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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!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Queer Pulp Fiction, LGBTQ BookTok, and Your Rage Reads of the Week

Ridiculous pulp cover of Satan Was a Lesbian

Hello readers! I hope you’re doing well. I just dropped off a whole stack of lesbian pulp postcards at the post office yesterday that are flinging their way across the continent right now, and I feel that I should tell you that you can do this. You can take a ridiculous, campy queer pulp cover, throw into a Canva postcard template, and get them to mail you a stack of them. (Or you can print them yourself, of course.) Then you can send all your friend postcards that will make your mail carrier do a double take. You’re welcome.


Queer Bookish Musings of the Week

Here’s a question: Why is Amazon so bad at recommending lesbian books? Last month, I wrote a post called If You Think There are No Good Lesbian Books, You’re Bad at Picking Books. In it, I talk about how ridiculous the idea is that there are no good lesbian books. The only way I can understand it is if you only discover books through Amazon.

if you Google “lesbian books,” you’ll get a helpful bar of titles. They’re all classics of lesbian literature. Nothing too innovative, but it’s a good place to start: Annie On My Mind, Fingersmith, Zami: these are all great reads. Scroll down and you’ll see lots of lists: some of them are better than others, but they’re pretty solid, overall. The bottom has another helpful bar of 2021 lesbian books, including Last Night at the Telegraph Club, Honey Girl, and Perfect On Paper (which is very much about being bisexual and not a lesbian, but there we are).

Search Goodreads lists for “lesbian books” and you’ll find a selection from Autostraddle with some great sapphic reads. Even YouTube will offer up quality recommendations, many from sapphic BookTubers.

Search Amazon for lesbian books, though, and none of those titles appear. In fact, you’ll get a lot of books that are by no definition “lesbian:” The Song of Achilles, a transphobic nonfiction title, and a journalism book, to name a few. M/M books regularly outrank sapphic books, though the top kindle results for both “lesbian fiction” and “lesbian romance” have bisexual women main characters. Other keywords will dredge up truly cringeworthy erotica titles that, interestingly enough, bear a striking resemblance to those 1950s pulp covers I was talking about.

It is possible to find lesbian books on Amazon, but it sure isn’t easy. Anyone wading through those selections would think there isn’t a lot of good quality lesbian literature out there. While I would like to lay the blame for the myth of lesbian books as low quality at Amazon’s feet, I do have to advise more generally: don’t use Amazon for book recommendations. Use book blogs, Google — even Goodreads or, Sappho forbid, twitter. But don’t let Amazon pick your queer TBR. (Stay tuned for another reason why in the links below!)

All the Links Fit to Click

Buckle up, because we’ve got some rough news stories to get through.

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

I guess publishers pushed all their queer books in June, because I only have two books for you this week! Luckily, they both look great.

Cover of She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan (Non-Binary Fantasy)

This is being pitched as Mulan meets The Song of Achilles. It’s a feminist historical epic fantasy that grapples with the concept of destiny. It also has two genderqueer main characters! It’s about a set of siblings in an impoverished village who are given very different destinies: the son, greatness; the daughter, nothingness. When her brother dies, though, Zhu takes on his identity to secure a new future for herself. Be prepared for a brutal war story, but one that focuses on resilience and the main character’s defiance of the role she’s been placed in.

The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor cover

The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor by Shaenon K. Garrity and Christopher Baldwin (F/F YA Graphic Novel)

This is a YA graphic novel about a teenger pulled into another universe that looks suspiciously similar to the gothic romances she loves reading! She must save it from evil to be able to get home, or else both their worlds will be in danger. It’s a satirical take on gothic romance tropes that includes queer and disability representation (one of the characters uses forearm crutches).


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me on Twitter and on my book blog, the 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!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Beyond the Straight Gaze

Hello friends! Here in Canada, we’ve been a little slower on the vaccine rollout than the U.S., but I just booked my second shot! So exciting! I have big plans for two weeks after — by which I mean I’m going to browse the bookstore so hard. I’m also considering getting my hair dyed the bisexual flag. (I haven’t had a haircut since the pandemic started.) I hope that you are keeping healthy and safe out there! Let’s get into the books!


Lately, I’ve been thinking about how grateful I am that I didn’t grow up with the wealth of queer representation there is now in books and TV. I know that sounds wild, so let me contextualize. I am lucky enough to have grown up in a very accepting community — probably one of the most queer-friendly places I could have come out in the world during the aughts.

