Tag Archives: Rachael Allen

Fave Five: Queer YA Superhero Novels, Part II

For part I, click here.

The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune

Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy

I am Not Starfire by Mariko Tamaki (text) and Yoshi Yoshitani (illustration)

Super Adjacent by Crystal Cestari

Cute Mutants by S.J. Whitby

Bonus: Can’t have superheroes with super villains… Check out Harley Quinn: Reckoning by Rachael Allen for one of those!

New Releases: April 2022

Blood Thinners by Heather Novak (4th)

57975569. sy475 The only thing more annoying than a ghost flash mob is a rogue vampire attack…

Supernatural investigator Mina Summers is only one undercover mission away from the promotion she’s worked for her entire career. Her assignment is simple: figure out why several unregistered vampires are going rogue—including one that ruined her best suit—and attacking humans. Her investigation leads her to Thinner, a new celebrity-endorsed weight loss company that’s shrouded in mystery and promises seemingly impossible results.

Mina’s convinced she’ll finish her mission in time for dinner, but when she face-plants into Carma Nicks, Thinner’s smart and sexy vice president, Mina’s suddenly out of her depth. Surely her heart is only racing due to adrenaline, right? Falling for—and sleeping with—a mark goes 100% against protocol, but Mina’s plans to keep her distance are as flimsy as the agency-issued ghost that resides in her apartment.

When Thinner’s secrets disrupt the peace between supernaturals and humans—and threaten Carma’s life—Mina’s forced to choose between protecting her dream career or saving the woman she loves.

Buy it: Amazon

This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke (5th)

54886974The Fountains of Silence meets Spinning Silver in this rollicking tale set amid the 1956 Hungarian revolution in post-WWII Communist Budapest from Sydney Taylor Honor winner Katherine Locke.

In the middle of Budapest, there is a river. Csilla knows the river is magic. During WWII, the river kept her family safe when they needed it most–safe from the Holocaust. But that was before the Communists seized power. Before her parents were murdered by the Soviet police. Before Csilla knew things about her father’s legacy that she wishes she could forget.

Now Csilla keeps her head down, planning her escape from this country that has never loved her the way she loves it. But her carefully laid plans fall to pieces when her parents are unexpectedly, publicly exonerated. As the protests in other countries spur talk of a larger revolution in Hungary, Csilla must decide if she believes in the promise and magic of her deeply flawed country enough to risk her life to help save it, or if she should let it burn to the ground.

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Little Foxes Took Up Matches by Katya Kazbek (5th)

Little Foxes Took Up Matches by [Katya Kazbek]When Mitya was two years old, he swallowed his grandmother’s sewing needle. For his family, it marks the beginning of the end, the promise of certain death. For Mitya, it is a small, metal treasure that guides him from within. As he grows, his life mirrors the uncertain future of his country, which is attempting to rebuild itself after the collapse of the Soviet Union, torn between its past and the promise of modern freedom. Mitya finds himself facing a different sort of ambiguity: is he a boy, as everyone keeps telling him, or is he not quite a boy, as he often feels?

After suffering horrific abuse from his cousin Vovka who has returned broken from war, Mitya embarks on a journey across underground Moscow to find something better, a place to belong. His experiences are interlaced with a retelling of a foundational Russian fairytale, Koschei the Deathless, offering an element of fantasy to the brutal realities of Mitya’s everyday life.

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

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

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

It starts with a fire.
How will it end?

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Swollening by Jason Purcell (5th)

Jason Purcell’s debut collection of poems rests at the intersection of queerness and illness, staking a place for the queer body that has been made sick through living in this world. Part poetic experiment and part memoir, Swollening attempts to diagnose what has been undiagnosable, tracing an uneven path from a lifetime of swallowing bad feelings—homophobia in its external and internalized manifestations, heteronormativity, anxiety surrounding desire, aversion to sex—to a body in revolt.

In poems that speak using the grammar and logics of sickness, Purcell offers a dizzying collision of word and image that is the language of pain alongside the banality of living on. Beginning by reading his own life and body closely and slowly zooming out to read illness in the world, Purcell comes to ask: how might a sick, queer body forgive itself for a natural reaction to living in a sick world and go on toward hope? In Swollening, Purcell coughs up his own poetics of illness, his own aesthetics of pain, to form a tender collection that lands straight in the gut.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Sign for Home by Blair Fell (5th)

58438605Arlo Dilly is young, handsome and eager to meet the right girl. He also happens to be DeafBlind, a Jehovah’s Witness, and under the strict guardianship of his controlling uncle. His chances of finding someone to love seem slim to none.

And yet, it happened once before: many years ago, at a boarding school for the Deaf, Arlo met the love of his life—a mysterious girl with onyx eyes and beautifully expressive hands which told him the most amazing stories. But tragedy struck, and their love was lost forever.

Or so Arlo thought.

After years trying to heal his broken heart, Arlo is assigned a college writing assignment which unlocks buried memories of his past. Soon he wonders if the hearing people he was supposed to trust have been lying to him all along, and if his lost love might be found again.

No longer willing to accept what others tell him, Arlo convinces a small band of misfit friends to set off on a journey to learn the truth. After all, who better to bring on this quest than his gay interpreter and wildly inappropriate Belgian best friend? Despite the many forces working against him, Arlo will stop at nothing to find the girl who got away and experience all of life’s joyful possibilities.

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In a Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power (5th)

58529366Rhea and her twin brother, Lexos, have spent an eternity helping their father rule their small, unstable country, using their control over the seasons, tides, and stars to keep the people in line. For a hundred years, they’ve been each other’s only ally, defending each other and their younger siblings against their father’s increasingly unpredictable anger.

Now, with an independence movement gaining ground and their father’s rule weakening, the twins must take matters into their own hands to keep their family—and their entire world—from crashing down around them. But other nations are jockeying for power, ready to cross and double cross, and if Rhea and Lexos aren’t careful, they’ll end up facing each other across the battlefield.

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Reputation by Lex Croucher (5th)

Abandoned by her parents, bookish and sheltered Georgiana Ellers is spending the summer with her stodgy aunt and uncle at their home in the English countryside. At a particularly dull party, she meets the enigmatic Frances Campbell, a wealthy member of the in-crowd who delights Georgiana with her disregard for so-called “polite society.”

Lonely and vulnerable, Georgiana quickly falls in with Frances and her wealthy, wild, and deeply improper friends, who introduce her to the upper echelons of Regency aristocracy, and a world of drunken debauchery, frivolous spending, and mysterious young men. One, in particular, stands out from the rest: Thomas Hawksley, who has a tendency to cross paths with Georgiana in her most embarrassing moments. Sparks fly, but Thomas seems unimpressed with the company she is keeping. And soon, Georgiana begins to wonder whether she’ll ever feel like she fits in––or if the price of entry into Frances’s gilded world will ultimately be higher than she is willing to pay.

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Boss Witch by Ann Aguirre (5th)

58356884. sy475 Clementine Waterhouse is a perfectly logical witch. She doesn’t tumble headlong into love. Rather she weighs the pros and cons and decides if a relationship is worth pursuing. At least that’s always been her modus operandi before. Clem prefers being the one in charge, always the first to walk away when the time is right. Attraction has never struck her like lightning.

Until the witch hunter comes to town.

Gavin Rhys hates being a witch hunter, but his family honor is on the line, and he needs to prove he’s nothing like his grandfather, a traitor who let everyone down. But things in St. Claire aren’t what they seem, and Gavin is distracted from the job immediately by a bewitching brunette with a sexy smile and haunting secrets in her eyes.

Can the bossiest witch in town find a happy ending with the last person she should ever love?

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Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (5th)

Born under different stars—Mungo a Protestant and James a Catholic—they should be sworn enemies if they’re to be seen as men at all. Their environment is a hyper-masculine and sectarian one, for gangs of young men and the violence they might dole out dominate the Glaswegian estate where they live. And yet against all odds Mungo and James become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the pigeon dovecote that James has built for his prize racing birds. As they fall in love, they dream of finding somewhere they belong, while Mungo works hard to hide his true self from all those around him, especially from his big brother Hamish, a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold. But the threat of discovery is constant and the punishment unspeakable. And when several months later Mungo’s mother sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in Western Scotland, together with two strange men whose drunken banter belies murky pasts, he will need to summon all his inner strength and courage to try to get back to a place of safety, a place where he and James might still have a future.

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She Gets the Girl by Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick (5th)

58437812Alex Blackwood is a little bit headstrong, with a dash of chaos and a whole lot of flirt. She knows how to get the girl. Keeping her on the other hand…not so much. Molly Parker has everything in her life totally in control, except for her complete awkwardness with just about anyone besides her mom. She knows she’s in love with the impossibly cool Cora Myers. She just…hasn’t actually talked to her yet.

Alex and Molly don’t belong on the same planet, let alone the same college campus. But when Alex, fresh off a bad (but hopefully not permanent) breakup, discovers Molly’s hidden crush as their paths cross the night before classes start, they realize they might have a common interest after all. Because maybe if Alex volunteers to help Molly learn how to get her dream girl to fall for her, she can prove to her ex that she’s not a selfish flirt. That she’s ready for an actual commitment. And while Alex is the last person Molly would ever think she could trust, she can’t deny Alex knows what she’s doing with girls, unlike her.

