The 12 Best Queer Books to Finish Your Summer Right
Welcome to our regular series on the best recent queer book releases. For more queer reading material suggestions, check out the rest of the articles in this series!
Summer may be on its way out, but that doesn’t mean we have to dread the impending fall. Oh no, let’s keep this party going strong by continuing to get loud and proud, dancing in the streets, making our voices heard, and reading some of the excellent queer reads released this past June and July. That’s right, friends! June and July have certainly come and gone, but we can definitely keep reading!
From comics featuring revamped teenage detectives and magical worlds where the mythological and the mundane mix, to contemporary young adult novels full of irreverence and wit, from fantastical fiction centered on subverting established tropes to Romance of all flavors, these twelve releases from June and July will keep you fully invested in your summer reading:
No Man of Woman Born
by Ana Mardoll
Fantasy writer Ana Mardoll knocks it out of the park with this lovely collection of fairy stories, each focusing on both a unique prophecy that can ultimately be changed and authentic trans/enby representation. The stories are poignant and clever, taking established tropes and subverting them in delightful new ways.
Dragons, witches, rulers of foreign lands, knights, and broken spells are all here, giving new and much-needed meaning to well-known stories. The prose is both fantastical and lyrical, resonating with readers long after a story is finished and taking them through the highs and lows of fantasy: love, action, adventure, friendship, redemption, and yes, hope. Best of all is how each character’s gender identity is portrayed as intimate, personal, and fluid.
by Claudie Arsenault
There’s a thief on the loose in an alternate magical Quebec, one whose only goal is to steal exocores, an energy source that may or may not be made up of the souls of witches. When police officer Adele’s exocore goes missing, she will stop at nothing to get it back, even if it means tangling with a local baker-turned-robber.
Claire wants nothing more than to find out who’s capturing witches and using them as exocores when her own sister disappears. As she delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s disappearance, her relationship with Adele grows apace. Intrigue and mystery are front and center in Baker Thief, the first in a brand new fantasy series from Claudie Arsenault, which focuses on non-romantic relationships and the reframing of romance tropes.
Building upon a fantasy world that is rich and bold, Arsenault gives readers a huge, diverse cast, including bigender, genderfluid, and aromantic characters, as well as a magical mystery to solve. The most compelling elements are the deeply rooted family ties that spur so much of the action.
A Ship at the Edge of the Universe
by Alex White
It’s whispered that somewhere, lost in space, is the ultimate warship, one so powerful that whoever finds and controls it will be master of the galaxy. When a famous speed racer and a former treasure hunter join a ragtag smuggler’s crew, madcap adventure awaits as they tangle with political intrigue, high speed chases, romance, sexual tension, would-be assassins, and more, as they attempt to locate the fabled lost ship at the edge of the universe.
Truly, this is space opera at its very best! Alex White does a superb job mixing magic and science fiction, creating a unique magical system that fits within the overarching intergalactic setting. The interpersonal dynamics of the characters and the budding relationships among them are fantastic as well, taking readers from big epic battles to quiet intimate moments effortlessly. If you like strong female leads, phenomenal world-building, and kick-butt action, get this one on your radar, stat.
Untrue (The Scientific Method series)
by Kris Ripper
Kris Ripper’s latest offering in the Scientific Method series is a devastating look at how trust can be so easily broken within a relationship. Hugh and Truman are a married couple with a longtime boyfriend, Will. Their threesome is one that works well because they are, at all times, honest and open about their individual needs and wants, and over the nine book arc of this series, readers are given intimate glimpses into the exact whys and hows this polyamorous relationship fits together.
But the sole focus of this book is how one sexual encounter outside of their group has long-lasting ramifications for all involved. Told in three overlapping points of view, the book follows each of the characters as he comes to terms with what happened and processes it in his own way. The end result is a heartrending look at what consent ultimately means and how trust, once lost, can change a relationship irrevocably.
When Katie Met Cassidy
by Camille Perri
Get ready to fly through this fast-paced romantic comedy featuring Katie, a perfectionist lawyer who never thought her fiancé would dump her, and Cassidy, the out-and-proud opposing counsel she meets on the job.
When Katie attempts to mend her broken heart and also bring her life back into some semblance of order, she is surprised to feel the undeniable tug of attraction for Cassidy. As the two spend more time together, their undeniable chemistry becomes a game of push and pull, keeping readers deliciously entertained and eagerly awaiting the moment when they each finally give in to what they both clearly want. Swiftly moving prose, a sizzling attraction, and a plot that does not descend into angst make this a fabulous read!
Ravensong (Green Creek book #2)
by T.J. Klune
T.J. Klune is a master storyteller. Whether he’s writing contemporary, fantasy, or paranormal romance, his prose is effortlessly engaging and full of heart, grit, and so much emotion. Book 2 in the Green Creek series is a prime example of this, as readers dive right into the story of star-crossed lovers Mark and Gordo. Mark is a werewolf, and Gordo is his pack’s wizard. Together, they could be an unstoppable force, combining magic and shifter ability.
But a mysterious event in their past keeps them apart to the point that Gordo only barely tolerates Mark.
When a new enemy arrives in town hell-bent on destroying their pack, the two must set aside their differences to work together and possibly rekindle the love that was lost. Their mutual past and present weave together as the story unfolds, and readers are finally given a glimpse into what happened to drive them apart and how it can be saved. Ravensong is a high-octane, magic-fueled lovefest that will keep readers hooked and eagerly anticipating Book 3.
