The Lesbrary’s Favorite Sapphic Books We Read In 2022

a collage of the covers listed with the text The Lesbrary's Favorite Sapphic Books of 2022

I always enjoy looking back at my favourite reads of the year at about this time, and I read so many great queer books this year. The books on this list are not only books out in 2022, though most of them are; they’re just (some of) the sapphic books I read and loved this year. I’ve noted the book that came out before 2022. I kept this list to ten, though I could have added a lot more that I enjoyed. I roughly ranked them, but the spots are pretty arbitrary, because I recommend them all.

I’ve included excerpts from my reviews for each of these, but you can click through to see my full thoughts at the review page for each.

Also, scroll to the bottom for some of the other Lesbrary reviewers’ favourite sapphic books they read this year!

#10: Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake

the cover of Delilah Green Doesn’t Care

I love the YA books I’ve read by Ashley Herring Blake, so it was nice to see that her first adult romance is one I enjoyed just as much!

Both the main characters are well-rounded, and their romance was compelling, but the heart of the story to me was the sibling relationship between Astrid and her stepsister, Delilah. I love that all the characters in this book, even the side characters, feel like real people whose lives continue when they walk off the page. While this is a romance novel, it’s not the only thing going on in their lives: they’re also concerned about their families, friends, kid, career, etc.

The entire book had that absorbing “just one more chapter!” feel that kept me turning the pages into the night—and to be honest, that’s a very rare occurrence for me while reading! I was absorbed in the story and like I had lost time/forgot I was reading when I resurfaced, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

#9: Eat the Rich by Sarah Gailey, Pius Bak, and Roman Titov

the cover of Eat the Rich

This was such a fun read. It’s an over-the-top, gruesome, funny, anti-capitalism, queer graphic novel that I enjoyed from beginning to end.

In just a few pages, I completely fell for Petal, who wears a “Loud and Queer” t-shirt and assures Joey that yes, she knows how awesome she is.

I picked this up during the October readathon, and it was the perfect choice as a quick, entertaining horror read that gripped me from the first page to the last.

I think I can safely say that if you like the title and cover, you’ll love this book.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

#8: A Scatter of Light by Malinda Lo

the cover of A Scatter of Light by Malinda Lo

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 a label, 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.

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.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

#7: The Very Nice Box by Laura Blackett and Eve Gleichman (2021)

The Very Nice Box cover

This was a surprise. When I think about this book, I remember listening to the audiobook as I fell asleep, about halfway through it. It’s a literary fiction title that had been fairly slow-paced up until that point. Suddenly, I sat bold upright in bed when the story suddenly changed–so much for falling asleep.

I will say I think this book works best if you go in without a ton of information, so if you’re up for a kind of weird slowly unfolding character-based queer story, I highly recommend checking this out sight unseen. It’s about Ava, a designer who works for STÄDA (which is pretty much Ikea), designing boxes, and who lives a highly regimented and isolated life in the aftereffects of trauma, until a new STÄDA employee pushes her out of her comfort zone.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

#6: Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield

the cover of Our Wives Under the Sea

I cannot resist an underwater story, especially one with sapphic characters, so this gothic horror novel was one I had to pick up. In one point of view, we see from the perspective of a woman, Leah, trapped in a submarine for months on end. In the other, we see from her wife’s perspective, after Leah returns… changed.

While there are certainly unsettling scenes, this is also a story about love and grief. Miri’s experience with Leah is tangled up with her grieving her mother. The story unfolds in a distant, dreamlike way, and that grief suffuses everything. 

If you need your plots to have clearly explained answers, this may not be the story for you. But if you appreciate an atmospheric, gothic queer novel, I definitely recommend picking this up. It was exactly the moody, engrossing, unsettling story I was hoping for.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

#5: Spear by Nicola Griffith

the cover of Spear by Nicola Griffith

This sapphic Arthurian retelling is one of the few books I’ve ever read that made me gasp out loud as I read it. I’m not usually an expressive reader, so that was a surprise. This novella is precisely plotted, both building up an expansive world and mythology while moving through a lean story that deserves its own spot among the most renowned Arthur legends. It feels timeless, but also has a depth that makes these people feel real and relatable.

This is a small book that packs a big punch, and I was surprised how moved I was by the love story, considering that romance didn’t play much of a role for the first section of the book. I am definitely now on board for anything Griffith writes, and I can’t wait to explore her backlist.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

#4: Buffalo Is the New Buffalo by Chelsea Vowel

the cover of Buffalo is the New Buffalo

This is a collection of Métis futurism stories that rejects the concept that “education is the new buffalo” and instead imagines how Métis worldviews have survived colonialism in the past and present, and how they can influence the future.

One of my favourite things about this collection, and something that furthers that goal, is that the stories include footnotes and are each followed by an essay explaining Vowell’s thought process behind them. While the stories are fiction, there is a lot of research that went into many of them, and the footnotes explain which parts are based in fact and which were changed.

Chelsea Vowel is queer, and at least four of the stories are sapphic, though I recognize that this is applying terms from a completely different cultural context. In several stories, it’s just mentioned in passing that the main character is attracted to women, but in others, the character’s queerness is more central to the story.

This was such a thought-provoking and memorable read, and I’m eagerly anticipating whatever Chelsea Vowel writes next.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

#3: The Future Is Disabled by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

the cover of The Future is Disabled

This is a book by a queer, nonbinary author that doesn’t fit neatly under “sapphic”, but it was one of my favourites and is relevant to Lesbrary readers.

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is the author of two of my favourite books: Bodymap, a collection of poetry; and Care Work, a collection of essays about disability justice. So it’s no surprise that I loved their new essay collection about disability justice during the pandemic and in the future.

These essays, written from 2020 to 2022, discuss what the pandemic has been like for disabled people. They talk about how many friends and role models in disability justice have died in such a short time span, and the grief they are holding. These essays also argue that disabled ways of thinking and working are crucial in addressing the enormous problems we have right now.