As the two embark on their five-step plans to get their girls to fall for them, though, they both begin to wonder if maybe they’re the ones falling…for each other.

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Beast at Every Threshold by Natalie Wee (5th)

An unflinching shapeshifter, Beast at Every Threshold dances between familial hauntings and cultural histories, intimate hungers and broader griefs. Memories become malleable, pop culture provides a backdrop to glittery queer love, and folklore speaks back as a radical tool of survival. With unapologetic precision, Natalie Wee unravels constructs of “otherness” and names language our most familiar weapon, illuminating the intersections of queerness, diaspora, and loss with obsessive, inexhaustible ferocity—and in resurrecting the self rendered a site of violence, makes visible the “Beast at Every Threshold.”

Beguiling and deeply imagined, Wee’s poems explore thresholds of marginality, queerness, immigration, nationhood, and reinvention of the self through myth.

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

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

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

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

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Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong (5th)

58582927How else do we return to ourselves but to fold
The page so it points to the good part

In this deeply intimate second poetry collection, Ocean Vuong searches for life among the aftershocks of his mother’s death, embodying the paradox of sitting within grief while being determined to survive beyond it. Shifting through memory, and in concert with the themes of his novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Vuong contends with personal loss, the meaning of family, and the cost of being the product of an American war in America. At once vivid, brave, and propulsive, Vuong’s poems circle fragmented lives to find both restoration as well as the epicenter of the break.

The author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection Night Sky With Exit Wounds, winner of the 2016 Whiting Award, the 2017 T. S. Eliot Prize, and a 2019 MacArthur fellow, Vuong writes directly to our humanity without losing sight of the current moment. These poems represent a more innovative and daring experimentation with language and form, illuminating how the themes we perennially live in and question are truly inexhaustible. Bold and prescient, and a testament to tenderness in the face of violence, Time Is a Mother is a return and a forging forth all at once.

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School Days by Jonathan Galassi (5th)

Sam Brandt is a long-term denizen of Connecticut’s renowned Leverett School. As an English teacher he has dedicated his life to providing his students with the same challenges, encouragement, and sense of possibility that helped him and his friends become themselves here half a lifetime ago.

Then Leverett’s headmaster asks Sam to help investigate a charge brought by one of his classmates that he was abused by a teacher. Sam is flooded with memories, above all of his overwhelming love for his friend Eddie and the support of his most inspiring mentor, Theodore Gibson.

Sam’s search for the truth becomes a quest to get at the heart of Leverett, then and now. The school has changed enormously over the years, but at its core lie assumptions about privilege and responsibility untested for more than a century. And Sam’s assumptions about his own life are shaken, too, as he struggles to understand what really happened all those years ago.

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Dreams Bigger than Heartbreak by Charlie Jane Anders (5th)

53446531. sy475 Sequel to Victories Greater Than Death, this is the second book in the Unstoppable series

They’ll do anything to be the people they were meant to be — even journey into the heart of evil.

Rachael Townsend is the first artist ever to leave Earth and journey out into the galaxy — but after an encounter with an alien artifact, she can’t make art at all. Elza Monteiro is determined to be the first human to venture inside the Palace of Scented Tears and compete for the chance to become a princess — except that inside the palace, she finds the last person she ever wanted to see again. Tina Mains is studying at the Royal Space Academy with her friends, but she’s not the badass space hero everyone was expecting. Soon Rachael is journeying into a dark void, Elza is on a deadly spy mission, and Tina is facing an impossible choice that could change all her friends lives forever.

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Night & Day by Lily Seabrooke (9th)

Night & Day (Taste of Port Andrea) by [Lily Seabrooke]Parker Ferris needed a roommate, but for the crabby ball of snark she is, maybe upbeat Instagram lifestyle influencer Cassie Peterson wasn’t the best choice.

Not like she had a choice: with her business rival Gary Founders crushing her coffee supply business, and her family still needing money, she’s eager to save rent. But it’s only delaying the inevitable.

When a contentious roommate agreement becomes an alliance to keep Parker’s business alive, the attraction between them is nothing but a spark to Parker, a bit of fun to pass the nights with. Cassie, on the other hand, doesn’t know how to feel anything in half measures when it comes to the girl she’s crushed on for months—which is even more of a problem when her fans don’t know she’s gay.

Stopping Gary Founders’ company seems like an impossible task. But confronting feelings both of them have spent a lifetime hiding from might be even more of a challenge.

Buy it: Amazon

Different Kinds of Fruit by Kyle Lukoff (12th)

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

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

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Blaine for the Win by Robbie Couch (12th)

58437823High school junior Blaine Bowers has it all—the perfect boyfriend, a pretty sweet gig as a muralist for local Windy City businesses, a loving family, and awesome, talented friends. And he is absolutely, 100% positive that aforementioned perfect boyfriend—​senior student council president and Mr. Popular of Wicker West High School, Joey—is going to invite Blaine to spend spring break with his family in beautiful, sunny Cabo San Lucas.

Except Joey breaks up with him instead. In public. On their one-year anniversary.

Because, according to Joey, Blaine is too goofy, too flighty, too…unserious. And if Joey wants to go far in life, he needs to start dating more serious guys. Guys like Zach Chesterton.

Determined to prove that Blaine can be what Joey wants, Blaine decides to enter the running to become his successor (and beat out Joey’s new boyfriend, Zach) as senior student council president.

But is he willing to sacrifice everything he loves about himself to do it?

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Sedating Elaine by Dawn Winter (12th)

Frances was not looking for a relationship when she met Elaine in a bar. She was, in fact, looking to drown her sorrows in a pint or twelve and nurse a broken heart, shattered by the gorgeous, electric Adrienne. But somehow (it involved a steady stream of beer and weed, as things often did with Frances) Elaine ended up in Frances’s bed and never left. Now, faced with mounting pressure from her drug dealer, Dom (and his goon, Betty), Frances comes up with a terrible idea: She asks Elaine to move in with her for real. Unfortunately, this seemingly romantic overture makes Elaine even more sex-crazed and maniacal with love. Frances fears she may never escape the relationship, so, given no choice, she makes the obvious decision: She will sedate Elaine.

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The Romantic Agenda by Claire Kann (12th)

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

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

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | The Ripped Bodice

No Rings Attached by Rachel Lacey (12th)

Lia Harris is tired of being the odd one out. She’s never quite fit in with her uptight family, and now that her roommates have all found love, she’s starting to feel like a third wheel in her own apartment. Fed up with her mother’s constant meddling in her love life, Lia drops hints about a girlfriend she doesn’t have. But with her brother’s London nuptials approaching, she needs to find a date to save face. Lia turns to her best friend, Rosie, for help, and Rosie delivers–with the fun, gorgeous Grace Poston.

Grace loves to have a good time, hiding her insecurities behind a sunny smile. Her recent move to London has provided her with a much-needed fresh start. Grace isn’t looking for love, and she hates weddings, having weathered more than her fair share of heartache. Friendships are different, though, so for Rosie’s sake, she reluctantly agrees to pose as Lia’s adoring girlfriend for the wedding festivities.

Both Grace and Lia are prepared for an awkward weekend, complete with prying family members and a guest room with only one bed. As it turns out, they get along well–spectacularly, in fact. Before they know it, the chemistry they’re faking feels all too real. But is their wedding weekend a fleeting performance or the rehearsal for a love that’s meant to last?

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Queer Carnival by Amy L. Stone (12th)

Queer CarnivalFestivals like Mardi Gras and Fiesta have come to be annual events in which entire cities participate, and LGBTQ people are a visible part of these celebrations. In other words, the party is on, the party is queer, and everyone is invited. In Queer Carnival, Amy Stone takes us inside these colorful, eye-catching, and often raucous events, highlighting their importance to queer life in America’s urban South and Southwest.

Drawing on five years of research, and over a hundred days at LGBTQ events in cities such as San Antonio, Santa Fe, Baton Rouge, and Mobile, Stone gives readers a front-row seat to festivals, carnivals, and Mardi Gras celebrations, vividly bringing these queer cultural spaces and the people that create and participate in them to life. Stone shows how these events serve a larger fundamental purpose, helping LGBTQ people to cultivate a sense of belonging in cities that may be otherwise hostile.

Queer Carnival provides an important new perspective on queer life in the South and Southwest, showing us the ways that LGBTQ communities not only survive, but thrive, even in the most unexpected places.

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With a Twist by Georgia Beers (12th)

With a Twist (A Swizzle Stick Romance Book 3) by [Georgia Beers]Amelia Martini’s favorite things are traveling, animals, and peanut butter. When she left her job to explore the world with her wife, she didn’t expect Tammy’s plans to include leaving her. Now, Amelia is starting over again and facing middle age alone. It’s a struggle, but she doesn’t want to be bitter forever.

Thirty-something Kirby Dupree loves life. Not always easy when you’ve lost as much as she has and carry as much sadness as she does. But she made a promise to always look for beauty, so she does her best…even when she has to squint to see it.

When Kirby’s job as an interior painter brings her into Amelia’s life, they don’t exactly hit it off. Amelia finds Kirby irritatingly cheerful, and Kirby thinks Amelia’s far too serious. Forced to work together, they start to see beyond their first impressions and prove opposites really do attract. But are they brave enough to go after the love they really want?

