Lesbrary Links: Lammy Winners, the Queer Blackathon & Sapphic Romance for Beginners

Lesbrary links cover collage

I follow hundreds of queer book blogs to scout out the best sapphic book news and reviews! Many of them get posted on Tumblr and Twitter as I discover them, but my favourites get saved for these link compilations. Here are some of the posts I’ve found interesting in the last few weeks.

Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur (Amazon Affiliate Link)
Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
Love After the End edited by Joshua Whitehead
Fiebre Tropical cover

The Lambda Literary Awards were announced!

It’s Pride Book Fest on YouTube! Check out 90+ queer creators talk queer books!

June 19th is the start of the Queer Blackathon! It’s a 48 hour readathon that centers queer Black books! There are some prompts, but you’re also encouraged to join in reading any queer Black books you’re interested in.

This Pride month, support queer bookstores, like these ones in the U.K.

For some heartwarming news, this community group funded 10 “Rainbow Little Free Libraries” with 500 LBGTQ children’s books!

Here’s a history of LGBTQ lit publishing, from 1980-1995.

The Unbroken (Magic of the Lost #1) by C.L. Clark
Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi cover
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
Dead Dead Girls cover
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

Read some Black, African, and Caribbean LGBTQ lit!

Sapphic YA has exploded in recent years–to the point that it can be hard to find adult sapphic lit! If you’re more accustomed to YA F/F romance than the adult version, this guide to Adult sapphic romance for beginners will be useful for you.

If mysteries and thrillers are more your speed, these queer crime novels are worth reading all year round.

Buzzfeed has recommendations for 47 Science Fiction And Fantasy Novels Starring LGBTQ+ Characters, and here are more queer fantasy novels for Pride month.

And these sapphic SFF books are “spectacularly queer!”

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho
Fireheart Tiger
Fat and Queer cover
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Sunstone Vol 1

This title speaks for itself: What To Read When You Want a Fat and Queer Summer.

This one is unfortunately behind a paywall, but it’s worth the read if you have a NYT subscription: a bisexual librarian thinks about how her and her marriage to a man would be classified under the Dewey decimal system.

Stjepan Šejić, the author of Sunstone (a BDSM F/F comic) is offering the first 6 volumes as free PDFs while he works on volume 7.

Here’s a definitive reading list on theory of queerness and work.

Ace of Spades cover
Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan cover
Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating cover
Love & Other Natural Disasters cover
Gearbreakers cover

These are some 2021 queer YA books by authors of color you should add to your TBR!

For fans of the fake dating trope, try these queer YA fake dating romances!

If you like queer YA thrillers, take this quiz to decide which one to read next!

Here is how Pride has been depicted in kids books over the past three decades–plus a database of 700+ LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ books! Speaking of, here are the NYPL’s recommendations of picture books and board books for Pride.

Since we’re talking about queer kids’ books, here’s 11 facts about Harriet the Spy, including why it resonates with queer readers

This post has the covers linked to their Amazon pages. If you click through and buy something, I might get a small referral fee. For even more links, check out the Lesbrary’s Twitter! We’re also on FacebookGoodreadsYoutube and Tumblr.

Support the Lesbrary on Patreon at $2 or more a month and be entered to win a queer women book every month! $10 and up patrons get guaranteed books throughout the year!

Shannon reviews Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia

Dead Dead Girls cover

Amazon Affiliate Link | Bookshop.org Affiliate Link

In Dead Dead Girls, the first installment in Nekesa Afia’s Harlem Renaissance series, readers are introduced to Louise Lloyd, a black lesbian with a troubled past. The year is 1921, and Louise is working at a small cafe to keep a roof over her head. She spends her nights at one of several nearby speakeasies, drinking and dancing her troubles away in the arms of her girlfriend Rosa Maria. Of course, being gay in 1920’s Harlem isn’t always easy or safe, so Louise and Rosa Maria are forced to keep their relationship a secret. Fortunately, no one at the clubs seems to pay them too much attention, and that’s exactly the way Louise likes it.

Louise’s life becomes a whole lot more complicated when she finds the body of a young black woman just outside the cafe where she works. This is the third body to be discovered in Harlem, and the police don’t seem to have any leads. Louise is deeply troubled by this, as it brings up memories from her own past, memories she’s tried hard to keep buried for the past ten years or so.

Later that evening, Louise interferes with a police officer who seems to be harassing a woman on the street, and is subsequently arrested. The officer tells her he’ll let her go and wipe the incident from her record if she agrees to help him catch the murderer. May of Harlem’s residents are suspicious of the police, but Louise is exactly the kind of person they would trust. If she doesn’t agree to help him crack the case, he threatens to send her to prison. Feeling trapped, she reluctantly agrees, setting in motion a string of events that could cost Louise her life.

Dead Dead Girls is a dark and gritty mystery that doesn’t shy away from difficult subject matter. There is some racist language here, as well as some homophobic rhetoric that readers should be aware of before deciding to pick this book up. These elements don’t make up a large part of the overall plot, but they could still prove distressing to some readers.

I loved Louise as a heroine. She’s complex and relatable, exactly the kind of person I’d love to be friends with. Her back story might seem confusing at first, but things became clearer to me as I continued reading. Her relationship with Rosa Maria was fantastic, especially watching the two of them struggle to work through some conflicts that come up throughout the course of the book. Relationships are hard work, and Luise and Rosa Maria are perfect examples of how beautiful and difficult this process can be.

This is a book I hated to put down. I would have read it in a single sitting if I could have. The historical detail is immersive, making me feel as though I’d traveled back in time. I don’t know if the author plans to write more books about Louise, Rosa Maria, and their friends, but I’ll definitely snap them up if she does.

