Vivian Lantz’s Second Chances by Kathryn Ormsbee
Vivian Lantz is cursed. Every year, terrible things happen on her first day of school. This year, Vivian has a plan to conquer eighth grade. But eighth grade? Turns out to be her worst first day yet.
Vivian can’t wait to put it all behind her. But instead of waking up to a brand-new day, Vivian gets stuck reliving her catastrophic one. Curse: 9,000–Vivian: 0. Then she sees her misfortune for what it is: the golden opportunity to get her perfect plan back on track. But when her second chance turns into a third, a fourth, and a fifth, Vivian might have to let go of the perfect day of her dreams…and make a few surprising choices along the way.
Going Bicoastal by Dahlia Adler
Natalya Fox has twenty-hours to make the biggest choice of her life: stay home in NYC for the summer with her dad (and finally screw up the courage to talk to the girl she’s been crushing on), or spend it with her basically estranged mom in LA (knowing this is the best chance she has to fix their relationship, if she even wants to.) (Does she want to?)
How’s a girl supposed to choose?
She can’t, and so both summers play out in alternating timelines – one in which Natalya explores the city, tries to repair things with her mom, works on figuring out her future, and goes for the girl she’s always wanted. And one in which Natalya explores the city, tries to repair things with her mom, works on figuring out her future, and goes for the guy she never saw coming.
In Dahlia Adler’s Going Bicoastal, there’s more than one path to happily ever after.
Maddalena and the Dark by Julia Fine
What do you want most? What will you pay for it?
Venice, 1717. Before she meets Maddalena, fifteen-year-old Luisa has only wanted one thing: to be the best at violin. As a student at the Ospedale della Pietà, she hopes to join the highest ranks of its illustrious girls’ orchestra and be no longer just an orphan but a star, protégé of the great Antonio Vivaldi. Luisa is good at violin, but she is not the best. She has peers, but she does not have friends. Until Maddalena.
Sent to the Pietà to be reformed until the rumors about her noble family have passed, Maddalena is unlike anyone Luisa has met. Clever, reckless, and passionate, Maddalena can promise the world to Luisa, and when she does, their fates intertwine. But Maddalena has made a wager with something deep in the waters of Venice, and there will be a price to pay.
The First Bright Thing by J.R. Dawson
Welcome to the Circus of the Fantasticals.
Ringmaster – Rin, to those who know her best – can jump to different moments in time as easily as her wife, Odette, soars from bar to bar on the trapeze. With the scars of World War I feeling more distant as the years pass, Rin is focusing on the brighter things in life. Like the circus she’s built and the magical misfits and outcasts — known as Sparks – who’ve made it their home. Every night, Rin and the Fantasticals enchant a Big Top packed full with audiences who need to see the impossible.
But while the present is bright, threats come at Rin from the past and the future. The future holds an impending war that the Sparks can see barrelling toward their Big Top and everyone in it. And Rin’s past creeps closer every day, a malevolent shadow Rin can’t fully escape. It takes the form of another Spark circus, with tents as black as midnight and a ringmaster who rules over his troupe with a dangerous power. Rin’s circus has something he wants, and he won’t stop until it’s his.
Ponyboy by Eliot Duncan
In the first of three acts, Ponyboy’s titular narrator—a pill-popping, speed-snorting trans-masculine lightning bolt—unravels in his Paris apartment. Ponyboy is caught in a messy love triangle with Baby, a lesbian painter who can’t see herself being with someone trans, and Toni, a childhood friend who can actually see Ponyboy for who he is. Strung out, Ponyboy follows Baby to Berlin in act two, where he sinks deeper into drugs and falls for Hart, a fellow writer, all the while pursued by a megalomaniacal photographer hungry for the next hot thing. As Ponyboy’s relationships crumble, he overdoses and find himself alone in his childhood home in Nebraska. The novel’s final act follows Ponyboy to rehab, exploring the ways in which trans identity, addiction, and recovery reforge the bond between mother and child. Eliot Duncan reveals, in precise atmospheric prose reminiscent of Anne Carson and Allen Ginsberg, the innate splendor, joy, and ache of becoming oneself.
Speak of the Devil by Rose Wilding
New Year’s Eve, 1999.
Seven women are gathered in a hotel room at midnight; a man’s head sits in the center of the floor. They all had a motive to kill Jamie Spellman. They all swear they didn’t. But in order to protect one another, they have to find out who did.
