Tag Archives: Rebecca Podos

June 2022 Deal Announcements

Adult Fiction and Poetry

Author of the forthcoming THE ROMANCE RECIPE and HOT COPY Ruby Barrett‘s THE LEARNING CURVE, where a bi, down-on-his-luck ex-firefighter joins a cross-disciplinary academic study teaching millennials how to make friends as adults, but an unexpected flirtation with an earnest people-pleasing female participant jeopardizes the study and their hearts, to Stephanie Doig at Carina Adores, for publication in winter 2024, by Kiana Nguyen at Donald Maass Literary Agency (world).

D’VAUGHN AND KRIS PLAN A WEDDING author Chencia C. Higgins’s untitled novel, set in a woman-owned, queer-friendly adult entertainment club, in which a teddy bear stud music producer breaks her own rules and romances her BFF, the club’s highest earning dancer and a devoted single mom, pitched as BROWN SUGAR meets P-Valley, to Kerri Buckley at Carina Adores, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2023, by Keisha Mennefee at Honey Magnolia Media (world).

Sim Kern’s THE FREE PEOPLE’S VILLAGE, following a queer punk band in Houston swept up in an anti-capitalist revolution, in an alternate timeline where President Al Gore declared a War on Climate Change, transforming U.S. cities into solarpunk paradises—but only for wealthy white neighborhoods, to Irene Vazquez at Levine Querido, by Rebecca Podos at Rees Literary Agency (world).

Author-illustrator of the LA Times Book Award finalist HONOR GIRL Maggie Thrash’s adult debut RAINBOW BLACK, part murder mystery, part gay international fugitive love story, part meditation on queerness and identity, set against the ’90s Satanic Panic and spanning 20 years in the life of a young woman pulled into its undertow, to Noah Eaker at Harper Perennial, for publication in spring 2024, by Stephen Barr at Writers House (NA).

Eugenio Volpe’s I, CARAVAGGIO, pitched as a postmodern retelling of the bisexual, street-fighting godfather of modern painting, to Christoph Paul at Clash, in a nice deal, in an exclusive submission, for publication in July 2023 (world English).

Writer, performance artist, and community healer Kai Cheng Thom’s LOVE LETTERS TO LOST SOULS, a collection of prose poems promising to uplift queer and marginalized people, show grace to those seemingly beyond saving, and affirm the imperfect yet sacred humanity in us all, to Katy Nishimoto at Dial Press, in a pre-empt, by Leonicka Valcius and Marilyn Biderman at Transatlantic Literary Agency (world, excl. Canada). Rights also to David Ross at Penguin Canada.

Audiobook narrator Travis Baldree’s LEGENDS & LATTES, in which an orc mercenary hopes to make a new start in life, opening the first coffee shop in Thune, to Lindsey Hall at Tor, in a good deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2022, by Jon Mitchell at Pan Macmillan.

I’M SO NOT OVER YOU author Kosoko Jackson’s WRANGLED AND ENTANGLED, a gay rom-com set on a family ranch in Montana, where a city boy licking his wounds post-breakup finds himself falling for the cowboy who never wanted his family legacy reduced to a tourist attraction in the first place, to Kristine Swartz and Mary Baker at Berkley, for publication in spring 2024, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world).

Rachel Runya Katz’s THANK YOU FOR SHARING, pitched for readers of Casey McQuiston, following two biracial former Jewish sleepaway camp crushes (and rivals) as they’re forced put aside their baggage to save their careers and work together 14 years later, only to realize that they can’t ignore their shared history or their growing feelings for each other, to Vicki Lame at Griffin, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2023, by Jessica Mileo at Inkwell Management (NA).

Lebanon Valley College Director of Creative Writing Holly M. Wendt’s HEADING NORTH, pitched for fans of THE ART OF FIELDING and the BEARTOWN series, tracking a season in which a gay Russian ice hockey player must rebuild his life in the NHL after tragedy and his general manager wrestles for team control while her marriage deteriorates, in a novel about grief and social change on the global stage of professional sport, to Jeffrey Condran at Braddock Avenue Books, in a nice deal, for publication in November 2023 (NA).

Meredith Mooring’s REDSIGHT, a debut science fantasy with positive bisexual and disability representation that follows a blind priestess who powers warships for the galactic military by manipulating spacetime; when the captain of her ship is murdered by a pirate with a dark past, the priestess must choose between a painful life of service or a chance at freedom with the galaxy’s most wanted criminal, to Amy Borsuk at Rebellion, in a nice deal, for publication in spring 2024, by Ernie Chiara at Fuse Literary (world).

A.K. Mulford’s THE FIVE CROWNS OF OKRITH series, a queer fantasy romance series, the first of which is popular on TikTok, to David Pomerico at Voyager, in a major deal, for seven figures, in a five-book deal, for publication in October 2022, by Jessica Watterson at Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency (world English).

Sheila Connolly’s BLACK SAILS TO SUNWARD, the first in series in which a woman joins the Martian Imperial Navy to save her family’s waning fortunes but somehow ends up sucked into piracy with her ex-girlfriend instead, to Cate Pearce at Hansen, with Elizabeth Jeannel editing, in a nice deal, in a three-book deal, for publication in July 2023.

Melissa Karibian’s A CHORUS OF ASHES AND SHADOWS, the sequel to A SONG OF SILVER AND GOLD, to Elizabeth Jeannel at Hansen, for publication in June 2023.

Children’s Fiction

Chinese Canadian writer, musician, and filmmaker, and author of THIS CITY IS A MINEFIELD Aaron Chan’s THE BROKEN HEART, a picture book pitched with identity-inspired LGBTQ2S+ themes, the story of a young girl who likes to fix things, and who sets out to help her brother mend his heart after his relationship with his boyfriend has ended, illustrated by Josiane Vlitos, to Lauri Hornik at Rocky Pond Books, for publication in spring 2024, by Emmy Nordstrom Higdon at Westwood Creative Artists (world).

Young Adult Fiction

Author of IF YOU CHANGE YOUR MIND Robby Weber’s WHAT IS THIS FEELING?, a rom-com in which a high school theater star just wants to win a scavenger hunt and meet his Broadway idol on the drama club trip to New York City, but when he finds himself stuck sharing a room with his polar opposite, the snarky loner from the tech department, the last thing he expects is to form a friendship—and maybe more, to Connolly Bottum while at Inkyard Press, in a very nice deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2024, by Kristy Hunter at The Knight Agency (world English).

Kamilah Cole’s SO LET THEM BURN, pitched as “Jamaican Joan of Arc” and inspired by Zendaya’s 2018 Met Gala look, following a 17-year-old girl who once wielded the magic of the gods to save her island from dragon-riding colonizers and must now save her sister from the same enemy—even if it means bargaining with a long-forgotten god and ending the world, to Alexandra Hightower at Little, Brown Children’s, in a six-figure deal, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in winter 2024, by Emily Forney at BookEnds (world).

Debut author Carolyn Hill’s MASK OF CELIBACY, a 1990s-set novel featuring two heteroromantic ace characters, to Rebecca Sands at Wattpad, for publication in summer 2024 (world).

Author of YOU’RE NEXT Kylie Schachte’s HEARTS OF GOLD, a queer action-adventure pitched as Our Flag Means Death meets modern-day Indiana Jones, in which the daughter of an archeologist must team up with her archnemesis to uncover the truth about a legendary gang of female pirates—and find their long-lost treasure, to Samantha Gentry at Little, Brown Children’s, for publication in fall 2023, by Margaret Sutherland Brown at Folio Literary Management (world).

Nonfiction

Cohost of the Queer Kids Stuff YouTube series and TED speaker Lindz Amer‘s HOORAY FOR HE, SHE, ZE, AND THEY!, a celebration of pronouns and gender euphoria, illustrated by Kate Alizadeh, to Celia Lee at Simon & Schuster Children’s, for publication in 2024, by Claire Draper at The Bent Agency for the author, and by Mandy Suhr at Miles Stott Agency for the illustrator (world).

Professor of history at Eastern Michigan University John G. McCurdy‘s THE PARSON IS A BUGGERER: HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, the story of the trial of Lieutenant Robert Newburgh, placing LGBTQ+ presence at the founding of the United States, to Laura Davulis at Johns Hopkins University Press, by Christopher Rogers at Dunow, Carlson & Lerner (world).

Artist, publisher, and founder of Hello Mr. magazine Ryan Fitzgibbon’s untitled compendium of queer storytelling, collecting material from the magazine’s archives alongside new material from today’s emerging queer artists and writers, contextualizing the magazine’s lasting impact while celebrating a new generation of LGBTQ+ creators, to Zachary Knoll at Abrams, in an exclusive submission, by Michael Bourret at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world).

National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of GAY BAR Jeremy Atherton Lin’s DEEP HOUSE, a pre- and post-Obergefell love story weaving the author’s decades-long, transnational romance into a larger inquiry into the many ways queer couples lived and loved before gay marriage became legal, to Jean Garnett at Little, Brown, in a good deal, by Laura Macdougall at United Agents (NA).

Fave Five: Queer Jewish YA Fantasy

The Spy with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke (Historical)

The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros (Historical)

From Dust, a Flame by Rebecca Podos (Contemporary)

This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke (Historical)

When the Angels Left the Old Country by Sacha Lamb (Historical)

Bonus: For queer adult Jewish fantasy, check out Shira Glassman’s Mangoverse series and The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner.

New Releases: March 2022

This post is sponsored in honor of the paperback release of That Way Madness Lies ed. by Dahlia Adler on March 15th, an anthology Kirkus called “A radical reimagining and avant garde interpretation of Shakespeare.”

Buy it in paperback: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound | Target

***

Chef’s Kiss by Jarrett Melendez (Author), Danica Brine (Illustrator), Hank Jones (Colorist), Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (Letterer) (1st)

Now that college is over, English graduate Ben Cook is on the job hunt looking for something…anything…related to his passion for reading and writing. But interview after interview, hiring committee after hiring committee, Ben soon learns getting the dream job won’t be as easy as he thought. Proofreading? Journalism? Copywriting? Not enough experience. It turns out he doesn’t even have enough experience to be a garbage collector! But when Ben stumbles upon a “Now Hiring—No Experience Necessary” sign outside a restaurant, he jumps at the chance to land his first job. Plus, he can keep looking for a writing job in the meantime. He’s actually not so bad in the kitchen, but he will have to pass a series of cooking tests to prove he’s got the culinary skills to stay on full-time. But it’s only temporary…right?

When Ben begins developing a crush on Liam, one of the other super dreamy chefs at the restaurant, and when he starts ditching his old college friends and his old writing job plans, his career path starts to become much less clear.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Continue reading New Releases: March 2022

New Releases: February 2022

Fire Becomes Her by Rosiee Thor (1st)

Flare is power.

With only a drop of flare, one can light the night sky with fireworks . . . or burn a building to the ground — and seventeen-year-old Ingrid Ellis wants her fair share.

Ingrid doesn’t have a family fortune, monetary or magical, but at least she has a plan: Rise to the top on the arm of Linden Holt, heir to a hefty political legacy and the largest fortune of flare in all of Candesce. Her only obstacle is Linden’s father who refuses to acknowledge her.

So when Senator Holt announces his run for president, Ingrid uses the situation to her advantage. She strikes a deal to spy on the senator’s opposition in exchange for his approval and the status she so desperately craves. But the longer Ingrid wears two masks, the more she questions where her true allegiances lie.

