Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Queer Witchy Reads for Your October TBR

As I’m writing this, I’m puppysitting my mom’s tornado of a teenage dog. He is adorable, but such a handful. (He’s a Mini Australian Shepherd/Cocker Spaniel mix.) I’m actually done work, but he’s finally settled down for a nap, and I know that as soon as I get up, he’s going to start tearing around the house again… so I might stay put and get a head start on tomorrow instead.

A photo of an overgrown black and white dappled puppy curled up in a dog bed
Finn being still for once in his life.

Today, I wanted to highlight the charity SAGE, which advocates and provides services for LGBT elders. You can find out more on their website and you can support them on their donation page.


Queer Witch Books for Your October TBR

After many years of anticipation, we’re finally seeing some queer witch books get published, especially in YA! I have all of them on my TBR, but there is happily now more than I can read in the near future. (So long, we waited! We pined for queer witch stories!) Still, I wanted to highlight some of the queer witch books that are most appropriate for your Halloween TBR. They are all atmospheric reads with a real autumnal feel, so get these before the leaves all fall!

Toil & Trouble cover

Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft edited by Jessica Spotswood & Tess Sharpe

Start here. This is a YA anthology with lots of different takes on witches. Not every story is queer, but 5 of them are. I loved how different each of these version of witches are, from the classic Halloween version to modern wiccans to a new take on soulmate marks. This makes for a perfect October read.

Power & Magic: The Queer Witches Comics Anthology cover

Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology

Another anthology, this one is a collection of different comics about queer witches of color. There is a mix of art styles as well as variations on the idea of witches/witchcraft. Some stories are horror, some humor, as well as drama and romance (mostly F/F).

Mooncakes cover

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

If you like seasonal reads, but you don’t want anything too creepy, this is an adorable graphic novel starring a sapphic witch and a nonbinary werewolf. Both main characters are Chinese American, and Nova is hard of hearing. Also, Nova has two grandmas who own a magical bookstore together! So cute!

the lost coast cover

The Lost Coast by A. R. Capetta

This is an eerie, atmospheric read about a group of queer witches looking for their lost friend — except their friend is there in front of them, with nothing behind her eyes. This is an unsettling book that is told from many different points of view, including from the trees’ perspective! The setting in the redwoods is so evocative and memorable. There is also a ton of different queer identities represented, including nonbinary characters, and there is queer sexuality on the page in a way that is still rare in YA.

Payback's a Witch cover

Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper

If you want to get punched in the face by Halloween, this is the read for you. It’s also got a revenge plot against a gross dude, a spellcasting tournament, and a F/F romance with a ton of sexual tension. This is set in a town populated by 4 magical families, but it also doubles as a Halloween tourist trap, so the whole book is dripping Halloween vibes.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

While, unsurprisingly, most queer witch books are sapphic, there are some exceptions, including this one and The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag. Cemetery Boys is about a trans brujo who wants to prove his identity to his family, and so attempts to summon the ghost of his cousin to help solve his murder — magic only brujos can do. Except he accidentally summons Julian instead, who refuses to leave — and soon Yadriel doesn’t want him to. I mean, cemetery is right there in the title, and there’s a romance with a ghost: this is a great October read.

That’s only scratching the surface of queer witch reads, though! Hopefully by this time next year, I have lots more to recommend.

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

Another queer book out this week is our sponsor, so check that out, too!

The Other Man cover

The Other Man by Farhad J. Dadyburjor (Gay Fiction)

Ved Mehra is heir to a successful Mumbai business empire and he’s newly engaged. There’s just one problem with his perfect life: he’s closeted and has no interest in the woman he’s been arranged to marry. Then he meets Carlos, and suddenly he can envision a new future for himself, one that’s worth the risk. His engagement party is days away, though, and he’ll have to make some big steps to change his life and get a chance at genuine happiness.

A Snake Falls To Earth cover

A Snake Falls To Earth by Darcie Little Badger (Asexual Fantasy)

If you’re a fan of Elatsoe, you’ll have been eagerly anticipating Darcie Little Badger’s second YA fantasy. This one follows two main characters: Nina, a Lipan girl who believes in the stories of worlds beyond our own; and Oli, an outcast cottonmouth from a world of gods and monsters. Soon, their worlds collide, and they have to work together to save both worlds. This is based on Lipan Apache storytelling, and it has an asexual main character.

Madder cover

Madder: a Memoir in Weeds by Marco Wilkinson (Queer Memoir)

This is an experimental memoir that explores Wilkinson’s family roots in Uruguay and Rhode Island through the metaphor of plants. The author is a poet and a horticulturalist, and this work blends together the genres of memoir and poetry. Set aside some time to fall into this story, which — like poetry — benefits with some time to sit with it and untangle some of the language and ideas presented.

Just One Wedding by Chelsea M. Cameron (F/F Romance)

Stay Another Day by Juno Dawson (Bisexual YA Contemporary)

Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (M/M YA Contemporary) [Content warning for transmisogynistic violence]

Tonight We Rule the World cover

Tonight We Rule the World by Zack Smedley (Bisexual Guy YA Contemporary)

Frankie & Bug by Gayle Forman (Trans Guy YA Historical Fiction)

Party & Prey by Steve Orlando, Steve Foxe, and Mike Marts (Gay Thriller Graphic Novel)

Abbott 1973 by Saladin Ahmed & Sami Kivelä (Bisexual Fantasy Graphic Novel)

Stitch by Stitch: Cleve Jones and the AIDS Memorial Quilt by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Jamey Christoph (Gay Nonfiction Picture Book)

Any Kind of Luck at All by Mary Fairhurst Breen (Lesbian Memoir)

The Light Streamed Beneath It by Shawn Hitchins (Gay Memoir)

Special Topics in Being a Human cover

High Yella by Steve Majors (Queer Memoir)

A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries (2003-2020) by David Sedaris (Gay Memoir)

Never Silent: ACT UP and My Life in Activism by Peter Staley (Gay Memoir)

Oscar Wilde: A Life by Matthew Sturgis (Gay Biography)

Special Topics in Being a Human by S. Bear Bergman and Saul Freedman-Lawson (Queer Nonfiction)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at the Lesbrary as well as on Twitter @danikaellis. You can also hear me on All the Books on the first Tuesday of the month, read my Book Riot posts, and watch my 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!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Sapphic Vampire Books To Slake Your Thirst

I’m feeling warm and fuzzy this week, because it’s Book Riot’s 10th birthday! I’ve been here for 6 of those years (as a contributor, then a contributing editor, then a temporary employee, and now an associate editor!) We were chatting away in the Book Riot Slack about how we all got started here and how much has changed. It’s a really lovely community: both the contributors/staff and all you amazing readers. It warmed my heart to read everyone’s happy memories and how far they’d come as readers and writers since they joined.

And hey, if you want to celebrate with us, we have merch celebrating 10 years! Pick up a cozy hoodie, a shirt, or a tote bag at Bonfire to show off your Book Rioter status. It’s only available this month! (The yellow hoodie makes for particularly autumnal apparel.)

This week I wanted to highlight the charity Hope In a Box. They supply rural public schools with “curated books with LGBTQ characters, detailed curriculum for these books tied to Common Core State Standards, and extensive training and mentorship on how to cultivate an inclusive classroom.” You can find out more at the Hope In a Box website and support them by donating. You can also buy a box outright for your own classroom.