With all of the privilege I had access to, representation for queer people was still pretty limited. I watched Buffy for the lesbian representation — that’s how bad it was. (Spoiler alert: I do not recommend this now.) There were some queer books, of course. Great authors, like Sarah Waters and Jeanette Winterson. A few YA novels. Not a lot of diversity, whether in terms of intersectionality or genre, but I was grateful for what existed. I started a bi and lesbian book blog to try to draw more attention to these titles and help others find them.

So, as someone who has centered their life around queer books, why would I be glad there weren’t as many options when I was young?

Well, let me tell you about the time I played Gone Home with my partner. I hadn’t read a lot about it. I just knew it was queer and well-respected. I had the vague inkling it was tragic, but I decided to go for it anyway — despite not playing video games much. Vague spoilers for the game Gone Home: I got to the end of that game and cried. For quite a while. I was so prepared for tragedy — the story letting these two teenage girls have a relationship without suffering subverted the expectations ingrained in me most of my life, and I had an immediate response of relief, gratitude, and joy. I had a similar reaction to a cartoon that will go unnamed that made the queer subtext 100% text in its final episodes, something I couldn’t have dreamed of as a kid.

To me, it’s a joy every time queer lit goes somewhere it hasn’t gone before. I know how far it’s come, and I’m constantly surprised at what is possible now. I am proud of the young queer people growing up now who are demanding better representation because they weren’t raised on crumbs. They have entitlement of the best possible kind, because of course they are entitled to have their stories — our stories — told.

On a personal level, though, I’m glad that I got to see this transformation, and that each milestone is so joyful to me. Perhaps it’s masochistic, to be happy that my bar for good queer rep is low enough that I am constantly delighted by what clears it, but here we are. I’m even more grateful, though, that the generations following me aren’t this way. It’s that energy that’s helping to push YA especially forward, never settling for “better than before.” I’m so excited to see what comes next.

All the Links Fit to Click

Thumbnail of trailer for Ahead of the Curve documentary
Watch the trailer on YouTube!

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

Cover for A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers (Non-Binary Sci-fi)

It’s been centuries since the robots left. They wandered into the wilderness, leaving behind their tools, never to be seen again — except that one just showed up, asking a tea monk what humans need. The robot can’t leave without an answer to that question, but the monk and robot quickly find this isn’t an easy task. This is a new novella series from the author of the Wayfarers books! (Don’t fear: I’m not counting the robot as non-binary rep! The monk is non-binary/agender.)

the taking of jake livingston cover

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (M/M YA Horror)

Jake Livingston has it hard enough being one of the only Black students St. Clair Prep, dealing with racist teachers. Things seem to be looking up when another Black student, the handsome Allister, arrives — and there’s even the glimmer of romance in the future. There’s just one thing that always gets in the way: Jake sees dead people living their last moments on a loop. While that’s never easy, school shooter Sawyer Doon is a ghost like no other, and his haunting has serious consequences for Jake. (Make sure to look up content warnings before getting into this one, because this social thriller deals with dark subjects and has some skin-crawling horror scenes.)

The Rebellious Tide by Eddy Boudel Tan (M/M Fiction)

The Calyx Charm by May Peterson (Trans Woman Fantasy)

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green (Bisexual F/F Science Fiction) (Paperback rerelease)

The Mythic Koda Rose by Jennifer Nissley (Sapphic Contemporary YA)

Being You: A First Conversation about Gender by Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli, illustrated by Anne/Andy Passchier (Children’s Nonfiction)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me 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!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Gay Teens in Trucks, Sam and Frodo are Queer, and New LGBTQ Books OUT This Week

Alas, Pride month has come and gone! The queer bookish content online sure dried up fast between the last day of June and the first week of July. Luckily, what remains is top notch, so I still have some great links to share with you today.

Liberty and I talk about three of the queer books out this week (Everyone in this Room Will Someday Be Dead, Rise to the Sun, and The Very Nice Box) on the All the Books Book Riot podcast, so make sure to check that out!


I don’t have a good segue into the books I’m highlighting today except to say that these all have summer vibes. There’s something about the image of being a teenager, driving to the edge of town, and laying in the cab of your truck looking up at the stars. It’s a perfect expression of the limited freedom of being a teenager, especially a queer teen, where having a car can make it the only small piece of the world that’s just yours.

Of course, I never owned a car as a teen, never mind a truck, but somehow it still feels nostalgic to me. So here are the three queer teens and their trucks books I’ve read and loved. Let me know if I missed any!

