Tag Archives: Ryan La Sala

Fave Five: YAs Exploring Drag

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Drag Teen by Jeffery Self

Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig

Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju

Reverie by Ryan La Sala

Bonus: Coming April 25, 2023, Becoming a Queen by Dan Clay

Double Bonus: If you’re looking for drag rep in an early reader, try Big Wig by Jonathan Hillman, illustrated by Levi Hastings. In Middle Grade, check out Middle School’s a Drag, You Better Werk by Greg Howard

Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Young Adult Fiction: July-December 2022

This post is sponsored by me and Home Field Advantage, available now in hardcover and ebook from Wednesday books and audio (narrated by Natalie Naudus and Lori Prince) by OrangeSky Audio!


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

***

The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride by Hayli Thomson (July 19th)

58724672Taylor Parker has always been a funny girl―but when she is accepted as a finalist for a diverse writers’ internship at Saturday Night Live, it turns her life upside down. If she wants a shot at winning in a little more than a month, Taylor will have to come out about both of her secrets: She wants to be a comedian . . . and she’s a lesbian.

With a mom who gave up a career in comedy to raise her, and a comedian dad who left for a younger woman, working in comedy is a sore subject in Taylor’s house. To keep her secret under wraps, she sneaks out to do improv and hides her sketches under the bed, and to distract from her anxiety about the competition, Taylor frequents Salem’s Museum of Witchcraft to pine for Abigail Williams from the back row.

It’s at the Museum of Witchcraft where Taylor falls deeper in love with the girl who plays Abigail Williams―Charlotte Grey, an out and proud lesbian at Nathaniel Hawthorne High. Charlotte radiates so much confidence in her acting and queerness that Taylor can’t resist her. So when Charlotte reaches out for help on a school project, Taylor readily agrees. As they spend more time together, Taylor sees what living her truth and pursuing her dreams could bring her, but Charlotte can’t understand why someone as funny as Taylor wouldn’t go all out to make the most of her opportunities. To live up to her own comedy dreams and become the person she wants to be, Taylor will have to find the confidence to tell everyone exactly who she is and what she wants.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Continue reading Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Young Adult Fiction: July-December 2022

Paperback Cover Reveal+Interview: Reverie by Ryan La Sala

Whether you loved this dreamy m/m YA fantasy as much as I did or haven’t gotten to it yet, you’re definitely going to want to snatch up a copy of Reverie by Ryan La Sala  when it comes out in paperback on June 7th from Sourcebooks, because look at that cover! What cover, you ask? Why, the gorgeous one below! But first, the story:

A few weeks ago, Kane Montgomery was in an accident that robbed him of his memory. The only thing he knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. The world as he knows it feels different―reality seems different. And when strange things start happening around him, Kane isn’t sure where to turn.

And then three of his classmates show up, claiming to be his friends and the only people who can tell him what’s truly going on. Kane doesn’t know what to believe or who he can trust. But as he and the others are dragged into increasingly fantastical dream worlds drawn from imagination, it becomes clear that there is dark magic at work. Nothing in Kane’s life is an accident, and only he can keep the world itself from unraveling.

And here’s the gorgeous cover redesign, illustrated by Jonathan Bartlett and designed by Liz Dresner and Nicole Hower!

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound | Indigo | Book Depository

But wait, there’s more! Ryan stopped by for a little chat about the book and its stunning new cover, so check it out!

This cover is gorgeous! What did you think when you first saw it?

Well, first I thought:lksjdfslkjsdlfk,” and that’s a quote.

And then I thoughtholy smokes, there he is!

It’s beyond exciting to see Kane, the unlikely hero of Reverie, on the cover in all his reality-unraveling glory. I created Kane when I was a kid myself, and I looked up to him all throughout my teenage years. Finally I started writing down his adventures in High School.
Getting to see him — finally see him — on the cover of his own story feels like such a triumph. A triumph for me as his creator, but also a triumph for little gay boys who want to find a way to feel powerful beyond just your typical man-up-and-get-muscular-and-pick-up-a-sword story.

Kane wields a magic that reacts to his empathy and imagination. The fate of reality hangs upon his ability to balance the world as we know it against the many worlds of those who dream beyond our reality’s limits. He’s difficult and fascinating and so, so important to me. I’m so glad the artist did him justice.

What has the response to Reverie been like since its release in 2019?

In a word: dreamy.

In many more words: the response to Reverie has been a dream come true (pun intended). I use this phrase because I have always, always had huge dreams for this book despite many people telling me to temper my expectations. Reverie is not the kind of thing you’d expect to go mainstream. It’s super queer and very weird. It spins through many genres, things get surreal and even scary. Hell, the hero throws rainbow chaos magic and the villain is a drag queen
sorceress! But you know what? All of these ‘niche’ elements have just brought more readers into the pages of Reverie, and I’m thankful for every one of them. I love you all!

What’s also been interesting is the diversity in reactions. Most authors I know avoid reviews, but I revel in them–good, bad, or otherwise. I wrote Reverie to be reacted to, and to inspire people to write their own stories (out of inspiration, or even out of spite, which is how I got started writing Reverie in the first place). It’s been fun watching that take place in real time!

Unfortunately, as Reverie has risen in popularity, it’s also found the spotlights of people determined to ban queer books from school librarires. Right now, Reverie is on a list to be investigated for it’s ‘inappropriate’ and ‘potentially pornographic’ content. Anyone who has read Reverie knows this is a wild claim, but I actually don’t think the people who make these lists know how to read. Not very well, at least.

I’m not worried. Reverie will always be here for those that need refuge from an unkind reality. Our jobs (mine, as the author, and yours as the reader) is to stand by these books, defend them, and fight for their availability so that readers who need them, have them.

When it comes to characters, who has been the fan favorite in all the Reverie reactions?

Oh, easy. Ursula and Poesy, which is so interesting to me as the author because when I first concocted the idea of dream-unraveling, world-hopping heroes, Ursula and Poesy were the same person. In fact, they were sorta the main character — this hyperfeminine, dress-wearing force of nature that was as likely to wield a broadsword as they were to wear a ballgown. I think readers can tell how much joy I have writing them, which is why they get a lot of love.

What are you excited for as Reverie goes into paperback?

Can I be frank? Hardcover books are annoying. The dust jackets are pretty but my god do they make it hard to handle a book. I’m always worried about ruining them! So I tend to just let them sit on the shelf, which–don’t kill me–is no place for a book to be.

For me, books are companions, and all my favorite books are well-worn paperbacks that have been shoved into backpacks, suitcases, and *gulp* maybe even cargo pants once or twice. Reverie going into paperback means it’ll be even more available to join readers on their own journey, whether they’re reading it on the bus to school or late at night with a flashlight. I love that. I love knowing the book’s life is about to bloom again, and I can’t wait to welcome in all of those who have been searching for a story like this, a character like this, or a world like this. What I think when I imagine all of those future readers is not quite coherent, but it feels like saying “Welcome home.”

Any further dreams for Kane and Reverie?

Oh, tons. There’s no confirmed continuation for Reverie in the works right now, but recently I’ve been feeling an intractable pull back into Kane’s world. There’s a lot more for him, Ursula, and the Others (his team of dream unravelers in the book). And if you’re a fan of Poesy, don’t worry: if I were to pick up this story again, I suspect I would start before the events of Reverie even begin, somewhere in the past as Poesy hatches her dreams for a better world. A world on her terms. *insert witchy cackle here*

Ryan La Sala writes about surreal things happening to queer people. He is the author behind the riotously imaginative Reverie, and the brilliantly constructed Be Dazzled, both of which made the Kids’ Indie Next List. He has been featured in Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Tor.com, and one time Shangela from RuPaul’s Drag Race called him cute! Ryan is the host of the infamous La Sala Writers Salon, the co-host the Bad Author Book Club Podcast, and a frequent speaker at events/conferences. When not writing, Ryan does arts & crafts, and rollerblades around Central Park.

2022 Paperback Redesigns

As with last year’s, this post will be updated as new designs emerge.

Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson (January 4th)

  • Design by Philip Pascuzzo

Weeks ago, Andre Cobb received a much-needed liver transplant.