The ex, who drowns her darkest secret in a hip flask as the woman she loves drifts further away.
The wife, living out her fairytale marriage in a house tucked into woods so thick no one can hear a scream.
The widow, praying to a past she no longer knows whether she can trust.
The teenager, whose wide-eyed crush has trapped her in an unrecognizable future.
The mother figure, battling nature versus nurture under the weight of her own guilt.
The friend, forced to choose sides over and over, until she learns the price of choosing wrong.
And the journalist, who brought them all together―but underestimated how far one of them would go to keep believing the story they’d been told.
Against the ticking clock of a murder investigation, each woman’s secret is brought to light as the connections between them converge to reveal a killer. Marking the debut of an extraordinary new talent, Speak of the Devil explores the roles into which women are cast in the lives of terrible men…and the fallout when they refuse to play pretend for one moment longer.
Run Baby Run by Melissa Lenhardt
Darcy Evans is getting married. In a week. To a man who is her childhood dream come true. But a late-night confession from her best friend changes everything and before she even has time to unpack it, she must endure a road trip to the ceremony with her estranged mother, Marja. It was always the two of them against the world…until Marja ghosted Darcy three years ago. No car in the world has enough room for all of their baggage.
The drive from Austin to Chicago is nostalgic, claustrophobic, incredibly messy and exactly what both women need. As they each find themselves at a crossroads in their lives, long-held secrets are revealed—ones that reshape Darcy’s memories of the past and forever alter the future she’d recently been so certain of. She hadn’t known what a reunion with her mother might bring, but sometimes following your heart means taking a path you never planned…and finding a love you never imagined.
Vintage & Vogue by Kelly & Tana Fireside
Wealthy tech whiz Sena Abrigo has deep roots in the Arizona-Mexico borderlands. But when she marches into Owen Station on red-soled stilettos like she just walked off the cover of Vogue, she plans to pull this little town into the future. And she is used to getting exactly what she wants. First, she has to get past Hazel Butler.
The proud granddaughter of Irish immigrant miners, Hazel loves her job at the library, her spooky cat, her opinionated friends, vintage Mary Janes, and the little house she inherited. And she is determined to protect the historic legacy of her town.
In spite of their differences and because of them, sparks fly and love isn’t far behind. But Sena’s arrival doesn’t just turn Hazel’s life upside down in the most wonderful of ways. It sets off an explosive series of events exposing an ugly truth lying just beneath the town’s surface, threatening their chance at love…and their lives.
You Can Trust Me by Wendy Heard
Summer and Leo would do anything for each other. Inspired by the way each has had to carve her place in a hostile and unforgiving world, and united by the call of the open road, they travel around sunny California in Summer’s tricked-out Land Cruiser. It’s not a glamorous life, but it gives them the freedom they crave from the painful pasts they’ve left behind. But even free spirits have bills to pay. Luckily, Summer is a skilled pickpocket, a small-time thief, and a con artist–and Leo, determined to pay her own way, has learned a trick or two.
Eager for a big score, Leo catches in her crosshairs Michael Forrester, a self-made billionaire and philanthropist. When her charm wins him over, Leo is rewarded with an invitation to his private island off the California coastline for a night of fabulous excess. She eagerly anticipates returning with photos that can be sold to the paparazzi, jewelry that can be liquidated, and endless stories to share with Summer.
Instead, Leo disappears.
On her own for the first time in years, Summer decides to infiltrate Michael’s island and find out what really happened. But when she arrives, no one has seen Leo–she’s not on the island as far as they know. Plus, there was only one way on the island–and no way off–for the coming days. Trapped in a scheme she helped initiate, could Summer have met her match?
The Gulf by Rachel Cochran
In Parson, Texas, a small town ravaged by a devastating hurricane and the Vietnam War, twenty-nine-year-old Lou is diligently renovating a decaying old mansion for Miss Kate, the elderly neighbor who has always been like a mother to her. Mourning her brother’s death in Vietnam, Lou dreams of enjoying a more peaceful future in Parson. But those hopes are crushed when Miss Kate is murdered, and no one but Lou seems to care about finding the killer.