Aristotle and Dante in a truck fan art
Ari and Dante stargazing in the bed of a truck. Fan art by Meruz, accessed via Tumblr.
Aristotle and Dante cover

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Let’s start with the obvious. I mean, the iconic red truck is right there on the cover. As the cover crowded with award stickers indicates, this is a beautiful and unforgettable book–and the sequel is coming out soon! It’s about the unlikely friendship between Ari and Dante and how it evolves over the years, and it’s also about everything Ari is hiding from the world.

While I love this book, I think it’s often recommended without the proper context, so do be prepared going in for violently homophobic and transphobic scenes.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post movie cover

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth

I’m not usually one to choose a movie cover, but I couldn’t resist using the version with them sitting in a truck bed. There’s a kind of book end effect here: the image on the cover is one of the last scenes of the movie, while the book begins with Cam kissing her best friend in the bed of Coley’s truck. It’s a symbol of freedom for these queer teens, but it’s also just a tiny oasis against an often homophobic world. This is my favorite YA book of all time, and it has a similar mix of melancholy and hope as Aristotle and Dante. Content warning for conversion camp.

Starting From Here by Lisa Jenn Bigelow cover

Starting From Here by Lisa Jenn Bigelow

I can’t believe I didn’t realize until adding the covers to this newsletter that all of these titles have the trucks prominently displayed on them. I am clueless. Lisa Jenn Bigelow’s Starting From Here broke my heart and put it back together again, and it’s another one of my favourite queer YA books. Oddly enough, it’s also about heartbreak and hope–but this one has a dog, so that’s an immediate plus. I deeply want fan art of Ari & Dante, Cam, and Colby all laying in truck beds looking at the stars together. Someone artsy get on that, please.

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

cover of everyone in this room will someday be dead by emily austin

Everyone in this Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily R. Austin (Lesbian Fiction)

Gilda is a “twenty-something, atheist, animal-loving lesbian” overwhelmed with anxiety and depression. She goes to a church for free counseling, but they mistake her for a job applicant, and she’s too embarrassed to correct them. Now she’s a church receptionist, and she soon finds herself pretending to be Grace–the late receptionist–over email, because she doesn’t want to be the one who has to break the news that she died. Then the police start investigating Grace’s death, and Gilda “may have to finally reveal the truth of her mortifying existence.” This is a funny and touching comedy of errors.

Rise to the Sun cover

Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson (F/F YA Contemporary)

This is the newest book from the author of You Should See Me In a Crown, and it’s another Black sapphic YA novel that should appeal to fans of her previous book–but I read this first, and I loved it! In some ways, it’s a perfect summer read: it takes place at a music festival and has a swoon-worthy romance–but it also tackles gun violence, grief, and sexual harassment. It’s about Olivia, a hopeless romantic fresh off the worst of a string of disastrous breakups, who’s running from the thought of having to face a judiciary hearing of her ex. She does this by convincing her best friend to go to a music festival with her–and this time, she promises, it will be just them: no romances. There, she bumps into Toni, who’s dreading starting university and mourning her father, who died from gun violence. They fall for each other, but it’s not long before things between them and their friends become very complicated.

The Very Nice Box by Yves Gleichman and Laura Blackett (Bisexual/Queer Fiction)

Summer in the City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil (Queer YA Historical Fantasy)

Any Way the Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell (M/M YA Fantasy)

It Ends in Fire by Andrew Shvarts (Bisexual YA Fantasy)

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

3 Illustrated LGBTQ Primers, 56 Queer-Owned Bookstores, and 100 Trans Book Recs

Stay cool out there, friends. Right now my entire city is sold out of air conditioners and fans, and we’re going through record-breaking heat. We’re muddling through with a dog pool (the kiddie pools were also sold out!) spraying ourselves and the dogs down with water every 5 minutes (to my dogs’ displeasure). I hope wherever you are, you’re keeping safe.

If you’re looking for some queer reads to distract you, hopefully you find some in today’s newsletter! This week had the 5th Tuesday of the month, which always means a smaller stable of books going out, but there are some great ones (including our sponsor!).


As we exit Pride month, I got to thinking about the baby gays out there and the people just beginning their journey to figuring out what the ever-expanding LGBTQIPAA2S+ initialism means. It can be intimidating to start educating yourself when there’s so much to learn, so here are a few accessible ways to get started.