He’s ready for his life to finally begin, until one night, when he passes out and wakes up somewhere totally unexpected…in 1969, where he connects with a magnetic boy named Michael.

And then, just as suddenly as he arrived, he slips back to present-day Boston, where the family of his donor is waiting to explain that his new liver came with a side effect―the ability to time travel. And they’ve tasked their youngest son, Blake, with teaching Andre how to use his unexpected new gift.

Andre splits his time bouncing between the past and future. Between Michael and Blake. Michael is everything Andre wishes he could be, and Blake, still reeling from the death of his brother, Andre’s donor, keeps him at arm’s length despite their obvious attraction to each other.

Torn between two boys, one in the past and one in the present, Andre has to figure out where he belongs―and more importantly who he wants to be―before the consequences of jumping in time catch up to him and change his future for good.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

A Tip for the Hangman by Alison Epstein (January 4th)

  • Design by Mark Abrams

A Tip for the Hangman: A NovelEngland, 1585. In Kit Marlowe’s last year at Cambridge, he is approached by Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster offering an unorthodox career opportunity: going undercover to intercept a Catholic plot to put Mary, Queen of Scots on Elizabeth’s throne.

Spying on Queen Mary turns out to be more than Kit bargained for, but his salary allows him to mount his first play, and over the following years he becomes the toast of London’s raucous theater scene. But when Kit finds himself reluctantly drawn back into the world of espionage and treason, he realizes everything he’s worked so hard to attain—including the trust of the man he loves—could vanish in an instant.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (January 11th)

  • Art by Alexis Franklin
  • Design by Janine Agro 

History Is All You Left me coverWhen Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour (February 8th)

  • Art by Adams Carvalho

Just out of high school, Emi Price is a talented young set designer already beginning to thrive in the L.A. film scene. But her artistic eye has failed her in one key area: helping her to design a love life that’s more than make-believe. Then she finds a mysterious letter at an estate sale, and it sends her chasing down the loose ends of a movie icon’s hidden life. And along the way, she finds Ava, and at long last, Emi’s own hidden life begins to bloom.

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

As Far As You’ll Take Me by Phil Stamper (March 29th)

  • Art by Patrick Leger
  • Design by Jet Purdie

Marty arrives in London with nothing but his oboe and some savings from his summer job, but he’s excited to start his new life–where he’s no longer the closeted, shy kid who slips under the radar and is free to explore his sexuality without his parents’ disapproval.

From the outside, Marty’s life looks like a perfect fantasy: in the span of a few weeks, he’s made new friends, he’s getting closer with his first ever boyfriend, and he’s even traveling around Europe. But Marty knows he can’t keep up the facade. He hasn’t spoken to his parents since he arrived, he’s tearing through his meager savings, his homesickness and anxiety are getting worse and worse, and he hasn’t even come close to landing the job of his dreams. Will Marty be able to find a place that feels like home?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

After Francesco by Brian Malloy (April 26th)

The year is 1988 and 28-year-old Kevin Doyle is bone-tired of attending funerals. It’s been two years since his partner Francesco died from AIDS, an epidemic ravaging New York City and going largely ignored by the government, leaving those effected to suffer in silence, feeling unjustifiable shame and guilt on top of their loss.

Some people might insist that Francesco and the other friends he’s lost to the disease are in a better place, but Kevin definitely isn’t. Half-alive, he spends his days at a mind-numbing job and nights with the ghost of Francesco, drunk and drowning in memories of a man who was too young to die.

When Kevin hits an all-time low, he realizes it’s time to move back home to Minnesota and figure out how to start living again—without Francesco. With the help of a surviving partners support group and friends both old and new, Kevin slowly starts to do just that. But an unthinkable family betrayal, and the news that his best friend is fighting for his life in New York, will force a reckoning and a defining choice.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Lost Coast by A.R. Capetta (May 3rd)

The Lost CoastThe spellbinding tale of six queer witches forging their own paths, shrouded in the mist, magic, and secrets of the ancient California redwoods.

Danny didn’t know what she was looking for when she and her mother spread out a map of the United States and Danny put her finger down on Tempest, California. What she finds are the Grays: a group of friends who throw around terms like queer and witch like they’re ordinary and everyday, though they feel like an earthquake to Danny. But Danny didn’t just find the Grays. They cast a spell that calls her halfway across the country, because she has something they need: she can bring back Imogen, the most powerful of the Grays, missing since the summer night she wandered into the woods alone. But before Danny can find Imogen, she finds a dead boy with a redwood branch through his heart. Something is very wrong amid the trees and fog of the Lost Coast, and whatever it is, it can kill. Lush, eerie, and imaginative, Amy Rose Capetta’s tale overflows with the perils and power of discovery — and what it means to find your home, yourself, and your way forward.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

We Play Ourselves by Jen Silverman (May 10th)

60190578Not too long ago, Cass was a promising young playwright in New York, hailed as “a fierce new voice” and “queer, feminist, and ready to spill the tea.” But at the height of all this attention, Cass finds herself at the center of a searing public shaming, and flees to Los Angeles to escape — and reinvent herself. There she meets her next-door neighbor Caroline, a magnetic filmmaker on the rise, as well as the pack of teenage girls who hang around her house. They are the subjects of Caroline’s next semi-documentary movie, which follows the girls’ violent fight club, a real-life feminist re-purposing of the classic.

As Cass is drawn into the film’s orbit, she is awed by Caroline’s ambition and confidence. But over time, she becomes increasingly troubled by how deeply Caroline is manipulating the teens in the name of art. When a girl goes missing, Cass must reckon with her own ambitions and ask herself: in the pursuit of fame, how do you know when you’ve gone too far?

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

The Lucky List by Rachael Lippincott (May 31st)

  • Art by Poppy Magda

Emily and her mom were always lucky. But Emily’s mom’s luck ran out three years ago when she succumbed to cancer, and nothing has felt right for Emily since.

Now, the summer before her senior year, things are getting worse. Not only has Emily wrecked things with her boyfriend Matt, who her mom adored, but her dad is selling the house she grew up in and giving her mom’s belongings away. Soon, she’ll have no connections left to Mom but her lucky quarter. And with her best friend away for the summer and her other friends taking her ex’s side, the only person she has to talk to about it is Blake, the swoony new girl she barely knows.

But that’s when Emily finds the list—her mom’s senior year summer bucket list—buried in a box in the back of her closet. When Blake suggests that Emily take it on as a challenge, the pair set off on a journey to tick each box and help Emily face her fears before everything changes. As they go further down the list, Emily finally begins to feel close to her mom again, but her bond with Blake starts to deepen, too, into something she wasn’t expecting. Suddenly Emily must face another fear: accepting the secret part of herself she never got a chance to share with the person who knew her best.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Reverie by Ryan La Sala (June 7th)

  • Art by Jonathan Bartlett
  • Design by Liz Dresner and Nicole Hower

A few weeks ago, Kane Montgomery was in an accident that robbed him of his memory. The only thing he knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. The world as he knows it feels different―reality seems different. And when strange things start happening around him, Kane isn’t sure where to turn.

And then three of his classmates show up, claiming to be his friends and the only people who can tell him what’s truly going on. Kane doesn’t know what to believe or who he can trust. But as he and the others are dragged into increasingly fantastical dream worlds drawn from imagination, it becomes clear that there is dark magic at work. Nothing in Kane’s life is an accident, and only he can keep the world itself from unraveling.

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound | Indigo | Book Depository

The Very Nice Box by Laura Blackett and Eve Gleichman (June 14th)

  • Cover design by Elsa Mathern

Ava Simon designs storage boxes for STÄDA, a slick Brooklyn-based furniture company. She’s hard-working, obsessive, and heartbroken from a tragedy that killed her girlfriend and upended her life. It’s been years since she’s let anyone in.

But when Ava’s new boss—the young and magnetic Mat Putnam—offers Ava a ride home one afternoon, an unlikely relationship blossoms. Ava remembers how rewarding it can be to open up—and, despite her instincts, she becomes enamored. But Mat isn’t who he claims to be, and the romance takes a sharp turn.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

All Eyes on Us by Kit Frick (September 27th)

  • Art by Levente Szabó
  • Design by Debra Sfetsios-Conover

PRIVATE NUMBER: Wouldn’t you look better without a cheater on your arm?
AMANDA: Who is this?

