Danika reviews A Scatter of Light by Malinda Lo

the cover of A Scatter of Light

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As I was reading A Scatter of Light, I saw a tweet from Malinda Lo discussing how hard she’s finding summarizing this book into tropes and graphics to advertise it. I completely understand. This is a book about slowly unfolding self-discovery, the practice of making art, and the beauty of astronomy. It’s about grief and messy first love and different ways of looking at time. It’s a quiet, moving coming of age story that explores complex and difficult emotions–it’s definitely not something that can be distilled easily into a few hashtags.

A Scatter of Light follows Aria as she spends the summer between high school and university (in 2008) with her grandmother, Joan, in California. I think this is such a rich setting for YA novels, because while every summer as a young person feels like a strange, transitionary, surreal time, nothing epitomizes it more than being done high school but not yet starting the next stage of your life. This is the perfect backdrop for Aria’s story, who is in a pivotal point in understanding her own identity.

This wasn’t how Aria planned her summer. She was supposed to split the time between staying with her two best friends, Haley and Tasha, while her father is at a writing retreat and her mother (as usual) is overseas–she’s an opera singer, so she is rarely home. But then a boy posted topless photos of her on Tumblr without her permission, and she faced sexist slut-shaming backlash not only from classmates but also from her friends’ parents. That’s how she ended up spending the summer with Joan instead. And that’s when she meets Joan’s gardener, Steph.

It’s through meeting Steph (who is probably nonbinary, but is still figuring out her gender identity) that Aria realizes that she’s not straight—and also that there’s so much more to attraction that the emotionally-distanced fooling around she’s done with boys in the past.

Steph’s queer friend group immediately adopts Aria, even before she comes out to them, and she is swept into a queer community celebrating the recent defeat of Prop 8 in California: gay marriages are happening all around them. I really appreciated the queer community and friendship showcased, and I especially loved Tasha and Aria’s friendship, which feels like a breath of fresh air among all the messy, complex emotions and relationships. With these new friends, Aria attends a Dyke March and a Queer Music Festival. She falls hard for Steph. Of course, the problem is that Steph already has a girlfriend.

This is definitely a story about a messy first love and about coming out: her attraction to Steph is top of Aria’s mind this summer. But it’s also far from the only thing happening. Joan is a respected artist who Aria has always been proud to be related to. This summer, she’s helping Joan with a project related to her late grandfather’s astronomy work–Aria is going to school to pursue the same field. She finds her grandfather’s old lectures on tape and watches through them. But capable, creative, inspiring Joan is beginning to lose her memory.

The process of making art and prioritizing it in your life is also woven throughout this story. Aria begins to work on her own painting to try to sort through her emotions, with influences from Bernice Bing, a Chinese American lesbian painter, as well as Adrienne Rich’s poetry. (Aria is mixed race: her mother is Chinese American and her father is white.) Meanwhile, Steph is a musician who is deciding how much time and attention she should be putting into her own art. Aria’s mother has always made her art a priority in her life–over Aria, she feels. Aria’s father is an author struggling through years of writer’s block after a successful novel.

The motifs of astronomy, time, and art weave effortlessly through this pensive coming of age story. Despite everything going on, this is a quiet story about Aria coming to terms with herself–not just the label of being queer/bisexual/lesbian/other, but with her own emotions. A Scatter of Light captures the tumultuous, heady feeling of teenage first love: how it’s all-consuming, illogical, and often ephemeral while feeling like the most important thing in the world.

For Last Night at the Telegraph Club, there’s a brief update on the main characters, but it’s only a few pages, so don’t expect this to be too closely tied to that one!

I was 18 in 2008, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that this took me back to my teenage self and my own messy first love. Despite this being a quietly unfolding story of self-discovery, I was rapt and couldn’t stop flipping the pages. If you appreciate introspective, character-driven YA, I can’t recommend this highly enough, whether or not you’ve read Last Night at the Telegraph Club.

Note: some of these content warnings are spoilers, but I know they’re also dealbreakers for some readers, so consider that before reading.

Content warnings: cheating, hospitalization, stroke, death of a loved one, grief. Content note: on page sex scenes.

Danika reviews Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper

Payback’s a Witch cover

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If you’re looking for a book equivalent of watching Hocus Pocus or Halloweentown–but as a bisexual romance novel–this is the book for you. Emmy Harlow left her childhood home of Thistle Grove after a humiliating breakup. She was determined to make a new life for herself in Chicago, leaving behind her friends and family and cutting her waist-length hair to her chin. And she did reinvent herself: she’s happy with her new life and her new job… even if she is a little lonely. Now, though, she’s on her way back to Thistle Grove to visit, because she has duties to fulfill as the scion of House Harlow. Because Thistle Grove isn’t your average small town: it’s magic, with 4 families of witches that date back to the 4 founders.

Gareth Blackmoore is the scion of the Blackmoore family, the most powerful one in Thistle Grove, as they are happy to tell you. Their family has run the town for generations, slowly squeezing out the other families. And he’s also the one who broke Emmy’s heart.

Emmy has returned to town to be the arbiter of the spellcasting tournament, a competition between the families that Blackmoore has won every year. It gives the winner more power as well as leadership over the other families. This time will be different, though, because Emmy quickly realizes she’s not the only one Gareth has wronged. Her high school crush, Talia, and her best friend, Linden, have since had relationships with him–and for each of them, he insisted on keeping their relationship a secret and then dumped them because they didn’t live up to his standards of greatness. The three of them make a pact to get revenge on Gareth, and the competition might be the perfect opportunity to give him a taste of humiliation.

I cannot overstate how much Halloween is packed into this book. Not only is it about witches, but the town itself doubles as a Halloween tourist trap, with visitors blissfully unaware of the real magic going on just out of sight. Every restaurant or bar is decked out in decorations and has witchy cocktails. Mixed in with the fake stuff are real seances, spells, and more. It even got a little bit over the top for me sometimes, like being punched in the face with Halloween, but I know that’s what a lot of people are hoping for.

While this is a fantasy novel, there’s also a strong romance component. Emmy and Talia immediately have a lot of heat between them, and you know it’s only a matter of time before they give into it. It’s not instalove, because they knew each other a bit in high school, but it is insta-attraction. Insta-lust. The romance builds based on that. I never got fully invested, I’ll be honest, because I couldn’t get a good sense of their dynamic (other than Emmy drooling over Talia), but I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority there.

More than the romance, the revenge, and even the competition, though, this is about Emmy’s struggle with where she belongs, where home is. When she left Thistle Grove, it meant leaving behind her magic–which was never very strong, but it was a part of her. Her cousin is eager to step into the role of scion, waiting for Emmy to officially give up that title, but she’s not sure. Returning has made her realize how much she missed this place, her family, and Linden.

There’s an aspect of “blood family is the most important” and “there’s nowhere like home” that I don’t love, but it is discussed some. She left town to run away from a bad relationship with a guy. Yes, she balked at how Thistle Grove slots people into roles based on their family, but she wouldn’t have left if Gareth didn’t taint the place for her.

If a bisexual romance novel version of Halloweentown appeals to you, definitely pick this one up. It’s perfect for diving headfirst into Halloween, and it’s a cute, fun read–just what you want from a holiday romance. The competition aspect is also exciting and cinematic: I’d love to see it on screen. This is the first in the series, with the next following another Thistle Grove inhabitant!

42 Bi and Lesbian Books Out in October 2022!

a collage of new sapphic book covers, with the text Sapphic Books Out In October!

Would you believe that more than forty 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 and included the publisher’s description of those, 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!

Adult

Fiction

the cover of The Call-Out

The Call-Out: A Novel in Rhyme by Cat Fitzpatrick (Queer and Trans Women Fiction)

A fast-paced, debut tragicomedy of manners written in verse about queer (mostly trans) women that is funny, literary, philosophical, witty, sometimes bitchy and sometimes heartbreaking.

Anvi, Kate, Bette, Keiko, Gaia, and Day are six queer, mostly trans women surviving and thriving in Brooklyn. Visiting all the fixtures of fashionable 21st century queer society—picnics, literary readings, health conferences, drag shows, punk houses, community accountability processes, Grindr hookups—The Call-Out also engages with pressing questions around economic precarity, sexual consent, racism in queer spaces, and feminist theory, in the service of asking what it takes to build, or destroy, a marginalized community.
 
A novel written in verse, The Call-Out recalls the Russian literary classic Eugene Onegin, but instead of 19th century Russian aristocrats crudely solved their disagreements with pistols, the participants in this rhyming drama have developed a more refined weapon, the online call-out, a cancel-culture staple. In this passionate tangle of modern relationships, where a barbed tweet can be as dangerous as the narrator’s bon-mots, Cat Fitzpatrick has fashioned a modern novel of manners that gives readers access to a vibrant cultural underground.

the cover of Daughters of the New Year

Daughters of the New Year by E. M. Tran (Lesbian Fiction)

In present day New Orleans, Xuan Trung, former beauty queen turned refugee after the Fall of Saigon, is obsessed with divining her daughters’ fates through their Vietnamese zodiac signs. But Trac, Nhi and Trieu diverge completely from their immigrant parents’ expectations. Successful lawyer Trac hides her sexuality from her family; Nhi competes as the only woman of color on a Bachelor-esque reality TV show; and Trieu, a budding writer, is determined to learn more about her familial and cultural past.

As the three sisters begin to encounter strange glimpses of long-buried secrets from the ancestors they never knew, the story of the Trung women unfurls to reveal the dramatic events that brought them to America. Moving backwards in time, E.M. Tran takes us into the high school classrooms of New Orleans, to Saigon beauty pageants, to twentieth century rubber plantations, traversing a century as the Trungs are both estranged and united by the ghosts of their tumultuous history.

A “haunted story of resilience and survival” (Meng Jin, Little Gods), Daughters of the New Year is an addictive, high-wire act of storytelling that illuminates an entire lineage of extraordinary women fighting to reclaim the power they’ve been stripped of for centuries.

the cover of Jade is a Twisted Green

Jade Is a Twisted Green by Tanya Turton (Queer Woman Fiction)

For readers of Queenie and Honey Girl, a coming-of-age story about queer Black identity, love, passion, chosen family, and rediscovering life’s pleasures after loss.

Jade Brown, a twenty-four-year-old first-generation Jamaican woman living in Toronto, must find a way to pick up the pieces and discover who she is following the mysterious death of her twin sister.

Grappling with her grief, Jade seeks solace in lovers and friends during an array of hilarious and heartbreaking adventures. As she investigates some of life’s most frustrating paradoxes, she holds tight to old friends and her ex-girlfriend, lifelines between past and present. On the journey to turning twenty-five, she finally sees that she belongs to herself, and goes about the business of reclaiming that self.

Through a series of whirlwind love affairs, parties, and trips abroad, Jade stumbles toward relinquishing the weight of her trauma as she fully comes into her own as a young Black woman and writer.

Romance

the cover of Season of Love

Season of Love by Helena Greer (F/F Holiday Romance)

Thanks to her thriving art career, Miriam Blum finally has her decoupaged glitter ducks in a row—until devastating news forces her to a very unwanted family reunion. Her beloved great-aunt Cass has passed and left Miriam part-owner of Carrigan’s, her (ironically) Jewish-run Christmas tree farm.
 
But Miriam’s plans to sit shiva, avoid her parents, then put Carrigan’s in her rearview mirror are spoiled when she learns the business is at risk of going under. To have any chance at turning things around, she’ll need to work with the farm’s grumpy manager—as long as the attraction sparking between them doesn’t set all their trees on fire first.
 
Noelle Northwood wants Miriam Blum gone—even if her ingenious ideas and sensitive soul keep showing Noelle there’s more to Cass’s niece than meets the eye. But saving Carrigan’s requires trust, love, and risking it all—for the chance to make their wildest dreams come true.

the cover of Mistakes Were Made

Mistakes Were Made by Meryl Wilsner (F/F Romance)

When Cassie Klein goes to an off-campus bar to escape her school’s Family Weekend, she isn’t looking for a hookup—it just happens. Buying a drink for a stranger turns into what should be an uncomplicated, amazing one-night stand. But then the next morning rolls around and her friend drags her along to meet her mom—the hot, older woman Cassie slept with.

Erin Bennett came to Family Weekend to get closer to her daughter, not have a one-night stand with a college senior. In her defense, she hadn’t known Cassie was a student when they’d met. To make things worse, Erin’s daughter brings Cassie to breakfast the next morning. And despite Erin’s better judgement—how could sleeping with your daughter’s friend be anything but bad?—she and Cassie get along in the day just as well as they did last night.