Sapphic Vampire Books To Slake Your Thirst

We all construct a seasonal October TBR, right? While most of the year I avoid horror as much as possible, when the leaves start to change, I’m suddenly excited to cozy up with a creepy read. And October? Well, that’s Halloween month, so I put all the witchy, scary, horror, thriller, blood-soaked reads on my TBR. Especially for the 24 hour readathon!

If you, too, like to sprinkle some monstrous books into your October reading, here are some sapphic vampire stories to add to your list! These are all ones that I’ve read and loved.

Cover of A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson

A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson

This is a bisexual, polyamorous take on the character of Dracula from the perspectives of his three “brides” (one of them is a man). It’s also a revenge story: the book begins with Constanta killing Dracula (though he’s never named in the story), and then backtracking to how they got there. It’s a narrative about abuse and also has a lot of gore, so be prepared for that going in, but it’s also gorgeously written, atmospheric, and thoughtful. This is a M/F/F/M polycule and all the main characters are bisexual.

The Gilda Stories cover

The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez

This is a classic for very good reason. Even if you’re not usually a horror reader, this is an incredible read. It follows Gilda over two centuries, from escaping slavery to the year 2050 — we really get a sense of what being immortal would look like, how you would have to continually reinvent yourself. It plays with vampires tropes in interesting ways, and there’s also a lot of commentary on racism, homophobia, and sexism over time — what changes and what stays the same. Gilda is a lesbian vampire who feeds according to a strict moral code, where it must be consensual and also provides value for the human. While this is a vampire book, it’s not horror, so feel free to pick this one up even if you’re not looking for a scare!

Carmilla cover

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, edited by Carmen Maria Machado

Carmilla is the classic lesbian vampire tale — it predates Dracula! She’s also a prototypical “monstrous lesbian.” Still, there’s something so compelling about this story and the character, and Carmen Maria Machado does an incredible job reclaiming it for queer readers. Even if you’ve read it before, this version is like reading it for the first time. I wrote about why the original stuck with me in this post: Lesbian Pulp, Carmilla, and Reclaiming Toxic Representations. And then I was so impressed with Machado’s version that I wrote another: Bringing the Lesbian Vampire Home.

O Captain, My Captain by Katherine V. Forrest cover

O Captain, My Captain by Katherine V. Forrest

Lesbian vampires… in space! Also, you know that joke about lesbian vampires? Well, this novella plays it at face value, and that’s all I’ll say about that.

Better Off Red cover

Better Off Red by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Lesbian vampire sorority sisters! This is closer to the erotica side of things than paranormal romance, which probably isn’t surprising, given the premise. It’s also the first in a series, each with a different main character. The vampire’s name is Camila!

Smbitten cover

Smbitten by Melanie Gillman

Melanie Gillman is one of my favourite artists. They use pencil crayons in their detailed and evocative illustrations — you might remember them from As the Crow Flies. This one is a graphic novel about swing-dancing lesbian vampires! Even better, it’s on Gumroad as pay what you want, with no minimum.

Next up on my TBR is When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll, an erotic vampire horror graphic novel. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it.

Whether you’re looking for erotica, horror, or a classic, hopefully you found a sapphic vampire book to your taste on this list!

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

While there some fantastic authors of colour on this list, the LGBTQ books out this week are disproportionately white. Hey publishing: we want more diverse queer books, please.

Payback's a Witch cover

Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper (Bisexual F/F Fantasy)

If you want a Halloween read but aren’t in a horror mood, this is the perfect pick for you. There’s a witchy town that doubles as a Halloween tourist trap, a spellcasting tournament, and three women who make a pact to get revenge on the man who broke their heart — and then two of them fall for each other in the process. This gives me Halloweentown vibes, if Halloweentown was a bisexual fantasy romance novel.

Reprieve cover

Reprieve by James Han Mattson (Gay Horror)

On the other hand, if you’re ready to dive into a horror read, might I recommend this murder at a full contact haunted escape room? It’s about a group of 4 (including a gay international student on a “besotted search” for his former English teacher) who almost become the second group to ever get through the entire escape room without yelling the safe word, “reprieve,” until someone breaks into the cell and kills one of them. On top of the creepy story, it’s also an examination of privilege, complicity, and racism in America. If you like your horror to keep you up at night both with sheer adrenaline and with timely social criticism, this is the October read for you.

cover of Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle, featuring cartoon of four young people standing in front of a full moon

Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall & Lisa Sterle (Sapphic YA Fantasy Graphic Novel)

Becca is worried about fitting in at her new school, but she is immediately taken in by the popular girls. There’s just one little snag: they are werewolves. In order to finally have a place where she belongs, Becca lets herself get turned. After all, they only feed on skeezy boys who won’t take no for an answer. As this strategy gets messier and messier, she also finds herself falling for one of the other girls in the pack. This already has an adaptation in the works, after an 8 way bidding war for the rights!

The Throwback List by Lily Anderson (Bisexual Fiction)

The Swank Hotel by Lucy Corin (M/M Fiction)

The Balance Tips by Joy Huang-Iris (Queer Fiction)

The Perks of Loving a Wallflower cover

The Perks of Loving a Wallflower (The Wild Wynchesters Book 2) by Erica Ridley (F/F Historical Romance)

The House on Druid Lake by Isabelle Adler (M/M Paranormal Romance)

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow (Sapphic Fantasy)

Galaxy Brain (Cute Mutants #5) by S. J. Whitby (Genderfluid Fantasy)

The Stagsblood King by Gideon E. Wood (Gay Fantasy)

The Fox’s Tower and Other Tales by Yoon Ha Lee (Queer Fantasy Short Stories)

A Spindle Splintered cover

Blood of the Chosen (Burningblade & Silvereye #2) by Django Wexler (F/F Fantasy)

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth (Sapphic Horror) (Paperback release)

The Gold Persimmon by Lindsay Merbaum (Sapphic and Nonbinary Horror)

Rebel Boys and Rescue Dogs, or Things That Kiss with Teeth by Brianna R. Shrum (Trans Guy Love Interest YA Contemporary)

Tonight We Rule the World by Zack Smedley (Bisexual Guy YA Contemporary)

Needlework by Julia Watts (Gay YA Contemporary)

The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros (M/M YA Historical Fiction)

Greedy cover

The One You Want to Marry (And Other Identities I’ve Had) by Sophie Santos (Lesbian Memoir)

A Carnival of Snackery (Diaries 2003-2020) by David Sedaris (Gay Memoir)

A Tale of Two Omars: A Memoir of Family, Revolution, and Coming Out During the Arab Spring by Omar Sharif Jr. (Queer Memoir)

Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman’s Fight to End Ableism by Elsa Sjunneson (Queer Memoir)

Greedy: Notes from a Bisexual Who Wants Too Much by Jen Winston (Bisexual Woman Memoir)

The Care We Dream Of: Liberatory & Transformative Approaches to LGBTQ+ Health edited by Zena Sharman (Nonfiction)

Between Certain Death and a Possible Future : Queer Writing on Growing up with the AIDS Crisis edited by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore (Queer Nonfiction)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at the Lesbrary as well as on Twitter @danikaellis. 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!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

To All the Queer Books I’ll Never Read

Remember how last week I said I’d be home alone this month, because my partner was visiting family? Well, you know what they say: man plans, the pandemic laughs. New Brunswick declared a state of emergency because of rising infection levels from the Delta variant, so they had to cancel. I’m glad to have him home, but it is really disappointing that he won’t be able to see his family. I can’t believe we’re almost 2 years into the pandemic and still can’t reliably plan a week in advance!

