New Sapphic Books Out This Week: May 9, 2023

a rainbow graphic with blurred bookshelves and the text "New Sapphic Books Out May 9, 2023"

May is packed full of queer new releases, and this week is no exception! We have a couple of bisexual fantasy series, some sapphic horror, and a whole lot of YA this week. The descriptions used are the publishers’, because sadly I have not read every sapphic book that’s out this week.

Personally, I’m most excited for To Shape a Dragon’s Breath, because I hear “How To Train Your Dragon, but queer and Indigenous,” and I cannot resist—especially paired with that stunning cover. But also, I’ve heard You Don’t Have a Shot was inspired by Bend It Like Beckham, and we all deserve the canon F/F version of that story. And I’ve been counting down the days until The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich based solely off the title.

Let’s dive in!

Fantasy

A Shadow Crown (The Halfling Saga #2) by Melissa Blair (Bisexual Fantasy)

the cover of A Shadow Crown

The highly anticipated second installment of the new adult fantasy saga that took BookTok by storm picks up where A Broken Blade left off…

To the kingdom, Keera is the king’s Blade, his most feared and trusted spy and assassin. But in the shadows, she works with Prince Killian and his Shadow—the dark, brooding Fae, Riven, who sets her blood on fire. Together, they plot to kill a tyrant king. 

In Myrelinth, the lush, secret city of trees, Fae, Elves, and Halflings like Keera live in harmony. But Keera cannot escape her past: her crimes against her own people have followed her all the way to the Faeland. There is a traitor in their midst, and Keera is the top suspect.

Keera finds comfort in the allies that have become her family. She swore she would never open her heart again after a loss she barely survived. But she will soon find she has more to lose than she ever imagined…

Perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series, A Shadow Crown is a tour-de-force high fantasy novel with stunning world building and a slow burn enemies to lovers romance. Readers seeking more LGBTQ+ and BIPOC representation in the fantasy realm will fall in love with the unforgettable cast of characters introduced in A Broken Blade, whose sagas are only beginning…

To Shape a Dragon’s Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose (Bisexual Fantasy)

the cover of To Shape a Dragon's Breath

The remote island of Masquapaug has not seen a dragon in many generations—until fifteen-year-old Anequs finds a dragon’s egg and bonds with its hatchling. Her people are delighted, for all remember the tales of the days when dragons lived among them and danced away the storms of autumn, enabling the people to thrive. To them, Anequs is revered as Nampeshiweisit—a person in a unique relationship with a dragon.

Unfortunately for Anequs, the Anglish conquerors of her land have different opinions. They have a very specific idea of how a dragon should be raised, and who should be doing the raising—and Anequs does not meet any of their requirements. Only with great reluctance do they allow Anequs to enroll in a proper Anglish dragon school on the mainland. If she cannot succeed there, her dragon will be killed.

For a girl with no formal schooling, a non-Anglish upbringing, and a very different understanding of the history of her land, challenges abound—both socially and academically. But Anequs is smart, determined, and resolved to learn what she needs to help her dragon, even if it means teaching herself. The one thing she refuses to do, however, is become the meek Anglish miss that everyone expects.

Anequs and her dragon may be coming of age, but they’re also coming to power, and that brings an important realization: the world needs changing—and they might just be the ones to do it.

[Anequs is bisexual.]

Horror

Our Hideous Progeny by C. E. McGill (Queer Frankenstein Retelling)

the cover of Our Hideous Progeny

It is not the monster you must fear, but the monster it makes of men. . .

Mary is the great-niece of Victor Frankenstein. She knows her great uncle disappeared under mysterious circumstances in the Arctic, but she doesn’t know why or how. . . .

The 1850s are a time of discovery, and London is ablaze with the latest scientific theories and debates, especially when a spectacular new exhibition of dinosaur sculptures opens at the Crystal Palace. Mary is keen to make her name in this world of science alongside her geologist husband, Henry—but despite her sharp mind and sharper tongue, without wealth and connections their options are limited.

When Mary discovers some old family papers that allude to the shocking truth behind her great-uncle’s past, she thinks she may have found the key to securing her and Henry’s professional and financial future. Their quest takes them to the wilds of Scotland; to Henry’s intriguing but reclusive sister, Maisie; and to a deadly chase with a rival who is out to steal their secret.

A queer, feminist masterpiece inspired by Mary Shelley’s classic, Our Hideous Progeny is a sumptuous tale of ambition and obsession, of forbidden love and sabotage and a twisty Gothic adventure that may forever change your view of human nature.

[Maisie is Mary’s love interest.]

Graveyard of Lost Children by Katrina Monroe (Sapphic Horror)

the cover of Graveyard of Lost Children

ONCE SHE HAS HER GRIP ON YOU, SHE’LL NEVER LET YOU GO.

At four months old, Olivia Dahl was almost murdered. Driven by haunting visions, her mother became obsessed with the idea that Olivia was a changeling, and that the only way to get her real baby back was to make a trade with the “dead women” living at the bottom of the well. Now Olivia is ready to give birth to a daughter of her own…and for the first time, she hears the women whispering.