The situation becomes complicated when Joanna, Miss Kate’s long-estranged daughter and Lou’s first love, arrives in Parson—not to learn more about her mother’s death but for the house. Her arrival unearths sinister secrets involving the history of the town and its residents . . . revelations that may be the key to helping Lou discover the truth about Miss Kate’s death and her killer.
Meeting Her Match by Liz Lincoln
Both leads are bi.
She loathes him. She wants him. And dammit, she just might love him.
Her body may still crave his, but US Soccer player Lauren Vorski knows better than to lust after Pete Kendrick. They may have had a smoking hot fling, but then he turned out to be her new head coach and had the nerve to cut her from the World Cup team. Now her only mission is to prove how wrong he was about her by making the roster for the upcoming Olympics. If only she could stop thinking about how hot their time together was…
Pete Kendrick never forgot about Lauren, but he had to walk away from their romance when he was offered his dream job coaching the US Women’s Soccer team. Now coaching the Canadian women’s team, he never expected to run into her again. But when a hot birthday hook-up leads to consequences with the potential to ruin Lauren’s Olympic dreams, the two must work together to fix things. As they work to fix the situation, they can’t deny the chemistry that still exists between them. And the more time they spend together, the more Lauren finds she might actually… like him?
But can she trust the man who once crushed her dreams? Can Pete be with someone who lives in another country, when distance is what killed his first marriage? As they face new challenges and old insecurities, Lauren and Pete must decide whether to take a chance on each other or let their past keep them apart.
Spoilerish but necessary content advisory: This story includes Lauren making the choice to have an abortion. This storyline is not for everyone.
Buy it: Amazon
Old-Fashioned Cupcake by Sagan Sagan
A visit to a pancake shop leads to an unexpected May-December romance that breathes life into the monotonous routine of an older salaryman.
The daily grind both soothes and troubles older salaryman Nozue, until an unexpected visit to a pancake shop with his blunt younger coworker shakes things up!
At 39 years old, Nozue lives a routine, if not melancholic, life of sleep and work. Togawa, his younger subordinate, finds this troubling and takes it upon himself to shake up Nozue’s routine. During a lunch outing, the two go to a pancake shop full of exuberant young ladies to “do what girls do,” and it’s just the thing to breathe life into Nozue. The two men start an unlikely friendship—and perhaps something a little sweeter!
Buy it: Amazon
Still the One by Harper Bliss (14th)
All great love stories deserve a second act
Mac and Jamie had their life together all planned out. Until Jamie did the unforgivable and left Mac for another woman.
Twenty years later, they meet again for the first time at a friend’s wedding.
Mac’s pain lingers, while Jamie is still haunted by regret.
Can they let go of their history and open their hearts to the possibility of a second chance?
Buy it: Amazon
Leg: the Story of a Limb and the Boy Who Grew From It by Greg Marshall
Greg Marshall’s early years were pretty bizarre. Rewind the VHS tapes (this is the nineties) and you’ll see a lopsided teenager limping across a high school stage, or in a wheelchair after leg surgeries, pondering why he’s crushing on half of the Utah Jazz. Add to this home video footage a mom clacking away at her newspaper column between chemos, a dad with ALS, and a cast of foulmouthed siblings. Fast forward the tape and you’ll find Marshall happily settled into his life as a gay man only to discover he’s been living in another closet his whole life: he has cerebral palsy. Here, in the hot mess of it all, lies Greg Marshall’s wellspring of wit and wisdom.
Leg is an extraordinarily funny and insightful memoir from a daring new voice. Packed with outrageous stories of a singular childhood, it is also a unique examination of what it means to transform when there are parts of yourself you can’t change, a moving portrait of a family in crisis, and a tale of resilience of spirit. In Marshall’s deft hands, we see a story both personal and universal—of being young and wanting the world, even when the world doesn’t feel like yours to want.
Better Living Through Birding by Christian Cooper
Christian Cooper is a self-described “Blerd” (Black nerd), an avid comics fan and expert birder who devotes every spring to gazing upon the migratory birds that stop to rest in Central Park, just a subway ride away from where he lives in New York City. While in the park one morning in May 2020, Cooper was engaged in the birdwatching ritual that had been a part of his life since he was ten years old when what might have been a routine encounter with a dog walker exploded age-old racial tensions. Cooper’s viral video of the incident would send shock waves through the nation.
