Tag Archives: Xiran Jay Zhao

New Releases: May 10, 2022

Children’s

Mighty Red Riding Hood: A Fairly Queer Tale by Wallace West

In this clever twist on a traditional tale, a boy who loves his frilly, swishy riding hood turns the tables on a big, bad, bullying wolf!

Better not mess with Little Red when he’s got on his favorite frilly red riding hood! It makes him feel happier than a pig in mud, more special than a birthday cake, and mighty as a firecracker. Nothing’s gonna stop him from being himself…Not even a big ol’ bully of a WOLF! With admirable spunk and a heaping helping of southern humor and hospitality, Little Red finds a way to crack the shell of the closed-minded wolf’s perception of frills and bows.

This refreshingly spirited version of the classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood explores the challenge of staying on your path when confronted by strangers who don’t want to understand you.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Middle Grade

The Science of Being Angry by Nicole Melleby

58328432. sy475 Eleven-year-old Joey is angry. All the time. And she doesn’t understand why. She has two loving moms, a supportive older half brother, and, as a triplet, she’s never without company. Her life is good. But sometimes she loses her temper and lashes out, like that time she threw a soccer ball—hard—at a boy in gym class and bruised his collarbone. Or the time jealousy made her push her (former) best friend (and crush), Layla, a little bit too hard.

After an incident at Joey’s apartment building leads to her family’s eviction, Joey is desperate to figure out why she is so angry. A new unit on genetics in her science class makes Joey wonder if maybe the reason is genetic. Does she lose control because of the donor her mothers chose?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The One Who Loves You The Most by medina

have never felt like I belonged to my body. Never in the way rhythm belongs to a song or waves belong to an ocean.
It seems like most people figure out where they belong by knowing where they came from. When they look in the mirror, they see their family in their eyes, in their sharp jawlines, in the texture of their hair. When they look at family photos, they see faces of people who look like them. They see faces of people who they’ll look like in the future.
For me, I only have my imagination.
But I’m always trying.

Twelve-year-old Gabriela is trying to find their place in the world. In their body, which feels less and less right with each passing day. As an adoptee, in their all-white family. With their mom, whom they love fiercely and do anything they can to help with her depression. And at school, where they search for friends.

A new year will bring a school project, trans and queer friends, and a YouTube channel that helps Gabriela find purpose in their journey.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor by Xiran Jay Zhao

59365584Zachary Ying never had many opportunities to learn about his Chinese heritage. His single mom was busy enough making sure they got by, and his schools never taught anything except Western history and myths. So Zack is woefully unprepared when he discovers he was born to host the spirit of the First Emperor of China for a vital mission: sealing the leaking portal to the Chinese underworld before the upcoming Ghost Month blows it wide open.

The mission takes an immediate wrong turn when the First Emperor botches his attempt to possess Zack’s body and binds to Zack’s AR gaming headset instead, leading to a battle where Zack’s mom’s soul gets taken by demons. Now, with one of history’s most infamous tyrants yapping in his headset, Zack must journey across China to heist magical artifacts and defeat figures from history and myth, all while learning to wield the emperor’s incredible water dragon powers.

And if Zack can’t finish the mission in time, the spirits of the underworld will flood into the mortal realm, and he could lose his mom forever.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Every Bird a Prince by Jenn Reese

Every Bird a PrinceThe only time Eren Evers feels like herself is when she’s on her bike, racing through the deep woods. While so much of her life at home and at school is flying out of control, the muddy trails and the sting of wind in her face are familiar comforts.

Until she rescues a strange, magical bird, who reveals a shocking secret: their forest kingdom is under attack by an ancient foe—the vile Frostfangs—and the birds need Eren’s help to survive.

Seventh grade is hard enough without adding “bird champion” to her list of after-school activities. Lately, Eren’s friends seem obsessed with their crushes and the upcoming dance, while Eren can’t figure out what a crush should even feel like. Still, if she doesn’t play along, they may leave her behind…or just leave her all together. Then the birds enlist one of Eren’s classmates, forcing her separate lives to collide.

