25+ Happy Sapphic Books to Make You Feel Warm & Fuzzy

25+ Happy Sapphic Books

The first Pride was a riot. A riot against police.

This Pride, support Black Americans protesting for their rights. When you’re building your Pride TBR, support Black LGBTQ authors and Black-owned bookstores.

Sometimes you need a break from queer tragedy, and need to curl with a story that will make you smile. When it comes to queer books, I’ll happily pick up a tragic doorstopper, but when I’m not immersed in stories like Fingersmith, I need some cotton candy reads to remind me of queer joy. Coffee shop AU-style, fluffy, conflict-free treats.

Of course, you can’t really have a story without any conflict at all, to my deep disappointment. We can get pretty close, though! I’ll start by sharing my favourites that are as close as you can get to pure fluff, and then share some others that have a little more conflict, but still make me really happy to read.

Starting with the fluffiest stuff I can find, which is often middle grade or YA.

Star-Crossed by Barbara DeeStar-Crossed by Barbara Dee

The first middle grade book with a bisexual girl main character! This is a very sweet story that balances Shakespeare references with the dizzying experience of middle school crushes. There is only one instance of homophobia, and it is immediately shut down.

This story revolves around the 8th grade production of Romeo and Juliet, and there is lots of discussion about the play and Shakespeare. Each chapter starts with a related quotation from the play. I was impressed with the discussion that takes place with the material–the play is not only explained, but also critiqued and complimented by the kids performing it.

Check out my full review here.

Kenzie Kickstarts a Team by Kit RosewaterKenzie Kickstarts a Team (The Derby Daredevils #1) by Kit Rosewater, illustrated by Sophie Escabasse

Another middle grade story, this time about a junior roller derby team, with an own voices queer main character! Now, if you’re like me, you’ve already clicked away to order a copy or request it from your library.

This is aimed at about 8-12, and it’s highly illustrated. I loved seeing the diverse group of kids come together–diverse in terms of race and personality. Kenzie’s dad is trans, and I think this is the first book I’ve come across where that is casually mentioned. This is an adorable read, and I’m excited for the next volume!

Check out my full review here.

Her Royal Highness by Rachel HawkinsHer Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins

If you’re looking for a fun f/f YA romcom, this is the perfect fit. Millie has been obsessed with Scotland since she first saw Brave. When she applied to stay in a fancy boarding school there, she didn’t expect to actually get in, never mind get a full scholarship that made it a real possibility. But heartbreak gives her an excuse to take the leap, where she immediately clashes with her roommate–who happens to be a Scottish princess.

A classic hate-to-love story, I was at first skeptical of ever liking Flora, but predictably, I was rooting for their relationship by the end.

Check out my full review here.

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David LevithanYou Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

This book is a romp. Ever since I read Boy Meets Boy, I’ve been looking for a queer women’s equivalent: a cotton candy book that, despite any issues it addresses, fills you with a sense of hope, warmth, and happiness. This book seems to do the trick quite nicely, and it’s no surprise that it’s co-written by David Levithan himself (though I now have to seek out Nina LaCour’s Everything Leads To You, because if it’s anything like this, it’s a must-read.)

You Know Me Well is told in alternating chapters. Mark is head-over-heels for his best friend, but despite the fact that they’ve been fooling around for years, he still can’t seem to get them in the “relationship” category. Meanwhile, Kate has fallen in love with a girl she’s never met, and is terrified at the chance of actually meeting this mystical, circus traveler, dream girl. They’re both in a topsy-turvy point in their lives when they bump into each other in a bar during Pride. They’ve seen each other at school before, but after this chance meeting, they become the other’s main source of support and guidance for this pivotal point in their lives.

Check out my full review here.

All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages by Saundra Mitchell coverAll Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages edited by Saundra Mitchell

One of the challenges of finding a queer community is not only connecting with your people, but also unearthing your history. Queer people have always existed, but our existence has been covered up and buried. It can feel like we have no history, which is alienating. All Out is a much-needed book, because it locates queer people (teens in particular) through time. It is also optimistic historical fiction. It imagines not only queer teens in the past, but how they might have found happiness there. It rejects the idea that queer people don’t have a history–or that if they do, it is fundamentally tragic.

Check out my full review here.

Going Off Script by Jen WildeGoing Off Script by Jen Wilde

Jen Wilde’s books are my go-to for queer, escapist, fluffy, fun reads. Going Off Script is about a teenager who gets an internship at her favourite TV show. Her boss is a jerk, and when she writes a script to try to prove her worth, he takes it as his own, and straight-washes the lesbian character.

This is a real celebration of queer fandom, and it ends up being a very fluffy, geek revenge fantasy, as the queer actors and fandom team up to take down the homophobic showrunner. There’s a huge queer community in this book, which makes any homophobia not sting as much. If you’re a queer geek, definitely pick this one up.

Check out my full (video) review here.

Queens of Geek by Jen WildeQueens of Geek by Jen Wilde

This is the book that really set the bar for fluffy sapphic YA for me. Queens of Geek follows two point of view characters, Charlie and Taylor, as well as their friend Jamie. All three are going to Supacon, a big fandom convention. Charlie is a Chinese-Australian actress who is at Supacon both for the fun of it and to promote her movie. She’s also bisexual! Unfortunately, she is still living in the shadows of her ex-boyfriend and co-star, whom the fans would love if she got back together with (even though he’s a real jerk). Taylor is fat, geeky, anxious, and has Asperger’s. She’s excited to experience the fandom that she loves in real life, but she’s also overwhelmed by all of the elements of the con that can increase her anxiety.

