The Kids Are All Right

Kidlit Deals for July 28, 2021

Hey kidlit pals! I hope you’re enjoying your last week of July and blowing past all of those summer reading goals! This week’s book deals include a nice bunch of backlist and award-winning books, so let’s dive in! As always, remember to snatch it up if you see something good because these deals never last long!

The classic fantasy So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane is just $3!

cover of Little Bear's Big House

Little Bear’s Big House by Benjamin Chaud is a gorgeously illustrated and detailed picture book for just $2!

Snag the first book in the Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer, The Case of the Missing Marquess, for just $3.

Fins: A Sharks Incorporated Novel by Randy Wayne White can be yours for $3.

Mike Jung’s Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities is a fun superhero themed middle grade for just $4!

Have you been meaning to start the Ivy and Bean series? Grab the first one for just $4 and many of the sequels are the same price or lower!

Shannon Hale’s beloved Princess Academy is under $5!

Arcade and the Triple T Token by Rashad Jennings is a fun adventure for just under $5!

cover of Merci Suarez Changes Gears

Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina is still just $1!

They Threw Us Away by Daniel Krause is a great new start to a middle grade series for just $3, perfect for fans of Holly Black.

Happy reading!

Our Queerest Shelves

Messy Sapphic New Adult, Queer Horror YA, and a Bisexual Non-Superhero

Hi friends! Since I wrote you last, I have gotten my second shot, and other than a day of blahs, it went well! I’m so excited to start seeing friends and book shopping again soon — once my two weeks are up, of course. I edited a video for the bookstore I used to work for and got a big store credit in exchange, so I am ready to stock up!

Queer Book Ramblings

I think I’m finally done with 3 star queer books.

When I first started the Lesbrary, I was reading every sapphic book I could get my hands on. Any ebook I was sent for review, I read. Any lesbian book gathering dust on a library shelf, I consumed. Whether it was 80s F/F romance, a tragic lesbian novel from the 20s, or the latest queer YA, I was there for it.

After a while, though, I realized that the world of queer literature was a lot bigger than I had been led to imagine. There was more out there than I could possibly ever read. I didn’t have to settle for poorly-edited books or premises I wasn’t interested in. I quickly relinquished reading books that in the past I would have finished and rated 1 or 2 stars. I also began to better understand my own taste in books, including sapphic ones. I got better at picking out books, and I managed to cut out the books I disliked almost entirely from my reading.

And that’s where I’ve been for many years. Meanwhile, the queer book world continued to grow, offering up possibilities I’d never thought were possible: intersectional identities, a multitude of genres and subgenres, even flawed and multi-dimensional characters that didn’t have to be role models! It was true 10 years ago that there were more great queer books out there than I could read in a lifetime, but now that’s grown exponentially.

Recently, I was reading an F/F romance — I’ll spare the name — and it was fine. There were flaws, but there were also elements that I liked. It wasn’t bad, so I figured it was worth reading and reviewing. The problem is that reading that short romance took me about 3 weeks. Generally, I read 1-2 books a week. “My reading slump continues,” I thought. But when I finally finished that book, I picked up Fresh by Margot Wood, and I flew through it. It’s a book starring a messy, flawed, endearing bisexual main character stumbling her way through her first year of university, and I loved it. I read it in 2 days.

That’s when I had to face it: I’m not in a reading slump. I just read slowly when I’m not interested in the book. It’s not enough for a book to be not bad. I don’t have to settle for that in queer lit. There are so many amazing LGBTQ books out there, and I’m wasting time on one that’s not clicking for me.

From now on, I’ve decided, if a book feels like it’s probably going to be a 3 star read a chapter or two in, I’m abandoning it. We’re living in an era of abundance for queer books: it’s time to stop acting like there’s scarcity! I plan to DNF a lot more books so I can find the ones I truly love. I can’t wait to see what I discover!

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

Summer Fun by Jeanne Thornton cover

Summer Fun by Jeanne Thornton (Trans Fiction)

Gala is a young trans woman obsessed with the 1960s California band The Get Happies, and especially with their lead singer, B—. Gala writes B— letters, trying to puzzle out why The Get Happies stopped making music and never released their album Summer Fun. This a non-linear epistolary exploration of a friendship between two trans women who came out at very different times and the ways they’ve found to survive in a world that is often hostile to them. It explores creativity, fandom, and trans identity. 