The daughter of small town social climbers, Amanda Kelly is deeply invested in her boyfriend, real estate heir Carter Shaw. He’s kind, ambitious, the town golden boy—but he’s far from perfect. Because behind Amanda’s back, Carter is also dating Rosalie.

PRIVATE NUMBER: I’m watching you, Sweetheart.
ROSALIE: Who IS this?

Rosalie Bell is fighting to remain true to herself and her girlfriend—while concealing her identity from her Christian fundamentalist parents. After years spent in and out of conversion “therapy,” her own safety is her top priority. But maintaining a fake, straight relationship is killing her from the inside.

When an anonymous texter ropes Amanda and Rosalie into a bid to take Carter down, the girls become collateral damage—and unlikely allies in a fight to unmask their stalker before Private uproots their lives.

PRIVATE NUMBER: You shouldn’t have ignored me. Now look what you made me do…

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | IndieBound

February 2021 Deal Announcements

Adult Fiction

Emmy-nominated writer, actor, and producer of Netflix’s Special Ryan O’Connell‘s JUST BY LOOKING AT HIM, in which a gay TV writer with cerebral palsy who, despite his perfect boyfriend, can’t stop cheating with a sex worker while in search of something bigger, to Michelle Herrera Mulligan at Atria, at auction, for publication in spring 2022, by Kent Wolf at Neon Literary (NA).

Alexis Hall‘s ROUGH RIDE and FOOL’S GOLD, the next two installments in the award-winning SPIRES series, along with the first four previously-published books and LOOKING FOR GROUP, as well as HUSBAND MATERIAL and THE AMNESIA PLOT, two additional LGBTQIA+ romances in the BOYFRIEND MATERIAL universe, to Mary Altman at Sourcebooks Casablanca, by Courtney Miller-Callihan at Handspun Literary.

Montana MFA Jules Ohman‘s BODY GRAMMAR, pitched as a queer SWEETBITTER set against the backdrop of the glamorous but grueling modeling industry, in which a young woman discovers herself, what it means to live in her body, and how to let herself find love, to Anna Kaufman at Vintage, in an exclusive submission, by Dan Conaway at Writers House (NA).

Author of ON HELL and the nonfiction collection MINERVA THE MISCARRIAGE OF THE BRAIN, artist, and musician Johanna Hedva‘s YOUR LOVE IS NOT GOOD, set in the Berlin and Los Angeles art worlds, following a queer biracial Korean American painter on the precipice of success as she struggles to reconcile her ambitions, her growing debt, and her complicated relationship to whiteness with her support for a boycott of museums and galleries for their racist and imperialist practices, to Jeremy Davies at And Other Stories, by Clare Mao at Europa Content (world English).

Lambda Award and Charles Johnson Fiction Award-winning author of the story collection BLUE TALK AND LOVE Mecca Jamilah Sullivan‘s MORE OF EVERYTHING, about an African American girl growing up in 1990s Harlem, grappling with the stigma of obesity passed down through three generations of women in her family, who comes to terms with her self-image and her sexuality against the backdrop of Harlem’s changing landscape, pitched as a fictional counterpart to Roxanne Gay’s HUNGER, to Gina Iaquinta at Liveright, at auction, for publication in summer 2022, by Janet Silver at Aevitas Creative Management (NA).

Griffin Prize winner Billy-Ray Belcourt’s A MINOR CHORUS, in which a queer Indigenous doctoral student steps away from his dissertation to conduct research in his northern hometown for what he hopes will be a novel about how to live a beautiful life; he has a series of intimate encounters with friends, lovers, and elders that brings the modern queer and Indigenous experience into sharp relief, to Mo Crist at Norton, at auction, for publication in fall 2022, by Stephanie Sinclair at CookeMcDermid (US).

KJ Charles‘s THE DOOMSDAY BOOKS, a duo of gay Regency romances about aristocrats, smugglers, and spies on the Kent coast, to Mary Altman at Sourcebooks, in a two-book deal, by Courtney Miller-Callihan at Handspun Literary (world).

Maya Deane’s WRATH GODDESS SING, an #OwnVoices trans women’s literary epic fantasy pitched as reimagining of the Iliad, wherein Athena recruits the young trans heroine Achilles to defeat the omnipotent Helen and her Olympian enablers before she drowns the world in human sacrifice, pitched as a mash-up of N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy and Madeline Miller’s SONG OF ACHILLES, to David Pomerico at William Morrow, by Jason Yarn at Jason Yarn Literary Agency (world).

Paulette Kennedy‘s PARTING THE VEIL, in which a scandalous Gilded Age heiress marries a British lord with a tragic past, only to discover dark family secrets hidden within his haunted manor, pitched in the vein of The Clockmaker’s Daughter meets the queer-inclusive fiction of Sarah Waters, to Jodi Warshaw at Lake Union Publishing, for publication in fall 2021, by Jill Marr at Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency (world).

Caribbean-English-American writer David Santos Donaldson‘s GREENLAND, a literary ghost story in which a Black gay writer who is on an obsessive quest to get published, seeks to find his own voice while writing a novel about the forbidden real-life love affair between E.M. Forster and the young Black Egyptian train conductor Mohammed el-Adl, as he becomes gradually more and more possessed by Mohammed’s spirit which is coming alive in him as he writes, drawing on magical realism and exploring issues of racism, psychological manipulation, and identity, to Tara Parsons at Amistad, in a pre-empt, for publication in spring 2022, by Tom Miller at Liza Dawson Associates (world English).

Cornell University Press production editor and Barbara Deming Memorial Fund award recipient Jennifer Savran Kelly‘s ENDPAPERS, about a genderfluid bookbinder in 2003 New York, whose discovery of a queer love letter written on the back of an old lesbian pulp cover and hidden in the binding of a book pushes them to venture out of the safe world they’ve built as they track down the letter’s author, reexamine their own ill-fitting relationship, and use their art to explore what it means to live authentically, to Abby Muller at Algonquin, by Trevor Ketner at Ladderbird Literary Agency (world English).

Author of PETITE MORT Beatrice Hitchman‘s ALL OF YOU EVERY SINGLE ONE, set in a queer bohemian enclave of Vienna in 1910-1946, about three women and the lengths they’ll go to protect the ones they love, to Chelsea Cutchens at Overlook, for publication in January 2022, by Laura Macdougall at United Agents (NA).

Children’s/Middle Grade Fiction

Queer mixed media artist from Washington and #DVpit success story Ashley Ferguson‘s Middle Grade graphic novel MY GIRLFRIEND THE WITCH, in which the narrator has disappeared into fanfiction ever since coming out as queer, and escapes to a magical world, finding it easier than making new friends or dealing with “supportive” parents who don’t “get” him, to Michele McAvoy at Blue Bronco, in a nice deal, for publication in fall 2023 (world).

Debut author Katryn Bury‘s DREW LECLAIR GETS A CLUE, pitched as a modern-day, queer HARRIET THE SPY, in which a true crime-obsessed girl decides to catch a cyberbully by profiling all of the bullies in her grade, and discovers that family, friendship, and sexual identity are the hardest mysteries to solve, to Emilia Rhodes at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in spring 2022, by Chelsea Eberly at Greenhouse Literary Agency (NA).

Young Adult Fiction

Mason Deaver‘s THE FEELING OF FALLING IN LOVE, in which a boy’s non-relationship ends right before his mother’s latest wedding so he enlists the prep school roommate he barely tolerates to pose as his boyfriend only for their temporary alliance to turn into something much more, to David Levithan and Jeffrey West at Scholastic, in a two-book deal, by Lauren Abramo at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (NA).

Author of BEYOND THE BLACK DOOR and the forthcoming IN THE RAVENOUS DARK AdriAnne Strickland‘s COURT OF THE UNDYING SEASONS, about a reluctant initiate to a school for vampires trying to survive the deadly politics of her kingdom’s blood-drinking rulers, her sexy-but-hostile mentor, and a string of student murders, to Rachel Diebel at Feiwel and Friends, for publication in 2023, by Hannah Bowman at Liza Dawson Associates (world).

