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!

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

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Sapphic-New-Releases-600x338.png

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

Mysteries and Thrillers

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

the cover of Real Bad Things

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

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

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

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

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

Romance

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

the cover of In the Event of Love

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

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

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

Fantasy & Science Fiction

Kalyna the Soothsayer by Elijah Kinch Spector (Bisexual Fantasy)

the cover of Kalyna the Soothsayer

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

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

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

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

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

Young Adult

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

the cover of Dancing Barefoot

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

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

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

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

the cover of Dead Flip by Sara Farizan

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

Nonfiction

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

the cover of Diary of a Misfit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romance

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

the cover of Royal Expose

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

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

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

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

the cover of Love and Other Rare Birds

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

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

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

Fantasy & Science Fiction

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

the cover of The Oleander Sword

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

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

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

Young Adult

the cover of The Drowned Woods

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

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

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

Nonfiction

Song of My Softening by Omotara James (Queer Poetry)

the cover of Song of My Softening

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

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

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

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

SPONSORED POST: Launch Day for A Taste of Her: Bite-Sized Lesbian Romance Stories

the cover of A Taste of Her

It’s release day for A Taste of Her: Bite-sized lesbian romance stories!

Hey everyone, it’s Tiana Warner dropping in, the author of bestselling sapphic novels like Ice Massacre (Mermaids of Eriana Kwai #1) and The Valkyrie’s Daughter. 👋 I’m excited to be doing a sponsored blog post today!

A Taste of Her is a new collection of over 16 spicy and sweet sapphic short stories, and it’s on sale today for $0.99. The discounted launch runs until August 12th, and you can grab your copy here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B4B1293Z Read on for a couple of excerpts!

Giveaway: I’m running a giveaway for a signed paperback copy. Just retweet/reblog my giveaway posts on my Twitter and/or Tumblr to enter:

https://tianawarner.tumblr.com/

Every RT/reblog is an entry!

About A Taste of Her

Indulge in this collection of 16+ sapphic short stories. These spicy and sweet romances will take you from a pirate town in the Caribbean to a modern-day nightclub to a faraway castle. Find a story to fit your mood: enemies-to-lovers, second-chance romance, forbidden love, masc/femme, non-binary, and more. These stories are for a mature audience (18+) due to sexual content.

Learn more about this book and Tiana Warner’s other books at tianawarner.com

An excerpt from The Tasting Room

The interview room suddenly feels a lot smaller. Marie’s knee grazes mine. Have we been sitting this close the whole time or did we both lean in?

Her perfume is intoxicating. I drop my gaze to her lips, something primal threatening to overtake me.

Beyond the door, a bell chimes, and conversation erupts. We both start, like we’ve forgotten where we were.

Marie’s gaze darts to the clock on the wall. It’s rustic and trendy like everything else about this building. “I have a party to entertain.”

My insides hollow out. “Right. Of course.”

But she definitely made an advance a second ago, right? Is she regretting her words? Maybe she suddenly remembered that this is an interview, and flirting is a terrible idea.

I get up and step toward the door, flustered.

“Let me,” Marie says, hurrying ahead. She stops with a hand on the door. “Kiera, I like your resume. It’s why I called you here. I’m sorry if I…”

We’re standing close together, the air crackling between us.

“I hope you’re not sorry,” I say, the words barely a whisper. I’m not sorry at all. I’m embarrassed and confused, sure, but I don’t regret letting her know that I never got over her.

Her ruby lips part, and her sweet breath tickles my face. Her chest rises and falls more rapidly. There’s a flash of uncertainty behind her eyes, the first glimpse of something other than total confidence. She cups a cool hand to my cheek, leans in…

And our lips meet in a gentle, teasing kiss. It’s the kiss I’ve dreamed about since we met, and it’s better than I imagined. Her lips are full, her taste is sweet, and it sends a tingle all the way through me.

I feel her pulling back, as if she’s ready to gauge my reaction or apologize, but I don’t want the kiss to be over. I slide my hands around her waist, pull her close, and kiss her deeper.