What should have been a one-time fling quickly proves impossible to ignore, and soon Cassie and Erin are sneaking around. Worst of all, they start to realize they have something real. But is being honest about the love between them worth the cost?

the cover of The Lonely Hearts Rescue
the cover of Rooting for You
the cover of Three's a Crowd
the cover of Foolproof
the cover of Make You Mine This Christmas
the cover of Hard Pressed
the cover of A Cutting Deceit

Mystery/Thrillers

the cover of Pacifique

Pacifique by Sarah L. Taggart (Queer Thriller)

Is love real if the beloved isn’t? Girl, Interrupted meets Rebecca in this taut tale of love and madness

When Tia meets Pacifique, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime love. They spend five wild days and nights together, and then Tia wakes up in an ambulance with a collarbone broken in a bike accident — and no trace of Pacifique. Unable to convince anyone that Pacifique exists, Tia winds up in a psychiatric ward, forced to face the possibility that this perfect lover may be a figment of her imagination. While there, Tia meets Andrew, a contemplative man with schizophrenia, who falls in love with Tia. He, too, tells her to forget Pacifique. Who to believe? The medical establishment and her fellow patients? Or her frail human memory? And if Pacifique truly is a figment, is life in the “real world” with Andrew enough?

Fantasy

Queer Little Nightmares

Queer Little Nightmares: An Anthology of Monstrous Fiction and Poetry edited by David Ly and Daniel Zomparelli (Queer Fantasy Anthology)

The fiction and poetry of Queer Little Nightmares reimagines monsters old and new through a queer lens, subverting the horror gaze to celebrate ideas and identities canonically feared in monster lit. Throughout history, monsters have appeared in popular culture as stand-ins for the non-conforming, the marginalized of society. Pushed into the shadows as objects of fear, revulsion, and hostility, these characters have long conjured fascination and self-identification in the LGBTQ+ community, and over time, monsters have become queer icons.

 In Queer Little Nightmares, creatures of myth and folklore seek belonging and intimate connection, cryptids challenge their outcast status, and classic movie monsters explore the experience of coming into queerness. The characters in these stories and poems—the Minotaur camouflaged in a crowd of cosplayers, a pubescent werewolf, a Hindu revenant waiting to reunite with her lover, a tender-hearted kaiju, a lagoon creature aching for the swimmers above him, a ghost of Pride past—relish their new sparkle in the spotlight. Pushing against tropes that have historically been used to demonize, the queer creators of this collection instead ask: What does it mean to be (and to love) a monster?

Contributors include Amber Dawn, David Demchuk, Hiromi Goto, jaye simpson, Eddy Boudel Tan, and Kai Cheng Thom.

the cover of Kalyna the Soothsayer
the cover of Into the Riverlands
the cover of Katalepsis
the cover of The Stars in their Eyes
the new hardcover of A Dowry of Blood

Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga

the cover of The Summer You Were There Vol. 1
the cover of I'm in Love with the Villainess (Light Novel) Vol. 5

Young Adult

YA Contemporary

the cover of Twelfth Grade Night

Twelfth Grade Night by Molly Horton Booth, Stephanie Kate Strohm & Jamie Green (Bisexual YA Retelling of Twelfth Night)

The course of true love never did run smooth . . . and neither does high school in this new graphic novel series for fans of Heartstopper and The Prince and the Dressmaker. Vi came to Arden High for a fresh start and a chance to wear beanies and button-ups instead of uniform skirts. And though doing it without her twin feels like being split in half, Vi finds her stride when she stumbles (literally!) into broody and beautiful poet-slash-influencer, Orsino. Soon Vi gets roped into helping plan the school’s Twelfth Grade Night dance, and she can’t stop dreaming about slow dancing with Orsino under the fairy lights in the gym. The problem? All Vi’s new friends assume she’s not even into guys. And before Vi can ask Orsino to the dance, he recruits Vi to help woo his crush, Olivia. Who has a crush of her own . . . on Vi. Star-crossed love abounds in this hilarious and romantic story of self-discovery, mistaken identities, and the magic that happens when we open our hearts to something new.

the cover of A Scatter of Light by Malinda Lo

A Scatter of Light by Malinda Lo (Sapphic YA Contemporary)

Last Night at the Telegraph Club author Malinda Lo returns to the Bay Area with another masterful queer coming-of-age story, this time set against the backdrop of the first major Supreme Court decisions legalizing gay marriage. 

Aria Tang West was looking forward to a summer on Martha’s Vineyard with her best friends—one last round of sand and sun before college. But after a graduation party goes wrong, Aria’s parents exile her to California to stay with her grandmother, artist Joan West. Aria expects boredom, but what she finds is Steph Nichols, her grandmother’s gardener. Soon, Aria is second-guessing who she is and what she wants to be, and a summer that once seemed lost becomes unforgettable—for Aria, her family, and the working-class queer community Steph introduces her to. It’s the kind of summer that changes a life forever.

And almost sixty years after the end of Last Night at the Telegraph ClubA Scatter of Light also offers a glimpse into Lily and Kath’s lives since 1955.

the cover of Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things

Drizzle, Dreams and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad (Sapphic YA Contemporary)

Four sisters, four seasons, four flavors of romance.

The Singh sisters grew up helping their father navigate the bustle of the Songbird Inn. Nestled on dreamy and drizzly Orcas Island in the Pacific Northwest, the inn’s always been warm and cozy and filled with interesting guests―the perfect home. But things are about to heat up now that the Songbird has been named the Most Romantic Inn in America.

Nidhi has everything planned out―until a storm brings a wayward tree crashing into her life one autumn . . . and along with it, an intriguing construction worker and a yearning for her motherland. Suddenly, she’s questioning everything she thought she wanted.

Avani can’t sit still. If she does, her grief for Pop, their dad’s late husband, will overwhelm her. So she keeps moving as much as she can, planning an elaborate Winter Ball in Pop’s memory. Until a blizzard traps her in a barn with the boy she accidentally stood up and has been actively avoiding ever since.

Sirisha loves seeing the world through her camera, but her shyness prevents her from stepping out from behind the lens. Talking to girls is such a struggle! When a pretty actress comes to the Songbird with her theater troupe, spring has sprung for Sirisha―if only she can find the words.

Rani is a hopeless romantic through and through. After gently nudging her sisters to open their hearts, she is convinced it’s finally her turn to find love. When two potential suitors float in on a summer breeze, Rani is swept up in grandeur to match her wildest Bollywood dreams. But which boy is the one she’s meant to be with?

Ultimately, the magic of the Songbird Inn leads the tight-knit Singh sisters to new passions and breathtaking kisses―and to unearth the truest versions of themselves.

Perfect for fans of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, this sparkling YA rom-com celebrates sisterhood, family, and the love all around us.

the cover of Anne of Greenville

Anne Of Greenville by Mariko Tamaki (YA Anne of Green Gables Retelling)

This is the story of how I became Anne of Greenville. It’s also the story of how I found my true true, and how I needed to maybe come to Greenville, of all places, to make that happen.

In this modern reimagining of Anne of Green Gables, Anne is an ABBA-loving singer/actor/writer of disco-operas, queer, Japanese-American who longs to be understood for her artistic genius. Recently relocated to middle-of-nowhere Greenville and starting at a new school, Anne has a tendency to A) fall in love quickly, deeply, and effervescently and B) fly off the handle in the face of jerks. Both personality quirks quickly come into play when the soccer team boos the premiere of her disco performance, which―in a roundabout way―introduces her to her new BFF, Berry, and she soon after meets the girl of her dreams, Gilly.

Falling quickly into that age-old trap of ignoring the best friend for the new crush, Anne soon becomes embroiled in a series of dramatic and unfortunate events, and quickly finds herself wrapped up in a love triangle she never expected. Is she MTB with Gilly? Or is Berry her true soul mate? Only time (or 304 pages) will tell.

In this coming-of-age novel by fan-favorite author Mariko Tamaki, see the classic tale in a whole new light. Refreshingly bold and unapologetically unique, Anne of Greenville will make you want to stand up and sing!

the cover of Nothing Sung and Nothing Spoken

Nothing Sung and Nothing Spoken by Nita Tyndall (F/F YA Historical Fiction)

For fans of Ruta Sepetys and Malinda Lo, a heart-wrenching queer historical YA romance set in the Swing Youth movement of World War II Berlin

Charlotte Kraus would follow Angelika Haas anywhere. Which is how she finds herself in an underground club one Friday night the summer before World War II, dancing to contraband American jazz and swing music, suddenly feeling that anything might be possible.

Unable to resist the allure of sharing this secret with Geli, Charlie returns to the club again and again, despite the dangers of breaking the Nazi Party’s rules. Soon, terrified by the tightening vise of Hitler’s power, Charlie and the other Swingjugend are drawn to larger and larger acts of rebellion. But the war will test how much they are willing to risk—and to lose.

From the critically acclaimed author of Who I Was with Her, this beautifully told story of hope, love, and resistance will captivate readers of Girl in the Blue Coat and Last Night at the Telegraph Club.

YA Mystery/Thrillers

the cover of The Restless Dark

The Restless Dark by Erica Waters (Sapphic YA Thriller)

Sadie meets Wilder Girls in this unnerving tale about the struggle for survival, the twisted satisfaction of revenge, and the darkness hiding in all of us. From Erica Waters, the acclaimed author of Ghost Wood Song and The River Has Teeth,this mystery will haunt you to the end.

The Cloudkiss Killer is dead. Now a true-crime podcast is hosting a contest to find his bones.

Lucy was almost the serial killer’s final victim. Carolina is a true-crime fan who fears her own rage. Maggie is a psychology student with a little too much to hide.

All of them are looking for answers, for a new identity, for a place to bury their secrets.

But there are more than bones hiding in the shadows…sometimes the darkness inside is more frightening than anything the dead leave behind.

the new paperback cover of A Line in the Dark, showing a person in the woods

YA Horror

the cover of A House Unsettled

A House Unsettled by Trynne Delaney (Queer YA Horror)

Ghosts aren’t the only thing that can haunt a house. Trynne Delaney’s debut novel explores the insidious legacies of violence and oppression—and how Black, queer love and resistance can disrupt them.

With her dad’s incarceration, escalating fights with her mom, and an overbearing stepdad she’s not sure she can trust, Asha is desperate for the fresh start promised by a move to the country. Her great aunt Aggie’s crumbling, pest-ridden house isn’t exactly what she had in mind, but the immediate connection she makes with her new neighbor Cole seems like a good sign. Soon, though, Asha’s optimism is shadowed by strange and disturbing occurrences within the old house’s walls: footsteps stalking the halls; a persistent chill; cold hands around her neck in the middle of the night . . .

Fearing for her loved ones’ safety—and her own—Asha seeks out the source of these terrifying incidents and uncovers secrets from the past that connect her and Cole’s families and reach into the present. But as tensions with her mom and stepdad rise and Cole withdraws, Asha is left alone to try and break the cycle of violence that holds them all in its haunting grip.

YA Fantasy

The Name-Bearer

The Name-Bearer by Natalia Hernandez (Queer YA Fantasy)

For her entire life, the Name-Bearer’s sole purpose has been to receive and deliver the names of the future monarchy from the Flowers of Prophecy. But when the child is finally born and the Name-Bearer is sent to the Flowers, they refuse to name him. Instead they deliver a prophecy; another child was born who is more worthy of the Naming, and if they are found and brought before them it will usher in a reign of peace.

Having failed in her duties the Name-Bearer is considered a traitor to the crown, and must hide among an elite sect of warrior women where she experiences found family, friendship, and love. Her training as a warrior helps prepare her to embark on her quest to find the Unnamed Prince, clear her name, and bring peace to her realm.

A story of magia, warrior women, found family and love – and not accepting who you are told to be, but embracing who you are destined to become.

the cover of The Sevenfold Hunters

YA Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga

the cover of Thieves by Lucie Bryon

Thieves by Lucie Bryon (Sapphic YA Graphic Novel)

What happened last night? Ella can’t seem to remember a single thing from the party the night before at a mysterious stranger’s mansion, and she sure as heck doesn’t know why she’s woken up in her bed surrounded by a magpie’s nest of objects that aren’t her own. And she can’t stop thinking about her huge crush on Madeleine, who she definitely can’t tell about her sudden penchant for kleptomania… But does Maddy have secrets of her own? Can they piece together that night between them and fix the mess of their chaotic personal lives in time to form a normal, teenage relationship? That would be nice.

the cover of Hollow

Hollow by Shannon Watters, Branden Boyer-White, and Berenice Nelle (F/F YA Fantasy Graphic Novel)

Sleepy Hollow and queer romance meet in this coming-of-age tale from the co-creator of Lumberjanes!

Isabel “Izzy” Crane and her family have just relocated to Sleepy Hollow, the town made famous by–and obsessed with–Washington Irving’s legend of the Headless Horseman. But city slicker-skeptic Izzy has no time for superstition as she navigates life at a new address, a new school, and, with any luck, with new friends. Ghost stories aren’t real, after all…. Then Izzy is pulled into the orbit of the town’s teen royalty, Vicky Van Tassel (yes, that Van Tassel) and loveable varsity-level prankster Croc Byun. Vicky’s weariness with her family connection to the legend turns to terror when the trio begins to be haunted by the Horseman himself, uncovering a curse set on destroying the Van Tassel line. Now, they have only until Halloween night to break it–meaning it’s a totally inconvenient time for Izzy to develop a massive crush on the enigmatic Vicky. Can Izzy’s practical nature help her face the unknown–or only trip her up? As the calendar runs down to the 31st, Izzy will have to use all of her wits and work with her new friends to save Vicky and uncover the mystery of the legendary Horseman of Sleepy Hollow–before it’s too late. New York Times-bestselling writer Shannon Watters (Lumberjanes) and debut author Branden Boyer-White are joined by artist Berenice Nelle (Wanderlicht) in a coming of age tale that’s at once a faithful homage and a free-wheeling spin-off of the classic Legend of Sleepy Hollow and everyone’s favorite headless specter.