Rebecca Mix‘s debut THE ONES WE BURN, a Sapphic YA fantasy in which a blood witch’s mission to assassinate the prince she is betrothed to is compromised by the discovery of a deadly plague—and by the beautiful princess intent on stopping it, to Alyza Liu at Margaret K. McElderry Books, in a nice deal, for publication in fall 2022, by Kiana Nguyen at Donald Maass Literary Agency (world English).

Author of GHOST WOOD SONG and the forthcoming THE RIVER HAS TEETH Erica Waters‘s THE RESTLESS DARK, in which two girls join forces in a macabre true crime contest to find the missing bones of a killer in the nightmarish fogs of Cloudkiss Canyon, but when their search morphs into a hunt for a monster in their midst, the girls must ask themselves—is the fog to blame for what’s happening in the canyon, or are they?, to Alice Jerman at Harper Teen, in a good deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2022, by Lauren Spieller at TriadaUS Literary Agency (NA).

Author of REVERIE and BE DAZZLED Ryan La Sala‘s THE HONEYS, pitched as Heathers meets Midsommar set at an exclusive overnight camp in the Catskills, to Zack Clark at Scholastic, in a good deal, at auction, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2022, by Veronica Park at Fuse Literary (world English).

Non-Fiction

Married writer/photographer team Hannah Murphy and Billie Winter’s QUEER POWER COUPLES, a photographic celebration of queer intimacy and excellence, to Natalie Butterfield at Chronicle, for publication in spring 2023 (world).

LGBTQ human rights activist Angeline Jackson and Susan McClelland’s THE POWER OF ONE PERSON, with its title chosen from President Obama’s public address about Jackson’s ordeal and efforts, the true story from Jackson’s POV as a young girl and rape survivor, coming to terms with her sexuality and forging ahead to create safe spaces and unprecedented support for LGBTQ communities in Jamaica, to Scott Fraser at Dundurn Press, in a nice deal, for publication in the fall of 2022, by Rob Firing at Transatlantic Literary Agency (world).

NEA fellow and author of three poetry collections Emma Bolden’s THE TIGER AND THE CAGE, a debut memoir connecting a personal narrative of endometriosis, chronic pain, and asexuality to a long history of women being treated as curiosities and hysterical unreliable narrators of their own bodies and experiences, to Sarah Lyn Rogers at Soft Skull, for publication in fall 2022, by Cassie Mannes Murray at Howland Literary (world).

 

The Unofficial Ranking of Top Queer Villains: a Guest Post by Be Dazzled Author Ryan La Sala

I am delighted to welcome Reverie author Ryan La Sala to the site today to celebrate the publication of his dazzling new contemporary YA romance, Be Dazzled, which just released from Sourcebooks Fire yesterday! Before we get to Ryan’s absolutely hilarious and marvelously on-point post, here’s a little more about the book:

Raffy has a passion for bedazzling. Not just bedazzling, but sewing, stitching, draping, pattern making–for creation. He’s always chosen his art over everything–and everyone–else and is determined to make his mark at this year’s biggest cosplay competition. If he can wow there, it could lead to sponsorship, then art school, and finally earning real respect for his work. There’s only one small problem… Raffy’s ex-boyfriend, Luca, is his main competition.

Raffy tried to make it work with Luca. They almost made the perfect team last year after serendipitously meeting in the rhinestone aisle at the local craft store–or at least Raffy thought they did. But Luca’s insecurities and Raffy’s insistence on crafting perfection caused their relationship to crash and burn. Now, Raffy is after the perfect comeback, one that Luca can’t ruin.

But when Raffy is forced to partner with Luca on his most ambitious build yet, he’ll have to juggle unresolved feelings for the boy who broke his heart, and his own intense self-doubt, to get everything he’s ever wanted: choosing his art, his way.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

***

And here’s Ryan’s post, an unofficial ranking of queer villains! Take it away, Ryan!

***

As persistent as the fatiguingly masculine stalwart hero is the trope of their devious counterbalance—the bad guy who is effeminate, dramatic, and sassy. Wickedly fashionable. Prone to monologues. And, of course, queer-coded to hell. That’s right! Today, we’re talking about the Queer Villain.

A lot, and I mean a LOT, has been written about queer villainy. Its toxic recurrence as lazy storytelling shorthand in narrative arts, its destructive repercussions on the psyche of queer youth, and so on. That’s all good and well and important, but I’d like to take a brief break from the discourse to approach the subject from a different point of view—one of glorious appreciation.

You see, I love queer villains. I practically am one myself, what with all the velvet capes and cackling behind large paper fans. Growing up, I saw these characters not as destructive stereotypes but as answers to the question society kept asking little gay me: How will you survive a society that won’t accept you? What does an intolerant world deserve?

Queer villains answer this in their every action and inevitable yet fabulous failure, and I often root for them. When you understand a villain as queer, a lot of what they do to undermine the status quo starts to make a lot more sense. And so here I go with my unofficial ranking of my top queer villains.

1. HIM (The Powerpuff Girls) — The undeniably BEST queer villain is, of course, HIM. Flamboyant, powerful, and constantly high-kicking in thigh-high spiked heels, HIM is an aspiration in red, a demonic Santa Claus in satanic satin. My personal hero, and the tippity top of my queer, villainous Christmas tree.

2. Ursula (The Little Mermaid) — This is a no-brainer. Ursula is quite literally based on Divine the drag queen. Because of her, for years, I begged my dad to buy me a birdbath (which is what I thought Ursula’s cauldron looked like) so I, too, could trick pretty girls into depending on me for bad boy advice and potions. And never have I forgotten the importance of body language, ha!

3. The Grinch (The Grinch Who Stole Christmas) — I think the Grinch is queer. I really do. Disagree? Well then, riddle me this: Have you ever seen a straight person stitch together an entire costume just to center themselves at a holiday party? That’s what I thought. Oh, and let’s not forget the emblematic image of the Grinch plucking bobbles from a Christmas tree using those long, furry fingers. That wrist looks preeetty limp to my little gay eye.

4. Mystique (X-Men) — Mystique is canonically queer, but who needs the canon when you are quite literally the icon of shapeshifting disguises, gender fluidity, and a swept-back hairdo dyed lesbian crisis red? Plus, she has the one power every little gay boy is drawn to: absurd flexibility and a fighting style that incorporates senseless gymnastics.

5. Azula (Avatar: The Last Airbender) — Reading Azula as queer was a personal choice right up until she decided to give herself asymmetrical bangs. Then it was canon.

6. Bugs Bunny — Stylish, annoying, and cross-dressing for theatrical antics, Bugs was an early model for the infinite ways we, as queer people, may outsmart and belittle those who invade our spaces in the name of the hunt. Was Bugs petty? Yes. Iconically so. And that’s why they’re on this list.

7. Team Rocket — Messy, dramatic, and constantly in costume, Team Rocket is the queer found family we all make fun of but are actually a part of. I mean, Jessie’s mullet defies gravity, and James never misses a chance to get into drag. And the gayest thing of all? They take orders from their cat.

8. Rita Repulsa — Is Rita queer? I have no idea. Do I unflinchingly embrace the daydream in which she’s my lesbian aunt who brings her roommate over for holiday meals and buys me Sailor Moon action figures even though my parents insist I’ll grow out of my “doll phase” soon? Absolutely.

9. Jafar (Aladdin) — Jafar is adored, yet I still believe he’s deserving of more credit for all he’s done for queer villainy. We need to talk about the wingtip eyeliner. And the perplexingly eccentric choice to imprison Jasmine in a kitschy hourglass. And the fact that the moment he got ultimate power, he gave himself a beefy chest and black acrylic nails. I would make all those choices too.

10. The Trunchbull (Matilda) — Olympian, educator, chocolate lover. The range of this butch icon goes on and on, much like the children she catapults into the sky. Somehow, that feels a little gay too. I’m still not sure why.

11. Yzma & Kronk (The Emperor’s New Groove) — This duo is everything a queer duo should be. Fashionably costumed, theatrically incompetent, and rife with miscommunications that get people turned into llamas.