Another celebration of fandom from Jen Wilde! I loved reading a whole book set a convention, and the f/f romance here is amazing (and between two women of colour). I was completely absorbed in this story, reading it all in one day. Besides all of the diverse elements (did I mention that it actually uses the word “bisexual”?) and geeky fun, there’s also a well-paced plot, compelling romances, and memorable and fully-realized characters. This was such a fun, heartwarming read. Just lovely.

Check out my full review here.

Hocus Pocus and the All-New Sequel coverHocus Pocus and the All-New Sequel by A. W. Jantha

I am still shocked that this exists! A Disney book, a sequel to a beloved movie, that has a lesbian main character. The first half of the book is a novelization of the original movie, which you can skip. But all sequel is just what you’d expect from a Hocus Pocus sequel, but with added adorable lesbian crushes. I really don’t know how else to describe this except as a Hocus Pocus sequel with a lesbian main character. If that doesn’t sell you on it, what will? I dearly hope that is made into a movie (though I doubt it will be), because my childhood self would be so happy to see it.

The Second Mango by Shira GlassmanThe Second Mango by Shira Glassman

This is a bit of a stand in for the whole Mangoverse series by Shira Glassman, a queer Jewish fantasy series. This is a quick, fun, fluffy read–with a dragon!

The series only gets better from here, and Shira even recommends jumping in mid-series. If you love classic fantasy novels, but want one that isn’t so painfully white, hetero, etc, this is the series you’ve been looking for.

Bearly a Lady by Cassandra KhawBearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw

I was sold immediately when I heard “Bisexual werebear novella.” The book opens with Zelda irritated that her transformation into a bear is continually destroying her wardrobe. She works for a fashion magazine, so she doesn’t take this lightly.

This is such a fun, light read. It’s quippy and snarky and smart, and because it’s only just over 100 pages, it moves quickly. The romances are mostly M/F, but the most significant relationship is F/F. Bisexual werebear novella!

Check out my full review here.

My Lady's Choosing by Kitty CurranMy Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris

Imagine reading a M/F romance novel: you’re plodding along, all the love interests have been introduced, and your friend (with whom you clearly have more chemistry than with the dudes) throws out that, hey, if you want, you can travel to Egypt with her instead. You reach that point in the book and sigh. Image if she had taken her up on that! Imagine if instead of heading to the drafty castle or trading quips with the asshole rich guy, you just skipped town and went on an Egyptian adventure instead! Only this time, you can!

Most of the storylines you can choose from in this interactive romance novel are tongue-in-cheek takes on classic romances, including a Gothic Jane Eyre-esque plot line, or more of a Pride and Prejudice angle, but the F/F storyline is totally original: search for an artifact stolen from an Egyptian museum, and encounter your lady love interest’s angry ex-girlfriend! Maybe end up in a lesbian pirate gang! (Yes, you can do that. Definitely try to get to that point.) As an added bonus, I enjoyed this so much that I even went back and read the M/F plots. That’s how good this is.

Check out my full review here.

Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman cover. It shows an illustration of two women kissing and a cat playing with yarn.Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman

It shouldn’t be a surprise to see Shira Glassman on this list again! She’s a paragon of queer joy in her books. This is a cute, mostly fluffy story that has a wide appeal: Jewish readers, queer ladies (including bi women), and artists will all find aspects that have special interest to them. It was also nice to read about a fat love interest. This definitely felt like a “slice of life” story. It’s realistic, and as if you’re just being dropped into a short period of these people’s lives, but the characters seem to live outside the words on the page, as well.

This isn’t entirely a traditional romance novella: there is a romance, but it’s just as much about Clara and Danielle’s art, or their relationships with their siblings, or their shared love of fandom. If you’re looking for a quick, light, but satisfying read, pick this one up!

Check out my full review here.

Roller Girl by Vanessa NorthRoller Girl by Vanessa North

Roller Girl follows Tina, a trans woman who has recently divorced as well as retiring as a professional athlete. She’s adrift. So when she gets invited to play on the local roller derby team, she jumps at the opportunity. And it doesn’t hurt that the coach is a swoonworthy butch woman. They are drawn to each other, but Joe doesn’t want to endanger the team by admitting to dating a teammate, and Tina doesn’t want to stay a secret forever.

This is a quick, fun read with steamy sex scenes!

Check out my full review here.

The rest of this list is comics, because that’s the easiest place for me to find fluffy queer reads!

The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars Part OneThe Legend of Korra: Turf Wars by Michael Dante DiMartino

This one requires a bit of homework, because you only get that burst of joy if you’ve watched The Legend of Korra first. If you have, then you know the bittersweet ending, and how it was both more than we expected and less than we deserved.

Turf Wars: Part One picks up exactly where the last episode leaves off, and it was everything I could have hoped for. It gives Korra and Asami their happy ending, where they basically go on a honeymoon in the spirit world. They kiss and hold hands. They are unambiguously a romantic couple. And honestly, that’s all I wanted! I haven’t been as impressed by the following graphic novels, but I think that’s because the first part of Turf Wars gave me everything I wanted from the story.