Children

Middle Grade

the cover of Where the Lost Ones Go

Where the Lost Ones Go by Akemi Dawn Bowman (Sapphic Middle Grade Fantasy)

Eliot is grieving Babung, her paternal grandmother who just passed away, and she feels like she’s the only one. She’s less than excited to move to her new house, which smells like lemons and deception, and is searching for a sign, any sign, that ghosts are real. Because if ghosts are real, it means she can find a way back to Babung.

When Eliot chases the promise of paranormal activity to the presumably haunted Honeyfield Hall, she finds her proof of spirits. But these ghosts are losing their memory, stuck between this world and the next, waiting to cross over. With the help of Hazel, the granddaughter of Honeyfield’s owner (and Eliot’s new crush), she attempts to uncover the mystery behind Honeyfield Hall and the ghosts residing within.

And as Eliot fits the pieces together, she may just be able to help the spirits remember their pasts, and hold on to her grandmother’s memory.

the cover of Hazel Hill is Gonna Win This One by Maggie Horne

Hazel Hill is Gonna Win This One by Maggie Horne (Queer Middle Grade Contemporary)

A funny, feminist, and queer contemporary middle grade debut about 12-year-old loner Hazel Hill, who after one of her classmates is harassed online, devises a plan to catch the school’s golden boy in the act. 

Seventh grader Hazel Hill is too busy for friends. No, really. She needs to focus on winning the school-wide speech competition and beating her nemesis, the popular and smart Ella Quinn, after last year’s embarrassing hyperbole/hyperbowl mishap that cost her first place.

But when Hazel discovers Ella is being harassed by golden boy Tyler Harris, she has to choose between winning and doing the right thing. No one would believe that a nice boy like Tyler would harass and intimidate a nice girl like Ella, but Hazel knows the truth—and she’s determined to prove it, even if it means risking everything. 

Deeply relatable and surprisingly humorous, Hazel Hill Is Gonna Win This One is a wonderfully empowering story about friendship, finding your voice, and standing up for what you believe in. 

the cover of Anne: An Adaptation of Anne of Green Gables (Sort Of) by Kathleen Gros

Anne: An Adaptation of Anne of Green Gables (Sort Of) by Kathleen Gros (Sapphic Middle Grade Graphic Novel)

In this modern graphic novel retelling of Anne of Green Gables from graphic novelist Kathleen Gros, foster kid Anne Shirley finally lands in a loving home and befriends a girl who she may have more-than-friends feelings for.

Anne Shirley has been in foster care her whole life. So when the Cuthberts take her in, she hopes it’s for good. They seem to be hitting it off, but how will they react to the trouble that Anne can sometimes find herself in . . . like accidentally dyeing her hair green or taking a dangerous dare that leaves her in a cast?

Then Anne meets Diana Barry, a girl who lives in her apartment building, the Avon-Lea. The two become fast friends, as Anne finds she can share anything with Diana. As time goes on, though, Anne starts to develop more-than-friends feelings for Diana.

Nonfiction

Memoirs & Essays

the cover of The Family Outing

The Family Outing: A Memoir by Jessi Hempel (Queer Memoir)

Jessi Hempel was raised in a seemingly picture-perfect, middle-class American family. But the truth was far from perfect. Her father was constantly away from home, traveling for work, while her stay-at-home mother became increasingly lonely and erratic. Growing up, Jessi and her two siblings struggled to make sense of their family, their world, their changing bodies, and the emotional turmoil each was experiencing. And each, in their own way, was hiding their true self from the world.

By the time Jessi reached adulthood, everyone in her family had come out: Jessi as gay, her sister as bisexual, her father as gay, her brother as transgender, and her mother as a survivor of a traumatic experience with an alleged serial killer. Yet coming out was just the beginning, starting a chain reaction of other personal revelations and reckonings that caused each of them to question their place in the world in new and ultimately liberating ways.

the cover of Life In Every Breath
the cover of Heretic

General Nonfiction

the cover of The Future is Disabled

The Future Is Disabled: Prophecies, Love Notes and Mourning Songs by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (Queer Essays)

In The Future Is Disabled, Leah Laksmi Piepzna-Samarasinha asks some provocative questions: What if, in the near future, the majority of people will be disabled―and what if that’s not a bad thing? And what if disability justice and disabled wisdom are crucial to creating a future in which it’s possible to survive fascism, climate change, and pandemics and to bring about liberation

Building on the work of her game changing book Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice, Piepzna-Samarasinha writes about disability justice at the end of the world, documenting the many ways disabled people kept and are keeping each other―and the rest of the world―alive during Trump, fascism and the COVID-19 pandemic. Other subjects include crip interdependence, care and mutual aid in real life, disabled community building, and disabled art practice as survival and joy. 

Written over the course of two years of disabled isolation during the pandemic, this is a book of love letters to other disabled QTBIPOC (and those concerned about disability justice, the care crisis, and surviving the apocalypse); honor songs for kin who are gone; recipes for survival; questions and real talk about care, organizing, disabled families, and kin networks and communities; and wild brown disabled femme joy in the face of death. With passion and power, The Future Is Disabled remembers our dead and insists on our future.   

the cover of It Came from the Closet

It Came From The Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror edited by Joe Vallese (Queer Nonfiction)

Through the lens of horror—from Halloween to Hereditary—queer and trans writers consider the films that deepened, amplified, and illuminated their own experiences.

Horror movies hold a complicated space in the hearts of the queer community: historically misogynist, and often homo- and transphobic, the genre has also been inadvertently feminist and open to subversive readings. Common tropes—such as the circumspect and resilient “final girl,” body possession, costumed villains, secret identities, and things that lurk in the closet—spark moments of eerie familiarity and affective connection. Still, viewers often remain tasked with reading themselves into beloved films, seeking out characters and set pieces that speak to, mirror, and parallel the unique ways queerness encounters the world.

It Came from the Closet features twenty-five essays by writers speaking to this relationship, through connections both empowering and oppressive. From Carmen Maria Machado on Jennifer’s Body, Jude Ellison S. Doyle on In My Skin, Addie Tsai on Dead Ringers, and many more, these conversations convey the rich reciprocity between queerness and horror.

the cover of This Arab is Queer

Check out more LGBTQ new releases by signing up for Our Queerest Shelves, my LGBTQ book newsletter at Book Riot!

Support the Lesbrary on Patreon to get queer books in the mail throughout the year!

New Sapphic Releases: Bi and Lesbian Books Out September 27, 2022

I’m very satisfied by how evenly the genres are distributed this week. There’s literary fiction, romance, gothic horror, queer teen witches, bisexual preteen robotics teammates, a queer bootleg DVD ring graphic novel, and more. Let’s dive in!

Fiction

Concerning My Daughter by Kim Hye-Jin, trans. Jamie Chang (Queer Fiction)

the cover of Concerning My Daughter

When a mother allows her thirty-something daughter to move into her apartment, she wants for her what many mothers might say they want for their child: a steady income, and, even better, a good husband with a good job with whom to start a family.

But when Green turns up with her girlfriend, Lane, in tow, her mother is unprepared and unwilling to welcome Lane into her home. In fact, she can barely bring herself to be civil. Having centred her life on her husband and child, her daughter’s definition of family is not one she can accept. Her daughter’s involvement in a case of unfair dismissal involving gay colleagues from the university where she works is similarly strange to her.

And yet when the care home where she works insists that she lower her standard of care for an elderly dementia patient who has no family, who travelled the world as a successful diplomat, who chose not to have children, Green’s mother cannot accept it. Why should not having chosen a traditional life mean that your life is worth nothing at all?

In Concerning My Daughter, translated from Korean by Jamie Chang, Kim Hye-jin lays bare our most universal fears on ageing, death, and isolation, to offer finally a paean to love in all its forms.

Romance

Broken Beyond Repair by Emily Banting (F/F Romance)

the cover of Broken Beyond Repair

Sydney MacKenzie, personal assistant to the rich and famous, is looking forward to a well-earned break to go travelling in her beloved VW camper van, Gertie — that is, until Gertie cries off sick. When her boss calls in a favour, one that will pay Sydney handsomely and put Gertie back on the road, she can’t refuse.

Internationally renowned actress Beatrice Russell — adored by her fans and despised by those that know her — is splashed across the tabloids, all thanks to her broken leg. She limps back to her palatial English country estate to convalesce for the summer, where she finds herself in need of yet another new assistant.

Enter Sydney, who doesn’t take kindly to the star’s demands, attitude, or clicking fingers — much less her body’s own attraction to the gorgeous diva. If not for that, and Gertie’s worn-out engine, she would leave tomorrow. Or so she tells herself.

As the summer heats up, the ice queen begins to thaw, and Sydney glimpses the tormented woman beneath the celebrity bravado, drawing her ever closer to the enigmatic actress — sometimes too close.

Can Sydney reach the real Beatrice and help heal her wounds before the summer ends and she returns to filming in the States, or is the celebrity broken beyond repair?

Horror

House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson (Sapphic Horror)

the cover of House of Hunger

WANTED – Bloodmaid of exceptional tasteMust have a keen proclivity for life’s finer pleasures. Girls of weak will need not apply.

Marion Shaw has been raised in the slums, where want and deprivation are all she know. Despite longing to leave the city and its miseries, she has no real hope of escape until the day she spots a peculiar listing in the newspaper seeking a bloodmaid.

Though she knows little about the far north—where wealthy nobles live in luxury and drink the blood of those in their service—Marion applies to the position. In a matter of days, she finds herself the newest bloodmaid at the notorious House of Hunger. There, Marion is swept into a world of dark debauchery. At the center of it all is Countess Lisavet.

The countess, who presides over this hedonistic court, is loved and feared in equal measure. She takes a special interest in Marion. Lisavet is magnetic, and Marion is eager to please her new mistress. But when she discovers that the ancient walls of the House of Hunger hide even older secrets, Marion is thrust into a vicious game of cat and mouse. She’ll need to learn the rules of her new home—and fast—or its halls will soon become her grave.

Fantasy & Science Fiction

We’re Here: The Best Queer Speculative Fiction 2021 edited by L. D. Lewis and Charles Payseur (Queer SFF Anthology)

the cover of We're Here 2021

This second volume in Neon Hemlock’s yearly series celebrating the wonder and breadth of queer speculative fiction contains stories of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and many spaces in between.

Edited by LD Lewis and series editor Charles Payseur.

Enjoy stories from C.L. Clark, H. Pueyo, Aliette de Bodard, Watson Neith, Sam J. Miller, Laurel Beckley, Alexandra Seidel, LA Knight, Bogi Takács, Fargo Tbakhi, Ann LeBlanc, Cheri Kamei, Sharang Biswas, Jen Brown & Shingai Njeri Kagunda.

Young Adult

How to Succeed in Witchcraft by Aislinn Brophy (Sapphic YA Fantasy)

the cover of How to Succeed in Witchcraft

Magically brilliant, academically perfect, chronically overcommitted—

Shay Johnson has all the makings of a successful witch. As a junior at T.K. Anderson Magical Magnet School, she’s determined to win the Brockton Scholarship—her ticket into the university of her dreams. Her competition? Ana freaking Álvarez. The key to victory? Impressing Mr. B, drama teacher and head of the scholarship committee.

When Mr. B asks Shay to star in this year’s aggressively inclusive musical, she warily agrees, even though she’ll have to put up with Ana playing the other lead. But in rehearsals, Shay realizes Ana is . . . not the despicable witch she’d thought. Perhaps she could be a friend—or more. And Shay could use someone in her corner once she becomes the target of Mr. B’s unwanted attention. When Shay learns she’s not the first witch to experience his inappropriate behavior, she must decide if she’ll come forward. But how can she speak out when her future’s on the line?

Middle Grade

The Trouble With Robots by Michelle Mohrweis (Bisexual Middle Grade Contemporary)

the cover of The Trouble with Robots

Evelyn strives for excellence. Allie couldn’t care less. These polar opposites must work together if they have any hope of saving their school’s robotics program.

Eighth-graders Evelyn and Allie are in trouble. Evelyn’s constant need for perfection has blown some fuses among her robotics teammates, and she’s worried nobody’s taking the upcoming competition seriously. Allie is new to school, and she’s had a history of short-circuiting on teachers and other kids.