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Love That Story: Observations from a Gorgeously Queer Life by Jonathan Van Ness (12th)

59952624. sy475 In Jonathan Van Ness’ New York Times bestselling memoir Over the Top, he showed readers how the incredibly difficult moments from his life (surviving sexual abuse and addiction, being diagnosed with HIV) have existed alongside great joy and positivity (landing a breakout role on Netflix’s Queer Eye, becoming an amateur figure skater and professional standup comedian, doting on his cats). If Jonathan has learned anything from these experiences, it’s that in order to thrive, he had to push past the shame and fear of being his true self. To embark on that journey, he had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

In this candid and curious essay collection, Jonathan takes a thoughtful, in-depth look at timely topics through the lens of his own personal experience—instances that have required him to learn, grow, and back handspring layout to a better understanding of the world around him. He dives deeply and widely—from a poignant reflection on grief and embracing body neutrality to an examination of the HIV safety net and white privilege—to share the ways in which he has learned to embrace change. These stories speak to doing the work to challenge internalized beliefs, finding compassion and confidence, and learning more about what makes us all so messy and gorgeous.

Balancing the dark and the light, the serious and the signature humor that is Jonathan Van Ness, these essays will encourage readers to examine their individual assumptions and expand their horizons. Ultimately, it is about giving ourselves the permission to be the flawed and fabulous humans we are, and loving our stories.

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Sanctuary by Andi C. Buchanan (12th)

59684041. sy475 Morgan’s home is a sanctuary for ghosts.

The once-grand, now dilapidated old house they live in has become a refuge for their found family. From Morgan’s partner Araminta, an artist with excellent dress sense, to Theo, a ten-year-old with an excess of energy, to quiet telekinesthetic pensioner Denny, all of them consider this haunted house their home. In a world that wasn’t built for their queer, neurodivergent selves, they’ve made it into a place they belong.

Together they welcome not just the ghosts of the house’s former inhabitants, but any who need somewhere to belong. Both the living and the dead can find themselves in need of a sanctuary.

When a collection of ghosts trapped in old bottles are delivered to their door, something from the past is unleashed. A man who once collected ghosts – a man who should have died centuries before – suddenly has the house under his control. Morgan must trust their own abilities, and their hard-won sense of self, to save their home, their family, and the woman they love.

Buy it: Amazon

Violets by Kyung-Sook Shin, trans. by Anton Hur (12th)

49092634. sx318 We join San in 1970s rural South Korea, a young girl ostracised from her community. She meets a girl called Namae, and they become friends until one afternoon changes everything. Following a moment of physical intimacy in a minari field, Namae violently rejects San, setting her on a troubling path of quashed desire and isolation.

We next meet San, aged twenty-two, as she starts a job in a flower shop. There, we are introduced to a colourful cast of characters, including the shop’s mute owner, the other florist Su-ae, and the customers that include a sexually aggressive businessman and a photographer, who San develops an obsession for. Throughout, San’s moment with Namae lingers in the back of her mind.

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The Language of Roses by Heather Rose Jones (14th)

A Beauty. A Beast. A Curse. This is not the story you know.

Join author Heather Rose Jones on a new and magical journey into the heart of a familiar fairytale. Meet Alys, eldest daughter of a merchant, a merchant who foolishly plucks a rose from a briar as he flees from the home of a terrifying fay Beast and his seemingly icy sister. Now Alys must pay the price to save his life and allow the Beast, the once handsome Philippe, to pay court to her.

But Alys has never fallen in love with anyone; how can she love a Beast? The fairy Peronelle, waiting in the woods to see the culmination of her curse, is sure that she will fail. Yet, if she does, Philippe’s sister Grace and her beloved Eglantine, trapped in an enchanted briar in the garden, will pay a terrible price. Unless Alys can find another way…

Buy it: Queen of Swords Press

The Forgotten Dead by Jordan L. Hawk (15th)

The Forgotten Dead (OutFoxing the Paranormal Book 1) by [Jordan L. Hawk]Parapsychologist Dr. Nigel Taylor doesn’t work with psychic mediums. Until, that is, a round of budget cuts threatens his job and an eccentric old woman offers him a great deal of grant money. The only catch: he must investigate a haunted house with a man she believes to have a true gift.

Oscar Fox, founder of the ghost-hunting team OutFoxing the Paranormal, has spent his life ignoring the same sort of hallucinations that sent his grandmother to an insane asylum. When he agrees to work with the prestigious—and sexy—Dr. Taylor, he knows he’ll have to keep his visions under wraps, so his team can get a desperately needed pay day.

Soon after Nigel, Oscar, and the OtP team arrive at the house, the questions begin to pile up. Why is there a blood stain in the upstairs hallway? What tragedy took place in the basement? And who is the spirit lurking in the closet of a child’s bedroom?

One thing is certain: if Oscar can’t accept the truth about his psychic abilities, and Nigel can’t face the demons of his past, they’ll join the forgotten souls of the house…forever.

Buy it: Amazon | Books2Read

The Meaning of Pride by Rosiee Thor (text) and Sam Kirk (illustration) (19th)

53405140. sx318 A vibrant ode to the culture and achievements of the LGBTQ+ community, The Meaning of Pride, written by Rosiee Thor and illustrated by Sam Kirk, celebrates the beauty, significance, and many dimensions of the concept of Pride as celebrated by millions of people around the world!

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Howl by Shaun David Hutchinson (19th)

57042299Virgil Knox was attacked by a monster.

Of course, no one in Merritt believes him. Not even after he stumbled into the busy town center, bleeding, battered, and bruised, for everyone to see. He’d been drinking, they said. He was hanging out where he wasn’t supposed to, they said. It must’ve been a bear, or a badger, or a gator—definitely no monster.

Virgil doesn’t think it was any of those things. He’s positive it was a monster. But being the new kid in a town where everybody knows everybody is hard enough as it is without being the kid who’s afraid of monsters, so he tries to keep a low profile.

Except he knows the monster is still out there. And if he isn’t careful, Virgil’s afraid it’ll come back to finish him off, or worse—that he’ll become one himself.

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Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse (19th)

This is the sequel to The Black Sun

Fevered Star (Between Earth and Sky Book 2) by [Rebecca Roanhorse]There are no tides more treacherous than those of the heart. —Teek saying

The great city of Tova is shattered. The sun is held within the smothering grip of the Crow God’s eclipse, but a comet that marks the death of a ruler and heralds the rise of a new order is imminent.

The Meridian: a land where magic has been codified and the worship of gods suppressed. How do you live when legends come to life, and the faith you had is rewarded?

As sea captain Xiala is swept up in the chaos and currents of change, she finds an unexpected ally in the former Priest of Knives. For the Clan Matriarchs of Tova, tense alliances form as far-flung enemies gather and the war in the heavens is reflected upon the earth.

And for Serapio and Naranpa, both now living avatars, the struggle for free will and personhood in the face of destiny rages. How will Serapio stay human when he is steeped in prophecy and surrounded by those who desire only his power? Is there a future for Naranpa in a transformed Tova without her total destruction?

Welcome back to the fantasy series of the decade in Fevered Star—book two of Between Earth and Sky.

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I am the Ghost in Your House by Maria Romasco Moore (19th)

Pie is the ghost in your house.

She is not dead, she is invisible.

The way she looks changes depending on what is behind her. A girl of glass. A girl who is a window. If she stands in front of floral wallpaper she is full of roses.

For Pie’s entire life it’s been Pie and her mother. Just the two of them, traveling across America. They have slept in trains, in mattress stores, and on the bare ground. They have probably slept in your house.

But Pie is lonely. And now, at seventeen, her mother’s given her a gift. The choice of the next city they will go to. And Pie knows exactly where she wants to go. Pittsburgh—where she fell in love with a girl who she plans to find once again. And this time she will reveal herself.

Only how can anyone love an invisible girl?

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Jordie and Joey Fell From the Sky by Judi Lauren (19th)

59040556Twin brothers Jordie and Joey have never met their parents. Maybe it’s because they aren’t from this planet?

When another kid at school tried to force Jordie to show him the “crop circles” on his back that prove he’s an alien, it was Joey who took the kid to the ground. And when the twins got kicked out of their foster home because Joey kissed the other boy who lived there, it was Jordie who told him everything would be okay. And as long as Jordie and Joey are together, it will be. But when the principal calls their current foster mother about a fight at school, the boys know she’ll be done with them. And, from spying in their file, they also know they’re going to be separated.

Determined to face the world side by side rather than without one another, Jordie and Joey set off to find their birth parents. From Arizona to Roswell to Area 51 in the Nevada desert, the twins begin a search for where they truly belong. But Jordie’s about to discover that family isn’t always about the ones who bring you into the world, but the ones who help you survive it.

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The Drowning Summer by Christine Lynn Herman (19th)

50986306. sy475 Six years ago, three Long Island teenagers were murdered—their drowned bodies discovered with sand dollars placed over their eyes. The mystery of the drowning summer was never solved, but as far as the town’s concerned, Evelyn Mackenzie’s father did it. His charges were dropped only because Evelyn summoned a ghost to clear his name. She swore never to call a spirit again. She lied.