When her own mother starts behaving oddly, Eren realizes that the Frostfangs—with their insidious whispers—are now hunting outside the woods. In order to save her mom, defend an entire kingdom, and keep the friendships she holds dearest, Eren will need to do something utterly terrifying: be brave enough to embrace her innermost truths, no matter the cost.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Young Adult

Dead End Girls by Wendy Heard

In one week, Maude will be dead. At least, that’s what she wants everyone to think. After years of research, Maude has decided to fake her own death. She’s figured out the how, the when, the where, and who will help her unsuspectingly. The why is complex: revenge, partly. Her terrible parents deserve this. But there’s also l’appel du vide, the call of the void, that beckons her toward a new life where she will be tied to no one, free and adrift. Then Frankie, a step-cousin she barely knows, figures out what she’s plotting, and the plan seems like it’s ruined. Except Frankie doesn’t want to rat her out. Frankie wants in.

The girls vault into the unknown, risking everything for a new and limitless life. But there are some things you can never run away from. What if the poison is not in the soil, but in the roots? This pulse-pounding thriller offers a nuanced exploration of identity, freedom, and falling in love while your world falls apart.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Café Con Lychee by Emery Lee

58782892. sy475 Sometimes bitter rivalries can brew something sweet

Theo Mori wants to escape. Leaving Vermont for college means getting away from working at his parents’ Asian American café and dealing with their archrivals’ hopeless son Gabi who’s lost the soccer team more games than Theo can count.

Gabi Moreno is miserably stuck in the closet. Forced to play soccer to hide his love for dance and iced out by Theo, the only openly gay guy at school, Gabi’s only reprieve is his parents’ Puerto Rican bakery and his plans to take over after graduation.

But the town’s new fusion café changes everything. Between the Mori’s struggling shop and the Moreno’s plan to sell their bakery in the face of the competition, both boys find their dreams in jeopardy. Then Theo has an idea—sell photo-worthy food covertly at school to offset their losses. When he sprains his wrist and Gabi gets roped in to help, they realize they need to work together to save their parents’ shops but will the new feelings rising between them be enough to send their future plans up in smoke?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson (May 10th)

57320535. sy475 Lou has enough confusion in front of her this summer. She’ll be working in her family’s ice cream shack with her newly ex-boyfriend—whose kisses never made her feel desire, only discomfort—and her former best friend, King, who is back in their Canadian prairie town after disappearing three years ago without a word.

But when she gets a letter from her biological father—a man she hoped would stay behind bars for the rest of his life—Lou immediately knows that she cannot meet him, no matter how much he insists.

While King’s friendship makes Lou feel safer and warmer than she would have thought possible, when her family’s business comes under threat, she soon realizes that she can’t ignore her father forever.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Nate Plus One by Kevin van Whye

53241053. sy475 Two boys. Two bands. Two worlds colliding.

Nate Hargraves – stage-shy singer-songwriter – is totally stoked for his cousin’s wedding in South Africa, an all-expenses-paid trip of a lifetime. Until he finds out his sleazeball ex-boyfriend is also on the guest list.

Jai Patel – hot-as-hell high school rock-god – has troubles too. His band’s lead singer has quit, just weeks before the gig that was meant to be their big break.

When Nate saves the day by agreeing to sing with Jai’s band, Jai volunteers to be Nate’s plus-one to the wedding, and the stage is set for a summer of music, self-discovery, and simmering romantic tension. What could possibly go wrong . . . ?

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

Adult

First Time for Everything by Henry Fry

Danny Scudd is absolutely fine. He always dreamed of escaping the small-town life of his parents’ fish and chip shop, moving to London, and becoming a journalist. And, after five years in the city, his career isn’t exactly awful, and his relationship with pretentious Tobbs isn’t exactly unfulfilling. Certainly his limited edition Dolly Parton vinyls and many (maybe too many) house plants are hitting the spot. However, a visit to the local clinic reveals that Tobbs might not have been exactly faithful. In fact, Tobbs claims they were never operating under the “antiquated” terms of monogamy to begin with. Oh, and Danny’s flatmates are unceremoniously evicting him because they want to start a family. It’s all going quite well.

Newly single and with nowhere to live, Danny is forced to move in with his best friend, Jacob, a flamboyant non-binary artist whom he’s known since childhood, and their extravagant group of friends living in an East London “commune.” What follows is a colorful voyage of discovery through modern queer life, dating, work, and lots of therapy—all places Danny has always been too afraid to fully explore. Upon realizing just how little he knows about himself and his sexuality, he careens from one questionable decision (and man) to another, relying on his inscrutable new therapist and housemates to face the demons he’s spent his entire life trying to repress. Is he really fine, after all?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies by Misha Popp

58896183The first time Daisy Ellery killed a man with a pie, it was an accident. Now, it’s her calling. Daisy bakes sweet vengeance into her pastries, which she and her dog Zoe deliver to the men who’ve done dirty deeds to the town’s women. But if she can’t solve the one crime that’s not of her own baking, she’ll be out of the pie pan and into the oven.