So when Allie is assigned to the robotics team as a last resort, all Evelyn can see is just another wrench in the works! But as Allie confronts a past stricken with grief and learns to open up, the gears click into place as she discovers that Evelyn’s teammates have a lot to offer—if only Evelyn allowed them to participate in a role that plays to their strengths.

Can Evelyn learn to let go and listen to what Allie has to say? Or will their spot in the competition go up in smoke along with their school’s robotics program and Allie’s only chance at redemption?

An excellent pick for STEAM enthusiasts, this earnestly told narrative features a dual point of view and casually explores Autistic and LGBTQ+ identities.

Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga

Forest Hills Bootleg Society by Dave Baker & Nicole Goux (Lesbian YA Graphic Novel)

the cover of Forest Hills Bootleg Society

Set in 2005, this gorgeously illustrated, funny, and honest graphic novel follows four teens who stumble into an illicit anime DVD-burning business that shakes up their conservative small town…and their friendship.

When Brooke, Kelly, Maggie, and Melissa buy a bootleg anime DVD at a gas station, they get much more than they bargained for with Super Love XL, a risqué move featuring—among other things—a giant mecha who shoots lasers out of her chest. The four girls are horrified (and maybe a little fascinated). It’s so unlike anything they’ve seen, would probably shock everyone else in their town, and definitely would take over their extremely conservative Christian school. That’s when they have the idea to sell copies to local boys…for twenty dollars a pop.

At first, everything goes perfectly, with the friends raking in cash—pretty soon they’ll even have enough money to buy the matching jackets they’ve always dreamed of! But as the market for mildly titillating anime DVDs grows, the girls realize they’ll need new material. On top of figuring out how to replicate their first success, there’s growing tension within the group. Brooke and Kelly’s romance is on its last legs, and hurt feelings are guaranteed when Melissa starts falling for one of them.

Will the four girls’ shared history be strong enough to see them through this upheaval? Or will they learn that some things can only end in heartbreak?

Check out more LGBTQ new releases by signing up for Our Queerest Shelves, my LGBTQ book newsletter at Book Riot!

Support the Lesbrary on Patreon to get queer books in the mail throughout the year!

34 Bi and Lesbian Books Out September 2022!

a collage of the covers listed with the text Sapphic Books Out In Sept!

You could read a new sapphic book every day in September and still not get through them all! And these are just a selection of them. 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 and included the publisher’s description of those, 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!

Adult

Fiction

the cover of the Old Place

The Old Place by Bobby Finger (Lesbian Fiction)

A bighearted and moving debut about a wry retired schoolteacher whose decade-old secret threatens to come to light and send shockwaves through her small Texas town.

Billington, Texas, is a place where nothing changes. Well, almost nothing. For the first time in nearly four decades, Mary Alice Roth is not getting ready for the first day of school at Billington High. A few months into her retirement—or, district mandated exile as she calls it—Mary Alice does not know how to fill her days. The annual picnic is coming up, but that isn’t nearly enough since the menu never changes and she had the roles mentally assigned weeks ago. At least there’s Ellie, who stops by each morning for coffee and whose reemergence in Mary Alice’s life is the one thing soothing the sting of retirement. 
 
Mary Alice and Ellie were a pair since the day Ellie moved in next door. That they both were single mothers—Mary Alice widowed, Ellie divorced—with sons the same age was a pleasant coincidence, but they were forever linked when they lost the boys, one right after the other. Years later, the two are working their way back to a comfortable friendship. But when Mary Alice’s sister arrives on her doorstep with a staggering piece of news, it jeopardizes the careful shell she’s built around her life. The whole of her friendship with Ellie is put at risk, the fabric of a place as steadfast as Billington is questioned, and the unflappable, knotty fixture that is Mary Alice Roth might have to change after all.  

the cover of Junie

Junie by Chelene Knight (Sapphic Bisexual Historical Fiction)

A riveting exploration of the complexity within mother-daughter relationships and the dynamic vitality of Vancouver’s former Hogan’s Alley neighbourhood.

1930s, Hogan’s Alley―a thriving Black and immigrant community located in Vancouver’s East End. Junie is a creative, observant child who moves to the alley with her mother, Maddie: a jazz singer with a growing alcohol dependency. Junie quickly makes meaningful relationships with two mentors and a girl her own age, Estelle, whose resilient and entrepreneurial mother is grappling with white scrutiny and the fact that she never really wanted a child.

As Junie finds adulthood, exploring her artistic talents and burgeoning sexuality, her mother sinks further into the bottle while the thriving neighbourhood―once gushing with potential―begins to change. As her world opens, Junie intuits the opposite for the community she loves.

Told through the fascinating lens of a bright woman in an oft-disquieting world, this book is intimate and urgent―not just an unflinching look at the destruction of a vibrant community, but a celebration of the Black lives within.

the cover of The Lost Century

The Lost Century by Larissa Lai (Queer Historical Fiction)

On the eve of the return of the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong to China in 1997, young Ophelia asks her peculiar great-aunt Violet about the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during World War II and the disappearance of her uncle Theo. From Violet, she learns the story of her grandmother, Emily.

Emily’s marriage—three times—to her father’s mortal enemy causes a stir among three very different Hong Kong Chinese families, as well as among the young cricketers at the Hong Kong Cricket Club, who’ve just witnessed King Edward VIII’s abdication to marry Wallis Simpson. But the class and race pettiness of the scandal around Emily’s marriage is violently disrupted by the Japanese Imperial Army’s invasion of Hong Kong on Christmas Day, 1941, which plunges the colony into a landscape of violence none of its inhabitants escape from unscathed, least of all Emily. When her situation becomes dire, Violet, along with a crew of unlikely cosmopolitans determines to rescue Emily from the wrath of the person she thought loved her the most, her husband, Tak-Wing. In the middle of it all, a strange match of timeless Test cricket unfolds, in which the ball has an agency all its own.

With great heart, The Lost Century explores the intersections of Asian relations, queer Asian history, underground resistance, the violence of war, and the rise of modern China―a sprawling novel of betrayal, epic violence and intimate passions.

the cover of Concerning My Daughter

Romance

the cover of The Holiday Trap

The Holiday Trap by Roan Parrish (Gay and Lesbian Holiday Romance)

Greta Russakoff loves her tight-knit family and tiny Maine hometown, but they can’t seem to understand what it’s like to be a lesbian living in such a small world. When an act of familial meddling goes way too far, she realizes just how desperately she needs space to figure out who she is.

Greta Russakoff loves her tight-knit family and tiny Maine hometown, but they can’t seem to understand what it’s like to be a lesbian living in such a small world. When an act of familial meddling goes way too far, she realizes just how desperately she needs space to figure out who she is.

Truman Belvedere’s heart is crushed when he learns that his boyfriend has a secret life including a husband and daughter. Reeling, all he wants is a place to lick his wounds far, far away from Louisiana.

Enter a mutual friend with a life-altering idea: swap homes for the holidays. For one perfect month, Greta and Truman will have a chance to experience a whole new world…and maybe fall in love with the partner of their dreams. But all holidays must come to an end, and eventually these two transplants will have to decide whether the love (and found family) they each discovered so far from home is worth fighting for.

Broken Beyond Repair
the cover of The Rules of Forever
the cover Winning Move
the cover of Constitution Check
the cover of Morgan Breaks a Vow

Horror

the cover of House of Hunger

House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson (Sapphic Horror)

WANTED – Bloodmaid of exceptional tasteMust have a keen proclivity for life’s finer pleasures. Girls of weak will need not apply.

Marion Shaw has been raised in the slums, where want and deprivation are all she know. Despite longing to leave the city and its miseries, she has no real hope of escape until the day she spots a peculiar listing in the newspaper seeking a bloodmaid.

Though she knows little about the far north—where wealthy nobles live in luxury and drink the blood of those in their service—Marion applies to the position. In a matter of days, she finds herself the newest bloodmaid at the notorious House of Hunger. There, Marion is swept into a world of dark debauchery. At the center of it all is Countess Lisavet.

The countess, who presides over this hedonistic court, is loved and feared in equal measure. She takes a special interest in Marion. Lisavet is magnetic, and Marion is eager to please her new mistress. But when she discovers that the ancient walls of the House of Hunger hide even older secrets, Marion is thrust into a vicious game of cat and mouse. She’ll need to learn the rules of her new home—and fast—or its halls will soon become her grave.

Fantasy

the cover of Nona the Ninth

Nona the Ninth (The Locked Tomb #3) by Tamsyn Muir (Sapphic SFF)

Her city is under siege.

The zombies are coming back.

And all Nona wants is a birthday party.

In many ways, Nona is like other people. She lives with her family, has a job at her local school, and loves walks on the beach and meeting new dogs. But Nona’s not like other people. Six months ago she woke up in a stranger’s body, and she’s afraid she might have to give it back.

The whole city is falling to pieces. A monstrous blue sphere hangs on the horizon, ready to tear the planet apart. Blood of Eden forces have surrounded the last Cohort facility and wait for the Emperor Undying to come calling. Their leaders want Nona to be the weapon that will save them from the Nine Houses. Nona would prefer to live an ordinary life with the people she loves, with Pyrrha and Camilla and Palamedes, but she also knows that nothing lasts forever.

And each night, Nona dreams of a woman with a skull-painted face…

the cover of The Unbalancing
the cover of We Won't Be Here Tomorrow
the cover of We're Here

Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga

the cover of Other Ever Afters

Other Ever Afters: New Queer Fairy Tales by Melanie Gillman (Queer Graphic Novel)

Once upon a time . . . happily ever after turned out differently than expected. In this new, feminist, queer fairy-tale collection, you’ll find the princesses, mermaids, knights, barmaids, children, and wise old women who have been forced to sit on the sidelines in classic stories taking center stage. A gorgeous all-new collection in graphic novel format from a Stonewall Honor-winning author and artist.

What if the giant who abducted you was actually thoughtful and kind? What if you didn’t want to marry your handsome, popular, but cold-inside suitor? What if your one true love has all the responsibilities that come with running a kingdom?

Award-winning author Melanie Gillman’s phenomenal colored-pencil art creates another “ever after” for the characters who are most worthy of it.

the cover of Doughnuts and Doom

Doughnuts and Doom by Balazs Lorinczi (F/F Fantasy Graphic Novel)

Being a teenage witch—or rock star—is tougher than it looks! But maybe enemies can become friends…or more? Flying brooms and electric guitars set hearts aflame in this fantastically fizzy graphic novel.

When Margot meets Elena, emotions run high, magic is in the air, and doughnuts…float? One is a stressed-out witch trying to get her potions business off the ground, the other is a struggling rock musician whose band is going nowhere. Neither of them are having a good time! No wonder things quickly escalate from words to literal sparks flying when they first meet. Could this be the start of a delicious new relationship…or is a bad-luck curse leading them to certain doom?

the cover of Space Trash Vol 1
the cover of The Summer You Were There Vol. 1
the cover of Cats and Sugar Bowls
the cover of Look Again

Young Adult

YA Contemporary and Mystery/Thrillers

the cover of I'm the Girl

I’m the Girl by Courtney Summers (Queer YA Thriller)

All sixteen-year-old Georgia Avis wants is everything, but the poverty and hardship that defines her life has kept her from the beautiful and special things she knows she deserves. When she stumbles upon the dead body of thirteen-year-old Ashley James, Georgia teams up with Ashley’s older sister Nora, to find the killer before he strikes again, and their investigation throws Georgia into a glittering world of unimaginable privilege and wealth–and all she’s ever dreamed. But behind every dream lurks a nightmare, and Georgia must reconcile her heart’s desires with what it really takes to survive. As Ashley’s killer closes in and their feelings for one another grow, Georgia and Nora will discover when money, power, and beauty rule, it’s not always a matter of who is guilty but who is guiltiest–and the only thing that might save them is each other.

A spiritual successor to the breakout hit Sadie, I’m the Girl is a brutal and illuminating account of how one young woman feels in her body as she struggles to navigate a deadly and predatory power structure while asking readers one question: if this is the way the world is, do you accept it?

the cover of Death by Society
the cover of The Killing Code

YA Fantasy

the cover of How to Succeed in Witchcraft

How to Succeed in Witchcraft by Aislinn Brophy (Sapphic YA Fantasy)

Magically brilliant, academically perfect, chronically overcommitted—

Shay Johnson has all the makings of a successful witch. As a junior at T.K. Anderson Magical Magnet School, she’s determined to win the Brockton Scholarship—her ticket into the university of her dreams. Her competition? Ana freaking Álvarez. The key to victory? Impressing Mr. B, drama teacher and head of the scholarship committee.

When Mr. B asks Shay to star in this year’s aggressively inclusive musical, she warily agrees, even though she’ll have to put up with Ana playing the other lead. But in rehearsals, Shay realizes Ana is . . . not the despicable witch she’d thought. Perhaps she could be a friend—or more. And Shay could use someone in her corner once she becomes the target of Mr. B’s unwanted attention. When Shay learns she’s not the first witch to experience his inappropriate behavior, she must decide if she’ll come forward. But how can she speak out when her future’s on the line?

the cover of Rust in the Root

Rust in the Root by Justina Ireland (Sapphic YA Fantasy)

The author of the visionary New York Times bestseller Dread Nation returns with another spellbinding historical fantasy set at the crossroads of race and power in America.