12. Lady Deathstrike (X-Men) — If you were in the theater with me when I saw Lady Deathstrike bare her indestructible nails, you watched my life change. Sure, she probably is not queer herself, but there is nothing gayer than using your adamantium manicure to skewer Hugh Jackman. Quote me on that.

13. Cheryl Blossom (Riverdale) — I knew Cheryl was queer from episode one. I’ve never known a straight person to combine ambition, charisma, and tartan skirts so well. And, spoiler alert: Cheryl has since been treated to a lesbian love story on Riverdale, and I’m happy for her.

14. Gaston — Bi. Bi as hell. If Gaston isn’t bisexual, explain the brandishing pectorals furred in hair. Explain the flourish of pride when he sings “I use antlers in all of my decorating.” Explain how he instantly knew how to use that gay little hand mirror to telephone our hound-face hottie, the Beast? I have talked to Gaston on Grindr, and he is not nice. But he is queer.

15. Shego (Kim Possible) — I don’t know if you know this, but Shego, the very cool and very bored nemesis of Kim Possible, received her powers when she was exposed to…a rainbow-hued comet. So. There you have it.

16. Barbara Covett (Notes on a Scandal) — Okay, here we have a literal queer villain. I won’t say much because you need to hear it all from Barbara yourself. Her acidic wit, her shrewd fixation on Cate Blanchett, and the fact that she is unrelentingly writing to you through a diary should be all you need to know to seek out the movie Notes on a Scandal or the book it’s based on by Zoë Heller. I highly recommend both.

17. SpongeBob SquarePants (SpongeBob SquarePants) — Don’t laugh. Don’t you dare laugh. It is absolutely undeniable that SpongeBob is chaotic evil. He ruins everything, compulsively. And anyone who pretends their nose is a piccolo in their theme song? And lives in a pineapple? SpongeBob may just be the scariest person on this list.

18. Scar (The Lion King) — Big goth kitty with a smoky eye and a large following kept in line by witty retorts they have no hope of understanding? And the affected accent? We never see Scar with a love interest, but I have more than enough evidence to fortify my head canon in which Scar summers in Andalucía with another male lion named Marc.

19. Skeletor (Masters of the Universe) — Look no further than Skeletor’s fashion if you’re wondering why he’s on this list. A harness…with a hood? A loin cloth….over briefs? Knee-high boots…with a sensible heel? This sort of describes everyone in the Masters of the Universe universe, which is all the more reason for me to keep on believing Skeletor is my eventual final form.

20. Jareth (The Labyrinth) — What can be said about Jareth that hasn’t already been said by David Bowie’s prominent pelvis presented to a crowd of puppets? It’s offensive to even ask me to explain Jareth’s inclusion.

21. Dr. Frank-N-Furter (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) — I’m shivering with antici…patory fear that adding Dr. Frank-N-Furter to this list is going to get me in trouble. But I must! There’s a lot to overlook, yes, but if it means I get to appreciate a sissy in STEM who pulls off a lab coat and pearls, it will have all been worth it.

22. Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty) — There is a STRONG case for Maleficent’s queerness. Firstly, her best friend is a bird. Second, I’ve never seen a straight person successfully pull off purple and neon green. And lastly, I truly cannot think of anything gayer than showing up to a straight baby shower bearing the gift of curses and then the curse itself is along the lines of “I’m going to give your child a fascination with old-timey sewing machines.”

23. Every other Disney villain — I have a hard time thinking of a single Disney villain that isn’t, in my gay little head, super queer.

24. Every villain from Sailor Moon — That’s right. All of them. Even the weekly monsters. I can’t quite explain why, but there’s something SO self-explanatorily queer about a monstrous, sexy vacuum lady. And the sexy pegasus carousel man. And the fact that every person in Sailor Moon, except for the sailor scouts themselves, gets to use dark magic while wearing couture.

25. Sinister (X-Men) — Often overlooked but absolutely deserving of a spot on this list is Sinister, a baddie who wears a cape made out of ribbons and hasn’t quite found the right foundation to match their icy undertones. And if you want to know Sinister’s power, they themselves will tell you that it’s “overthrowing tyrants and being absolutely fabulous.”

26. Xerxes (300) – When I first saw Xerxes, I had no idea what to think other than “this movie is about the wrong person.” I like the whole hero journey, but if given the choice between a buff guy with airbrushed abs versus a person who shows up to war wearing every accessory they own? I’m going with the warlord who just pillaged Claire’s. Sorry.

27. Snow Miser (The Year Without Santa Claus) — Anyone who makes you watch a whole dance number before agreeing to help you is, by definition, a queer hero, but technically, Snow Miser is kinda bad. I guess. But the little hat! The gleeful pride in being “too much!” We should be encouraging this.

Ryan La Sala writes about surreal things happening to queer people. He is the author behind the riotously imaginative Reverie, and the brilliantly constructed Be Dazzled, both of which made the Kids’ Indie Next List. He has been featured in Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Tor.com, and one time Shangela from RuPaul’s Drag Race called him cute! Ryan is also the co-host the Celebrity Book Club Podcast, and a frequent speaker at events/conferences. When not writing, Ryan does arts and crafts and, if he’s lucky, he sometimes remembers to film his escapades for his long-suffering YouTube channel subscribers.

New Releases: January 2021

The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. (5th)

Isaiah was Samuel’s and Samuel was Isaiah’s. That was the way it was since the beginning, and the way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a place of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man—a fellow slave—seeks to gain favor by preaching the master’s gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel’s love, which was once so simple, is seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation’s harmony.

With a lyricism reminiscent of Toni Morrison, Robert Jones, Jr. fiercely summons the voices of slaver and the enslaved alike to tell the story of these two men; from Amos the preacher to the calculating slave-master himself to the long line of women that surround them, women who have carried the soul of the plantation on their shoulders. As tensions build and the weight of centuries—of ancestors and future generations to come—culminate in a climactic reckoning, The Prophets masterfully reveals the pain and suffering of inheritance, but is also shot through with hope, beauty, and truth, portraying the enormous, heroic power of love.

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

Goldie Vance: The Hocus Pocus Hoax by Lilliam Rivera, ill. by Elle Power (5th)

Marigold “Goldie” Vance lives and works at the Crossed Palms Resort Hotel in Florida with a whole slew of characters: her dad, Art, the manager of the joint; Cheryl Lebeaux, the concierge and Goldie’s best friend; and Walter Tooey, the hired hotel detective. Her mom, Sylvie, works nearby at the Mermaid Club.

Prepare to be amazed by Goldie’s second middle-grade adventure! The Crossed Palms is hosting the first ever League of Magical Arts Convention, bringing the world’s most renowned and emerging magicians to the resort, including an overeager part-time magician and detective named Derek Von Thurston. When some of the magic starts to go awry, Goldie — and Derek — are on the case! Can Goldie uncover the saboteur before the final act goes live?

Based on Hope Larson and Brittney Williams’s critically acclaimed Goldie Vance comic, this thrilling novel explores a never-before-seen caper and features 8 full-color comic pages essential to unraveling the mystery.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala (5th)

Raffy has a passion for bedazzling. Not just bedazzling, but sewing, stitching, draping, pattern making–for creation. He’s always chosen his art over everything–and everyone–else and is determined to make his mark at this year’s biggest cosplay competition. If he can wow there, it could lead to sponsorship, then art school, and finally earning real respect for his work. There’s only one small problem… Raffy’s ex-boyfriend, Luca, is his main competition.

Raffy tried to make it work with Luca. They almost made the perfect team last year after serendipitously meeting in the rhinestone aisle at the local craft store–or at least Raffy thought they did. But Luca’s insecurities and Raffy’s insistence on crafting perfection caused their relationship to crash and burn. Now, Raffy is after the perfect comeback, one that Luca can’t ruin.

But when Raffy is forced to partner with Luca on his most ambitious build yet, he’ll have to juggle unresolved feelings for the boy who broke his heart, and his own intense self-doubt, to get everything he’s ever wanted: choosing his art, his way.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Outlawed by Anna North (5th)

In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw.