Will she stand with the Holts, or will she forge her own path?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Base Notes by Lara Elena Donnelly (1st)

Base Notes by [Lara Elena Donnelly]In New York City everybody needs a side hustle, and perfumer Vic Fowler has developed a delicate art that has proved to be very lucrative: creating bespoke scents that evoke immersive memories—memories that, for Vic’s clients, are worth killing for. But the city is expensive, and these days even artisanal murder doesn’t pay the bills. When Joseph Eisner, a former client with deep pockets, offers Vic an opportunity to expand the enterprise, the money is too good to turn down. But the job is too intricate—and too dangerous—to attempt alone.

Manipulating fellow struggling artists into acting as accomplices is easy. Like Vic, they too are on the verge of burnout and bankruptcy. But as relationships become more complicated, Vic’s careful plans start to unravel. Hounded by guilt and a tenacious private investigator, Vic grows increasingly desperate to complete Eisner’s commission. Is there anyone—friends, lovers, coconspirators—that Vic won’t sacrifice for art?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Murder of Crows by K. Ancrum (1st)

Lethal Lit follows Tig Torres, a Cuban American teen detective, in her hometown of Hollow Falls. In season one of the hit podcast, Tig used her smarts and fearlessness to track down the infamous “Lit Killer,” a serial killer who staged his murders after death scenes from famous books. But there’s no rest for courageous, mystery-solving teens in a place like Hollow Falls, and though the Lit Killer is now behind bars, his protégé, Tig’s classmate and crush Oly, has disappeared!

And that’s not the only game afoot. Tig has caught the attention of the town’s local armchair detective group, the Murder of Crows. They’re obsessed with Hollow Falls’ dark past and fixated on a dangerous search for the missing body of the town’s founder. There are rumors about what’s buried with the body that could be life-changing for whoever finds it, and with a mission like that underway, it’s not long before a member of the Murder of Crows turns up dead.

Tig, along with her friends Max and Wyn, steps in to help, but the stakes are getting higher and the hunt more deadly. Someone’s willing to kill to keep the town’s secrets buried, and if Tig’s not careful, she’ll be the Murder of Crows’ next victim.

This original Lethal Lit story takes place between Seasons 1 and 2 of the podcast, and features a brand-new, never-before-told story starring Tig Torres and her sleuthing friends!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

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

54456929. sy475 Cameron Battle grew up reading The Book of Chidani, cherishing stories about the fabled kingdom that cut itself off from the world to save the Igbo people from danger. Passed down over generations, the Book is Cameron’s only connection to his parents who disappeared one fateful night, two years ago.

Ever since, his grandmother has kept the Book locked away, but it calls to Cameron. When he and his best friends Zion and Aliyah decide to open it again, they are magically transported to Chidani. Instead of a land of beauty and wonder, they find a kingdom in extreme danger, as the Queen’s sister seeks to destroy the barrier between worlds. The people of Chidani have been waiting for the last Descendant to return and save them . . . is Cameron ready to be the hero they need?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur (1st)

Cover for Count Your Lucky StarsMargot Cooper doesn’t do relationships. She tried and it blew up in her face, so she’ll stick with casual hookups, thank you very much. But now her entire crew has found “the oneand she’s beginning to feel like a fifth wheel. And then fate (the heartless bitch) intervenes. While touring a wedding venue with her engaged friends, Margot comes face-to-face with Olivia Grant—her childhood friend, her first love, her first… well, everything. It’s been ten years, but the moment they lock eyes, Margot’s cold, dead heart thumps in her chest.

Olivia must be hallucinating. In the decade since she last saw Margot, her life hasn’t gone exactly as planned. At almost thirty, she’s been married… and divorced. However, a wedding planner job in Seattle means a fresh start and a chance to follow her dreams. Never in a million years did she expect her important new client’s Best Woman would be the one that got away.

When a series of unfortunate events leaves Olivia without a place to stay, Margot offers up her spare room because she’s a Very Good Person. Obviously. It has nothing to do with the fact that Olivia is as beautiful as ever and the sparks between them still make Margot tingle. As they spend time in close quarters, Margot starts to question her no-strings stance. Olivia is everything she’s ever wanted, but Margot let her in once and it ended in disaster. Will history repeat itself or should she count her lucky stars that she gets a second chance with her first love?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Broken Halves of a Milky Sun by Aaiún Nin (1st)

57927177With the emotional undertow of Ocean Vuong and the astute political observations of Natalie Diaz, a powerful poetry debut exploring the effects of racism, war and colonialism, queer love and desire.

In their breathtaking international debut, Aaiún Nin plumbs the depths of the lived and enduring effects of colonialism in their native country, Angola. Now seeking asylum in Denmark, Nin untangles complexities of exile, the reckoning of familial love, but also reveals the power of queer love and desire through the body that yearns to love and be loved. Nin shows the ways in which faith and devotion serve as forms of oppression and interrogates the nature of home by reclaiming the persistent echoes of trauma. A captivating blend of evocative prose and intimate testimony, Nin speaks to the universal vulnerability of existence.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

No Filter and Other Lies by Crystal Maldonado (1st)

57926463. sy475 Twenty one-year-old Max Monroe has it all: beauty, friends, and a glittering life filled with adventure. With tons of followers on Instagram, her picture-perfect existence seems eminently enviable.

Except it’s all fake.

Max is actually 16-year-old Kat Sanchez, a quiet and sarcastic teenager living in drab Bakersfield, California. Nothing glamorous in her existence–just sprawl, bad house parties, a crap school year, and the awkwardness of dealing with her best friend Hari’s unrequited love. But while Kat’s life is far from perfect, she thrives as Max: doling out advice, sharing beautiful photos, networking with famous influencers, even making a real friend in a follower named Elena. The closer Elena and “Max” get–texting, Snapping, and even calling–the more Kat feels she has to keep up the façade.

But when one of Max’s posts goes ultra-viral and gets back to the very person she’s been stealing photos from, her entire world – real and fake — comes crashing down around her. She has to figure out a way to get herself out of the huge web of lies she’s created without hurting the people she loves.

But it might already be too late.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Azura Ghost by Essa Hansen (1st)

This is the sequel to Nophek Gloss

57303660. sy475 Caiden has been on the run for ten years with his unique starship in order to keep his adversary, Threi, imprisoned. But when an old friend he’d once thought dead reappears, he is lured into a game of cat and mouse with the one person whose powers rival Threi’s: Threi’s sister Abriss.

Now with both siblings on the hunt for Caiden and his ship, Caiden must rescue his long-lost friend from their clutches and uncover the source of both his ship’s power and his own origins in order to stop Abriss’s plan to collapse the multiverse.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Wall by Sarah Jane Singer (1st)

Julia has lived her whole life inside the Wall, the shining fortress her father built. But she dreams of knowing the world, and one day, the world calls to her. She runs away from home with a false name, a magical gift from her ailing mother, and her lion companion. But leaving triggers a curse, and no matter how hard she tries to outrun it, it catches up with her-as curses often do.

Now, with only the help of a mysterious archer she meets along her journey, Julia must confront dark magic, uncover the secrets of her mother’s past and her own abilities, and discover who she is outside of the Wall, if she is ever to survive the curse and build a life of her own.

Buy it: Amazon

Stud Like Her by Fiona Zedde (5th)

Stud Like Her: A Lesbian Romance by [Fiona Zedde]Chance has been in love only once, but it wasn’t with the girlfriend she stayed with for far too long. The same girlfriend who dropped Chance when she became too inconvenient. Or maybe just boring.

To bury her disappointment, Chance tries to return to the woman she loved back when she was too afraid to be herself. A stud attracted to other studs.

Instead of her old love, though, Chance finds Garet: a new and persistent admirer with the kind of swagger that leaves Chance weak in the knees. Garet is hot and very popular with her half a million followers on social media. She’s also a lot younger than Chance is used to. Not to mention there’s something familiar about her, something dangerous, that Chance can’t quite put her finger on.

Buy it : Amazon

Bluebird by Ciel Pierlot (8th)

Three factions vie for control of the galaxy. Rig, a gunslinging, thieving, rebel with a cause, doesn’t give a damn about them and she hasn’t looked back since abandoning her faction three years ago.

That is, until her former faction sends her a message: return what she stole from them, or they’ll kill her twin sister.

Rig embarks on a journey across the galaxy to save her sister – but for once she’s not alone. She has help from her network of resistance contacts, her taser-wielding librarian girlfriend, and a mysterious bounty hunter.

If Rig fails and her former faction finds what she stole from them, trillions of lives will be lost–including her sister’s. But if she succeeds, she might just pull the whole damn faction system down around their ears. Either way, she’s going to do it with panache and pizzazz.

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

Golden Boys by Phil Stamper (8th)

53504914It’s the summer before senior year. Gabriel, Reese, Sal, and Heath are best friends, bonded in their small, rural town by their queerness, their good grades, and their big dreams. But they have plans for the summer, each about to embark on a new adventure.

Gabriel is interning at an environmental nonprofit in Boston.
Reese is attending design school in Paris.
Sal is volunteering on Capitol Hill for a senator.
Heath is heading to Florida, to help out at his aunt’s boardwalk arcade.

What will this season of world-expanding travel and life-changing experiences mean for each of them–and for their friendship?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Ophelia After All by Raquel Marie (8th)

56978109Ophelia Rojas knows what she likes: her best friends, Cuban food, rose-gardening, and boys – way too many boys. Her friends and parents make fun of her endless stream of crushes, but Ophelia is a romantic at heart. She couldn’t change, even if she wanted to.

So when she finds herself thinking more about cute, quiet Talia Sanchez than the loss of a perfect prom with her ex-boyfriend, seeds of doubt take root in Ophelia’s firm image of herself. Add to that the impending end of high school and the fracturing of her once-solid friend group, and things are spiraling a little out of control. But the course of love―and sexuality―never did run smooth. As her secrets begin to unravel, Ophelia must make a choice between clinging to the fantasy version of herself she’s always imagined or upending everyone’s expectations to rediscover who she really is, after all.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Getting Off by J.R. Hart (8th)

JJ is certain he’s got everything figured out. He’s straight, right? He’s just not into the hookup culture prevalent on his college soccer team. But he’s trying to hide that to avoid getting on his team captain’s bad side.

Kade is anything but straight. Out and proud, he’s curious about how the “other half” lives… even as his best friends remind him there’s more to the LGBTQ+ community than just the “G.” Curious, Kade texts JJ a simple question: do straight guys ever get off together?

When JJ’s reply leads to a head-spinning sexual spark, he starts questioning everything he knows about his sexuality, both in terms of who he’s attracted to, and also why hookups have never been his thing. But when JJ endures trauma that confuses him more, he starts pushing Kade away. Kade has to learn how to be a supportive friend, and more than that, a supportive partner, or risk losing JJ altogether. And JJ? He has to fight for his team to be team players, even when they suspect he’s “playing for the other team.”

Buy it: Ninestar Press

Cold by Mariko Tamaki (8th)

A boy, a murder, a girl, a secret. From award-winning author Mariko Tamaki comes Cold, a haunting YA novel about a shocking crime in a quiet town and four students who knew too much and said too little.

This is the story of a boy who died―and a girl who wants to know why.

Todd Mayer is dead. Now he’s some sort of ghost, hovering over his body, which has just been found in the town park, naked and frozen in the snow. As detectives investigate Todd’s homicide,Todd replays the events that lead him to his end in the park.

Georgia didn’t know Todd. But she can’t stop thinking about him. Maybe because they’re both outcasts at their school, or because they’re both queer. It might also be because Georgia has a feeling she’s seen Todd somewhere before, somewhere he wasn’t supposed to be.