Rachel reviews The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue

The Sealed Letter cover

Amazon Affiliate Link | Bookshop.org Affiliate Link

Emma Donoghue is one of my favourite lesbian writers, and one of my favourite genres is historical biographical fiction. Donoghue’s The Sealed Letter (2009) is a masterfully paced, well-plotted literary novel with a lesbian twist. And it’s based on real events!

The Sealed Letter is told from three perspectives. The first is Emily “Fido” Faithfull’s. She’s a spinster and an early suffragette living in Victorian England. When her estranged friend, Helen Codrington, returns from India with a reasonable explanation as to her absence, Fido is once again drawn behind the curtain into the sordid details of Helen’s marriage, her husband’s aloofness, and Helen’s own affairs with army officers. While Fido tries to help her friend without soiling her own reputation in the process, things are not as simple as they seem, and as Helen’s divorce case moves to the public forum of the courtroom and Helen’s husband and Fido discover more of the truth, more than one secret will come to light. Based on the real events of the Codrington Divorce Case in the 1860s, Donoghue’s novel is neo-Victorianism at its best.

As always with Donoghue’s historical biographical fiction, I found myself enthralled with her writing. For anyone interested in the nineteenth century and historical fiction generally, Donoghue’s voice clearly inhabits the period, and her characters are always so vivid and clearly differentiated. This was the case in The Sealed Letter. With a cast of three primary actors who are all moving in disparate directions with conflicted desires and motives, the power of the novel is in its intrigue and in the questions that arise from long-ago friendships. Donoghue is an expert at clarifying a subtly queer undercurrent that draws on historical ideas around women’s relationships, as well as modern understandings of what some of those women might have truly meant to one another.

Although this book’s plot might seem rather straightforward, there are a number of twists and turns that kept me guessing until the very end. I had a hard time putting this one down, and, as always, Donoghue’s afterword provided brilliant insight into the real people she has made characters of in the book.

If you’re a fan of Donoghue, queer historical fiction, or courtroom dramas, The Sealed Letter is the book for you!

Please visit Emma Donoghue on Twitter or on her Website, and put The Sealed Letter on your TBR on Goodreads.

Content Warnings: Trauma, emotional abuse, verbal abuse.  

Rachel Friars is a writer and academic living in Canada, dividing her time between Ontario and New Brunswick. When she’s not writing short fiction, she’s reading every lesbian novel she can find. Rachel holds two degrees in English literature and is currently pursuing a PhD in nineteenth-century lesbian literature and history.

You can find Rachel on Twitter @RachelMFriars or on Goodreads @Rachel Friars.

58 Bi and Lesbian Books Out This Pride Month!

Bi & Lesbian Books Out in  June! cover collage

Would you believe that more than 50 sapphic books come out this month? It’s true! Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find out which books have queer representation, or what kind of representation they have. So here’s a big list of bi and lesbian books out this month, sorted by genre. I’ve highlighted a few of the books I’m most interested in, but click through to see the other titles’ blurbs!

As always, if you can get these through an indie bookstore, that is ideal, but if you can’t, the titles and covers are linked to my Amazon affiliate link. If you click through and buy something, I’ll get a small percentage. On to the books!

Young Adult

YA Contemporary

Ace of Spades cover

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

All you need to know is . . . I’m here to divide and conquer. Like all great tyrants do. ―Aces

When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.

Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.

As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?

(Lesbian main character)

The Lucky List by Rachael Lippincott

The Lucky List by Rachael Lippincott

Emily and her mom were always lucky. Every month they’d take her lucky quarter, select lucky card 505, and dominate the heatedly competitive bingo night in their small, quirky town of Huckabee. But Emily’s mom’s luck ran out three years ago when she succumbed to cancer, and nothing has felt right for Emily since.

Now, the summer before her senior year, things are getting worse. Not only has Emily wrecked things with her boyfriend Matt, who her mom adored, but her dad is selling the house she grew up in and giving her mom’s belongings away. Soon, she’ll have no connections left to Mom but that lucky quarter. And with her best friend away for the summer and her other friends taking her ex’s side, the only person she has to talk to about it is her dad’s best friend’s daughter, Blake, a girl she barely knows.

But that’s when Emily finds the list—her mom’s senior year summer bucket list—buried in a box in the back of her closet. When Blake suggests that Emily take it on as a challenge, the two set off on a journey to tick each box and help Emily face her fears before everything changes As they go further down the list, Emily finally begins to feel closer to mom again, but her bond with Blake starts to deepen, too, into something she wasn’t expecting. Suddenly Emily must face another fear: accepting the secret part of herself she never got a chance to share with the person who knew her best.

The Love Song of Ivy K. Harlowe by Hannah Moskowitz

Ivy K. Harlowe is a lot of things. She’s my best friend. She’s the center of attention.

She is, without fail, the hottest girl in the room. Anytime. Anyplace.

She has freckles and dimples and bright green eyes, and with someone else’s energy she’d be adorable. But there is nothing cute about Ivy. She is ice and hot metal and electricity.

She is the girl who every lesbian wants, but she has never been with the same person twice. She’s one-of-a-kind but also predictable, so I will always be Andie, her best friend, never Andie, her girlfriend.

Then she meets Dot, and Ivy does something even I would have never guessed―she sees Dot another day. And another. And another.

Now my world is slowly going up in smoke, and no matter what I do, the flames grow higher. She lit that match without knowing who or what it would burn.

Ivy K. Harlowe is a lot of things. But falling in love wasn’t supposed to be one of them…unless it was with me.

Love & Other Natural Disasters cover

Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura

This delightfully disastrous queer YA rom-com is a perfect read for fans of Jenny Han, Morgan Matson, and Sandhya Menon.

