9 Upcoming Queer YA Books from Small Pubs

As an author with one and soon to be two different smaller publishers, making small press books more visible is a topic I am passionate about! In the last few weeks, this topic was called into the Literary Twitter Forefront by Adam Silvera, who tweeted about how other authors treated him in the wake of his first book deal with a smaller house. Other big name authors such as Maggie Stiefvater, originally published by Flux, also chimed in. 

Spotlighting diverse books is also important to me, so I wanted to write up a list of upcoming titles many of my twitter followers and readers might not have on their radars yet! 

One thing that I noticed while making this list, is that even among small publishers, unless the publisher is directly devoted to publishing diverse titles … there was a shocking lack of books about POC or LGBTQ characters. Lots of small publishers (and mid-sized!) publishers didn't have a single diverse upcoming title in the next 6 months! I'm shocked by that. Maybe I shouldn't be, but I am.

 

 

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October 20 2016

Interlude Press / Duet

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Synopsis: 

Luke Aday knew that his sister’s death was imminent—she had been under hospice care for months—but that didn’t make her death any easier on him or their family. He returns to school three days after the funeral to a changed world; his best friends welcome him back with open arms, but it isn’t the same. But when a charismatic new student, Eddie Sankawulo, tries to welcome Luke to his own school, something life-changing happens: In a moment of frustration, Luke runs into an empty classroom, hurls his backpack against the wall—and the backpack never lands. Luke Aday has just discovered that he can stop time.

Why I'm Interested … 

(1) This sounds like a contemporary novel with a just a hint of the paranormal. I’m curious to see how Luke’s new ability will help him deal with his grief.

(2)  I’ve been told that the m/m romance in this is super cute. The main pairing is also interracial.

(3) I trust the sensitivity reader who publicly endorsed the book. 

(4) I love a good tearjerker when the sad parts of the book have literally nothing to do with being queer.  

 

31201941October 6 2016

Ylva Publishing

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Synopsis: 

It’s only for a year. That’s what sixteen-year-old Zel keeps telling herself after moving to Sydney for her dad’s work. She’ll just wait it out until she gets back to New York and Prim, her epic crush/best friend, and the unfinished subway project. Even if Prim hasn’t spoken to her since that day on Coney Island.

But Zel soon finds life in Sydney won’t let her hide. There’s her art teacher, who keeps forcing her to dig deeper. There’s the band of sweet, strange misfits her cousin has forced her to join for a Drama project. And then there’s the curiosity that is the always-late Stella.

As she waits for Prim to explain her radio silence and she begins to forge new friendships, Zel feels strung between two worlds. Finally, she must figure out how to move on while leaving no one behind.

Why I'm Interested: 

(1) We moved to the UK when I was 10. I attended an international school where kids came and went all through middle and high school. Moving abroad as a teen is a book topic that interests me!

(2) I still feel a bit 3rd culture … I live in the UK again, in Scotland, which isn't really like England where I grew up, and definitely isn't Chicago. Figuring out how to balance overseas friendships is HARD.

(3) This promises to be a really cute f/f romance. 

 

 

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October 20 2016

Harmony Ink Press

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Synopsis:

Hunter Donovan’s temper never used to be a problem. He lived the perfect life with the perfect family before the dark truth came spilling out. Now his dad’s in prison, and after Hunter explodes at school, accidentally hitting a teacher, his mom has him committed. 

Hunter doesn’t belong at Better Days. He needs to be stronger, not sent to a well-dressed loony bin. If he’d been better, less selfish, he would have realized something was going on under his own roof. No amount of psychoanalyzing and group therapy can change the past.

But among the bullies, fights, and bad cafeteria food, Hunter meets a group of friends: anxiety-ridden Casey, wild and exciting Rosie, recovering bulimic Bethany, and Stray, a self-harmer who doesn’t think he belongs anywhere. Around this group of misfits, Hunter doesn’t feel so alone and angry anymore.

Why I'm Interested: 

(1)  I attended a virtual panel with Nyrae Dawn through School Library Journal about mental health representation in YA books. She was terrific. As a person who struggles with depression and anxiety, this is a topic I’m passionate about and I’m always on the lookout for new YA books featuring protagonists with mental illnesses.

(2) I've read some of Nyrae's other books and loved them. There is comfort in familiar authors that you can trust to deliver! 