Because the pandemic is on my mind, I wanted to highlight an organization that helped provide LGBTQ+ folks with support during this time. Prism Foundation is a “grassroots philanthropic organization that provides funds and leverages resources to empower the Asian & Pacific Islander LGBTQ+ community.” They gave out $10,000 in Covid-19 Relief Funds to individuals ($100 each) and organizations ($500 each) in 2020 and they continue to provide scholarships and grants. You can find out more on their website and you can also donate to help support them.


To All the Queer Books I’ll Never Read

When I started the Lesbrary more than a decade ago, I gave it the subtitle “The humble quest to read everything lesbian.” It was tongue in cheek even at the time, but I really was trying to read everything with a lesbian or bi woman main character. I would make lists of every sapphic (though I wasn’t using that term at the time) book I’d ever heard of. I’d scour used bookstores looking for that Bella Books, Bold Strokes Books, or Cleis Press logo on the spine. The moment I heard there was a queer woman main character in a book, it was on my TBR. I also promised to read every sapphic ebook that was sent my way — and review it, too. I was dazzled by the idea of free queer books.

Part of this was naivety: I was at the beginning of my queer book reader journey, and I didn’t realize how much had come before me. I didn’t know about the lesbian literary community in 1920s Paris or 1950s lesbian pulp or the lesbian utopia sci fi of the 70s. There was already far more out there than I could read in my lifetime.

The other side, though, was that there really were fewer queer books being published. They were out there, and there was a handful of titles getting put out by the big publishers every year, but they were so few that I could easily read every queer YA book that came out, for example. I could keep up — at least with mainstream publisher’s output of queer books.

Very quickly, I became overwhelmed with the amount of ebooks I was being sent for review. I needed to put some sort of standards in place, especially after reviewing some truly terribly edited books. (“He wrapped a towel around his waste” has a very different meaning than they were going for.) So I stopped reading every ebook I was sent for review, instead only reading the ones I found personally interesting, that also matched the genres and tropes I like. I did the same thing with my physical TBR, reluctantly letting go of the cheesy 80s lesbian romances that I was never going to really enjoy.

And that worked, for a little while. I read the queer books I was excited about and left the rest. But now… Now my dresser overflows with my “immediate” TBR, and that’s just the physical books I’ve been sent for review. My library holds list gets maxed out. My ereader bursts at the seams with eARCs.

I read around 100 books a year, which sounds like a lot, until you start keeping track of all the books coming out every week (in addition to this newsletter, I also do the All the Books podcast and Book Riot’s weekly new releases YouTube videos). I just need to read more, I think. I just need to stop watching TV and start reading! If only I could sneak in some more pages, I could keep up!

Alas, it can’t happen. For one, I love zoning out and watching TV — no shame. Also, even if it was 200 books a year, I’d still have to make choices. There are just too many good queer books out there. There are classics I haven’t read and new releases in every genres coming out every week. I have to accept it: I can’t read all the queer books, even just the ones I’m interested it.

To all the queer books I’ll never read: I’m sorry. I know that if I had read you first — because the publisher mailed me a hardcover instead of an eARC, or because the library had an audiobook version, or just because I liked the cover better — I would have raved about you. It’s not your fault. I hope you find your way into other readers’ hands who will love you.

I can’t say I’m sorry that so many queer books are being published now, but I am sorry that I can’t champion every amazing title out there. I can only hope the afterlife involves a comfy chair and a very large library.

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

Unfortunately, this week’s releases are disproportionately by white authors. Do better, publishing. We’re far overdue for more queer books by authors of color.

cover of Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki (Sapphic, Trans Side Character Science Fiction)

Shizuka made a deal with the devil, but she is so close to wriggling out of the consequences. She has to convince 7 other violinists to make their own Faustian bargains and she’ll be clear. When she bumps into Katrina, a young trans runaway with a talent for playing violin, she’s convinced the 7th spot is secure. There’s just one problem: Lan Tran, who is the swoon-worthy interstellar refugee owner of a donut shop. The three women grow close, and Shizuka has to choose between her new found family and the curse hanging over her head. This is a perfect fit for fans of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet!

Cover of Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo, featuring a human hand underwater wrapped in weeds reaching for a skeleton hand wrapped in weeds

Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo (Queer Gothic Horror)

The Secret History meets Fast and the Furious. Need I say more? Just in case, here it is: Andrew and Eddie grew up closer than brothers. When Eddie left for university, it was with the understanding Andrew would follow months later. But just before he was supposed to arrive, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide. As Andrew searches for answers, he falls into Eddie’s life of backstabbing academia and nights of “hot boys, fast cars, and hard drugs.” Oh, and one more problem: he’s being haunted by a ravenous phantom.

This is a queer Southern Gothic with dark academia elements that also examines toxic masculinity and the pervasive white supremacy in academia.

MENAFTER10 by Casey Hamilton (Gay Fiction)

The Pursued and the Pursuing by AJ Odasso (M/M Retelling)

MENAFTER10 cover

The Body on the Bed by Leonard Krishtalka (Sapphic Mystery)

Sailor Proof by Annabeth Albert (M/M Romance)

Royal Fling by Rhys Everly (M/M Romance)

The Lights on Knockbridge Lane by Roan Parrish (M/M Christmas Romance)

Wake of the Phoenix by Chelsea Harper (M/M Fantasy)

Activation Degradation by Marina J. Lostetter (Bisexual M/M, Intersex Side Character Science Fiction Thriller)

Before We Disappear by Shaun David Hutchinson (M/M YA Historical Fantasy)

Before We Disappear cover

Sisters of Shadow by Katherine Livesey (Sapphic YA Fantasy)

Dark Rise by by C. S. Pacat (M/M YA Fantasy)

Some Faraway Place (A Bright Sessions Novel) by Lauren Shippen (F/F YA Fantasy)

Stars in Their Eyes by Jessica Walton & Aśka (YA Graphic Novel)

Ciel in All Directions by Sophie Labelle (Non-Binary Middle Grade Graphic Novel)

Evelyn Hooker and the Fairy Project by Gayle E. Pitman (LGBTQ Children’s Nonfiction)

Cuíer by Caio Fernando Abreu, Sarah Coolidge, et al (Queer Poetry)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at the Lesbrary, on Twitter @danikaellis, and you can check out my Book Riot posts. 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!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Queer YA Hauntings To Creep You Out This Fall

By the time the next newsletter gets to your inbox, I’ll be beginning a month of living alone! My partner is visiting his family on the other coast, and it’ll just be me and the dogs for all of October. I haven’t been by myself that long in… ever?? On the bright side, I’m going to read just a ridiculous amount of books. That’s the plan, at least!

This week I wanted to highlight the organization LGBT Books to Prisoners. They are a “trans-affirming, racial justice-focused, prison abolitionist project sending books to incarcerated LGBTQ-identified people across the United States.” You can find out more about them on the LGBT Books to Prisoners website, and you can contribute on the donation page. They’re also looking for book donations!


Queer YA Hauntings and Possessions

As the weather cools (at least in this hemisphere), I start to crave creepy, atmospheric reads. Usually, I have no interest in horror, but in Fall (and especially October!), it suddenly begins to appeal to me. I listened to two YA horror audiobooks recently that perfectly satisfied that craving, so I wanted to recommend them to you if you’re in a similar reading and listening mood. I also have one that’s on my TBR for this season that looks like it will fit right in and that I’ve heard amazing things about.

cover of the dead and the dark by courtney gould

The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould (Lesbian YA Horror)

Logan has spent her life crisscrossing the country with her two dads, Brandon and Alejo, as they film their ghost hunting TV show. When Brandon returns to his and Alejo’s hometown, he says he’s scouting for a filming location, but then he doesn’t leave for months. Alejo and Logan come after him, but they’re soon all drawn into this small town’s mysteries–including missing teenagers–and homophobic attitudes make Brandon a prime suspect. Logan finds herself teaming up with Ashley, who is looking for her missing boyfriend. As they investigate, it becomes obvious that something supernatural is going on, and even Logan is becoming suspicious of her father. Even more unexpected? Logan and Ashley are starting to fall for each other.

