson (October 3, 2023)

Regent Academy has a long and storied history in the small, sleepy town of Winslow, Vermont. But so does the vast, dense forest that surrounds its campus. While the prestigious school is known for molding teens into world leaders, its history is far more nefarious—and far more entangled with the forest—than anyone could begin to suspect.

Seventeen-year-old Douglas Jones wants nothing to do with Regent’s king-making; he’s just trying to forget his past and survive his present. But then a student is killed and, by the next day, no one remembers him ever exiting, except for Douglas and the groundskeeper’s son, Everett Everley. As Douglas begins to research what he finds to be a centuries-long curse in the town, he and Everett awaken a horror hidden within the forest. And to save the town, and the school, the forest wants more blood as payment. The question is, will Douglas and Everett be able to pay the debt?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Just Like Her by Fiona Zedde (December 23, 2023)

Delphine’s life is made up of secrets. About her job, her sexual identity, and even her past.

She coasts along on a tide of half-truths until a familiar “straight” woman splashes deeper into her world, threatening her tenuous peace of mind.

This woman wants to be everything Delphine has never had before – a confidant, a seductress, a trusted lover. By giving in to this siren, is Delphine setting herself up for heartbreak?

Buy it: Amazon

Where Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (March 19, 2024)

It’s like I keep stumbling into a dark room, searching for the switch to make things bright again. To make me remember. But the switch isn’t there. Was it there before?

Sade Hussein is starting her third year of high school, this time at the prestigious Alfred Nobel Academy boarding school. After being home-schooled all her life and feeling like a magnet for misfortune, she’s not sure what will happen. What she doesn’t expect though is for her roommate Elizabeth to disappear after Sade’s first night. Or for people to think she had something to do with it.

With rumors swirling around her, Sade catches the attention of the most popular girls in school – collectively known as the ‘Unholy Trinity’ – and they bring her into their fold. Between learning more about them – especially Persephone, who Sade finds herself drawn to – playing catch-up in class, and trying to figure out what happened to Elizabeth, Sade has a lot on her plate. It doesn’t help that she’s already dealing with grief from the many tragedies in her family.

And then a student is found dead.

The more Sade investigates, the more she realizes there’s more to Alfred Nobel Academy and its students than she realized. Secrets lurk around every corner and beneath every surface…secrets that rival even her own.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

A Little Kissing Between Friends by Chencia C. Higgins (May 28, 2024)

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

Books to Add to Your TBR

December 2022 Deal Announcements

Adult Fiction

Neurodiverse and intersex author Phoenix Blackwood’s New Adult THE LOVE THAT BINDS US, a sequel to THE SECRETS THAT KILL, in which the protagonist is thrown out of her home when her mother discovers her relationship with her nonbinary transmasculine partner; when she moves in with him, she discovers that she is intersex and works to overcome past medical trauma, to Kisstopher Musick at Cinnabar Moth, in a nice deal, for publication in April 2023 (world English).

Hugo and Lambda award winning author and editor Bogi Takács’s POWER TO YIELD AND OTHER STORIES, 10 pieces spanning speculative genres from science fiction to the new weird, featuring chaotic interspecies cooperation, an AI child discovering Jewish mysticism, rental apartments that drink your blood, and a novella focusing on neurodivergent people trying to survive on a planetoid where thoughts shape reality, to Scott Gable at Broken Eye, in a nice deal, at auction, for publication in spring 2023 (world English).

Izzy Wasserstein’s THESE FRAGILE GRACES, THIS FUGITIVE HEART, a cyberpunk novella set in a future Kansas City devastated by fascism and climate change, in which a trans woman returns to the commune she abandoned to investigate the murder of her ex, and finds she must confront her own past if she hopes to save the people she loves, to Jacob Weisman at Tachyon Publications, with Jaymee Goh editing, by Dorian Maffei at Kimberley Cameron & Associates (world English).