An excerpt from The Knight and Her Princess

The last time we saw each other, we were hardly fourteen. Now, she’s an eighteen-year-old beauty, her face full, her waist curved, her curly red hair well-groomed. Her familiar features pull my memories forward, making my insides tingle—her soft skin beneath my palms, her lips against mine, the rush of something forbidden coursing through me. How often did we escape to the stables during that year together? Fifty, sixty, a hundred times?

Heat rises in my face. God, I thought my feelings had dissolved. With years to forget her, and knighthood to draw my focus, I’d hoped she could become my past and nothing more.

Seeing her now, I’m weak in the knees, and I know I failed to forget about her.

Remembering my duty, I dip into a bow. “Princess Enid, I have ridden here with the Knights of East Abria to rescue you.”

“Brianna?” she says, a hand on her chest.

My heart skips. “Yes. Hi.”

She’s frozen, taking me in with wide eyes. “You’re a knight!”

I look down at myself as if to check whether her words are true. The sight of my armor makes me stand taller. “Yes.”

“But I—I thought your father was going to make you marry that tailor.”

I almost smile. “Princess, do you honestly think I would have given myself over to a man?”

She flushes, possibly remembering how many times I proved to her that I wasn’t interested in men.

Get A Taste of Her for $0.99 until August 12: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B4B1293Z

Learn more about Tiana Warner’s books at tianawarner.com

The Top Four Times DC Did Poison Ivy Justice

In honor of the new season of Harley Quinn (squee!!!), I’ve decided to show some love for everyone’s favorite homicidal ecoterrorist and Ph.D who really needs all the hugs Harley has to offer. Below, in order of when they were first published, are the top four comic runs where DC actually did Poison Ivy’s character justice (no surprise, they’re all by women).

1. Batman and Poison Ivy: Cast Shadows by Ann Nocenti and John Van Fleet (2004)

the cover of Batman and Poison Ivy Cast Shadows

Vintage, classic Poison Ivy at her finest. A short, contained collection that perfectly captures the conflicted heart and noirish origins of the character. Ann Nocenti and JohnVan Fleet don’t shy away from the violent capabilities of Poison Ivy’s powers, or the true power of her intellect. But the art style lends the whole affair a sort of gaslamp, dreamlike quality that brings home how, for all her violence, there is true love motivating Ivy’s actions. At this point in her characterization, it was largely love for the planet (and some lingering feelings for Bruce?). But it is one of the earliest comics that gives her a driving role in the narrative while bringing to life the same melancholy, calculating, brilliantly warped mind masking a heart of gold that Harley comes to love.

(Granted, the art did have its detractors, but I think it works so well in bringing the reader into certain characters’ experiences. Which is all I can say without spoilers!)

2. Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death by Amy Chu, Clay Mann, and Seth Mann (2016)

the cover of Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death

If it took half a century for someone to really start writing her right, it took another decade for lightning to strike twice. And it did so with Amy Chu’s colorful, Frankenstein-esque take on the character.

Poison Ivy is tired of being lonely. Not physically, not mentally. But there’s a particular isolation in knowing you are the only one of your kind, the only plant-human hybrid on the planet (well, the only one who isn’t prone to being a fatalistic, moralizing pain in the rear, anyway). So she decides to do what every middle aged woman reconsidering the meaning of life would:

Get a new job, get a new apartment and grow some new daughters.

Yeah, it’s a weird one, but the kind of explorative weirdness that more comics need to come back to, in my opinion. This run is also a standout for Chu’s sense of humor and interesting side characters. When non-MCs get hurt or die in this, I actually felt something! Which is not something DC’s comics for grown-ups had been doing much of at the time. There is also no romance, but Harley shows up to cause a ruckus, as usual!

3. Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy by Jody Houser and Adriana Melo (2019)

the cover of Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy

Speaking of Harley, here’s a classic. Sure, it was released only a few years ago. But it’s still a classic.

Following in the footsteps of Chu’s novel, experimental take on Poison Ivy’s powers and conflicted sense of humanity, Jody Houser’s run delves deeper into her connections with both The Green and Harley Quinn. We see them as a canonical couple doing cute couple things for the first time! There is mayhem and chaos and fluff and…then things get dark.