When Nozomi Nagai pictured the ideal summer romance, a fake one wasn’t what she had in mind.

That was before she met the perfect girl. Willow is gorgeous, glamorous, and…heartbroken? And when she enlists Nozomi to pose as her new girlfriend to make her ex jealous, Nozomi is a willing volunteer.

Because Nozomi has a master plan of her own: one to show Willow she’s better than a stand-in, and turn their fauxmance into something real. But as the lies pile up, it’s not long before Nozomi’s schemes take a turn toward disaster…and maybe a chance at love she didn’t plan for.

Stranger Things Rebel Robin cover
The Sea is Salt and So Am I cover
Indestructible Object cover
Better Together by Christine Riccio

YA Mystery & Thrillers

Trouble Girls cover

Trouble Girls by Julia Lynn Rubin

A queer YA reimagining of Thelma & Louise with the aesthetic of Riverdale.

When Trixie picks up her best friend Lux for their weekend getaway, they’re looking to forget the despair of being trapped in their dead-end rustbelt town. The girls are packing light: a supply of Diet Coke and an ‘89 Canon to help Lux frame the world in a sunnier light; half a pack of cigarettes that Trixie doesn’t really smoke, and a knife she’s hanging on to for a friend that she’s never used before.

But a single night of violence derails their trip, and the girls go from ordinary high schoolers to wanted fugitives. Trying to stay ahead of the cops and a hellscape of media attention, Trixie and Lux grapple with an unforgiving landscape, rapidly diminishing supplies, and disastrous decisions at every turn. As they are transformed by the media into the face of a #MeToo movement they didn’t ask to lead, Trixie and Lux realize that they can only rely on each other, and that the love they find together is the one thing that truly makes them free.

The Marvelous by Claire Kann

From the author of Let’s Talk About Love and If It Makes You Happy, this exuberant YA Novel follows six teens locked together in a mansion, contending for a life-changing cash prize in a competition run by a reclusive heiress.

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

After mysteriously disappearing for a year, Jewel makes her dramatic return with an announcement: she has chosen a few lucky Golden Rule users to spend an unforgettable weekend at her private estate. But once they arrive, Jewel ingeniously flips the script: the guests are now players in an elaborate estate-wide game. And she’s tailored every challenge and obstacle to test whether they have what it takes to win–at any cost.

Told from the perspective of three dazzling players–Nicole: the new queen of Golden Rule; Luna: Jewel’s biggest fan; and Stella: a brilliant outsider–this novel will charm its way into your heart and keep you guessing how it all ends because money isn’t the only thing at stake.

(Multiple sapphic characters)

YA Fantasy

Fire with Fire cover

Fire with Fire by Destiny Soria

Raised to be fierce dragon slayers, two sisters end up on opposite sides of the impending war when one sister forms an unlikely, magical bond with a dragon in this standalone YA contemporary fantasy that’s perfect for fans of Slayer and Sorcery of Thorns.

Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else. Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned.

Until Dani comes face-to-face with one and forges a rare and magical bond with him. As she gets to know Nox, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about dragons is wrong. With Dani lost to the dragons, Eden turns to mysterious and alluring sorcerers to help save her sister. Now on opposite sides of the conflict, each sister will do whatever it takes to save the other. But the two are playing with magic that is more dangerous than they know, and there is another, more powerful enemy waiting for them both in the shadows.

(Dani is bisexual)

Monstrous Design cover
Queen of All cover
Strange Covers cover
Girls at the Edge of the World cover

YA Sci Fi

Gearbreakers cover

Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta

Two girls on opposite sides of a war discover they’re fighting for a common purpose―and falling for each other.

We went past praying to deities and started to build them instead...

The shadow of Godolia’s tyrannical rule is spreading, aided by their giant mechanized weapons known as Windups. War and oppression are everyday constants for the people of the Badlands, who live under the thumb of their cruel Godolia overlords.

Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker, a brash young rebel who specializes in taking down Windups from the inside. When one of her missions goes awry and she finds herself in a Godolia prison, Eris meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her mortal enemy, but Sona has a secret: She has intentionally infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within.

As the clock ticks down to their deadliest mission yet, a direct attack to end Godolia’s reign once and for all, Eris and Sona grow closer―as comrades, friends, and perhaps something more…

A War of Swallowed Stars
Papercutter cover

Children’s & Middle Grade

Middle Grade Novels

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow cover

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow

In this unabashedly queer middle grade debut, a week-long amusement park road trip becomes a true roller coaster of emotion when Dalia realizes she has more-than-friend feelings for her new bestie.

Would-be amusement park aficionado Dalia only has two items on her summer bucket list: (1) finally ride a roller coaster and (2) figure out how to make a new best friend. But when her dad suddenly announces that he’s engaged, Dalia’s schemes come to a screeching halt. With Dalia’s future stepsister Alexa heading back to college soon, the grown-ups want the girls to spend the last weeks of summer bonding–meaning Alexa has to cancel the amusement park road trip she’s been planning for months.

Luckily Dalia comes up with a new plan: If she joins Alexa on her trip and brings Rani, the new girl from her swim team, along maybe she can have the perfect summer after all. But what starts out as a week of funnel cakes and Lazy River rides goes off the rails when Dalia discovers that Alexa’s girlfriend is joining the trip. And keeping Alexa’s secret makes Dalia realize one of her own: She might have more-than-friend feelings for Rani.

Middle Grade & All Ages Comics

The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor

The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor

Part historical fiction, part magical realism, and 100 percent adventure. Thirteen-year-old Mei reimagines the myths of Paul Bunyan as starring a Chinese heroine while she works in a Sierra Nevada logging camp in 1885.