Darlin’ It’s Betta Down Where It’s Wetta by Megan Rose GedrisDarlin’ It’s Betta Down Where It’s Wetta by Megan Rose Gedris

Megan Rose Gedris is one of my favourite artists (they did the Lesbrary banner!)

Down Where It’s Wetta is a lesbian mermaid porn made up of short arcs, all featuring the same characters. This is light on plot, but there is enough variety in setting to keep it interesting. The art is beautiful, and I also really enjoyed the humour!

Check out my full review here.

Kim Reaper Vol. 1: Grim Beginnings coverKim Reaper series by Sarah Graley

Becka is an art school student who is crushing hard on Kim, a gothic girl in her class. Little does she know, Kim is a part-time Grim Reaper, and instead of heading off to the pub after class with a cute girl, Becka ends up being pulled into some dangerous undead shenanigans.

This is so much fun to read. The plot is silly (they fight a bodybuilder and his army of cats!) and the art is super cute. I think Becka is the cutest character I’ve ever seen in my life.

Check out my full review here.

Goldie Vance Volume 1Goldie Vance series by Hope Larson (Author) and Brittney Williams (illustrator)

Goldie Vance is a Black queer teen detective! I really love the art in this volume. The colours are vibrant, and the character designs are distinctive and engaging, and the cast is diverse.

Originally, I had though that Goldie Vance was a preteen, but she’s a teenager, and the mystery is slightly more political and intense than I thought it would be! Unsurprisingly, my favourite part of this first volume was Goldie falling for Diane, who we first see rocking a James Dean-ish look.

Check out my full review here.

Sugar Town by Hazel Newlevant coverSugar Town by Hazel Newlevant

This is a queer, polyamorous, BDSM fluffy love story. Hazel is in an open relationship with her boyfriend, and she bumps into Argent, a confident and kind domme, at a party. They click instantly, and Argent helps Hazel learn more about negotiating polyamorous relationships.

Sugar Town is a sweet, soft story. Everyone in it treats each other with respect and caring. They check in. They talk about their feelings. Hazel is still figuring out jealousy and other aspects of polyamory, but that’s okay. They’re not simmering underneath, they’re freely discussed.

I also loved the art style, which reinforces that warm and welcoming feel. I want to crawl inside the pages and curl up there. This is definitely one of my rare 5 star ratings: I loved every panel, and I know I will return to it when I need something hopeful to dive into for a little while. What a treat.

Check out my full review here.

Space Battle Lunchtime Vol 1Space Battle Lunchtime Volumes 1 & 2 by Natalie Riess

This comic is an all-ages queer women comic about a competitive cooking show… in space. What could be better?? Peony agrees to be in a competitive cooking show, only to be transported onto the spaceship it’s being filmed on. That’s when she realizes that this isn’t space-themed, it’s literally in outer space. But she takes the existence of aliens in stride, and concentrates on the competition. And, okay, maybe one of the cute alien contestants.

I highly, highly recommend reading volume 1 & 2 back to back, because they really are one complete story. This is such a joyful book!

Check out my full review here.

Lumberjanes Vol 1Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Shannon Watters

I feel like recommending Lumberjanes as a queer all-ages comic should go without saying, but I will say it all the same!

This is a comic that follows a group of girls at summer camp, where they get into fantastical adventures. The strongest part of the series is the dynamic between the 5 main characters. They all have different personalities, strengths, fears, priorities, etc, but they are a tightly-knit group. They support each other. And we get to see each one spotlighted at some point.

This is also a diverse cast, including multiple trans characters, and two of the girls start dating. This is a fun series to read as an adult, but I’m especially glad it exists for kids and teens. The main characters are different ages and also a little ambiguous, so this really works as a recommendation for 9 and up, I’d say. And it’s still going!

Check out my full review here.

Jem and the HologramsJem and the Holograms by Kelly Thompson and Sophia Campbell

I love Sophia Campbell’s art style here: colourful and vibrant, with characters of all different shapes and sizes. It is unbelievably cute.

You don’t have to be familiar with the original Jem and the Holograms to pick this up: it’s a re-imagining of the original concept. 4 sisters start a band together, but their lead singer, Jerrica, has debilitating stage fright. Luckily, they get access to hologram technology, so Jerrica can perform disguised as the confident and larger than life Jem.

Also, one of the sisters gets a crush on a member of rival band The Misfits! So much fun!

So those are my recommendations for the fluffiest, lightest, most cotton candy queer lady books I can find! But a book doesn’t have to be pure fluff to make you happy, so I wanted to include a few bonus books that include some conflict and darkness, but are still books that made me happy, and that I think are overall joyful.

This Is What It Feels Like by Rebecca BarrowThis is What it Feels Like by Rebecca Barrow

Honestly, the cover alone of this one makes me happy. Dia, Jules, and Hanna used to be inseparable, and they played in a band together. Meanwhile, Dia’s boyfriend, who she was just starting to get close with, was killed in a car accident. Weeks after the funeral, Dia finds out she’s pregnant and decides to keep the baby. Hanna and Dia walk away from each other, and Jules sides with Dia. Now, their city is holding a music competition that includes a $15,000 prize, and they just might have a chance to win it–but it means getting the band back together.