Something About You
by Riley Hart
Small town secrets and old family pain are dragged into the light in this quick moving Romance from Riley Hart. Lucky Tyler Holloway is a sweet country boy who loves his family, his friends, and his unassuming life. Sure, he may have a few secrets of his own—like his bisexuality that he has not had the opportunity to act on yet, or an unnamed desire that he keeps hidden deep inside—but Tyler is happy where he is and content to stay there.
In contrast, the name of the game for arrogant, rich city boy Grayson “Saint” St. Claire is no strings attached. He’s most definitely a man who knows what he wants and how to get it, but relationships do not factor into his plans. When he unexpectedly learns of the existence of a grandmother he thought long dead, Saint travels to a small Virginia town to meet her and while there, also meets Tyler. Their attraction is instantaneous and their interactions hot.
But in my mind, where the author shines is her ability to craft an organic and authentic relationship between grandmother and grandson, and watching these two learn and grow as people together is utterly heart-warming. Don’t get me wrong; the sparks that fly between the two main characters are a big draw that will keep you thoroughly engrossed, but for me, it was ultimately the relationships among family that were the most satisfying.
Other Romance Releases of Note:
I’m Not A Villain! By Mia Archer
Fail Seven Times by Kris Ripper
Over and Over Again by Cole McCade
Risk-Taker by Lily Morton
Nancy Drew #1
by Kelly Thompson (Author) and Jenn St-Onge (Illustrator)
Spunky Nancy Drew is back and reimagined like never before! When a mysterious message makes its way to Nancy, a tenacious teenager who is surprisingly good at solving mysteries, she must return to her hometown and rekindle friendships she thought well left in the past. As she navigates the unknown and attempts to stay one step ahead of a killer, she must learn to rely on new friends, and possible enemies, before time runs out. Fantastic artwork and a new diverse cast of supporting characters make this revamped version of Nancy Drew a welcome addition.
by Grace Ellis (Author), Shae Beagle (Illustrator), Caitlin Quirk (Illustrator), and Clayton Cowles (Illustrator)
While this is the sixth comic in an existing series, it kicks off the second arc of this groundbreaking queer fantasy and is a great starting point for any new readers. Welcome to Blitheton, a magical community where humans and mythological creatures live side by side. Julie is a lesbian werewolf who works at a local coffee shop along with her queer best friend, a centaur named Chet. When they are invited to a house party hosted by the local fairy frat, Julie and friends think it offers the perfect opportunity to let loose and unwind.
Little do they know that the fairies have some tricks up their sleeves, and suddenly, they find themselves trapped without any hope of escape. Fresh, quickly moving writing is coupled with bold, beautifully inked artwork. This offering, just like all the Moonstruck series, is a fascinating combination of real world and fantasy that is sure to delight readers of all ages.
Dear Rachel Maddow
by Adrienne Kisner
Brynn has one true role model: her idol, Rachel Maddow. When she receives a response to a letter she writes Rachel for a school project, Brynn is ecstatic, beginning to pen emails to her whenever she can. Of course, she never sends them, but the drafts alone are enough to give Brynn the confidence to face some difficult circumstances.
The story unfolds through this epistolary format, giving readers an opportunity to learn about the highs and lows of Brynn’s life: breaking up with her girlfriend, losing her brother, and her deteriorating relationship with her mother and stepfather. When an opportunity to fix a very real problem at school crops up, Brynn mobilizes and, through her emails, finds a way to give voice to her concerns and to find actionable solutions.
At times incredibly funny and others achingly poignant, Dear Rachel Maddow is a story of forgiveness, grief, hope, and ultimately, redemption—a story that asks readers to look into the injustices they see in their own lives and take action.
The Art of Escaping
by Erin Callahan
High schooler Mattie is obsessed with escapology and all the phenomenal escape artists of yesteryear. Without a doubt, her favorite is Akiko Miyaki, and she makes it her goal to track down the artist’s only living daughter, a recluse named Miyu, who may or may not hold the secrets to helping Mattie perfect her escapes. Will is the high school golden boy, an athlete surrounded by family and countless friends and girlfriends.
When they meet, an unexpected friendship develops between them and through it, they are given the impetus to go after their respective dreams. Delightfully witty and just plain fun, this story is a lovely testament to finding a passion and pursuing it no matter what, and also to the motivating power of friendship.
Noah Could Never
by Simon James Green
Simon James Green’s sequel to Noah Can’t Even is just as quirky, just as chaotic, and just as hilarious as the first. Noah is an awkward, eccentric kid who only ever wanted to fit in, at home and at school. At the beginning of Noah Could Never, things seem to finally, magically be going his way, as he and best friend Harry make things official and give a romantic relationship a shot.
But Noah’s life never turns out quite how he plans.
French exchange students, suspicious police officers, secret relatives, dubious teachers, and so much more hilarious drama threaten to derail his plans for a good year. Infused with humor and told in Noah’s irreverent teenage voice, this is one novel about growing up and fitting in that everyone should read. It’s a laugh-out-loud look at how the best laid plans for life can be derailed and sometimes, oftentimes, we should just roll with the punches.
(featured image: respective publishers)
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