Everyone tells Olivia she should be happy. She should be glowing, but the birth of her daughter only fills Olivia with dread. As Olivia’s body starts giving out, slowly deteriorating as the baby eats and eats and eats, she begins to fear that the baby isn’t her daughter at all and, despite her best efforts, history is repeating itself.

Soon images of a black-haired woman plague Olivia’s nightmares, drawing her back to the well that almost claimed her life—tying mother and daughter together in a desperate cycle of fear and violence that must be broken if Olivia has any hope of saving her child…or herself.

[Olivia is married to a woman.]

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Young Adult

You Don’t Have a Shot by Racquel Marie (F/F YA Contemporary)

the cover of You Don't Have a Shot

Valentina “Vale” Castillo-Green’s life revolves around soccer. Her friends, her future, and her father’s intense expectations are all wrapped up in the beautiful game. But after she incites a fight during playoffs with her long-time rival, Leticia Ortiz, everything she’s been working toward seems to disappear.

Embarrassed and desperate to be anywhere but home, Vale escapes to her beloved childhood soccer camp for a summer of relaxation and redemption…only to find out that she and the endlessly aggravating Leticia will be co-captaining a team that could play in front of college scouts. But the competition might be stiffer than expected, so unless they can get their rookie team’s act together, this second chance―and any hope of playing college soccer―will slip through Vale’s fingers. When the growing pressure, friendship friction, and her overbearing father push Vale to turn to Leticia for help, what starts off as a shaky alliance of necessity begins to blossom into something more through a shared love of soccer. . . and maybe each other.

Sharp, romantic, and deeply emotional, You Don’t Have a Shot is a rivals-to-lovers romance about rediscovering your love of the game and yourself, from the author of Ophelia After All.

The Rules of Us by Jennifer Nissley (Lesbian and Gay YA Contemporary)

the cover of The Rules of Us

Come out. Break up. Stay friends? In this heartwarming queer love story about love of all kinds, exes navigate new crushes, new feelings, and a newly uncertain future after unexpectedly coming out to each other on prom night turns their lives—and their friendship—upside down. Can they figure out how to move on without losing each other?

Jillian and Henry are the kind of couple who do everything together. They take the same classes, have the same hobbies, and applied for the same super-competitive scholarship so they can go to the same dream college. They even come out as gay to each other on the same night, after junior prom, prompting a sudden breakup that threatens their intertwined identities and carefully designed future. Jillian knows the only way to keep everything on track is to approach their breakup with the same precision and planning as their scholarship application. They will still be “Jillian and Henry”—even if they’re broken up. 

Except they hadn’t planned on Henry meeting the boy of his dreams or Jillian obsessing over a cool girl at school. Jillian is desperate to hold on to her best friend when so much else is changing. But as she and Henry explore what—and who—they really want, it becomes harder to hold on to the careful definitions she has always lived her life by. Stuck somewhere between who she was with Henry and who she might be on her own, Jillian has to face what she can’t control and let go of the rules holding her back.

If Tomorrow Doesn’t Come by Jen St. Jude (Sapphic YA Contemporary)

the cover of If Tomorrow Doesn't Come

We Are Okay meets They Both Die at the End in this YA debut about queer first love and mental health at the end of the world-and the importance of saving yourself, no matter what tomorrow may hold.

Avery Byrne has secrets. She’s queer; she’s in love with her best friend, Cass; and she’s suffering from undiagnosed clinical depression. But on the morning Avery plans to jump into the river near her college campus, the world discovers there are only nine days left to live: an asteroid is headed for Earth, and no one can stop it.

Trying to spare her family and Cass additional pain, Avery does her best to make it through just nine more days. As time runs out and secrets slowly come to light, Avery would do anything to save the ones she loves. But most importantly, she learns to save herself. Speak her truth. Seek the support she needs. Find hope again in the tomorrows she has left.

If Tomorrow Doesn’t Come is a celebration of queer love, a gripping speculative narrative, and an urgent, conversation-starting book about depression, mental health, and shame.

Never Trust a Gemini by Freja Nicole Woolf (Lesbian YA Contemporary)

the cover of Never Trust a Gemini

Cat Phillips has her head in the stars, but her romantic fantasies may ruin her shot at real-life love in this sweet and funny lesbian story.

It’s Libra Season, and Cat Phillips is ready to run headfirst into love. The only problem is that her crush is on her best friend, Alison Bridgewater, who is more interested in chatting with boys. Maybe Cat should take this as a sign to get over Alison, even if that means dating the musically challenged Jamie Owusu. After all, a new boyfriend is the best cleanse, at least according to Cat’s friends. Unfortunately, having a boyfriend is a lot harder than Cat expected. And then Morgan Delaney swoops in with her green glasses, enigmatic smile, and talent for teasing Cat in ways that make her feel überlicious. But Morgan is a Gemini, and there’s no way that’s in Cat’s horoscope. Will Cat finally get the girl of her dreams? Or is there a chance there’s more to life than Alison Bridgewater? The stars align for the cast of this energetic romp full of comedic misunderstandings and sparkling language.

