Shae was an Avid reader before they became an Avid bookseller. Their love of books has carried them through their degree in English, a thousand disasters, and time as a librarian. A huge fan of fantasy and horror, a Lord of the Rings whiz, and lover of all queer books (ever) written, Shae is your best friend when it comes to finding the queer joy in every book! (But if you’re looking for something a little sad, they’ve got your back, too!) When they graduate at the end of the summer, they’ll be relieved to be spending their days off writing, looking for a DND group, and annoying their girlfriend by recounting every detail of whatever they’ve picked off the shelf. For now, they’ll settle for that last hobby.
This is by far my favorite book I've read in 2023.
Anaqus and Kasaqua have absolutely stolen my heart. Their relationship is one of reverence and patience in a world that tells them they are so much less than the "dragoneers" of the "civilized" world. This book is as much about the societal constraints and prejudices of our world as it is about the relearning and unlearning of our shared histories.
An entirely different take on dragon lore, this book presents an alternate history of colonization with steampunk elements, dragons, and an enchanting narrator, I was sucked in from the first chapter. Centering the Indigenous perspective, Blackgoose has a fantastic voice, painting the book instead of just writing it.
This book is a dance. Its story is a song. The chapters are the notes. And the characters are the heart.
I cannot wait for the sequel!
Hijinks abound! Nimona is the MOST chaotic fun! (w/ cool art!)
This is definitely one of my top reads in the past couple years.
It seems like such a bulky book, but at no point did I find it too overwhelming. As a fan of epic fantasies, I appreciate the immense care that Shannon has put into creating such a full and enveloping world. Her research and passion shined through in every chapter and every character. The characters were so real, that I hated a few of them. They were all so well developed that I could understand where even the most hated character was coming from (even if it made me like that character even less). Shannon's treatment of everything made me feel like I could reach out and touch the trees, dragons, and sword. My only note? Needs more dragons. (They were so great, and I can't get enough of them!)
The slowly building plot and character development never felt like it was dragging on; I kept wanting to read more and more, and by the time it was over, I was devastated to see it end. Luckily, Shannon is revisiting the world in another stand-alone book set generations before Tané, Ead, Sabran, Niclays, and Loth begin their journeys! (Check out: A Day of Fallen Night)
I have absolutely never read anything like this.
It’s whimsical, it’s heartfelt, and it’s so incredibly personal. Nguyen invites you into an incredibly intimate story about a young boy, who is struggling to find the words to come out to his family. There’s a language barrier that separates them, and his mother is still trying to cope with leaving her home to come to America. By sharing fairytales, the two are able to communicate and understand each other more completely than before. Nguyen alternates color themes to differentiate between different story lines -- each fairytale has its own color palette, and the central plots are color coded, too, making the storylines much easier to follow.
Filled with mystical stories, beautiful art, and the intimacy of mother and child, I cannot recommend this book enough.
I’m crazy about Chloe Green and her nemesis Shara Wheeler.
When Shara kisses Chloe and then vanishes, only to leave a trail of mysterious letters behind, Chloe is immediately obsessed with getting Shara back – so she can beat her fair and square to the valedictorian title, of course.
With every twist and turn, McQuiston has captured a truly magical story of queer joy and belonging, leaving me feeling bittersweet.
Sweet: This book is so important and valuable, especially for the queer community in the south (of all ages!). It’s one of those priceless reads that you’ll want to seek comfort in time and time again because it welcomes you in as you are and reminds you that you’re worthy of love no matter who you are.
Bitter: I wish I could have read it sooner. I wish I could’ve had it when I was younger because it would’ve made such a difference.
This book needs to be in the hands of queer youth! And everyone else!
In this delightfully queer graphic novel, a gardener who can see ghosts must come to terms with the harm he’s unknowingly causing around town. Meanwhile, his ghost friend Blue is reconciling feelings he knows he shouldn’t have. Young’s art style is absolutely enchanting, and you’ll never want to leave these pages.
Trans horror? Sign me up!
Andrew Joseph White writes his horror with the heart of the queer community in mind – a trans teen who’s been raised to be the saving grace of the cult his mother has climbed the ranks of. His father has helped him begin his escape, but is it too late for him now that he’s been corrupted by Flood?
This novel is brimming with found family and the resolute determination that the queer community has had to survive – even if it’s the end of the world!
A scathing commentary on extremist Christian groups, trans pain, and the horror of a family divided, White’s debut YA novel is the kind of gruesome you can’t tear yourself away from (and you won’t even want to)! It’s a compelling story that crawls its way into your heart and nests there, providing a thrilling comfort for the overlooked who want revenge, who want understanding, who need to know they’re not alone.
I’ll be keeping one eye out for the Flood and another for Andrew Joseph White’s future novels.
Ostertag has won a place on my shelf forever.