Told through the voices of Todd in his afterlife and Georgia as she uncovers the truth behind his death, Cold is an immersive, emotional, and provocative read.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Please Miss: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Penis by Grace Lavery (8th)

Grace Lavery is a reformed druggie, an unreformed omnisexual chaos Muppet, and 100 percent, all-natural, synthetic female hormone monster. As soon as she solves her “penis problem,” she begins receiving anonymous letters, seemingly sent by a cult of sinister clowns, and sets out on a magical mystery tour to find the source of these surreal missives. Misadventures abound: Grace performs in a David Lynch remake of Sunset Boulevard and is reprogrammed as a sixties femmebot; she writes a Juggalo Ghostbusters prequel and a socialist manifesto disguised as a porn parody of a quiz show. Or is it vice versa? As Grace fumbles toward a new trans identity, she tries on dozens of different voices, creating a coat of many colors.

With more dick jokes than a transsexual should be able to pull off, Please Miss gives us what we came for, then slaps us in the face and orders us to come again.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Across a Field of Starlight by Blue Delliquanti (8th)

When they were kids, Fassen’s fighter spaceship crash-landed on a planet that Lu’s survey force was exploring. It was a forbidden meeting between a kid from a war-focused resistance movement and a kid whose community and planet are dedicated to peace and secrecy.

Lu and Fassen are from different worlds and separate solar systems. But their friendship keeps them in each other’s orbit as they grow up. They stay in contact in secret as their communities are increasingly threatened by the omnipresent, ever-expanding empire.

As the empire begins a new attack against Fassen’s people–and discovers Lu’s in the process–the two of them have the chance to reunite at last. They finally are able to be together…but at what cost?

This beautifully illustrated graphic novel is an epic science fiction romance between two non-binary characters as they find one another through time, distance, and war.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Devil’s Chew Toy by Rob Osler (8th)

Seattle teacher and part-time blogger Hayden McCall wakes sporting one hell of a shiner, with the police knocking at his door. It seems that his new crush, dancer Camilo Rodriguez, has gone missing and they suspect foul play. What happened the night before? And where is Camilo?

Determined to find answers, pint-sized, good-hearted Hayden seeks out two of Camilo’s friends—Hollister and Burley—both lesbians and both fiercely devoted to their friend. From them, Hayden learns that Camilo is a “Dreamer” whose parents had been deported years earlier, and whose sister, Daniela, is presumed to have returned to Venezuela with them. Convinced that the cops won’t take a brown boy’s disappearance seriously, the girls join Hayden’s hunt for Camilo.

The first clues turn up at Barkingham Palace, a pet store where Camilo had taken a part-time job. The store’s owner, Della Rupert, claims ignorance, but Hayden knows something is up. And then there’s Camilo’s ex-boyfriend, Ryan, who’s suddenly grown inexplicably wealthy. When Hayden and Hollister follow Ryan to a secure airport warehouse, they make a shocking connection between him and Della—and uncover the twisted scheme that’s made both of them rich.

The trail of clues leads them to the grounds of a magnificent estate on an island in Puget Sound, where they’ll finally learn the truth about Camilo’s disappearance—and the fate of his family.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Moonstone Girls by Brooke Skipstone (14th)

59754703. sy475 In 1968, a seventeen-year-old queer girl traveled to Alaska disguised as a boy.

Tracy should have been a boy. Even her older brother Spencer says so, though he wouldn’t finish the thought with, “And I should have been a girl.”

Though both feel awkward in their own skin, they have to face who they are—queers in the late 60s.

When both are caught with gay partners, their lives and futures are endangered by their homophobic father as their mother struggles to defend them.

While the Vietnam War threatens to take Spencer away, Tracy and her father wage a war of their own, each trying to save the sweet, talented pianist.

At seventeen, Tracy dresses as a boy and leaves her parents in turmoil, with only the slimmest hope of finding peace within herself. She journeys to a girl with a guitar, calling to her from a photo, “Come to Alaska. We’d be great friends.”

Maybe even The MoonStone Girls.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Three Left Turns to Nowhere by J. Marshall Freeman, ‘Nathan Burgoine, Jeffrey Ricker (15th)

Three Left Turns to NowhereThree strangers heading to a convention in Toronto are stranded in rural Ontario, where a small town with a subtle kind of magic leads each to discover what he’s been searching for.

Ed Sinclair and his friends get stuck in Hopewell after their car breaks down. It’s snark at first sight when he meets local mechanic Lyn, but while they’re getting under each other’s skin, the town might show them a way into one another’s hearts.

Rome Epstein is out and proud and clueless about love. He’s hosting a giant scavenger hunt at the convention, but ends up in Hopewell. When the town starts leaving him clues for its own scavenger hunt, he discovers a boy who could be the prize he’s been searching for.

Fielding Roy has a gift for seeing the past. His trip to reunite with friends hits an unexpected stop in Hopewell, but a long-lost love letter and two local boys give him a chance to do more than watch the past. This time, Fielding might be able to fix the present.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (15th)

This title was originally published in Dutch in 2017. This is the release of the English translation.

53329253Travel journalist and mountaineer Nick Grevers awakes from a coma to find that his climbing buddy, Augustin, is missing and presumed dead. Nick’s own injuries are as extensive as they are horrifying. His face wrapped in bandages and unable to speak, Nick claims amnesia—but he remembers everything.

He remembers how he and Augustin were mysteriously drawn to the Maudit, a remote and scarcely documented peak in the Swiss Alps.

He remembers how the slopes of Maudit were eerily quiet, and how, when they entered its valley, they got the ominous sense that they were not alone.

He remembers: something was waiting for them…

But it isn’t just the memory of the accident that haunts Nick. Something has awakened inside of him, something that endangers the lives of everyone around him…

It’s one thing to lose your life. It’s another to lose your soul.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Thousand Eyes by A.K. Larkwood (15th)

This is the sequel to The Unspoken Name

Two years ago, Csorwe and Shuthmili risked the anger of the wizard Belthandros Sethennai to gain their freedom. Now, they make their living exploring relic worlds of the ancient serpent empire of Echentyr. They think they’re prepared for anything―but when one of their expeditions releases an Echentyri soldier who has slept undisturbed since the fall of her homeland, they are thrown back into a conflict that has lain dormant for thousands of years. Shuthmili will give anything to protect the woman and the life that she loves, but as events spiral out of control, she is torn between clinging to her humanity and embracing her eldritch power.

Meanwhile, Tal Charossa returns to Tlaanthothe to find that Sethennai has gone missing. Tal wants nothing to do with his old boss and former lover, so when a magical catastrophe befalls the city, Tal tries to run rather than face his past―but he soon learns that something even worse may lurk in the future. Throughout the worlds of the Echo Maze, fragments of an undead goddess begin to awaken, and not all confrontations can be put off forever . . .

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Chandler Legacies by Abdi Nazemian (15th)

58132543Beth Kramer is a “townie” who returns to her sophomore year after having endured a year of judgment from her roommate, Sarah.

But Sarah Brunson knows there’s more to that story.

Amanda Priya “Spence” Spencer is the privileged daughter of NYC elites, who is reeling from the realization that her family name shielded her from the same fate as Sarah.

Ramin Golafshar arrives at Chandler as a transfer student to escape the dangers of being gay in Iran, only to suffer brutal hazing under the guise of tradition in the boys’ dorms.

And Freddy Bello is the senior who’s no longer sure of his future but has fallen hard for Spence and knows he has to stand up to his friends after what happened to Ramin.

At Chandler, the elite boarding school, these five teens are brought together in the Circle, a coveted writing group where life-changing friendships are born—and secrets are revealed. Their professor tells them to write their truths. But is the truth enough to change the long-standing culture of abuse at Chandler? And can their friendship survive the fallout?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Moon Witch, Spider King by Marlon James (15th)

This is the sequel to Black Leopard, Red Wolf

In Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Sogolon the Moon Witch proved a worthy adversary to Tracker as they clashed across a mythical African landscape in search of a mysterious boy who disappeared. In Moon Witch, Spider King, Sogolon takes center stage and gives her own account of what happened to the boy, and how she plotted and fought, triumphed and failed as she looked for him. It’s also the story of a century-long feud—seen through the eyes of a 177-year-old witch—that Sogolon had with the Aesi, chancellor to the king. It is said that Aesi works so closely with the king that together they are like the eight limbs of one spider. Aesi’s power is considerable—and deadly. It takes brains and courage to challenge him, which Sogolon does for reasons of her own.

Both a brilliant narrative device—seeing the story told in Black Leopard, Red Wolf from the perspective of an adversary and a woman—as well as a fascinating battle between different versions of empire, Moon Witch, Spider King delves into Sogolon’s world as she fights to tell her own story. Part adventure tale, part chronicle of an indomitable woman who bows to no man, it is a fascinating novel that explores power, personality, and the places where they overlap.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Boy With a Bird in His Chest by Emme Lund (15th)

58438595Though Owen Tanner has never met anyone else who has a chatty bird in their chest, medical forums would call him a Terror. From the moment Gail emerged between Owen’s ribs, his mother knew that she had to hide him away from the world. After a decade spent in hiding, Owen takes a brazen trip outdoors in the middle of a forest fire, and his life is upended forever.

Suddenly, Owen is forced to flee the home that had once felt so confining and hide in plain sight with his uncle and cousin in Washington. There, he feels the joy of finding a family among friends; of sharing the bird in his chest and being embraced fully; of falling in love and feeling the devastating heartbreak of rejection before finding a spark of happiness in the most unexpected place; of living his truth regardless of how hard the thieves of joy may try to tear him down. But the threat of the Army of Acronyms is a constant, looming presence, making Owen wonder if he’ll ever find a way out of the cycle of fear.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Sisters of the Forsaken Stars by Lina Rather (15th)

This is the sequel to Sisters of the Vast Black

Not long ago, Earth’s colonies and space stations threw off the yoke of planet Earth’s tyrannical rule. Decades later, trouble is brewing in the Four Systems, and Old Earth is flexing its power in a bid to regain control over its lost territories.

The Order of Saint Rita—whose mission is to provide aid and mercy to those in need—bore witness to and defied Central Governance’s atrocities on the remote planet Phyosonga III. The sisters have been running ever since, staying under the radar while still trying to honor their calling.

Despite the sisters’ secrecy, the story of their defiance is spreading like wildfire, spearheaded by a growing anti-Earth religious movement calling for revolution. Faced with staying silent or speaking up, the Order of Saint Rita must decide the role they will play—and what hand they will have—in reshaping the galaxy.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Boy at the Window by Lauren Melissa Ellzey (15th)

It all began with trying to fly. After jumping off the roof of his house in the middle of the night, Daniel Kim wakes up far from Neverland, his reprieve from the real world. Thrust into a mental health hospital and then into a brand-new high school, he struggles to hold onto reality while haunted by both his very-present past and his never-present parents. But when he joins Cranbrook Preparatory’s cross-country team, he starts to feel like he’s walking on his own two feet once again. He meets Jiwon Yoon―another cross-country runner, who may be the first person to join Daniel in his Neverland daydreams. Or maybe Jiwon is the one who will finally break Daniel free.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Errant, Vol. 1 by L.K. Fleet

Aspen Silverglade used to be a force for good, but now she’s just a sword for hire. On the run from the people she once trusted most, she needs to keep her head down and keep moving.

But old habits are hard to quit. One night in a tavern, Aspen tries to save a woman from some unwanted attention. The woman, Charm Linville, is in the middle of a subtle and delicate act of thievery, and she does not appreciate Aspen blundering in.