For generations, the family of Mina Zanetti, a former friend of Evelyn, has worked as mediums, using the ocean’s power to guide the dead to their final resting place. But as sea levels rise, the ghosts grow more dangerous and Mina has been shut out of the family business. When Evelyn performs another summoning that goes horribly wrong, the two girls must navigate their growing attraction to each other while solving the mystery of who was really behind the drowning summer…before the line between life and death dissolves for good.

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Spear by Nicola Griffith (19th)

She left all she knew to find who she could be . . .

She grows up in the wild wood, in a cave with her mother, but visions of a faraway lake drift to her on the spring breeze, scented with promise. And when she hears a traveler speak of Artos, king of Caer Leon, she decides her future lies at his court. So, brimming with magic and eager to test her strength, she breaks her covenant with her mother and sets out on her bony gelding for Caer Leon.

With her stolen hunting spear and mended armour, she is an unlikely hero, not a chosen one, but one who forges her own bright path. Aflame with determination, she begins a journey of magic and mystery, love, lust and fights to death. On her adventures, she will steal the hearts of beautiful women, fight warriors and sorcerers, and make a place to call home.

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Sofi and the Bone Song by Adrienne Tooley (19th)

58437788Music runs in Sofi’s blood.

Her father is a Musik, one of only five musicians in the country licensed to compose and perform original songs. In the kingdom of Aell, where winter is endless and magic is accessible to all, there are strict anti-magic laws ensuring music remains the last untouched art.

Sofi has spent her entire life training to inherit her father’s title. But on the day of the auditions, she is presented with unexpected competition in the form of Lara, a girl who has never before played the lute. Yet somehow, to Sofi’s horror, Lara puts on a performance that thoroughly enchants the judges.

Almost like magic.

The same day Lara wins the title of Musik, Sofi’s father dies, and a grieving Sofi sets out to prove Lara is using illegal magic in her performances. But the more time she spends with Lara, the more Sofi begins to doubt everything she knows about her family, her music, and the girl she thought was her enemy.

As Sofi works to reclaim her rightful place as a Musik, she is forced to face the dark secrets of her past and the magic she was trained to avoid—all while trying not to fall for the girl who stole her future.

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Patience, Patches! by Christy Mihaly (text) and Sheryl Murray (illustration) (19th)

58607795Patches the puppy is very good at waiting—or at least that’s what he thinks. But his patience is put to the test when his two moms arrive home with an unexpected bundle. Is it a new toy? No! It’s a new baby. Suddenly, everything Patches wants to do takes a little bit longer. But patience, it turns out, is a lesson worth learning.

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The Red Zone: A Love Story by Chloe Caldwell (19th)

54442552. sy475 Chloe Caldwell’s period has often felt inconvenient or uncomfortable or even painful, but it’s only once she’s in her thirties, as she’s falling in love with Tony, a musician and single dad, that its effects on her mood start to dominate her life. Spurred by the intensity and seriousness of her new relationship, she soon realizes that her outbursts of anxiety and rage match her hormonal cycle.

Compelled to understand the truth of what’s happening to her every month, Chloe documents attitudes toward menstruation among her peers and family, reads Reddit threads about PMS, goes on antidepressants, goes off antidepressants, goes on antidepressants again, attends a conference called Break the Cycle, and learns about premenstrual dysphoric disorder, PMDD, which helps her name what she’s been going through. For Chloe, healing isn’t just about finding the right diagnosis or a single cure. It means reflecting on other underlying patterns in her life: her feelings about her queer identity and writing persona in the context of a heterosexual relationship; how her parents’ divorce contributed to her issues with trust; and what it means to blend a family.

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Pride: An Inspirational History of the LGBTQ+ Movement by Stella Caldwell (19th)

56845051. sx318 This inspirational history of the international LGBTQ+ movement will teach readers to accept and have pride in themselves and others, whatever their sexuality.

It details the struggles and successes of LGBTQ+ movements around the world, looking at decriminalisation, the Stonewall riots and their legacy, global Pride movements, the HIV/AIDS crisis and equal marriage.

It also includes profiles of significant LGBTQ+ figures from history and messages from young, modern-day members of the LGBTQ+ community, explaining why they have pride in themselves – and why you should, too.

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Like a House on Fire by Lauren McBrayer (26th)

After twelve years of marriage and two kids, Merit has begun to feel like a stranger in her own life. She loves her husband and sons, but she desperately needs something more than sippy cups and monthly sex. So, she returns to her career at Jager + Brandt, where a brilliant and beautiful Danish architect named Jane decides to overlook the “break” in Merit’s résumé and give her a shot. Jane is a supernova—witty and dazzling and unapologetically herself—and as the two work closely together, their relationship becomes a true friendship. In Jane, Merit sees the possibility of what a woman could be. And Jane sees Merit exactly for who she is. Not the wife and mother dutifully performing the roles expected of her, but a whole person.

Their relationship quickly becomes a cornerstone in Merit’s life. And as Merit starts to open her mind to the idea of more—more of a partner, more of a match, more out of love—she begins to question: What if the love of her life isn’t the man she married. What if it’s Jane?

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

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

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

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

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Book Boyfriend by Kris Ripper (26th)

Book BoyfriendThere are three things you need to know about Preston “PK” Kingsley:

  1. He’s a writer, toiling in obscurity as an editorial assistant at a New York City publishing house.
  2. He is not a cliché. No, really.
  3. He’s been secretly in love with his best friend, Art, since they once drunkenly kissed in college.

When Art moves in with PK following a bad breakup, PK hopes this will be the moment when Art finally sees him as more than a friend. But Art seems to laugh off the very idea of them in a relationship, so PK returns to his writing roots—in fiction, he can say all the things he can’t say out loud.

In his book, PK can be the perfect boyfriend.

Before long, it seems like the whole world has a crush on the fictionalized version of him, including Art, who has no idea that the hot new book everyone’s talking about is PK’s story. But when his brilliant plan to win Art over backfires, PK might lose not just his fantasy book boyfriend, but his best friend.

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Arden Grey by Ray Stoeve (26th)

58667398Sixteen-year-old Arden Grey is struggling. Her mother has left their family, her father and her younger brother won’t talk about it, and a classmate, Tanner, keeps harassing her about her sexuality—which isn’t even public. (She knows she likes girls romantically, but she thinks she might be asexual.) At least she’s got her love of film photography and her best and only friend, Jamie, to help her cope. Then Jamie, who is trans, starts dating Caroline, and suddenly he isn’t so reliable. Arden’s insecurity about their friendship grows. She starts to wonder if she’s jealous or if Jamie’s relationship with Caroline is somehow unhealthy—and it makes her reconsider how much of her relationship with her absent mom wasn’t okay, too.

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Love, Hate & Clickbait by Liz Bowery (26th)

Cover for Love, Hate & ClickbaitCutthroat political consultant Thom Morgan is thriving, working on the governor of California’s presidential campaign. If only he didn’t have to deal with Clay Parker, the infuriatingly smug data analyst who gets under Thom’s skin like it’s his job. In the midst of one of their heated and very public arguments, a journalist snaps a photo, but the image makes it look like they’re kissing. As if that weren’t already worst-nightmare territory, the photo goes viral—and in a bid to secure the liberal vote, the governor asks them to lean into it. Hard.

Thom knows all about damage control—he practically invented it. Ever the professional, he’ll grin and bear this challenge as he does all others. But as the loyal staffers push the boundaries of “giving the people what they want,” the animosity between them blooms into something deeper and far more dangerous: desire. Soon their fake relationship is hurtling toward something very real, which could derail the campaign and cost them both their jobs…and their hearts.

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Every Word You Never Said by Jordon Green (26th)

59204680Skylar Gray is adopted, nonverbal, and he feels most comfortable wearing skirts. Life has never been easy, but with a fresh start at a brand-new school, with new parents and in a new state, he just might finally make some friends. Maybe. Honestly it′s hard to focus on anything when gorgeous rocker boy Jacob is around. But it′s hard for Skylar to trust anyone when people have always been quick to ditch him at the first inconvenience; they always seem more than ready to judge him as defective. And the bullies love to confirm it. Skylar has only ever had himself, so why would anything be different this time? Especially for an anxious boy with literally no voice.

Jacob doesn′t give a damn, especially not since he came out over the summer. He expected the hate he got from his father, who mostly acts as if it never happened, but he refuses to let it hold him back. It doesn′t matter, Jacob′s over it. He’s going to paint his nails, dye his hair, and strike a heavy rift on his guitar if he wants to, even if it means being grounded most of senior year. But when the cute nonverbal transfer student, Skylar, wears a skirt to school, prompting a sexist new dress code proposal, Jacob decides it′s time to take a stand, no matter the risk to himself.

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Burn the Page by Danica Roem (26th)

58492102. sy475 Danica Roem made national headlines when–as a transgender former frontwoman for a metal band and a political newcomer–she unseated Virginia’s most notoriously anti-LGBTQ 26-year incumbent Bob Marshall as state delegate. But before Danica made history, she had to change her vision of what was possible in her own life. Doing so was a matter of storytelling: during her campaign, Danica hired an opposition researcher to dredge up every story from her past that her opponent might seize on to paint her negatively.