Cover of The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters

The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters (F/F YA Fantasy/Horror)

When Natasha’s sister is the latest girl to go missing in the woods, she turns to Della, who’s rumored to be a witch. Della is willing to help — but she’s secretly convinced that the monster taking girls is her own mother, transformed by magic gone wrong. This is supposed to be “lush and chilling,” about two girls fighting back against a violent world. This is from the author of Ghost Wood Song, and it’s being compared to Wilder Girls and Bone Gap.

I Am Not Starfire cover

I am Not Starfire by Mariko Tamaki and Yoshi Yoshitani (F/F YA Graphic Novel)

Teenage Mandy is nothing like her sparkly superhero mom, Starfire. Mandy dies her hair black and avoids people whenever possible — except her best friend, Lincoln, and the girl she has a crush on, Claire (not that she’d admit to that!) She hasn’t even told her mom that she walked out the SATs and plans to run off to France instead of going to college. When Starfire is in danger, though, Mandy has to decide whether to keep running or stand and fight. This is a new YA graphic novel from Mariko Tamaki, New York Times bestselling author of Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me. It’s an AU graphic novel that is sure to bring some new teenage fans in, just like Tamaki’s earlier title, Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass. Check out the trailer for it on YouTube! Also, it has gotten hit with a ton of misogynistic and homophobic 1 star reviews on Goodreads before its publication date, so feel free to show it some love!

I am Not Starfire trailer thumbnail

That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me on at the Lesbrary and on Twitter @Lesbrary. You can also hear me on All the Books on the first Tuesday of the month, and I post weekly New Releases videos on the Book Riot Youtube channel. You can bet I sneak in as many queer titles as I can.

Happy reading!


Read This Book

Read This Book (07/28/2021)

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that you should add to your TBR pile or nightstand or hidden stack under the bed, right away!

I love the idea and allure of historical fiction – the promise of being transported to another time and place, it’s tempting, to say the least. For my pick today, I have one such book that had this effect on me.

widows of malabar hill cover image

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Set in 1920s Bombay, this is the story of Perveen Mistry, who is one of the first female lawyers in India. Although qualified to practice law, she works in her father’s law firm since as a woman she isn’t allowed to argue a case in court.

When working at her father’s firm, Perveen comes across the suspicious legacy of a wealthy mill owner and looks into it further. She decides to visit the mill owner’s three widows to help them understand their rights. However, she quickly finds herself caught between tensions that escalate into murder.

Apart from this present-day story, we also get flashbacks to Perveen’s past in the year 1916, learning more about what made her who she is today.

What Massey accomplishes here is exceptional because she delivers on three levels; we have a mystery, a character study, and a vivid portrayal of historical Bombay. There were subtle descriptions of food and architecture woven into the story, which only elevated the experience of this read.

If you have enjoyed works by authors such as Rhys Bowen and Marie Benedict, then Sujata Massey is an author to have on your radar for sure.

What’s even better? This is the first in a series and has two fantastic follow-ups already out: The Satapur Moonstone and The Bombay Prince.

Come tell me what you thought of this read if you do pick it up on Twitter @JavedNusrah.

Happy Reading!

Kid Lit Giveaways


We’re giving away five copies of The Accursed Vampire by Madeline McGrane to five lucky Riot readers!

Enter here for a chance, or click the cover image below!

Here’s what it’s all about:

Dragoslava is a vampire kid, but sometimes being stuck as a kid forever can be a pain in the neck. And that’s not even the worst part. Centuries ago, a witch cursed Drago. If they don’t complete every task she sets, they will be turned into worms.

When the witch wants a spellbook from Baneberry Falls, Drago sets off with their immortal friends. But mysteries await in this sleepy Midwestern town, and Drago must figure out if the keepers of the spellbook have a hidden agenda. One thing’s for sure though: Drago’s immortal life will never be the same again!

In The Club

In the Club 07/28/21

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed. This week I’m settling into my new digs in Jersey City, NJ. I’ve lived here before, but this feels like a new adventure, probably since it was a few years ago, I’m in a different apartment, and of course I now have this job. I’m definitely in a “new job, new phone, who dis?” mood.