This one has an incredibly creepy atmosphere, and we get glimpses into an evil being that is possessing someone and killing teens using their body–but who is being possessed, and why did they make a deal with this dark force?

cover of the girls are never gone by sarah glenn marsh

The Girls Are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn Marsh (Bisexual YA Horror)

Dare took this internship to help restore Arrington Estate because it’s rumored to be haunted, and it should make good content for her ghost hunting podcast. The fact that Dare is extremely skeptical about the existence of ghosts is something she keeps under wraps. When she arrives there, she finds assistance in the daughter of the museum’s owner, Quinn. Soon, even Dare has to admit that something weird is happening in this house, with its lake that creeps closer every day, and the face that appears beside hers in the mirror.

I personally love horror stories that have a water focus, and this one is very much about the ominous lake (where at least one girl drowned). No matter how much work they do to restore it, the ceilings are always leaking, mold spreads, and carpets squelch with water underfoot.

This also has disability representation: Dare has Type 1 Diabetes and has to manage it both with medical equipment and a service dog. (The author also has Type 1 Diabetes.)

cover image of The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass showing a drawing of a Black teen boy about to be grabbed by a ghost

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (Gay YA Horror/Social Thriller)

Unlike the previous two books, Jake doesn’t have to hunt for ghosts, because they’re always with him. He sees the dead acting out their deaths, caught in an endless loop. All except Sawyer, the ghost of a school shooter who’s determined to use Jake to exact vengeance. Soon, instead of seeing ghosts, Jake finds himself controlled by one.

This is a gay paranormal thriller that has a lot of social commentary, especially on anti-Black racism. It also gets very dark, including giving the school shooter’s perspective. If you like your horror with hard-hitting social commentary, this should be on your list.

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

Did you think we were done with the giant lists of new releases? Well, September still has more to give!

A Dream of a Woman cover

A Dream of a Woman by Casey Plett (Trans Women Short Stories)

Casey Plett has won multiple awards for her previous books, including a Lambda Literary Award, and this collection has been long-listed for the Giller prize. These stories are heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time. They examine the complexities of being human and the flawed, yearning ways we relate to each other. I finished the first story and had to stare at a wall for a while to process it–and I mean that in the best possible way.

Things We Couldn't Say cover

Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles (Bi M/Bi M YA Contemporary)

Gio is a bisexual boy who’s fallen for another bi boy on his basketball team, but that’s far from the most complicated thing in his life right now. After eight years, his absent mother has reappeared in his family’s life, asking for forgiveness. Gio isn’t sure he can give it, or if she even deserves a relationship with him at all. This deals with masculinity and vulnerability–and it’s well worth getting for the stunning cover alone.

Cover of Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Iron Widow ​by Xiran Jay Zhao (Bisexual YA Sci Fi)

This is being pitched as Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid’s Tale. Chrysalises are the only way to fight the alien mechas lurking on the other side of the Great Wall, but they require two pilots: a male pilot, and a female concubine-pilot who is often killed by the experience of being drained to power the machine. But Zetian has reversed this dynamic, making her a rare and feared Iron Widow. Everyone wants to find a way to constrain her power, but she’d done being controlled. (Bonus: polyamorous representation!)

cover of the insiders by mark oshiro, a yellow cover with three cartoon children running through open doors

The Insiders by Mark Oshiro (Gay Middle Grade Fantasy)

Héctor Muñoz finds himself forced back into the closet–literally–at his new school. While being gay was no big deal in San Francisco, it makes him a target at Orangevale, and he seeks refuge in the janitor’s closet. Except one day, the closet gives him access to another room, one that connects him to other middle grade outcasts from different corners of the country. This is a coming of age story about not fitting and finding your community, and it also has non-binary representation.

The Wrong End of the Telescope by Rabih Alameddine (Trans Woman Fiction)

Better to Trust by Heather Frimmer (Sapphic Fiction)

Suture cover

Suture by Nic Brewer (Lesbian Weird Fiction)

Hugh by David Lawrence (Gay Historical Fiction)

Between His Lover and the Deep Blue Sea by Merry Farmer (M/M Romance)

Mechanics of Love by Meka James (F/F Romance)

Love in the Limelight by Ashley Moore (F/F Romance)

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (Sapphic Sci Fi) (Paperback Release)

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune (M/M Fantasy)

Traitors of the Black Crown cover

Traitors of the Black Crown (Black Crown #1) by Cate Pearce (F/F Fantasy)

Sidelined by Kara Bietz (M/M YA Contemporary)

Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh (Questioning YA Contemporary) (Paperback Release)

To Break a Covenant by Alison Ames (Lesbian YA Thriller)

The Bronzed Beasts (The Gilded Wolves #3) by Roshani Chokshi (Bisexual YA Fantasy)

Into the Dying Light (The Age of Darkness #3) by Katy Rose Pool (M/M YA Fantasy)

The Other Merlin by Robyn Schneider (Bisexual YA Fantasy)

Beasts and Beauty by Soman Chainani cover

Pepper’s Rules for Secret Sleuthing by Briana McDonald (Sapphic Middle Grade Contemporary) (Paperback Release)

Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani (Gay Main Characters Middle Grade Fantasy/Fairy Tale Short Stories)

Battle Dragons: City of Thieves by Alex London (Queer-Inclusive World, Middle Grade Fantasy)

Tenderness by Derrick Austin (Queer Poetry)

Gumbo Ya Ya by Aurielle Marie (Queer Poetry)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at the Lesbrary as well as on Twitter @danikaellis. 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!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Fantastic Queer eBooks That Are All Under $5!

Hi friends! I hope you’re doing well. It finally got properly rainy yesterday, and I know I’ll get tired of it soon, but right now I am celebrating. It’s my ideal reading weather! Now, did I scroll through TikTok instead of reading? Sure. But I appreciate the ambience anyways.

Today I wanted to highlight the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, which provides legal aid to low income trans, intersex, and gender-nonconforming people of color in New York City. You can find out more about them on the SRLP website and you can help out using their donation page.


Queer eBooks Under $5

Lots of other Book Riot newsletters include a deals section, so I thought I’d try it out once! These are all queer ebooks under $5 at the time of writing. Some are always under $5 and some are just on sale at the moment. Enjoy!

Phoenix Extravagant book cover

Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee for $0.99

A pacifist non-binary artist is recruited to work as a kind of mystical coder for the military. While working for the Razanei government, though, they discover the military is even worse than they thought… and then they accidentally give a dragon automaton free will. Now Jebi finds themselves with a mechanical war dragon companion, up against a tyrannical government.

Meet Cute Diary cover

Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee for $1.99

Noah runs Meet Cute Diary, a Tumblr blog where trans people send in their adorable, romantic meet cutes. It brings a lot of trans people hope and comfort. There’s just one problem: it’s not real. Noah writes them all himself. When he’s caught, he jumps into a fake dating scheme to try to give the blog he loves so much some credibility. But actually dating is a little more messy than his neat fictional meet cutes.

cover of Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
The Unbroken cover

Whoops, didn’t intend for that to get so long, but there are a ton of great queer YA ebook deals right now! Apologies for your wallet!