Like, I-was-teary-even-though-I-know-how-this-works dark. You don’t get to become a comic fan without your suspension of disbelief building up some tolerance, but stories like this remind you that sometimes, it is the lore that makes the bleak moments sting all the worse. But it’s also that lore that keeps you hoping right alongside Harley, rooting for her and Ivy to find a way through it all.

It’s got poignant moments of dialogue, tonally consistent art and a true love that is messy and complicated and held between two flawed, hurting women who find they hurt just a little less with each other.

Also, really fun fight scene panels.

4. Poison Ivy by G. Willow Wilson, Marcio Takara, and Arif Prianto (2022)

the cover of Poison Ivy #1 (2022)

The time between lightning strikes is getting progressively shorter, and I am living for it. While it’s only a couple issues into the run, G. Willow Wilson’s take on the character reminds me why I loved her Ms. Marvel run when it was still in publication. She is the sort of writer who knows how to write a character to fit the character’s context. And Poison Ivy’s context is, well, scientifically-informed ecoterrorism with a sympathetic heart beating beneath the bloodied blooms and explosions. From Ann Nocenti to Jody Houser, we’ve seen her grapple with everything from her humanity to her heart, watched her struggle between her desire for violent justice and her hope for ecological harmony.

Now, it all is building up into a climactic showdown rooted in the grim reality of climate change. What I’ve read so far has been a visceral narrative that has been leaning very hard into the horror without losing track of the compelling characterization. It is dark, it is deep, and it is building into something I am really excited to watch unfold. Part of DC’s recent slate of Pride month releases, this comic has had me buying single issues again for the first time since high school.

Harley and Ivy have one of the most complex, fascinating romances I have ever read, sapphic or otherwise. Their equally brilliant intellects and capacity for, ahem, “creative” problem solving keep storylines from stagnating, and the depths of their respective histories allows for some lovely explorations of relationship dynamics.

These are my personal favorite takes on Ivy, a uniquely compelling, conflicted character (correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe she was comics’ first major woman character to have a STEM background), and the truly strange places her consciousness can go.

44 Bi and Lesbian Books Out In August 2022!

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

Would you believe that more than 44 sapphic books come out this month? It’s true! Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find out which books have queer representation, or what kind of representation they have. So here’s a big list of bi and lesbian books out this month, sorted by genre. I’ve highlighted a few of the books I’m most interested in and included the publisher’s description of those, but click through to see the other titles’ blurbs!

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

Adult

Fiction

the cover of Dogs of Summer by Andrea Abreu

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

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

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

the cover of All This Could Be Different

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

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

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

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

the cover of Ben and Beatriz

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

There’s nothing like falling for your worst enemy.

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

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

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

the cover of Mademoiselle Revolution

Mademoiselle Revolution by Zoe Sivak (Bisexual Historical Fiction)

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

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

the cover of Small Angels

Small Angels by Lauren Owen (Lesbian Gothic Fiction)

The woods are stirring again…

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

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

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

the cover of The Women Could Fly

The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings (Bisexual Dystopia)

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

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

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

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

Romance

the cover of Kissed by Her

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

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

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

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

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

the cover of In the Event of Love

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

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

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

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

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

Mystery/Thrillers

the cover of A Killing in Costumes by Zac Bissonnette

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

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

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

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

the cover of Dirt Creek

Dirt Creek by Hayley Scrivenor (Lesbian Mystery)

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

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

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

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

the cover of Real Bad Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

the cover of The Artist
the cover of Strange Attractors

Fantasy

the cover of The Book Eaters

The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean (Lesbian Fantasy)

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

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

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

the cover of High Times in the Low Parliament

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

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

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

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

Science Fiction

the cover of Unwieldy Creatures by Addie Tsai

Unwieldy Creatures by Addie Tsai (Queer Frankenstein Retelling)

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

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

Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga

the cover of Bolero

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

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

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

Collects BOLERO #1-5

Young Adult

YA Contemporary

the cover of Dancing Barefoot
the cover of Bad At Love

YA Horror

the cover of Dead Flip by Sara Farizan

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

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

the cover of These Fleeting Shadows

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

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

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

the cover of Slaughter at Seabridge

YA Fantasy

the cover of Dauntless

Dauntless by Elisa A. Bonnin (Sapphic YA Fantasy)

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

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

the cover of The Drowned Woods

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

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

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

Children

Middle Grade

the cover of The Devouring Wolf

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

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

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

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

The Devouring Wolf.