The disastrous and public rescue-gone-wrong makes the townspeople think Aspen and Charm are a couple. This mistake sets Aspen’s bloodthirsty betrayers on Charm’s trail, tying the two of them together.

Even if Aspen can’t run from her past any longer, Charm shouldn’t have to suffer. Despite Aspen’s determination to work alone, Charm insists on helping—and she has a past of her own. The two of them don’t care for each other’s methods, but as they journey through the villages and wildernesses of Falland, solving problems and meeting magical friends and foes, Aspen and Charm grudgingly come to care for each other. Can these two guarded, stubborn women admit their feelings, or will Aspen’s enemies kill them first?

Buy it: Amazon

The Verifiers by Jane Pek (22nd)

58065392Claudia Lin is used to disregarding her fractious family’s model-minority expectations: she has no interest in finding either a conventional career or a nice Chinese boy. She’s also used to keeping secrets from them, such as that she prefers girls—and that she’s just been stealth-recruited by Veracity, a referrals-only online-dating detective agency.

A lifelong mystery reader who wrote her senior thesis on Jane Austen, Claudia believes she’s landed her ideal job. But when a client goes missing, Claudia breaks protocol to investigate—and uncovers a maelstrom of personal and corporate deceit. Part literary mystery, part family story, The Verifiers is a clever and incisive examination of how technology shapes our choices, and the nature of romantic love in the digital age.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

I’m So (Not) Over You by Kosoko Jackson (22nd)

It’s been months since aspiring journalist Kian Andrews has heard from his ex-boyfriend, Hudson Rivers, but an urgent text has them meeting at a café. Maybe Hudson wants to profusely apologize for the breakup. Or confess his undying love. . . But no, Hudson has a favor to ask—he wants Kian to pretend to be his boyfriend while his parents are in town, and Kian reluctantly agrees.

The dinner doesn’t go exactly as planned, and suddenly Kian is Hudson’s plus one to Georgia’s wedding of the season. Hudson comes from a wealthy family where reputation is everything, and he really can’t afford another mistake. If Kian goes, he’ll help Hudson preserve appearances and get the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in media. This could be the big career break Kian needs.

But their fake relationship is starting to feel like it might be more than a means to an end, and it’s time for both men to fact-check their feelings.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Extasia by Claire Legrand (22nd)

58212203. sy475 Her name is unimportant.

All you must know is that today she will become one of the four saints of Haven. The elders will mark her and place the red hood on her head. With her sisters, she will stand against the evil power that lives beneath the black mountain–an evil which has already killed nine of her village’s men.

She will tell no one of the white-eyed beasts that follow her. Or the faceless gray women tall as houses. Or the girls she saw kissing in the elm grove.

Today she will be a saint of Haven. She will rid her family of her mother’s shame at last and save her people from destruction. She is not afraid. Are you?

This searing and lyrically written novel by the critically acclaimed author of Sawkill Girls beckons readers to follow its fierce heroine into a world filled with secrets and blood–where the truth is buried in lies and a devastating power waits, seething, for someone brave enough to use it.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin (22nd)

Y: The Last Man meets The Girl With All the Gifts in Gretchen Felker-Martin’s Manhunt, a fast-paced body horror that examines a post-apocalyptic world through the lens of trans women and men trying to survive.

Beth and Fran spend their days traveling the ravaged New England coast, hunting feral men and harvesting their organs in a gruesome effort to ensure they’ll never face the same fate.

Robbie lives by his gun and one hard-learned motto: other people aren’t safe.

After a brutal accident entwines the three of them, this found family of survivors must navigate murderous TERFs, a sociopathic billionaire bunker brat, and awkward relationship dynamics―all while outrunning packs of feral men, and their own demons.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake (22nd)

Delilah Green swore she would never go back to Bright Falls—nothing is there for her but memories of a lonely childhood where she was little more than a burden to her cold and distant stepfamily. Her life is in New York, with her photography career finally gaining steam and her bed never empty. Sure, it’s a different woman every night, but that’s just fine with her.

When Delilah’s estranged stepsister, Astrid, pressures her into photographing her wedding with a guilt trip and a five-figure check, Delilah finds herself back in the godforsaken town that she used to call home. She plans to breeze in and out, but then she sees Claire Sutherland, one of Astrid’s stuck-up besties, and decides that maybe there’s some fun (and a little retribution) to be had in Bright Falls, after all.

Having raised her eleven-year-old daughter mostly on her own while dealing with her unreliable ex and running a bookstore, Claire Sutherland depends upon a life without surprises. And Delilah Green is an unwelcome surprise…at first. Though they’ve known each other for years, they don’t really know each other—so Claire is unsettled when Delilah figures out exactly what buttons to push. When they’re forced together during a gauntlet of wedding preparations—including a plot to save Astrid from her horrible fiancé—Claire isn’t sure she has the strength to resist Delilah’s charms. Even worse, she’s starting to think she doesn’t want to…

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | Hudson Booksellers | Parnassus Books | IndieBound

Dead Collections by Isaac Fellman (22nd)

58065212. sy475 When archivist Sol meets Elsie, the larger than life widow of a moderately famous television writer who’s come to donate her wife’s papers, there’s an instant spark. But Sol has a secret: he suffers from an illness called vampirism, and hides from the sun by living in his basement office. On their way to falling in love, the two traverse grief, delve into the Internet fandom they once unknowingly shared, and navigate the realities of transphobia and the stigmas of carrying the “vampire disease.”

Then, when strange things start happening at the collection, Sol must embrace even more of the unknown to save himself and his job.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Tripping Arcadia by Kit Mayquist (22nd)

55073801. sy475 Med school dropout Lena is desperate for a job, any job, to help her parents, who are approaching bankruptcy after her father was injured and laid off nearly simultaneously. So when she is offered a position, against all odds, working for one of Boston’s most elite families, the illustrious and secretive Verdeaus, she knows she must accept it—no matter how bizarre the interview or how vague the job description.

By day, she is assistant to the family doctor and his charge, Jonathan, the sickly, poetic, drunken heir to the family empire, who is as difficult as his illness is mysterious. By night, Lena discovers the more sinister side of the family, as she works overtime at their lavish parties, helping to hide their self-destructive tendencies . . . and trying not to fall for Jonathan’s alluring sister, Audrey. But when she stumbles upon the knowledge that the Verdeau patriarch is the one responsible for the ruin of her own family, Lena vows to get revenge—a poison-filled quest that leads her further into this hedonistic world than she ever bargained for, forcing her to decide how much—and who—she’s willing to sacrifice for payback.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

City of Deceit by Claudie Arseneault (22nd)

This is the third book in the Isandor series.

58668883. sx318 The Myrian Enclave is in disarray after a Dathirii strike team interrupts Avenazar’s dangerous ritual, but Diel Dathirii is in no position to take advantage of it while his home is lost to Allastam’s soldiers.

Despite the Myrian trade war’s brutal turn, its key battles still happen in the shadows. Resistance inside the Dathirii Tower organizes itself around the family’s new steward, Yultes, even though he is as uncertain of his allegiances as everyone else. Outside, Branwen reaches to every spymaster resource she has to strengthen their position and undermine the Myrian-Allastam alliance.

When Master Avenazar recovers from his grievous injury and sets his mind to revenge, the unsteady alliances forged within and without the Dathirii Tower will decide the city’s future.

Buy it: Books2Read

New Releases: December 2021

Read Between the Lines by Rachel Lacey (1st)

Books are Rosie Taft’s life. And ever since she took over her mother’s beloved Manhattan bookstore, they’ve become her home too. The only thing missing is her own real-life romance like the ones she loves to read about, and Rosie has an idea of who she might like to sweep her off her feet. She’s struck up a flirty online friendship with lesbian romance author Brie, and what could be more romantic than falling in love with her favorite author?

Jane Breslin works hard to keep her professional and personal lives neatly separated. By day, she works for the family property development business. By night, she puts her steamier side on paper under her pen name: Brie. Jane hasn’t had much luck with her own love life, but her online connection with a loyal reader makes Jane wonder if she could be the one.

When Rosie learns that her bookstore’s lease has been terminated by Jane’s company, romance moves to the back burner. Even though they’re at odds, there’s no denying the sparks that fly every time they’re together. When their online identities are revealed, will Jane be able to write her way to a happy ending, or is Rosie’s heart a closed book?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Dark Tourist by Hasanthika Sirisena (3rd)

Dark tourism—visiting sites of war, violence, and other traumas experienced by others—takes different forms in Hasanthika Sirisena’s stunning excavation of the unexpected places (and ways) in which personal identity and the riptides of history meet. The 1961 plane crash that left a nuclear warhead buried near her North Carolina hometown, juxtaposed with reflections on her father’s stroke. A visit to Jaffna in Sri Lanka—the country of her birth, yet where she is unmistakably a foreigner—to view sites from the recent civil war, already layered over with the narratives of the victors. A fraught memory of her time as a young art student in Chicago that is uneasily foundational to her bisexual, queer identity today. The ways that life-changing impairments following a severe eye injury have shaped her thinking about disability and self-worth.

Deftly blending reportage, cultural criticism, and memoir, Sirisena pieces together facets of her own sometimes-fractured self to find wider resonances with the human universals of love, sex, family, and art—and with language’s ability to both fail and save us. Dark Tourist becomes then about finding a home, if not in the world, at least within the limitless expanse of the page.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

If This Gets Out by Cale Dietrich and Sophie Gonzales (7th)

54738255Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartbreakers in front of the cameras and best friends backstage. But privately, cracks are starting to form: their once-easy rapport is straining under the pressures of fame, and Ruben confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by management’s pressure to stay in the closet.

On a whirlwind tour through Europe, with both an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben start to truly realize that they will never have the support of their management. How can they hold tight to each other when the whole world seems to want to come between them?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Coldest Touch by Isabel Sterling (7th)

53457146Elise Beaumont is cursed. With every touch, she experiences exactly how her loved ones will die. And after her brother’s death—a death she predicted but was unable to prevent—Elise is desperate to get rid of her terrible gift, no matter the cost.

Claire Montgomery also has a unique relationship with death, mostly because she’s already dead. Technically, anyway. Claire is a vampire, and she’s been assigned by the Veil to help Elise master her rare Death Oracle powers.

At first, Elise is reluctant to work with a vampire, but when she predicts a teacher’s imminent murder, she’s determined to stop the violent death, even if it means sacrificing her own future to secure Claire’s help.

The trouble is, Claire and Elise aren’t the only paranormals in town—a killer is stalking the streets, and Claire can’t seem to shake the pull she feels toward Elise, a romance that could upend the Veil’s mission. But as Elise and Claire grow closer, Elise begins to wonder—can she really trust someone tasked with securing her loyalty? Someone who could so easily kill her? Someone who might hold the key to unraveling her brother’s mysterious death?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Tell Me How to Be by Neel Patel (7th)

49247150Renu Amin always seemed perfect: doting husband, beautiful house, healthy sons. But as the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death approaches, Renu is binge-watching soap operas and simmering with old resentments. She can’t stop wondering if, thirty-five years ago, she chose the wrong life. In Los Angeles, her son, Akash, has everything he ever wanted, but as he tries to kickstart his songwriting career and commit to his boyfriend, he is haunted by the painful memories he fled a decade ago. When his mother tells him she is selling the family home, Akash returns to Illinois, hoping to finally say goodbye and move on.