In wildly entertaining prose, Danica dismantles all the stories her opponents tried to hedge against her, showing how through brutal honesty and loving authenticity, it’s possible to embrace the low points, and even transform them into her greatest strengths. Burn the Page takes readers from Danica’s lonely, closeted, and at times operatically tragic childhood to her position as a rising star in a party she’s helped forever change. Burn the Page is so much more than a stump speech: it’s an extremely inspiring manifesto about how it’s possible to set fire to the stories you don’t want to be in anymore, whether written by you or about you by someone else–and rewrite your own future, whether that’s running for politics, in your work, or your personal life. This book will not just encourage people who think they have to be spotless to run for office, but inspire all of us to own our personal narratives as Danica does.

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Harley Quinn: Reckoning by Rachael Allen (26th)

When Harleen Quinzel scores an internship in a psych lab at Gotham University, she’s more than ecstatic; she’s desperate to make a Big Scientific Discovery that will land her a full-ride college scholarship and get her away from her abusive father. But when Harleen witnesses the way women are treated across STEM departments–and experiences harassment herself–she decides that revenge and justice are more important than her own dreams.

Harleen finds her place in an intoxicating vigilante girl gang called the Reckoning, who creates chaos to inspire change. And when Harleen falls for another girl in the gang, it finally seems like she’s found her true passions. But what starts off as pranks and mischief quickly turns deadly as one of the gang members is found murdered–and a terrifying conspiracy is uncovered that puts the life Harleen has worked so hard for at stake. Will she choose her future–or will she choose revenge?

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Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel (26th)

“I was born on the full moon under an auspicious constellation, the holiest of positions—much good it did me.”

So begins Kaikeyi’s story. The only daughter of the kingdom of Kekaya, she is raised on tales of the gods: how they churned the vast ocean to obtain the nectar of immortality, how they vanquish evil and ensure the land of Bharat prospers, and how they offer powerful boons to the devout and the wise. Yet she watches as her father unceremoniously banishes her mother, listens as her own worth is reduced to how great a marriage alliance she can secure. And when she calls upon the gods for help, they never seem to hear.

Desperate for some measure of independence, she turns to the texts she once read with her mother and discovers a magic that is hers alone. With this power, Kaikeyi transforms herself from an overlooked princess into a warrior, diplomat, and most favored queen, determined to carve a better world for herself and the women around her.

But as the evil from her childhood stories threatens the cosmic order, the path she has forged clashes with the destiny the gods have chosen for her family. And Kaikeyi must decide if resistance is worth the destruction it will wreak—and what legacy she intends to leave behind.

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No Stopping Us Now by Lucy Jane Bledsoe (26th)

58665979It’s 1974. Title IX has passed two years ago, but Louisa’s high school still refuses to fund an all girls basketball team. After hearing Gloria Steinem speak, Louisa learns an important lesson: “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” Now what can she do but stand up and fight back?

When Louisa asks her principal to start a girls team, she’s soon viciously targeted by male coaches at her school, lied to by the school board, and dismissed as “out of line” as she fights for a fair chance to be an athlete. No Stopping Us Now is a story about finding one’s own voice through the joys of sports, love, and the power of sisterhood. Based on the author’s true story, it is a compelling examination of the courage it takes to stand up for what’s right.

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New Releases: May 2020

New month = new books! This month’s post is sponsored by Celadon Books in honor of the newly released Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs by Jennifer Finney Boylan!

Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs by Jennifer Finney Boylan

Cover-GoodBoy-WEB

From the bestselling author of She’s Not There: A Life in Two GendersGood Boy is a memoir that explores seven crucial moments of growth and transformation in Boylan’s life, accompanied by seven unforgettable dogs.

“Boylan’s newest book is a touching look at the different identities she’s inhabited through her many furry friends—whose love has been a constant in a life marked by change.” —O, The Oprah Magazine, “44 LGBTQ Books That Are Changing the Literary Landscape in 2020”

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The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (5th)

The pirate Florian, born Flora, has always done whatever it takes to survive—including sailing under false flag on the Dove as a marauder, thief, and worse. Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, a highborn Imperial daughter, is on board as well—accompanied by her own casket.

But Evelyn’s one-way voyage to an arranged marriage in the Floating Islands is interrupted when the captain and crew show their true colors and enslave their wealthy passengers.

Both Florian and Evelyn have lived their lives by the rules, and whims, of others. But when they fall in love, they decide to take fate into their own hands—no matter the cost.

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Meet Cute Club by Jack Harbon (5th)

Jordan Collins doesn’t need a man.

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

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

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

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Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender (5th)

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

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Vanishing Monuments by John Elizabeth Stintzi (5th)


Alani Baum, a non-binary photographer and teacher, hasn’t seen their mother since they ran away with their girlfriend when they were seventeen — almost thirty years ago. But when Alani gets a call from a doctor at the assisted living facility where their mother has been for the last five years, they learn that their mother’s dementia has worsened and appears to have taken away her ability to speak. As a result, Alani suddenly find themselves running away again — only this time, they’re running back to their mother.

Staying at their mother’s empty home, Alani attempts to tie up the loose ends of their mother’s life while grappling with the painful memories that—in the face of their mother’s disease — they’re terrified to lose. Meanwhile, the memories inhabiting the house slowly grow animate, and the longer Alani is there, the longer they’re forced to confront the fact that any closure they hope to get from this homecoming will have to be manufactured.

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The Art of Drag by Jake Hall, ill. by Sofie Birkin, Helen Li, Jasjyot Singh Hans (5th)

The history of drag has been formed by many intersections: fashion, theatre, sexuality and politics–all coming together to create the show stopping entertainment millions witness today. In this extensive work, Jake Hall delves deep into the ancient beginnings of drag, to present day and beyond. Vibrant illustrations enhance the rich history from Kabuki theatre to Shakespearean, the revolutionary Stonewall riots to the still thriving New York ballroom scene. Nothing will go undocumented in this must-have documentation of all things drag.

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Figure It Out by Wayne Koestenbaum (5th)

“Toward what goal do I aspire, ever, but collision? Always accident, concussion, bodies butting together . . . By collision I also mean metaphor and metonymy: operations of slide and slip and transfuse.”

In his new nonfiction collection, poet, artist, critic, novelist, and performer Wayne Koestenbaum enacts twenty-six ecstatic collisions between his mind and the world. A subway passenger’s leather bracelet prompts musings on the German word for stranger; Montaigne leads to the memory of a fourth-grade friend’s stinky feet. Koestenbaum dreams about a hand job from John Ashbery, swims next to Nicole Kidman, reclaims Robert Rauschenberg’s squeegee, and apotheosizes Marguerite Duras as a destroyer of sentences. He directly proposes assignments to readers: “Buy a one-dollar cactus, and start anthropomorphizing it. Call it Sabrina.” “Describe an ungenerous or unkind act you have committed.” “Find in every orgasm an encyclopedic richness . . . Reimagine doing the laundry as having an orgasm, and reinterpret orgasm as not a tiny experience, temporally limited, occurring in a single human body, but as an experience that somehow touches on all of human history.” Figure It Out is both a guidebook for, and the embodiment of, the practices of pleasure, attentiveness, art, and play.

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The Summer of Impossibilities by Rachael Allen (12th)

Skyler, Ellie, Scarlett and Amelia Grace are forced to spend the summer at the lake house where their moms became best friends.

One can’t wait. One would rather gnaw off her own arm than hang out with a bunch of strangers just so their moms can drink too much wine and sing Journey two o’clock in the morning. Two are sisters. Three are currently feuding with their mothers.

One almost sets her crush on fire with a flaming marshmallow. Two steal the boat for a midnight joyride that goes horribly, awkwardly wrong. All of them are hiding something.

One falls in love with a boy she thought she despised. Two fall in love with each other. None of them are the same at the end of the summer.

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We Had No Rules by Corinne Manning (12th)


A young teenager stays a step ahead of her parents’ sexuality-based restrictions by running away and learns a very different set of rules. A woman grieves the loss of a sister, a “gay divorce,” and the pain of unacknowledged abuse with the help of a lone wallaby on a farm in Washington State. A professor of women’s and gender studies revels in academic and sexual power but risks losing custody of the family dog.

In Corinne Manning’s stunning debut story collection, a cast of queer characters explore the choice of assimilation over rebellion. In this historical moment that’s hyperaware of and desperate to define even the slowest of continental shifts, when commitment succumbs to the logic of capitalism and nobody knows what to call each other or themselves—Gay? Lesbian? Queer? Partners? Dad?—who are we? And if we don’t know who we are, what exactly can we offer each other?

Spanning the years 1992 to 2019, and moving from New York to North Carolina to Seattle, the eleven first-person stories in We Had No Rules feature characters who feel the promise of a radically reimagined world but face complicity instead.

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Waiting For You by Elle Spencer (12th)

Have you ever met someone and felt like you’ve known them in a thousand different lifetimes?

Lindsay Hall was a high school senior when she and her friend Patty discovered peach schnapps, listened to a past-life hypnosis CD, and got an up-close look at who she once was. And who she used to love. The knowledge of her past life has always haunted Lindsay. As her ex-husband is happy to point out, it’s made her a pretty crappy partner, too. Even her teenage daughter has politely suggested that she “get the eff over it.” Except she didn’t say eff.

Ren Christopher just wants a quick break before she starts a new job in London. She’s just extracted herself from a not-brief-enough, drama-filled relationship. A few weeks relaxing, drinking too much wine, and hanging with her old college friend Patty is just what the doctor ordered. No pressure, no expectations, and absolutely no drama.