It is 1937, and Laura Ann Langston lives in an America divided—between those who work the mystical arts and those who do not. Ever since the Great Rust, a catastrophic event that blighted the arcane force called the Dynamism and threw America into disarray, the country has been rebuilding for a better future. And everyone knows the future is industry and technology—otherwise known as Mechomancy—not the traditional mystical arts.

Laura disagrees. A talented young queer mage from Pennsylvania, Laura hopped a portal to New York City on her seventeenth birthday with hopes of earning her mage’s license and becoming something more than a rootworker.

But four months later, she’s got little to show for it other than an empty pocket and broken dreams. With nowhere else to turn, Laura applies for a job with the Bureau of the Arcane’s Conservation Corps, a branch of the US government dedicated to repairing the Dynamism so that Mechomancy can thrive. There she meets the Skylark, a powerful mage with a mysterious past, who reluctantly takes Laura on as an apprentice.

As they’re sent off on their first mission together into the heart of the country’s oldest and most mysterious Blight, they discover the work of mages not encountered since the darkest period in America’s past, when Black mages were killed for their power—work that could threaten Laura’s and the Skylark’s lives, and everything they’ve worked for.

the cover of Funeral Girl

YA Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga

the cover of Forest Hills Bootleg Society

Forest Hills Bootleg Society by Dave Baker & Nicole Goux (Lesbian YA Graphic Novel)

Set in 2005, this gorgeously illustrated, funny, and honest graphic novel follows four teens who stumble into an illicit anime DVD-burning business that shakes up their conservative small town…and their friendship.

When Brooke, Kelly, Maggie, and Melissa buy a bootleg anime DVD at a gas station, they get much more than they bargained for with Super Love XL, a risqué move featuring—among other things—a giant mecha who shoots lasers out of her chest. The four girls are horrified (and maybe a little fascinated). It’s so unlike anything they’ve seen, would probably shock everyone else in their town, and definitely would take over their extremely conservative Christian school. That’s when they have the idea to sell copies to local boys…for twenty dollars a pop.

At first, everything goes perfectly, with the friends raking in cash—pretty soon they’ll even have enough money to buy the matching jackets they’ve always dreamed of! But as the market for mildly titillating anime DVDs grows, the girls realize they’ll need new material. On top of figuring out how to replicate their first success, there’s growing tension within the group. Brooke and Kelly’s romance is on its last legs, and hurt feelings are guaranteed when Melissa starts falling for one of them.

Will the four girls’ shared history be strong enough to see them through this upheaval? Or will they learn that some things can only end in heartbreak?

the cover of Coven

Coven by Jennifer Dugan and illustrated by Kit Seaton (Sapphic YA Fantasy Graphic Novel)

In this queer, paranormal YA graphic novel debut from the author of Some Girls Do and the illustrator of Wonder Woman: Warbringer, a young witch races to solve the grisly supernatural murders of her coven members before the killer strikes again.

Emsy has always lived in sunny California, and she’d much rather spend her days surfing with her friends or hanging out with her girlfriend than honing her powers as a fire elemental. But when members of her family’s coven back east are murdered under mysterious circumstances that can only be the result of powerful witchcraft, her family must suddenly return to dreary upstate New York. There, Emsy will have to master her neglected craft in order to find the killer . . . before her family becomes their next target.

the cover of Tragic

Tragic by Dana Mele & Valentina Pinti (Sapphic YA Hamlet Graphic Retelling)

Harper Hayes’ father is dead.

She’s convinced his mysterious and tragic death is not an accident and is determined to find out who is responsible. Suspect number one: her uncle, who has been having an affair with her mother.

Harper enlists the help of her ex-girlfriend Talia and her best friend (sometimes with benefits) Holden to prove her uncle’s guilt. But when her father’s business partner is also found dead, Harper realizes finding the murderer is more complicated than she had thought.

As Harper starts hallucinating about her dad’s death and begins to see his ghost as a teenage Hamlet everywhere she turns, one thing becomes clear – in order to uncover the truth, Harper must confront the demons that have haunted her family for decades.

Legendary Comics YA proudly presents this bold retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet from a queer lens written by Dana Mele (People Like Us, Summer’s Edge) with art by Valentina Pinti.

Children

Middle Grade

the cover of The Trouble with Robots

The Trouble With Robots by Michelle Mohrweis (Bisexual Middle Grade Contemporary)

Evelyn strives for excellence. Allie couldn’t care less. These polar opposites must work together if they have any hope of saving their school’s robotics program.

Eighth-graders Evelyn and Allie are in trouble. Evelyn’s constant need for perfection has blown some fuses among her robotics teammates, and she’s worried nobody’s taking the upcoming competition seriously. Allie is new to school, and she’s had a history of short-circuiting on teachers and other kids.

So when Allie is assigned to the robotics team as a last resort, all Evelyn can see is just another wrench in the works! But as Allie confronts a past stricken with grief and learns to open up, the gears click into place as she discovers that Evelyn’s teammates have a lot to offer—if only Evelyn allowed them to participate in a role that plays to their strengths.

Can Evelyn learn to let go and listen to what Allie has to say? Or will their spot in the competition go up in smoke along with their school’s robotics program and Allie’s only chance at redemption?

An excellent pick for STEAM enthusiasts, this earnestly told narrative features a dual point of view and casually explores Autistic and LGBTQ+ identities.

Nonfiction

Memoirs & Essays

the cover of The Black Period

The Black Period by Hafizah Augustus Geter (Queer Memoir)

An acclaimed poet reclaims her origin story as the queer daughter of a Muslim Nigerian immigrant and a Black American visual artist in this groundbreaking memoir, combining lyrical prose, biting criticism, and haunting visuals.

“I say, ‘the Black Period,’ and mean ‘home’ in all its shapeshifting ways.” In The Black Period, Hafizah creates a space for the beauty of Blackness, Islam, disability, and queerness to flourish, celebrating the many layers of her existence that America has time and again sought to erase.

At nineteen, she lost her mother to a sudden stroke. Weeks later, her father became so heartsick that he needed a triple bypass. By her thirties, she was constantly in pain, pinballing between physical therapy appointments, her grief, and the grind that is the American Dream. Hafizah realized she’d spent years internalizing the narratives that white supremacy had fed her about herself. Suddenly, she says, I was standing at the cliff of my own life, remembering.

Recalling her parents’ lessons on the art of Black revision, and mixing history, political analysis, and cultural criticism, alongside stunning original artwork created by her father, renowned artist Tyrone Geter, Hafizah maps out her own narrative, weaving between a childhood populated with Southern and Nigerian relatives; her days in a small Catholic school; a loving but tragically short relationship with her mother; and the feelings of joy and community that the Black Lives Matter protests engendered in her as an adult. All throughout, she forms a new personal and collective history, addressing the systems of inequity that make life difficult for non-able-bodied persons, queer people, and communities of color while capturing a world brimming with potential, art, music, hope, and love.

A unique combination of gripping memoir and Afrofuturist thought, in The Black Period, Hafizah manages to sidestep shame, confront disability, embrace forgiveness, and emerge from the erasures America imposes to exist proudly and unabashedly as herself.

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New Sapphic Releases: Bi and Lesbian Books Out August 30, 2022

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It may be the weird fifth Tuesday of the month, but there are some very notable new releases out today! In the Event of Love is the first of several sapphic holiday romances that are out this year, which absolutely delights me. I think I’ll be saving it until the weather cools off some. And speaking of seasonal reads, Dead Flip looks like a delightful YA horror book to read in October. So stock up on your seasonal reads now–but, of course, it’s never a bad time to read a good book.

Mysteries and Thrillers

Real Bad Things by Kelly J. Ford (Queer Thriller)

the cover of Real Bad Things

Beneath the roiling waters of the Arkansas River lie dead men and buried secrets.

When Jane Mooney’s violent stepfather, Warren, disappeared, most folks in Maud Bottoms, Arkansas, assumed he got drunk and drowned. After all, the river had claimed its share over the years.

When Jane confessed to his murder, she should have gone to jail. That’s what she wanted. But without a body, the police didn’t charge her with the crime. So Jane left for Boston—and took her secrets with her.

Twenty-five years later, the river floods and a body surfaces. Talk of Warren’s murder grips the town. Now in her forties, Jane returns to Maud Bottoms to reckon with her past: to do jail time, to face her revenge-bent mother, to make things right.

But though Jane’s homecoming may enlighten some, it could threaten others. Because in this desolate river valley, some secrets are better left undisturbed.

Romance

In the Event of Love by Courtney Kae (F/F Romance)

the cover of In the Event of Love

Fans of Casey McQuiston and Alexandria Bellefleur will adore this queer romcom that combines everything people love about Hallmark-style holiday romances with laugh-out-loud humor and a sweet and steamy love story between two women.

With her career as a Los Angeles event planner imploding after a tabloid blowup, Morgan Ross isn’t headed home for the holidays so much as in strategic retreat. Breathtaking mountain vistas, quirky townsfolk, and charming small businesses aside, her hometown of Fern Falls is built of one heartbreak on top of another…
 
Take her one-time best friend turned crush, Rachel Reed. The memory of their perfect, doomed first kiss is still fresh as new-fallen snow. Way fresher than the freezing mud Morgan ends up sprawled in on her very first day back, only to be hauled out via Rachel’s sexy new lumberjane muscles acquired from running her family tree farm.

When Morgan discovers that the Reeds’ struggling tree farm is the only thing standing between Fern Falls and corporate greed destroying the whole town’s livelihood, she decides she can put heartbreak aside to save the farm by planning her best fundraiser yet. She has all the inspiration for a spectacular event: delicious vanilla lattes, acoustic guitars under majestic pines, a cozy barn surrounded by brilliant stars. But she and Rachel will ABSOLUTELY NOT have a heartwarming holiday happy ending. That would be as unprofessional as it is unlikely. Right?

Fantasy & Science Fiction

Kalyna the Soothsayer by Elijah Kinch Spector (Bisexual Fantasy)

the cover of Kalyna the Soothsayer

A plucky, sardonic con artist must “prophesize” her way out of peril— discovering along the way that power and politics are nothing more than the stories sold as truth.

Kalyna’s family has the Gift: the ability to see the future. For generations, they traveled the four kingdoms of the Tetrarchia selling their services as soothsayers. Every child of their family is born with this Gift—everyone except Kalyna.

So far, Kalyna has used informants and trickery to falsify prophecies for coin, scrounging together a living for her deteriorating father and cruel grandmother. But Kalyna’s reputation for prophecy precedes her, and poverty turns to danger when she is pressed into service by the spymaster to Rotfelsen.

Kalyna is to use her “Gift” to uncover threats against Rotfelsen’s king, her family held hostage to ensure her good behavior. But politics are devious; the king’s enemies abound, and Kalyna’s skills for investigation and deception are tested to the limit. Worse, the conspiracy she uncovers points to a larger threat, not only to Rotfelsen but to the Tetrarchia itself. 

Kalyna is determined to protect her family and newfound friends, but as she is drawn deeper into palace intrigue, she can no longer tell if her manipulations are helping prevent the Tetrarchia’s destruction—or if her lies will bring about its prophesized downfall. 

Young Adult

Dancing Barefoot by Alice Boyle (F/F YA Romance)

the cover of Dancing Barefoot

Patch is out of place at Mountford College: she wears the wrong clothes, she’s not sporty or popular, she lives in a small flat above her dad’s record shop a world away from the leafy suburb where she goes to school. And she has a secret long-term crush on basketball star Evie Vanhoutte. Evie barely knows Patch exists until an accident involving a bottle of ink and Patch’s school uniform sparks a friendship that’s equal parts exhilarating and terrifying, and very, very confusing.

As if that weren’t enough, Patch is also trying to deal with a jealous school bully, forgetting to be supportive of her transitioning best friend, Edwin, and worrying about how a potential new stepmother could throw everything off course.

Dancing Barefoot is a feel-good romance about growing up queer, figuring out your place in the world, staying true to yourself and your friends, finding love, and learning to embrace the obstacles life throws in your path.

Dead Flip by Sara Farizan (Lesbian YA 90s Horror)

the cover of Dead Flip by Sara Farizan

Edge-of-your-seat YA horror perfect for fans of Stranger Things
 
Growing up, Cori, Maz, and Sam were inseparable best friends, sharing their love for Halloween, arcade games, and one another. Now it’s 1992, Sam has been missing for five years, and Cori and Maz aren’t speaking anymore. How could they be, when Cori is sure Sam is dead and Maz thinks he may have been kidnapped by a supernatural pinball machine?
 