This book both faces the deadly ableism of the world we live in head on while also imagining a hopeful future, one partly made up of already existing spaces, like disability justice art performances.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Every book I’ve read about disability justice has expanded my mind and made me see new possibilities for the world and the way I live in it, and I know I’ve only scraped the surface of the wisdom and collective knowledge of this movement.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

#2: Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki (2021)

the cover of Light from Uncommon Stars

This is the first book I read in 2022, and it was the best way to start out a reading year.

I loved this book, but it’s such a tricky, contradictory one to recommend. It’s about aliens and demons and curses, but it’s also a grounded, realistic character study. It’s hopeful and comforting, but it also contains abuse, bigotry, and a lot of brutal descriptions of transmisogyny. This disparate parts combine into a heartachingly affective story, but do be prepared to be reading about both the kindness and the cruelty of humanity.

This is gorgeous, multifaceted story that I bounced between wanting to read cover to cover in one sitting and setting aside for weeks because I wasn’t emotionally prepared to dive back into it. This is exactly the kind of challenging, hopeful, and unexpected story I want to read a lot more of.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

#1: How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures by Sabrina Imbler

the cover of How Far the Light Reaches

This is another book by a queer, nonbinary author that I think Lesbrary readers will love.

This book is exactly why I don’t do my favourites list until this late in December: this was a December release, and it took my top spot!

I would be interested in either of these versions of How Far the Light Reaches, if the two had been separated: the memoir or the science. Imbler’s writing on marine biology is accessible and fascinating, so while it’s not my usual genre, I was completely pulled in. By braiding these two threads together, though, it’s more than the sum of its parts.

I savored reading this book, looking forward to ending each day with an essay. It’s philosophical, curious, thought-provoking, and kind. It explores queer people as shapeshifters, as swarms, as immortal. I never wanted it to end. Even if you aren’t usually a reader of science writing—I usually am not—I highly recommend picking this one up, and I can’t wait to see what Imbler writes next.

I also really appreciate the parallels between my #1 and #2 picks: one read in January, one read in December. Both dark covers with a fish. Both titles about light. Clearly, I have a type.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

And now, for some of the other Lesbrary reviewers’ favourites of the year!

Meagan Kimberly‘s favourite sapphic book of 2022:

The Space Between Worlds cover

My favorite sapphic book of 2022 was definitely The Space Between Worlds (2020) by Micaiah Johnson. The story creates a rich multiverse narrative that shows how the tiniest details can alter the course of an individual’s life. It layers together questions of class divide, capitalism, power, ethics, family and so much more to create a complex and nuanced story. The pace slows down when necessary to let you catch your breath, but Johnson knows when to up the ante to get your heart racing. I never saw the plot twists coming, and yet they never felt out of left field, but more like an “aha” moment where I thought to myself, “Oh, I should have guessed!” Overall, it’s an incredible sci-fi novel and I will absolutely pick up the next book in the series.

Maggie’s favourite sapphic book of 2022:

the cover of Nona the Ninth

This was a banner year for sapphic books, but Nona the Ninth was among my most anticipated. The tagline on the cover reads “You will love Nona and Nona loves you,” and I was delighted to discover that I did indeed love Nona. Nona’s oddities and zest for life sustained the novel as it slowly fed you developments that had happened since Harrow the Ninth and backstory on the whole beginning of the necromancer universe, and I adored that voyage of discovery. I did a re-read of Gideon and Harrow right before my hold came in on Nona, and so every reference was both fulfilling and also led to more questions. This is a series that has changed the tone with every book and yet somehow succeeds in building an engrossing whole, and it’s also a series that rewards re-reads every time you get more material. Nona continues to build on this foundation, and it’s fascinating. The ending left me screaming. There are two kisses of a spoilery nature that had me absolutely on the floor. I simply cannot wait for the conclusion and also to do yet another re-read when I have all the information.

Casey Stepaniuk‘s favourite sapphic book of 2022:

the cover of All This Could Be Different

My pick is All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Matthews. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read! It felt so viscerally real but at the same time so brilliantly crafted as a work of fiction. The sentences frequently stunned me with their sharp insight and beauty. The novel is an intimate, generous, and honest portrait of Sneha, a woman in her early 20s. Sneha is an aloof, emotionally cautious woman making her way in that daunting post-college period in an American recession as an immigrant from India. It puts as much emphasis on work, friendship, food, and other subjects often neglected in contemporary fiction as on Sneha’s major romantic relationship. I’ve never read such a millennial book, one that felt written by and for our generation, one that felt so recognizably like my own and my friends’ lives. What a gift.

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Giveaway of 3 Signed Copies of Sapphic Romance! (SPONSORED POST)

To celebrate the release of Fire, Water, and Rock, Alaina Erdell is giving away three signed copies.

When budding geologist Jessica Sterling arrives to work on her thesis while camping in Washington’s Dry Falls State Park for the summer, she shatters park ranger Clare DeVere’s hope for an uneventful season.

Read more about this age-gap, contemporary sapphic romance here.

Alaina will choose three winners from her list of newsletter subscribers on January 1st using a random number generator.

Subscribe by midnight EST on December 31st to be eligible. Are you already subscribed? Perfect! You’re automatically entered into the drawing. Subscribers receive less than ten emails per year.

Subscribe here.

22 Bi and Lesbian Books Out In December 2022!

a collage of the covers listed with the text Sapphic Books Out in December

December is a slow publishing time, but there are still some gems out this month you shouldn’t miss! It’s not always easy to find out which new releases 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.

This month includes a thoughtful literary fiction book about growing up as a queer Muslim girl in 80s Queens, a queer YA heist story on the Titanic, a bunch of new yuri manga titles, a nonbinary essay collection that stole my top spot for favorite books I’ve read this year, and some just-in-time F/F Christmas romances. On to the books!