 

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November 3 2016

Harmony Ink Press

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Synopsis:

When Marian Banner moves to the glittering city of Nottingham with her father, Sir Erik the Fortunate, her entire life changes. She is no longer allowed to run about the countryside in leggings and braids, climbing fences and shooting turkeys, but is thrust into a life of dresses and jewels and dancing lessons, none of which Marian is particularly pleased about. Her dark mood changes when she meets a tiny whip of a girl called Robin Hood. Robin is fierce and brave and wants more than anything to become a knight, regardless of her gender. Together they explore the city, becoming fast friends along the way.

As time passes, their friendship changes into something bigger and scarier and far more wonderful. But then Marian’s father is killed in service to the king, and she catches the king’s eye.

Can Robin save her once more? Or will Marian discover how to save herself?

Why I'm Interested: 

(1) ROBIN HOOD f/f … Yes, I am a huge fan of the gender swapped historical fantasy. Really excited to see what elements of the folktale will change and what will stay the same. 

(2) Damsels learning to save themselves. I've been promised it by the synopsis. 

 

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November 7 2016

Triton YA / Riptide Publishing

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Synopsis:

Last year, Javier Medina was your average socially awkward gay high schooler with a chip on his shoulder. This year, he's . . . well, pretty much the same, but with bonus superpowers, a costume with an ab window to show off his new goods, and a secret identity as the high-flying, wise-cracking superhero Blue Spark.

But being a Junior Hero means that Javier gets all the responsibility and none of the cool gadgets. It's hard enough working for the Legion of Liberty and fighting against the evil Organization, all while trying to keep on top of schoolwork and suspicious parents. Add in a hunky boyfriend who's way out of Javier's league, and an even hunkier villain who keeps appearing every time said boyfriend mysteriously disappears, and Blue Spark is in for one big dollop of teenage angst. All while engaging in some epic superhero action and, oh yeah, an all-out battle to protect Liberty City from the forces of evil.

Why I'm Interested: 

(1)  I’ve really been on a super hero kick recently. I loved Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee, a queer girl super-hero novel that came out earlier this month. Here’s the queer boy answering book.  And I’ve readily watched and loved every single of one of the Netflix/Marvel superhuman series. I love them.

(2) ENEMIES TO LOVERS. I am here for that trope. Every damn time.

 

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November 1st 2016

Skypony Press

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Note: Okay, unless you've been living under a twitter rock for the past six months, the chances are that if you read diverse books, you've heard of this one. However, it is coming from a smaller publisher, and I am really excited about it. SO I AM GOING TO TELL YOU ABOUT IT AGAIN. This is my blog and I do what I want. 

Synopsis:

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

Why I'm Interested: 

(1) Everyone I know who has read it is obsessed with it. I take this as a good sign.

(2) STEAMPUNK. VICTORIANA. CLOCKTOWER MAGIC. Love it. 

(3) Even though this sounds like it will play heavily on a forbidden love trope, I like that the reason their love is forbidden doesn't sound like it's because it's gay love. It's forbidden because one of them is a magical being. 

(4) That cover. I love it. I need to touch it. 

 

18-monthsDecember 13 2016

Bold Strokes Books

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Synopsis:

Alissa Reeves came out for Hannah Desarno. Hannah is smart, beautiful, and has just gone missing. Worse, she isn’t Alissa’s first girlfriend to disappear. Eighteen months ago, Alissa was caught kissing bad girl Lana Meyers. Too scared to admit her feelings for Lana, Alissa let her friends blame Lana. Weeks later when Lana disappeared, no one in their small town thought much of it until months later when her body was found.

With Hannah gone, Alissa finds herself following clues that will help her discover what happened to both girls, and the truth will change everything.

Why I'm Interested: 

(1) Queer girls gone rogue badass conspiracy mystery, drama!!!!!! 

(2) I am really wondering if the main character is going to turn out to be a villian. I have to know. 

 

29618750January 9 2017

Triton Ya / Riptide Publishing

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Synopsis:

Being orphaned and almost kidnapped in the space of a week sent Blake Marks into hiding. For months, Blake tries to help the Calvers—a family of vigilante bodyguards—investigate the people behind the hit on Blake’s father, Isaac, but then the safehouse is compromised. Just as hired thugs storm the house to grab Blake, Daelan Calver dives into the fight, getting them both out alive.

Hiding isn’t an option anymore, but hit squads, under-the-table deals, and international espionage? Blake has no idea how to handle any of it, not even with Daelan’s family there to play teachers. The one thing Blake knows for sure is that there are only two options: keep up with the Calvers or get out of their way.