Aware of the racial tumult in the years after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Mei tries to remain blissfully focused on her job, her close friendship with the camp foreman’s daughter, and telling stories about Paul Bunyan–reinvented as Po Pan Yin (Auntie Po), an elderly Chinese matriarch.

Anchoring herself with stories of Auntie Po, Mei navigates the difficulty and politics of lumber camp work and her growing romantic feelings for her friend Bee. The Legend of Auntie Po is about who gets to own a myth, and about immigrant families and communities holding on to rituals and traditions while staking out their own place in America.

The Girl From the Sea cover

The Girl from the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag

Fifteen-year-old Morgan has a secret: She can’t wait to escape the perfect little island where she lives. She’s desperate to finish high school and escape her sad divorced mom, her volatile little brother, and worst of all, her great group of friends…who don’t understand Morgan at all. Because really, Morgan’s biggest secret is that she has a lot of secrets, including the one about wanting to kiss another girl.

Then one night, Morgan is saved from drowning by a mysterious girl named Keltie. The two become friends and suddenly life on the island doesn’t seem so stifling anymore.

But Keltie has some secrets of her own. And as the girls start to fall in love, everything they’re each trying to hide will find its way to the surface…whether Morgan is ready or not.

Children’s Nonfiction

Sharice's Big Voice cover

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

This picture book autobiography tells the triumphant story of Sharice Davids, one of the first Native American women elected to Congress, and the first LGBTQ congressperson to represent Kansas.

When Sharice Davids was young, she never thought she’d be in Congress. And she never thought she’d be one of the first Native American women in Congress. During her campaign, she heard from a lot of doubters. They said she couldn’t win because of how she looked, who she loved, and where she came from. But here’s the thing: Everyone’s path looks different and everyone’s path has obstacles. And this is the remarkable story of Sharice Davids’ path to Congress.

Beautifully illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley, an Ojibwe Woodland artist, this powerful autobiographical picture book teaches readers to use their big voice and that everyone deserves to be seen—and heard!

The back matter includes information about the Ho-Chunk written by former Ho-Chunk President Jon Greendeer, an artist note, and an inspiring letter to children from Sharice Davids.

(lesbian)

Adult

Fiction

With Teeth cover

With Teeth by Kristin Arnett

From the author of the New York Times–bestselling sensation Mostly Dead Things: a surprising and moving story of two mothers, one difficult son, and the limitations of marriage, parenthood, and love

If she’s being honest, Sammie Lucas is scared of her son. Working from home in the close quarters of their Florida house, she lives with one wary eye peeled on Samson, a sullen, unknowable boy who resists her every attempt to bond with him. Uncertain in her own feelings about motherhood, she tries her best—driving, cleaning, cooking, prodding him to finish projects for school—while growing increasingly resentful of Monika, her confident but absent wife. As Samson grows from feral toddler to surly teenager, Sammie’s life begins to deteriorate into a mess of unruly behavior, and her struggle to create a picture-perfect queer family unravels. When her son’s hostility finally spills over into physical aggression, Sammie must confront her role in the mess—and the possibility that it will never be clean again.

Skye Papers cover
In Our Words cover

Mystery & Thrillers

Dead Dead Girls cover

Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia

Harlem, 1926. Young Black women like Louise Lloyd are ending up dead.

Following a harrowing kidnapping ordeal when she was in her teens, Louise is doing everything she can to maintain a normal life. She’s succeeding, too. She spends her days working at Maggie’s Café and her nights at the Zodiac, Harlem’s hottest speakeasy. Louise’s friends, especially her girlfriend, Rosa Maria Moreno, might say she’s running from her past and the notoriety that still stalks her, but don’t tell her that.

When a girl turns up dead in front of the café, Louise is forced to confront something she’s been trying to ignore—two other local Black girls have been murdered in the past few weeks. After an altercation with a police officer gets her arrested, Louise is given an ultimatum: She can either help solve the case or wind up in a jail cell. Louise has no choice but to investigate and soon finds herself toe-to-toe with a murderous mastermind hell-bent on taking more lives, maybe even her own….

Romance

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.

But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.

Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.

Satisfaction Guaranteed cover

Satisfaction Guaranteed by Karelia Stetz-Waters

When it comes to her career, Cade Elgin has it all figured out. Only “professional talk” has become her default mode, relationships are nonexistent, and don’t even mention the word “orgasm.” All work and no play makes Cade a dull human. But when she inherits a sex toy store, Cade is caught between business and a store filled with every imaginable kind of pleasure—including her infuriatingly irresponsible and deliciously sexy new co-owner.

Selena Mathis learned the hard way that she can have too much of a good thing. Which is precisely why she’s taken an oath of celibacy and is focusing on how to make Satisfaction Guaranteed a success. She won’t mess this up. Not this time. But once again, Selena’s emotions are getting in the way and tempting her with a serious attraction to buttoned-up Cade.

But the shop isn’t exactly vibe-ing, and Cade and Selena are on the verge of losing both their income and the possibility of love. Can they find a way to work together . . . before Satisfaction Guaranteed runs out of batteries?

The Hellion’s Waltz (Feminine Pursuits #3) by Olivia Waite

It’s not a crime to steal a heart…

Sophie Roseingrave hates nothing more than a swindler. After her family lost their piano shop to a con man in London, they’re trying to start fresh in a new town. Her father is convinced Carrisford is an upright and honest place, but Sophie is not so sure. She has grave suspicions about silk-weaver Madeline Crewe, whose stunning beauty doesn’t hide the fact that she’s up to something.

All Maddie Crewe needs is one big score, one grand heist to properly fund the weavers’ union forever. She has found her mark in Mr. Giles, a greedy draper, and the entire association of weavers and tailors and clothing merchants has agreed to help her. The very last thing she needs is a small but determined piano-teacher and composer sticking her nose in other people’s business. If Sophie won’t be put off, the only thing to do is to seduce her to the cause.