These days, all Maz wants to do is party, buy CDs at Sam Goody, and run away from his past. Meanwhile, Cori is a homecoming queen, hiding her abiding love of horror movies and her queer self under the bubblegum veneer of a high school queen bee. But when Sam returns—still twelve years old while his best friends are now seventeen—Maz and Cori are thrown back together to solve the mystery of what really happened to Sam the night he went missing. Beneath the surface of that mystery lurk secrets the friends never told one another, then and now. And Sam’s is the darkest of all…

Nonfiction

Diary of a Misfit: A Memoir and a Mystery by Casey Parks (Lesbian Memoir)

the cover of Diary of a Misfit

Part memoir, part sweeping journalistic saga: As Casey Parks follows the mystery of a stranger’s past, she is forced to reckon with her own sexuality, her fraught Southern identity, her tortured yet loving relationship with her mother, and the complicated role of faith in her life.

When Casey Parks came out as a lesbian in college back in 2002, she assumed her life in the South was over. Her mother shunned her, and her pastor asked God to kill her. But then Parks’s grandmother, a stern conservative who grew up picking cotton, pulled her aside and revealed a startling secret. “I grew up across the street from a woman who lived as a man,” and then implored Casey to find out what happened to him. Diary of a Misfit is the story of Parks’s life-changing journey to unravel the mystery of Roy Hudgins, the small-town country singer from grandmother’s youth, all the while confronting ghosts of her own.

For ten years, Parks traveled back to rural Louisiana and knocked on strangers’ doors, dug through nursing home records, and doggedly searched for Roy’s own diaries, trying to uncover what Roy was like as a person—what he felt; what he thought; and how he grappled with his sense of otherness. With an enormous heart and an unstinting sense of vulnerability, Parks writes about finding oneself through someone else’s story, and about forging connections across the gulfs that divide us.

Check out more LGBTQ new releases by signing up for Our Queerest Shelves, my LGBTQ book newsletter at Book Riot!

Support the Lesbrary on Patreon to get queer books in the mail throughout the year!

New Sapphic Releases: Bi and Lesbian Books Out August 16, 2022

Every week, I wonder if it makes sense to do these weekly new releases posts—isn’t is just a repeat of the monthly new releases? But for one, it’s a good reminder that these are out right now, and hopefully it’s a reminder that you should pick them up now! It also gives me an opportunity to highlight some titles that I only mentioned in passing in the monthly round up (though I just choose a few to feature, not all of them). Plus, I get to correct my mistakes! A couple of these weren’t in the monthly wrap up, because I didn’t realize they came out this month until after it came out. Hopefully you find these to be useful!

Romance

Royal Exposé (Royal Generations #1) by Jenny Frame (F/F Royal Romance)

the cover of Royal Expose

Poppy King wants to save the world, but if she can’t do that, then she’ll save her own little corner of it. The realities of a career in the fashion industry leave her disillusioned and, after years working with UNICEF to improve the working conditions of families exploited by the unethical garment industry, Poppy returns home to start her business degree and create her own ethical clothing brand.

Undercover reporter Casey James has spent her career exposing the worst vices of humanity. After witnessing so much corruption, greed, and death, she’s losing sight of who she truly is. When Casey is tasked with a royal exposé on the court of Denbourg, she only has one way in, the Crown Consort’s sister, Poppy.

Poppy meets Casey during her night classes and is instantly annoyed, distracted, and intrigued. When they’re grouped together for a class assignment, Poppy’s enthusiasm for life and love may just save Casey’s soul. But will she ever forgive Casey for using her to expose royal secrets?

Love and Other Rare Birds by Angie Williams (F/F Romance)

the cover of Love and Other Rare Birds

Ornithologist Dr. Jamie Martin doesn’t have time for romance. She’s spent her life living up to her biologist-turned-conservative-senator father’s idea of who she should be. When she discovers that a bird thought to be extinct has been sighted in Alaska, Jaime seizes the opportunity to finally step out of her father’s shadow and make her career her own.

As a park ranger in Alaska’s largest national wilderness, all Rowan Fleming wants is to escape the stress of her failed marriage in the lower forty-eight. She needs solitude to heal her broken heart, so being ordered to act as a guide for an entitled senator’s daughter isn’t exactly a walk in the park.

Jaime and Rowan couldn’t be more different, but as the landscape grows treacherous and remote, they’re forced to work together to find the elusive bird. Three arguments, two whispered confessions, and one rogue bear later, they’re beginning to suspect love isn’t extinct, after all.

Fantasy & Science Fiction

The Oleander Sword (The Burning Kingdoms #2) by Tasha Suri (F/F Fantasy)

the cover of The Oleander Sword

The prophecy of the nameless god—the words that declared Malini the rightful empress of Parijatdvipa—has proven a blessing and curse. She is determined to claim the throne that fate offered her. But even with the strength of the rage in her heart and the army of loyal men by her side, deposing her brother is going to be a brutal and bloody fight.

The power of the deathless waters flows through Priya’s blood. Thrice born priestess, Elder of Ahiranya, Priya’s dream is to see her country rid of the rot that plagues it: both Parijatdvipa’s poisonous rule, and the blooming sickness that is slowly spreading through all living things. But she doesn’t yet understand the truth of the magic she carries.

Their chosen paths once pulled them apart. But Malini and Priya’s souls remain as entwined as their destinies. And they soon realize that coming together is the only way to save their kingdom from those who would rather see it burn—even if it will cost them.

Young Adult

the cover of The Drowned Woods

The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones (Bisexual F/M YA Fantasy)

Once upon a time, the kingdoms of Wales were rife with magic and conflict, and eighteen-year-old Mererid “Mer” is well-acquainted with both. She is the last living water diviner and has spent years running from the prince who bound her into his service. Under the prince’s orders, she located the wells of his enemies, and he poisoned them without her knowledge, causing hundreds of deaths. After discovering what he had done, Mer went to great lengths to disappear from his reach. Then Mer’s old handler returns with a proposition: use her powers to bring down the very prince that abused them both.
 
The best way to do that is to destroy the magical well that keeps the prince’s lands safe. With a motley crew of allies, including a fae-cursed young man, the lady of thieves, and a corgi that may or may not be a spy, Mer may finally be able to steal precious freedom and peace for herself. After all, a person with a knife is one thing…but a person with a cause can topple kingdoms.

The Drowned Woods—set in the same world as The Bone Houses but with a whole new, unforgettable cast of characters—is part heist novel, part dark fairy tale.

Nonfiction

Song of My Softening by Omotara James (Queer Poetry)

the cover of Song of My Softening

The raw poems inside Song of My Softening studies the ever-changing relationship with oneself, while also investigating the relationship that the world and nation has with Black queerness.

Poems open wide the questioning of how we express both love and pain, and how we view our bodies in society, offering themselves wholly, with sharpness and compassion.

Check out more LGBTQ new releases by signing up for Our Queerest Shelves, my LGBTQ book newsletter at Book Riot!

Support the Lesbrary on Patreon to get queer books in the mail throughout the year!

44 Bi and Lesbian Books Out In August 2022!

a collage of the book covers listed, with the Sapphic Books Out In August!

Would you believe that more than 44 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 and included the publisher’s description of those, 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!

Adult

Fiction

the cover of Dogs of Summer by Andrea Abreu

Dogs of Summer by Andrea Abreu, translated by Julia Sanches (Sapphic Fiction)

My Brilliant Friend meets Blue is the Warmest Color in this lyrical debut novel set in a working-class neighborhood of the Canary Islands—a story about two girls coming of age in the early aughts and a friendship that simmers into erotic desire over the course of one hot summer.

High near the volcano of northern Tenerife, an endless ceiling of cloud cover traps the working class in an abject, oppressive heat. Far away from the island’s posh resorts, two girls dream of hitching a ride down to the beach and escaping their horizonless town. 
 
It’s summer, 2005, and our ten-year-old narrator is consumed by thoughts of her best friend Isora. Isora is rude and bossy, but she’s also vivacious and brave; grownups prefer her, and boys do, too. That’s why sometimes she gets jealous of Isora, who already has hair on her vagina and soft, round breasts. But she’s definitely not jealous that Isora’s mother is dead, nor that Isora’s fat, foul-mouthed grandmother has her on a diet, so that she is constantly sticking her fingers down her throat. Besides, she would do anything for Isora: gorge herself on cakes when her friend wants to watch, follow her to the bathroom when she takes a shit, log into chat rooms to swap dirty instant messages with strangers. But increasingly, our narrator finds it hard to keep up with Isora, who seems to be growing up at full tilt without her—and as her submissiveness veers into a painful sexual awakening, desire grows indistinguishable from intimate violence.
 
Braiding prose poetry with bachata lyrics and the gritty humor of Canary dialect, Dogs of Summer is a story of exquisite yearning, a brutal picture of girlhood and a love song written for the vital community it portrays.

the cover of All This Could Be Different

All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews (Sapphic Fiction)

Graduating into the long maw of an American recession, Sneha is one of the fortunate ones. She’s moved to Milwaukee for an entry-level corporate job that, grueling as it may be, is the key that unlocks every door: she can pick up the tab at dinner with her new friend Tig, get her college buddy Thom hired alongside her, and send money to her parents back in India. She begins dating women—soon developing a burning crush on Marina, a beguiling and beautiful dancer who always seems just out of reach.

But before long, trouble arrives. Painful secrets rear their heads; jobs go off the rails; evictions loom. Sneha struggles to be truly close and open with anybody, even as her friendships deepen, even as she throws herself headlong into a dizzying romance with Marina. It’s then that Tig begins to draw up a radical solution to their problems, hoping to save them all.

A beautiful and capacious novel rendered in singular, unforgettable  prose, All This Could Be Different is a wise, tender, and riveting group portrait of young people forging love and community amidst struggle, and a moving story of one immigrant’s journey to make her home in the world.

the cover of Ben and Beatriz

Ben and Beatriz by Katalina Gamarra (Pansexual Much Ado About Nothing Reimagining)

There’s nothing like falling for your worst enemy.

Beatriz Herrera is a fierce woman who will take you down with her quick wit and keen intellect. And after the results of the 2016 election worked hard to erase her identity as a queer biracial woman, she’d be right to. Especially if you come for her sweet BFF cousin, Hero. Beatriz would do anything for her, a loyalty that lands Beatriz precisely where she doesn’t want to be: spending a week at the ridiculous Cape Cod mansion of stupid-hot playboy Ben Montgomery. The same Ben Montgomery she definitely shouldn’t have hooked up with that one time… The things we do for family.

White and wealthy, Ben talks the talk and walks the walk of privilege, but deep down, he’s wrestling with the politics and expectations of a conservative family he can’t relate to. Though Beatriz’s caustic tongue drives him wild in the very best way, he’s the last person she’d want, because she has zero interest in compromising her identity. But as her and Ben’s assumptions begin to unravel and their hookups turn into something real, they start wondering if it’s still possible to hold space for one another and the inescapable love that unites them. 

This retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is both razor-sharp and swoon-worthy: the perfect love story for our time.

the cover of Mademoiselle Revolution

Mademoiselle Revolution by Zoe Sivak (Bisexual Historical Fiction)

A powerful, engrossing story of a biracial heiress who escapes to Paris when the Haitian Revolution burns across her island home. But as she works her way into the inner circle of Robespierre and his mistress, she learns that not even oceans can stop the flames of revolution.

Sylvie de Rosiers, as the daughter of a rich planter and an enslaved woman, enjoys the comforts of a lady in 1791 Saint-Domingue society. But while she was born to privilege, she was never fully accepted by island elites. After a violent rebellion begins the Haitian Revolution, Sylvie and her brother leave their family and old lives behind to flee unwittingly into another uprising—in austere and radical Paris. Sylvie quickly becomes enamored with the aims of the Revolution, as well as with the revolutionaries themselves—most notably Maximilien Robespierre and his mistress, Cornélie Duplay.
 
As a rising leader and abolitionist, Robespierre sees an opportunity to exploit Sylvie’s race and abandonment of her aristocratic roots as an example of his ideals, while the strong-willed Cornélie offers Sylvie safe harbor and guidance in free thought. Sylvie battles with her past complicity in a slave society and her future within this new world order as she finds herself increasingly torn between Robespierre’s ideology and Cornélie’s love.
 
When the Reign of Terror descends, Sylvie must decide whether to become an accomplice while a new empire rises on the bones of innocents…or risk losing her head.

the cover of Small Angels

Small Angels by Lauren Owen (Lesbian Gothic Fiction)

The woods are stirring again…

Lucia and her sisters grew up on the edge of Mockbeggar Woods. They knew it well—its danger, but also its beauty. As a lonely teenager, Kate was drawn to these sisters, who were unlike anyone she’d ever met. But when they brought her into the woods, something dark was awakened, and Kate has never been able to escape the terrible truth of what happened there. 

Chloe has been planning her dream wedding for months. She has the dress, the flowers, and the perfect venue: Small Angels, a charming old church set alongside dense, green woods in the village that her fiancé, Sam, and his sister, Kate, grew up in. But days before the ceremony, Chloe starts to learn of unsettling stories about Small Angels and Mockbeggar Woods. And worse, she begins to see, smell, and hear things that couldn’t possibly be real. 