But even with the Calvers’ help and the glimmer of a possible future with Daelan giving Blake hope, chances of survival keep shrinking. The man who ordered the hit on Isaac may be dead, but his partner is viciously cold-blooded, and her plans could change the course of history. Blake wants to finish what Isaac started, but it’s looking like someone is going to die before this is over. And that someone might be Blake.

Why I'm Interested: 

(1) We've talked about my morbid fascination with assassins before, yes? Queer boy assassins. Yes, yes yes. 

(2) I read the first book in the series and loved it. Each of the books focuses on different but related characters, though, so this book could be read first as a standalone. 

 

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27 October 2016

Harmony Ink Press

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Synopsis: 

Explore fiction in all genres—from contemporary realism to experimental fantasy—featuring characters in every color of the rainbow. The unique voices within these pages represent the future, and they bring distinct perspectives on love, loss, and growing up in a changing world. Whether they stem from firsthand experience or pure imagination, these are tales that praise diversity and call for unity, understanding, and compassion. Because while the road to adulthood can be full of obstacles and even unhappiness, there’s also much beauty to be found on the journey.

Why I'm Interested: 

(1) These are short stories by actual queer teens … sharing their experiences, their imaginings, their hopes, their fantasies. 

(2) I was lucky enough to critique some of these when they were being considered for the contest. The quality of writing is high and I think it's so great to glimpse what queer YA writers of the future are doing.

 

 

Let me know what's on your radar in the comments! Had you heard of all of these before?

2016 Isn’t Over: Fall 2016 Queer Reads

 

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In the past few weeks, I've noticed a definite shift on blogs I follow and on Twitter towards looking at Books To Come in 2017. As an author, I'm definitely looking forward to 2017 because the first book in my High Fantasy series, Tiger's Watch, will come out in August. But I can't help feeling like authors whose books come out in the fall get a little left out sometimes by the fast-paced blogosphere that likes to focus on the future and ARCs to come! 

And I feel a little bit sad about that because several of my "most anticipated" for 2016 are fall releases. In fact, although I've been MAGNIFICENTLY SURPRISED AND DELIGHTED by many Spring/Summer 2016 books, the only queer YA book that was on my radar at this time in 2015 that has actually come out is AND I DARKEN by Kiersten White. 

Which is why I wanted to write a blog post focusing on some late summer/fall Queer Books that I am dying to read. Let's salivate together, hmm?

Ignore my innuendos. 

FIRST UP …

22 November 2016 from Balzer and Brey

OF FIRE AND STARS has been on my radar since last fall, when I stumbled across the Publisher's Weekly announcement on twitter. The brief description told of an arranged marriage and a princess who falls in love with her betrothed's horse-crazy sister instead. When I read that, my brain just about exploded. 

I am a sucker for the arranged-marriage-gone-wrong trope. I am a sucker for horse-crazy girls who fall in love with other horse crazy girls. 

And everything that I've heard about this book since that point has only strengthened my desire. The fuller synopsis tells us to expect forbidden fire magic, assassinations and court intrigue. Plus this insanely gorgeous, lesbians-in-full-view cover. And the author herself is a married lesbian, so #ownvoices LES YA abounds in this read. And it's fantasy. 

My heart is pounding so fast it might explode.

Someone please fetch my smelling salts. 

If, like me, you want to pre-order this marvel, you can do so here: CLICKY

 

AND SECONDLY …

5 September 2016 from Triton Books

Okay. Those of you who have followed me on Twitter for a little while are probably aware of my deep and enduring obsession with female assassins. I mean, some people say they're tired of them, but I WILL NEVER GET TIRED OF BADASS LADY ASSASSINS. NEVER. I am obsessed with Throne of Glass, Grave MercyAssasin's Heart … basically, you name it, if it has a female assassin in it, I'm here for it and will probably end up rating it 5 stars. 

I'm not really sure what it says about my psycology that I love such violent protagonists, but let's not analyse that too in too much depth. 

Anyway, the synopsis for this book has me totally intrigued. We have a morally ambiguous protagonist, whose father trains her an assassin from a young age. But when he misses a mark, her world gets thrown into turmoil. Then she gets kidnapped, and by the synopsis' promise of a "green eyed stranger" …

I am going to go out on a limb and say she probably gets kidnapped by her love interest, who I am promised is a female, and that combination is causing me to type really fast and make this crazy runon sentence because I am so excited I actually cannot contain myself. 