As you could guess from that description, there is definitely seriousness here, but it’s also about friendship, and a budding adorable F/F relationship. Also, there’s an adorable toddler who is a fan of a dog named Waffles, so what more could you want? Despite their hardships, this is an optimistic and beautiful book.

Check out my full review here.

Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer DuganHot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan

The cover, title, and blurb of this makes it seem like it will be pure fluff, but it’s a little angstier than I expected, which is why it ended up on this list.

Lou is gearing up for The Best Summer Ever, and even being cast as the hot dog at her summer carnival job doesn’t break her stride. Sure, her crush is literally dating the Princess of the park, but she’s got a plan to snag this diving pirate for herself. And as for the apparent closing of the park, which has been one of the few constants in her life, she is determined to find a way to save it. When she ropes her best friend, Seeley, into fake dating her, Lou is surprised to find that her various schemes aren’t going exactly to plan…

This turns into a fake dating love pentagon with a slowburn F/F friends-to-lovers romance. Hot Dog Girl is a queer YA romcom that makes for a perfect summer read.

Check out my full review here.

Full Disclosure by Camryn GarrettFull Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

Simone has enough to deal with directing the school play when she starts getting blackmailed about revealing her HIV-positive status. Despite being about the stigma of HIV and AIDS, there is a lightheartedness to this book as a whole, along with the the serious underpinnings. It’s an M/F romance, but even aside from Simone being bi, there is queer rep aplenty: she has two dads, one of her best friends in an asexual lesbian, and the other best friend is also bisexual. An undercurrent of the story is Simone coming to terms with her sexuality, and realizing that she can claim that identity.

On the whole, I found it a fun, absorbing read. Simone is passionate about musical theatre, and she is excited and intimidated to be acting as director. She is swooning over a cute guy (also involved in the production), and their romance is adorable. Simone’s friends are great–even if they have some communication issues–and so is her family. She is surrounded by support, and there is a lot of humour sprinkled throughout.

Check out my full review here.

The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde coverThe Brightsiders by Jen Wilde

Emmy is the drummer in the immensely popular teen band The Brightsiders, alongside non-binary hearthrob Alfie, who she’s suddenly fallen for. Like Wilde’s other queer YA, The Brightsiders is packed full of queer characters and queer joy. There is a focus on found family, especially because Emmy’s parents are abusive. Her entire life they have never stopped drinking and partying, ignoring her, insulting her, and gaslighting her in turn. Her girlfriend is also gaslighting and toxic. When Emmy’s partying lands her in the hospital, she worries that she is heading down the same path as her parents.

Although there is definitely an element of the rock star lifestyle here, there’s a lot of emotional work happening beneath the surface. Emmy is learning to accept and love who she is, and protect herself from the toxic people in her life. There is also such warmth from the queer community that she surrounds herself with: both her friends and her fans show what support, love, and family really is.

Check out my full review here.

OF Fire and Stars by Audrey CoulthurstOf Fire and Stars and Of Ice and Shadows by Audrey Coulthurst

Here’s the premise: a YA fantasy book where two princesses fall in love. I mean, there’s a lot more to it. There’s court politics and betrayal and suppressed magic and warring religious factions, but that’s the hook that got to me. Although this is a (grudging-friendship-grows-into-something-more) love story, it’s just as much about the two of them trying to find out the truth about the deadly conflict in their kingdom. The second book is even stronger than the first, in my opinion.

This warmed my heart. It’s not that this is fluffy or doesn’t have conflict, but it makes me unspeakably happy to know this story is out there for queer girls, and especially one that’s published by one of the big publishing companies, which hopefully means it will be on the shelves of enough bookstore to be discoverable.

Check out my full review of the first book here and of the sequel here.

Falling in Love With Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson coverFalling In Love With Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson

Admittedly, only the novella in this collection has queer women in it, and it’s not particularly light, but this book makes me so happy. I was hooked from the first sentence: I didn’t used to like people much. After I finished this book, I just wanted to hug it to my chest and sigh contentedly. Hopkinson introduces each of her stories and gives a little explanation, and those not only add to the experience of those stories, they also show her personality so much that she’s been added to my list of dream authors to have at a dinner party.

If you have any interest at all in fantastical or fabulist short stories, if you like sharp humor or flawed and compelling characters, definitely pick this one up.

Check out my full review here.

Stage Dreams by Melanie GillmanStage Dreams by Melanie Gillman

In Stage Dreams, Grace is in a stage coach, on the run. The coach is being driven through an area that’s being haunted by the Ghost Hawk, a supernatural giant hawk that swoops down on carriages and robs them! When Grace’s coach is targeted, she discovers that the Ghost Hawk is, in fact, Flor: a Latina woman who robs coaches, with her (regular-sized) pet hawk–not the story stagecoach drivers like to tell about the experience!

When the stagecoach fails to produce any worthwhile goods, Flor takes Grace instead, in the hopes of getting some ransom money from her family. Her plan falls apart when she finds out that Grace is trans and is running away from her family. Instead, the two end up hatching a plan together to pull of another heist–one that could set them both up for life.

Although I would have liked for this to be a little longer, I really enjoyed the art, characters, and historical context (the end notes are packed with info). Westerns are not usually my genre, but I was sucked into this story. Definitely pick it up for a quick, engaging read with a diversity of characters not often seen in this setting.