Together, Renu and Akash pack up the house, retreating further into the secrets that stand between them. Renu sends an innocent Facebook message to the man she almost married, sparking an emotional affair that calls into question everything she thought she knew about herself. Akash slips back into bad habits as he confronts his darkest secrets―including what really happened between him and the first boy who broke his heart. When their pasts catch up to them, Renu and Akash must decide between the lives they left behind and the ones they’ve since created, between making each other happy and setting themselves free.

By turns irreverent and tender, filled with the beats of ’90s R&B, Tell Me How to Be is about our earliest betrayals and the cost of reconciliation. But most of all, it is the love story of a mother and son each trying to figure out how to be in the world.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Fools in Love ed. by Ashley Herring Blake and Rebecca Podos (7th)

Join fifteen bestselling, award-winning, and up-and-coming authors as they reimagine some of the most popular tropes in the romance genre. 

Fake relationships. Enemies to lovers. Love triangles and best friends, mistaken identities and missed connections. This collection of genre-bending and original stories celebrates how love always finds a way, featuring powerful flora, a superhero and his nemesis, a fantastical sled race through snow-capped mountains, a golf tournament, the wrong ride-share, and even the end of the world. With stories written by Rebecca Barrow, Ashley Herring Blake, Gloria Chao, Mason Deaver, Sara Farizan, Claire Kann, Malinda Lo, Hannah Moskowitz, Natasha Ngan, Rebecca Podos, Lilliam Rivera, Laura Silverman, Amy Spalding, Rebecca Kim Wells, and Julian Winters this collection is sure to sweep you off your feet.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Where the Rain Cannot Reach by Adesina Brown (7th)

Read a guest post by the author here.

59159558. sy475 Tair has never known what it means to belong. Abandoned at a young age and raised in the all-Elven valley of Mirte, the young Human defines herself by isolation, confined to her small, seemingly trustworthy family.

Abruptly, that family uproots her from Mirte and leads her on an inevitable but treacherous journey to Doman: the previous site of unspeakable Human atrocities and the current home of Dwarvenkind. Though Doman offers Tair new definitions of family and love, it also reveals to her that her very existence is founded in lies. Now, tasked with an awful responsibility to the Humans of Sossoa, Tair must decide where her loyalties lie and, in the process, discover who she wants to be… And who she has always been.

In their debut fantasy novel Where the Rain Cannot Reach, Adesina Brown constructs a world rich with new languages and nuanced considerations of gender and race, ultimately contemplating how, in freeing ourselves from power, we may find true belonging.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood (7th)

This is the second book in the Pentecost and Parker mysteries

Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood

New York, 1946: The last time Will Parker let a case get personal, she walked away with a broken face, a bruised ego, and the solemn promise never again to let her heart get in the way of her job. But she called Hart and Halloway’s Travelling Circus and Sideshow home for five years, and Ruby Donner, the circus’s tattooed ingenue, was her friend. To make matters worse the prime suspect is Valentin Kalishenko, the man who taught Will everything she knows about putting a knife where it needs to go.
To uncover the real killer and keep Kalishenko from a date with the electric chair, Will and Ms. Pentecost join the circus in sleepy Stoppard, Virginia, where the locals like their cocktails mild, the past buried, and big-city detectives not at all. The two swiftly find themselves lost in a funhouse of lies as Will begins to realize that her former circus compatriots aren’t playing it straight, and that her murdered friend might have been hiding a lot of secrets beneath all that ink.Dodging fistfights, firebombs, and flying lead, Will puts a lot more than her heart on the line in the search of the truth. Can she find it before someone stops her ticker for good?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

On the Rocks by Georgia Beers (14th)

58516306. sy475 No straight women. No parents of students. Nobody under thirty-five. Vanessa Martini makes no apologies for her dating checklist. She’s been up close to enough messy breakups to know what havoc they wreak in life. Just because people see her as fun and happy, and just because she loves her life in general, that doesn’t mean she can’t be careful. Or discerning. Or, okay, fine, super picky.

Grace Chapman is tired of being judged by her boss, by the husband she’s divorcing, by her parents. All she cares about now is her six-year-old son, Oliver. The divorce is making him act out in school, and she just needs to find a way to help him so they can start again. What she does not need is the silent judgment she gets from his teacher. His wildly attractive, super sexy, annoyingly gorgeous teacher.

Grace ticks all Vanessa’s Do Not Date boxes. Vanessa is yet one more person who disapproves of Grace. Of course, they’re never going to fall in love.

Buy it: Amazon | The Ripped Bodice

The Midnight Girls by Alicia Jasinska (28th)

It’s Karnawa season in the snow-cloaked Kingdom of Lechia, and from now until midnight when the church bells ring an end to Devil’s Tuesday time will be marked with wintry balls and glittery disguises, cavalcades of nightly torch-lit “kuligi” sleigh-parties.

Unbeknownst to the oblivious merrymakers, two monsters join the fun. Newfound friends and polar opposites, Zosia and Marynka seem destined to have a friendship that’s stronger even than magic. But that’s put to the test when they realize they both have their sights set on Lechia’s pure-hearted prince. If a monster consumes a pure heart she’ll gain immeasurable power and Marynka plans to bring the prince’s back to her grandmother in order to prove herself. While Zosia is determined to take his heart and its power for her own.

When neither will sacrifice their ambitions for the other, the festivities spiral into a magical contest with both girls vying to keep the hapless prince out of the other’s wicked grasp. But this isn’t some remote forest village, where a stray enchantment or two might go unnoticed, Warszów is the icy capital of a kingdom that enjoys watching monsters burn, and if Zosia and Marynka’s innocent disguises continue to slip, their escalating rivalry might cost them not just the love they might have for each other, but both their lives.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

If You Love Something by Jayce Ellis (28th)

As executive chef at one of the hottest restaurants in DC, DeShawn Franklin has almost everything he’s ever wanted. He’s well-known, his restaurant is Michelin starred and he can write his own ticket anywhere he wants. Until his grandmother calls him home and drops two bombshells:

1) She has cancer and she’s not seeking treatment.

2) She’s willing half her estate to DeShawn’s ex-husband, Malik.

Make that three bombshells. 

3) That whole divorce thing? It didn’t quite go through. DeShawn and Malik are still married.

And when DeShawn’s shady uncle contests Grandma’s will, there’s only one path back to justice: play it like he and Malik have reconciled. They need to act like a married couple just long enough to dispense with the lawsuit.

Once DeShawn is back in Malik’s orbit, it’s not hard to remember why they parted. All the reasons he walked away remain—but so do all the reasons he fell in love in the first place.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Here’s to Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (28th)

This is the sequel to What if it’s Us?

55424906. sy475 Ben has spent his first year of college working on his fantasy manuscript with his writing partner Mario, who is a great Spanish tutor, and an even better kisser. So why can’t he stop thinking about the fact that Arthur’s back in town two years after they called it quits?

Arthur is in New York for a dream internship on Broadway, with a boyfriend back at home that he couldn’t be happier with. But when he comes upon Ben cuddled up with a mystery boy, he starts to wonder if his feelings for Ben ever truly went away.

Even as the boys try to focus on their futures, they can’t seem to help running into each other in the present. Is the universe forcing them to question if they’re actually meant to be?

Possibly not. After all, things didn’t work the first time around.
Possibly yes. After all, the sparks are still flying.
Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and raise a glass.

Here’s to celebrating old friends!
Here’s to embracing new beginnings!
Here’s to believing in second chances!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Inside an Anthology: Fools in Love ed. by Ashley Herring Blake and Rebecca Podos

Today’s edition of Inside and Anthology celebrates Fools in Love, ed. by Ashley Herring Blake and Rebecca Podos, and releasing tomorrow from Running Press! Here’s the info:

Join fifteen bestselling, award-winning, and up-and-coming authors as they reimagine some of the most popular tropes in the romance genre. 

Fake relationships. Enemies to lovers. Love triangles and best friends, mistaken identities and missed connections. This collection of genre-bending and original stories celebrates how love always finds a way, featuring powerful flora, a superhero and his nemesis, a fantastical sled race through snow-capped mountains, a golf tournament, the wrong ride-share, and even the end of the world. With stories written by Rebecca Barrow, Ashley Herring Blake, Gloria Chao, Mason Deaver, Sara Farizan, Claire Kann, Malinda Lo, Hannah Moskowitz, Natasha Ngan, Rebecca Podos, Lilliam Rivera, Laura Silverman, Amy Spalding, Rebecca Kim Wells, and Julian Winters this collection is sure to sweep you off your feet.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

And here are the authors of a bunch of the stories, sharing a bit about the story behind the story!

“Edges” by Ashley Herring Blake

“Edges” is an f/f story about a girl who feels everyone has left her behind–including the popular girl she’s currently making out with. Mac can’t believe that Clover–their schoo’s queer queen bee–could possibly actually truly like her. After all, her dad left her family for another one, her mom is hardly ever home, and her twin sister left town altogether for a performing arts boarding school. She’s inherently leavable. So when it becomes clear that Clover wants more than just hooking up, Mac has to decide if she’s willing to soften up her edges a bit for the girl of her dreams.

“Disaster” by Rebecca Podos

I know an homage to 90’s era disaster films might not be the most natural pairing for a romance trope anthology, but setting “Disaster” during a potential apocalypse in 1998 felt perfect for my trope, second-chance romance (and, possibly, a last-chance romance). It also gave me the opportunity to explore a time period before bisexuality was regularly spoken about, even within queer circles. My story about two ex-girlfriends trying to find their way back to one another at the maybe-end of the world takes place the year after America’s first openly bisexual state official came out, a few months before the bisexual pride flag was unveiled, and a year before the first Celebrate Bisexuality Day. Plus, I got to smuggle in Armageddon references (and watch the movie three times in a row, you know, for research).

“Bloom” by Rebecca Barrow

Listen: when it comes to romance, I am all about the yearning. And what kind of yearning is more exquisite than the kind that reaches across worlds, or universes, or time itself? Blame it on me watching too many mind-bending space movies late at night as a kid, or reading The Amber Spyglass and constantly thinking about benches in Oxford, or binge watching 12 Monkeys in distant pre-pandemic times, but when I had to pick a trope to write about, I couldn’t think of anything better. Maybe it’s the idea of exactly how great a love has to be for it to exist outside of the natural boundaries of our world. Maybe it’s just that there is something so deeply romantic about two people pining for something that shouldn’t be possible. Maybe it’s the bittersweet possibility that actually, love can’t conquer all. Except—sometimes it can. And sometimes, in my mind, all it takes is an extra bit of magic for that love to bloom.

“Silver and Gold” by Natasha Ngan

I’ve always loved wintry settings in books, there’s something just so cosy and romantic about them! Of course, being me, the setting in my story is a touch more dangerous than romantic. Rather than a pretty frosting of snow, it’s a life-threatening blizzard – and the two girls sheltering from it are in the midst of a deadly race. But the riskiest of situations can often be the most bonding, and that’s what we see in “Silver and Gold”, as rivals Mila and Ru are forced to confront their romantic past – and whether there’s space in their futures for each other. I had so much fun writing their story, and I hope you have as much fun reading it!