Everything is perfect until Lindsay faints at the sight of Ren.

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Rules for Being Dead by Kim Powers (12th)

It’s the late 1960s in McKinney, Texas. At the downtown theater and the local drive-in, movies—James Bond, My Fair Lady, Alfie, and Dr. Zhivago—feed the dreams and obsessions of a ten-year-old Clarke who loves Audrey, Elvis, his family, and the handsome boy in the projector booth. Then Clarke loses his beloved mother, and no one will tell him how she died. No one will tell her either. She is floating above the trees and movie screens of McKinney, trapped between life and death, searching for a glimpse of her final moments on this earth. Clarke must find the shattering truth, which haunts this darkly humorous and incredibly moving novel.

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The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos (12th)

Living in a small town where magic is frowned upon, Sam needs his friends James and Delia—and their time together in their school’s magic club—to see him through to graduation.

But as soon as senior year starts, little cracks in their group begin to show. Sam may or may not be in love with James. Delia is growing more frustrated with their amateur magic club. And James reveals that he got mixed up with some sketchy magickers over the summer, putting a target on all their backs.

With so many fault lines threatening to derail his hopes for the year, Sam is forced to face the fact that the very love of magic that brought his group together is now tearing them apart—and there are some problems that no amount of magic can fix.

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The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar (12th)

Nishat doesn’t want to lose her family, but she also doesn’t want to hide who she is, and it only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life. Flávia is beautiful and charismatic, and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat decide to showcase their talent as henna artists. In a fight to prove who is the best, their lives become more tangled―but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush, especially since Flávia seems to like her back.

As the competition heats up, Nishat has a decision to make: stay in the closet for her family, or put aside her differences with Flávia and give their relationship a chance.

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The Pink Line: Journeys Across the World’s Queer Frontiers by Mark Gevisser (12th)

More than five years in the making, Mark Gevisser’s The Pink Line: The World’s Queer Frontiers is a globetrotting exploration of how the human rights frontier around sexual orientation and gender identity has come to divide—and describe—the world in an entirely new way over the first two decades of the twenty-first century. No social movement has brought change so quickly and with such dramatically mixed results. While same-sex marriage and gender transition is celebrated in some parts of the world, laws are being strengthened to criminalize homosexuality and gender nonconformity in others. A new Pink Line, Gevisser argues, has been drawn across the world, and he takes readers to its frontiers.

In between sharp analytical chapters about culture wars, folklore, gender ideology, and geopolitics, Gevisser provides sensitive and sometimes startling profiles of the queer folk he’s encountered on the Pink Line’s front lines across nine countries. They include a trans Malawian refugee granted asylum in South Africa and a gay Ugandan refugee stuck in Nairobi; a lesbian couple who started a gay café in Cairo after the Arab Spring, a trans woman fighting for custody of her child in Moscow, and a community of kothis—“women’s hearts in men’s bodies”who run a temple in an Indian fishing village.

Eye-opening, moving, and crafted with expert research, compelling narrative, and unprecedented scope, The Pink Line is a monumental—and vital—journey through the border posts of the world’s new LGBTQ+ frontiers.

Buy it: Amazon | B&NIndiebound

The Boy in the Red Dress by Kristin Lambert (12th)

New Year’s Eve, 1929. Millie is the emcee of the Cloak & Dagger, an LGTQ-friendly speakeasy deep in the heart of the French Quarter, full of bootleg booze, cabaret acts, and where the New Orleans elite comes out to play. Her best friend, Marion, is the star of the show–his diehard fans wouldn’t miss a performance from the boy in the red dress. And together they rule the underground scene.

Then a young socialite draped in furs starts asking questions, wielding a photograph of a boy who looks a lot like Marion. When the socialite’s body is found slumped in the back alley, all signs point to Marion as the murderer. Millie is determined to prove her best friend’s innocence, even if that means risking her own life. As she chases clues that lead to cemeteries and dead ends, Millie’s attention is divided between the wry and beautiful Olive, a waitress at the Cloak & Dagger, and Bennie, the charming bootlegger who’s offered to help her find the murderer. The clock is ticking for the fugitive Marion, but the truth of who the killer is might be closer than Millie thinks.

Buy it: Amazon | B&NIndieBound | Bookshop

Night Owls and Summer Skies by Rebecca Sullivan (12th)

Emma Lane’s forced to face her fears when her mother unceremoniously dumps her on the doorstep of Camp Mapplewood, abandoning her for the summer while she heads off on a cruise with her latest husband. It’s the last place Emma wants to be with no shortage of creepy creatures, keen campers, and mandatory activities that she fears will hinder managing her anxiety and depression. When Emma breaks into the tool shed on her first day there, the fall out from her escapades leads her right into the path of her counsellor Vivian Black, and nothing is ever the same.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Starcrossed by Allie Therin (18th)

This is the second book in the Magic in Manhattan seriesNew York, 1925

Psychometric Rory Brodigan’s life hasn’t been the same since the day he met Arthur Kenzie. Arthur’s continued quest to contain supernatural relics that pose a threat to the world has captured Rory’s imagination—and his heart. But Arthur’s upper-class upbringing still leaves Rory worried that he’ll never measure up, especially when Arthur’s aristocratic ex arrives in New York.

For Arthur, there’s only Rory. But keeping the man he’s fallen for safe is another matter altogether. When a group of ruthless paranormals throws the city into chaos, the two men’s strained relationship leaves Rory vulnerable to a monster from Arthur’s past.

With dark forces determined to tear them apart, Rory and Arthur will have to draw on every last bit of magic up their sleeves. And in the end, it’s the connection they’ve formed without magic that will be tested like never before.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

This Coven Won’t Break by Isabel Sterling (19th)

Hannah Walsh just wants a normal life. It’s her senior year, so she should be focusing on classes, hanging out with her best friend, and flirting with her new girlfriend, Morgan. But it turns out surviving a murderous Witch Hunter doesn’t exactly qualify as a summer vacation, and now the rest of the Hunters seem more intent on destroying her magic than ever.

When Hannah learns the Hunters have gone nationwide, armed with a serum capable of taking out entire covens at once, she’s desperate to help. Now, with witches across the country losing the most important thing they have—their power—Hannah could be their best shot at finally defeating the Hunters. After all, she’s one of the only witches to escape a Hunter with her magic intact.

Or so everyone believes. Because as good as she is at faking it, doing even the smallest bit of magic leaves her in agony. The only person who can bring her comfort, who can make her power flourish, is Morgan. But Morgan’s magic is on the line, too, and if Hannah can’t figure out how to save her—and the rest of the Witches—she’ll lose everything she’s ever known. And as the Hunters get dangerously close to their final target, will all the Witches in Salem be enough to stop an enemy determined to destroy magic for good?

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

Date Me, Bryson Keller! by Kevin Van Whye (19th)

Everyone knows about the dare: Each week, Bryson Keller must date someone new–the first person to ask him out on Monday morning. Few think Bryson can do it. He may be the king of Fairvale Academy, but he’s never really dated before.

Until a boy asks him out, and everything changes.

Kai Sheridan didn’t expect Bryson to say yes. So when Bryson agrees to secretly go out with him, Kai is thrown for a loop. But as the days go by, he discovers there’s more to Bryson beneath the surface, and dating him begins to feel less like an act and more like the real thing. Kai knows how the story of a gay boy liking someone straight ends. With his heart on the line, he’s awkwardly trying to navigate senior year at school, at home, and in the closet, all while grappling with the fact that this “relationship” will last only five days. After all, Bryson Keller is popular, good-looking, and straight…right?

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

Fence: Rivals by C.S. Pacat (19th)

The team at King’s Row must face the school that defeated them in the fencing state championships last year, but first Nicholas and Seiji must learn to work together as a team…and maybe something more!

FOILED AGAIN?

Just as Nicholas, Seiji and the fencing team at the prodigious Kings Row private school seem to be coming together, a deadly rival from their past stands in their way once more. MacRobertson is the school that knocked Kings Row out of the State Championships last year – but unless Nicholas and Seiji can learn to work together as a team, their school is doomed once again! And maybe those two can learn to be something more than teammates too…

For the first time, best-selling novelist C.S. Pacat (Captive Prince) and popular online sensation Johanna The Mad present the next all-new thrilling chapter in the story of Nicholas Cox’s entry into the world of competitive fencing where scoring points is the name of the game—but finding out who you really are is the only way to truly win!

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Boys of Alabama by Genevieve Hudson (19th)


In this bewitching first novel, a sensitive teen, newly arrived in Alabama, falls in love, questions his faith, and navigates a strange power. While his German parents don’t know what to make of a South pining for the past, shy Max thrives in the thick heat. Taken in by rowdy football players, he learns how to catch a spiraling ball, point a gun, and hide his innermost secrets. When Max meets fishnet-wearing Pan in physics class, they embark on an all-consuming relationship: Max tells Pan about his supernatural powers, and Pan tells Max about the snake poison initiations of a local church. The boys, however, aren’t sure what is more frightening—embracing their true selves, or masking their true selves. Evoking Dorothy Allison, Lambda Award finalist Genevieve Hudson offers a nuanced portrait of masculinity, immigration, and the adolescent pressures that require total conformity—in short, a twenty-first-century South that would have been unimaginable to the late Harper Lee.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

My Maddy by Gayle E. Pitman and Anne Passchier (25th)

My Maddy has hazel eyes which are not brown or green. And my Maddy likes sporks because they are not quite a spoon or a fork.