I’m also happy to be near NYC again and able to visit my old haunts from when I was a 20-something-year-old scalawag, who did not traipse around Manhattan at all hours of the night with my friends acting grown *ahem*.

To the Club!

Nibbles and Sips

So stone fruit are very much in season now and I’ve been seeing fresh apricots each time I’ve been in my fav. new grocery store, Lidl. Seeing them there made me realize that I’ve never really had apricots unless they were dried and/or in preserves (or baked into brie). So obviously, I had to get some. I will say, they’re cute little fruit, albeit a little tart. I actually thought they would go perfectly in a tarte (ha!). New York Times Cooking came through with an apricot tart recipe that also has pistachios (which I love). The ingredients list is fairly short. Tip: If you can’t find phyllo dough, try puff pasty.

Now, let’s get into this week’s topic.

BIPOC Mental Health Month

July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Sadly, I’ve only recently found out about this, but of course bringing awareness to mental health care within communities of color is a yearlong concern.

As with other issues pertaining to race and class, the issues surrounding mental health care and people of color is complex. On the one hand, colonizers have gone to great lengths to eradicate non-European cultural practices and convince us that our beliefs are not rooted in sanity. The many horrors of residency schools that have been surfacing lately are a great example of this attempt at cultural erasure (like this one in Colorado, Minnesota, and Canada). As a result, many of us have tried our best to avoid adding yet another stigma to an already fraught social standing by denying the presence of any mental health issues we may experience.

On the other hand, it has also been well documented how communities of color don’t receive much needed health care, mental health care included. The books I’ve included here bring us one step closer to where we should be in terms of understanding by showing what it’s like to 1) be of color, 2) have a mental illness, and 3) have both of those identities at the same time.

The following books need a trigger warning for: sexual abuse and assault, child abuse, domestic violence

cover of heartberries by Terese Marie Mailhot

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

Mailhot tells a poetic and lyrical story of her experiences with child abuse and neglect, being bipolar, and an Indian. I almost felt at times like I was experiencing things as one of her friends or even as her. This is a result of her somewhat stream-of-conscious style of writing and how honest she was about everything. She could be cruel and selfish and contradicted herself at times. She could also be forgiving and vulnerable, and really just seemed to be in search of validation. I felt as though I was finding things out with her, including the huge revelation towards the end. This is a short read, but has so much packed into it.

Book Club Bonus: In the book, Mailhot is almost apologetic for merely existing as a poor child. What are some other seemingly unusual ways poverty influences children? Also, how may conflicting cultural views of the world (for instance, Indigenous views versus European views on things such as property and ownership) dictate one’s sense of self and place in the world when you belong to more than one culture?

cover image of the collected schizophrenias by Esme Wang

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

With this collection of essays, Wang chronicles her experiences with having late-stage Lyme disease, PTSD, and schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. We follow Wang as she details her experiences with audible and visual hallucinations, her stay in mental hospitals, how she experienced PTSD following an abusive relationship, and more. There’s even a chapter that she wrote while experiencing a particular kind of psychosis known as Cotard’s delusion, which is a rare condition that causes someone to believe they are dead. She’s very honest about being ashamed of her mental illness when she confesses things like “I’m uncomfortable because I don’t want to be lumped in with the screaming man on the bus, or the woman who claims that she’s the reincarnation of God.”

Book Club Bonus: The criteria for having mental illness has changed through the years. How should we reconcile cultural differences in terms of spirituality, etc. with what is considered mental illness? Who dictates what is considered mental illness and what is not?

cover image of black girl unlimited by echo brown

Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown

Echo’s life as a wizard on the East Side is rife with substance abuse, child abuse, depression, racism, classism, and sexism. Despite this, there is magic everywhere. This YA coming-of-age story is a mix of surrealism and metaphor that shows how Black women’s resilience manifests as magic. This can be hard to read, but is so necessary.

Book Club Bonus: How can the idea of Black women being resilient actually be damaging? Also, how does this book explore intergenerational trauma?

Bonus Bonus: All of the books mentioned here focus on women/girls of color dealing with mental health issues. All of the books also have sexual assault. Discuss the intersection of mental health concerns with the prevalence of assault.