Adult

Fiction and SFF

the cover of Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion

Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion by Bushra Rehman (Sapphic Literary Fiction)

For readers of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous and My Brilliant Friend, Bushra Rehman’s Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion is an unforgettable story about female friendship and queer love

Razia Mirza grows up amid the wild grape vines and backyard sunflowers of Corona, Queens, with her best friend, Saima, by her side. When a family rift drives the girls apart, Razia’s heart is broken. She finds solace in Taslima, a new girl in her close-knit Pakistani-American community. They embark on a series of small rebellions: listening to scandalous music, wearing miniskirts, and cutting school to explore the city.

When Razia is accepted to Stuyvesant, a prestigious high school in Manhattan, the gulf between the person she is and the daughter her parents want her to be, widens. At Stuyvesant, Razia meets Angela and is attracted to her in a way that blossoms into a new understanding. When their relationship is discovered by an Aunty in the community, Razia must choose between her family and her own future.

Punctuated by both joy and loss, full of ’80s music and beloved novels, Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion is a new classic: a fiercely compassionate coming-of-age story of a girl struggling to reconcile her heritage and faith with her desire to be true to herself.

the cover of The Ivory Tomb

Romance

the cover of Picture-Perfect Christmas

Picture-Perfect Christmas by Charlotte Greene (F/F Holiday Romance)

When Nicole Steele left the small mountain town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, she thought she’d never look back. Almost twenty years later, all she wants is to move home. She’s delighted to be hired to take photographs for Glenwood’s new tourism campaign. Instead of her usual week-long visit, she gets to spend the entire holiday season in town. But there’s a hitch: Quinn Zelinski.

Quinn’s working on the tourism project, too, and she and Nicole have a history: high school rivalry, teenage longing, and one memorable kiss. Then Nicole left for college, Quinn stayed, and except for a few fleeting glimpses, they haven’t seen or spoken to each other since.

Nicole and Quinn can’t avoid each other forever, and the magic of the Christmas season might rekindle the romance between them if they don’t let old hurts and rivalry ruin a picture-perfect reunion.

the cover of Camp Lost and Found
the cover of Reindeer Games
the cover of I Saw Mommy Kissing the Nanny
the cover of Only This Summer
the cover of Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year, Volume 7

Young Adult and Children’s Books

the cover of A Million to One by Adiba Jaigirdar

A Million to One by Adiba Jaigirdar (YA Historical Thriller)

Josefa is an unapologetic and charismatic thief, who loves the thrill of the chase. She has her eye on her biggest mark yet—the RMS Titanic, the most luxurious ship in the world. But she isn’t interested in stealing from wealthy first-class passengers onboard. No, she’s out for the ultimate prize: the Rubiyat, a one of a kind book encrusted with gems that’s worth millions.

Josefa can’t score it alone, so she enlists a team of girls with unique talents: Hinnah, a daring acrobat and contortionist; Violet, an actress and expert dissembler; and Emilie, an artist who can replicate any drawing by hand.

They couldn’t be more different and yet they have one very important thing in common: their lives depend on breaking into the vault and capturing the Rubiyat. But careless mistakes, old grudges, and new romance threaten to jeopardize everything they’ve worked for and put them in incredible danger when tragedy strikes.

While the odds of pulling off the heist are slim, the odds of survival are even slimmer…

the cover of This Cursed Crown
the cover of Together: A First Conversation About Love

Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga

Run Away With Me, Girl Vol. cover

Run Away With Me, Girl Vol. 1 by Battan (Yuri Manga)

A dramatic, funny, and painful romance manga between two women about how, sometimes, you need to run away in order to find where you truly belong. Perfect for fans of coming-out yuri like How Do We Relationship? and masters of adult drama like Akiko Higashimura (Princess Jellyfish) and Takako Shimura (Even Though We’re Adults).

You know that one person you just can’t forget? Not the one that got away, but the one you had, until suddenly you didn’t?

Maki’s first love was her high school classmate, a girl named Midori. But Midori broke up with Maki at graduation, saying they were now “too old to be fooling around dating girls.” Ten years later, Maki still can’t get Midori off her mind, and when the two women reconnect after a chance encounter, Maki realizes that, while her feelings haven’t changed, Midori has long moved on—in fact, she’s engaged. Yet the more Maki hears Midori talk about her soon-to-be-husband, the more red flags she notices. And Midori has another secret, one she hasn’t yet shared with Maki. Will it be the last blow to Maki’s hopes that their romance might be rekindled? Or will it be the push that sets them on a new path—one they’ll travel together?

the cover of My Cute Little Kitten Vol 1

My Cute Little Kitten, Vol. 1 by Milk Morinaga (Yuri Manga)

A budding romance between female roommates is spurred on by the rescue of a rambunctious kitten in this yuri/Girls’ Love romcom. By the beloved creator of Girl Friends!

Rena has had a crush on her roommate Yuna since college, but Yuna has never noticed. One night, Yuna brings home a tiny kitten, even though their apartment doesn’t allow pets! Rena decides it would be better to let Yuna find her own place. But when Yuna says she wants to stay with Rena forever, Rena’s feelings are forced to the surface. Can Rena make Yuna understand what being together forever really means?

the cover of The Legend of Korra Patterns in Time
the cover of The Two of Them Are Pretty Much Like This, Vol. 2
the cover of Citrus Plus, Vol. 4
the cover of Whisper Me a Love Song, Vol. 6
the cover of The Summer You Were There, Vol. 2
the cover of Hello, Melancholic! Vol. 3
the cover of Adachi and Shimamura (Light Novel) Vol. 10

Nonfiction

the cover of How Far the Light Reaches

How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures by Sabrina Imbler (Queer Nonbinary Essay Collection)

TIME Must-Read Book of the Year  •  A PEOPLE Best New Book  •  A Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2022  •  An Indie Next Pick  •  One of Winter’s Most Eagerly Anticipated Books: VANITY FAIR, VULTURE

A queer, mixed race writer working in a largely white, male field, science and conservation journalist Sabrina Imbler has always been drawn to the mystery of life in the sea, and particularly to creatures living in hostile or remote environments. Each essay in their debut collection profiles one such creature, including:

  • the mother octopus who starves herself while watching over her eggs,
  • the Chinese sturgeon whose migration route has been decimated by pollution and dams,
  • the bizarre, predatory Bobbitt worm (named after Lorena),
  • the common goldfish that flourishes in the wild,
  • and more.