“My Best Friend’s Girl” by Sara Farizan

My story is about Alia who has always been there for her best friend, Hal, especially since she is the only one who knows he is a burgeoning superhero in Gateway City. She finds it increasingly more difficult to keep all of his superpowered secrets, especially from Hal’s new girlfriend Clara. There’s one secret Alia hasn’t told Hal yet either…

“Unfortunately, Blobs Do Not Eat Snacks” by Rebecca Kim Wells

“I knew a lot of authors would be fighting over the more popular romance tropes for this anthology, so I went with one of my favorite under-the-radar tropes, one so under the radar I didn’t even know what it was called! I think when I emailed Becca and Ashley about my trope preferences I called it “gets drunk/drugged/injured/delirious and confesses love, later does not remember/pretends they do not remember.” Which is a mouthful! ‘Kissing Under the Influence” is a lot snappier. I love the awkward interactions after characters accidentally give away things they didn’t intend to reveal, and my young adult fantasy novels are on the serious side, so I really wanted to play around and be goofy with my short story. The result is “Unfortunately, Blobs Do Not Eat Snacks,” which is weird and quirky and not much like my previous work at all. (Also, I love my title so much and still have a hard time believing they actually let me keep it.)”

“What Makes Us Heroes” by Julian Winters

Everyone knows I love writing about superheroes! But when I picked my trope—Hero vs. Villain—for Fools in Love, I honestly didn’t know what kind of romantic story I wanted to tell. Should I go explosive and action-packed like a Marvel movie? Dark and introspective like a DC comic? How could I turn a fresh twist on this epic trope?

And then 2020 happened. Specifically—June 2020.

The news was flooded with videos of violence. Protests. Of people trying to define who the heroes were and purposefully villainizing the ones fighting for a change. All I thought about were the teens ready to take action for their friends, family, themselves and how people were ready to villainize them for having a voice—including the ones who are supposed to love and protect them.

Suddenly, “What Makes Us Heroes” poured out of me. Shai and Kyan’s story came to life. I wanted a story about two superpowered boys navigating a world telling them what a hero should be and letting them define who a hero can be. How we can fall in love with the one person everyone thinks is “wrong” for us but is really the best thing we had all along.

The fact that I got to set it in a coffeeshop with a side of fake dating was a bonus!

As it happens, there are a few stories in the anthology that aren’t queer. (It happens.) A couple of those authors wrote blurbs too:

“Teed Up” by Gloria Chao”

“Teed Up” is loosely inspired by LPGA superstar Michelle Wie West, the first and thus far only female golfer to qualify for a USGA national men’s tournament (among many many other accolades). I myself am a terrible golfer, but I unfortunately have my share of experience dealing with large male egos in other domains. I wanted to explore the idea of being the only woman competing in a field of men in my short story for FOOLS IN LOVE, titled “Teed Up.” Sunny Chang, a star female golfer, is wary of any attention—both positive and negative—coming from a male competitor, which creates the perfect opportunity for an oblivious-to-lovers story. Even though most of the details are fictionalized, I had a lot of fun temporarily putting myself in Michelle’s superstar shoes!

“The Passover Date” by Laura Silverman

“The Passover Date rolls up everything I love into one story – Jewish cooking, fake dating, and nosey family members. I had so much fun writing this Jewish romance. My characters Rachel and Matthew are sweet and funny and adorably bumbling.

I hope readers will enjoy watching them fake date their way into something real.”

Authors in Conversation: Rebecca Kim Wells and Rebecca Podos

Today on the site, I’m thrilled to help celebrate the release of Briar Girls by Rebecca Kim Wells, a Sapphic YA reimagining of The Sleeping Beauty yours truly called “a tantalizingly dark and majestic fairy tale filled with love, betrayal, and the ways the two inevitably intersect.” The book releases today, and Rebecca’s here to talk about it with another of our favorite queer YA author Rebeccas, Rebecca Podos (From Dust, a Flame), who also happens to be her agent! But before we get to that, here’s a little more about Briar Girls:

Lena has a secret: the touch of her skin can kill. Cursed by a witch before she was born, Lena has always lived in fear and isolation. But after a devastating mistake, she and her father are forced to flee to a village near the Silence, a mysterious forest with a reputation for luring people into the trees, never to be seen again…​

Until the night an enigmatic girl stumbles out of the Silence and into Lena’s sheltered world. Miranda comes from the Gather, a city in the forest brimming with magic. She is on a quest to wake a sleeping princess believed to hold the key to liberating the Gather from its tyrannical ruler—and she offers Lena a bargain. If Lena assists her on her journey, Miranda will help her break the curse.

Mesmerized by Miranda and her promise of a new life, Lena jumps at the chance. But the deeper into the Silence she goes, the more she suspects she’s been lied to—about her family’s history, her curse, and her future. As the shadows close in, Lena must choose who to trust and decide whether it’s more important to have freedom…or power.

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

And now, I’m thrilled to welcome Rebecca Kim Wells and Rebecca Podos!

RKW: We’ve been working together for several years—since 2015! Back then the publishing landscape was very different, especially around diverse and queer stories. What was your agenting outlook at the time? And what drew you to pick Briar Girls out of your inbox?

RP: It was definitely a different landscape! On the one hand, the decade before 2015 was game-changing for queer representation in kidlit. We saw debut books published by authors who went on to change the conversation about was possible for queer YA, a genre that had previously been considered pretty niche. This industry can be truly frustrating in that it often demands “successful” (aka profitable) books within a certain subgenre or representing a certain group before justifying the purchase of future books which might have been the breakout successes. Still, publishing was slow to expand queer kidlit beyond L and G stories, and beyond white and able main characters. We’re still working on that! And as often happens when we talk about representation, the very first books on the shelf were stories of queer pain and trauma, usually as a direct consequence of a character discovering their own identity or coming out. Which does not mean that authors shouldn’t explore trauma and identity in their fiction, or that every queer story should be fluffy and joyful; we need books at both ends of the spectrum. We need to build a bigger bookshelf, rather than dictating which handful of books are allowed at any given moment.

Anyway, this is where the genre was in 2015: slowly moving beyond contemporary stories within a limited spectrum of queer identities. I had been signing authors of my own since 2012, looking for queer stories from the start. Some, I was able to sell! (And some of the authors I signed in the early days have gone on to write many fantastic queer stories after a non-queer themed debut novel). When I started reading your submission—the story that would become Briar Girls —on my subway ride to work, it was this smart, dark, lush, meta fairytale with a bisexual MC that made me miss my stop. I very distinctly remember having to get off at North Station and circle back. I was late to the office, and I still blame you. But that was how I knew I was about to fall in love with the book, and so I did.

It turns out that 2015 wasn’t quite ready for the story. As I told you much later, after your next amazing queer fantasy had sold, we did get pushback, including rejections along the lines of “we’re not sure the market exists for a fantasy with queer themes,” never mind that the brilliant Malinda Lo had been publishing for years. But I have rarely been more thrilled with my job than the moment we found out that Briar Girls was finally going to make its way onto shelves.

So, that’s my agent-y perspective. What had your experience been with queer books in 2015 as a writer and a reader, and what compelled you to tell your own?

RKW: As a teen reader, most of my experience with queer books had been with contemporary stories focused on coming out, like Geography Club or Rainbow Boys. Back then it wasn’t as easy even to search for queer books as it is now, so a lot of my reading came just from browsing at my local library or bookstore. I did manage to find a few queer fantasies—I still have vivid memories of Kissing the Witch (I just looked up a review from 1999 that said the lesbian endings “promise controversy,” yikes!) and reading Ash for the first time—but they certainly weren’t being published or promoted nearly as much as they are today.

I started writing Briar Girls in 2013. I’ve always been into fairy tale reimaginings, and I loved writing a big mashup of my own. That was the first kernel of the book. Then—this feels so weird to think about now—but in the first iteration, the main characters were actually straight. And at some point along the way, I just had the thought that well, it’s obvious that they should be queer. I don’t know why (certainly the market wasn’t particularly encouraging, especially in 2013), but I made the change and never second-guessed that decision. It was so clear to me that was what the book should be, and I didn’t even think about whether that would make it more difficult to publish. And that belief turned out to be so validated by your enthusiasm for the book. It buoyed me through the submission process, even though Briar Girls didn’t sell at the time.

I’m very glad that you didn’t tell me about those rejections in 2015, because I might have gotten nervous about writing queer characters (which would have been terrible!). Instead I got to lick my wounds and move on to the next project, which turned into Shatter the Sky. We sent that on submission in December 2017 and I think we got the offer from Simon & Schuster around the end of January 2018? It was a very different submission experience, both because it sold (yay!) and because it sold so quickly. Obviously part of the reason it sold is that I had grown as a writer, but I also think that the market around queer books for teens had really started to change in those few years.

While this wasn’t my experience, you mentioned that a few of your other authors wrote non-queer debuts and then went on to write queer books. This is also true of your work as an author—a non-queer debut followed by some incredible queer books. What was your experience like as an author making that transition? How did you decide to write your first queer book?

RP: Ah, the days before sites like LGBTQ Reads and Lambda Literary and the Rainbow Book List made finding queer books one million times easier. And yes, the path to publication for Shatter the Sky was so much smoother! I do think the market had evolved, even in the year or two between projects.

In part, my choice to write my first queer book was inspired by you, and my clients writing extraordinary queer stories at that time. As LGBTQ+ YA became more prominent on shelves, and seemed more possible to publish, I was seeing more of it in my query inbox, and reading more of it myself. Eventually I just decided, why not? So I began Like Water in 2015. And some of the choices I made in drafting that book, I made for my younger self. Like the fact that my main character’s discovery and acceptance of her own bisexuality was pretty painless. Her realization expanded her understanding of herself, and the world around her. She doesn’t spend a lot of time in the story coming out to the people around her; I just wasn’t that interested in her coming out as a huge plot point, despite the fact that the question of how and when to come out preoccupied a lot of my youth. Because, again, why not?

By the way, I had no idea that Briar Girls ever existed in a non-queer form! One of the many things I love about your stories is how queerness is baked into the fabric of your fantasy worlds. What do you love about writing and reading queer genre fiction, and how do you approach building these worlds that, while full of conflict and statements on class and colonization and gender roles, still feel so thoroughly inclusive?

RKW: Yes! The first person to stumble mysteriously out of the Gather was a boy named Colin. Then around July 2014 (per Scrivener metadata) it became obvious to me that the mysterious stranger was meant to be Miranda, and the rest is history!

Oh wow, I love everything about writing and reading queer genre fiction! But in the context of this question, I think what I love most about it is the sense of possibility—that the only constraint on what you can do as an author is the bound of your own imagination. If you don’t like a dynamic from the real world, change it! Interrogate it! Throw it out entirely! In the real world, I find homophobia cruel and horrifying—and also very boring. To me it’s the least interesting societal problem because it has the easiest, most obvious solution—just don’t be a homophobe! Mind your own business! Love your fellow humans! Let people live! So I don’t replicate it in my work. I’m proud of the queerness in my books, and I hope to continue writing queerness in all its complexity into my imagined worlds for many books to come.

I totally relate to the way you describe writing Like Water (and am so honored to be a tangential source of inspiration!)—though I certainly thought about coming out as a teen, it’s not something that I’m very interested in exploring in my own fiction at this time. In many ways, I’m writing toward a more inclusive world that I hope to see, rather than the one I grew up with and that exists today.

In addition to introducing queerness into your work, you’ve also genre-hopped from contemporary toward fantasy and now into historical fiction. But your prose is always so precise—sometimes delicate, sometimes cutting, always perfect—and your characters are always preoccupied by the weight of family—family histories, family bonds, family lore. To me, those are a few marks of a Rebecca Podos book. What do you feel are the common threads between your different books? What themes do you keep returning to as an author?