Check out my review here.

I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up by Naoko KodamaI Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up by Naoko Kodama

This short, standalone manga is about a fake marriage: Morimoto is sick of being constantly set up by her parents. Her friend Hana suggests that they get married to shut them up.

Unsurprisingly, Hana and Morimoto’s relationship changes as they live together. Morimoto also finds new confidence in herself: she is inspired by Hana, by her dedication to her passion (art) and her defiance in being unapologetically out. It was gratifying to see an out character, one who even uses the word “lesbian,” in the pages of a yuri manga. This has all of the appeal that yuri manga usually has for me: it’s a quick, absorbing, and adorable read. But it adds more depth and realism than I expect from this genre. It had me absolutely grinning as I read it.

Check out my full review here.

Girl Friends Vol 1Girl Friends: The Complete Collection by Milk Morinaga

This seems to the quintessential yuri series:  It’s school girls, and a lot of blushing, and the typical “girls don’t do this” heteronormativity. I read this in the omnibus, and talk about a slow burn! This is almost 500 pages, and mostly just about Mariko making a new friend, falling in love with her, and then (much later) realizing that she’s fallen in love with her.

Girl Friends is super cute, but with the melodrama of agonizing over a crush on a girl. This is a fun, quick, addictive read.

Check out my review of volume 1 and volume 2.

Please let me know in the comments what your favourite happy, fluffy sapphic reads are! I’m always looking for more, especially by authors of colour.

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Maggie reviews The Queen of Ieflaria by Effie Calvin

The Queen of Ieflaria by Effie Calvin cover

Obviously, there has been a lot going on recently. In light of the new stresses in my, and everyone else’s, lives, what I wanted to read was some light romance as an escape. I turned to The Queen of Ieflaria by Effie Calvin, because it had been recommended to me a while ago as a very cute fantasy f/f romance. I liked it immensely. The twin influences of fantasy and romance combined for some highly enjoyable, wish-fulfilling world-building, bulldozing all potential problems to create a fantasy realm where queer romance can reign and the problems are mostly fantasy-plot related.

Princess Esofi of Rhodia has journeyed for months to get to the kingdom of Ieflaria and marry her long-time betrothed, Prince Albion. Although the betrothal was born out of political necessity – Ieflaria needs the battlemages that Rhodia trains in order to fend off escalating dragon attacks – she believes her union with Albion will be a good one based upon the long series of letters they’ve exchanged. However, upon arrival she finds out that Albion is dead. Esofi is left to marry another in the line of succession to keep her and her resources in Ieflaria. Albion’s sister, the Princess Adale, is the logical choice, but Adale never thought she would rule and rejects the violent upheaval of her life. Esofi and Adale have to build their relationship in the midst of dragon attacks, culture shock, rival heirs, and Adale’s own personal crisis.

What I enjoyed about this book was that there was a lot of traditional fantasy elements – magic, dragons, elaborate regency setups – but a strong romance sensibility made it all very soft. Princess Adale has strong feelings about being forced into the position of Crown Princess, a common enough fantasy element, but she starts to reconsider when she becomes enamored of how nice and soft Princess Esofi looks, a common romance element. Watching her become tongue-tied over her feelings is a delight. Court politics and arranged marriages are standard fare in both fantasy and romance, but this book wanted them to be a backdrop, not a real obstacle. Princess Esofi is both incredibly politically savvy and sensible about her position and also more than willing to have an emotional relationship. It was just so nice to take a break from everything happening in real life and watch a disaster princess trip and fall head over heels for a soft but extremely capable princess while also reading about dragons and magic.

What was also very nice about this book was that it was set squarely on Queer Romance and no problem was too real life to get explained away. How can they expect Princess Esofia to switch from marrying a guy to marrying a girl? Obviously Everyone is Pansexual. What about the line of succession? There’s some magic for that. A 400 page fantasy novel would explain and justify all of these things, but this is a romance first and foremost, so you don’t have to worry about it. Neither do the characters – it’s all built into their society from the ground up so they can immediately get to the romancing and the magic. A queer reader can sit back, read some inept wooing and dragon fighting, and feel warm and fuzzy for a while without any of the conflict having anything to do with queerness, which is always an experience I don’t realize I’m missing until I get into a story like this.

All in all, I really enjoyed The Queen of Ieflaria. It’s just the sort of fast-paced but incredibly soft romance I was looking for right now. If you’re at all into fantasy elements, this is a fun and feel-good read, and I’m excited to continue on to the rest of the series.

Danika reviews I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up by Naoko Kodama

I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up by Naoko Kodama

I know, I know. This seems pretty silly. I’ll admit that I sometimes pick up yuri manga as a guilty pleasure: most of the yuri I’ve read has been absorbing, but comes tainted without enough homophobia and male gaze to sour the reading experience. I’m happy to say that this book really surprised me.

This short, standalone manga is about a fake marriage: Morimoto is sick of being constantly set up by her parents. Her friend Hana suggests that they get married (or, at least, get an equivalent partnership certificate offered in some regions). Morimoto finds herself agreeing to this plan, despite her parents’ outrage and despite her knowledge that Hana is an out lesbian and had feelings for her in high school.