Suggestion Section

An article on how Reese Witherspoon’s book club is driving book sales. The impact of book clubs!

In case you hadn’t heard, Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen have a new book.

Here is a list of 2021 releases from Book Riot sure to start some great book club conversations!

Thanks for chilling with me! As always, If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to

See you next week,


What's Up in YA

Spring 2022 YA + Vintage Horror On Screen: Your YA Book News and New Books, July 29, 2021

Hey YA Fans!

This week’s roundup of YA news is packed with goodness. Usually this time of year is pretty quiet, but 2021 continues to be a whole new animal (in this particular case, that’s a good thing).

YA Book News

New YA Books This Week

Where there was a lot of news, note that this week, the new releases are slimmer than normal. The good part about that is you have some time to catch up with that towering TBR.

Hardcover releases

Image of book cover for Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

The Silver Blonde by Elizabeth Ross

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

They’ll Never Catch Us by Jessica Goodman

Paperback Releases

Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon

The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen (series)

The Friend Scheme by Cale Dietrich

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Salvation by Caryn Lix (series)

This Week at Book Riot

Image of a canvas tote bag, featuring a black girl reading a book. Behind her image are the words "after this chapter."

I’m obsessed with this tote bag — how many of us have said we’ll do the thing after this chapter? $19.

As always, thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you again on Monday.

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram.

Thanks to Penguin Teen and They’ll Never Catch Us for making today’s newsletter possible.

Image of book cover for They'll Never Catch Us by Jessica Goodman.
The Stack


Riot Rundown


The Kids Are All Right

New Children’s Book Releases for July 27, 2021

Hey readers! I’m back with another batch of new releases!

I Can Make a Train Noise by Michael Emberley and Marie Louise Fitzpatrick

At a coffee shop, a little girl imagines being aboard a train by making train noises, transforming the shop into a great train ride.

(Backlist Bump) The Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse by Chantel Acevedo

For the mythology lovers out there, this fantasy is out now in paperback. After Callie accidentally turns her best friend into a pop star, she learns she’s one of the muses from Greek mythology. As the newest muse of poetry she is tasked with protecting humanity. For her first assignment, Callie must not only inspire her classmate, Maya, but also save her from Sirens determined to destroy her destiny.

Lucy in the Sky by Kiara Brinkman and Sean Chiki

When Lucy discovers her parents’ old records, she’s catapulted into a summer of Beatlemania. Inspired, she starts a band with her friends, Vanessa and Rupa. They still need a drummer, and Georgianna could be perfect for it, but she doesn’t exactly click with Vanessa and Rupa. Check out this graphic novel to learn how Lucy’s efforts to form an all-girl rock band go.

Super Sidekicks: Ocean’s Revenge by Gavin Aung Than

In this second installment in the Super Sidekicks series, the sidekicks are settling in nicely to their new headquarters. But, the Mother of the Seas, sick of the oceans being treated so horribly by humans, is out for revenge.

(Backlist Bump) Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julia Abe

Now out in paperback is this fun fantasy about Eva, a young witch determined to gain the rank of Novice Witch before she turns thirteen. Unfortunately for Eva, her magic amounts to little more than a pinch. The coastal town she arrives in expects a full-fledged witch, not a mildly magical girl, but Eva opens up a shop to prove her worthiness. When a storm threatens the town, Eva has to rally all the magic and smarts she can to save the town she loves.

Until next week! – Chelsea



We’re giving away five copies of Crossbones by Kimberly Vale and The Last She by H.J. Nelson to five lucky Riot readers!

Enter here for a chance, or click the cover image below!

Here’s what it’s all about:

Crossbones by Kimberly Vale: The Blood Bell’s toll marks the death of the pirate king and the start of the heart-stopping competition to claim the island throne. Csilla, Kane, and Lorelai are each on a mission, but dark tides are rising, and if they aren’t careful, they’ll surely drown.

The Last She by H.J. Nelson: As the only female to survive a devastating virus, Ara hasn’t seen another human in months until she’s caught by Kaden and his crew. With a mission passed down to her by her father, Ara will have to go back to beginning with Kaden’s help—even if it tears their worlds apart.