Parking her Pies Before Guys mobile bakery van outside the local diner, Daisy is informed by Frank, the crusty diner owner, that someone’s been prowling around the van—and not just to inhale the delectable aroma. Already on thin icing with Frank, she finds a letter on her door, threatening to reveal her unsavory secret sideline of pie a la murder.

Blackmail? But who whipped up this half-baked plot to cut a slice out of Daisy’s business? Purple-haired campus do-gooder Melly? Noel, the tender—if flaky—farm boy? Or one of the abusive men who prefer their pie without a deadly scoop of payback?

The upcoming statewide pie contest could be Daisy’s big chance to help wronged women everywhere…if she doesn’t meet a sticky end first. Because Daisy knows the blackmailer won’t stop until her business is in crumbles.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Siren Queen by Nghi Vo

“No maids, no funny talking, no fainting flowers.” Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill—but she doesn’t care. She’d rather play a monster than a maid.

But in Luli’s world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her. For those who do survive to earn their fame, success comes with a steep price. Luli is willing to do whatever it takes—even if that means becoming the monster herself.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Bad Girls by Camila Sosa Villada, trans. by Kit Maude

This was originally published in Spanish as Las Malas

59237338. sy475 Born in the small Argentine town of Mina Clavero, Camila is designated male but begins to identify from an early age as a girl. She is well aware that she’s different from other children and reacts to her oppressive, poverty-stricken home life, with a cowed mother and abusive, alcoholic father, by acting out—with swift consequences. Deeply intelligent, she eventually leaves for the city to attend university, slipping into prostitution to make ends meet. And in Sarmiento Park, in the heart of Córdoba, she discovers the strange, wonderful world of the trans sex workers who dwell there.

Taken under the wing of Auntie Encarna, the 178-year-old eternal whose house shelters this unconventional extended family, Camila becomes a part of their stories—of a Headless Man who fled his country’s wars, a mute young woman who transforms into a bird, an abandoned baby boy who brings a twinkle to your eye.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

A Long Way to Fall by Elle Spencer

Bridget Berg grew up on the slopes of Elk Mountain, Utah. The daughter of a famous downhill skier, she was chasing her own Olympic dreams when her father’s unexpected death forced her to take over his ski lodge. It’s her home and she’ll protect it at all costs―especially from her insufferable neighbors.

Kennedy Fleming is only in Utah to put her dad’s vacation home on the market. She has no interest in living there. That is, until she meets her sexy redheaded neighbor. Sure, she’s rude and unwelcoming, but Kennedy isn’t one to shy away from a challenge.

When Kennedy makes a discovery that could cause Bridget to lose everything, she’s forced to choose between her family and her heart. There’s a mountain of history between their families, but as tempers rage and sparks fly, they’re about to discover that a love worth fighting for is right in front of them.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Misrule by Heather Walter

This is the sequel to Malice

The Dark Grace is dead.

Feared and despised for the sinister power in her veins, Alyce wreaks her revenge on the kingdom that made her an outcast. Once a realm of decadence and beauty, Briar is now wholly Alyce’s wicked domain. And no one will escape the consequences of her wrath. Not even the one person who holds her heart.

Princess Aurora saw through Alyce’s thorny facade, earning a love that promised the dawn of a new age. But it is a love that came with a heavy price: Aurora now sleeps under a curse that even Alyce’s vast power cannot seem to break. And the dream of the world they would have built together is nothing but ash.

Alyce vows to do anything to wake the woman she loves, even if it means turning into the monster Briar believes her to be. But could Aurora love the villain Alyce has become?

Or is true love only for fairy tales?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Why in Paris? by Harry F. Rey

Why in Paris?In the late summer of 1936, a budding young photographer from Vienna named Anders travels to pre-war Paris. His mother sends him ostensibly to attend art school… and to survive as a Jew. But Anders is ready to explore his other secret: his sexuality. Living with over-the-top escort, Claude, above Giovanni’s gay bar, Anders and Claude build their lives among the ruins of Bohemia in Montmartre. Anders soon falls for Jean, Claude’s bitter rival in the escort scene. Anders captures Jean’s beauty with his camera lens and sells the photos by the Seine to make a living. One buyer, a wealthy American socialite, David, comes along and presents Anders with a scandalous new venture.