Beyond the Gender Binary pocket change collective cover

Beyond the Gender Binary (Pocket Change Collective) by Alok Vaid-Menon

I love the Pocket Change Collective for tackling big subjects in tiny, accessible packaging. These really are small enough to fit into your back pocket, but give enough depth to not be simplistic. Pair this one with Continuum for two different perspectives of non-binary genders and gender non-conformity. These are great for starting conversations.

Sexuality: a Graphic Guide cover

Sexuality: A Graphic Guide by Meg-John Barker

Don’t be fooled by the eye-catching illustrations: this and Queer: A Graphic History don’t shy away from big ideas and philosophical concepts, but the accompanying comics help to make it feel more manageable. These aren’t 101 definitions of terms, but instead look at the theory and history behind these topics. This is a great way to get a little bit more depth in your understanding of queer identities and sexuality.

A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities cover

A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities by Mady G and J.R. Zuckerberg

This one is the most accessible book on this list to someone who really doesn’t know anything about queer and trans identities. The illustrations (snails!) are friendly, and the text assumes very little background. It’s a balance between being aimed at cis/allo/het, questioning, and newly-out readers. Also relevant to your interests: A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns.

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

Stranger Things: Rebel Robin cover

Stranger Things: Rebel Robin by A.R. Capetta (Lesbian YA Fantasy)

If you are a Stranger Things fan, you’re probably ordering this as we speak, because obviously Robin was the stand-out character of the series. This is a prequel story, where she’s trying to sneak off to Europe for the summer to live her full (lesbian) life: Operation Croissant. It also has an accompanying podcast voiced by the actor! I love A.R. Capetta’s previous YA books, like Once & Future and The Lost Coast (both VERY queer–big queer casts with trans, non-binary, asexual, gay, lesbian, bi, etc characters), so this one is sure to be a hit.

Cover of Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta

Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta (Sapphic YA Science Fiction)

Think Pacific Rim with an F/F enemies-to-lovers romance between two Asian teenage girls who give each other tattoos as a form of affection. It’s about a dystopian world dominated by Godolia overlords, who enact their will using giant mechanized weapons called Windups. Eris is a Gearbreaker, a rebel who destroys them from within. When she’s caught, she meets Sona, a Windups pilot who’s secretly on the rebels’ side. If you liked Crier’s War, this should be at the top of your TBR.

Bone House by K-Ming Chang (Queer Micropress/Chapbook Wuthering Heights Retelling)

Storm Bound (Cedarwood Beach #4) by Rhys Everly (M/M Romance)

Warn Me When It’s Time (A Charlie Mack Motown Mystery #6) by Cheryl A. Head (Lesbian Mystery)

Cinders of Yesterday by Jen Karner (F/F Fantasy)

A War of Swallowed Stars (Celestial Trilogy Book 3) by Sangu Mandanna (Sapphic YA Science Fiction)

How We Do Family: From Adoption to Trans Pregnancy, What We Learned about Love and LGBTQ Parenthood by Trystan Reese (Trans Memoir)

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Our Queerest Shelves

Queer Summer Reads, a JONNY APPLESEED Movie Adaptation, and LGBTQ Books OUT This Week!

The weather is really starting to heat up over here, and that’s gotten me thinking about summer reads. There is healthy debate about what counts as a beach read or summer read, but I consider it something that is engrossing, but can easily read distracted or in fits and starts. I like them to be fairly light, but I know there are people who swear by grisly murder mysteries as their beach reads, or even–and these people are to be feared–dense nonfiction.

Here are a few of my recommendations for queer beach reading this summer, or a book to take with you in a hammock.

Peter Darling updated cover

Peter Darling by Austin Chant

After some sad years of being caught in limbo, this is finally back in print (with a brand new cover)! It’s a Peter Pan retelling where Wendy Darling and Peter Pan are the same person. Not only is this a trans Peter Pan story, but he’s also–of course–in love with Captain Hook. I can never resist a queer classics retelling, and this one has been sorely missed in its time out of print.

You Should See Me In a Crown cover

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Of course, I couldn’t resist adding this one, which exudes queer Black joy just from the cover itself! Liz has to win prom queen in order to secure a scholarship that is her only hope of attending her dream school. Now not only does Liz have to be in a popularity contest that she feels she’s “too black, too poor, too awkward” to win–she also has to compete against Mack, the smart and funny girl she’s crushing on.

How Do We Relationship Vol 1 cover

How Do We Relationship? series by Tamifull

I find manga to be the most compulsively readable format there is, which makes it perfect for beach reading. This is a lesbian manga series that follows adult main characters, which is rare! It’s about two lesbians who bump into each other at college and say, “Hey, what are the chances we’re going to find any other queer women to date? Let’s give this relationship thing a try.” I love the frank discussions about navigating romantic and sexual relationships.