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

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

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

Fiction

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

the cover of Briefly, A Delicious Life

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

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

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

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

Mysteries and Thrillers

Vicious Creatures by Ashton Noone (Sapphic Thriller)

the cover of Vicious Creatures

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

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

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

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

Romance

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

the cover of Can't Resist Her by Kianna Alexander

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

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

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

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

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

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Dark Earth by Rebecca Stott (Sapphic Fantasy)

the cover of Dark Earth

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

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

Young Adult

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

the cover of The Comedienne's Guide to Pride

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

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

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

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

the cover of Youngblood

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

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 July 12, 2022

July might be a little quieter for queer new releases than Pride month was, but there are still lots of great sapphic books out that deserve a place on your TBR! This post is just a few of the ones I’m most excited about. ​​They Drown Our Daughters by Katrina Monroe is at the top of my list, and I’ve heard it on good authority (by which I mean Liberty Hardy, who reads 600+ books a year) that it’s one of the best books out this year.

The book descriptions below are from the publishers, because as much as I would like to, I don’t actually read every sapphic book as it comes out. That’s the dream!

Fiction

Sirens & Muses by Antonia Angress (Sapphic Fiction)

the cover of Sirens & Muses by Antonia Angress

It’s 2011: America is in a deep recession and Occupy Wall Street is escalating. But at the elite Wrynn College of Art, students paint and sculpt in a rarefied bubble. Louisa Arceneaux is a thoughtful, observant nineteen-year-old when she transfers to Wrynn as a scholarship student, but she soon finds herself adrift in an environment that prizes novelty over beauty. Complicating matters is Louisa’s unexpected attraction to her charismatic roommate, Karina Piontek, the preternaturally gifted but mercurial daughter of wealthy art collectors. Gradually, Louisa and Karina are drawn into an intense sensual and artistic relationship, one that forces them to confront their deepest desires and fears. But Karina also can’t shake her fascination with Preston Utley, a senior and anti-capitalist Internet provocateur, who is publicly feuding with visiting professor and political painter Robert Berger—a once-controversial figurehead seeking to regain relevance.   
  
When Preston concocts an explosive hoax, the fates of all four artists are upended as each is unexpectedly thrust into the cutthroat New York art world. Now all must struggle to find new identities in art, in society, and among each other. In the process, they must find either their most authentic terms of life—of success, failure, and joy—or risk losing themselves altogether. 
 
With a canny, critical eye, Sirens & Muses overturns notions of class, money, art, youth, and a generation’s fight to own their future.

Gods of Want: Stories by K-Ming Chang (Sapphic Short Stories)

the cover of Gods of Want

Startling stories that center the bodies, memories, myths, and relationships of Asian American women, in the vein of the electrifying relationships in Killing Eve and Yellowjackets—from the National Book Award “5 Under 35” honoree and author of Bestiary 

In “Auntland,” a steady stream of aunts adjust to American life by sneaking surreptitious kisses from women at temple, buying tubs of vanilla ice cream to prepare for citizenship tests, and hatching plans to name their daughters “Dog.” In “The Chorus of Dead Cousins,” ghost-cousins cross space, seas, and skies to haunt their live-cousin, wife to a storm chaser. In “Xífù,” a mother-in-law tortures a wife in increasingly unsuccessful attempts to rid the house of her. In “Mariela,” two girls explore one another’s bodies for the first time in the belly of a plastic shark, while in “Virginia Slims,” a woman from a cigarette ad comes to life. And in “Resident Aliens,” a former slaughterhouse serves as a residence to a series of widows, each harboring her own calamitous secrets. 

With each tale, K-Ming Chang gives us her own take on a surrealism that mixes myth and migration, corporeality and ghostliness, queerness and the quotidian. Stunningly told in her feminist fabulist style, these are uncanny stories peeling back greater questions of power and memory.