Another thing that I often find myself recoiling from in the manga I’ve read is an unhealthy attitude towards consent. In this story, Hana “playfully” pins Morimoto down, asking if she’s afraid of sleeping in the same room as a lesbian. Morimoto immediately goes limp and glassy-eyed, and Hana backs off, explaining that she was joking, and seemingly thrown by her reaction. This scene also explains how Morimoto got in this situation: we find out that her parents are controlling and emotionally abusive, not allowing her to make any real decisions in her life. She has been trained to follow along meekly in what is expected of her, which explains how Hana was so quick to convince Morimoto that she should be able to live in her apartment in exchange for housework.

Unsurprisingly, Hana and Morimoto’s relationship changes as they live together. Morimoto also finds new confidence in herself: she is inspired by Hana, by her dedication to her passion (art) and her defiance in being unapologetically out. It was gratifying to see an out character, one who even uses the word “lesbian,” in the pages of a yuri manga. [spoilers:] It was inspiring to see Morimoto stand up to her abusive and homophobic mother. [end spoilers]

This isn’t perfect, of course. Morimoto is drawn with fan service-y unrealistic breasts, and sometimes Hana pushes Morimoto (but always backs off). But it’s so refreshing to pick up a manga that really seems queer. It feels genuine. This has all of the appeal that yuri manga usually has for me: it’s a quick, absorbing, and adorable read. But it adds more depth and realism than I expect from this genre. It had me absolutely grinning as I read it. Be warned that the end of this volume is an unrelated short story, so it is pretty short. I loved this, despite the laughable title. I highly recommend it, whether you’re already a fan of yuri manga, or if you’re looking for a place to get started.

Jen Wilde’s Books are the Feel-Good Sapphic YA You’ve Been Searching For

Did you know I (Danika) have a booktube channel? Along with the Lesbrary, the Bi & Lesbian Literature tumblr, and Book Riot, I talk about books there, too! Apparently I can’t say enough about them. Most of my content is about queer women books, and I even have a playlist of just my sapphic book videos. Consider this video my review of Going Off Script by Jen Wilde (suffice to say, I loved it).

For exclusive videos and to be entered in monthly queer book giveaways, support the Lesbrary and this channel on Patreon! 

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Mars reviews Hocus Pocus and The All-New Sequel by A. W. Jantha

Hocus Pocus and the All-New Sequel cover

All her life, Poppy Dennison has known the story of the frightening and magical events that took place in Salem on Halloween night back in 1993. It’s otherwise known as the day her parents really met, or alternatively as the one time her cool Aunt Dani got kidnapped and almost eaten by witches. To be clear, the witches in this book are characters leftover from a coven that was decimated during the actual historical witch hunts of Salem, Massachusetts and not modern practitioners of a particular faith, and should not be taken as such.

The three witchy Sanderson sisters, their book of spells, and the special black flame candle that legend says will raise them from the dead are all still part of the popular Halloween lore that surrounds Salem. Her parents’ part of that story is virtually unknown, and Poppy is determined to keep it that way lest her mean girl nemesis Katie Taylor finds out and makes her last two years of high school its own kind of hell.

For readers who are not familiar with the lovely classic Halloween film Hocus Pocus, have no fear because the Part I of this book is a very close retelling of the movie and sets up Part II very well, detailing Poppy’s own involvement with the Sanderson sisters. Some witches just aren’t very good at staying dead.

This was a surprising and fun read that I just couldn’t put down. With more action, adventure, and character development than I expected, we follow Poppy, her best friend and wingman Travis, her mysterious dream girl Isabella, as well as other characters both new and familiar as they race to stop a new plot hatched by the Sanderson sisters to help them achieve immortality and rain hell on earth. With their witchy powers enhanced by the rare blood moon, the stakes have never been higher (no pun intended).

Much like the original Hocus Pocus (Part I), this story is as much about family, friendship, and loyalty as it is about evil witches enslaving humans and damning their souls for their own enjoyment. Poppy makes a really relatable protagonist. Who hasn’t dealt with trying to mitigate embarrassing family history while tripping over a monster crush?

Alexa reviews Soft on Soft by Em Ali

Soft On Soft by Em Ali

Last month, I reviewed a fluffy, romantic, low-conflict sapphic story with at least one protagonist who was fat, non-white, pan and/or ace-spec (Learning Curves by Ceillie Simkiss). This month, I’m reviewing a fluffy, romantic, low-conflict sapphic story with at least one protagonist who is fat, non-white, pan and/or ace-spec (Soft on Soft, a.k.a #FatGirlsInLove by Em Ali). Honestly, I love this trend, and I hope we’ll all have the chance to read many more diverse and positive sapphic stories like these.

Despite my comparison at the beginning, Soft on Soft by Em Ali (which I received as an ARC with a different title, #FatGirlsInLove, that appears to be a working title) is an entirely unique story. It’s a romance between two fat sapphic women: Selena, a Black demisexual model, and June, the Arab-Persian, anxious make-up artist. Thanks to the profession of the two protagonists, Soft on Soft is full of diverse bodies being celebrated, colourful descriptions, flowers, and altogether vivid mental images.

