In an effort to build a space for queer people like myself, every Tuesday I’ll be posting interviews, opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx community since I am Latinx.) Welcome to Queerly Not Straight! Enjoy and leave a comment below if you have a suggestion for what I should cover next.
With fall almost here, there’s plenty to read this August. From a queer Moulin Rouge to missed connections and meeting the love of your life in the most unexpected places, we’ve got you covered for the month of August with a list of LGBTQ+ books you should read.
Special shoutout goes to Netgalley, the premiere source of getting books in advance if you’re looking to review books. All the summary’s were sourced from Netgalley and we hope this helps get readers interested in these creative queer writers!
1. The Perfume Thief by Timothy Schaffert
Summary: Clementine is a seventy-two year-old reformed con artist with a penchant for impeccably tailored suits. Her life of crime has led her from the uber-wealthy perfume junkies of belle epoque Manhattan, to the scented butterflies of Costa Rica, to the spice markets of Marrakech, and finally the bordellos of Paris, where she settles down in 1930 and opens a shop bottling her favorite extracts for the ladies of the cabarets.
Now it’s 1941 and Clem’s favorite haunt, Madame Boulette’s, is crawling with Nazis, while Clem’s people–the outsiders, the artists, and the hustlers who used to call it home–are disappearing. Clem’s first instinct is to go to ground–it’s a frigid Paris winter and she’s too old to put up a fight. But when the cabaret’s prize songbird, Zoe St. Angel, recruits Clem to steal the recipe book of a now-missing famous Parisian perfumer, she can’t say no. Her mark is Oskar Voss, a Francophile Nazi bureaucrat, who wants the book and Clem’s expertise to himself. Hoping to buy the time and trust she needs to pull off her scheme, Clem settles on a novel strategy: Telling Voss the truth about the life and loves she came to Paris to escape.
2. Shaken or Stirred by Georgia Beers
Summary: The only girl in a house of boys, Julia Martini worked extra hard to get noticed. That has made her business-minded and driven, and she’s determined to turn her family’s struggling bar around. Simple. All she has to do is remodel, re-staff, and rebrand the place, work insane hours and ignore the sexy blonde who comes in to…she’s flirting, right? ’Cause Julia’s rusty and has zero time for dating, even if their chemistry is off-the-charts steamy.
Savannah McNally’s needs always come last. A caretaker by trade, she also takes care of her widowed dad, her brother, her sister, and everybody else on the planet, it seems. When her dad finally starts dating, Savannah can focus on her own life for once—her career, her house, maybe even that super-hot bartender at Martini’s who has her thinking naughty thoughts.
When family feuds are exposed and a popular blog trashes the bar, the weight of business decisions, family loyalty, and life in general may outweigh their attraction that could lead to more.
3. Never Be the Same by MA Binfield
Summary: When Casey meets Olivia – the actress she’s driving around for two weeks – she figures it’s going to be all business. Sure, Olivia’s hot and has women throwing themselves at her feet, but Casey is only interested in making the money she needs before going back to Portland. London is full of painful memories and, anyway, perfectly put together celebrities are not really her thing.
Olivia loves being “Susie” – she’s sassy, sexy, and never short of admirers – but living her life in the public eye is taking its toll. When her new driver turns out to be tall, dark, and undeniably handsome, Olivia is intrigued. But Casey seems like she has something to hide, and the last thing Olivia needs is someone she can’t trust.
4. What We May Be by Layla Reyne
Summary: Sean found love once, with his college roommate, Trevor, and Trevor’s best friend, Charlotte. The missing piece, Sean made it possible for Trevor and Charlotte to find love too. But then Sean left and took the love with him.
What we are…
Now an FBI agent, Sean is back in town, ten years later, to investigate a murder. A case that pits him against his ex-lovers—Charlotte, a local detective, and Trevor, a literature professor sucked into the Shakespearean mystery. Everyone guards their hearts, but before long, desire sparks anew the feelings that burned hot a decade ago. That still burn true.
What we may be…
Love is within their grasp again, but as the killer escalates, it’s more than just their hearts and futures on the line. Sean, Charlotte, and Trevor will need to work together to solve the case. If they can’t, lives will be lost and pieces of their love gone for good.
5. Growing Up Trans: In Our Own Words by Editors Dr. Lindsay Herriot & Kate Fry
Summary: What does it mean to be young and transgender today? Growing Up Trans shares stories, essays, art and poetry created by trans youth aged 11 to 18. In their own words, the works illustrate the trans experience through childhood, family and daily life, school, their bodies and mental health. Together the collection is a story of the challenges, big and small, of being a young trans person. At the same time, it’s a toolkit for all young people, transgender or not, about what understanding, acceptance and support for the trans community looks like. In addition to the contributed works, there are questions and tips from experts in the field of transgender studies to challenge the reader on how to be a trans ally.