Rona Jaffe Foundation Award recipient Temim Fruchter’s CITY OF LAUGHTER, part speculative queer family history and part folklore, tracing four generations of Jewish women who are bound by blood, half-hidden secrets, and the fantastical visitation of a shapeshifting stranger over the course of 100 years, set against a tapestry of real and invented Jewish mythology, to Amy Hundley at Grove/Atlantic, for publication in early 2024, by Stephanie Delman at Trellis Literary Management (world).

Soula Emmanuel‘s WILD GEESE, the story of an Irish trans woman living in Scandinavia who unexpectedly reconnects with her first love over the course of one fateful weekend, reigniting memories she thought she’d left behind, to Nick Whitney at Feminist Press, for publication in fall 2023, by Olivia Maidment at Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency (NA).

Author of CALLING THE SHOTS Kelly Farmer‘s IT’S A FABULOUS LIFE, pitched as a sapphic retelling of the holiday movie classic, in which a realtor with big city dreams once again puts her plans on hold to help manage her small town’s winter festival and, with the aid of angelic drag queens, reconnects with her high school crush, to Holly Ingraham at Alcove Press, in a nice deal, for publication in fall 2023, by Eva Scalzo at Speilburg Literary Agency (world).

World Fantasy Award finalist R.B. Lemberg‘s THE YOKE OF STARS, a Birdverse novella in which a rebel who has escaped a remote egalitarian community and a linguist who has left behind an abusive marriage negotiate an assassination contract, only to find how their lives intersect in unusual ways, involving sea serpent shape shifters, fallen stars, and a powerful magical family, to Jacob Weisman at Tachyon Publications, with Jaymee Goh editing, in an exclusive submission, by Mary C. Moore at Kimberley Cameron & Associates (world English).

K Arsenault Rivera‘s OATH OF FIRE, pitched as a sapphic Eros and Psyche retelling with a fairy court feel, to Leah Hultenschmidt at Grand Central, in an exclusive submission, in a two-book deal, for publication in early 2024, by Sara Megibow at kt literary (world).

Author of CHEF’S KISS TJ Alexander‘s EDEN’S END, a trans regency romance featuring a man of unusual make whose penchant for privacy is upended when he is given the dreadful task of finding a wife by the end of the London season if he wants to keep his estate—a situation further complicated by his intriguing new valet, who is harboring a secret of his own, to Anna Kaufman at Vintage, in a very nice deal, in an exclusive submission, for publication in 2025, by Larissa Melo Pienkowski at Jill Grinberg Literary Management (NA).

Children’s/MG Fiction

Young Adult Fiction

Author-illustrator Tai Manzano’s SING WITH ME, a contemporary YA graphic novel about queer first love pitched as Check, Please! meets Yuri on Ice, set in Mexico in the high-stakes world of competitive charreria, to Elizabeth Lazowski at Chronicle Children’s, for publication in 2025, by Tamara Kawar while at ICM/CAA (world).

Author of RIGHT WHERE I LEFT YOU and upcoming AS YOU WALK ON BY Julian Winters‘s PRINCE OF THE PALISADES, pitched as RED, WHITE, & ROYAL BLUE meets Netflix’s Young Royals, where a roguish prince of Iles de la Reverie goes to America to clean up his image after a horribly public breakup goes viral, and ends up falling for a not-so-royal American boy who might be a fairy-tale romance come true—or another disaster in the making, to Dana Leydig at Viking Children’s, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2024, by Thao Le at Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency (world English).

Author of THE SPY WHO RAISED ME and MOTH & WHISPER Ted Anderson‘s graphic novel THE MASKED PRINCESS, in which a high schooler cosplaying his childhood-favorite character at an anime con unwittingly becomes an overnight hero after helping a fellow cosplayer, and ends up exploring his gender and discovering new aspects of his identity amid the backdrop of fandom and sudden fame, illustrated by Ollie Roswell, to Samia Fakih at First Second, in an exclusive submission, for publication in 2025, by Jennifer Chen Tran while at Bradford Literary Agency for the author, and by Paloma Hernando at Einstein Literary Management for the illustrator (world).