Some of the best things in the world are not one thing or the other. They are something in between and entirely their own.

Randall Ehrbar, PsyD, offers an insightful note with more information about parents who are members of gender minority communities, including transgender, gender non-binary, or otherwise gender diverse people.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

Trans and Autistic: Stories of Lives at the Intersection ed. by Noah Adams and Bridget Liang (26th)

The first book to foreground the voices and experiences of autistic trans people, this collection of interviews explores questions of identity and gender from a neurodiverse perspective and examines how this impacts family, work, healthcare and religion.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

Camp by L.C. Rosen (26th)

Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim – who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.

This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ – buff, masculine, and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish, and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.

But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself how much is he willing to change for love. And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is?

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

All My Mother’s Lovers by Ilana Masad (26th)

Intimacy has always eluded twenty-seven-year-old Maggie Krause—despite being brought up by married parents, models of domestic bliss—until, that is, Lucia came into her life. But when Maggie’s mom, Iris, dies in a car crash, Maggie returns home only to discover a withdrawn dad, an angry brother, and, along with Iris’s will, five sealed envelopes, each addressed to a mysterious man she’s never heard of.

In an effort to run from her own grief and discover the truth about Iris—who made no secret of her discomfort with her daughter’s sexuality—Maggie embarks on a road trip, determined to hand-deliver the letters and find out what these men meant to her mother. Maggie quickly discovers Iris’s second, hidden life, which shatters everything Maggie thought she knew about her parents’ perfect relationship. What is she supposed to tell her father and brother? And how can she deal with her own relationship when her whole world is in freefall?

Told over the course of a funeral and shiva, and written with enormous wit and warmth, All My Mother’s Lovers is the exciting debut novel from fiction writer and book critic Ilana Masad. A unique meditation on the universality and particularity of family ties and grief, and a tender and biting portrait of sex, gender, and identity, All My Mother’s Lovers challenges us to question the nature of fulfilling relationships.

Preorder: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner (26th)

Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn’t come at a worse time—threatening Emma’s promotion and Jo’s new movie.

As the gossip spreads, it starts to affect all areas of their lives. Paparazzi are following them outside the office, coworkers are treating them differently, and a “source” is feeding information to the media. But their only comment is “no comment”.

With the launch of Jo’s film project fast approaching, the two women begin to spend even more time together, getting along famously. Emma seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what Jo needs. And Jo, known for being aloof and outwardly cold, opens up to Emma in a way neither of them expects. They begin to realize the rumor might not be so off base after all…but is acting on the spark between them worth fanning the gossip flames?

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

Fairest by Meredith Talusan (26th)

Fairest is a memoir about a precocious boy with albinism, a “sun child” from a rural Philippine village, who would grow up to become a woman in America. Coping with the strain of parental neglect and the elusive promise of U.S. citizenship, Talusan found childhood comfort from her devoted grandmother, a grounding force as she was treated by others with special preference or public curiosity. As an immigrant to the United States, Talusan came to be perceived as white. An academic scholarship to Harvard provided access to elite circles of privilege but required Talusan to navigate through the complex spheres of race, class, sexuality, and her place within the gay community. She emerged as an artist and an activist questioning the boundaries of gender. Talusan realized she did not want to be confined to a prescribed role as a man, and transitioned to become a woman, despite the risk of losing a man she deeply loved.

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

Out Now: Queer We Go Again! ed. by Saundra Mitchell (26th)

A follow-up to the critically acclaimed All Out anthology, Out Now features seventeen new short stories from amazing queer YA authors. Vampires crash prom, aliens run from the government, a president’s daughter comes into her own, a true romantic tries to soften the heart of a cynical social media influencer, a selkie and the sea call out to a lost soul. Teapots and barbershops, skateboards and VW vans, Street Fighter and Ares’s sword: Out Now has a story for every reader and surprises with each turn of the page!

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Stay Gold by Tobly McSmith (26th)

Pony just wants to fly under the radar during senior year. Tired from all the attention he got at his old school after coming out as transgender, he’s looking for a fresh start at Hillcrest High. But it’s hard to live your best life when the threat of exposure lurks down every hallway and in every bathroom.

Georgia is beginning to think there’s more to life than cheerleading. She plans on keeping a low profile until graduation…which is why she promised herself that dating was officially a no-go this year.

Then, on the very first day of school, the new guy and the cheerleader lock eyes. How is Pony supposed to stay stealth when he wants to get close to a girl like Georgia? How is Georgia supposed to keep her promise when sparks start flying with a boy like Pony?

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

The Ship We Built by Lexie Bean (26th)

Rowan has too many secrets to write down in the pages of a diary. And if he did, he wouldn’t want anyone he knows to discover them. He understands who he is and what he likes, but it’s not safe for others to know. Now, the kids at school say he’s too different to spend time with. He’s not the “right kind” of girl, and he’s not the “right kind” of boy. His mom ignores him. And at night, his dad hurts him in ways he’s not ready to talk about yet.

But Rowan discovers another way to share his secrets: letters. Letters he attaches to balloons and releases into the universe, hoping someone new will read them and understand. But when he befriends a classmate who knows what it’s like to be lonely and scared, even at home, Rowan realizes that there might already be a person he can trust right by his side.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

The Girl Next Door by Chelsea M. Cameron (26th)

Iris Turner hightailed it out of Salty Cove, Maine, without so much as a backward glance. Which is why finding herself back in her hometown—in her childhood bedroom, no less—has the normally upbeat Iris feeling a bit down and out. Her spirits get a much-needed lift, though, at the sight of the sexy girl next door.

No one knows why Jude Wicks is back in Salty Cove, and that’s just how she likes it. Jude never imagined she’d be once again living in her parents’ house, never mind hauling lobster like a local. But the solitude is just what she needs—until Iris tempts her to open up.

A no-strings summer fling seems like the perfect distraction for both women. Jude rides a motorcycle, kisses hard and gives Iris the perfect distraction from her tangled mess of a life. But come September, Iris is still determined to get out of this zero-stoplight town.

That is, unless Jude can give her a reason to stay…

Buy it: Amazon | B&N 

Wonderland by Juno Dawson (28th)

Alice lives in a world of stifling privilege and luxury – but none of it means anything when your own head plays tricks on your reality. When her troubled friend Bunny goes missing, Alice becomes obsessed with finding her. On the trail of her last movements, Alice discovers a mysterious invitation to ‘Wonderland’: the party to end all parties – three days of hedonistic excess to which only the elite are welcome.

Will she find Bunny there? Or is this really a case of finding herself? Because Alice has secrets of her own, and ruthless socialite queen Paisley Hart is determined to uncover them, whatever it takes.

Alice is all alone, miles from home and without her essential medication. She can trust no-one, least of all herself, and now she has a new enemy who wants her head…

Buy it: The Book Depository

The Magnificent Sons by Justin Myers (28th)

Jake D’Arcy has spent most of his twenty-nine years trying to get his life just right. He’s nearly there: great girlfriend, great friends, stable job. A distant relationship with his boisterous family – which is exactly the way he wants it. So why does everything feel so wrong?

When his popular, irritatingly confident teenage brother Trick comes out as gay to a rapturous response, Jake realises he has questions about his own repressed bisexuality, and that he can’t wait any longer to find his answers.

As Trick begins to struggle with navigating the murky waters of adult relationships, Jake begins a journey that will destroy his relationship with girlfriend Amelia, challenge his closest friendships, and force him to face up to the distance between him and his family – but offers new friends, fewer inhibitions, and a glimpse of the magnificent life he never thought could be his.

Buy it: The Book Depository

The Summer of Impossibilities by Rachael Allen: Excerpt Reveal and Giveaway!

Today on the site, I’m thrilled to have Rachael Allen, whose upcoming young adult contemporary, The Summer of Impossibilities, releases May 12 from Abrams! We’ve got an exclusive excerpt from the story, so check out the blurb and dig in! (And pssst: keep scrolling for your chance to win an advanced copy!)

Cover artist: Emily Mahon

Skyler, Ellie, Scarlett and Amelia Grace are forced to spend the summer at the lake house where their moms became best friends.

One can’t wait.

One would rather gnaw off her own arm than hang out with a bunch of strangers just so their moms can drink too much wine and sing Journey two o’clock in the morning.

Two are sisters.

Three are currently feuding with their mothers.

One almost sets her crush on fire with a flaming marshmallow.

Two steal the boat for a midnight joyride that goes horribly, awkwardly wrong.

One of them is hiding how bad her joint pain has gotten.

All of them are hiding something.

One falls in love with a boy she thought she despised.

Two fall in love with each other.

None of them are the same at the end of the summer.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

And here’s the excerpt!

Amelia Grace

I WAS HOPING SHE WOULD BE THE FIRST PERSON I saw. Only, now that I’m here, I have no idea what to do. I know what she was thinking about doing with that knife—it’s why I stopped dead in the doorway, so she’d have a chance to put it down and paste a smile on her face before my mom could see around my body. But maybe I would have stopped dead no matter what. There’s something about seeing her in person after so many emails that makes me forget how to breathe.

