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.

 

 

c23a70bee3a3f30516a67336b05ccb27

October 20 2016

Interlude Press / Duet

add-to-goodreads-button

buy_me_button

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

add-to-goodreads-buttonbuy_me_button

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. 

 

 

29856877

October 20 2016

Harmony Ink Press

add-to-goodreads-buttonbuy_me_button

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! 

 

marian

November 3 2016

Harmony Ink Press

add-to-goodreads-buttonbuy_me_button

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. 

 

30306371

November 7 2016

Triton YA / Riptide Publishing

add-to-goodreads-buttonbuy_me_button

 

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.

 

25760792

November 1st 2016

Skypony Press

add-to-goodreads-buttonbuy_me_button

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

add-to-goodreads-buttonbuy_me_button

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

add-to-goodreads-buttonbuy_me_button

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. 

 

harmonious-hearts-2016-stories-from-the-young-author-challengeAnthology

27 October 2016

Harmony Ink Press

buy_me_button

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?

Reading Wrap Up – March and April

 

Reading Wrap Up – March and April 

Shockingly, despite April being my debut novel month — I've managed to read quite a few new books over the past two months! Part of this has been my excitement over friends' new books and debuts. Part of the experience of being a new author is making writer friends and sharing in their successes. It's an intoxicating thing and I easily get swept up in the new release craze. 

So, a by the numbers update:

In 2016, I have read 39 books/novellas/stories. 

21/39 were Young Adult. 

7/39 Featured an LGBTQIA protagonist — a percentage that is shockingly down from last year and one that I intend to fix in the coming months. 

6/39 Featured a POC of colour — again, something I need to fix in the coming months. 

7/39 were Adult or New Adult Fiction. 

5/39 were Children's fiction for under 12s. 

3/39 were Non-Fiction

19/39 were High Fantasy

 

Favourites from MAR-APR

 

I read Shadow and Bone some time ago. I loved it, but the story itself seemed quite complete at its end, so I wasn't desperate to read the next two in the trilogy. I should have jumped in. I absolutely loved the new cast of characters in the trilogy's second and thid installments. 

Sturmhand was undoubtedly my favourite. I loved the combination of wit, playfulness and shrewd calculation in his personality. Leigh Bardugo has a real knack for writing witty, genuinely funny dialogue — and that shone in Sturmhand. I could have read his flirations with Alina forever. 

Then of course, there's the Darkling. I found him smouldering in the first book, but the second two books added a real depth to his character. His relationship with his mother fascinated me, as did the connection between him and Alina. I'm a massive sucker for a sexy bad guy. Always have been, and it'll always be my achilles heel. 

Despite that, I rooted for Alina and Mal throughout — which is a testament to how well Bardugo paired them up. 

The Russian-inspired Fantasy setting is breathtaking. The writing is fast-paced, simaltaneously chilling and beautiful. I rated them 5* on GoodReads and I couldn't recommend these books higher!

buy_me_button

 

I stumbled upon this little story by accident when I was surfing through Kindle deals looking for something to read. I'm so glad I did.

This novellete is a totally fascinating blend of mythology and modernity. This is a super quick read novella read with a unique and interesting cast of characters. Beautifully written and easily readable in an hour. 

I loved the way the story talked about hell and reincarnation. It's not always a peaceful process, but something that a lot of the souls dread. Siew Tsin's naivety made her a perfect narrator. I rated this 5* on GoodReads. 

 

buy_me_button

This was recommended to me SUPER HIGHLY by Nori from Read Write Love28 who basically said I needed to drop everything to read this book. I'm happy I listened to her. 

Let me just fangirl for a moment about my love of Travis, because when I was still in High School, I would have had the biggest crush ever on him, and if there is a mid-twenties male equivalent of him lurking about on GoodReads … Just know that you're a catch. I loved him as a gentle giant with his staff and Viking obsession. I loved his online forum posts and how his crush on Amelia developed. 

The differences between all three perspective characters were striking and really made this book. Jeff's writing has a really raw quality to it … And I loved that. He captured three distinct voices so magnificently. 

I like a bit of cult crazy in my books, so I was equally fascinated and repulsed by Dill's family. On the one hand, as a secular person living in quite a secular place, it's hard for me to conceive of people that nuts being real. It's easy to imagine religious sub-groups like that as comedic. But on the other, when I try to imagine it as real, I'm horrified. Poisonous snakes? Battery acid?? Whattttttttt

The only thing that didn't quite work for me all the time was Lydia. Sometimes I felt like her character was quite flat compared to the two boys. I felt that Dill and Travis had more richly imagined emotions and interior lives. I'm not sure if this was because Lydia had fewer hurdles to overcome or if the author was simply more invested in the others. 

But Travis … Aww, you big lovely snuggly bunny <3

I rated this 4.5/5 on GoodReads. 

buy_me_button

When I first read the synopsis for this, I'll admit that I wasn't sure the book was going to be for me. I'm probably the only person I know who hates The Walking Dead, so I was a bit apprehensive about a dystopian plot with a mass epidemic.

Nat lives with her grandparents in a giant zombie-proof bubble, complete with a thriving forest of trees for oxygen, a learning institute and guaranteed job placement. It sounds a bit like a utopia, but the local authorities are actually sinister and authoritarian. There is a bit of a Stepford Wives vibe going on … where things are made to look perfect and rebellion is swept under the rug. 

Initially, I think is was the sinister government element that interested me. I wanted to know what The Order was hiding and what was happening to the people left outside The Dome. Then, I came to love Nat as a character and her burgeoning relationship with Evan. 

There were a few elements that seemed a bit overly 'canon' and I would have liked to see expanded a bit beyond the more common tropes, such as the symptoms of the disease itself. 