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan cover

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

I’m showing my age a little with this one, but I can’t help but think of Boy Meets Boy fondly. It showed a kind of gay utopian high school when that was unthinkable in YA. The quarterback was also a drag queen (who won prom queen). The cheerleaders ride out on motorcycles. This is a delightful YA M/M romance that bursts with positivity–but with the acknowledgement that things aren’t always this easy. It’s also a short read, perfect for finishing in a day on the beach!

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

Star Eater cover

Star Eater by Kerstin Hall (Bisexual Woman Fantasy)

I first heard of this as a bisexual fantasy novel with cannibal nuns, and I’ve since heard that might be a little off, but it’s also not NOT about cannibal nuns. Elfreda is part of the Sisterhood of Aytrium, but she can’t stomach what it takes to preserve their magical bloodline, so she takes the first out she can find, which leads her to becoming a spy in the highest reaches of the Sisterhood, where she is surrounded by glittering parties and ritual bloodshed.

Skye Falling cover

Skye Falling by Mia McKenzie (Lesbian Fiction)

Mia McKenzie’s previous novel, The Summer We Got Free, is one of my favorite books–which also happens to be sapphic–so I can’t wait to get my hands on this one. It follows Skye, a queer Black woman in her late 30s living day-to-day, when a 12-year-old shows up on her doorstep, the product of one Skye’s eggs that she sold many years ago and hasn’t thought much about since. Her life has just gotten a lot more complicated.

All the Water I've Seen Is Running

All the Water I’ve Seen Is Running by Elias Rodriques (Queer Man Fiction)

Daniel and Aubrey were best friends during their youth in North Florida, despite their differences. Now, Daniel has escaped the stifling small town life for the freedom of New York, where he has embraced his queerness. When he hears about Aubrey’s death, though, he’s drawn back to his childhood home and has to grapple with the legacy of his and Aubrey’s friendship as well as his family’s history, both in Florida and Jamaica.

Filthy Animals cover

Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor (Gay Fiction)

You might remember Brandon Taylor from his debut, Real Life. Now he’s back with a series of interconnected short stories following a group of young artists in the American Midwest, including a young man who finds himself involved in “emotionally fraught encounters” with dancers in an open relationship as well as a babysitter being driven to the brink by an out-of-control child. Brandon Taylor is a name to watch.

The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison (Gay Fantasy)

The Bone Way by Holly J. Underhill (F/F Fantasy)

Catalyst Gate (The Protectorate #3) by Megan O’Keefe (Bisexual Woman Sci Fi)

Transmutation by Alex DiFrancesco (Trans Characters, Horror/Fantasy Short Stories)

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon (LGBTQ stories, YA Anthology)

The Papercutter by Cindy Rizzo (F/F Dystopian YA)

Violet Ghosts by Leah Thomas (Trans Man YA Contemporary)

Bear Boy: The True Story of a Boy, Two Bears, and the Fight to Be Free by Justin Barker (Queer Memoir)

Antiman: A Hybrid Memoir by Rajiv Mohabir (Queer Memoir)

We Should Meet in Air: A Graphic Memoir on Reading Sylvia Plath by Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg (Graphic Memoir)

Transitions: Our Stories of Being Trans by Den Casey, Kole Fulmine, et al. (Trans Nonfiction Anthology)


That’s all for this week! Until next time, you can find me 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 add as many queer titles as I can.

Happy reading!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

The Queer Legacy of Harriet the Spy, Rainbow Little Free Libraries, and a Gay Bathhouse Thriller

One of the links I included in this week’s roundup is about Harriet the Spy, including its queer legacy, and it got me thinking about the books I loved as a kid that I didn’t know were queer. The signs were all there! While I didn’t count Harriet the Spy among my top reads, I did feel a kinship with the main character–or maybe that’s something I’m projecting backwards. I’ve always loved stubborn, even prickly female characters in the books I read, and Harriet certainly matches that. She also feels different from everyone around her, like she doesn’t quite belong–and that’s a baby gay experience if I’ve seen one.

I devoured the Baby-Sitters Club series with its bossy tomboy main character, staying up late reading under the covers and collecting all of the volumes I could find. Like many of these childhood queer-authored books, they’re about a tight-knit group of girls. They may not have dated each other, but they loved each other and prioritized those relationship over almost any others in their lives. Turns out, that was by a lesbian author, too. My copy of The Secret Language by Ursula Nordstrom is so worn you can hardly read it anymore–also queer. I mean, it’s about two girls who have an intense, secret friendship. Their word for “good” is “leebossa.”