Imbler discovers that some of the most radical models of family, community, and care can be found in the sea, from gelatinous chains that are both individual organisms and colonies of clones to deep-sea crabs that have no need for the sun, nourished instead by the chemicals and heat throbbing from the core of the Earth. Exploring themes of adaptation, survival, sexuality, and care, and weaving the wonders of marine biology with stories of their own family, relationships, and coming of age, How Far the Light Reaches is a shimmering, otherworldly debut that attunes us to new visions of our world and its miracles.

This may be my favorite book I’ve read all year! Check out my review for my thoughts.

the cover of Young Bloomsbury

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!

A previous version of this post included Home for the Holidays by Erin Zak, but that book will not be published until next year.

26 Bi and Lesbian Books Out November 2022!

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

Would you believe that more than 26 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!

November and December are usually quieter months in publishing, and there are certainly fewer new releases than there were in October, but there are some of the most-anticipated releases of the year coming out this month, including the next book in the Delilah Green Doesn’t Care series and several holiday romances.

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

Romance

the cover of Astrid Parker Doesn't Fail

Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail by Ashley Herring Blake (F/F Romance)

An interior designer who is never without the perfect plan learns to renovate her love life without one in this new romantic comedy by Ashley Herring Blake, author of Delilah Green Doesn’t Care.
 
For Astrid Parker, failure is unacceptable. Ever since she broke up with her fiancé a year ago, she’s been focused on her career—her friends might say she’s obsessed, but she knows she’s just driven. When Pru Everwood asks her to be the designer for the Everwood Inn’s renovation, which will be featured on a popular HGTV show, Innside America, Astrid is thrilled. Not only will the project distract her from her failed engagement and help her struggling business, but her perpetually displeased mother might finally give her a nod of approval.
 
However, Astrid never planned on Jordan Everwood, Pru’s granddaughter and the lead carpenter for the renovation, who despises every modern design decision Astrid makes. Jordan is determined to preserve the history of her family’s inn, particularly as the rest of her life is in shambles. When that determination turns into some light sabotage to ruffle Astrid’s perfect little feathers, the showrunners ask them to play up the tension. But somewhere along the way, their dislike for each other evolves into something quite different, and Astrid must decide what success truly means. Is she going to pursue the life that she’s expected to lead or the one that she wants?

the cover of Kiss Her Once for Me

Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun (F/F Romance)

The author of the “swoon-worthy debut” (Harper’s BazaarThe Charm Offensive returns with a festive romantic comedy about a woman who fakes an engagement with her landlord…only to fall for his sister.

One year ago, recent Portland transplant Ellie Oliver had her dream job in animation and a Christmas Eve meet-cute with a woman at a bookstore that led her to fall in love over the course of a single night. But after a betrayal the next morning and the loss of her job soon after, she finds herself adrift, alone, and desperate for money.

Finding work at a local coffee shop, she’s just getting through the days—until Andrew, the shop’s landlord, proposes a shocking, drunken plan: a marriage of convenience that will give him his recent inheritance and alleviate Ellie’s financial woes and isolation. They make a plan to spend the holidays together at his family cabin to keep up the ruse. But when Andrew introduces his new fiancée to his sister, Ellie is shocked to discover it’s Jack—the mysterious woman she fell for over the course of one magical Christmas Eve the year before. Now, Ellie must choose between the safety of a fake relationship and the risk of something real.

Perfect for fans of Written in the Stars and One Day in DecemberKiss Her Once for Me is the queer holiday rom-com that you’ll want to cozy up with next to the fire.

the cover of The Forever Factor
the cover of Calling the Shot
the cover of Two Wrongs Make a Right
the cover of Securing Ava

Fiction

the cover of Small Game
the cover of Girlcrush
  • Small Game by Blair Braverman (Sapphic Survival Thriller)
  • Girlcrush by Florence Given (Bisexual Jekyll & Hyde Retelling)

Fantasy

the cover of Even Though I Knew the End

Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk (F/F Vampire Noir)

A magical detective dives into the affairs of Chicago’s divine monsters to secure a future with the love of her life. This sapphic period piece will dazzle anyone looking for mystery, intrigue, romance, magic, or all of the above.

An exiled augur who sold her soul to save her brother’s life is offered one last job before serving an eternity in hell. When she turns it down, her client sweetens the pot by offering up the one payment she can’t resist—the chance to have a future where she grows old with the woman she loves.

To succeed, she is given three days to track down the White City Vampire, Chicago’s most notorious serial killer. If she fails, only hell and heartbreak await.

the cover of The World We Make
the cover of A Restless Truth

Science Fiction

the cover of The Red Scholar's Wake

The Red Scholar’s Wake by Aliette de Bodard (Lesbian Space Opera)

Xích Si: bot maker, data analyst, mother, scavenger. But those days are over now-her ship has just been captured by the Red Banner pirate fleet, famous for their double-dealing and cruelty. Xích Si expects to be tortured to death-only for the pirates’ enigmatic leader, Rice Fish, to arrive with a different and shocking proposition: an arranged marriage between Xích Si and herself.

Rice Fish: sentient ship, leader of the infamous Red Banner pirate fleet, wife of the Red Scholar. Or at least, she was the latter before her wife died under suspicious circumstances. Now isolated and alone, Rice Fish wants Xích Si’s help to find out who struck against them and why. Marrying Xích Si means Rice Fish can offer Xích Si protection, in exchange for Xích Si’s technical fluency: a business arrangement with nothing more to it.