Will Sophie’s scruples force her to confess the plot before Maddie gets her money? Or will Maddie lose her nerve along with her heart?

A Turn of Fate cover
Dare to Live, Dare to Love cover
Under Her Influence cover
Opposites Attract cover
Not Guilty cover
Measure of Devotion cover
Bleeding Hearts cover

Fantasy

Star Eater cover

Star Eater by Kerstin Hall

Elfreda Raughn will avoid pregnancy if it kills her, and one way or another, it will kill her. Though she’s able to stomach her gruesome day-to-day duties, the reality of preserving the Sisterhood of Aytrium’s magical bloodline horrifies her. She wants out, whatever the cost.

So when a shadowy faction approaches Elfreda with an offer of escape, she leaps at the opportunity. As their spy, she gains access to the highest reaches of the Sisterhood, and enters a glittering world of opulent parties, subtle deceptions, and unexpected bloodshed.

(bisexual main character)

Tangleroot Palace

The Tangleroot Palace by Marjorie Liu

New York Times bestseller and Hugo, British Fantasy, Romantic Times, and Eisner award-winning author of the graphic novel Monstress, Marjorie Liu leads you deep into the heart of the tangled woods. In her long-awaited debut collection of dark, lush, and spellbinding short fiction, you will find unexpected detours, dangerous magic, and even more dangerous women.

Briar, bodyguard for a body-stealing sorceress, discovers her love for Rose, whose true soul emerges only once a week. An apprentice witch seeks her freedom through betrayal, the bones of the innocent, and a meticulously plotted spell. In a world powered by crystal skulls, a warrior returns to save China from invasion by her jealous ex. A princess runs away from an arranged marriage, finding family in a strange troupe of traveling actors at the border of the kingdom’s deep, dark woods.

Concluding with a gorgeous full-length novella, Marjorie Liu’s first short fiction collection is an unflinching sojourn into her thorny tales of love, revenge, and new beginnings.

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

The Jasmine Throne (Burning Kingdoms #1) by Tasha Suri

Exiled by her despotic brother, princess Malini spends her days dreaming of vengeance while imprisoned in the Hirana: an ancient cliffside temple that was once the revered source of the magical deathless waters but is now little more than a decaying ruin.
 
The secrets of the Hirana call to Priya. But in order to keep the truth of her past safely hidden, she works as a servant in the loathed regent’s household, biting her tongue and cleaning Malini’s chambers.
 
But when Malini witnesses Priya’s true nature, their destines become irrevocably tangled. One is a ruthless princess seeking to steal a throne. The other a powerful priestess seeking to save her family. Together, they will set an empire ablaze.

(F/F relationship)

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society—she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer, Asian, adopted, and treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her.

But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how.

Nghi Vo’s debut novel The Chosen and the Beautiful reinvents this classic of the American canon as a coming-of-age story full of magic, mystery, and glittering excess, and introduces a major new literary voice.

(bisexual)

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Science Fiction & Horror

The Membranes cover
Catalyst Gate cover
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Comics and Graphic Novels

Renegade Rule by Ben Kahn, Rachel Silverstein, and Sam Beck

Prepare for competitive gaming like you’ve never seen it!

The Manhattan Mist have beaten the odds to land themselves in the national championships for Renegade Rule, one of the hottest virtual reality games in existence. But they’re in for competition fiercer than they ever imagined, and one team member’s entire future could be at stake. Four queer female friends will have to play harder than ever against self-doubt, infighting, romantic distraction, and a slew of other world-class teams if they hope to become champions.

Both hilarious and heartwarming, this new graphic novel from Ignatz-nominated writer Ben Kahn, debut author Rachel Silverstein, and artist Sam Beck is a celebration of friendship, competition, queer identity, and the insane things we do for the things and people we love.

Poison Ivy: Thorns by Kody Keplinger & Sara Kipin

There’s something unusual about Pamela Isley–the girl who hides behind her bright red hair. The girl who won’t let anyone inside to see what’s lurking behind the curtains. The girl who goes to extreme lengths to care for a few plants. Pamela Isley doesn’t trust other people, especially men. They always want something from her that she’s not willing to give.

When cute goth girl Alice Oh comes into Pamela’s life after an accident at the local park, she makes her feel like pulling back the curtains and letting the sunshine in. But there are dark secrets deep within the Isley house. Secrets Pamela’s father has warned must remain hidden. Secrets that could turn deadly and destroy the one person who ever cared about Pamela, or as her mom preferred to call her…Ivy.

Will Pamela open herself up to the possibilities of love, or will she forever be transformed by the thorny vines of revenge?

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

Memoirs & Essays

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Care Of: Letters, Connections, and Cures by Ivan Coyote

Beloved storyteller Ivan Coyote returns with their most intimate and moving book yet.

Writer and performer Ivan Coyote has spent decades on the road, telling stories around the world. For years, Ivan has kept a file of the most special communications received from readers and audience members—letters, Facebook messages, emails, soggy handwritten notes tucked under the windshield wiper of their truck after a gig. Then came Spring, 2020, and, like artists everywhere, Coyote was grounded by the pandemic, all their planned events cancelled. The energy of a live audience, a performer’s lifeblood, was suddenly gone. But with this loss came an opportunity for a different kind of connection. Those letters that had long piled up could finally begin to be answered.

Care Of combines the most powerful of these letters with Ivan’s responses, creating a body of correspondence of startling intimacy, breathtaking beauty, and heartbreaking honesty and openness. Taken together, they become an affirming and joyous reflection on many of the themes central to Coyote’s celebrated work—compassion and empathy, family fragility, non-binary and Trans identity, and the unending beauty of simply being alive, a giant love letter to the idea of human connection, and the power of truly listening to each other. 