This is the Way the World Ends by Jen Wilde (Sapphic YA Thriller)

the cover of This is the Way the World Ends

As an autistic scholarship student at the prestigious Webber Academy in New York City, Waverly is used to masking to fit in—in more ways than one. While her classmates are the children of the one percent, Waverly is getting by on tutoring gigs and the generosity of the school’s charming and enigmatic dean. So when her tutoring student and resident “it girl” asks Waverly to attend the school’s annual fundraising Masquerade disguised as her, Waverly jumps at the chance—especially once she finds out that Ash, the dean’s daughter and her secret ex-girlfriend, will be there.

The Masquerade is everything Waverly dreamed of, complete with extravagant gowns, wealthy parents writing checks, and flowing champagne. Most importantly, there’s Ash. All Waverly wants to do is shed her mask and be with her, but the evening takes a sinister turn when Waverly stumbles into a secret meeting between the dean and the school’s top donors—and witnesses a brutal murder. This gala is harboring far more malevolent plots than just opening parents’ pocketbooks. Before she can escape or contact the authorities, a mysterious global blackout puts the entire party on lockdown. Waverly’s fairy tale has turned into a nightmare, and she, Ash, and her friends must navigate through a dizzying maze of freight elevators, secret passageways, and back rooms if they’re going to survive the night.

And even if they manage to escape the Masquerade, with technology wiped out all over the planet, what kind of world will they find waiting for them beyond the doors?

The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich by Deya Muniz (Sapphic YA Graphic Novel)

the cover of The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich

A nobleman with a secret and a princess on a mission find love—and lots of grilled cheese sandwiches—when they least expect it, in this funny, heartfelt graphic novel rom-com.

Lady Camembert wants to live life on her own terms, without marriage. Well, without marrying a man, that is. But the law of the land is that women cannot inherit. So when her father passes away, she does the only thing she can: She disguises herself as a man and moves to the capital city of the Kingdom of Fromage to start over as Count Camembert.
 
But it’s hard to keep a low profile when the beautiful Princess Brie, with her fierce activism and great sense of fashion, catches her attention. Camembert can’t resist getting to know the princess, but as the two grow closer, will she able to keep her secret?
 
A romantic comedy about mistaken identity, true love, and lots of grilled cheese.

Nonfiction

Journal of a Black Queer Nurse by Britney Daniels (Lesbian Memoir)

the cover of Journal of a Black Queer Nurse

In this searing, honest memoir, a Black queer emergency-room nurse works the front lines of care during COVID-19.

“Can I have a white nurse?” the patient asked Britney Daniels.

“Sorry ma’am,” Britney replied, “we are fresh out of white nurses.”

Britney Daniels is a Black, masculine-presenting, tattooed lesbian from a working-class background. For the last five years, she has been working as an emergency-room nurse. She began Journal of a Black Queer Nurse as a personal diary, a tool to heal from the day-to-day traumas of seeing too much and caring too much.

We are fortunate that Daniels is now willing to share these stories with us. Hilarious, gut-wrenching, and infuriating by turns, these stories, told from the perspective of a deeply empathetic, no-nonsense young nurse, make visible the way race, inequality, and a profit-driven healthcare system make the hospital a place where systemic racism is lived. Whether it is giving one’s own clothes to a homeless patient, sticking up for patients of color in the face of indifference from white doctors and nurses, or nursing one’s own back pain accrued from transporting too many bodies as the morgues overflowed during the pandemic, Journal of a Black Queer Nurse reveals the ways in which care is much more than treating a physical body and how the commitment to real care–care that involves listening to and understanding patients in a deeper sense–demands nurses, especially nurses of color, must also be warriors.

The LGBTQ + History Book: Big Ideas by DK and Willow Heath (LGBTQ Nonfiction)

the cover of The LGBTQ + History Book: Big Ideas

Discover the rich and complex history of LGBTQ+ people around the world – their struggles, triumphs, and cultural contributions.

Exploring and explaining the most important ideas and events in LGBTQ+ history and culture, this book showcases the breadth of the LGBTQ+ experience. This diverse, global account explores the most important moments, movements, and phenomena, from the first known lesbian love poetry of Sappho to Kinsey’s modern sexuality studies, and features biographies of key figures from Anne Lister to Audre Lorde.

The LGBTQ+ History Book celebrates the victories and untold triumphs of LGBTQ+ people throughout history, such as the Stonewall Riots and first gender affirmation surgeries, as well as commemorating moments of tragedy and persecution, from the Renaissance Italian “Night Police” to the 20th century “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. The book also includes major cultural cornerstones – the secret language of polari, Black and Latine ballroom culture, and the many flags of the community – and the history of LGBTQ+ spaces, from 18th-century “molly houses” to modern “gaybourhoods”. 

The LGBTQ+ History Book celebrates the long, proud – and often hidden – history of LGBTQ+ people, cultures, and places from around the world.

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

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