But as the investigation goes on, Rice Fish and Xích Si find themselves falling for each other. As the interstellar war against piracy intensifies and the five fleets start fighting each other, they will have to make a stand-and to decide what kind of future they have together…

An exciting space opera and a beautiful romance, from an exceptional SF author.

the cover of Màgòdiz
the cover of The Stars Undying
the cover of Born Andromeda

Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga

the cover of The Legend of Korra: Patterns in Time

The Legend of Korra: Patterns in Time by Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, Heather Campbell, Jayd Ait-Kaci, and Killian Ng (Sapphic Graphic Novel)

Celebrate new stories from The Legend of Korra!

Your favorite characters from Team Avatar and beyond are here in this collection of stories, from the heartwarming to the hilarious. Join Korra, Asami, Mako, Bolin, Tenzin, and more familiar faces from The Legend of Korra, featured in stories specially crafted by a bevy of talented comics creators! Be sure to add these all-new stories to your Avatar Legends library!

the boxset of Love and Rockets: the First Fifty
the cover of I Can't Believe I Slept With You! Vol. 3
the cover of Catch These Hands, Vol. 3
the cover of Futari Escape

Young Adult

YA Contemporary

the cover of How to Excavate a Heart

How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow (Lesbian F/F YA Contemporary)

Stonewall Honor author Jake Maia Arlow delivers a sapphic Jewish twist on the classic Christmas rom-com in a read perfect for fans of Kelly Quindlen and Casey McQuiston.

It all starts when Shani runs into May. Like, literally. With her mom’s Subaru.

Attempted vehicular manslaughter was not part of Shani’s plan. She was supposed to be focusing on her monthlong paleoichthyology internship. She was going to spend all her time thinking about dead fish and not at all about how she was unceremoniously dumped days before winter break.

It could be going better.

But when a dog-walking gig puts her back in May’s path, the fossils she’s meant to be diligently studying are pushed to the side—along with the breakup.

Then they’re snowed in together on Christmas Eve. As things start to feel more serious, though, Shani’s hurt over her ex-girlfriend’s rejection comes rushing back. Is she ready to try a committed relationship again, or is she okay with this just being a passing winter fling?

the cover of We Deserve Monuments

We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds (F/F YA Contemporary)

What’s more important: Knowing the truth or keeping the peace?

Seventeen-year-old Avery Anderson is convinced her senior year is ruined when she’s uprooted from her life in DC and forced into the hostile home of her terminally ill grandmother, Mama Letty. The tension between Avery’s mom and Mama Letty makes for a frosty arrival and unearths past drama they refuse to talk about. Every time Avery tries to look deeper, she’s turned away, leaving her desperate to learn the secrets that split her family in two.

While tempers flare in her avoidant family, Avery finds friendship in unexpected places: in Simone Cole, her captivating next-door neighbor, and Jade Oliver, daughter of the town’s most prominent family―whose mother’s murder remains unsolved.

As the three girls grow closer―Avery and Simone’s friendship blossoming into romance―the sharp-edged opinions of their small southern town begin to hint at something insidious underneath. The racist history of Bardell, Georgia is rooted in Avery’s family in ways she can’t even imagine. With Mama Letty’s health dwindling every day, Avery must decide if digging for the truth is worth toppling the delicate relationships she’s built in Bardell―or if some things are better left buried.

YA Genre Fiction

the cover of Reader, I Murdered Him

Reader, I Murdered Him by Betsy Cornwell (Sapphic YA Historical Thriller)

In this daring tale of female agency and revenge from a New York Times bestselling author, a girl becomes a teenage vigilante who roams Victorian England using her privilege and power to punish her friends’ abusive suitors and keep other young women safe.

Adele grew up in the shadows—first watching from backstage at her mother’s Parisian dance halls, then wandering around the gloomy, haunted rooms of her father’s manor. When she’s finally sent away to boarding school in London, she’s happy to enter the brightly lit world of society girls and their wealthy suitors. 

Yet there are shadows there, too. Many of the men that try to charm Adele’s new friends do so with dark intentions. After a violent assault, she turns to a roguish young con woman for help. Together, they become vigilantes meting out justice. But can Adele save herself from the same fate as those she protects?

With a queer romance at its heart, this lush historical thriller offers readers an irresistible mix of vengeance and empowerment.

the cover of The Wicked Remain

Nonfiction

the cover of Holding Space

Holding Space: Life and Love Through a Queer Lens by Ryan Pfluger (Queer Photography)

Featuring 100 stunning color photographs of queer, interracial couples taken by a renowned photographer for the New York Times Magazine, Time, Rolling Stone, and more, this incredible photo and story collection depicts modern love and relationships in all their joy, vulnerability, and affection.
 
Throughout 2020 and 2021, during a time of intense personal and political upheaval, artist, advocate, and photographer Ryan Pfluger set out to capture intimate images of queer, interracial couples, along with personal insight into their relationships in today’s world. Featured together for the first time in Holding Space, this unique collection of modern love in its many forms across the spectrum of race, sexuality, and gender identity and gives space to these couples to share short, revealing stories about their relationships.
 
The photos in this collection, and the people in them, can be startling in their openness, playful in their poses, and tender to their core. Pfluger has captured the magic, honesty, and beauty of love in today’s queer culture.
 
With a Foreword by Janicza Bravo and an essay by Brandon Kyle Goodman

the cover of The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On

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 October 11, 2022!

October is a big book release month, and today is no different! Most of these were features in the monthly new releases (these are the publishers’ descriptions), but I’m always finding new sapphic books as the month progresses, so there’s a graphic novel included that I didn’t know about at the top of the month! There are some seasonal sapphic reads out today, whether you’re looking for horror for Halloween or you want to jump directly to Christmas romcoms, but those are just a few of the range of genres to choose from in today’s new releases.