The day of her wedding, 17 year old Ada’s life looks good; she loves her husband, and she loves working as an apprentice to her mother, a respected midwife. But after a year of marriage and no pregnancy, in a town where barren women are routinely hanged as witches, her survival depends on leaving behind everything she knows.

She joins up with the notorious Hole in the Wall Gang, a band of outlaws led by a preacher-turned-robber known to all as the Kid. Charismatic, grandiose, and mercurial, the Kid is determined to create a safe haven for outcast women. But to make this dream a reality, the Gang hatches a treacherous plan that may get them all killed. And Ada must decide whether she’s willing to risk her life for the possibility of a new kind of future for them all.

Featuring an irresistibly no-nonsense, courageous, and determined heroine, Outlawed dusts off the myth of the old West and reignites the glimmering promise of the frontier with an entirely new set of feminist stakes. Anna North has crafted a pulse-racing, page-turning saga about the search for hope in the wake of death, and for truth in a climate of small-mindedness and fear.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Meow or Never by Jazz Taylor (5th)

Avery Williams can sing, but that doesn’t mean she can sing in front of people. She likes to stay backstage at her new school, which is where, to her surprise, she finds a cat tucked away into a nook. Avery names the stray Phantom and visits any time she’s feeling stressed (which is a lot these days).

As she sings to Phantom one day, her crush, Nic, overhears her and ropes Avery into auditioning for the school’s musical. Despite her nerves, Avery lands the lead role!

She knows she should be excited, but mostly Avery is terrified. Can Phantom help her through her stage fright? And what will happen if anyone finds out about her secret pet?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Persephone Station by Stina Leicht (5th)

Persephone Station, a seemingly backwater planet that has largely been ignored by the United Republic of Worlds becomes the focus for the Serrao-Orlov Corporation as the planet has a few secrets the corporation tenaciously wants to exploit.

Rosie—owner of Monk’s Bar, in the corporate town of West Brynner—caters to wannabe criminals and rich Earther tourists, of a sort, at the front bar. However, exactly two types of people drank at Monk’s back bar: members of a rather exclusive criminal class and those who sought to employ them.

Angel—ex-marine and head of a semi-organized band of beneficent criminals, wayward assassins, and washed up mercenaries with a penchant for doing the honorable thing—is asked to perform a job for Rosie. What this job reveals will affect Persephone and put Angel and her squad up against an army. Despite the odds, they are rearing for a fight with the Serrao-Orlov Corporation. For Angel, she knows that once honor is lost, there is no regaining it. That doesn’t mean she can’t damned well try.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

This is Not the End by Sidney Bell (11th)

Zacary Trevor is the love of Anya Alexander’s life. Their sometimes tumultuous marriage has survived ups, downs, and all the in-betweens. With successful careers, a lovely home, and a beautiful child, domestic bliss is a hard-earned reality for two people whose hedonistic days are in the not-so-distant past. They’re happy. Enter Zac’s best friend, the deeply reserved Cal Keller.

Zac’s friendship with Cal is the foundation of his career and—until Anya and their son came along—the most important relationship of his life. Cal’s a cipher, someone Anya can’t help but gravitate to, even if they don’t always get along. Even more, she’s drawn to the Zac she sees when he’s with Cal—a careful, cautious version of her husband, someone with hidden thoughts and desires kept secret even from her. Inviting Cal into their home, deeper into their life, is a risk.

Zac should say no. He knows he should. But he doesn’t. From the first, the hint at the life the three of them could have together is exhilarating. And finding a new definition for family just might be worth the risk to every bond that exists between them.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters (12th)

Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn’t hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women could only dream of: a life of mundane, bourgeois comforts. The only thing missing was a child. But then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Now Reese is caught in a self-destructive pattern: avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men.

Ames isn’t happy either. He thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese–and losing her meant losing his only family. Even though their romance is over, he longs to find a way back to her. When Ames’s boss and lover, Katrina, reveals that she’s pregnant with his baby–and that she’s not sure whether she wants to keep it–Ames wonders if this is the chance he’s been waiting for. Could the three of them form some kind of unconventional family–and raise the baby together?

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

The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry by C.M. Waggoner (12th)

Dellaria Wells, petty con artist, occasional thief, and partly educated fire witch, is behind on her rent in the city of Leiscourt—again. Then she sees the “wanted” sign, seeking Female Persons, of Martial or Magical ability, to guard a Lady of some Importance, prior to the celebration of her Marriage. Delly fast-talks her way into the job and joins a team of highly peculiar women tasked with protecting their wealthy charge from unknown assassins.

Delly quickly sets her sights on one of her companions, the confident and well-bred Winn Cynallum. The job looks like nothing but romance and easy money until things take a deadly (and undead) turn. With the help of a bird-loving necromancer, a shapeshifting schoolgirl, and an ill-tempered reanimated mouse named Buttons, Delly and Winn are determined to get the best of an adversary who wields a twisted magic and has friends in the highest of places.

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

Pedro’s Theory: Reimagining the Promised Land by Marcos Gonzales (12th)

41z2obk-enl._sx331_bo1204203200_There are many Pedros. One goes to a school where they take away his language, replace it with another. At home, he is afraid to find the words to explain the things they call him. Another crosses the desert, leaving behind a backpack. It contains no clues as to whether he successfully made it across the border and into a new life. A Cousin Pedro comes to visit, awakening feelings that others are afraid to make plain. One goes missing so completely it’s as if he was never there to go missing at all. Another watches his father from afar, unable to ever find ways to close the gap. A Pedro keeps his distance from the other Pedros, in hopes the Meghans and the Johns will think he is one of them instead. One returns to a place he’s never been, to the place his father left, hoping to find him there. Many Pedros journey to many Promised Lands only to learn they may not be promising after all.

Pedro’s Theory is an exploration of these many Pedros, several of them are the author himself, others are the men he might have been in other circumstances. It is a tender exploration of the gap between who the world sees in the author and who he sees in himself, and a unified theory of how racism operates in small town America and shapes so many lives.

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

Girl on the Line by Faith Gardner (19th)

Life’s tough when you didn’t expect to be living it. But now that Journey has a future, she apparently also has to figure out what that future’s supposed to look like.

Some days the pain feels as fresh as that day: the day she attempted suicide. Her parents don’t know how to speak to her. Her best friend cracks all the wrong jokes. Her bipolar II disorder feels like it swallows her completely.

But other days—they feel like revelations. Like meeting the dazzling Etta, a city college student who is a world unto herself. Or walking into the office of the volunteer hotline, and discovering a community as simultaneously strong and broken as she is.

Or uncovering the light within herself that she didn’t know existed.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo (19th)

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club.

America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

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

Wench by Maxine Kaplan (19th)

Tanya has worked at her tavern since she was able to see over the bar. She broke up her first fight at 11. By the time she was a teenager she knew everything about the place, and she could run it with her eyes closed. She’d never let anyone—whether it be a drunkard or a captain of the queen’s guard—take advantage of her. But when her guardian dies, she might lose it all: the bar, her home, her purpose in life. So she heads out on a quest to petition the queen to keep the tavern in her name—dodging unscrupulous guards, a band of thieves, and a powerful, enchanted feather that seems drawn to her. Fast-paced, magical, and unapologetically feminist, Wench is epic fantasy like you’ve never seen it before.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Get a Clue by Tiffany Schmidt (19th)

The game’s afoot in the next book of the Bookish Boyfriends series—this time starring Huck and Winston! After Ms. Gregoire assigns the works of Sherlock Holmes in English class, a mystery deepens at Reginald R. Hero High. Huck and Win—Curtis’s younger brother—team up to solve the case . . . and while the sleuths gather clues, another swoon-worthy romance blooms in the school halls.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

A Complicated Love Story Set in Space by Shaun David Hutchinson (19th)

When Noa closes his eyes on Earth and wakes up on a spaceship called Qriosity just as it’s about to explode, he’s pretty sure things can’t get much weirder.

Boy is he wrong.

Trapped aboard Qriosity are also DJ and Jenny, neither of whom remember how they got onboard the ship. Together, the three face all the dangers of space, along with murder, aliens, a school dance, and one really, really bad day. But none of this can prepare Noa for the biggest challenge—falling in love. And as Noa’s feelings for DJ deepen, he has to contend not just with the challenges of the present, but also with his memories of the past.