Now, Kate is returning home for the first time in years—for Sam and Chloe’s wedding. But the woods are stirring again, and Kate must reconnect with Lucia, her first love, to protect Chloe, the village, and herself. An unforgettable novel about the memories that hold us back and those that show us the way forward, this is storytelling at its most magical. Enter Small Angels, if you dare.

the cover of The Women Could Fly

The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings (Bisexual Dystopia)

Josephine Thomas has heard every conceivable theory about her mother’s disappearance. That she was kidnapped. Murdered. That she took on a new identity to start a new family. That she was a witch. This is the most worrying charge because in a world where witches are real, peculiar behavior raises suspicions and a woman—especially a Black woman—can find herself on trial for witchcraft.  

But fourteen years have passed since her mother’s disappearance, and now Jo is finally ready to let go of the past. Yet her future is in doubt. The State mandates that all women marry by the age of 30—or enroll in a registry that allows them to be monitored, effectively forfeiting their autonomy. At 28, Jo is ambivalent about marriage. With her ability to control her life on the line, she feels as if she has her never understood her mother more. When she’s offered the opportunity to honor one last request from her mother’s will, Jo leaves her regular life to feel connected to her one last time.

In this powerful and timely novel, Megan Giddings explores the limits women face—and the powers they have to transgress and transcend them. 

the cover of Boulder
the cover of Parallel Paradise
the cover of An Archive of Brightness

Romance

the cover of Kissed by Her

Kissed by Her by Chelsea M. Cameron (F/F Romance)

I was so looking forward to this summer. My job as a nanny for eleven-year-old twins means never a dull moment, and I’m excited about hanging out with my best friend, Joy, and reading all the books we can get our hands on next to my employer’s fabulous pool.

Then my boss goes and hires a new assistant who is clearly gunning to be his second wife. Honor Conroy could not be more obvious in her motives and I can’t understand how he doesn’t see it.

She keeps getting under my skin, and even the twins are pulling pranks to try and get her out of their lives. I deny any involvement when their father finds out about their hijinks.
Then Honor decides to invade my book club—my sanctuary. I’ve had it, so I decide to confront her and, somehow, in the heat of the moment, her lips end up on mine in the fiercest kiss I’ve ever had in my life.
Turns out the gold-digger I imagined isn’t the real Honor, and my heart may never recover from finding out who she really is under that ice-queen facade.

[This is like Parent Trap, but Chessy and Meredith get together!!]

the cover of In the Event of Love

In the Event of Love by Courtney Kae (F/F Romance)

Fans of Casey McQuiston and Alexandria Bellefleur will adore this queer romcom that combines everything people love about Hallmark-style holiday romances with laugh-out-loud humor and a sweet and steamy love story between two women.

With her career as a Los Angeles event planner imploding after a tabloid blowup, Morgan Ross isn’t headed home for the holidays so much as in strategic retreat. Breathtaking mountain vistas, quirky townsfolk, and charming small businesses aside, her hometown of Fern Falls is built of one heartbreak on top of another…
 
Take her one-time best friend turned crush, Rachel Reed. The memory of their perfect, doomed first kiss is still fresh as new-fallen snow. Way fresher than the freezing mud Morgan ends up sprawled in on her very first day back, only to be hauled out via Rachel’s sexy new lumberjane muscles acquired from running her family tree farm.

When Morgan discovers that the Reeds’ struggling tree farm is the only thing standing between Fern Falls and corporate greed destroying the whole town’s livelihood, she decides she can put heartbreak aside to save the farm by planning her best fundraiser yet. She has all the inspiration for a spectacular event: delicious vanilla lattes, acoustic guitars under majestic pines, a cozy barn surrounded by brilliant stars. But she and Rachel will ABSOLUTELY NOT have a heartwarming holiday happy ending. That would be as unprofessional as it is unlikely. Right?

the cover of Cherry On Top
the cover of Royal Exposé
the cover of Score to Love
the cover of Just a Touch Away
the cover of Set in Stone by Stela Brinzeanu
the cover of The Inconvenient Heiress
the cover of Perfectly Matched
the cover of A Taste of Her

Mystery/Thrillers

the cover of A Killing in Costumes by Zac Bissonnette

A Killing in Costumes by Zac Bissonnette (Lesbian Cozy Mystery)

Jay Allan and Cindy Cooper were soap opera stars in the late ’90s, a wholesome young husband-and-wife duo who combined musical talent with humor and charisma. When the truth about their sexual orientations came to light, their marriage and TV careers ended, but decades later they have remained friends. Together, they open Palm Springs’ chicest movie memorabilia store, Hooray for Hollywood–but no customers and dwindling finances spell trouble.

A Hail Mary arrives in the form of Yana Tosh, a ninety-year-old diva of the silver screen who has amassed a valuable collection of costumes and props and is looking to sell. But first, Jay and Cindy have to beat their competition, a vice president from a mega-auction house with ten times their resources. And when he winds up dead, they become prime suspects in the murder.

With their freedom and livelihoods on the line, Jay and Cindy desperately need to clear their names. There are plenty of other potential suspects, but they’ll have to solve it soon before they’re forced to trade in their vintage costume collection for two orange jumpsuits.

the cover of Dirt Creek

Dirt Creek by Hayley Scrivenor (Lesbian Mystery)

When twelve-year-old Esther disappears on the way home from school in a small town in rural Australia, the community is thrown into a maelstrom of suspicion and grief. As Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels arrives in town during the hottest spring in decades and begins her investigation, Esther’s tenacious best friend, Ronnie, is determined to find Esther and bring her home.

When schoolfriend Lewis tells Ronnie that he saw Esther with a strange man at the creek the afternoon she went missing, Ronnie feels she is one step closer to finding her. But why is Lewis refusing to speak to the police? And who else is lying about how much they know about what has happened to Esther?

Punctuated by a Greek chorus, which gives voice to the remaining children of the small, dying town, this novel explores the ties that bind, what we try and leave behind us, and what we can never outrun, while never losing sight of the question of what happened to Esther, and what her loss does to a whole town.

In Hayley Scrivenor’s Dirt Creek, a small-town debut mystery described as The Dry meets Everything I Never Told You, a girl goes missing and a community falls apart and comes together.

the cover of Real Bad Things

Real Bad Things by Kelly J. Ford (Queer Thriller)

Beneath the roiling waters of the Arkansas River lie dead men and buried secrets.

When Jane Mooney’s violent stepfather, Warren, disappeared, most folks in Maud Bottoms, Arkansas, assumed he got drunk and drowned. After all, the river had claimed its share over the years.

When Jane confessed to his murder, she should have gone to jail. That’s what she wanted. But without a body, the police didn’t charge her with the crime. So Jane left for Boston—and took her secrets with her.

Twenty-five years later, the river floods and a body surfaces. Talk of Warren’s murder grips the town. Now in her forties, Jane returns to Maud Bottoms to reckon with her past: to do jail time, to face her revenge-bent mother, to make things right.

But though Jane’s homecoming may enlighten some, it could threaten others. Because in this desolate river valley, some secrets are better left undisturbed.

the cover of The Artist
the cover of Strange Attractors

Fantasy

the cover of The Book Eaters

The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean (Lesbian Fantasy)

Out on the Yorkshire Moors lives a secret line of people for whom books are food, and who retain all of a book’s content after eating it. To them, spy novels are a peppery snack; romance novels are sweet and delicious. Eating a map can help them remember destinations, and children, when they misbehave, are forced to eat dry, musty pages from dictionaries.

Devon is part of The Family, an old and reclusive clan of book eaters. Her brothers grow up feasting on stories of valor and adventure, and Devon—like all other book eater women—is raised on a carefully curated diet of fairy tales and cautionary stories.

But real life doesn’t always come with happy endings, as Devon learns when her son is born with a rare and darker kind of hunger—not for books, but for human minds.

the cover of High Times in the Low Parliament

High Times in the Low Parliament by Kelly Robson (Lesbian Fantasy)

Lana Baker is Aldgate’s finest scribe, with a sharp pen and an even sharper wit. Gregarious, charming, and ever so eager to please, she agrees to deliver a message for another lovely scribe in exchange for kisses and ends up getting sent to Low Parliament by a temperamental fairy as a result.

As Lana transcribes the endless circular arguments of Parliament, the debates grow tenser and more desperate. Due to long-standing tradition, a hung vote will cause Parliament to flood and a return to endless war. Lana must rely on an unlikely pair of comrades―Bugbite, the curmudgeonly fairy, and Eloquentia, the bewitching human deputy―to save humanity (and maybe even woo one or two lucky ladies), come hell or high water.

the cover of Kalyna the Soothsayer
the cover of The Oleander Sword
the cover of A Flood of Blood to the Heart

Science Fiction

the cover of Unwieldy Creatures by Addie Tsai

Unwieldy Creatures by Addie Tsai (Queer Frankenstein Retelling)

Unwieldy Creatures, a biracial, queer, gender-swapped retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein, follows the story of three beings who all navigate life from the margins: Plum, a queer biracial Chinese intern at one of the world’s top embryology labs, who runs away from home to openly be with her girlfriend only to be left on her own; Dr. Frank, a queer biracial Indonesian scientist, who compromises everything she claims to love in the name of science and ambition when she sets out to procreate without sperm or egg; and Dr. Frank’s nonbinary creation who, painstakingly brought into the world, is abandoned due to complications at birth that result from a cruel twist of revenge. Plum struggles to determine the limits of her own ambition when Dr. Frank offers her a chance to assist with her next project. How far will Plum go in the name of scientific advancement and what is she willing to risk?

the cover of Furious Heaven
the cover of The Last Hero
the cover of Dance with the Devil
the cover of Fault Tolerance
the cover of Made for Me

Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga

the cover of Bolero

Bolero by Wyatt Kennedy & Luana Vecchio (Bisexual SFF Graphic Novel)

A woman running away from a broken heart discovers a mother-key into parallel universes. The rules are:

The key can work on any door.
The mother will only let you visit 53 universes.
Do not ask to speak to the mother.
Never hop more than 53 times.

Collects BOLERO #1-5

Young Adult

YA Contemporary

the cover of Dancing Barefoot
the cover of Bad At Love

YA Horror

the cover of Dead Flip by Sara Farizan

Dead Flip by Sara Farizan (Lesbian YA 90s Horror)

Edge-of-your-seat YA horror perfect for fans of Stranger Things
 
Growing up, Cori, Maz, and Sam were inseparable best friends, sharing their love for Halloween, arcade games, and one another. Now it’s 1992, Sam has been missing for five years, and Cori and Maz aren’t speaking anymore. How could they be, when Cori is sure Sam is dead and Maz thinks he may have been kidnapped by a supernatural pinball machine?
 
These days, all Maz wants to do is party, buy CDs at Sam Goody, and run away from his past. Meanwhile, Cori is a homecoming queen, hiding her abiding love of horror movies and her queer self under the bubblegum veneer of a high school queen bee. But when Sam returns—still twelve years old while his best friends are now seventeen—Maz and Cori are thrown back together to solve the mystery of what really happened to Sam the night he went missing. Beneath the surface of that mystery lurk secrets the friends never told one another, then and now. And Sam’s is the darkest of all . . .

the cover of These Fleeting Shadows

These Fleeting Shadows by Kate Alice Marshall (Sapphic YA Horror)

The Haunting of Hill House meets Knives Out in a bid for an inheritance that will leave Helen Vaughan either rich…or dead.

Helen Vaughan doesn’t know why she and her mother left their ancestral home at Harrowstone Hall, called Harrow, or why they haven’t spoken to their extended family since. So when her grandfather dies, she’s shocked to learn that he has left everything—the house, the grounds, and the money—to her. The inheritance comes with one condition: she must stay on the grounds of Harrow for one full year, or she’ll be left with nothing.
 
There is more at stake than money. For as long as she can remember, Harrow has haunted Helen’s dreams—and now those dreams have become a waking nightmare. Helen knows that if she is going to survive the year, she needs to uncover the secrets of Harrow. Why is the house built like a labyrinth? What is digging the holes that appear in the woods each night? And why does the house itself seem to be making her sick?
 
With each twisted revelation, Helen questions what she knows about Harrow, her family, and even herself. She no longer wonders if she wants to leave…but if she can.

the cover of Slaughter at Seabridge

YA Fantasy

the cover of Dauntless

Dauntless by Elisa A. Bonnin (Sapphic YA Fantasy)

Seri’s world is defined by very clear rules: The beasts prowl the forest paths and hunt the People. The valiant explore the unknown world, kill the beasts, and gain strength from the armor they make from them. As an assistant to Eshai Unbroken, a young valor commander with a near-mythical reputation, Seri has seen first-hand the struggle to keep the beasts at bay and ensure the safety of the spreading trees where the People make their homes. That was how it always had been, and how it always would be. Until the day Seri encounters Tsana.