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

I’ve taken a page from the Kissing Books romance newsletter and am going to start including a few LGBTQ posts “from the vault” here, since there are so many great ones you might have missed!

New Releases This Week

The Spectacular cover

The Spectacular by Zoe Whittall (Bisexual Fiction)

Missy made a name for herself as a cellist in a punk band by performing a song about her absent mother every night. Her hard partying ways catch up to her, though, when she unexpectedly falls for a tomboy drummer — oh, and also gets stranded at the border because of a forgotten flap of cocaine. She crashes at her grandmother’s house, but her grandmother is determined to get all three generations of women in the family on the same page again. This is a story about maternal ambivalence: what happens when a mother regrets having children?

Peter Cabot Gets Lost cover

Peter Cabot Gets Lost by Cat Sebastian (M/M Romance)

Cat Sebastian has a devoted fanbase who will have been counting down until this release! It’s the second in the Cabot family series. Caleb has just graduated from a Boston college in 1960 and is stranded, with no way to get to Los Angeles and start his new life. Good news: classmate Peter Cabot has offered to drive him there to escape from his father’s presidential campaign. Bad news: Caleb hates Peter.

Witch Rising cover

Witch Rising (B*WITCH #2) by Paige McKenzie & Nancy Ohlin (Sapphic YA Fantasy)

In this concluding volume of the B*Witch duology, the two covens at school continue to spar, but they have bigger problems: an anti-magic faction may be responsible for killing a witch. They have to join forces to find out the truth. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also the romantic complications: Ridley has a crush on a dead girl, and Iris is trying to catch Greta’s eye before the new witch does. But, of course, “queer witch YA” should have been enough to convince you to pick this series up already.

A Lot Like Adiós by Alexis Daria (Bi M/Bi F Romance)

Love and Lotus Blossoms by Anne Shade (Bisexual F/F Romance)

Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston (Bisexual Fantasy) (Paperback release)

The Actual Star by Monica Byrne

The Actual Star by Monica Byrne (Non-Binary World Sci-Fi)

Oaths of Legacy (The Bloodright Trilogy #2) by Emily Skrutskie (M/M Science Fiction)

Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body by Megan Milks (YA Contemporary)

The Scratch Daughters (Scapegracers #2) by Hannah Abigail Clarke (Sapphic YA Fantasy)

The Hollow Heart (Forgotten Gods #2) ​by Marie Rutkoski (Sapphic YA Fantasy)

The Lost Girls by Sonia Hartl (F/F Paranormal YA)

Monstress, Vol. 6: The Vow by Marjorie M. Liu & Sana Takeda (Sapphic Fantasy Graphic Novel)

808s & Otherworlds by Sean Avery Medlin cover

Passion by June Jordan (reprint) (Bisexual Poetry)

Villainy by Andrea Abi-Karam (Queer Poetry)

808s & Otherworlds by Sean Avery Medlin (Queer Poetry)

Umbilical Cord by Hasan Namir (Two Dads Poetry)

A Quilt for David by Steven Reigns (Gay Poetry/Biography)

Early One Morning by Lawrence Schimel and Elīna Brasliņa (Two Dads Board Book)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at the Lesbrary as well as on Twitter @danikaellis. 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!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Queer Books Are Everywhere. Why Are They Still Invisible?

I’m back from camping! Sure, it rained some, and yes, one of the dogs threw up all over the tent at 4 in the morning, but we still managed to have a good time! Maybe next time we’ll leave the pups with family, though.

This week, I wanted to highlight the charity Rainbow Railroad, which helps LGBTQI+ people escape state-sanctioned violence and oppression around the world. Right now, they’re trying to respond to many calls for help from LGBTQI+ people in Afghanistan fleeing from Taliban violence. You can find out more about about them on their website, and you can help them continue this work on their donation page.


Queer Books Are Everywhere. Why Are They Still Invisible?

I’ve started to really into queer BookTok, and I’m relieved it’s a thing. For a while there, I thought I would have to start one myself, and I am overwhelmed by the idea. Videos are hard enough: I don’t want to have to relearn new logistics. Luckily, there are lots of queer bookish creators making their mark. I even wrote a post about the LGBTQ books featured most on BookTok!

I’ve also been able to watch publishing change in the decade I’ve been writing about queer books. As you’ll be see in the list below, there are more queer books being published every month than used to be published in a year! And the kinds of representation has expanded by leaps and bounds — there’s more to go, of course, but I’m grateful for the progress that’s been made.

So how is it, when more queer books are being published every year than even the fastest reader could make a dent in, that some people still think they don’t exist at all?

The sentiment “there’s no good lesbian books” has been remarkably persistent despite being unequivocally wrong. After years of seeing it in comments sections on blogs, it still shows up regularly on TikToks (now usually as “sapphic books” instead). It’s so common that Laynie Rose, the foremost sapphic BookToker, made a shirt about it.

The problem is not that queer books (or queer women books or good sapphic books) don’t exist. Of course there are genres that are lacking representation, and of course it’s a small percentage next to the straight cis books that are getting published, but it’s still a staggering amount and breadth of representation. The problem is that people seem to still not be finding them. And… how is that possible?

If you google queer books, sapphic books, good lesbian books — however you want to specify it — you’ll get decent results. You’ll immediately be given relevant titles and resources to find more. There are blogs, YouTube channels, TikTok accounts, newsletters (hello!) devoted to queer lit. So how can anyone claim these books don’t exist?

Perhaps it’s because you do have to look. If you want cis/allo/straight representation, you could go into a library, close your eyes, spin in a circle and grab the first book you touch and you’re almost guaranteed to succeed. (Don’t do that, though. Unless you have a spotter!) Queer books require you to investigate, even just a cursory amount, and I don’t see that changing.

Luckily, more and more queer books are making it onto bestseller lists and displays. And that’s thanks to the authors and readers who did the work to make that possible: who fought to find an audience when they were told there was none, who investigated to find the titles they were told didn’t exist and then read and recommended them.

For now, at least, queer books do require a little more effort to find — usually just a few more keystrokes! — but I promise: they’re worth it.

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

Come work with Book Riot! We’re hiring an Ad Operations Associate. Apply by September 30th!

New Releases This Week

This is one of the biggest publishing days of the year, so buckle up for a long list!

Cover of No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull

No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull (Queer Fantasy)

In the first volume of a new series, Laina finds out that her brother has been shot by Boston cops — except that somehow that isn’t the biggest news of her day. It turns out that her brother was a werewolf, and suddenly all kinds of monsters are coming out of the woodwork, running from something. This is a book with a ton of different point of view characters, including asexual and sapphic representation.

cover of a clash of steel by c.b. lee

A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee (YA Historical Fiction)

This is a YA “remix” of Treasure Island, featuring a slowburn F/F romance. It’s based on the real history of piracy in the China seas. When Xiang finds out her late father was a pirate, it’s because a girl named Anh stole her necklace and then asked for help deciphering the treasure map inside.There’s found family elements and queer pirates: who can resist?

The City Beautiful cover

The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros (M/M YA Historical Fiction)

Despite this having just come out, I swear it already has a devoted fanbase. It’s a queer Jewish historical thriller that takes place in at the 1893 Chicago World Fair. Alter is being possessed by his murdered best friend’s dybbuk, and he doesn’t have long to solve the murder and stop the killer. He finds himself having to rely on the help of a dangerous boy from his past.