(Non-binary butch author)

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

Part memoir, part literary biography, the writing of Sylvia Plath teaches one young woman the power of her own feelings.

Sylvia Plath’s writing reaches across decades to teach one young woman the power of her own feelings in this part memoir, part literary biography.

Like so many thoughtful and soul-searching young women, as a teenage girl Lisa was transfixed by the writing of Sylvia Plath. In different times, in different places, and in different ways, each of them struggles because of how they presented themselves to the world. As the author explored her sexuality and discovered her identity as an LGBTQ woman, she found inspiration and solace in the poetry and prose of this famous writer.

Nonfiction

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

Today’s gay youth have dozens of queer peer heroes, both fictional and real, but former gay teenager Grace Perry did not have that luxury. Instead, she had to search for queerness in the (largely straight) teen cultural phenomena the aughts had to offer: in Lindsay Lohan’s fall from grace, Gossip Girl, Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl,” country-era Taylor Swift, and Seth Cohen jumping on a coffee cart. And, for better or worse, these touch points shaped her adult identity. She came out on the other side like many millennials did: in her words, gay as hell.

Throw on your Von Dutch hats and join Grace on a journey back through the pop culture moments of the aughts, before the cataclysmic shift in LGBTQ representation and acceptance―a time not so long ago, which many seem to forget.

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

Sex is everywhere. It’s in the stories we love – and the stories we fear. It defines who we are and our place in society … at least we’re told it ought to.

Sex and sexuality can seem like a house of horrors, full of monsters and potential pitfalls. We often live with fear, shame and frustration when it comes to our own sexuality, and with judgement when it comes to others’. Sex advice manuals, debates over sex work and stories of sexual “dysfunction” only add to our anxiety.

With compassion, humour, erudition and a touch of the erotic, Meg-John Barker and Jules Scheele shine a light through the darkness and unmask the monsters.

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All The Things She Said by Daisy Jones cover

Check out more LGBTQ new releases at:

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SPONSORED REVIEW: Middletown by Sarah Moon

Middletown by Sarah Moon

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Eli and Anna know the routine. The cops come to the door in the middle of the night, Eli tries to look as young and adorable as possible, then Anna puts on eyeliner, grabs a beer from the fridge, and tries to sweet talk them into looking the other way about the two teenagers left alone while their mom is in the drunk tank. Soon, their mom will come home again, all apologies. Eli will forgive her immediately–though she doesn’t really buy the promises. Anna will run up to her room and slam the door. It’s not a great routine, but it is familiar.

Except that this night, something changes. Their mother has gotten her second DUI in about a month, and there’s no looking the other way. She has to go to rehab. But her being in rehab means social workers, and foster care, and splitting Eli and Anna–Peanut Butter and Banana, as they call each other–apart. They’re determined to find a way to stick together, including Anna pretending to be their aunt taking care of them. But the longer they have to keep up the act, the more it seems like their luck is about to run out.

Middletown is a YA novel from the point of view of a 13-year-old. Eli is struggling through middle school. She has to two great friends, Javi and Meena, but she doesn’t feel like she really fits in with them. Meena is gorgeous and has a picture-perfect home life. She’s also straight, and Eli has a hopeless crush on her. Javi is gay, obsessed with Drag Race, and he’s the principal’s son. They both have big, vibrant personalities, and Eli feels like she doesn’t belong with their duo. When she’s not around them, she’s bullied for being too “boyish”–and she can’t say they’re wrong. She doesn’t exactly feel like a girl or a boy. Or maybe she feels like both.

When her mom goes to rehab, she’s left with just her sister at home. Anna and Eli used to be inseparable, but Anna has changed. Once a girly soccer star, now she’s withdrawn, angry, dresses all in black, and she threw out all her soccer gear one afternoon without explanation. They need each other and they love each other–but they’re kids. Anna tries her best to take care of Eli, but they’re playing an impossible hand. They need to find money for groceries and rent, make food for themselves, keep the house livable, and not let on to anyone that they’re doing it alone. That’s not even mentioning trying to process their anger and pain at their mother’s neglect.

One of the things I appreciated the most about this story is the nuanced portrayal of addiction. Their mother hurt them, but she’s also not a villain. She’s a flawed person who also loves them deeply and has done a lot of good, courageous, and selfless things in her life. She’s just dealing with addiction. It also emphasizes that addiction is hereditary. We see the damage addiction can do, but we also see examples of recovering addicts and how that damage can be repaired or at least worked through. There are no easy answers, and people aren’t treated as disposable for struggling with addiction.

Of course, you’re reading a Lesbrary review, so there is also significant queer content here. Eli likes girls–Meena in particular–and is also questioning her gender. She’s still young and figuring herself out, so we don’t get any solid identity labels, but I imagine she will grow up to identify as non-binary. One of my favorite moments of the book is when Eli and Javi go to a production of Rocky Horror Picture Show. They both dress in drag, and it captures the magic of first encountering a queer community. It gives Eli a glimpse into an expansive future that will embrace whoever she ends up being, and I think that’s an incredible experience in any queer person’s life.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but the second half was my favorite, which involves a road trip and discovering family secrets–including more queer content. I love the complicated, resilient family portrayed here. They don’t always know what to say to each other, they can accidentally (or impulsively) hurt each other, but they love each other and try to be there for each other.

Read this one if you like: complicated, flawed, and loving families; road trips and family secrets; queer community and resilient friendships; characters questioning their gender; sneaky revenge on misogynists; or nuanced portrayals of addiction.

This has been a sponsored review. For more information, check out the Lesbrary’s review policy.