With David’s film camera, they set up a secret studio, capturing incriminating reels of the rich and powerful committing all manner of compromising acts. As Paris falls to Hitler and the occupation takes hold, senior Nazis commandeer David’s mansion as their personal brothel. Anders and David begin secretly filming the Nazis’ trysts, scattering the evidence across Paris. Anders’s old flame Eilas returns to Paris as an SS officer, and Jean has hatched a plot with the Resistance to assassinate Eilas’s superior, the head of the SS in Paris. Amidst betrayal, love, and blackmail, who will survive these plots is far from certain.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Everything for You by Chloe Liese

59824159. sy475 Gavin
We’ve been teammates for two years, but it feels like a lifetime that Oliver Bergman’s been on my last nerve. A demanding captain and veteran player, I’m feared and friendless, while he’s the beloved rising star, all sunshine smiles and upbeat team spirit. To make matters worse, he’s obscenely attractive. In short: he’s genetically designed to get under my skin.

Avoiding Oliver has been my survival tactic on and off the field. But when Coach drops the bomb that we’re now co-captains, avoiding him becomes impossible, and keeping the truth from him–let alone my distance–is harder than ever.

Oliver
Life was great until soccer legend Gavin Hayes joined the team and proved he’s nothing like the guy I grew up idolizing. Instead, he’s a giant–albeit gorgeous–grump who lives to rain on my parade. I’ve sworn off pranks since entering the public eye, so rather than settle our differences the Bergman way, I’ve had to settle for killing Gavin with kindness. There’s just one problem: killing him with kindness is killing me.

To make matters worse, Coach gives us an ultimatum: put an end to our enmity or say goodbye to being captains. I’m prepared to be miserable while we meet her demands and make nice, but the last thing I expect is to discover an explosive attraction we can’t help but act on, and worse yet, to realize the man hiding beneath Gavin’s gruff exterior is all I’ve ever wanted.

Buy it: Amazon

In the Trap by Jessica Cranberry

For Hazel, an introvert with a knack for people watching, campus life is awkward and hard and…lonely. That is, until she starts to let her guard down around her roommate, Maeve—who’s fun and has a wicked flair for drama. Could there be more than just a friendship here? Maybe. But Hazel has a lot of family trauma to work through before figuring out the other big parts of her life. For now, she’s just happy to have someone to talk to.

All seems to go well until a night in the Trap—the university’s green space—leads to a tense encounter with some drunk guys. When one of the guys ends up dead, Hazel is implicated, and she and Maeve set out to solve the crime before police can connect either of them to it. But how can two amateur sleuths put together a solid case to hand over to the police in time? By following the campus online diaries, that’s how.

Set at the beginning of the internet age, people are just starting to share all their deepest, darkest secrets via the World Wide Web, yet the assumption of online anonymity may be a critical mistake. As the perpetrator posts their criminal diary for public consumption, Hazel and Maeve scramble to use technology to piece together the murderer’s identity. Can they hack their way out of becoming suspects? And if so, could they ever go back to their boring majors?

Buy it: Ninestar Press

Non-Fiction

The Women’s House of Detention by Hugh Ryan

58951004The Women’s House of Detention, Greenwich Village’s most forbidding and forgotten queer landmark, stood from 1929 to 1974, imprisoning tens of thousands from all over New York City. The little-known stories of the queer women and trans-masculine people incarcerated in this building present a uniquely queer argument for prison abolition. The “House of D” acted as a nexus, drawing queer women down to Greenwich Village from every corner of the city. Some of these women—Angela Davis, Grace Paley, Andrea Dworkin, Afeni Shakur—were famous, but the majority were working-class people, incarcerated for the “crimes” of being poor and improperly feminine. Today, approximately 40 percent of people in women’s prisons identify as queer; in earlier decades, the percentage was almost certainly higher.

Historian Hugh Ryan explores the roots of this crisis of queer and trans incarceration, connecting misogyny, racism, state-sanctioned sexual violence, colonialism, sex work, and the failures of prison reform. At the same time, The Women’s House of Detention highlights how queer relation and autonomy emerged in the most dire of circumstances: from the lesbian relationships and communities forged through the House of D, to a Black socialist’s fight for a college education during the Great Depression, to the forgotten women who rioted inside the prison on the first night of the Stonewall Uprising nearby. This is the story of one building and so much more: the people it caged, the neighborhood it changed, and the resistance it inspired.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

New Releases: September 21, 2022

Middle Grade

The Insiders by Mark Oshiro

San Francisco and Orangevale may be in the same state, but for Héctor Muñoz, they might as well be a million miles apart. Back home, being gay didn’t mean feeling different. At Héctor’s new school, he couldn’t feel more alone.