Even Goodnight Moon was originally a love letter to a woman! It describes the bedroom she and her girlfriend had stayed together–a wistful, longing tone that adds some depth to this simple board book story. And that’s only scratching the surface of kids’ book classics with queer authors! The author of Frog and Toad came out years after becoming famous for his story of a caring domestic relationship between two male characters, and Where the Wild Things Are is another classics of kids’ lit with a gay author.

It makes me happy to know that even before I picked up my first openly LGBTQ children’s book, Heather Has Two Mommies, I was surrounded by queer literary family.

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

Bath Haus cover

Bath Haus by P. J. Vernon (Gay Thriller)

Oliver finally has the life he imagined for himself. He’s sober and he has a loving (and wealthy) partner in Nathan. There’s no reason he should be visiting a gay bathhouse–but he does. There, he has a frightening encounter he barely escapes from with his life. Caught between the fear of losing his relationship and the threat of the man who left a hand-shaped bruise on his neck, Oliver lies to cover it up–and that choice soon comes to haunt him.

The Hellion's Waltz cover

The Hellion’s Waltz (Feminine Pursuits #3) by Olivia Waite (F/F Historical Romance)

F/F romance readers will have been ancipating this one, the final book in the sapphic historical fiction Feminine Pursuits trilogy. In this one, Maddie is trying to pull off a heist with a greedy draper as her mark in order to fund her weavers’ union. She has a team of weavers, tailors, and merchants behind her–but the plan is put into danger by Sophie, a piano teacher who has a personal vendetta against swindlers. Her family lost their London piano shop to a con artist and moved to start over. Now, Maddie has to seduce Sophie to the cause or risk losing everything.

Indestructible Object cover

Indestructible Object by Mary McCoy (Bisexual Contemporary YA)

I’m in the middle of this one right now and really enjoying it! Lee is devoted to Artists in Love, the podcast she co-hosts with her boyfriend–until he breaks up with her on air. She distracts herself by researching the mystery of her parents’ doomed marriage. They’re separating, and she’s found a passport and book of poetry that suggests they never should have gotten together. With two friends, she starts a new podcast to unravel the mystery: Objects of Destruction. Bonus: this has a polyamorous relationship!

The Legend of Auntie Po cover

The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor (Sapphic Middle Grade Historical Graphic Novel)

Mei is a 13-year-old Chinese girl working at a logging camp in 1885. The Chinese Exclusion Act has brought with it even more racism against her and her family, but she’s determined to focus on the work–and her crush on the foreman’s daughter. To keep her spirits up, she tells stories of Po Pan Yin: a reimagining of Paul Bunyan as an elderly Chinese matriarch.

More LGBTQ new releases:

The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris (Gay M/M Historical Fiction)

The Great Mistake by Jonathan Lee (Gay Historical Fiction)

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury (Trans Love Interest YA Fantasy)

Sexuality: a Graphic Guide cover

Blue Flag, Volume 8 by KAITO (Bisexual M/M Manga)

The Queer Bible edited by Jack Guinness (LGBTQ Essays)

Sexuality: A Graphic Guide by Meg-John Barker and Jules Scheele (Graphic Nonfiction)

The Natural Mother of the Child by Krys Malcolm Belc (Non-Binary Memoir)

Nonbinary: A Memoir by Genesis P-Orridge (Non-Binary Memoir)

Disrupting Dignity by Stephen M. Engel & Timothy S. Lyle (LGBTQ Nonfiction)


That’s all for this week! Until next time, you can find me 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!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Queer Fake Dating YA, LGBTQ Book Links, and New Releases OUT This Week!

2021 is the year of queer fake dating books, and I am all for it. We’ve finally reached the point where mainstream publishing is letting us play with tropes instead of just insisting on tragiqueer and/or coming out stories, and dare I say it, we do these tropes better. Here are just a few queer fake dating YA books out this year. (Bonus: they also all have main characters of color.)

Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating cover

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar

This one is by a Book Riot contributor! It follows two very different Bengali teenagers living in Ireland. When Humaira (“Hani”) comes out to her friends as bisexual, they insist that she can’t really know that unless she’s dated a girl. She blurts out that she is dating a girl: the prickly and ambitious Ishita (“Ishu”). Ishita reluctantly agrees to go along with this plan, as long as Humaira helps her to get elected head girl, which would look good on her college applications. But will they develop real feelings?? It’s a fake dating romance, so you can probably guess that part, but it’s a great ride.