Fiction

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

the cover of Daughters of the New Year

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.

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

the cover of Jade is a Twisted Green

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.

Mysteries and Thrillers

Pacifique by Sarah L. Taggart (Queer Thriller)

the cover of Pacifique

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?

Romance

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

the cover of Season of Love

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.

Make You Mine This Christmas by Lizzie Huxley Jones (F/F Holiday Romance)

the cover of Make You Mine This Christmas

It’s the golden rule of pretending to be someone’s girlfriend: don’t fall for their sister.

After a year from hell, Haf is ready to blow off steam at a Christmas party: a kind stranger, a few too many drinks and suddenly she’s kissing Christopher under the mistletoe—in front of his ex-girlfriend.

The next day the news is out that they’re apparently a couple, madly in love and coming to Oxlea to spend the festive season with Christopher’s family. But Haf doesn’t have better holiday plans and to save her new friend from embarrassment, she agrees to pretend to be Christopher’s girlfriend for Christmas.

It has the makings of a hilarious anecdote they’ll be telling for years. Until Haf meets Christopher’s sister: the mysterious, magnetic and utterly irresistible Kit. Maybe love was waiting for Haf in this quiet little town all along…

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

the cover of Mistakes Were Made

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?

Young Adult

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

the cover of Twelfth Grade 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 Name-Bearer by Natalia Hernandez (Queer YA Fantasy)

The Name-Bearer

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.

A House Unsettled by Trynne Delaney (Queer YA Horror)

the cover of A House Unsettled

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.

Children’s

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

the cover of Where the Lost Ones Go

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.

Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga

Rain by by Joe Hill, David M. Booher, and Zoe Thorogood (Sapphic Horror Graphic Novel)

the cover of Rain by Joe Hill

On a seemingly normal August day in Boulder, Colorado, the skies are clear and Honeysuckle Speck couldn’t be happier. She’s finally moving in with her girlfriend Yolanda. But their world is literally torn apart when dark clouds roll in and release a downpour of nails—splinters of bright crystal that shred the skin of anyone not safely under cover.

RAIN makes vivid this escalating apocalyptic event, as the deluge of nails spreads across the country and around the world, threatening everything young lovers Honeysuckle and Yolanda hold dear.

So begins a gripping graphic presentation of New York Times-bestselling author JOE HILL’s acclaimed novella, adapted by DAVID M. BOOHER (Canto) and ZOE THOROGOOD (The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott). Also features a bonus art gallery and an all-new introduction by author JOE HILL!

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!

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.

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

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The Lesbrary Goes To Flame Con 2022 — Anna N.

Let’s see if I can keep my rhapsodizing to a minimum. Because from the moment I walked into the conference hall, there was a vibrancy in the air. Everyone I encountered during Flame Con was absolutely unabashed in their sheer fannishness, wearing their fandoms on their backpacks, jackets, and jaw-dropping cosplays.

You know you’re in for a good time when the panelists themselves are decked out in geek chic.

PT I – Marginalization, Manga, and More Sapphic Stories

I kicked off my own explorations with a presentation where literary researcher Erica Friedman enthusiastically detailed the history of yuri manga, which was a solid start to the con, because I am hard-pressed to find a single illustrator/animator this side of forty who hasn’t been influenced by or intensely devoured anime and/or manga growing up.

the cover of By Your Side

The founder of Yuricon, Friedman has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the genre, from its early, overly stylized manifestations to the more complex, nuanced stories that have been coming out (pun intended) in recent years. You can learn more details about this interesting, niche history in Friedman’s book By Your Side: The First 100 Years of Yuri Anime and Manga, in which she traces the evolution of the genre from the 1940s to today. The book has all the academic minutiae you’d expect from a seasoned researcher, and all the delightful musings you’d expect from a seasoned fan. A dry text this is not, and if you’ve been put off by the genre for its admitted overreliance on cheesy tropes and “lesbian content without lesbian identity”, Friedman’s book will both contextualize their histories as well as offering recommendations for some of the more innovative, subversive works*.

Speaking of anime and manga, I also stopped by Kat Calamia and Phil Falco’s table in the artist show room. They are the creative team behind one of my favorite sapphic webcomics, Slice of Life. A sort of reverse-isekai**, the plot begins when picture-perfect high school cheerleader Lucy wakes up to a loud scream in the middle of the night. Panicked, she runs into her little sister Ravyn’s room and sees that the protagonist from Ravyn’s favorite anime has come through the TV screen and is now the deuteragonist of her own, less-than-picturesque lesbian identity crisis.

To give Lucy credit, she is the blonde to Yuriko’s brunette. And if that statement confuses you, read Friedman’s book! Then read Slice of Life, because you’ll have a deeper understanding of all the tropes it so entertainingly subverts.

Yuriko’s name also has an interesting historical context. To quote from the Yuricon website: “yuri is Japanese for the lily. Hence…lesbians were yurizoku (百合族), the lily tribe. This name was taken by many hentai manga and doujinshi artists, who then named their lesbian characters “Yuri” or “Yuriko,” so that it became a kind of cliche’ for the genre itself.”

a photo of Anna and one of the writers of Slice of Life, holding up Slice of Life and Dancer. They're both wearing rainbow masks.

Thankfully, progress has brought the label into the less exploitative mainstream, where it has gone on to encompass interesting manga like Donuts Under a Crescent Moon and clever pastiches like Slice of Life. During our conversation, Calamia mentioned that she is currently working on another, darker project called The Dancer, which focuses more heavily on themes of mental health and has a gorgeous limited edition cover inspired by the iconic film Perfect Blue***. When I asked about her current inspirations, she said that she wasn’t reading anything at the moment, but that she was really enjoying the Netflix show Derry Girls—which isn’t a book, but does have a bookish lesbian in the main cast!