Most days, Héctor just wishes he could disappear. And he does. Right into the janitor’s closet. (Yes, he sees the irony.) But one day, when the door closes behind him, Héctor discovers he’s stumbled into a room that shouldn’t be possible. A room that connects him with two new friends from different corners of the country—and opens the door to a life-changing year full of magic, friendship, and adventure.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

City of Thieves by Alex London

54671391. sy475 In a modern mega-city built around dragons, one boy gets caught up in the world of underground dragon battles and a high-stakes gang war that could tear his family apart.

Once, dragons nearly drove themselves to extinction. But in the city of Drakopolis, humans domesticated them centuries ago. Now dragons haul the city’s cargo, taxi its bustling people between skyscrapers, and advertise its wares in bright, neon displays. Most famously of all, the dragons battle. Different breeds take to the skies in nighttime bouts between the infamous kins―criminal gangs who rule through violence and intimidation.

Abel has always loved dragons, but after a disastrous showing in his dragon rider’s exam, he’s destined never to fly one himself. All that changes the night his sister appears at his window, entrusting him with a secret…and a stolen dragon.

Turns out, his big sister is a dragon thief! Too bad his older brother is a rising star in Drakopolis law enforcement…

To protect his friends and his family, Abel must partner with the stolen beast, riding in kin battles and keeping more secrets than a dragon has scales.

When everyone wants him fighting on their side, can Abel figure out what’s worth fighting for?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Young Adult

Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles

There’s always been a hole in Gio’s life. Not because he’s into both guys and girls. Not because his father has some drinking issues. Not because his friends are always bringing him their drama. No, the hole in Gio’s life takes the shape of his birth mom, who left Gio, his brother, and his father when Gio was nine years old. For eight years, he never heard a word from her … and now, just as he’s started to get his life together, she’s back.

It’s hard for Gio to know what to do. Can he forgive her like she wants to be forgiven? Or should he tell her she lost her chance to be in his life? Complicating things further, Gio’s started to hang out with David, a new guy on the basketball team. Are they friends? More than friends? At first, Gio’s not sure … especially because he’s not sure what he wants from anyone right now.

There are no easy answers to love – whether it’s family love or friend love or romantic love. In Things We Couldn’t Say, Jay Coles shows us a guy trying to navigate love in all its ambiguity — hoping at the other end he’ll be able to figure out who is and who he should be.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Other Merlin by Robyn Schneider

For as long as she could remember, all Emry wanted was to be a great magician like her father, the magnificent Merlin. As a kid, she fought to be included in his magic lessons for her twin brother, Emmet, and easily outshone him with each spell she cast. But after her father’s disappearance several years ago, Emry has been feeling a little lost. Fate soon appears in the form of a royal messenger, summoning Emmet to court to serve as Prince Arthur’s right-hand wizard. With Emmett indisposed thanks to a bad spell, Emry has to disguise herself as a teen boy and pretend to be her brother at the castle until they’re able to switch.

Training as a wizard is everything Emry hoped it would be, except working so closely with the unbearably hot Arthur is a growing danger. They soon share adventures and a connection that can’t be denied, but Emry’s secret is a crime punishable by death. When royal scandals involving Lancelot, Guinevere, and Gawain threaten to reveal her truth, Emry must decide whether to stay and risk everything for a love borne out of deceit, or leave and never fulfill her potential to be Camelot’s greatest magician.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

To Break a Covenant by Alison Ames

50638239. sy475 Moon Basin has been haunted for as long as anyone can remember. It started when an explosion in the mine killed sixteen people. The disaster made it impossible to live in town, with underground fires spewing ash into the sky. But life in New Basin is just as fraught. The ex-mining town relies on its haunted reputation to bring in tourists, but there’s more truth to the rumors than most are willing to admit, and the mine still has a hold on everyone who lives there.