The Family Way by Christopher DiRaddo (Gay Fiction)

The Magician by Colm Tóibín (Gay Fiction)

How to Wrestle a Girl by Venita Blackburn (Sapphic Short Stories)

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun (M/M Romance)

The Final Child by Fran Dorricott (Thriller)

Cover of The All-Consuming World by Cassandra Khaw

The Actual Stars by Monica Byrne (Non-binary Worldbuilding Science Fiction)

The All-Consuming World by Cassandra Khaw (Sapphic, Non-Binary Side Characters Science Fiction)

Act Cool by Tobly McSmith (Trans Guy YA Contemporary)

The Night When No One Had Sex by Kalena Miller (YA Contemporary)

Major Detours: A Choices Novel by Zachary Sergi (M/M YA Contemporary)

The Girls Are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn Marsh (Bisexual YA Horror)

Mary, Will I Die? by Shawn Sarles (Lesbian YA Horror)

We Are Not Broken by George M Johnson (Queer, they/them pronouns YA Nonfiction)

Obie is Man Enough by Schuyler Bailar (Trans Boy Middle Grade Contemporary)

A Touch of Ruckus cover

A Touch of Ruckus by Ash Van Otterloo (Sapphic, Non-Binary LI Middle Grade Fantasy)

One Life: Young Readers Edition by Megan Rapinoe (Middle Grade Memoir)

Other Boys by Damian Alexander (Gay Middle Grade Graphic Memoir)

Small Knight and the Anxiety Monster by Manka Kasha (Non-binary/Gender-neutral, they/them pronouns Picture Book)

Eighty Days by A. C. Esguerra (M/M Graphic Novel)

Tenderness by Derrick Austin (Queer Poetry)

The Breaks: An Essay by Julietta Singh (Queer Nonfiction)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at the Lesbrary as well as on Twitter @danikaellis. 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!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

A Queer Office Satire, Non-Binary Cyberpunk, and More LGBTQ Books Out This Week

As I’m writing this, I am about to pack up the car for my first camping trip in years, and I’m so excited. By the time you read this, I’ll be back — hopefully it all went smoothly! I am ready for some vegan s’mores and to tackle my TBR (but not at the same time, because that would be messy).

Today I wanted to highlight Trans Lifeline, a hotline run by and for trans people. In addition to the hotline, they also provide microgrants to help trans people correct their ID (especially trans people of color) as well as microgrants for trans health care and for trans people who are incarcerated. You can find out more at the Trans Lifeline website, and you can donate to help them in their work.


Resources You Need To Know: LGBTQ Reads

If you read queer YA, Dahlia Adler’s LGBTQ Reads is an essential website to know. It’s packed full of so many resources, I’m not even sure where to start describing them!

Dahlia Adler is bisexual author who primarily writes YA and New Adult as well as editing YA anthologies. Under the Lights and Cool for the Summer are two of her queer titles, and her anthologies — like His Hideous Heart: 13 of Edgar Allan Poe’s Most Unsettling Tales Reimagined and That Way Madness Lies: 15 of Shakespeare’s Most Notable Works Reimagined — include queer stories.

Of course, Adler doesn’t stop at just writing great queer books. For five years, she’s been maintaining the best queer YA book site on the internet, LGBTQ reads. The blog is filled with all kinds of content, including monthly new releases (which I definitely crib from for titles in these newsletters), interviews with authors, cover reveals, Fave Five posts of recommendations on a theme, guest posts, and lots more.

She also has a feature called Under the Gaydar for queer books that don’t reveal the queer content on the front or back cover, so that closeted people (especially kids and teens) can access them without being outed.

But the blog posts are only scratching the surface. Adler also maintains a ton of lists to try to match you with exactly the book you’re looking for. In the top bar, there are lots of categories to choose from, including:

Those are just a few of the pages available, and Adler does a superhuman job of keeping them updated with new additions.

It doesn’t stop at this website, though. Adler runs an LGBTQ Reads tumblr, where you can ask for recommendations of any kind of queer book, including anonymously, and she will give you titles. I cannot fathom how she manages to keep up with both of these on top of being a parent and writing books. She also has started a TikTok account, because of course she has.

I hope that you start following LGBTQ Reads if you haven’t already, because it’s such a wealth of information, and Dahlia Adler is doing so much to promote queer books and help LGBTQ readers. If you want to show her some support, she also has a Patreon. At the top tier, Adler will send you a hand-selected book every month!

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke cover

Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke (Queer Satire)

If you use Slack, you already recognize the title reference. In this satire of office life, an employee is uploaded into the Slack interface. His coworkers think it’s a bit, but he is able to convince one of them to try to help him escape. This is a surreal commentary on modern work life, with a queer romantic subplot. If you’re unfamiliar with Slack, this is likely going to be a tough hang, but either way, get ready for a weird and memorable read.

In the Watchful City cover

In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu (Non-binary Bio-Cyberpunk)

This is being described as a “Asian-inspired mosaic novella” about Anima, an extrasensory non-binary person who is part of the Gleaming, a living network that keeps the city safe. When a visitor arrives with a box of objects from around the world and describes them to ær, it changes Anima’s perception. This is a collection of fragmented stories that will challenge and intrigue readers. Two of the main characters, Anima and the visitor, are non-binary and use neopronouns (æ/ær and se/ser).

For the Love of April French by Penny Aimes (Trans woman M/F Romance)

Tell Me Anything (Light Gets In #1) by Skye Kilaen (Bi M/Bi F Romance)

Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper (Queer Horror)

The Devil You Know by Kit Rocha (Bisexual Science Fiction)

Tobyn: The It Girl by Ashley Woodfolk (Lesbian YA Contemporary)

The Flyers by Beth Turley (Sapphic Middle Grade)

This Little Rainbow by Joan Holub, illustrated by Daniel Roode (LGBTQ Board Book)

Are You This? Or Are You This? by Madian Al Jazerah (Gay Memoir)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at the Lesbrary as well as on Twitter @danikaellis. 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!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Goodreads Continues To Punish Queer Books

I am so excited to be going camping next week! I grew up with regular camping trips, but my partner and I have never gone just the two of us. I’m looking forward to a few days of reading by flashlight, reading by the campfire, reading on the beach — and I suppose some non-reading activities, too. I have a stack of books to catch up on, though, so finishing those will be my first priority. (Well, that and snacking.)

This week, I wanted to highlight the charity True Colors United. Their mission is to “implement innovative solutions to youth homelessness that focus on the unique experiences of LGBTQ young people.” You can find out more about them at their website, and here’s their donation page.


Goodreads Continues To Punish Queer Books

Last month, you might remember that I mentioned I Am Not Starfire by Mariko Tamaki and Yoshi Yoshitani getting review bombed on Goodreads before it was released. This is a standalone YA graphic novel with its own version of Starfire, a comics character beloved by many — so beloved, in fact, that some fans seemed to think anyone messing with their vision of her was a threat. There are literally hundreds of 1 star reviews ranting about this book, most of which were posted before anyone had read it. The top review calls the creators “untalented hacks” and includes a derogatory reference to self harm.

I was horrified by this, partly because it came as a complete surprise. I was researching new releases and scrolled down to see people’s general impressions, and suddenly I was punched in the face by misogyny, racism, and homophobia. Although I couldn’t do much about it, I posted my own five star review expressing my disappointment at all the reviewers angry that this book is for and about teenage girls.

What I wasn’t expecting was for that review to rise to the top page, and to then receive daily comments on it screaming at me (including lots more misogyny). Luckily, I could just delete those — which quickly got tiring, because there’s no way to stop them from coming in — but despite reporting many of the truly vile reviews posted weeks ago, they’re still up. And that’s because there is very little that Goodreads won’t allow.