However, nothing is what it seems on Qriosity, and the truth will upend all of their lives forever.

Love is complicated enough without also trying to stay alive.

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

Patience & Esther: an Edwardian Romance by SW Searle (26th)

Patience is a kindhearted country girl, eking out a living in Edwardian England as tremors of social change rock the world around her. When she starts her employment in formal service on the grounds of an opulent country manor, she has no idea that her own personal revolution is about to begin.

Selfless, dutiful, and just a touch naive, she takes to both her place as a parlor maid and to her new roommate, the bookish and progressive lady’s maid, Esther. In another time, the two women would have kept one another’s company forever in their little attic bedroom, living out their days in the employ of a Lord. But it’s now the dawn of a new age. The expanding empire has brought with it not only plundered wealth, but worldliness and new ideas. Suffragists agitate in the street, idle-rich bohemians challenge sexual mores, and Patience and Esther slowly come to realize the world is wider and full of more adventure and opportunity than they ever imagined . . . so long as they find the will to seize it.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe (26th)

Nora O’Malley’s been a lot of girls. As the daughter of a con-artist who targets criminal men, she grew up as her mother’s protégé. But when her mom fell for the mark instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con: escape.For five years Nora’s been playing at normal. But she needs to dust off the skills she ditched because she has three problems:#1: Her ex walked in on her with her girlfriend. Even though they’re all friends, Wes didn’t know about her and Iris.#2: The morning after Wes finds them kissing, they all have to meet to deposit the fundraiser money they raised at the bank. It’s a nightmare that goes from awkward to deadly, because:#3: Right after they enter bank, two guys start robbing it.The bank robbers may be trouble, but Nora’s something else entirely. They have no idea who they’re really holding hostage . . .

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

When Tara Met Farah by Tara Pammi (26th)

Nineteen-year-old Tara Muvvala didn’t mean to lead a double life. But her bone-deep aversion to math + a soul-deep desire to please her mother = her failing math grade + exploding food vlog ‘this masala life’.

Enter her mother’s research intern and resident math genius Farah Ahmed. Tara makes a deal with Farah – help her pass the math course and she’ll welcome Farah into the local Bollywood Drama & Dance Society.

Grumpy girl gets life lessons…

After losing her mom to a heart attack, dumping her small-minded boyfriend (she’s bisexual, not confused) and reluctantly moving to the US to be near her dad – all in the span of eighteen months, twenty-three-year-old Farah has hit the full quota on LIFE. Two things keep her going – her internship with a brilliant statistics professor and the possibility of meeting her dancing idol through the Bollywood Drama & Dance Society. That is, if her new hot-mess housemate will let her.

Soon Tara and Farah are bonding over chicken biryani, dancing to Bollywood Beats at midnight and kissing… against all the odds. And maybe beginning to realize that while life’s even more complicated than math, love is the one variable that changes everything!

Buy it: B&N | Amazon

The Beautiful Things Shoppe by Philip William Stover (January 26th)

Moving to eclectic New Hope, Pennsylvania, and running The Beautiful Things Shoppe is a dream come true for elegant and reserved fine arts dealer Prescott J. Henderson. He never agreed to share the space with Danny Roman, an easygoing extrovert who collects retro toys and colorful knickknacks.

And yet here they are, trapped together in the quaint shop as they scramble to open in time for New Hope’s charming Winter Festival.

Danny has spent years leading with his heart instead of his head. The Beautiful Things Shoppe is his chance to ground himself and build something permanent and joyful. The last thing he needs is an uptight snob who doesn’t appreciate his whimsy occupying half his shop.

It’s only when two of New Hope’s historic landmarks—each as different as Danny and Prescott—are threatened that a tentative alliance forms. And with it, the first blush of romance. Suddenly, running The Beautiful Things Shoppe together doesn’t seem so bad…until Danny’s secret threatens to ruin it all.

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

A Dowry of Blood by Saint Gibson (31st)

Saved from the brink of death by a mysterious stranger, Constanta is transformed from a medieval peasant into a bride fit for an undying king. But when Dracula draws a cunning aristocrat and a starving artist into his web of passion and deceit, Constanta realizes that her beloved is capable of terrible things. Finding comfort in the arms of her rival consorts, she begins to unravel their husband’s dark secrets.

With the lives of everyone she loves on the line, Constanta will have to choose between her own freedom and her love for her husband. But bonds forged by blood can only be broken by death.

Buy it: Amazon

New Release Spotlight (+Interview!): Reverie by Ryan La Sala

Honestly, I’m not sure what I can say about Reverie that’s going to top the very fact of its containing a drag queen sorceress, but in five words, this is The World’s Gayest Fever Dream, so I hope that helps any reluctant readers over the fence! It also happens to be a B&N book club pick, so bonus points for being able to participate in that after you read! And now, onward to the blurb and buy links!

Reveries are worlds born from a person’s private fantasies, and once they manifest they can only be unraveled by bringing their conflicts to resolution. Reveries have rules and plots, magic and monsters, and one wrong step could twist the entire thing into a lethal, labyrinthine nightmare. Unraveling them is dangerous work, but it’s what Kane and The Others do.

Or did, until one of The Others purged Kane of his memories. But now Kane is back, and solving the mystery of his betrayal is the only way to unite his team and defeat reality’s latest threat: Poesy, a sorceress bent on harvesting the reveries for their pure, imaginative power.

But what use might a drag queen sorceress have with a menagerie of stolen reveries? And should Kane, a boy with no love for a team that betrayed him, fight to stop her, or defect to aid her?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Indigo | Book Depository

Now, as you may know, dear reader, the whole staff of B&N Teen Blog, including yours truly, was let go with approximately no warning, and I had a bunch of interviews lined up as part of my Get to Know a YA Author series, including one by Ryan La Sala himself! And so, I’m gonna go ahead and continue the delight here so you can Get to Know Ryan La Sala!

Describe your new release in 5 words.

I need at least six.

As this is a book blog, let’s hear three recommendations for favorite queer YAs!

We Set the Dark on FireTehlor Kay Mejia – a gorgeously written, compelling story that I return to again and again. The queerness is central to the plot, and the world is incredibly rendered. I adored.

Black Wings Beating  – Alex FREAKING London!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a mind, what an imagination. Proxy was the first book of his that I read, and I would have been a life long fan with just that. But lucky for humanity, he consistently is delivering excellent books. We are so blessed.

The Wise and the Wicked – Rebecca Podos — Wow did I adore this book. It’s creepy, grim, fantastical, and has one of my fav recent romances. I actually didn’t know much going in, and I’m glad. I hope you read it, and love discovering it as much as I did.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not writing or reading?

Anybody who’s been to my house could answer this: arts and crafts. I have a constant need to create stuff using my hands. Along with drawing, I’ve recently been doing a lot of bedazzling and fabric work. My second book is all about arts and crafts, and specifically cosplay, and it’s directly inspired by my own fascination with using materials to shape an idea into something tangible, cool, and a little magical.

I also go to the gym a lot. Maybe you think that means working out, but it actually means sashaying on a treadmill to Broadway dance numbers, at very high speeds, until a get flung backwards all at once.

Where’s your dream Book Tour stop?

The Vatican. Wouldn’t that be just wild? But the Pope and I haven’t texted in years. So instead I’ll say: DragCon. It’s a massive drag convention organized by RuPaul, and I would love the opportunity to meet many of the queens that inspired me to write Poesy, my own queen in Reverie. It would also give me a chance to talk to young, queer readers, who are the people I’m most interested in reaching with my work.

If you could retell any story as a YA novel, what would it be and why?

I have major aspirations of digging into some of my favorite, old operas and doing YA retellings. In operatic fantasy, there are simply no rules. Just none. It all comes down to the drama, the performance, and the emotion. And I love applying that same production to my books.

That, or CATS, for all the same reasons.

What’s your favorite way to reward yourself for publishing a book?