The book’s plot can mostly be summarised as Selena and June flirting, hanging out with friends, going on dates, making geeky references or working together. It is a character driven novel that is perfect for people who just want to read a cute romance and don’t mind the minimal plot – and really, the characters are worth staying for. The supporting cast has multiple nonbinary characters (with different pronouns), one of whom has depression and some really relatable remarks about mental health and therapy. Also, one parent of the main couple is bisexual, which is awesome – I very rarely see older queer characters, especially parents with adult children.

One strange thing was that the characters in this book talked in real life the way I’m used to people talking on Tumblr, and it was just a strange dissonance to see that kind of language being used in offline conversation. For this reason, some sentences seemed like they weren’t really lifelike, but I’m sure people actually talk like this and I’m just not used to it. (Also, “I’m green with enby” is a great pun I must use.)

In short, this was an adorable novel with diverse characters and colourful settings (and also, cats!). I admit I generally prefer books with a more exciting plot, but people who just want a cozy sapphic romance with fat characters will love Soft on Soft.

tw: panic attack described by POV character (chapter 8)

Alexa is a bi ace reviewer who loves books with queer protagonists, especially young adult and fantasy books. E also has a fascination with solarpunk, found families and hopeful futures, and plans to incorporate these in eir own writing. You can find more of eir reviews and bookish talk on WordPress and Twitter @greywardenblue.

Danika reviews Heavy Vinyl, Volume 1 by Carly Usdin and Nina Vakueva

The cover of Heavy Vinyl volume one

What a fun, quick read! Chris is a teenager who has just started working at the local record store. (It’s the 90s.) All her coworkers seem impossibly cool, and she immediately starts crushing on one of them. As the cover would suggest, though, it’s not just music that this group of girls is passionate about. Chris finds herself getting initiated into a network of teen girl vigilante gangs.

A panel from Heavy Vinyl, showing two women talking in a boxing ring

It’s a little bit Empire Records, a little bit Josie and the Pussycats (the movie), with bonus vigilante, mystery-solving teen girl gang and a queer main character. This is set in the 90s, but other than working at a record store and making 90s music references, I didn’t notice that. It’s pretty idyllic: there’s no homophobia shown, and the multiple queer characters are not remarked on.

The strength and weakness of this is how cute it is. You wouldn’t think that a story about a vigilante gang would be so fluffy, but it is! It’s more Scooby Doo than anything else. They rail against the patriarchy more by defending ~girly music than with any real violence. The romance is mostly blushing and flirting–no kissing on the page, nevermind anything else–but it is stated outright, not subtextual.

The overarching plot got a little goofy for me (and invites the Josie and the Pussycats comparison), but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing! I will definitely be picking up the next volume when it comes out, but I do hope that it gets a little meatier at that point.

Alexa reviews Learning Curves by Ceillie Simkiss

Learning Curves is a 70-page novella with little conflict and a fluffy love story between two women at college. One of them is a Puerto Rican lesbian studying family law, and the other one is a white panromantic asexual woman with ADHD. You shouldn’t expect a huge epic plot: Learning Curves is more about everyday life, college, celebrating Christmas, a huge, loving Puerto Rican family, and two women falling in love.

I admit that I easily get bored if I’m reading a longer book with so little plot, but 70 pages was just the perfect amount to still hold my attention and let me enjoy all the little moments. I loved how overly supportive Elena’s mother was, and I loved the two women cooking and baking together, especially Puerto Rican dishes.

There were so many of these little things that I loved. Cora is bookish and loves reading about “magic, dragons and queer people”. Both women are very casual about mentioning their queer identity, and while she doesn’t elaborate, Cora also mentions how even the community itself can be hostile towards certain identities. There was also a throwaway mention of cocky-gate (controversy over one author literally trying to trademark the word “cocky” in romance novel titles), which made me laugh, although it might have been strange to people who didn’t know what it was referring to.

I did have a couple of issues, or rather some things that I found strange but weren’t necessarily bad. This novella felt like it was written from an outsider’s perspective, which isn’t automatically a problem, but I really would have appreciated more insight into the thoughts and feelings of Elena and Cora, or at least one of them. I also felt like the blurb was very misleading: while the two women go to college and meet at one of the classes they have in common, there is really not much focus on their careers, and basically no mention of either of them not having time for love like the blurb says. Moreover, I sometimes found the dialogue strange or clunky. And finally, this is a minor pet peeve, but there were a few acronyms that were never really explained and as a non-US person whose first language isn’t English, I still have genuinely no clue what they are. I could sort of guess from context, but I generally don’t want to be Googling acronyms while reading a book.

I was originally going to rate this 4 stars, but the ace rep and the way it was handled in the relationship pushed it up. I loved that Elena immediately accepted both that Cora is asexual and that she doesn’t want sex, and it wasn’t an issue for a single moment. It might not be the most “realistic”, but it was really nice to finally read a relationship between an asexual and an allosexual person where the allosexual person is the one who agrees not to have sex instead of the asexual person indulging their partner. Another thing I see a lot is that while the non-ace person agrees not to have sex, they still talk about how this is a huge sacrifice for them, which I find really guilt-trippy, but this absolutely wasn’t the case here.

I will definitely be keeping an eye out for this author’s works in the future.

Alexa is a bi ace reviewer who loves books with queer protagonists, especially young adult and fantasy books. E also has a fascination with solarpunk, found families and hopeful futures, and plans to incorporate these in eir own writing. You can find more of eir reviews and bookish talk on WordPress and Twitter @greywardenblue.