If that sounds up your alley, so might the podcast Bitches on Comics. Book-loving hosts S.E. Fleenor and Sara Century helmed a panel featuring authors Bishakh Som (creator of Spellbound and the intriguing Apsara Engine), Danny Lore (writer for Marvel’s Champions Volume 2: Killer App and DC’s upcoming Multiversity: Teen Justice), Nadia Shammas (writer for Ms. Marvel: Stretched Thin and the excellent Squire), and Tina Horn (author for the NSFW SFSX), the panel touched on how writing characters that shared one’s own marginalized identities can be “a double-edged sword”.

On the good side, it’s great that publishers are willing to back more Black voices. Danny Lore spoke about their experiences growing up with “sci-fi-fantasy [that] always evolved past and away from blackness and brownness, that these idealized cultures were…frankly, bastardized forms of what white folks thought an African-based culture would be.” Growing up with stories written from such limited perspectives led them to try “to pull from a white suburban middle class life that I had never known”, when “I am a New Yorker, my whole life…the world that I grew up in, this Black American world did not, does not exist in a lot of sci-fi.”

But their path through the industry hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing. It’s been hard work, pushing back against publishers’ focus on boxing Black narratives into “trauma stories”. Lore recalls the time they were trying to pitch a manuscript set in the projects in Harlem, and being the only black person there, was subject to a lot of misguided questions about why gentrification was not a bigger theme. It was exasperating because, “I don’t want to tell stories about gentrification. I want to tell stories about people who do magic in the hood.”

Nadia Shammas has had similar experiences with good intentioned and badly informed editors. “When we were pitching Squire, which is a fantasy Middle Eastern world heavily based on the Ottoman Empire and the Byzantine Empire, both of us did an enormous amount of work and put a real place in the book, Petra. But that resulted in publishers going ‘I love this, it’s so brave…do you think that people might think it’s about the real world?’ and ‘People might think it’s about Palestine and we don’t want to make a statement.’”

Which is frustrating, when “as a Palestinian, the way I view the world and therefore the world of my art is going to be painted through that lens, always.”

“The work I make is so personal, and it’s so incredible that people relate to it. But sometimes that means people will then attempt to read more into my work and put things in my mouth that aren’t there.” She acknowledges that “it’s hard to make personal, genuine work when there are outside forces including your employers, who are attempting to use that work to market broadly”.

Which raises the question of whose perspectives are seen as “broadly appealing”. As great as it is to have more inclusivity on the page, it’s important to make sure that the diversity of the characters is reflected behind the scenes, too. As Tina Horn put it, “the difference between all these fictional characters and me is that I’m the one that gets paid. Characters don’t get paid to be in the stories.”

It’s an unfortunate reality that superficial gains can obscure more deeply rooted inequities. For example, the judging panel for the Eisner Awards (the comics industry’s most prestigious award) rarely has more than one person of color. Seriously. Even as the organization makes a more concerted effort to include works by creators of color, the judges themselves are usually not.

Of course, not everyone sets out with the conscious intention of reflecting reality on the page. Sometimes, wonderful art comes from feelings that are indescribable, inarticulable only because the artist has yet to find words or images to express them. So, like Bishakh Som, they create their own.

the cover of Spellbound

“I’ve always had a lot of South Asian femmes and women in my work…it just seemed natural, right? Like, why not?” For her, creating comics was less an attempt to break out of a narrow narrative box, and more about building “a sort of gateway or portal into realizing, 50 years later, who I was.”

But that brought its own set of complications. “After coming out like that, I think the burden of representation became a little more explicit and heavy. I think people expected more explicitly trans stories, and I was like, ‘I’m here for that’, but also now I’m going to become this person who writes ‘that kind of thing’.” Not that she minds too much now, “because it’s a cushy and glamorous box” to be in.

PT II – Fanart, Aesthetics and Graphic Novel Illustration

As I like to tell anyone who will listen, comics are such a wonderful medium precisely because the images allow creators to work with metaphors that straddle the line between prose’s staticity and film’s dynamism. So I was excited to chat with Aatmaja Pandya, illustrator for the YA graphic novel Slip, to get more insight on the visual side of the creative process.

When I asked about her inspirations, she was quick to mention Jillian Tamaki. Pandya recalled her time at the New York City School of Visual Arts, where the Eisner-winning artist “basically taught me how to make comics”.

She also mentioned manga as inspiring the “energy and the youthful quality” she brings to her own work. “I think this generation of young cartoonists, or people around my age, all sort of came up in the era of Tokyopop manga…and we’re seeing the consequence of that now. I mean, the ones that I read while making Slip were all Shonen Jump manga, because they have an online app and the subscription is really affordable. So I read, like, all of One Piece.”

Which, at a staggering 1000-odd issues and counting, invited the question: how on Earth did she balance that with making comics and her day job as a high school teacher? Did teaching teens help her develop her art?

“I don’t think it’s influenced my work so much, but it reminds me every day that they are not a monolith. That every person has their own interests and I can’t predict what they’ll be interested in. So to write authentically and to write passionately is what will draw attention.”

When I mentioned her work gave a lot of respect to the depth of young people’s experiences, she thought that was a good way to put it.

“Teenagers feel really complicated feelings and they’re incredibly vulnerable and making a lot of decisions about their future but aren’t given the agency to really be able to control any of it.” She goes on to say that though young readers are not adults yet, “to at least have it acknowledged that what you’re thinking is real to you and serious to you is incredibly valuable, and that’s why I really care about making books about, like, gray areas and complicated, emotional issues for teenagers.”

When asked what comics she read when she was a teenager, Pandya mentioned her fondness for the Fruits Basket manga. “I still reread it every couple of years. But I was such a voracious reader, and we just read whatever was available. So I would read my friends’ volumes and we would all trade stuff. I was just absorbing the aesthetic of it.”