*heavy breathing* So, our f/f romance is going to have a kidnapping. And thus possibly another favourite trope of mine — ENEMIES TO LOVERS. 

You can also preorder this one: CLICKY 

 

MOVING RIGHT ALONG …

1 November 2016 from Sky Pony Press

 

I had heard of this book, vaguely, but didn't really know what it was about until after its cover reveal. Then I checked it out, and had one of those moments where my interest level ramped up by 190% because I suddenly realised: THIS BOOK IS GAY. 

This book promises so many things that I love. It's set in a Victorian-inspired world, featuring time spirits and all kinds of forbidden magic. What's even better, is although the synopsis hints that the romance between mechanic Danny and clock-spirit Colton is forbidden — it's not forbidden because they're gay, it's forbidden because one of them is a magical being. 

I am so intrigued by this setting and by what promises to be a truly unique system of magic. This book is really activating my inner world-building nerd. I like it and I NEED IT. 

You need it too! Pre-order: CLICKY

 

OUR JOURNEY CONTINUES … 

3 November 2016 from Harmony Ink Press

 

MARIAN is an f/f Robin Hood retelling with a gender-flipped Robin. Let's all just take a moment to appreciate the beauty of that premise. I have always been a fan of well-executed retellings, but the brilliance of AND I DARKEN has me especially pumped up for another legend/quasi-historical/quasi-medieval genderflipped, queer retelling. MARIAN is promising to deliver on that. 

When I read the synopsis, the last line really stuck with me: "Can Robin save her one more? Or will Marian discover how to save herself?" The reason is that I feel like one of my favourite t-shirt sayings may soon be widely applicable to a YA novel. (that saying being: We're Damsels. We're in Distress. We got this.) I am really looking forward to seeing how Marian develops as a character herself — since the classical portrait of Marian shows her as being quite weak! 

Jump on the pre-order bandwagon with me! CLICKY

 

WHEREIN OUR HEROINE CHEATS … 

6 September 2016 from Delacorte

I'm cheating with this one because I've already read it.  HA! Be jealous. 

I'm including it because this book is quite possibly my favourite book of 2016 so far and one of the most beautiful, haunting and important books I've ever read. 

Girl in Pieces is a heart-breaking book that handles the difficult topic of self-harm with sensitivity matched with a sort of stark realness. The prose quality genuinely reminded me of Margaret Atwood. 

You can read my full review here.

You can preorder this marvel here! 

 

 

AND THE ADULT BOOKS …

3 November 2016 from Interlude Press

The first of my non-YA future-flails has to be this one. From the cover and the synopsis, LUCHADOR promises to be a mashup of angel mythology and Latin-american Christiana, gayness and Fight Club awesomness. I love conflicted main characters … especially when their inner conflict comes as a result of desire juxtaposed with faith. 

The synopsis tells us that Gabriel enters the world of the lucha libre, training as an elite wrestler and performer and becoming embroiled in the underground counter-culture surrounding it. Faced with career prospects and too many temptations, Gabriel has to choose between wealth and staying true to his faith. 

This cover calls to me. The strong character-based narrative calls to me. 

NEED. 

Sadly not available to pre-order yet, but you can add it to GoodReads!

 

AND OUR HORSEY ROMANCE … 

8 August 2016 from Dreamspinner Press

This one is a very personal selection. The synopsis promises a tender romance between a cowboy and a former eventer, struggling together to heal a damaged horse. It genuinely sounds like a gay version of The Horse Whisperer and I really could not be more ready for this, even though I know it is going to destroy me emotionally. Nothing makes me sob as fast as animal stories. 

Currently, my old event horse of sixteen years is on a downward spiral. He's old. Just turned 24 and keeps having more issues with his tendons and ligaments. 

A story of finding love while healing horses … going to BREAK ME. But I think, in a good way. 

Pre-order Link!

 

LAST BUT NOT LEAST … 

29 August 2016

Okay … so, confession time: I am a former online gaming addict. #PokemonGO aside, I've had to ban myself from playing because it's so easy for me to get hooked. I also fucking love Alexis Hall. 

When I realised Alexis Hall had a book coming out about two guys who meet in an MMO and fall in love … I knew I had to have it. I'm not entirely sure what the central conflict is going to be, if I'm honest, based on the synopsis of this one. But, I have the utmost faith that the characters and the voice will be rocking in this … because Alexis Hall is a fucking genius. 

Preorder clickety!

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