Overall, this is a really interesting and face-paced read that may completely go against your expectations. If you're a Walking Dead hater like me, but want to try out another disease-apocalypse based dystopia, I recommend this!

buy_me_button

 

Those are my top picks for the last two months! What have you been reading? Tell me about it in the comments!

Of course, the major life event for me is that my own book has been published! Unicorn Tracks is a lesbian YA Fantasy Romance. It tells the story of Mnemba, a safari guide and tracker, who falls in love with a Unicorn Naturalist who visits her country. When the unicorns Kara loves are abducted and enslaved to build a railway, the two girls have to find a way to save them, while trying to resist each other. 

ChOtGdTWwAAzK0O.jpg-large

unnamed

buy_me_button


 

Saturday Shorts #1 – YA Fantasy

I’m starting another new blog series! While I love a good epic fantasy novel as much as the next geek, sometimes I feel that shorter fiction is getting overlooked. The novella is a fabulous form. I love the mystery it creates and precision it takes from the writer to convey a whole world in such a tiny, perfect package.

This series will focus on Short Reads – Novellas of 35,000 words or less. Although I will be incorporating some series novellas, my main criterion is that the books must be able to standalone. If a reader couldn’t pick up the novella and understand it, without reading the rest of the series, then it will not be featured in these blog posts. Each post will feature three short reads, a collection that can easily be read all together on a lazy Saturday morning!

I am an avid supporter of the We Need Diverse Books campaign and promotor of more diverse reads in general. If the book has the “We Need Diverse Books” button next to it, with a link, then it features diverse protagonists. 

—————————————————————————

This month’s category is (unsurprisingly!): Young Adult Fantasy

—————————————————————————

Opal

Author: Kristina Wojtasek

Publisher: World Weaver Press

Length: 112pgs

buy_me_button

Summary (from GoodReads):

In this retwisting of the classic Snow White tale, the daughter of an owl is forced into human shape by a wizard who’s come to guide her from her wintry tundra home down to the colorful world of men and Fae, and the father she’s never known. She struggles with her human shape and grieves for her dead mother—a mother whose past she must unravel if men and Fae are to live peacefully together.

Trapped in a Fae-made spell, Androw waits for the one who can free him. A boy raised to be king, he sought refuge from his abusive father in the Fae tales his mother spun. And when it was too much to bear, he ran away, dragging his anger and guilt with him, pursuing shadowy trails deep within the Dark Woods of the Fae, seeking the truth in tales, and salvation in the eyes of a snowy hare. But many years have passed since the snowy hare turned to woman and the woman winged away on the winds of a winter storm leaving Androw prisoner behind walls of his own making—a prison that will hold him forever unless the daughter of an owl can save him.

My Review:

A new imagining of the classic Snow White tale! I absolutely loved that fact that the main character was born an owl and turned human, rather than the more typical reverse. The opening of the book really shows the transition and the character’s confusion.

The author’s style is really lyrical, bordering on prose poem. Fresh and refreshing to see writing this literary in YA fantasy. I thought the style contributed to the ethereal tone of the book.

I initially read this book during the winter, which really is the perfect time for it. It was one of the stories that got me hooked on the novella format because I felt the length and style so perfectly suited the story.

4.5 / 5 stars

————————————————————-

A Recipe For Magic

Author: Aggy Bird

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Length: 64pgs

buy_me_buttonWNDB_Button

Summary (Goodreads):

Connor Roth is a fire mage who’s going places. He’s powerful, popular, and he has a plan. But his plan for fame and glory is disrupted when the Oracle sticks him with Landyn Glendower for Senior Trial. This is an act unprecedented in their school’s history. Landyn is a water mage, and everyone knows mages with opposing elements can’t work magic together.

Connor is left with a choice: work alone and fail or swallow his pride and work with Landyn to find a way to combine their magic in a display the Archmages will never forget—if they don’t get kicked out of school in the process.

 

My Review:

Elemental magic? Dragons? Sweet M/M Romance? I went into this book wanting to love it. I loved the developing relationship between Landyn and Connor — Agatha Bird really teased out their time together and everything about the relationship progression felt natural. I also loved how the boys’ personalities matched their powers. I thought Connor’s need to prove himself was also compelling. And I liked that the coming out wasn’t a shock. In the world of this novella, the focus was on the romance itself, not on being gay. The boys have plenty of awkward, loveable moments.

However, without giving it away completely, I have to say that the ending really didn’t work for me. I WANTED THE BIG DISPLAY! It would have been satisfying and for me and would have rounded the story out beautifully.

Rating: 4/5 stars

—————————————————————————-

Heir Apparent

Author: Lauren DeStefano

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Length: 17pgs

buy_me_button WNDB_Button

Summary (GoodReads):

 Rise back up to the floating city of Internment in this original enovella, a dark look at life in the royal family after the events of Perfect Ruin.

When King Furlow begins to treat Prince Azure as the heir apparent that he is, he takes him to see the “re-education camps” for wrong-thinkers. But as he enters the camps ,Azure discovers the dark underbelly of the kingdom—and the king himself. His view of his father can never be the same, but what about his view of himself?

My Review:

I really enjoyed this, but I did feel it was much more of a short story than a novella. The plot was very simple, almost single-episode and I thought there were a lot of suggested nuances that the author didn’t have the chance to fully explore.

That being said, this little story does pack a punch. Although I would say it’s aimed at the younger end of the YA-spectrum, with a twelve-year-old protagonist, this story is dark and psychological. I found the writing fluid and compelling – we just needed more of it!

Part of a series, but I read this without having read the other books and did not feel I was missing too much information.

Rating 3.5/5 stars.

——————————————————–

a Rafflecopter giveaway