A photo of Aatmaja Pandya wearing a mask and holding a copy of Slip. The book has stickers saying Sold Out - More Tomorrow

It’s an aesthetic that is more background noise than front-and-present in Pandya’s art style. If you look for it, you’ll see echoes of it in the way certain character’s eyes indicate their emotions, or in the organization of certain panels. Overall, there’s a soft youthfulness to the art and expressions that doesn’t shy away from depicting the characters as the flawed, feeling teenagers they are. And if you end up reading Slip and enjoying Pandey’s illustrations as much as I did, you should know that she has also been contracted for a couple more YA and middle grade graphic novels. Keep your eyes and ears open for more lovely work to come!

I also grabbed a quick convo with Street Noise Books‘ design intern, Dev Kamath. Interns aren’t often front-facing, and the general public is not too aware of their influence on the finished stories, so I hope this spot will shed some light on their efforts. Dev’s passion really came through when I asked what inspired them:

“I personally really enjoy working on queer books, because those are the books I didn’t grow up seeing. And I discovered my identity a lot later because I was finally seeing people around me who were using they/them pronouns. And I was like, ‘Oh, if I saw books like that when I was younger, it would have meant a lot. So I like to do design work and illustrating work and helping other people get their voices out there. Because it’s like, everybody’s got a story to tell. But not everybody has a way to put it out there. I see my role as helping them get there. The current project I’m working on, I’m the one organizing the files and adding the text in and doing some edits to get it to where it can be published easier, so the book gets out faster so people can read it and people want to read it.” (emphasis mine)

That really gets to the heart of it all. At Flame Con, I got a look at the behind-the-scenes efforts, the communities that went into creating these stories and supporting/amplifying the voices that tell them. It’s an intricate, collaborative process, and getting even this superficial glimpse really makes one appreciate the art of it all so much more.

Comics/graphic novels were not the only art form in glorious abundance on the con floor. Painstakingly elaborate cosplays and singularly expressive fandom merch are no scarcity at a con, but this was probably the first one where I’ve so many references to What We Do In The Shadows—or so much slash fanart for sale.

My Favorite Thing is Monsters Vol 1 cover

So. Much. Slash. Fanart. And also monster girls, which was neat. What I wouldn’t give for a movie adaptation of Emil Ferris’s My Favorite Thing is Monsters (Book 2 coming later this year!). The metaphors are powerful, and the visuals would lend themselves beautifully to the screen. If you are a fan of the lesbian vampire trope or the bisexual vampire trope or just sapphic horror in general, I strongly recommend it. The story deals with some heavy themes and might not be for everyone, but it certainly pushed boundaries in the sort of way that lends itself to timelessness. It’s a riveting exploration of beauty and relationships and the ways internalized bigotry can shape young self-concepts.

Beauty has long struggled for purchase in comics, though. The American comic imagination has historically been dominated by the ever-more muscled, hyper-masculinized aesthetics of twentieth century Marvel and DC. As exciting as the recent Sandman TV show is, the fact remains that this is (as far as I know) major motion pictures’ first foray into a comic adaptation that is not about a character whose biggest deal is punching (or wanting to punch) various sentient beings in the face with fists or bullets or various elemental beams.

Recent years have thankfully seen a shift in publication trends, though. Creators like the ones I mention above are gaining market share by writing into existence the sort of representation that was once all too scarce. It is a humanizing of the once-monstrous, a reclamation and reconstruction of an art form that has only lately begun to be widely recognized for its merits.

the cover of Galaxy the Prettiest Star

Jadzia Axelrod, the writer for DC’s new(est) sapphic teen extraterrestrial romance shares my hopes for the future of comics. “I mean, the publishing industry is glacial in its movement and the pandemic has only made it slower. I’m not sure how long that sea change will take, but I see on the horizon some projects that I am very excited about. So I’m very hopeful. But we always need more, right?”

“More” including stories that allowed LGBTQ+ people to be messy and make mistakes. “I do think there’s this pressure on queer creators to do queer stories and to also show that queer love is beautiful—which it is—but to also show it as uncomplicated, and it’s just as complicated as straight people’s. And it can be beautiful and complicated and the damaging part is not the queer part, it’s the human part.”

After making that beautifully-worded statement, she recommended Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms by Crystal Frasier. It is a cute high school rom-com about two aspiring cheerleaders who are less worried about coming out and struggling more with what life looks like after the act. It’s my most recent interlibrary loan request, and I await its arrival.

And while we’re on the topic, want to know how you can support libraries in the face of increasing book challenges and bans? Simple: every check-out counts. So, even if you might not necessarily have the time to read them, check out the books about LGBTQ+ experiences, about race, about the histories your high school textbooks glossed over. Even if you are not a budget-conscious grad-student trying to stretch her savings and can afford to buy books, check out the ones you want to support, from creators you want to support. Library purchases make up a not inconsiderable portion of book sales, after all!

a photo of a stack of library graphic novels and comics (Squire, Galaxy: The Prettiest Star, and The Secret to Superhuman Strength) with a Batman mug on top
Shoutout to my local librarian,  for recognizing me and recommending Alison Bechdel’s newest work when I went in to pick up some requests. Interlibrary loan is a blessing.

By the end of the weekend, I had a bag full of business cards and an even longer TBR list than before. Attending Flame Con was a great experience that introduced me to so many new creators. It is entirely volunteer-run by fans, for fans, and the ethos of that permeated everything. From the panels to the performances, this was a place where people were able to articulate all aspects of themselves, and the wealth of creativity on display was amazingly affirming to witness. This is a passion project, and one I wholeheartedly enjoyed exploring and learning from.

———-

*Like in I’m In Love with the Villainess, which is a funny, lighthearted isekai** rom-com with a little angst, if you’re looking for more laughs.

**A manga subgenre where people from our world get pulled into fictional ones via portals or reincarnation

***Perfect Blue (1998) by Satoshi Kon, aka “Darren Aronofsky’s Pinterest Board”, as the podcast team at Progressively Horrified calls it. I need to rely less on footnotes, but this was too good a joke to leave out.

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.

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