Meet Cute Diary

Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee

Noah runs a popular blog called the Meet Cute Diary, where he collects stories of trans people’s picture-perfect meet cutes… except they’re all fake: he writes them himself. When he gets called out, he decides the only way to save his blog is to prove they’re real by saying that one of the meet cutes is his and faking a relationship worthy of Instagram. But Noah soon learns that scripted romance is a little different from the real thing.

I loved how flawed and realistic Noah was as a main character. He has a lot to learn, but I was rooting for him the whole time. There’s also a side character who is trying out different pronouns who steals the show.

Love and Other Natural Disasters

Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura

Nozomi is spending the summer in San Francisco when she meets Willow and immediately starts crushing on her. Willow is still mourning her last relationship, though, so they plan to fake date to make her ex jealous. Meanwhile, Nozomi has a plan to prove to Willow that she’s a perfect match for real–but her lies are starting to spin out of control…

This one is high on my TBR, not least because of that adorable cover!

All the Links Fit to Click

Pride month has begun in earnest, which means that it’s hard to sift through all the queer book news. On the one hand, hooray! On the other hand, about 90% of it is the same titles rehashed over and over again in various “books to read for Pride” lists. I did manage to find some good ones in the haystack, though, and here they are!

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

The Jasmine Throne cover

Doubting Thomas by Michael Clark Davison (Gay Fiction)

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri (F/F Epic Fantasy)

The Sea Is Salt and So Am I by Cassandra Hartt (Bi Girl YA Contemporary)

Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura (F/F YA Contemporary)

Fifteen Hundred Miles From The Sun by Jonny Garza Villa (Gay M/M YA Romcom)

The Marvelous by Claire Kann (Sapphic and Questioning YA Thriller)

Monstrous Design (Dangerous Remedy #2) by Kat Dunn (Sapphic YA Fantasy)

Cover of Fire With Fire by Destiny Soria

Queen of All by Anya Leigh Josephs (Sapphic YA Fantasy)

Girls at the Edge of the World by Laura Brooke Robson (F/F YA Fantasy)

Fire with Fire by Destiny Soria (Bi Girl YA Fantasy)

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow (Sapphic Middle Grade)

Both Can Be True by Jules Machias (Genderfluid Middle Grade)

Renegade Rule by Ben Kahn, Rachel Silverstein, Sam Beck (Sapphic Comics)

Care Of cover

How Do We Relationship? Vol. 3 by Tamifull (F/F Manga)

Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons by John Paul Brammer (Queer Memoir)

Care of: Letters, Connections, and Cures by Ivan Coyote (Non-Binary Memoir/Essays)

Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir by Akwaeke Emezi (Non-Binary Memoir)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me 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 Pride, and happy (queer) reading!

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Welcome to Our Queerest Shelves!

I am over the moon to be writing you this newsletter! I am always looking for new ways to be able to talk about queer books, so I’m excited to be in your inbox every week talking about the latest queer book news and new releases.

I’ve been writing about queer books on the internet for more than 10 years now, and so much has changed! I used to be able to keep track of almost every queer book being published by a mainstream publisher. I would be able to read every sapphic YA title as it came out. Luckily, that’s no longer possible: there are so many queer books in every genre being published! I truly believe we are in the golden age of queer YA, especially.

Of course, the fight is far from over. While gay and lesbian books are getting more common, and even trans and bisexual books are getting a little more attention, there are still a lot of identities that have almost no representation, such as demisexual or genderfluid folks. It becomes even more distressing when you add any kind of intersectionality: queer books continue to be very white, and it’s difficult to find books with both queer and disability representation. If you’re looking for a particular genre, it can also narrow your options to almost non-existent.

I’m confident that we’re at least moving in the right direction, though! My priority is to shine a spotlight on the queer lit we do have! The more sales and attention they get, the more room is made for other LGBTQ book deals.