Marisa Kanter‘s FINALLY FITZ, a queer rom-com in which a fashion influencer reeling from a breakup enlists her former best friend to pose as her boyfriend during a summer program in New York City to make her ex-girlfriend jealous, only to realize that the relationship she wants to repair might be the one she’s faking, to Alexa Pastor at Simon & Schuster Children’s, for publication in spring 2024, by Taylor Haggerty at Root Literary (world).

Non-Fiction

Professor of English and linguistics at Los Angeles City College Lane Igoudin’s A FAMILY, MAYBE: TWO DADS, TWO BABIES, AND THE COURT CASE THAT BROUGHT US TOGETHER, part gay memoir, part family drama, set against the LGBTQ+ civil rights struggle of the early 2000s, in which a Russian-Jewish immigrant and his African American partner battle the Los Angeles County foster and family court systems and a teenage birth mother to adopt two babies and build the family they’ve always dreamed of, to Alena Rivas and Kelly Zatlin at Ooligan Press, in a nice deal, for publication in February 2024 (world English).

Fermilab physicist Jessica Esquivel’s OUR QUEER UNIVERSE: DECONSTRUCTING DEFINITIONS, PRODUCING PARTICLE BEAMS, AND EXAMINING ENTANGLED IDENTITIES, describing the physics and engineering of a particle beam and using it as a metaphor for the author’s journey through academia as a Black, Mexican, neurodivergent queer woman who also happens to love the ethereal elegance of physics, to Jermey Matthews at MIT Press, for publication in fall 2025, by Jessica Papin at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (NA).

Contributor to The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, and n+1, and a founding editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books Evan Kindley’s STILL IN THE PUBLISHED CITY, a group biography of the New York School of Poets, telling the intertwined stories of John Ashbery, Frank O’Hara, Kenneth Koch, Barbara Guest, James Schuyler, and Amiri Baraka, the intersections of various artistic and cultural scenes, as well as reading their influential poetry in light of politics, race, sexuality, and a rapidly changing New York, to Daniel Halpern at Knopf, by Elias Altman at Massie & McQuilkin (NA).

Author of A MILLION QUIET REVOLUTIONS Robin Gow‘s A MUSEUM FOR THAT WHICH NO LONGER EXISTS, which explores the history of a Berlin institute burned during World War II that was one of the first to affirm trans and queer people, and reimagines in poetry a museum where these artifacts and people are kept safe from destruction, to Leah Angstman at Alternating Current, in a nice deal, for publication in November 2023 (world English).

Pastor, founder of Unfit Christian, and spiritual doula for Black, queer, and marginalized-gender people D. Danyelle Thomas‘s THE DAY GOD SAW ME AS BLACK, answering “What do I do with a Christian faith that feels less comfortable for me as I better understand myself, my gender, my sexuality, and what it means to be Black in America?” with essays exploring Black faith experiences through the lens of gender, race, sexuality, and class consciousness, interwoven with the author’s personal narrative of her faith journey and critical cultural analysis, to Tamela Gordon at Row House, for publication in August 2024 (world).

Museum of the Moving Image editorial director and author of FILMS OF ENDEARMENT Michael Koresky‘s SICK AND DIRTY, a 21st-century rethinking of Vito Russo’s THE CELLULOID CLOSET that celebrates the presence of queerness onscreen, behind the camera, and between the lines during the dark days of the Hollywood Production Code, and reclaims certain controversial, misunderstood films as neglected classics, to Ben Hyman at Bloomsbury, by Farley Chase at Chase Literary Agency (NA).

Lambda Literary Emerging LGBTQ Voices fellow and Sewanee Writers’ Conference Tennessee Williams Scholar Thomas Dai‘s TAKE MY NAME BUT SAY IT SLOW, a memoir-in-essays exploring the intersection of place and identity through the lens of the author’s experience growing up queer and Asian American in the South, questioning the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and what it means to be “in-between,” to Helen Thomaides at Norton, by Christopher Combemale at Sterling Lord Literistic (NA).