This is her debut graphic novel, the first one I read, and the story that lives rent-free in my head. Aster is such an incredible boy and unbelievably relatable for those of us who grew up with expectations we couldn’t fill – even if they were self-enforced. The story of his strength and determination to become who he knows he is meant to be is unabashedly committed to telling readers how valuable their own self determination and patient self-love can be in their personal growth. Aimed at younger readers, this is so soft and sweet, not shying away from Aster’s dark family secrets and the scariness that magic can create.
If you're hooked on horror but stuck wondering what happens to the final girl after, look no further! If you're morbidly curious about what happens when they're hunted after the credits roll...same, tbh.
This book is…a lot of things.
It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s thought provoking, it’s intimate, it’s beautiful, it’s tragic, it’s inviting, it’s horrifying. McCurdy shares the darkness she’s had to face, from within her family and outside, as she came to fame. If you’re looking for behind the scenes dirt, this isn’t the right book; while she indulges the controversy that’s been brought to light in recent years, she focuses much more on her personal life and the ways she’s tried to forget her problems.
McCurdy humorously tackles her experience with eating disorders, addiction, mental illness, therapy, and abuse in an unexpected and beautiful way. Written as though she’s still living in each moment, the first page is jarring enough to give you a sense of the whole book’s thematic writing.
I was wanting more, not because she owed it to readers, far from it, because I felt trusted to have the information she was so intimately sharing. She makes you feel like a friend, a confidante, and the only person who will understand.
Her story reveals the innate dangers of dismissing maternal abuse, which can be overlooked by systemic structures, and stresses the predatory nature of childhood stardom and the Hollywood obsession.
Tragically beautiful, this book has a heart that beats on every page.
Nora and Stevie’s love is put to the test when Stevie falls and wakes up from a coma with no memory of the past two years. Thrown into a world post-high school graduation and pre-“real life,” Stevie can’t remember why she’s grown so distant from her parents and her old friends, much less the secret romance she’s had with a girl from another school.
As someone raised in the South, Stevie’s complete dismissal of a queer life only to wake up with strained relationships is a strong echo of the way queer kids constantly struggle to be themselves. Her closest friends are acting strangely, her father is suddenly not around, and her mother always has a sad look in her eye. Stevie doesn’t know what’s been going on for the past two years, but she’s determined to set it right. Even if it means inadvertently denying who she is.
She tells Nora in the beginning that she’d never considered herself gay, just fundamentally incapable of falling in love, until she met Nora and held her hand for the first time. That spark, that kind of intimacy cultivates a transcendent relationship – whether the girls rekindle their romance or not, they’ve bonded because of their queerness, even if Stevie can’t remember it.
The cast of characters Derrick introduces us to are so real you could reach out and touch them. Stevie’s amnesia puts her in an incredibly vulnerable position that makes the book unbelievably personal and gentle. Exploring how queerness and intimacy are innately connected while questioning why tragedy and queer romance are always mingled in the South, Derrick’s book is a go-to for people who want to revisit their first love, need help understanding queer experiences, or really want to read something different!
This book is one of my favorite books of all time.
Following Simon and his friends, Rowell's fantasy centers their fight against the Insidious Humdrum, an evil that's sucking magic out of the world and Simon is prophesied to defeat (and they're trying to finish their last year of magic school at Watford). Featuring a ghost story, a love story, and an epic arc, this book has everything a book should have! By splitting the book into distinct "books," Rowell creates a clean delineation between the acts of the novel, allowing readers to know when things are about to take a drastic turn.
Simon, Penny, Baz, and Agatha have their own chapters, but the book features the voices of other characters (whatever role they may play in the story).
If you want, the story can end with the last page of this book. It completes the expected fantasy arc. But it’s a much more nuanced trilogy. This book may follow Simon as the Chosen One as he completes his final year at Watford and completes the Chosen One arc. But the follow up books, Wayward Son and Any Way the Wind Blows, tackle the aftermath, answering the question: what happens after the Chosen One fulfills his prophecy? (Spoiler alert: the story doesn't end there!)
Inviting queer characters to the forefront of the fight, Simon Snow discovers himself and his limitations, tackles his worst fears, copes with the trauma that comes with being Chosen, and falls in love, working through the pitfalls of a relationship built in the rubble of a war. His journey is incredibly poignant for anyone who has had to face their nightmare and came away scarred, only to discover that wasn’t the end of it.
A wonderful, approachable, and shockingly personal fantasy trilogy that's completely different from what you'd expect, Carry On stole my heart from the first page, and I hope it makes your heart sing the way it makes mine.
This is the stuff of nightmares.
Sharp and biting, harsh and brutal. This book doesn’t pull any punches. It’ll hit you in the gut, break your nose, knock out your teeth, and leave you bleeding out on the bathroom floor. Rumfit has achieved a writhing masterpiece that embeds itself in your psyche, spinning a web of transness and kink into a new
breed- I mean web of horror.
Frankie and Vanya’s pasts merge with their present relationship and the world of kink as it twists its way free into the light of day. The women who influenced them lead to an unlikely (and frankly very distressing) conclusion that you’ll never see coming. Ever.