Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Odd One Out - Two Teen Friends Plus One New Friend Who Changes Everything by Liking Them Both

Odd One Out by Nic Stone

Courtney Cooper and Jupiter Sanchez (Coop & Jupe!) have been next-door neighbors and best friends since they were seven-years-old. She's his partner-in-crime and other half. But lately, Cooper can't ignore he might want something more than friendship from Jupiter.

When Rae Chin moves to town she can't believe how lucky she is to find Coop and Jupe. Being the new kid is usually synonymous with pariah, but around these two, she finally feels like she belongs. She's so grateful she wants to kiss him...and her.

Jupiter has always liked girls. But when Rae starts dating Cooper, Jupe realizes that the only girl she ever really imagined by his side was her.
Add your review of "Odd One Out" in comments!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Starless - A nonbinary teen main character (along with a disabled teen character) in an epic fantasy

Starless by Jacqueline Carey

Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him.

In the court of the Sun-Blessed, Khai must learn to navigate deadly intrigue and his own conflicted identity…but in the far reaches of the western seas, the dark god Miasmus is rising, intent on nothing less than wholesale destruction.

If Khai is to keep his soul’s twin Zariya alive, their only hope lies with an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine.

Add your review of "Starless" in comments!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Dear Rachel Maddow - A Lesbian Teen Struggles with School Politics, Her Brother's Death, and Her First "Serious" Ex-Girlfriend In Letters to the MSNBC host

Dear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner

Brynn Haper's life has one steadying force—Rachel Maddow.

She watches her daily, and after writing to Rachel for a school project—and actually getting a response—Brynn starts drafting e-mails to Rachel but never sending them. Brynn tells Rachel about breaking up with her first serious girlfriend, about her brother Nick's death, about her passive mother and even worse stepfather, about how she's stuck in remedial courses at school and is considering dropping out.

Then Brynn is confronted with a moral dilemma. One student representative will be allowed to have a voice among the administration in the selection of a new school superintendent. Brynn's archnemesis, Adam, and ex-girlfriend, Sarah, believe only Honors students are worthy of the selection committee seat. Brynn feels all students deserve a voice. When she runs for the position, the knives are out. So she begins to ask herself: What Would Rachel Maddow Do?

Add your review of "Dear Rachel Maddow" in comments!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Darius the Great is Not Okay - a questioning American teen is a fish out of water in his mother's home country of Iran, and then he meets the boy next door

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s a Fractional Persian—half, his mom’s side—and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life.

Darius has never really fit in at home, and he’s sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn’t exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they’re spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush—the original Persian version of his name—and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab.

Add your review of "Darius the Great is Not Okay" in comments!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Matthew Winner, Alex Gino, and Dr. Laura Jimenez chat about their "don't miss" LGBTQ-centered books of 2018 for kids and teens

The wonderful Matthew Winner, in the third installment of his 'Don't Miss' Books of 2018 podcast (episode #480 of The Children's Book Podcast) hosts a discussion about great LGBTQ kid and teen books published last year.

It's a lovely conversation between Matthew (an elementary school librarian and writer himself), Alex (the acclaimed middle grade author of George and the new You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P!), and Dr. Laura Jimenez (a lecturer at Boston University and the blogger of Booktoss, which uses a critical, social justice-oriented lens to talk about children's and teen literature.)

They bring up a lot of good points and book recommendations, including, I'm delighted to say, "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" (by me!)

It's a lot of fun to listen to, and added some books to my to-be-read pile... I hope it does the same for yours!

Thanks, Matthew, Alex, and Laura!

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

Friday, January 18, 2019

"The Witch Boy" and "The Hidden Witch" - The First Two Books In a Wonderful and Smart Gender Non-Conforming Middle Grade Graphic Novel Series

The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag

Even magic has rules . . .

Everyone in Aster’s family is born with magic. Boys grow up to be shapeshifters; girls into witches. No exceptions.

But Aster can’t seem to get the hang of shapeshifting. Instead, he spends his time spying on the witchery lessons the girls are getting. He seems to have a knack for casting spells and wants to know more, but the only person he can share his growing gift with is Charlie, a girl from the non-magical side of town.

Then, during a night of shapeshifting practice, one of the boys goes missing. Aster knows he can search for the boy with the witchcraft he’s been secretly learning. Could breaking his family’s most important tradition save the day—or ruin everything?

The Hidden Witch

Aster and his family are adjusting to his unconventional talent for witchery; unlike the other boys in his family, he isn't a shapeshifter. He's taking classes with his grandmother and helping to keep an eye on his great-uncle whose corrupted magic wreaked havoc on the family.

Meanwhile, Aster's friend from the non-magical part of town, Charlie, is having problems of her own -- a curse has tried to attach itself to her. She runs to Aster and escapes it, but now the friends must find the source of the curse before more people -- normal and magical alike -- get hurt.

There's lots I loved about these—fast-paced, interesting magic world, well drawn, and most of all, the thoughtfulness of how strict gender roles can backfire on both people and society. 