Kayla Bell reviews Radiant Days by Elizabeth Hand

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There aren’t many stories that can truly say they’ve done time travel in a unique way. Going back to the past or ahead to the future have already been done dozens of times. A fish out of water, or out of time, is going to make for an interesting story. But Radiant Days does time travel differently, and in a way that felt very compelling to me. 

Radiant Days takes place in two different time periods. The 1870s storyline follows French poet Arthur Rimbaud through the trials and tribulations of his youth. The other storyline takes place in the 1970s, and follows Virginia art student Merle as she develops her craft and explores the street art scene. Merle is exploring her sexuality and Arthur is trying to survive as an artist in an oppressive time. One night, somehow, they meet and connect over their shared love of art. In terms of plot, there isn’t anything too major beyond that. 

Still, I found this book really compelling. Merle’s voice feels very authentic, and I wanted to see her make it out okay despite being in a bit of a toxic relationship. I also appreciated the unique perspective of a queer woman from Appalachia. Merle’s sexuality wasn’t at the forefront of the novel, and I think that was quite refreshing. She was also trying to deal with her complex family dynamics, recovering from the abuse she grew up around, and trying to make it in the art world. At the same time, the storyline following Arthur was also entertaining and kept me reading. Hand mixes historical events with humor and fun in a way that clearly showed how much respect and admiration she had for Arthur Rimbaud. As a Young Adult book, I thought this story structure was a clever way to get young readers interested in what from another writer might be a drier historical story. 

That being said, I would have liked to have seen a bit more plot in this novel. Merle exploring the graffiti subculture of the 1970s was very interesting, but I think the story could have used a little more of a driver. Similarly, I wish that Arthur had been given a chance to develop more as a character, I found myself wanting to read more of his inner thoughts and feelings and connecting more with Merle than Arthur. It was clear that both protagonists were impacted by their meeting out of time, but I think the story could have benefitted from spending a bit more time describing the impacts on both of them. With that being said, I thought that this was an excellently paced novel that is fantastic for younger readers. 

If you know a young person that is looking for a book about the power of art and what it means to break the rules, and is interested in historical fiction, this is a great option. I found myself feeling genuinely connected to both characters by the end of the book, and I can only imagine that it would be even more powerful for a younger reader. More queer historical fiction, especially about artists, is something I definitely want to see. 

Mo Springer reviews Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

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Grace Porter has spent a lifetime striving for perfection only to find all her hard work falling apart, making her turn to a Vegas wedding to escape.

In this debut novel, Rogers explores the realities of post-grad life for a queer black woman in the titular character, Grace Porter. She has achieved the plan by getting her doctorate, but now finds job interviews dissecting her identity, race, sexuality, and questioning her accomplishments as if they weren’t her own. In the face of this, her overbearing and harsh father has no compassion and continues to remind her of the need to be the best. While her friends are supportive, it is not enough, and after a Vegas wedding, she flies off to New York City to be with her new wife and escape the escalating existential crisis – but another city won’t make the problems go away.

This was written in a very beautifully poetic style that added to Grace’s romanticism and gave the reader a sense of how she views the world. However, at times it felt as if the poetic writing seemed to stand on its own and didn’t necessarily always add to the plot or character development. For example, I thought Yuki Yamamoto, Grace’s wife, would be a more grounded and realistic figure based on her first conversation with Grace post-wedding. I thought that would have been a much more interesting juxtaposition to help the character development, Grace’s romanticism against Yuki’s realism. However, Yuki often talked in the same manner as Grace’s narration and internal monologue. I can see this may be a stylistic choice of the writer, and objectively I appreciate that, but subjectively it did limit my enjoyment of the book.

There was a large cast of characters that could easily each have their own books. Rogers clearly put a lot of thought into them and that could be seen by how easily they leaped off the page. They were enjoyable to read about, but it felt distracting to care so much about characters that in the end the book doesn’t dive too deeply into. There is a hint at more stories that could play into the overall theme, but this is felt off the page.

There did seem to be a lot of plot and character development happening off the page and I would have liked to have seen that on the page. Rogers is clearly a fantastic author and for this to be her debut, I can see her writing amazing things in the future. That I wanted to see more of her characters and story is a result of how well she has crafted this book. I look forward to reading more of her in the future.

Marieke reviews When The Tiger Came Down The Mountain by Nghi Vo

When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain (The Singing Hills Cycle #2) by Nghi Vo

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[This review contains spoilers]

The Singing Hills cycle is a series of stories about storytelling, which happens to be one of my favourite narrative themes. You don’t need to have read the first one (which is also sapphic) in order to appreciate this second instalment. The debut novella does provide a bit more worldbuilding and scene-setting, while this one throws you straight into the middle of the action. Yes, I also love in media res openings.

That being said, all of the action takes place at the start and end, bookending the real meat of the story which is relatively static: none of the characters in the present timeline go through any major personal revelations and most of the present storyline takes place in one location. I specify a present storyline because the story format is similar to the frame storytelling of One Thousand And One Nights: a gifted storyteller must rely on their skill to save their life – in this case the lives of the cleric storyteller Chih (nonbinary, no labels are used but only they / them pronouns apply) and their scout Su-yi (unlucky in her girlfriends) are under threat from the three Sinh shapeshifting tiger sisters.  

Chih serves an order of archivists whose task it is to collect oral histories from around their world and memorise them so they can be written down for future generations. The first book delves a bit more into what this entails and the beliefs that are at the core of the order. The cleric is less of an active agent in this story, as they are almost constantly under threat of death from the tigers and it is only when Chih mentions their recording of the tale about another legendary tiger that the tigresses choose not to kill the two travellers right then and there.