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

Buckle up, because June 1st was a ridiculous publishing day just in queer book releases alone! What better way to welcome Pride than a deluge of new queer reads?

cover of one last stop by casey mcquiston

Skye Papers by Jamika Ajalon (Bisexual F/F Fiction)

With Teeth by Kristin Arnett (Lesbian Literary Fiction)

In Our Words: Queer Stories from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Writers edited by Victoria Villasenor and Anne Shade (Queer Anthology)

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (Bisexual F/F Romance)

Satisfaction Guaranteed by Karelia Stetz-Waters (F/F Romance)

Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia (Lesbian Mystery)

Peter Darling by S.A. Chant (Rerelease) (Trans Man M/M Fantasy)

Cover for The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo (Bisexual Fantasy/Literary Fiction)

Future Feeling by Joss Lake (Trans Man Sci Fi/Literary Fiction)

The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver (Non-Binary YA Contemporary)

The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons (M/M Trans Man YA Contemporary)

You’re The One That I Want by Simon James Green (M/M YA Contemporary)

Never Kiss Your Roommate by Philline Harm (F/F YA Contemporary)

Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June (M/M YA Contemporary)

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan (Paperback Rerelease) (Gay & Lesbian YA Contemporary)

The Darkness Outside Us cover

The Lucky List by Rachael Lippincott (F/F YA Contemporary)

The Love Song of Ivy K. Harlowe by Hannah Moskowitz (F/F YA Contemporary)

Trouble Girls by Julia Lynn Rubin (F/F YA Contemporary)

The (Un)Popular Vote by Jasper Sanchez (M/M Trans Man YA Contemporary)

The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon (Trans Man YA Fantasy)

The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer (M/M YA Sci Fi)

The Girl from the Sea by Molly Ostertag (F/F Middle Grade Fantasy Graphic Novel)

Continuum cover

Skate for Your Life (Pocket Change Collective) by Leo Baker and illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky (Non-Binary Nonfiction)

The Engagement: America’s Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage by Sasha Issenberg (Nonfiction)

Continuum (Pocket Change Collective) by Chella Man and illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky (Genderqueer Nonfiction)

The 2000s Made Me Gay: Essays on Pop Culture by Grace Perry (Nonfiction)

Sharice’s Big Voice: A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman by Sharice Davids with Nancy K. Mays, illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley (Lesbian Picture Book)

Sharice's Big Voice

A Kids Book About Being Non-Binary by Hunter Chinn-Raicht (Non-Binary Children’s Nonfiction) (By a trans teenager, for trans young people)

Pride In series (Change, The Arts, STEM, and Sports) by Emilie Dufresne (LGBTQ Children’s Nonfiction)

A Kids Book About Being Inclusive by Ashton Mota and Rebekah Bruesehoff (LGBTQ Children’s Nonfiction)

A Kids Book About Being Transgender by Gia Parr (Trans Children’s Nonfiction)


Until next time, you can find me 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!

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Welcome to Our Queerest Shelves!

I am over the moon to be writing you this newsletter! I am always looking for new ways to be able to talk about queer books, so I’m excited to be in your inbox every week talking about the latest queer book news and new releases!

I’ve been writing about queer books on the internet for more than 10 years now, and so much has changed! I used to be able to keep track of almost every queer book being published by a mainstream publisher. I would be able to read every sapphic YA title as it came out. Luckily, that’s no longer possible: there are so many queer books in every genre being published! I truly believe we are in the golden age of queer YA, especially.

Of course, the fight is far from over. While gay and lesbian books are getting more common, and even trans and bisexual books are getting a little more attention, there are still a lot of identities that have almost no representation, such as demisexual or genderfluid folks. It becomes even more distressing when you add any kind of intersectionality: queer books continue to be very white, and it’s difficult to find books with both queer and disability representation. If you’re looking for a particular genre, it can also narrow your options to almost non-existent.

I’m confident that we’re at least moving in the right direction, though! My priority is to shine a spotlight on the queer lit we do have! The more sales and attention they get, the more room is made for other LGBTQ book deals.

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

Love Is for Losers by Wibke Brueggemann (Queer F/F YA)

A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth (Queer YA Fantasy)

The Shadow War by Lindsay Smith (Queer YA Fantasy/Alternate History)

The Upstairs House by Julia Fine (Sapphic Fiction)

It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake by Claire Christian (Bi F/F Romance) 

Best Laid Plans by Roan Parrish (M/M Romance)

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers (F/F Romance)

Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters by Aimee Ogden (Queer Science Fiction Novella)

Mouths of Rain : An Anthology of Black Lesbian Thought edited by Briona Simone Jones (Lesbian Nonfiction)

I’m a Wild Seed by Sharon Lee De La Cruz (Queer Graphic Memoir)


Until next time, you can find me on Twitter @lesbrary and tumblr (yes, tumblr) @biandlesbianliterature. 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!