Susan reviews Space Battle Lunchtime by Natalie Reiss

Space Battle Lunchtime is a two-volume graphic novel by Natalie Reiss, about Peony, a baker who accidentally ends up being an emergency replacement for a cooking show… In space?! Cue sabotage, drama, rival shows with distinctly more cannibalism, and trying to work space ovens.

This is super charming and funny. Peony is both competent and confident in her baking skills, and I loved getting to see her do well even though she was in completely unfamiliar territory. I was so invested in her doing well, which meant that the first couple of issues where she was floundering while surrounded people who just assumed she knew what was going on were very frustrating for me. I know, I know, it’s a trope, but it’s a trope that I hate. But “winning over the cast and crew so they help you” is also a trope and I was so happy to see it here, especially because of the way that the relationships build. Peony is so nice and so confident and just wants to beat everyone fair and square, yay! The way that her relationship with Neptunia comes together works perfectly with that – there’s awkwardness and rivalry and Peony putting her foot down to make sure they can work together, but also sweetness and daring rescues and both of them being supportive of each other and each other’s feelings!

The art is really, really cute and bright and colourful, and the designs of all of the aliens are distinctive and interesting. I especially love the way the Natalie Reiss contrasts appearances and personalities (such as the cute magical girl fox, who is sure a character), and the way that it introduces background details that further the plot and the world building, I thought that was really clever and well-handled. (… I’m sure it’s fine that Cannibal Coliseum, the rival cooking show where contestants literally cook and eat each other, keeps showing up in the background. That’s probably not relevant.)

But of course, what is a cooking comic if there isn’t rampant sabotage, and the ways that the sabotage is revealed is really cool. The reactions especially are great and fun, and the way that Peony and Neptunia deal with the end of the story is great. It was cool and believable and I enjoyed it. … Although I got to the epilogue stories and was suddenly REALLY CONCERNED for the side characters! My only real complaint is that the first volume ends on a massive cliffhanger, so it is worth getting both volumes together if you’re going to get them!

I really genuinely enjoyed this. It’s cute, it’s funny, and seeing Peony rising to her challenges is great. If you like cooking shows, bright and happy graphic novels, and/or ridiculous space drama, this is absolutely your thing.

Susan is a library assistant who uses her insider access to keep her shelves and to-read list permanently overflowing. She can usually be found writing for Hugo-winning media blog Lady Business or bringing the tweets and shouting on twitter.

Cara reviews Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler

Under the Lights is a great light lesbian romance that’s about growing up and finding friends in unlikely places. There’s no deep trauma or life-or-death stakes here, and while there’s some light angst and the characters have real problems, the narrative never dwells on them too long or loses sight of the truth that the characters are pretty fortunate.

The story is told from the point of view of two coprotagonists, Josh Chester and Vanessa Park, both of whom are teenaged actors and minor celebrities in Hollywood. While they have a lot more money than most teenagers and some problems only celebrities do, the core conflicts are all about them figuring out what they want, notwithstanding what their parents want for them. It’s definitely YA and the sequel to a previous book of Adler’s, Daylight Falls, that features many of the same characters but different protagonists. You don’t need to have read it to read Under the Lights. (I still haven’t.)

The biggest reason I can see someone might not like this book is Josh Chester, so I’ll address him first. Josh is kind of a jerk. He intends to offend, for instance referring to Vanessa as “K-drama” for most of the book, insults everyone, and acts callous as hell. He tries to be unlikable, and I can see how some readers might find his voice to be such a turnoff that they wouldn’t be able to enjoy Vanessa’s. He’s funny, though, and his jerkiness more superficial than heartfelt. He doesn’t hurt people, and the girls he has no-strings-attached one-night stands with are every bit as interested in no-strings-attached sex with Josh Chester as he is in sex with them. I’m willing to forgive rudeness when it’s not coupled with malice, so Josh and his arc work for me.

Beyond that, I read enough lesbian romance that I’m tired of the formulas, and what I found refreshing about this novel is that it doesn’t follow them. How many lesbian romances have a het male coprotagonist who shares equal time with his female counterpart? The whole story is a beautifully-executed bait-and-switch playing on the structure of romance and YA romance in particular. In another book, Josh and Vanessa’s early relationship would be belligerent sexual tension. Because I’m reviewing this book for the Lesbrary, I’ve spoiled that part for you already: Josh and Vanessa do not end up together. You’d know the same if you read the blurb and know that “feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship” means “gay.” None of the relationships in the book end up coming out the way the characters expect them to. I want more books like this.

Vanessa’s coming to terms with falling for a girl felt real to me. When she angsts, it’s less because of internalized homophobia and more because she loves acting and worries that being a double-minority in Hollywood will cost her her career and that it will give her parents another reason to dislike her. I’m long past the drama of coming out myself, but sadly I can still relate to feeling like a perpetual disappointment to one’s parents. Vanessa and her future girlfriend hurt each other some times with the all-too-accurate clumsiness of teenagers working out how relationships go.

The dialogue’s good enough to have made me laugh out loud several times when I was writing this review. I’d quote it here but outside of the context and the characters, it would lose its punch. The plot and development of the characters are well-structured and have interesting symmetry with some depth I didn’t notice on my first reading. Under the Lights is romance done well.