We’ve discussed the Goodreads bots problem before, and the fact that because Goodreads doesn’t even require a confirmation email to create an account, it’s easy for someone to make dozens of accounts to 1 star a book. Last year, I wrote about Goodreads Charles, a user who rates hundreds of not yet released queer women books 1 star (as well as some other marginalized authors’ upcoming titles).

On the I Am Not Starfire Goodreads page, I noticed another feature that is left open for abuse: community questions. These show up before the reviews, and people left judgmental, hateful non-questions there, which are the first things people see when they scroll past the book description.

All of these things combine to cement my opinion that Goodreads is an unsafe place for queer authors and readers — as well as other marginalized groups, especially authors of color. There are no protections to prevent a book’s rating from being dragged down just because a group of people (or one person with a lot of time on their hands creating multiple accounts) are angry about the queer content. Trans books especially get this treatment, with many transphobic accounts having a dedicated shelf for 1 starring trans-accepting titles.

The lack of moderation and loose guidelines mean that hatred is amplified on Goodreads, with no recourse. Flagging reviews rarely does anything, and their guidelines don’t even require that you read a book before rating it. Essentially, as long as people don’t include slurs in their reviews, they’re fair game — and ratings without reviews are just as effective in lowering a book’s overall rating and making it look less appealing to readers.

I don’t have an answer here: Goodreads is so entrenched that it continues to hold a lot of sway. Hopefully, though, it’s a reminder a) to not take Goodreads average ratings as a measure of quality and b) to keep promoting queer and other marginalized lit to try to counteract this.

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

We’ve got some intriguing YA and middle grade releases out today, plus some much-anticipated SFF sequels!

Both Sides Now by Peyton Thomas cover

Both Sides Now by Peyton Thomas (Trans, M/M YA Contemporary)

Finch can’t wait to get out of high school and start his life, preparing to become the first trans congressman. He just has to get through one last National Speech & Debate Tournament competition. Getting the gold would look great on his résumé — which would be helpful, because he hasn’t actually gotten accepted to any colleges yet. There’s just two problems: he’s got a crush on his debate partner Jonah — which prompts new consideration of his sexual orientation — oh, and the debate is on trans rights.

Edie in Between cover

Edie in Between by Laura Sibson (F/F YA Fantasy)

This is being called a “modern-day Practical Magic“! Edie’s family has a reputation for being witches, but Edie wants nothing to do with that. Even her mother’s ghost hanging around won’t convince her to embrace their magic. That is, until her mother’s journal falls into her lap and leads her on a scavenger hunt for meaningful memorabilia from her life. Each object she finds transports her into the journal, letting her relive her mother’s teenage years. And if that wasn’t enough to pull her towards her innate witchiness, the cute girl working at the occult shop will certainly help.

Choose Your Own Adventure Eighth Grade Witch

Choose Your Own Adventure: Eighth Grade Witch by E.L. Thomas and Andrew E.C. Gaska, illustrated by Valerio Chiola (Non-binary Middle Grade Graphic Novel)

I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid (let’s be honest, I still do), so I am really glad to see the franchise diversifying! This one is a middle grade graphic novel with a Black non-binary main character!

Child in the Valley by Gordy Sauer (M/M Historical Fiction)

The Thousand Eyes cover

Sips of Her by Karmen Lee (F/F Romance)

Red X by David Demchuk (Gay Horror)

We’re Here: The Best Queer Speculative Fiction 2020 edited by C.L. Clark and Charles Payseur (Queer Speculative Fiction)

The Thousand Eyes (The Serpent Gates #2) by A. K. Larkwood (Fantasy)

The Second Rebel (The First Sister #2) by Linden A. Lewis (Pansexual Non-binary Science Fiction)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at the Lesbrary as well as on Twitter @danikaellis. 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!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

The Importance of Queer Fanfiction

Last weekend, I went to a barbecue with family I hadn’t seen in years. It was surreal to have a get together that felt so normal. It’s only recently in Canada that vaccines were widely available, so I’m still shocked at the possibility of actually seeing people. It’s nice, even if socializing that much left me exhausted — I’m not used to it anymore!

As I’ll explain soon, I’ve been forsaking books in favor of fanfiction lately. It can be very habit-forming! Hopefully my obsession will wane enough to get back into books soon.

Today, I wanted to highlight the charity Human Dignity Trust. They use litigation to support the rights of LGBTQ people around the globe, challenging unjust laws. You can find out more about them on their website, and you can donate here.


The Importance of Queer Fanfiction

I’ve recently gotten more into fanfiction; my obsession with Ted Lasso was bound to lead me there eventually. It’s gotten me thinking about my relationship with fanfic in general, and why I think it’s so important to many queer people.

While fanfiction is almost as old as literature itself, the phenomenon we call “shipping” has been queer from the start. Kirk/Spock was not just the original “slash” ship, but the original ship. It was followed by many other M/M fandom favorites — and no wonder. There were far more complex male characters on screen than female one, and besides, fanfic was the only outlet for M/M ships. They certainly weren’t going to become canon. Fanfiction allowed queer readers (and plenty of other readers) to explore a relationship that they knew wouldn’t appear on screen — and explore they did…

When I was a teenager, I read fanfiction from a franchise that will remain nameless — suffice to say that I’m angry that this queer memory has been tainted by the transphobic author. Fanfic turned into roleplaying: a sort of collaborative fanfiction writing, where two or more people play a character in a scene. I started, would you believe it, on Neopets chat boards. Of course it was an M/M ship, because that was the most popular pairing not just of that fandom, but of all fandoms at the time.

Neopets, however, was not so open to our PG-rated M/M roleplays, often deleting them (and leaving up more explicit M/F roleplays). A few of us migrated over to a new board, called Rebels Against Homophobic Neopia. (I remind you that I was about 14 at the time, and this was obviously very cool.) With no moderators, we were free to explore these stories however we pleased.

There, I met Real Life Queer People. People who not only shipped gay couples, but related to them. I began to contemplate by own sexuality — but nah, I was definitely straight. I invited my best friend to the board, also a fan of the franchise. We began roleplay flirting as our characters. I… was not straight after all. We started dating IRL.

I know lots of people, especially Millenials, who discovered their sexual orientation through fanfiction. It was a way to explore and experiment safely. It made being queer feel more normal: we knew and loved these characters already. If they could be queer and it was okay (in this fictional version of a fictional story), maybe it could be okay for us, too.

Even today, with far more mainstream queer representation (in books, movies, and TV shows), many queer young people flock to fanfiction to find representation. It’s easy to find exactly what you’re looking for, whether it’s a pairing, a mood, or a certain trope. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, there’s no barriers to making your own.

So here’s to queer fanfiction, from Spock/Kirk to Xena/Gabrielle (which basically jump-started the lesbian romance genre) to the K-pop ships dominating today. Long may it reign.

All the Links Fit to Click

Publishing announcement for Cafe Con Lychee with an illustration of the two main characters sharing a milkshake

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

Note: This week’s new releases is overwhelmingly white. Do better, publishing.

The Origins of Iris cover

The Origins of Iris by Beth Lewis (Sapphic Thriller)

Iris ran from her abusive wife, escaping to the Catskills, which were a childhood place of comfort. She intends to find herself there, and she does… literally. Other Iris is beautiful, happy, and seems like an all around better version of herself. She made different choices. But what is she hiding, and can Iris survive in an isolated cabin with this mysterious doppelgänger?