Clem and Nina form a perfect loop—best friends forever, and perhaps something more. Their circle opens up for a strange girl named Lisey with a knack for training crows, and Piper, whose father is fascinated with the mine in a way that’s anything but ordinary. The people of New Basin start experiencing strange phenomena—sleepwalking, night terrors, voices that only they can hear. And no matter how many vans of ghost hunters roll through, nobody can get to the bottom of what’s really going on. Which is why the girls decide to enter the mine themselves.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Sidelined by Kara Bietz

Julian Jackson has a short to-do list for his senior year at Crenshaw County High School in Meridian, Texas: football, football, and more football. He knows he’s only got one chance to earn a college scholarship and make it out of his small town, and keeping his head down, his grades up, and his cleats on the field is that one chance. And then Elijah Vance walks back into his life, throwing all of his carefully-laid plans into a tailspin.

Elijah and Julian used to be best friends, maybe even on their way to something more than just friends. But three years ago, Elijah broke into the school to steal money from the coach’s office, and Julian was the one who turned him in. After that, Elijah and his family disappeared without a trace. And now he’s back, sitting at Julian’s grandmother’s kitchen table.

But time and distance haven’t erased all of their feelings, and Elijah knows that he finally has a chance to prove to Julian that he’s not the same person he was three years ago. But with secrets still growing between them and an uncertain future barreling towards them, it may be harder to lean on each other than they thought.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Adult Fiction

The Wrong End of the Telescope by Rabih Alameddine

57427350By National Book Award and the National Book Critics’ Circle Award finalist for An Unnecessary Woman, Rabih Alameddine, comes a transporting new novel about an Arab American trans woman’s journey among Syrian refugees on Lesbos island.

Mina Simpson, a Lebanese doctor, arrives at the infamous Moria refugee camp on Lesbos, Greece, after being urgently summoned for help by her friend who runs an NGO there. Alienated from her family except for her beloved brother, Mina has avoided being so close to her homeland for decades. But with a week off work and apart from her wife of thirty years, Mina hopes to accomplish something meaningful, among the abundance of Western volunteers who pose for selfies with beached dinghies and the camp’s children. Soon, a boat crosses bringing Sumaiya, a fiercely resolute Syrian matriarch with terminal liver cancer. Determined to protect her children and husband at all costs, Sumaiya refuses to alert her family to her diagnosis. Bonded together by Sumaiya’s secret, a deep connection sparks between the two women, and as Mina prepares a course of treatment with the limited resources on hand, she confronts the circumstances of the migrants’ displacement, as well as her own constraints in helping them.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.

Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.

But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.

When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

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

A Dream of a Woman by Casey Plett (21st)

A Dream of a WomanCasey Plett’s 2018 novel Little Fish won a Lambda Literary Award, the Firecracker Award for Fiction, and the Amazon First Novel Award. Her latest work, A Dream of a Woman, is her first book of short stories since her seminal 2014 collection A Safe Girl to Love. Centering transgender women seeking stable, adult lives, A Dream of a Woman finds quiet truths in prairie high-rises and New York warehouses, in freezing Canadian winters and drizzly Oregon days.

In “Hazel and Christopher,” two childhood friends reconnect as adults after one of them has transitioned. In “Perfect Places,” a woman grapples with undesirability as she navigates fetish play with a man. In “Couldn’t Hear You Talk Anymore,” the narrator reflects on her tumultuous life and what might have been as she recalls tender moments with another trans woman.

An ethereal meditation on partnership, sex, addiction, romance, groundedness, and love, the stories in A Dream of a Woman buzz with quiet intensity and the intimate complexities of being human.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | Arsenal Pulp Press

Love All Year ed. by Elizabeth Kahn

Love All Year 2021: A Holidays Anthology by [KD Casey, Kosoko Jackson, Hudson Lin, Jasmine Luck, Elsie Marrone, October Rhea, Soumi Roy, Elizabeth Kahn]Love All Year is a romance anthology featuring non-Christian holidays and cultural celebrations from around the world.

“The Koufax Curse” by KD Casey: On Tu Bishvat, former baseball rivals—now teammates—plant the seeds of a new romance.

“Kwanzaa Kiss” by Kosoko Jackson: After a breakup, Anthony Jenkins returns home to Atlanta to lick his wounds and help his parents with their annual Kwanzaa scavenger hunt and is paired with his high school crush. Markus Kennedy. Over the next 12 hours, the two men will try to win the scavenger hunt, where finding the pillars of Kwanzaa might be the goal, but love might find its way into their hearts.

“Their Dragonboat” by Hudson Lin: When OB Julie agrees to join the queer women/enby dragon boat team, she didn’t expect to fall in love. But team captain Rae, with their ever-changing hair color, a silver lip ring, and sleeve of flower tattoos is too fascinating to resist.