6. Missed Connections: A Memoir in Letters Never Sent by Brian Francis
Summary: In 1992, Brian Francis placed a personal ad in a local newspaper. He was a twenty-one-year-old university student, still very much in the closet, and looking for love. He received twenty-five responses, but there were thirteen letters that went unanswered and spent years tucked away in a box. Now, nearly thirty years later, and at a much different stage in his life, Brian has written replies to those letters.
Using the letters as a springboard to reflect on all that has changed for him as a gay man over the past three decades, Brian explores such themes as body image, aging, desire, the cost of keeping your true self hidden, and the risks we sometimes need to take in life. Part letter to his younger self, the book is an open-hearted, irreverent, often hilarious, and always bracingly honest look at how our expectations of what we want and who we are change over time. It is also a profoundly moving meditation on how his generation, the queer people who emerged following the generation hit hardest by AIDS, were able to step out from the shadows and into the light. In an age when the promise of love is just a tap or swipe away, this generous and thoughtful book reminds us that our yearning for connection and self-acceptance is timeless.
7. The Origins of Iris by Beth Lewis
Summary: Iris flees New York City, and her abusive wife Claude, for the Catskill Mountains. When she was a child, Iris and her father found solace in the beauty and wilderness of the forest; now, years later, Iris has returned for time and space to clear her head, and to come to terms with the mistakes that have led her here. But what Iris doesn’t expect in her journey of survival and self-discovery is to find herself – literally.
Trapped in a neglected cabin deep in the mountains, Iris is grudgingly forced to come face to face with a seemingly prettier, happier and better version of herself. Other Iris made different choices in life and love. But is she all she seems? Can she be trusted? What is she hiding?
As a storm encroaches, threatening both their lives, time is running out for them to discover why they have been brought together, and what it means for their futures.
8. The Commitment by Virginia Hale
Summary: Since the day Lacey Reed was cinched into her costume stays, working at Spring Creek living museum has made her happier than she ever thought she could be in small-town Beechworth. When her best friend and co-worker Jen Fraser proposed that they settle down together, Lacey had readily agreed—Jen adored Lacey’s seven-year-old daughter, and the life Jen offered was more than Lacey could ever have dreamed.
But there’s just one small problem. Lacey has carried a torch for Jen for eight agonizing years. She just didn’t think that, four months into their engagement, Jen would still be completely oblivious to the fact that she set Lacey’s heart twitching in her chest every time she so much as stepped into the same room.
When a ghost from the past arrives in Beechworth, suddenly, what once seemed like a simple arrangement becomes far more complicated than they ever imagined.
9. Both Sides Now by Peyton Thomas
Summary: There’s only one thing standing between Finch Kelly and a full-blown case of high school senioritis: the National Speech & Debate Tournament. Taking home the gold would not only be the pinnacle of Finch’s debating career, but the perfect way to launch himself into his next chapter: college in Washington, DC, and a history-making career as the first trans congressman. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, for starters, Finch could develop a teeny tiny crush on his very attractive, very taken, and very gay debate partner, Jonah. Never mind that Finch has never considered whether he’s interested in more than just girls. And that dream of college in DC? Finch hasn’t exactly been accepted anywhere yet, let alone received the full-ride scholarship he’ll need to make this dream a reality.
Worst of all, though, is this year’s topic for Nationals: transgender rights. If he wants to cinch the gold, and get into college, Finch might have to argue against his own humanity. People say there are two sides to every argument. But, as Finch is about to discover, some things—like who you are and who you love—are not up for debate.
10. On Home by Becca Spence Dobias
Summary: When tragedy strikes, Cassidy, a cam girl living in Southern California, must return to the small West Virginia town she left behind. Cassidy likes her job getting naked for men on camera, though she prefers sex with women. She never came out to her family or friends back in her home state—not about her sexuality and certainly not about her sex work. Now, she must figure out how to hold on to the life she’s built for herself while picking up the pieces of her fractured family.
As Cassidy’s story unfolds, we glimpse into the lives of the strong, complicated women who came before her: Jane, the sheltered daughter of farmers, escapes West Virginia for Washington, DC to work as a Government Girl for the FBI during World War II, until a fateful mistake threatens her future. Paloma, a Fulbright Scholar, journeys to newly Westernized Prague—only to fall for an idealistic but safe man from West Virginia.
Though worlds and generations apart, all three search for meaning as they face impending motherhood and the pull to return home to rural Appalachia.
Queerly Not Straight posts every Tuesday with opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx community since I am Latinx.)