This is an atmospheric, thought-provoking book that promises to be Wild meets Sliding Doors

Lost On Planet Earth cover

Lost on Planet Earth by Magdalene Visaggio and Claudia Aguirre (F/F Sci Fi Graphic Novel)

Basil Miranda knows exactly what’s next for her. She’s on the brink of graduation, and once she passes one more test, she’ll be on one of the best ships in the fleet, working beside her best friend. There’s only one problem: she forgot to ever ask herself if this is what she wants. When she runs from this path, she finds herself colliding with a revolution.

This is from the author of Kim & Kim and Eternity Girl, joined by the artist from Kim & Kim. It’s a bittersweet graphic novel with a philosophical bent — and Star Trek references!

Growing Up Trans cover

Growing Up Trans: In Our Own Words edited by Lindsay Herriot and Kate Fry (Trans YA Nonfiction)

Imagine my surprise, as I added this book to the list, to realize I know one of the editors! Kate Fry and I used to work at the same bookstore together. She and Lindsay Herriot co-founded the Trans Tipping Point project in 2017, a trans youth writing workshop.

This is a collection of writings (stories, essays, art and poetry) by trans youth, ages 11-18, exploring different aspects of the trans experience. It also includes tips on how to be a good trans ally.

After the Dragons by Cynthia Zhang (Gay, M/M Fantasy)

Foxhunt by Rem Wigmore (Bisexual Solarpunk)

The Left Hand of Dog by Si Clarke (Aro/Ace Agender Science Fiction)

Sink or Swim by Tash McAdam (Trans Guy YA Contemporary)

Scapegracers cover

The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke (Lesbian YA Fantasy) (Paperback rerelease)

Being You: A First Conversation about Gender by Megan Madison, Jessica Ralli, and Anne/Andy Passchier (Gender Board Book)

Missed Connections by Brian Francis (Gay Memoir)

All In by Billie Jean King (Lesbian Autobiography)

Center Center: A Funny, Sexy, Sad Almost-Memoir of a Boy in Ballet by James Whiteside (Gay Memoir)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at my sapphic book blog the Lesbrary as well as on Twitter @danikaellis. 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!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Uplifting Trans YA, Joyful Queer Women Books… and Your Rage Reads of the Day

I’m officially fully vaxxed! It happened! I’m so excited to get to see friends and family a little bit more. I’m not a very social person, but a year and a half of limiting contact is really starting to get to me, especially now that I’m working from home. I’m ready to see some people!

I spent Sunday helping out at my old bookstore’s charity book drive, and it was so much fun working with used books again. Now I just want to sneak in once a month or so, snooping around the warehouse and seeing what just came in. I suppose I could browse the store like a normal person, but it’s not the same.

This week, I wanted to highlight the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, which defends Black trans rights and is currently giving out $500 COVID-19 Recovery Fund payments to Black trans people in need. You can out more about them here and you can donate here.


Have You Read Sarah Waters Yet?

It has come to my attention that there are queer books fans who have not yet heard the good word about Sarah Waters. Sarah Waters has been my favourite author since I first read Tipping the Velvet as a teenager, and I’ve never looked back. Recently, Jesse from Bowties & Books made a reading vlog for Tipping the Velvet (which is a fun watch!), and when they said they hadn’t heard about this book before, I had to clutch my pearls.

When I was starting BookTube, there were hardly any BookTubers talking about queer books, and the ones that were talked about a handful of titles. It was impossible to be a queer book nerd online in 2010 and not know about Sarah Waters. Now, though, there are so many queer books coming out all the time that I realized some of these classics of LGBTQ lit are no longer getting the love they deserve.

So here’s why you should read Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith.

Tipping the Velvet cover

Tipping the Velvet

This is my favourite book of all time. No caveats. The author describes it as a “lesbo Victorian romp.” It follows Nan, an oyster girl from a small town who immediately falls for male impersonator Kitty when she sees her perform. Nan immediately picks up and follows her, turning the show into a double act. It’s no simple romance, though, and the story goes in some expected and steamy directions.

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but Sarah Waters is a master storyteller, so it doesn’t matter. This is a fun and sexy book with a surprise socialism subplot, but it has a place in my heart for its love story/stories. I don’t want to spoil anything, but when I read this as a teenager, I had a very distinct view of what love and passion looked like. This story helped me to let go of that and celebrate the many beautiful, strange, bittersweet, gentle ways to be in love.

Fingersmith cover

Fingersmith

I can’t recommend just one of hers, because while Tipping the Velvet is my favourite book of all time, I think Fingersmith is the best book I’ve ever read. It follow Sue, a “fingersmith” (pickpocket) who teams up with Gentleman to con a wealthy young woman, Maude, out of her inheritance. All Sue has to do is pose as her maid, convince her to marry Gentleman, and then he’ll have her committed and Sue will get a cut of the money. There’s just one complication: Sue has fallen in love with Maude.

I don’t want to give you any expectation spoilers going in, so I’ll just say that this is expertly plotted and really surprised me. I recommend watching the adaptation The Handmaiden by Park Chan-wook afterwards, which transposes the story to Korea under Japanese colonial rule. Some people say that it’s voyeuristic or demonstrates the male gaze, but I completely disagree and preferred it over the BBC adaptation. Putting the book and The Handmaiden in conversation is fascinating.

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

The Ophelia Girls cover

The Ophelia Girls by Jane Healey (Lesbian Fiction)

From the author of The Animals of Lockwood Manor (a sapphic historical fiction/gothic novel), this is an atmospheric, haunting story with a lesbian main character that alternates between two summers and two teenage girls — mother and daughter — and explores the “perils and power of being a young woman.” It’s a challenging read that combines beautiful writing and creeping unease. Content warnings for grooming and an adult-minor relationship.

Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms cover

Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms written by Crystal Frasier and illustrated by Val Wise (Trans F/F YA Graphic Novel)

This is a highly anticipated adorable YA graphic novel with a F/F romance that challenges gender norms and examines the difficulties of being an out trans girl in high school. It follows two girls on a high school cheerleader squad — one trans, one cis and an out lesbian — as they mend their friendship…and discover new feelings for reach other. I’ve been hearing buzz about this for so long that I can’t believe it’s only out now! This is a much-needed addition to the fairly small category of uplighting trans YA.

Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity cover

Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity by Darrel McLeod (Two-Spirit Memoir) (Paperback rerelease)

In the follow-up to Mamaskatch, McLeod shows how this childhood led to his life as a young man advocating for Indigenous people in Canada. He’s been a school principal, UN representative, jazz musician, chief treaty negotiator, and now celebrated author. It also follows his journey to embracing both his Cree identity and his queer identity.

The King of Infinite Space by Lyndsay Faye (M/M Shakespeare Retelling)

Busy Ain’t the Half of It by Frederick Smith and Chaz Lamar Cruz (M/M Fiction)

Kiss the Scars on the Back of My Neck by Joe Okwonko (Gay Short Stories)

The Marriage Masquerade by Toni Logan (F/F Romance)

An Unexpected Kind of Love by Hayden Stone (M/M Romance)

Calumet by Ali Vali (F/F Romance)

​​Her Countess to Cherish by Jane Walsh (Bigender Historical Romance)

The Sisters of Reckoning (The Good Luck Girls #2) by Charlotte Nicole Davis (Sapphic YA Fantasy)

Work for a Million: The Graphic Novel by Amanda Deiber, Eve Zaremba, and Selena Goulding (Lesbian Mystery Graphic Novel)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at the Lesbrary as well as on Twitter @danikaellis. 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!

Danika