What do you think? Add your review of "The Witch Boy" and/or "The Hidden Witch" in comments!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Safe - A Gay Teen Mystery - Was a gay student's death suicide, or murder? Kyle (also a gay teen) needs to find out.

Safe by Mark Zubro

Roger Cook is in the middle of his senior year when Kyle Davis, the most picked on kid in his high school, commits suicide. Roger agrees to write an article on Kyle for the school newspaper. As he gathers information, Roger realizes the dead boy was gay and may have been murdered. Gay himself, Roger wants to find out the truth, but this leads him to danger and the possibility of love. Roger opens himself to even greater risk while trying to make those around him safe.

Add your review of "Safe" in comments!

Monday, January 14, 2019

#QueerHistoryIsEverywhere - Play Along On Instagram! #queerasafivedollarbill

Have you ever noticed how Abraham Lincoln is everywhere?

Not just on the Mount Rushmore, and all those U.S. pennies and five-dollar bills, but on street signs,

Like this one, spotted in the Chesnut Hill neighborhood outside of Philadelphia!

On Schools,

Like Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica, California

and even in the London airport!

Our gay friend Lincoln is everywhere!

As you may know, Abraham Lincoln's letters to Joshua Fry Speed—letters that make it pretty clear that Abraham loved Joshua—are the secret from history that inspired my debut YA novel, Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill.

So now, join me over on Instagram and let's tag both




Because reminders of men who loved men in history - specifically, Abraham and Joshua - are everywhere, and that's a great thing to point out!

It helps to counter the false narrative that the only people who mattered in history were straight, white, rich, cis-gendered, and able-bodied men.

And, it's a nice way to spread the word about this novel that's all about empowering LGBTQ teens and their allies!

Thanks for playing along,

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

Friday, January 11, 2019

No Holding Back - Gay Teen Romance on a Whirlwind Vacation in Europe

No Holding Back by Kate Evangelista
Everyone knows that Nathan is in love with his best friend, Preston—everyone except Preston. Nathan has always accepted that Preston was too focused on his swim training to worry about love. But Preston is heading off to train for the Olympics soon, so if Nathan wants his chance at love, he has to speak up now. But saying “I love you” is surprisingly difficult, even for someone as confident as Nathan.

Maybe a whirlwind vacation in Europe could help? But . . . what if it doesn’t work out and he loses the best friend he’s ever had?

This is the second novel in the author's Dodge Cove trilogy (No Love Allowed, No Holding Back, and No Second Chances). Add your review of “No Holding Back” in comments!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Hurricane Child - Caroline, a 12 Year Old Black Girl on St. Thomas crushes on another girl, while being stalked by a spirit and trying to find her missing mother

Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender a.k.a. Kacen Callender

Caroline Murphy is a Hurricane Child.

Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and twelve-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. She's hated and bullied by everyone in her small school on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, a spirit only she can see won't stop following her, and -- worst of all -- Caroline's mother left home one day and never came back.

But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline's luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, becomes Caroline's first and only friend -- and the person for whom Caroline has begun to develop a crush.

Now, Caroline must find the strength to confront her feelings for Kalinda, brave the spirit stalking her through the islands, and face the reason her mother abandoned her. Together, Caroline and Kalinda must set out in a hurricane to find Caroline's missing mother -- before Caroline loses her forever.

This middle grade book received starred reviews from
Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Booklist! Add your review of "Hurricane Child" in comments!

Monday, January 7, 2019

I'm doing the Writers Happiness Challenge! (Starting Today) If you're a writer too, I hope you'll join in...

My friend Lori Snyder, a writer herself and the leader of yoga and mediation sessions at the SCBWI Summer Conferences for many years, is once again leading her fellow writers on a "Writers Happiness Challenge."

As Lori explains on the signup page, the Writers Happiness Challenge takes five minutes a day, and is a

“series of curated daily exercises designed to help you expand your happiness, access flow states with greater ease, and create more space for and around your writing. It’s for all writers of any kind, and it’s free.

These exercises are not writing prompts in the traditional fashion. Some of them don’t even involve writing, though many of them do. They are happiness prompts written specifically for writers, designed to help create a baseline of happiness to lead to more creativity and innovation and a deeper joy around life and your writing.

You can do the challenge on your own, with your writers group, or with a writing buddy. It’s free and accessible to all.”
What does happiness have to do with writing? Lori shares,

“new studies are showing that the best emotional state for innovation and creativity is a state of high energy and positivity. In other words, it’s looking as though happiness fuels creativity more than any other emotion. Happiness does lots of other happy things, too. It makes us more able to see ourselves, our art, and our lives with more clarity, thus allowing us to see how and when we might fit in pockets of writing time. It reminds us what we care about most and how to make space for that. And, not least of all, it feels good.”

And Lori is absolutely a friend an ally to our LGBT community, so we can all feel welcome to be our true authentic selves in her Writers Happiness Community!

You can find out all the details and sign up here:

Here's to a happy and creatively fulfilling 2019 ahead!

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,