You see, the cleric had just journeyed through a region where they first heard the tale of Ho Thi Thao, the tigress who fell in love with a human and was betrayed (note: I will switch between using tiger and tigress to refer to Ho Thi Thao and the three sisters, as the first serves more as a species identifier but the second helps to identify the character as female. The author refers to all tiger characters as tigers, but all named tigers are female). Only, they had been told this story by humans, and once the tigers who are currently threatening them realise this, they decide to keep the two travellers alive only long enough for them to rectify the wrongs in the passing down of the legend. So Chih tells them the version they learned, a version that was dictated by a distant witness fifty years after the events took place, and so was already diluted when it reached Chih even without taking the human’s bias into consideration. The legend is told in stops and starts, returning to the present time to allow for the Sinh tigers to interject and squabble and tell their version of the section that was just shared by Chih.

Thus, the love story of the tigress Ho Thi Thao and scholar-to-be Dieu is told along two different paths, each from the perspective and with the bias of the respective species. I will leave you to discover the various differences, but both stories do seem to agree that, on her way to take the scholarly examinations in the big city, Dieu is waylaid by a tigress and, the only way she survives the encounter is to share her rice cakes and read her a love poem, after which the two spend an undefined amount of time together in the tiger’s cave. When Dieu continues her journey, the tiger follows her and saves her life from a family of fox spirits who were trying to trap her into a marriage with one of their sons, possibly choosing a marriage to the tiger instead.  

Ho Thi Thao and Dieu spend some more time together after this sudden brush with death, but Dieu still leaves Ho Thi Thao for the city once more. The tigress again follows her, and in the city Dieu arranges for lodgings that the two share, until the day of the examinations arrives. Dieu leaves a final time, and this is too much for Ho Thi Thao to bear: the moment of betrayal. In the end, we don’t know which of the two characters saves the other, this strongly depends on the version you want to believe, but they do choose to leave the city and live together for the rest of their days.

It’s an intriguing tale, almost a fairy tale in its repeated patterns – which are doubled up on by the telling of the two versions. However, the interjections of the present time and the switching between both the two tales being told and the present storyline unfolding makes for a slightly disjointed reading experience. I do like how this tale emphasises that no story ever exists in one way – even if there is a written down version there will be other versions of it still circulating: it’s just a matter of finding the people who are telling them. I also love how Chih can find a story in any situation, and the first novella especially emphasises that the order they work for has a mission to seek out and preserve precisely those stories which might go unnoticed by the official annals.  

The relationship between Dieu and Ho Thi Thao feels more believable in the story told by the tigers, possibly because the human version views the shapeshifting creatures too much as monsters to be worthy of love – another fairy tale theme straight from Beauty and the Beast or East of the Sun (hey! Another story theme I love!). The tiger’s story allows for a whole love between the two characters where their respective species make no difference to the way they feel about each other and they fully see and accept each other for who they are – which really is lovely.

Content warnings: violence, murder, death, blood, gore (almost all at the hands of tigers and people defending themselves from tigers)

Lesbrary Links: LGBTQ AAPI Books, Police & Pride Reads, and Queer Elders in Comics

I follow hundreds of queer book blogs to scout out the best sapphic book news and reviews! Many of them get posted on Tumblr and Twitter as I discover them, but my favourites get saved for these link compilations. Here are some of the posts I’ve found interesting in the last few weeks.

Juliet Takes a Breath Graphic Novel by Gabby Rivera
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The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
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I wrote about Goodreads Charles last year on Book Riot, and since then, there has been no change in how marginalized authors on Goodreads are targeted with 1 star reviews.

Netflix needs more queer content. Here are some LGBTQ books they should adapt.

Not sure which books to read for Pride? Take this quiz! Preorder Queer Books Out In June! And as June approaches, this is more necessary than ever: An Essential Reading List on Police and Pride.

Read these queer memoirs when you feel alone.

Read these 5 Contemporary Novels Featuring Queer Parents.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
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Gearbreakers cover
Shadow Life cover
It Goes Like This cover

May was AAPI Heritage Month! Here are some Asian American queer books you should read–any time of year. Here are 60 queer adult books by Asian authors.

Take this quiz to decide which sapphic fantasy you should read next! Here are some queer standalone fantasy books.

Here are some books with pansexual main characters!

What job would you have in a lesbian romance novel? Take this quiz to find out!

Laura Sackton wrote about the power of seeing older queer role models: The Power of Portals: Seeing My Own Future in Graphic Novels About Queer Elders.

These Marvel comics have good LGBT representation. Still not sure which queer superhero to read? Design your own

At Okazu, Erica Friedman explored the tropes of early yuri and what yuri looks like now in a new video: Yuri: How it Began – How It’s Going.

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu,
The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel
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One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
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I hope you already know about the lesbian vampire book that predates Dracula. If not, here’s some info. I recommend reading the edition edited by Carmen Maria Machado!

Alison Bechdel discussed her new graphic memoir about her lifelong obsession with exercise, The Secret to Superhuman Strength, at Time, The Washington Post, Autostraddle, and Vulture.

Did you know that Goodnight Moon was originally a love letter to another woman? It’s true! Here are 11 Facts About Margaret Wise Brown, Author of GOODNIGHT MOON.

Casey McQuiston talked about their new sapphic timeslip subway romance, One Last Stop (which I loved!), at Time, Insider, and Goodreads.

This post has the covers linked to their Amazon pages. If you click through and buy something, I might get a small referral fee. For even more links, check out the Lesbrary’s Twitter! We’re also on FacebookGoodreadsYoutube and Tumblr.

Support the Lesbrary on Patreon at $2 or more a month and be entered to win a queer women book every month! $10 and up patrons get guaranteed books throughout the year!