Romance

The Romance Recipe by Ruby Barrett (F/F Romance)

the cover of The Romance Recipe by Ruby Barrett

A fiery restaurant owner falls for her enigmatic head chef in this charming, emotional romance 

Amy Chambers: restaurant owner, micromanager, control freak. 

Amy will do anything to revive her ailing restaurant, including hiring a former reality-show finalist with good connections and a lot to prove. But her hopes that Sophie’s skills and celebrity status would bring her restaurant back from the brink of failure are beginning to wane…

Sophie Brunet: grump in the kitchen/sunshine in the streets, took thirty years to figure out she was queer. 

Sophie just wants to cook. She doesn’t want to constantly post on social media for her dead-in-the-water reality TV career, she doesn’t want to deal with Amy’s take-charge personality and she doesn’t want to think about what her attraction to her boss might mean…

Then, an opportunity: a new foodie TV show might provide the exposure they need. An uneasy truce is fine for starters, but making their dreams come true means making some personal and painful sacrifices and soon, there’s more than just the restaurant at stake.

Horror

​​They Drown Our Daughters by Katrina Monroe (Lesbian Gothic/Horror)

the cover of They Drown Our Daughters

If you can hear the call of the water,

It’s already far too late.

They say Cape Disappointment is haunted. That’s why tourists used to flock there in droves. They’d visit the rocky shoreline under the old lighthouse’s watchful eye and fish shells from the water as they pretended to spot dark shapes in the surf. Now the tourists are long gone, and when Meredith Strand and her young daughter return to Meredith’s childhood home after an acrimonious split from her wife, the Cape seems more haunted by regret than any malevolent force.

But her mother, suffering from early stages of Alzheimer’s, is convinced the ghost stories are real. Not only is there something in the water, but it’s watching them. Waiting for them. Reaching out to Meredith’s daughter the way it has to every woman in their line for generations—and if Meredith isn’t careful, all three women, bound by blood and heartbreak, will be lost one by one to the ocean’s mournful call.

Part queer modern gothic, part ghost story, They Drown Our Daughters explores the depths of motherhood, identity, and the lengths a woman will go to hold on to both.

Nonfiction

Pretty Baby by Chris Belcher (Queer Memoir)

the cover of Pretty Baby by Chris Belcher

A queer teen rebel escapes small-town Appalachia and becomes Los Angeles’s Renowned Lesbian Dominatrix in this searing and darkly funny memoir that upends our ideas about desire, class, and power.

Pretty Baby is a muscular, canny memoir about labor and power and gender; it shimmers with rage and insight and I couldn’t put it down. What a fucking gorgeous book.” —Carmen Maria Machado, author of In the Dream House

The dominatrix is the id of American femininity. She says the words that we all wish we could say when we find ourselves frozen in the presence of men. No is principal among them.

So writes Chris Belcher, who appeared destined for a life of conventional femininity after she took first place in an infant beauty contest—a minor glory that can follow you around a working-class town of 1,600 people in rural West Virginia. But when she came out as queer, the conservative community that had once celebrated its prettiest baby turned on her.

A decade later, living in Los Angeles and trying to stay afloat in the early years of a PhD program, Belcher plunges into the work of a pro domme. Branding herself as LA’s Renowned Lesbian Dominatrix, she specializes in male clients who want a domme to make them feel worthless, shameful, and weak—all the abuse regularly heaped upon women for free. A queer woman whom men can trust with the unorthodox sides of their sexualities, Belcher is paid to be the keeper of the fantasies that they can’t enact in their everyday relationships. But moonlighting as a sex worker also carries risks, like the not-so-submissive who tries to turn the tables and the jealous client out for revenge.

As Belcher moves between the embodied world of the pro domme and the abstract realm of academia, she discovers how lessons from the classroom apply to the dungeon, and vice versa. Still, fear that her doctoral program won’t approve burdens her with a double life. Pretty Baby is her second coming out.

In this sharp and discerning memoir, we see through Belcher’s eyes how power and desire can be renegotiated—or reinforced.

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

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