Hi hello, team!
It’s my birthday this week, and surrounded as I am in the corner of my couch by stacks and stacks of tantalizing books, all I want for my birthday is time. With so many queer book releases timed to land just before (or coincide with) Pride Month, there are a tonnnnn of good things in the pipeline and my TBR is looking quite daunting and uhhhhhhhhhhhh structurally unstable. If it topples over and buries me in a gay little avalanche, well —there are worse ways to go. At the moment, I’ve fallen head over heels in love with Lucky Red, a swoonworthy and delightful lesbian western, and all I want to do is mute my phone, open a window, and read.
Before I let y’all go, just a reminder that the Autostraddle fundraiser is running through next Wednesday (March 29) — please donate if you’re able, and thank you so much for your vocal support of queer indie media!
Okiedokie, let’s make like baseball and run. This week on Rainbow Reading, we’ve got:
Shelf Care: Reviews, Essays, and other Things of Note
- Lambda Literary has announced its 2023 Finalists for the Lammys!
- PREPARE TO BE SICK OF ME: Lucky Red, Claudia Craven’s debut (!?!?!?!) novel is about to be my entire personality. This love story between a prostitute and a lady gunslinger speaks directly to the part of me that believes Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were in gay love, and it’s lit my little brain up like New Year’s. I’m beyond obsessed; I won’t be at all surprised if December-Yash says this was her favorite book of the year. I’ll be writing up a full review for Autostraddle soon, so keep your eyes peeled, and in the meantime — preorder the hell out of this one.
- Happy belated book birthday to Monstrilio! This beautiful book is a favorite of one of my most trusted bookseller buddies, and with a hook like “boy who transforms into a monster, a monster who tries to be a man, and the people who love him in every form he takes” there was really no way I wouldn’t fall head over heels for this one.
- Lesbian Jesus Hayley Kiyoko has written her first book, and this YA novel based on her hit song Girls Like Girls sounds delightful.
- Out this week, Dear Mothman is a gorgeous middle grade novel-in-verse about grief, yearning, and of course, cryptids. I really want to read more queer middle-grade; queer YA is packed and vibrant, and I’ve been so touched and impressed by the storytelling chops that queer writers are bringing to younger audiences!
- Lee Mandelo’s novella Feed Them Silence came out last week! This novella set in a near-future follows a queer scientist who transplants the consciousness of one of the last wild wolves into her own brain, in search of her own wolfish and wild heart. AWOOOOOOOO-
- now THAT’S what I call a good title!! The Human Origins of Beatrice Porter and Other Essential Ghosts comes out next week, has been likened to Helen Oyeyemi, and features two at-odds siblings navigating the larger-than-life impact of secrets and stories.
- The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland and King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table are … alive in Vancouver? The Winter Knight is a queer urban fantasy fairytale detective story genre explosion, and with a badass valkyrie detective at the heart of the story, hooboy, this one sounds FUN.
- Queer rom-com…mune! Wild Things features friends-to-lovers found-family mayhem, a ramshackle countryside cottage, and vibes that feel like a shot of dopamine straight to the brain stem.
- A treasure hunt with clues from classic lesbian novels, a posse of queer college students having mysterious adventures, and a love story between an athlete and a worldly-wise second-generation lesbian who bond over their ADHD? Curious Minds comes out in a couple weeks and it sounds like a fun riff on The Secret History, The Inheritance Games, and other staples of dark academia.
- Harlem history, rare manuscripts, and a love story between an up-and-coming young artist and an auction house appraiser? Oh extremely fuck yes. Lush Lives, the second book from Roxane Gay’s publishing imprint, is out this August and sounds absolutely dreamy!
- The Song of Achilles but for medievalists — Solomon’s Crown is a queer love story from Natasha Siegel about the relationship between Richard the Lionheart and Philip II of France, and it just got this shout-out in the NYT:
“I cannot believe this book exists. I want to wrap myself in velvet to read passages aloud beside a blazing hearth that’s taller than I am.”
- A young queer Black and Indigenous woman learns how to change the color of her skin in Jennifer Neal’s debut novel – Notes on Her Color is billed as “Florida kitsch meets magical realism” and comes out this May!
- Queer Regency romance The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen is out now!
- “A cheeky and satirical portrait of the world where everything — from sports to science to soup — is gay.” Jenson Titus and Nic Scheppard, the artists behind @verygaypaint, have “an inaccurate resource for gay scholars” aka a delightful queer plundering of art and pop culture, coming out in May!
- One of these days, I’m gonna round up all the rad queer retellings of classic literature, myths, fairytales, etc, because that’s one of my favorite corners of the queer literary scene. Out now is The Witch and The Vampire, a fantasy reworking of Rapunzel!
- Anotha one: mermaids, plague doctors, bloodthirsty children, and a kingdom devoured? The Salt Grows Heavy is a fucking delicious eerie novella. The folks at Tor have done it again!
- AND ANOTHA ONE: Queer Frankenstein!! Our Hideous Progeny follows Victor Frankenstein’s great-niece and her ne’er-do-well husband as she sets out to replicate her uncle’s success and make the snobbish and standoffish scientific community take her seriously.
- Plus, some more lesbian vampires — A Long Time Dead sounds perfect for anyone anticipating the next season of Interview with the Vampire, with “scores of vampires, shifty pirates, conniving opera singers, ancient nobles, glamorous French women, and a found family that throws a very particular sort of party” and a tangled Only-Lovers-Left-Alive-style romance between Poppy and Roisin.
- A Manual for How to Love Us, a haunting collection of short stories that draws on magical realism, body horror and transformation, and the allure of dark fairy tale vibes, is out now!
“This book threads the needle. On one hand, it is absolutely a masterpiece of mystery (perfect for those reading-by-the-fireplace nights). On the other hand, it is also a resonant allegory and testament to the bravery of queer survival that does not come at the cost of solidarity but rather as the result of it. Withdrawing from the world is no solution; it’s deprivation.wp_posts— Yashwina (moi) on Lavender House
Autocorrect: Books content from the last couple weeks at Autostraddle!
Another great few weeks here in the AS books section – we covered an impressive range of genres!
- Casey reviewed The Mimicking of Known Successes!
- Lily reviewed Raving!
- Kayla rounded up the Lammy Finalists!
- Niko reviewed Running!
- Heather reviewed The Daughters of Izdihar!
- Drew revisited Carla Tomaso’s Matricide as part of her new monthly series Lost Lesbian Lit!
- Heather reviewed A Day of Fallen Night!
- Casey reviewed Infamous!
- Kayla reviewed The Fake!
- And I reviewed Lavender House!
That’s all she wrote, folks! If you’re a queer writer, particularly an early-career queer writer: I’d love to hear about the cool things you’re up to so that I can share links to your published essays, book reviews, short stories, poems, and longform features on LGBTQ+ topics! Please email me links for consideration at email@example.com with the subject line “Rainbow Reading Submission” — I’m an avid browser-tab-collector, and I especially want to hear from you if you’ve just landed your first publication or first major byline.