RP: This is such a lovely appraisal, you’ve made my night! And you pretty much nailed it with family being a common thread. In general, I think all of my books explore themes of inheritance—the things passed down to you or put on your shoulders, for good or for ill, and how you navigate that while trying to figure out who you are, and who you want to become. In Mystery of Hollow Places, it was a girl reckoning with the history of mental illness in her family, and how that shaped her as a person, as well as her relationships. In Like Water, it was a genetic illness the main character is scared to inherit from her father, while she struggles to be grateful for all of the wonderful things he’s instilled in her. In Wise and the Wicked, it’s an actual curse, passed down through generations, but it’s also about what we lose when we don’t speak the same language as our ancestors, when their stories slip away from us. And in From Dust, A Flame, which is up next, a girl discovers and engages with her Jewish identity for the first time, and what that means to her… plus golems and shedim and iburrim, and all of these aspects of Jewish myth and magic that I just really wanted to play with. Also, you know, everybody’s pretty gay.

When I think of a Rebecca Kim Wells book, I think of lush and precise worldbuilding, fascinating magical systems, smartly subverted tropes—like the chosen one trope of Shatter the Sky and Storm the Earth or the cursed princess trope of Briar Girls, but reexamined and completely flipped on their heads—and as you say, queerness without cost. What sort of stories do you feel most drawn to telling, and what experience do you hope readers will come away with from Briar Girls?

RKW: First, From Dust, A Flame sounds So! Good! I can’t wait to read it. And I’m sitting here feeling like I have been swaddled in a warm blanket of your compliments, thank you! You too have hit the nail on the head about so much of what I try to accomplish in my work.

I still remember how enthralled I was by the fantasy books I read as a child and teen. A lot of what I do as an author absolutely involves trying to recapture the feel of that classic fantasy while simultaneously interrogating, updating, flipping, and subverting common threads and tropes. I love complications and shades of gray! I want readers to feel both a happy familiarity and an unexpected, exciting destabilization every time they pick up one of my books. I delight in making the familiar strange.

And then the yearning—not always the romantic kind! My characters tend to be profoundly affected by family legacy (another thing we have in common!), they’ve all got wounds, and they all yearn, deeply. I love yearning. I want my books to make your chest hurt as you read them.

As far as Briar Girls goes…I hope readers finish this book feeling like they have been stabbed in the heart—but that they loved it. Lena’s journey still stabs me in the heart, and I’ve been living with it for eight years! Now I’m thrilled to share it with all of you.

***

Hannah’s whole life has been spent in motion. Her mother has kept her and her brother, Gabe, on the road for as long as she can remember, leaving a trail of rental homes and faded relationships behind them. No roots, no family but one another, and no explanations.

All of that changes on Hannah’s seventeenth birthday when she wakes up transformed, a pair of golden eyes with knife-slit pupils blinking back at her from the mirror—the first of many such impossible mutations. Promising that she knows someone who can help, her mother leaves Hannah and Gabe behind to find a cure. But as the days turn to weeks and their mother doesn’t return, they realize it’s up to them to find the truth.

What they discover is a family they never knew, and a history more tragic and fantastical than Hannah could have dreamed—one that stretches back to her grandmother’s childhood in Prague under the Nazi occupation, and beyond, into the realm of Jewish mysticism and legend. As the past comes crashing into the present, Hannah must hurry to unearth their family’s secrets—and confront her own hidden legacy in order to break the curse and save the people she loves most, as well as herself.

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

Rebecca Kim Wells writes books full of magic and fury (and often dragons). Her debut novel Shatter the Sky was a New England Book Award Finalist, an ALA Rainbow Book List selection, an Indies Introduce selection, and a Kids’ Indie Next Pick. She is also the author of Storm the Earth and Briar Girls.                                                                  

Rebecca Podos’ debut novel, The Mystery of Hollow Places, was a Junior Library Guild Selection and a B&N Best YA Book of 2016. Her second book, Like Water, won the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Children’s and Young Adult. The Wise and the Wicked, her third novel, was recently released. Her forthcoming books include Fools in Love (Running Press Kids, 2021) a co-edited YA anthology with author Ashley Herring Blake, and From Dust, a Flame (Balzer + Bray, 2022). A graduate of the Writing, Literature and Publishing Program at Emerson College, she’s an agent at the Rees Literary Agency in Boston by day.                                                                                        

August 2021 Deal Announcements

Picture Books

Author-illustrator of LOVE, MAMA Jeanette Bradley’s SOMETHING GREAT, about a nonbinary maker kid who uses their creativity and some recyclable materials to craft a versatile invention that can do all sorts of things—including make a friend, to Arthur Levine at Levine Querido, in a pre-empt, for publication in spring 2023, by Emily Mitchell at Wernick & Pratt Agency (world).

Children’s/MG Fiction

Actor and Stonewall Honor-winning author of THE BEST AT IT Maulik Pancholy’s NIKHIL OUT LOUD, about a gay Indian American boy, the star of a hit animated series, who learns the power of using his own voice after his family relocates to a small town in Ohio, to Alessandra Balzer at Balzer & Bray, in an exclusive submission, for publication in fall 2022, by Jessica Regel at Helm Literary (NA).

Young Adult Fiction

Author of the National Book Award finalist and Printz Honoree EVERY BODY LOOKING and the forthcoming BREAK THIS HOUSE Candice Iloh’s SALT THE WATER, a novel-in-verse about a free-spirited genderfluid teen who drops out of twelfth grade after a confrontation with a teacher, but when a family crisis forces them to suddenly take on immense adult responsibilities, their dreams of living life off the grid with their friends crash into the harsh realities of a world full of roadblocks at every turn, to Andrew Karre at Dutton Children’s, for publication in 2023, by Patricia Nelson at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency (world English).

Rod Pulido’s CHASING PACQUIAO, in which a boy is trying to navigate his way out of the closet when his personal idol, Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, makes a statement denigrating all gay people, forcing him on a journey to self-acceptance as he learns what happens when your heroes let you down, to Jenny Bak at Viking Children’s, for publication in summer 2023, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world English).

Ashley Shuttleworth’s books three and four in the Hollow Star Saga, in which four people will either become legends of the mortal realm, or the villains responsible for its ruin, to Sarah McCabe at Margaret K. McElderry Books, in a two-book deal, for publication in spring 2022, by Mandy Hubbard at Emerald City Literary Agency.

Author of M.F.K. and the forthcoming REEL LOVE Nilah Magruder’s HEX AND HAVOC, following two girls in a caste-based magical society as they fall in love and spark a revolution, illustrated by Sonia Liao, to Stephanie Guerdan at Harper Children’s, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2023, by Tricia Lawrence at Erin Murphy Literary Agency for the author (world).

Fiction editor at The Ana Literary Magazine and author of The Marked Ones: Uprising TreVaughn Malik Roach-Carter‘s THE AZIZA CHRONICLES, a queer Afrocentric YA in which a teenage girl discovers the father she never knew belongs to a race of mythical African warriors, and she must use her newfound powers to battle supernatural evils, to Craig Gibb at Deep Hearts, for publication in the fall of 2022.

Author of CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY and cofounder of the Pride Book Fest Steven Salvatore‘s A SUPERCUT OF US, pitched as Jandy Nelson’s I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN meets Dawson’s Creek, a dual-POV novel about twins who must learn to navigate what’s next after their incarcerated father dies and a half-brother they never knew existed moves to their Adirondack lakeside town, to Allison Moore at Bloomsbury Children’s, for publication in 2023, by Jessica Regel at Helm Literary (NA).

Clive Hawken’s WALKER, in which a transgender teenager hits the road in search of a Sasquatch-esque monster in this debut that explores the complexities of otherness and connection, to Mark Podesta at Holt Children’s, for publication in 2024, by Alexander Slater at Trident Media Group (world).

Adult Fiction

Senior editor at The Yale Review and NYU MFA graduate Maggie Millner’s COUPLETS, a hybrid novel-in-verse following a writer in her late 20s who leaves her longtime boyfriend for an obsessive, consuming affair with another woman; an exploration of queerness, desire, and mirroring, told in rhyming couplets and prose vignettes, to Molly Walls at Farrar, Straus, in a nice deal, by Marya Spence at Janklow & Nesbit (world).

Author of EVERYBODY (ELSE) IS PERFECT Gabrielle Korn’s THE DAUGHTERS OF INSIDE, a queer dystopian novel of suspense set 30 years in the future that follows a young woman accepted to an exclusive climate change relief program that promises to be humanity’s best hope for survival, but proves to be something else entirely when a reclusive billionaire with an ulterior motive takes control, to Hannah O’Grady at St. Martin’s, by Nicki Richesin at Wendy Sherman Associates (world).

Writer, filmmaker, and animator Marcus Kleiwer’s WE USED TO LIVE HERE, about a queer couple who moves into a new house and is soon visited by a family who used to live there, as seen in the viral story from Reddit’s r/NoSleep, to Emily Bestler Books, in a major deal, in a pre-empt.

Finnish author, Finlandia Prize winner, scriptwriter, and theatre director Pirkko Saisio’s THE RED LETTER OF FAREWELL, a portrayal of the 1970s Finland, the politically turbulent era, as well as finding one’s sexual identity and creative voice, to CJ Evans at Two Lines Press, in a nice deal, in a pre-empt, for publication in fall 2022, by Urpu Strellman and Urte Liepuoniute at Helsinki Literary Agency (US).

Mindi Briar’s ADRIFT IN STARLIGHT, in which a gender-neutral courtesan is hired to seduce an asexual museum archeologist, and both are accidentally caught up in an illegal adventure when one of the museum’s alien artifacts comes to life, to Lisa Green at City Owl Press, in a nice deal, for publication in May 2022.

Author of COTTONMOUTHS Kelly Ford’s BAD AS ALL THAT, a queer suspense in which a woman returns to her Arkansas hometown to face potentially deadly consequences 25 years after her violent stepfather disappeared, to Jessica Tribble Wells at Thomas & Mercer, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2022, by Chris Bucci at Aevitas Creative Management (world).

Misha Popp‘s MAGIC, LIES, AND MURDER PIES, pitched as Pushing Daisies meets Dexter, about a bisexual baker whose mission to protect wronged women by delivering deadly pies to their abusers is threatened by a blackmailer from her past, to Faith Black Ross at Crooked Lane, in a two-book deal, for publication in spring 2022, by Rebecca Podos at Rees Literary Agency (world).

Claudia Cravens‘s RED, a genre-bending queer feminist Western pitched as True Grit meets Sarah Waters, following a young woman’s transformation from forlorn orphan to successful prostitute to revenge-seeking gunfighter, exploring desire, loyalty, power, and chosen family, to Kate Ballard at Allen & Unwin UK, at auction, by Jennifer Helinek at Trident Media Group on behalf of Alexa Stark (UK/Commonwealth, excl. Canada).

YA author of The Bone Witch trilogy Rin Chupeco‘s SILVER UNDER NIGHTFALL, a queer Gothic fantasy pitched as inspired by Castlevania, following a troubled bounty hunter who must join forces with a royal vampire couple to stop a terrifying new vampiric breed from destroying the kingdom, to Amara Hoshijo at Saga Press, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in spring 2023, by Rebecca Podos at Rees Literary Agency (world English).

Author of DETRANSITION, BABY Torrey Peters’s INFECT YOUR FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES, a quartet of taboo-busting novellas that explore the far edges of trans identities across four genres—dystopian, romance, horror, and historical, to Caitlin McKenna at Random House, by Kent Wolf at Neon Literary. UK rights to Leonora Craig Cohen at Serpent’s Tail, by Caspian Dennis at Abner Stein, on behalf of Neon Literary.