In Better Living Through Birding, Cooper tells the story of his extraordinary life leading up to the now-infamous incident in Central Park and shows how a life spent looking up at the birds prepared him, in the most uncanny of ways, to be a gay, Black man in America today. From sharpened senses that work just as well at a protest as in a park to what a bird like the Common Grackle can teach us about self-acceptance, Better Living Through Birding exults in the pleasures of a life lived in pursuit of the natural world and invites you to discover them yourself.
Equal parts memoir, travelogue, and primer on the art of birding, this is Cooper’s story of learning to claim and defend space for himself and others like him, from his days at Marvel Comics introducing the first gay storylines to vivid and life-changing birding expeditions through Africa, Australia, the Americas, and the Himalayas. Better Living Through Birding recounts Cooper’s journey through the wonderful world of birds and what they can teach us about life, if only we would look and listen.
To Name the Bigger Lie: A Memoir in Two Stories by Sarah Viren
Sarah’s story begins as she’s researching what she believes will be a book about her high school philosophy teacher, a charismatic instructor who taught her and her classmates to question everything—in the end, even the reality of historical atrocities. As she digs into the effects of his teachings, her life takes a turn into the fantastical when her wife, Marta, is notified that she’s been investigated for sexual misconduct at the university where they both teach.
Based in part on a viral New York Times essay, To Name the Bigger Lie follows the investigation as it upends Sarah’s understanding of truth. She knows the claims made against Marta must be lies, and as she uncovers the identity of the person behind them and then tries, with increasing desperation, to prove their innocence, she’s drawn back into the questions that her teacher inspired all those years ago: about the nature of truth, the value of skepticism, and the stakes we all have in getting the story right.
A compelling, incisive journey into honesty and betrayal, this memoir explores the powerful pull of dangerous conspiracy theories and the pliability of personal narratives in a world dominated by hoaxes and fakes. To Name the Bigger Lie reads like the best of psychological thrillers—made all the more riveting because it’s true.
New Out in Paperback
Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler
Lara’s had eyes for exactly one person throughout her three years of high school: Chase Harding. He’s tall, strong, sweet, a football star, and frankly, stupid hot. Oh, and he’s talking to her now. On purpose and everything. Maybe…flirting, even? No, wait, he’s definitely flirting, which is pretty much the sum of everything Lara’s wanted out of life.
Except she’s haunted by a memory. A memory of a confusing, romantic, strangely perfect summer spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes a confusing, disorienting present when Jasmine herself walks through the front doors of the school to see Lara and Chase chatting it up in front of the lockers.
Lara has everything she ever wanted: a tight-knit group of friends, a job that borders on cool, and Chase, the boy of her literal dreams. But if she’s finally got the guy, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl?
Cool for the Summer is a story of self-discovery and new love. It’s about the things we want and the things we need. And it’s about the people who will let us be who we are.
You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi
Feyi Adekola wants to learn how to be alive again.
It’s been five years since the accident that killed the love of her life and she’s almost a new person now—an artist with her own studio and sharing a brownstone apartment with her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could have never imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career.
She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the overwhelming desire Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person who is most definitely off-limits—his father. Can she release her past and honor her grief while still embracing her future? And, of course, there’s the biggest question of all—how far is she willing to go for a second chance at love?
Wrath Goddess Sing by Maya Deane
We revealed the original cover; see it here.
The gods wanted blood. She fought for love.
Achilles has fled her home and her vicious Myrmidon clan to live as a woman with the kallai, the transgender priestesses of Great Mother Aphrodite. When Odysseus comes to recruit the “prince” Achilles for a war against the Hittites, she prepares to die rather than fight as a man. However, her divine mother, Athena, intervenes, transforming her body into the woman’s body she always longed for, and promises her everything: glory, power, fame, victory in war, and, most importantly, a child born of her own body. Reunited with her beloved cousin, Patroklos, and his brilliant wife, the sorceress Meryapi, Achilles sets out to war with a vengeance.
But the gods—a dysfunctional family of abusive immortals that have glutted on human sacrifices for centuries—have woven ancient schemes more blood-soaked and nightmarish than Achilles can imagine. At the center of it all is the cruel, immortal Helen, who sees Achilles as a worthy enemy after millennia of ennui and emptiness. In love with her newfound nemesis, Helen sets out to destroy everything and everyone Achilles cherishes, seeking a battle to the death.