For any of my achievements, I tend to lean heavy into retail therapy. But not like, “Oh I want this cute sweater” retail therapy. I mean, “decide I’m now a person who cannot bear to sit on a couch that’s not made from crushed velvet” retail therapy. I think it’s because I spend so much time being an anthropomorphic crab person on my way towards publication, what with all the writing and shut-in-tendencies and all that. By the time I actually hit a milestone, I’m ready to husk off my entire self and just reinvent me. And usually the most expedient way to do that is to buy something so bizarre to your everyday life that it feels like an ejection.

What are you working on now?

Between you, me, and the entire internet? A sequel. 🙂

(c) Lauren Takakjian

Ryan La Sala grew up in Connecticut, but only physically. Mentally, he spent most of his childhood in the worlds of Sailor Moon and Xena: Warrior Princess, which perhaps explains all the twirling. He studied Anthropology and Neuroscience at Northeastern University before becoming a project manager specialized in digital tools. He technically lives in New York City, but has actually transcended material reality and only takes up a human shell for special occasions, like brunch, and to watch anime (which is banned on the astral plane). Reverie is Ryan’s debut novel. You can visit him at ryanlasala.com.

New Releases: December 2019

LGBTQReads is an Amazon, IndieBound, and Apple affiliate, which means purchasing through those links will bring a small percentage of income back to the site. Please use them if you have the means!

Collie Jolly by Leigh Landry (1st)

Ashley’s never owned a dog, much less trained one. But she’s not about to let that little detail stop her—especially during the holiday season—from applying for this dog training job. Her new gig is the perfect way to survive the recession while strolling the festive streets of New Orleans with a cute pooch. The biggest challenge? Heeling a growing attraction to her stunning shut-in of a boss.

When her girlfriend died a year ago, Madison found herself overwhelmed by grief and her girlfriend’s rambunctious puppy. Now the dog is an unmanageable, attention-starved reminder of everything Madison has lost. She’s still afraid to face the world, but her vibrant new dog trainer—with the help of a furry sidekick—is determined to bring light, laughter, and Christmas cheer back into Madison’s life.

Buy it: Amazon | iBooks

This Will Kill That by Danielle K. Roux (3rd)

District City is full of monsters. Not the kind that appear particularly vile from the outside. The kind who murder innocent people for no apparent reason. Abandoned houses are haunted by wayward spirits. Leaders of rival Colors clash over the secrets of a brutal past.

After the Plague thinned out the population, Rin Morana figured people would have stopped killing each other. No such luck. Her parents disappeared, and now she is set to take over as the new Lady Morana, head of the Green faction. To be a leader, Rin must contend with her relationship to her rival, Lady Amaya, as well as her own history of violence.

A series of riddles take Amaya Verity out of her isolated room in the Blue compound and into the hidden spaces of the City. Running away from captivity, Amaya takes shelter with Rin at the old Sydis house. There she meets two young men with demons of their own to contend with and abilities to match. Alan who is hiding out from his abusive ex, and Kazuki who might be the only person in the City that remembers the events of the Plague.

As they dig deeper, Amaya and Rin must decide whether to fight monsters or become them.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

Reverie by Ryan La Sala (3rd)

Reveries are worlds born from a person’s private fantasies, and once they manifest they can only be unraveled by bringing their conflicts to resolution. Reveries have rules and plots, magic and monsters, and one wrong step could twist the entire thing into a lethal, labyrinthine nightmare. Unraveling them is dangerous work, but it’s what Kane and The Others do.

Or did, until one of The Others purged Kane of his memories. But now Kane is back, and solving the mystery of his betrayal is the only way to unite his team and defeat reality’s latest threat: Poesy, a sorceress bent on harvesting the reveries for their pure, imaginative power.

But what use might a drag queen sorceress have with a menagerie of stolen reveries? And should Kane, a boy with no love for a team that betrayed him, fight to stop her, or defect to aid her?

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | IndieBound

Runemaker by Alex R. Kahler (3rd)

This is the final book in the Runebinder Chronicles

Tenn thought the spirits wanted him to find his fellow Hunter, Aidan, to win the war against the undead. But with Aidan on the brink of self-destruction and Tenn reeling from his lover’s spite, their fated convergence seems far from promising.

Especially because Aidan no longer appears to be fighting for the living.

With the Dark Lady whispering commands and Tom‡s guiding his hand, Aidan slips deeper into darkness. And while the world rallies for its final battle against the Dark Lady’s minions, Tenn finds himself torn between saving the boy who’s slipping away and fulfilling a prophecy he can’t understand—one that will require him to harness the most powerful magic the world has ever seen: the Sphere of Maya.

And depending on who unleashes its power, that magic could either save humanity…or erase it.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Hot Ice by Elle Spencer, Aurora Rey, and Erin Zak (10th)

In Ice on Wheels by Aurora Rey, all’s fair in love and roller derby. That’s Riley Fauchet’s motto, until a new job lands her at the same company—and on the same team—as her rival Brooke Landry, the frosty jammer for the Big Easy Bruisers.

In Private Equity by Elle Spencer, Cassidy Bennett spends an unexpected evening at a lesbian nightclub with her notoriously reserved and demanding boss, successful venture capitalist Julia Whitmore. After seeing a different side of Julia, Cassidy can’t seem to shake her desire to know more.

In Closed-Door Policy by Erin Zak, going back to college is never easy, but Caroline Stevens is prepared to work hard and change her life for the better. What she’s not prepared for is Dr. Atlanta Morris, her new professor whose tough demeanor is no match for Caroline’s burgeoning confidence.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Eight Kinky Nights by Xan West (16th)

A femme kink expert who recently realized something new about her own sexuality…

Leah, a 51 year old fat Jewish queer femme, is an experienced submissive who recently came to terms with being gray ace and is trying to figure out how to rework her life and relationships in a way that more fully honors her gray aceness: as a kink educator, as a sex shop owner, and as a polyamorous kinky person with multiple ongoing play relationships.

A newly single butch who wants to finally explore her dominance…

Her best friend Jordan, a 49 year old fat disabled Jewish pansexual stone butch with PTSD, is newly divorced, has just gotten an awesome new job, moved to NYC and is subletting a room in Leah’s apartment. After years of vanilla monogamous marriage, Jordan wants to explore kink and polyamory. Jordan devoted her adult life to parenting her younger sister and building a home with her wife, and now she is going after what she wants, which may even include making a move on Leah after all these years.

Eight kink lessons between friends…

Leah offers Jordan eight kink lessons, one for each night of Chanukah, to help Jordan find her feet as a novice dominant, certain that they can keep it friendly and educational. After all, she’s been keeping her kink life casual for years. Why would this be different?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

The Kill Club by Wendy Heard (17th)

Jazz will stop at nothing to save her brother.

Their foster mother, Carol, has always been fanatical, but with Jazz grown up and out of the house, Carol takes a dangerous turn that threatens thirteen-year-old Joaquin’s life. Over and over, child services fails to intervene, and Joaquin is running out of time.

Then Jazz gets a blocked call from someone offering a solution. There are others like her—people the law has failed. They’ve formed an underground network of “helpers,” each agreeing to eliminate the abuser of another. They’re taking back their power and leaving a trail of bodies throughout Los Angeles—dubbed the Blackbird Killings. If Jazz joins them, they’ll take care of Carol for good.

All she has to do is kill a stranger.

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound | B&N

Mangos and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera (23rd)

Kiskeya Burgos left the tropical beaches of the Dominican Republic with a lot to prove. As a pastry chef on the come up, when she arrives in Scotland, she has one goal in mind: win the Holiday Baking Challenge. Winning is her opportunity to prove to her family, her former boss, and most importantly herself, she can make it in the culinary world. Kiskeya will stop at nothing to win , that is, if she can keep her eyes on the prize and off her infuriating teammate’s perfect lips.

Sully Morales, home cooking hustler, and self-proclaimed baking brujita lands in Scotland on a quest to find her purpose after spending years as her family’s caregiver. But now, with her home life back on track, it’s time for Sully to get reacquainted with her greatest love, baking. Winning the Holiday Baking Challenge is a no brainer if she can convince her grumpy AF baking partner that they make a great team both in and out of the kitchen before an unexpected betrayal ends their chance to attain culinary competition glory.

Buy it: Amazon