“Yes, Chef” by Jasmine Luck: A lawyer finds himself in hot water when his injured mother can’t cook the Lunar New Year feast. He needs lessons, fast. Can new London resident Zoey help him turn up the heat in his kitchen?

“Spiraling Closer” by Elsie Marrone: When recently divorced Jenny accidentally lobs a bread roll at her rabbi’s single, hot nephew, the last thing she expects is to find romance. But in the new year, anything can happen–that is, if she can silence her inner critic long enough to give love a second chance.

“Heart and History” by October Rhea: Liberty Stanley is ready to love herself again after leaving a toxic relationship. Black Love Day is the perfect holiday to put her plan into action. Isaac Golden sees Black Love Day as just another thing to teach his students. He likes to run his classroom in his own way, but he won’t admit to his new co-teacher Liberty that he is both fumbling the lesson plan and falling for her. As they get to know each other, Isaac discovers that Black Love Day may have something for him after all.

“A Tangled Truce” by Soumi Roy: Rohini should be thrilled when the hottie on the plane to Kolkata turns out to be the man her parents want her to marry. Hridan came to sell his grandma’s house, not to fall for a girl whose fear of commitment outweighs their attraction. Hridan has five days of Durga Puja to win her over, while Rohini must decide if he is worth risking her heart for.

Buy it: Amazon | Books2Read

Mechanics of Love by Meka James (22nd)

It’s the person she least expected who provides a much-needed tune up of her life…

For Dr. Irene Johnson-Moore perception is everything. After living most of her life behind facades built from other people’s expectations, she’s ready for a change. At least that’s what she tells herself. But old habits die hard. And when her car breaks down, forcing her to deal with the town mechanic—a woman whose bluntness always irked Irene—her resolve is instantly put to the test.

Remi Martin prides herself on being unapologetically honest. Brutally so at times. No good ever came from pretending to be someone or something she’s not.

When she responds to a call from a stranded motorist, she never imagined she’d be towing the self-proclaimed “town princess” into her world. Irene Johnson embodies everything Remi tries to avoid, yet she can’t seem to shake her one-time adversary.

However, the more time they spend together, the more feelings begin to idle under the surface. But before their relationship can rev to life, they must release their preconceived notions or things could come to a screeching halt.

Buy it: Amazon | Apple

Essays, Memoir, and Poetry

Tenderness by Derrick Austin

With lush language, the meditative poems in the Isabella Gardner Award-winning Tenderness examine the fraught nature of intimacy in a nation poisoned by anti-Blackness and homophobia. From the bedroom to the dance floor, from the natural world to The Frick, from the Midwest to Florida to Mexico City, the poems range across interior and exterior landscapes. They look to movies, fine art, childhood memory, history, and mental health with melancholy, anger, and playfulness.

Even amidst sorrow and pain, Tenderness uplifts communal spaces as sites of resistance and healing, wonders at the restorative powers of art and erotic love, and celebrates the capaciousness of friendship.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

TBRainbow Alert: 2021 YA Starring QBIPoC, Part 2

For part 1, click here!

The Marvelous by Claire Kann (June 8th)

Everyone thinks they know Jewel Van Hanen – heiress turned actress turned social media darling who created the massively popular video-sharing app, Golden Rule.

After mysteriously disappearing for a year, Jewel made her dramatic return with an announcement: Three lucky Golden Rule users have been chosen to compete in a mystery treasure hunt at her private estate – all for an unimaginable cash prize. Luna: fifteen, fearless, and Jewel’s biggest fan. Nicole: the new Queen of Golden Rule given an invitation she couldn’t refuse. Stella: the brilliant outsider with a killer ulterior motive.

As the weekend goes on, the line between reality and the game begins to blur and the players begin to realize that money isn’t the only thing at stake.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, Nicola Yoon (22nd)

A summer heatwave blankets New York City in darkness. But as the city is thrown into confusion, a different kind of electricity sparks…

A first meeting.

Long-time friends.

Bitter exes.

And maybe the beginning of something new.

When the lights go out, people reveal hidden truths. Love blossoms, friendship transforms, and new possibilities take flight.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron (June 29th)

Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch.

When Briseis’s aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined–it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri’s unique family lineage.

When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri’s sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it . . . until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (July 13th)

Sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston sees dead people everywhere. But he can’t decide what’s worse: being a medium forced to watch the dead play out their last moments on a loop or being at the mercy of racist teachers as one of the few Black students at St. Clair Prep. Both are a living nightmare he wishes he could wake up from. But things at St. Clair start looking up with the arrival of another Black student—the handsome Allister—and for the first time, romance is on the horizon for Jake.