Tsana is, impossibly, a stranger from the unknown world who can communicate with the beasts – a fact that makes Seri begin to doubt everything she’s ever been taught. As Seri and Tsana grow closer, their worlds begin to collide, with deadly consequences. Somehow, with the world on the brink of war, Seri will have to find a way to make peace.

the cover of The Drowned Woods

The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones (Bisexual F/M YA Fantasy)

Once upon a time, the kingdoms of Wales were rife with magic and conflict, and eighteen-year-old Mererid “Mer” is well-acquainted with both. She is the last living water diviner and has spent years running from the prince who bound her into his service. Under the prince’s orders, she located the wells of his enemies, and he poisoned them without her knowledge, causing hundreds of deaths. After discovering what he had done, Mer went to great lengths to disappear from his reach. Then Mer’s old handler returns with a proposition: use her powers to bring down the very prince that abused them both.
 
The best way to do that is to destroy the magical well that keeps the prince’s lands safe. With a motley crew of allies, including a fae-cursed young man, the lady of thieves, and a corgi that may or may not be a spy, Mer may finally be able to steal precious freedom and peace for herself. After all, a person with a knife is one thing…but a person with a cause can topple kingdoms.

The Drowned Woods—set in the same world as The Bone Houses but with a whole new, unforgettable cast of characters—is part heist novel, part dark fairy tale.

Children

Middle Grade

the cover of The Devouring Wolf

The Devouring Wolf by Natalie C. Parker (Sapphic Middle Grade Fantasy)

A queer tale about kid werewolves, big bad mistakes, and terrifying creatures, perfect for fans of Katherine Arden and R.L. Stine.

Little wolf, little wolf, here I come.
 
It’s the eve of the first full moon of summer and twelve-year-old Riley Callahan is ready to turn into a wolf. Nothing can ruin her mood: not her little brother Milo’s teasing, not Mama N’s smothering, and not even Mama C’s absence from their pack’s ceremony. But then the unthinkable happens—something that violates every rule of wolf magic—Riley and four other kids don’t shift.

Riley is left with questions that even the pack leaders don’t have answers to. And to make matters far worse, it appears something was awoken in the woods that same night. 

The Devouring Wolf.

The elders tell the tale of the Devouring Wolf to scare young pups into obedience. It’s a terrifying campfire story for fledging wolves, an old legend of a giant creature who consumes the magic inside young werewolves. But to Riley, the Devouring Wolf is more than lore: it’s real and it’s after her and her friends.

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Danika reviews Florida Woman by Deb Rogers

the cover of Florida Woman

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Jamie has always lived a bit of a bumpy life. Her dad left when she was young, and her mom took off with a new boyfriend not long afterwards. She and her brother weathered the foster care system together until he was arrested for dealing drugs. Since then, she’s been working minimum wages jobs with very few connections, just scraping by.

But one strange night changed her life forever, and not for the better. A combination of bad decisions and unlikely circumstances turned her into Twitter’s main character of the day: A “Florida Woman” headline. All she wants to do is put her head down, serve her time in community service, and wait for it to blow over.

In this worst time in her life, though, she’s stumbled on some luck: a lawyer who’s taking her on pro bono, and a sweet community service opportunity that seems more like voluntourism than something comparable to jail time. Her lawyer has arranged for her to volunteer for a macaque monkey sanctuary. She’ll have her room and board paid for, and she’ll serve out her time in the Florida jungle helping prepare the monkey’s food, clean up after them, and generally be helpful.

Jamie was fully expecting to spend time behind bars, so this is an incredible opportunity, even if she does have to wear an ankle monitor. When she arrives at the sanctuary, Atlas, she finds the three full-time staff members are a very close-knit group of women. They’re definitely hippie types, and they believe the monkeys have spiritual wisdom to share with them. Jamie can’t help but be envious of the way they move through life, and she yearns to belong in this community.

Meanwhile, interspersed with Jamie’s chapters are excerpts from the sanctuary’s website, which include ominous lines like “We are a supportive circle, but remember: circles are closed for safety and wholeness. You are either with us or against us. There is no other way.” Jamie sleeps in her own hut deep in the jungle, away from the other women. She swears she can hear the monkeys screaming at night, but she’s told she’s dreaming it or confusing it with other noises.

This is a story that has a creeping sense of unease, which pairs well with the oppressive, dizzying heat and humidity of Jamie’s surroundings. Atlas feels a little cult-like, but Jamie is completely bought in. She’s vulnerable on multiple levels, and she desperately wants to be part of this community who seem to accept her and value her, even knowing her embarrassing headlines. She devotes herself to them and Atlas, ignoring the red flag that pop up, and as readers, we’re just waiting for this house of cards to come down.

I feel like with slow burn suspense like this in a story, it can turn out a couple of ways. One is that you get exactly what you were anticipating the entire time, and it feels like they were just dragging out the few plot points they had. Or, as is the cast for this book, it can slowly keep gathering steam towards an explosion at the end. While this book start off fairly slow-moving, it is effective in building tension, and that is definitely paid off.

I will also say this has a sapphic main character, but it’s far from a romance.

I wasn’t sure exactly what genre this was going into it: horror? Litfic? Thriller? And to be honest, I’m still not sure by the end. I’d say thriller meets litfic would probably be the closest to accurate.

This was a compelling read, especially with the fascinating setting. And I was invested in Jamie, who is so hungry for connection that she’s willing to overlook a lot to find it. This is a thriller, so I recommend looking up content warnings, because some of them would be spoilers for specific reveals.

New Sapphic Releases: Bi and Lesbian Books Out July 19, 2022

I enjoy the range of genres of books out this week. Do you want a literary fiction story about a ghost in love with the French author George Sand? We have that. What about a YA novel about a vampire boarding school and corporate secrets? Sure. There’s also a gothic suspense novel, a second chance rivals-to-lovers romance, and more. What a time to be a queer reader.

Fiction

Briefly, A Delicious Life by Nell Stevens (Sapphic Historical Literary Fiction)

the cover of Briefly, A Delicious Life

An unforgettable debut novel from an award-winning writer: a lively, daring ghost story about a teenage ghost who falls in love with a writer who doesn’t know she exists.

In 1473, fourteen-year-old Blanca dies in a hilltop monastery in Mallorca. Nearly four hundred years later, when George Sand, her two children, and her lover Frederic Chopin arrive in the village, Blanca is still there: a spirited, funny, righteous ghost, she’s been hanging around the monastery since her accidental death, spying on the monks and the townspeople and keeping track of her descendants.

Blanca is enchanted the moment she sees George, and the magical novel unfolds as a story of deeply felt, unrequited longing—the impossible love of a teenage ghost for a woman who can’t see her and doesn’t know she exists. As George and Chopin, who wear their unconventionality, in George’s case, literally on their sleeves, find themselves in deepening trouble with the provincial, 19th-century villagers, Blanca watches helplessly and reflects on the circumstances of her own death (which involves an ill-advised love affair with a monk-in-training).

Charming, original, and emotionally moving, this is a surprisingly touching story about romantic fixation and a powerful meditation on creativity.

Mysteries and Thrillers

Vicious Creatures by Ashton Noone (Sapphic Thriller)

the cover of Vicious Creatures

Ava Montgomery never wanted to return home. She fled Wildwood fourteen years ago after the discovery of Adam Albright’s body in the forest shattered her young life. But when a violent divorce sends her running back to her parents’ house with her troubled daughter Marjorie in tow, Ava discovers that not much has changed in the small Oregon town where she grew up.

It doesn’t take long for Ava to fall back in with her old crowd, most of whom stayed in town after high school. Each one of her childhood friends found fame and fortune after they graduated, including Victoria Gallagher―Ava’s high school best friend and ex-lover, now unhappily married to a wealthy husband from one of the founding families of Wildwood.

Meanwhile, Ava’s daughter becomes intrigued by the forest, fascinated by an urban legend about its secret power―and her curious questions bring Ava’s long-repressed memories of the traumatic events surrounding Adam’s death back to the fore. And then, when the body of a missing child is found in those same woods, that dark past begins to repeat itself.

After a knife is left on Ava’s doorstep and a threatening message appears on her front door, she wonders if her friends have something to do with the newest crime. They never told anyone how much they really know about what happened to Adam on the night he died; does one of them want to drive her out of Wildwood to keep that secret? As Marjorie becomes obsessed with the infamous murder, and old friendships and feuds reignite, Ava is drawn back into the forest to confront her own role in its violent history―before her daughter becomes its next prey.

Romance

Can’t Resist Her by Kianna Alexander (F/F Romance)

the cover of Can't Resist Her by Kianna Alexander

Two very determined women—in love, at odds, and risking a lot on a second chance.

After years away from home, Summer Graves is back in Austin, Texas, to accept a new teaching position. Of all the changes to the old neighborhood, the most dispiriting one is the slated demolition of the high school her grandmother founded. There’s no way she can let developers destroy her memories and her family legacy. But the challenge stirs memories of another kind.

On the architectural team revitalizing the neighborhood, hometown girl Aiko Holt is all about progress. Then she sees Summer again. Some things never change.

Neither can forget the kiss they shared at their senior-year dance. Neither can back down from her unwavering beliefs about what’s right for the neighborhood.

For now, the only thing Summer and Aiko are willing to give in to is a heat that still burns. But can two women with so much passion—for what once was and what could be—agree to disagree long enough to fall in love?

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Dark Earth by Rebecca Stott (Sapphic Fantasy)

the cover of Dark Earth

The year is 500 AD. Sisters Isla and Blue live in the shadows of the Ghost City, the abandoned ruins of the once-glorious mile-wide Roman settlement Londinium on the bank of the River Thames. But the small island they call home is also a place of exile for Isla, Blue, and their father, a legendary blacksmith accused of using dark magic to make his firetongue swords—formidable blades that cannot be broken—and cast out from the community. When he dies suddenly, the sisters find themselves facing enslavement by the local warlord and his cruel, power-hungry son. Their only option is to escape to the Ghost City, where they discover an underworld of rebel women living secretly amid the ruins. But if Isla and Blue are to survive the men who hunt them, and protect their new community, they will need to use all their skill and ingenuity—as well as the magic of their foremothers—to fight back. 

With an intimate yet cinematic scope, Dark Earth re-creates an ancient world steeped in myth and folklore, and introduces us to unforgettable women who come to vibrant life on the page. A heart-in-mouth adventure full of moments of tenderness, this is a beautiful, profound novel about oppression and power that puts a female perspective on a historical period dominated by men’s stories.

Young Adult

The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride by Hayli Thomson (Lesbian YA Contemporary)

the cover of The Comedienne's Guide to Pride

Taylor Parker has always been a funny girl―but when she is accepted as a finalist for a diverse writers’ internship at Saturday Night Live, it turns her life upside down. If she wants a shot at winning in a little more than a month, Taylor will have to come out about both of her secrets: She wants to be a comedian . . . and she’s a lesbian.

With a mom who gave up a career in comedy to raise her, and a comedian dad who left for a younger woman, working in comedy is a sore subject in Taylor’s house. To keep her secret under wraps, she sneaks out to do improv and hides her sketches under the bed, and to distract from her anxiety about the competition, Taylor frequents Salem’s Museum of Witchcraft to pine for Abigail Williams from the back row.

It’s at the Museum of Witchcraft where Taylor falls deeper in love with the girl who plays Abigail Williams―Charlotte Grey, an out and proud lesbian at Nathaniel Hawthorne High. Charlotte radiates so much confidence in her acting and queerness that Taylor can’t resist her. So when Charlotte reaches out for help on a school project, Taylor readily agrees. As they spend more time together, Taylor sees what living her truth and pursuing her dreams could bring her, but Charlotte can’t understand why someone as funny as Taylor wouldn’t go all out to make the most of her opportunities. To live up to her own comedy dreams and become the person she wants to be, Taylor will have to find the confidence to tell everyone exactly who she is and what she wants.

Youngblood by Sasha Laurens (Lesbian F/F YA Fantasy)

the cover of Youngblood

Kat Finn and her mother can barely make ends meet living among humans. Like all vampires, they must drink Hema, an expensive synthetic blood substitute, to survive, as nearly all of humanity has been infected by a virus that’s fatal to vampires. Kat isn’t looking forward to an immortal life of barely scraping by, but when she learns she’s been accepted to the Harcote School, a prestigious prep school that’s secretly vampires-only, she knows her fortune is about to change.
 
Taylor Sanger has grown up in the wealthy vampire world, but she’s tired of its backward, conservative values—especially when it comes to sexuality, since she’s an out-and-proud lesbian. She only has to suffer through a two more years of Harcote before she’s free. But when she discovers her new roommate is Kat Finn, she’s horrified. Because she and Kat used to be best friends, a long time ago, and it didn’t end well.
 
When Taylor stumbles upon the dead body of a vampire, and Kat makes a shocking discovery in the school’s archives, the two realize that there are deep secrets at Harcote—secrets that link them to the most powerful figures in Vampirdom and to the synthetic blood they all rely on.

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