“Scarlett, hi.” Mom gives her a hug. “You’ve gotten so tall.”

She’s definitely taller than I imagined she would be, but I’m only five foot four, so everyone is tall. She’s even more beautiful than in her pictures, all long red hair and curves and freckles. But somehow different. Edgier or sexier.

I stay on the other side of the room. If I get too close to her, will she know? I feel like my mom would know.

“Is Adeline around?” Mom asks, brows furrowed with concern.

“She’s upstairs.” Scarlett bites her lip, and I have to look out the window. “I think she’s not doing so well. Can you check on her?”

“Of course.” Mom squeezes her shoulder and leaves immediately. There’s something about the way she walks out of the room—her steps are so purposeful. I almost don’t recognize her for a second.

Skyler bounds in just as Mom is leaving. She grins at me, but her eyes are red.

“Amelia Grace!” she squeals, giving me a big, bouncy hug. “I haven’t seen you in forever! You look just like your pictures on Insta!”

And then it feels like it would be weird for Scarlett and me not to hug after I’ve just hugged her sister, and she must be feeling the same way because she takes a couple steps toward me too. Her shirt is wet in patches, and so is her hair.

“Are you okay?” I ask. It’s a general are you okay, but buried underneath is a very specific are you okay? Because back when things were really bad, with the girls at school and the cutting, she used to email me every day. But that was three years ago, before our emails trickled to every few weeks and then every few months. A part of me wants to pick back up right where we left off, but—

“I’m fine,” she says.

She hugs me, and it isn’t a big or bouncy one like Skyler’s, and it’s over too quickly, and it doesn’t answer any of my questions. I guess I thought we meant more to each other than that.

There’s the sound of another car pulling up outside, and Skyler runs out of the room to meet them, her chestnut ponytail swinging behind her. Scarlett takes exactly one step closer. She lowers her voice and says in a whisper that’s just for me, “I’m really glad you’re here.”

My heart squeezes in my chest, and I almost choke on my own spit. “Me too.”

The kitchen gets really quiet. I can hear Skyler outside, greeting the new arrivals with some unintelligible bubbliness. A trickle of water from the faucet goes drip- drip- dripping down the sink.

“I should, um, go upstairs and change.” She gestures to her shirt.

“Right. See you.” See you? Of course, I’ll see her. We are living in the same dang house for the summer.

Her footsteps echo up the stairs, and I feel like I’m on the cusp of realizing some great truth. Then my phone dings in my pocket. Carrie? I type in my password. Nah, just a bunch of social media updates. Including one from Carrie. It’s a photo of a book she’s reading—she posts those a lot—with a tiny caption.

weekend plans

So, she does have her phone. Well, maybe she doesn’t know what to say or maybe she’s feeling really bad about things or maybe she wishes it never happened and she never wants to see me again but she’s too sweet to tell me.

What if you just promised you wouldn’t kiss any more girls or go on dates or anything?

Maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal to promise that after all. If Carrie doesn’t want to talk to me, I mean, I don’t know anyone else in Ranburne who might be interested. And Scarlett, well. She’s in a relationship. I know this. She has emailed me about this. I have pretended to be happy for her on multiple occasions.

I could email Pastor Chris—he’s our youth minister, the one I was going to be serving with. See about being a junior youth minister when I come back in the fall, maybe sooner. I could promise him, like Abby said. I only have one more year of high school anyway. And it wouldn’t be changing who I am so much as it would just be . . . waiting.

Sometimes I imagine what life will be like on the other side and all the shapes my life could take, but mostly I’m scared to even think about it. Because if I do, all the possible futures start to shift like a kaleidoscope, each one falling into place, forming a single dream. I want to marry a sweet girl who I’m in love with. And I want us to have kids; I don’t even know how many. Two? Three? Seven plus a menagerie of pets? I don’t even know how the baby- having part would work exactly, but who cares as long as they’re ours? And she and I will walk down the street holding hands and we’ll sit together in church on Sundays, each holding up one half of the same hymnal.

That’s about where the future starts to fall apart. Because I already know I’ll never be able to have all those things at the same time.

I realize I’m still staring at the stairs, so I go outside, because I don’t want to seem like I’m creeping around Scarlett’s kitchen waiting for her. Skyler is dancing circles around a woman I recognize as my aunt Seema, and her daughter, Ellie. I remember playing with her brother, Zakir, when I was little. I haven’t seen them since Mom married Jay and moved to Tennessee. We stopped seeing all the aunts after that.

I walk up to the group of them, everyone talking at once. I say hi to Ellie, who is impossibly gorgeous and who gives me a hesitant side- hug like she isn’t sure what else to do.

Seema beams at me. “Amelia Grace, love, you look beautiful.”

I smile and allow myself to be scrunched into a hug. I remember that about her from when I was little—she gives the best hugs.

A tan SUV pulls up next to us. There’s not exactly a driveway, more just a dirt road that makes a circle in front of the house. A tall, Latinx woman with golden brown skin and glossy hair gets out. She has a piercing through one eyebrow and a flower tucked behind one ear. Definitely Val.

“I’m here, and I have everything we need!” she hollers. She pulls out a cardboard box from the passenger seat. “My ‘fasten seatbelt’ alarm has been going off since the liquor store. You know it’s a good day when you have enough alcohol in your seat that your car thinks it’s a person.”

She sets down the box so she can give Seema a hug. It’s like watching family members get reunited at the airport.

“How are you, Seema?”

“Good.” Seema smiles slyly. “I’m good. Because I have everything we need.”

“Wh—? Excuse me? I have wine, whiskey, bourbon, and tequila. I’m not sure there’s anything else a person could need.”

Seema swings a wrinkled brown paper bag. If she has weed in there, just, I don’t know, shoot me dead. I am so not prepared for this.

“Every kind of Cadbury you can imagine from when I visited my mother in Canada.”

Val clutches her heart. “You brought Cadbury? Did you bring—”

“Coconut cashew? Yes, five bars of it, one of which I instructed Ellie to write your name on in Sharpie.”

“God bless you.”

I used to think Cadbury was just those eggs you get at Easter, but it turns out Canada has a whole new level of chocolate going on. I remember I would totally freak out every time a care package from Aunt Seema came in the mail.

“Is that whole bag really filled with chocolate?” I ask.

Seema smiles. “About three kilograms.”

“I love it when you talk metric to me,” says Val, and Seema cackles.

And then it’s like they both remember why they’re here at exactly the same time.

“I am going to kill Jimmy Gable,” says Aunt Val.

“You’ll have to arm wrestle me for it, jaan, because I’m going to kill him first.”

I stare up at the blue house with the white wraparound porch, where my mom is no doubt holding my aunt Adeline like she’s trying to put her back together. Scarlett stands in the second window from the left, looking down at the lawn. The way the light hits her makes her look like a ghost. She’s never even talked about liking a girl, so I know she’ll probably never feel the same way, but the things I’m feeling, they’re so big, it doesn’t even matter. I look at her, and I feel lucky just to feel this way.

The great truth finally takes shape inside my head: If I was ever thinking about doing what they want, of going back to the way I was before and locking away the part of me that likes girls and hiding the key until college—seeing her makes me realize that is no longer an option.

* * *

And here’s more from Rachael!

In addition to giving away ARC’s of THE SUMMER OF IMPOSSIBILITIES, I thought it would be fun to do a giveaway where each of the girls in the book gives away her favorite YA book, and next up is an Amelia Grace giveaway and exclusive excerpt with LGBTQ Reads!

About Amelia Grace

Amelia Grace (Nickname: Ames)

Loves: interior design, kindness, being a junior youth minister, friends that feel like family

Favorite YA book: HOW TO BE REMY CAMERON by Julian Winters

Why: Remy is earnest and kind, and he’s confused about how to define himself because he’s a lot of different things – adopted, black, gay, a brother, a best friend. For Amelia Grace, being inside Remy’s head feels like talking to an old friend. It feels like everything. Especially because it’s really rare to find a book that talks about being LGBTQ+ and about religion. Also, Julian Winters is the absolute best at turning high school stereotypes upside down and he’s funny as hell. Like, catch-you-off-guard sly and witty. Please go read this book immediately.

Giveaway includes (open internationally!):

1 signed ARC of The Summer of Impossibilities

1 signed copy of HOW TO BE REMY CAMERON by Julian Winters

Click here to enter the giveaway!

Giveaway note: As a rule, LGBTQ Reads doesn’t host giveaways because they are kind of a lot to deal with. Please note that this giveaway is 100% my (Rachael’s) responsibility, and if you have any questions or concerns, please take them up with me and not LGBTQ Reads. Thanks for being awesome!

* * *

Lauren Wright Photography

Rachael Allen is a scientist by day and kidlit author by night. She is the winner of the 2019 Georgia Young Adult Author of the Year award, and her books include 17 First KissesThe Revenge Playbook, and A Taxonomy of Love, which was a Junior Library Guild selection and a 2018 Books All Young Georgians Should Read. Her next novel, The Summer of Impossibilities, is out May 12, 2020 (Abrams/Amulet). Rachael lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband, two children, and two dire wolves.

Rachael’s books have been published internationally in German, Spanish, French, and Polish. She is represented by Susan Hawk of Upstart Crow Literary.

Visit Rachael on Twitter: @rachael_allen and Instagram: @rachael.stewartallen