Unfortunately, life as a medium is getting worse. Though most ghosts are harmless and Jake is always happy to help them move on to the next place, Sawyer Doon wants much more from Jake. In life, Sawyer was a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school before taking his own life. Now he’s a powerful, vengeful ghost and he has plans for Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about dead world goes out the window as Sawyer begins to haunt him. High school soon becomes a different kind of survival game—one Jake is not sure he can win.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

A Clash of Steel by CB Lee (September 7th)

Two intrepid girls hunt for a legendary treasure on the deadly high seas in this YA remix of the classic adventure novel Treasure Island.

1826. The sun is setting on the golden age of piracy, and the legendary Dragon Fleet, the scourge of the South China Sea, is no more. Its ruthless leader, a woman known only as the Head of the Dragon, is now only a story, like the ones Xiang has grown up with all her life. She desperately wants to prove her worth, especially to her mother, a shrewd businesswoman who never seems to have enough time for Xiang. Her father is also only a story, dead at sea before Xiang was born. Her single memento of him is a pendant she always wears, a simple but plain piece of gold jewelry.

But the pendant’s true nature is revealed when a mysterious girl named Anh steals it, only to return it to Xiang in exchange for her help in decoding the tiny map scroll hidden inside. The revelation that Xiang’s father sailed with the Dragon Fleet and tucked away this secret changes everything. Rumor has it that the legendary Head of the Dragon had one last treasure—the plunder of a thousand ports—that for decades has only been a myth, a fool’s journey.

Xiang is convinced this map could lead to the fabled treasure. Captivated with the thrill of adventure, she joins Anh and her motley crew off in pursuit of the island. But the girls soon find that the sea—and especially those who sail it—are far more dangerous than the legends led them to believe.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles (September 21st)

There’s always been a hole in Gio’s life. Not because he’s into both guys and girls. Not because his father has some drinking issues. Not because his friends are always bringing him their drama. No, the hole in Gio’s life takes the shape of his birth mom, who left Gio, his brother, and his father when Gio was nine years old. For eight years, he never heard a word from her … and now, just as he’s started to get his life together, she’s back.

It’s hard for Gio to know what to do. Can he forgive her like she wants to be forgiven? Or should he tell her she lost her chance to be in his life? Complicating things further, Gio’s started to hang out with David, a new guy on the basketball team. Are they friends? More than friends? At first, Gio’s not sure … especially because he’s not sure what he wants from anyone right now.

There are no easy answers to love – whether it’s family love or friend love or romantic love. In Things We Couldn’t Say, Jay Coles shows us a guy trying to navigate love in all its ambiguity — hoping at the other end he’ll be able to figure out who is and who he should be.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao (September 21st)

52459864The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger (October 12th)

Nina is a Lipan girl in our world. She’s always felt there was something more out there. She still believes in the old stories.

Oli is a cottonmouth kid, from the land of spirits and monsters. Like all cottonmouths, he’s been cast from home. He’s found a new one on the banks of the bottomless lake.

Nina and Oli have no idea the other exists. But a catastrophic event on Earth, and a strange sickness that befalls Oli’s best friend, will drive their worlds together in ways they haven’t been in centuries.

And there are some who will kill to keep them apart.

Darcie Little Badger introduced herself to the world with Elatsoe. In A Snake Falls to Earth, she draws on traditional Lipan Apache storytelling structure to weave another unforgettable tale of monsters, magic, and family. It is not to be missed.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Spin Me Right Round by David Valdes (November 2nd)

All Luis Gonzalez wants is to go to prom with his boyfriend, something his “progressive” school still doesn’t allow. Not after what happened with Chaz Wilson. But that was ages ago, when Luis’s parents were in high school; it would never happen today, right? He’s determined to find a way to give his LGBTQ friends the respect they deserve (while also not risking his chance to be prom king, just saying…).

When a hit on the head knocks him back in time to 1985 and he meets the doomed young Chaz himself, Luis concocts a new plan-he’s going to give this guy his first real kiss. Though it turns out a conservative school in the ’80s isn’t the safest place to be a gay kid. Especially with homophobes running the campus, including Gordo (aka Luis’s estranged father). Luis is in over his head, trying not to make things worse-and hoping he makes it back to present day at all.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

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

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

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

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

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

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

Queering up your shelf, one rec at a time!