Non-Fiction

Pioneering feminist sex educator and author of OPENING UP Tristan Taormino’s A PART OF THE HEART CAN’T BE EATEN, a look at the author’s coming of age, revealing how the roots of her radical sexual identity and career grew out of an extraordinary queer father/daughter relationship, to Dean Smith at Duke University Press, with Ken Wissoker editing, for publication in fall 2022, by Andrew Blauner at Blauner Books Literary Agency (world).

Two-time National Book Award Finalist Eliot Schrefer‘s QUEER DUCKS (AND OTHER ANIMALS), a conversational, funny, teen-facing exploration of the recent explosion of scientific research into same-sex sexual behavior in animals, investigating the diversity of sexual expression in nature, arguing along the way that queer behavior in animals is as diverse and complex–and as natural–as it is in our own species, to Ben Rosenthal at Harper Children’s, by Richard Pine at Inkwell Management (NA).

Poetry

Author of ORPHEUS GIRL and Donald Hall Poetry Prize winner Brynne Rebele-Henry’s PRELUDE, a poetry collection that explores the gay female experience through the girlhood of Saint Catherine of Siena, to Peter Kracht at University of Pittsburgh Press, for publication in spring 2022, by Alexandra Franklin at Vicky Bijur Literary Agency (world English).

Exclusive Cover Reveal: From Dust, A Flame by Rebecca Podos

Today on the site I’m thrilled to be revealing the cover of Rebecca Podos’s extremely Jewish contemporary bi YA fantasy, From Dust, A Flame, which releases from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins on February 8, 2022! Here’s the story:

Hannah’s whole life has been spent in motion. Her mother has kept her and her brother, Gabe, on the road for as long as she can remember, leaving a trail of rental homes and faded relationships behind them. No roots, no family but one another, and no explanations.

All of that changes on Hannah’s seventeenth birthday when she wakes up transformed, a pair of golden eyes with knife-slit pupils blinking back at her from the mirror—the first of many such impossible mutations. Promising that she knows someone who can help, her mother leaves Hannah and Gabe behind to find a cure. But as the days turn to weeks and their mother doesn’t return, they realize it’s up to them to find the truth.

What they discover is a family they never knew, and a history more tragic and fantastical than Hannah could have dreamed—one that stretches back to her grandmother’s childhood in Prague under the Nazi occupation, and beyond, into the realm of Jewish mysticism and legend.  As the past comes crashing into the present, Hannah must hurry to unearth their family’s secrets—and confront her own hidden legacy in order to break the curse and save the people she loves most, as well as herself.

Rebecca Podos, award-winning author of Like Water, returns with a contemporary fantasy of enduring love, unfathomable loss, and the power of stories to hold us together when it seems that nothing else can.

And here’s the cover, designed by Sarah Kaufman and illustrated by Lisa Sheehan!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | B-A-M

(c) Zaynah Qutubuddin

Rebecca Podos’ debut novel, THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES, was a Junior Library Guild Selection and a B&N Best YA Book of 2016. Her second book, LIKE WATER, won the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Children’s and Young Adult. THE WISE AND THE WICKED, her third novel, was recently released. Forthcoming books include FOOLS IN LOVE (Running Press Kids, 2021), a co-edited YA anthology with Ashley Herring Blake, and FROM DUST, A FLAME (Balzer + Bray, 2022). An agent at the Rees Literary Agency in Boston, she can be found on her website, Rebeccapodos.com.

July 2020 Book Deal Announcements

Adult

Ashley Herring Blake‘s DELILAH GREEN DOESN’T CARE, an #ownvoices queer romantic comedy, about a woman who begrudgingly returns to her hometown for her estranged stepsister’s wedding; when she crosses paths with a former mean girl from her childhood, old wounds and old feelings reignite, to Angela Kim at Berkley, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in spring 2022, by Rebecca Podos at Rees Literary Agency (world).

Brooklyn College MFA and NYU Law School graduate Jane Pek‘s THE VERIFIERS, which examines how today’s technology shapes our choices, introducing an overly imaginative reader of mystery novels who lands her dream job at an “online-dating detective agency,” then finds herself solving a real-life murder with sinister societal implications, while keeping the fact that she dates girls from her matchmaking mother, to Anna Kaufman at Vintage, in an exclusive submission, for publication in 2022, by Julie Barer at The Book Group (NA).

Jen Hinst-White‘s JOBS FOR GIRLS WITH ARTISTIC FLAIR, a LGBTQ coming-of-age story pitched as THE CACTUS meets PIZZA GIRL, about a young woman in 1980s Long Island who chases her dream of becoming a tattooist despite her social anxiety, an unreliable family, and an industry hostile to women artists, to Jeramie Orton at Pamela Dorman Books, in a pre-empt, for publication in summer 2022, by Chad Luibl at Janklow & Nesbit (world).

C.L. Clark‘s THE UNBROKEN, a North Africa-inspired queer epic fantasy following a soldier accused of murder who is saved from execution when a dethroned princess decides to take her on as a spy, while grappling with a crumbling empire and their unexpected bond, to Brit Hvide at Orbit, in an exclusive submission, in a three-book deal, by Mary C. Moore at Kimberley Cameron & Associates (world).

Oregon Literary Arts Fellow and Mills MFA graduate Emme Lund‘s THE BOY WITH A BIRD IN HIS CHEST, pitched as the desperate longing of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER meets queer coming-of-age about the secrets we carry, the ways we try to stay safe, and growing up having to hide what makes you lovable to the world and to yourself, to Melanie Iglesias Perez at Atria, at auction, for publication in spring 2022, by Cassie Mannes Murray at Howland Literary (world).

Actor Paul Mendez‘s RAINBOW MILK, a coming-of-age story that follows a nineteen-year-old Jamaican-British man, who goes from isolated fast food server in the Black Country to sex worker and burgeoning artist in London as he grapples with his racial and sexual identities against the backdrop of his Jehovah’s Witness upbringing and the legacy of the Windrush generation, to Margo Shickmanter at Doubleday, for publication in summer 2021, by Helena Doree at Little Brown UK (NA).

Author of LOVE ON THE HUDSON KD Fisher’s THE SECRET INGREDIENT, in which two very different female chefs in small-town Maine find a way into each other’s hearts and families, to Kerri Buckley at Carina Press Adores, for publication in November 2020, by Claire Draper at The Bent Agency (world).

Children’s/YA

Author of ONLY MOSTLY DEVASTATED Sophie Gonzales and author of THE LOVE INTEREST Cale Dietrich‘s OFF THE RECORD, following two boys in America’s biggest boy band who fall for each other while on their first sold-out European tour, and are forced to keep their relationship a secret by their record label, but slowly realize those in charge have no intention of letting them announce their relationship to the world—ever, to Sylvan Creekmore at Wednesday Books, in an exclusive submission, for publication in fall 2021, by Moe Ferrara at BookEnds (world).

Author of DEPOSING NATHAN Zack Smedley‘s TONIGHT WE RULE THE WORLD, a coming-of-age novel about a boy whose senior year is upended when school officials learn he was sexually assaulted by another student; exploring identity, sexuality, and self-worth and following the implosion among the boy’s school, peers, parents, and girlfriend, to Lauren Knowles at Page Street, in a nice deal, for publication in fall 2021, by Allison Remcheck at Stimola Literary Studio (world).

Gabe Cole Novoa’s THE WICKED BARGAIN, the #OwnVoices YA fantasy follows a trans masculine Latinx teen pirate hiding magical abilities who, after a deal with the devil comes to a violent end, is rescued by the Caribbean’s sole remaining pirate crew, but with the Spanish armada hunting the last of the pirates down, the magic they’ve been keeping secret may be their only redemption—or it could mean certain death, to Jenna Lettice at Random House Children’s, for publication in fall 2022, by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency (world).

Mariama Lockington’s FOREVER IS NOW, a novel-in-verse about an agoraphobic teenager who must find a way to boldly step outside herself for the sake of her relationships and community, to Joy Peskin at Farrar, Straus Children’s, in a two-book deal, by Jane Dystel at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world).

Author of WHITE ROSE Kip Wilson’s THE MOST DAZZLING GIRL IN BERLIN, a historical novel-in-verse about an orphan who finds family, love, and her voice in a queer nightclub during the last days of the Weimar Republic in Berlin, 1932, to Margaret Raymo at Versify, for publication in spring 2022, by Roseanne Wells at Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency (NA).

Illustrators of the forthcoming WEIRDO Jessica Wibowo and Jacinta Wibowo‘s LUNAR BOY, in which a boy from the moon deals with culture shock, familial struggles, and first crushes when his mother suddenly marries and moves them to Earth, to Carolina Ortiz at Harper Alley, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in 2023, by Britt Siess at Martin Literary Management (world English).

Betsy Cornwell‘s READER, I MURDERED HIM, a tale of female agency, queer romance, and revenge in which a girl becomes a teenage vigilante who roams Victorian England using her privilege and power to protect other young women from abusive Gothic heroes, to Lynne Polvino at Clarion, in an exclusive submission, for publication in fall 2021, by Sara Crowe at Pippin Properties (NA).

Non-Fiction

Winner of two gold medals and the World Cup Briana Scurry and Wayne Coffey, with a foreword by Robin Roberts‘s MY GREATEST SAVE, a memoir of Scurry’s role as the fierce goalkeeper for the 1999ers, the legendary U.S. Women’s national team, where she broke barriers as the first Black female player, the first to come out openly as gay, and one of the first to advocate for equal pay, until a career-ending concussion sent her into years of despair and she had to make the greatest save of all, to Jamison Stoltz at Abrams Press, by Susan Canavan at Waxman Literary Agency (world).

Lambda Literary nonfiction fellow Nikkya Hargrove‘s MAMA: A BLACK, QUEER WOMAN’S JOURNEY TO MOTHERHOOD, describing how growing up visiting her mother in prison affected her own choices in life and how, when her mother died of heart disease at the age of 42 after a lifelong battle with crack cocaine, she adopted her baby brother, determined to create the kind of family she never had; about motherhood and identity, as told by a Black gay woman married to a Sri Lankan American woman parenting twin girls and raising their adopted son together, to Amy Gash at Algonquin, at auction, for publication in fall 2022, by Stacey Glick at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world).

Authors of THE GAY AGENDA and owners of the Ash + Chess stationery store Ashley Molesso and Chessie Needham’s THE QUEER TAROT and THE GAY AGENDA AGENDA, an illustrated guidebook and deck that seeks to serve as an outlet for members of the LGBTQ+ community who want to connect with the tarot in a more personalized way, celebrating their identities, including non-binary, trans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, and more, with all races and cultures, abilities, and body types represented and celebrated; also, an agenda highlighting the most important historical moments, figures, and places in the gay community, to Shannon Connors Fabricant at Running Press, at auction, in a two-book deal, by Meg Thompson at Thompson Literary Agency (world).

Contributor to Ploughshares, The Rumpus, and Longreads Edgar Gomez’s HIGH-RISK HOMOSEXUAL, a debut memoir about coming-of-age in a culture that values machismo, following the author from his uncle’s cockfighting ring in Nicaragua to the queer spaces where he discovered the joy of being gay and Latino, including Pulse nightclub in Orlando, a drag queen convention in Los Angeles, and the doctor’s office where he was diagnosed a “high-risk homosexual,” to Sarah Lyn Rogers at Soft Skull, for publication in fall 2021, by Danielle Bukowski at Sterling Lord Literistic (world).

Queering up your shelf, one rec at a time!