ANNOUNCEMENT: In an effort to build a space for queer people like myself, every Sunday I’ll be posting interviews, opinion pieces, listicles, 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 a new year here, there’s plenty to read this January. From hilarious dark tales to love that transforms into fire and more, we’ve got you covered for the month of January with a list of LGBTQ+ books you should check out.
A special shoutout goes to Netgalley, the premier source of getting books in advance if you’re looking to review books. All the summaries were sourced from Netgalley (and from Amazon) and we hope this helps get readers interested in these creative queer writers!
1. The Swells by Will Aitken
Summary: A boatload of white privilege, The Emerald Tranquility is the most luxurious cruise liner afloat, its passengers some of the richest people in the world. Meanwhile the ship’s crew, overworked and underpaid, live packed tightly together in airless below-deck cabins.
Briony Paget, globetrotting luxury travel writer, emulates the rich — though homeless and penniless herself — as she hops from gig to all-expenses-paid gig. The passengers encounter a great number of cataclysms at sea, but no matter the catastrophe, the great ship always sails on.
On her own personal voyage, Briony encounters Mrs. Moore, an enigmatic old woman clandestinely fomenting a mutiny on this bountiful ship. With the captain overthrown, roles quickly reverse: the crew become the ship’s new leisure class and the aged passengers learn how to mop floors and scrub toilets.
Briony, confused and terrified by the resultant chaos, must decide which lot to cast her fate with, in this savage satire of the way we live now.
2. The Wedding Setup by Charlotte Greene
Summary: Ryann is thrilled when her friend Stuart asks her to help him plan his last-minute wedding. He moved across the country over a year ago, and she misses him like crazy. As an executive with event planning experience, Ryann’s the best person to help him fulfill his wildest wedding dreams.
However, things in Colorado are not what she expects, especially Maddie, the maid of honor for the other groom. Maddie is attractive, and while she’s certainly Ryann’s type, she has some different ideas about the wedding. Also, flirting with her is incredibly distracting, especially when Ryann just wants to keep things professional. With just two weeks to the big event on Valentine’s Day, can Ryann help Stuart to wedded bliss, and avoid his well-intentioned attempts to set her up with Maddie?
3. The Kiss by C.A. Popovich
Summary: Kate Willis’s marriage to a possessive, abusive woman is the biggest mistake of her life. Worried about her three-year-old daughter’s emotional state, Kate attempts to convince her wife they need marriage counseling, fails, and files for divorce. Moving from Ohio to start a new life, she settles near her sister in Michigan and joins a hiking group where she meets Leslie, and they share the most incredible kiss ever.
Leslie Baily runs the family restaurant she’ll one day own. On days off, she hikes. The last thing she expects is to meet an intriguing woman she can’t stop thinking about, let alone be kissed senseless.
Kate has a child to support, is waiting for her ex to sign divorce papers, and has absolutely no business falling for Leslie. When her wife refuses the divorce and begins to stalk her, threatening not only her chance at happiness but her life, Kate realizes to protect Leslie she has to let her go, even if it breaks her heart.
4. Sticker by Henry Hoke
Summary: Stickers adorn our first memories, dot our notebooks and our walls, are stuck annoyingly on fruit, and accompany us into adulthood to shout our perspectives from car bumpers. They hold surprising power in their ability to define and provoke, and hold a strange steadfast presence in our age of fading physical media. Henry Hoke employs a constellation of stickers to explore queer boyhood, parental disability, and ancestral violence. A memoir in 20 stickers, Sticker is set against the backdrop of the encroaching neo-fascist presence in Hoke’s hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, which results in the fatal terrorist attack of August 12th and its national aftermath.
5. Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly
Summary: Recently divorced and on the verge of bankruptcy, Dahlia Woodson is ready to reinvent herself on the popular reality competition show Chef’s Special. Too bad the first memorable move she makes is falling flat on her face, sending fish tacos flying—not quite the fresh start she was hoping for. Still, she’s focused on winning, until she meets someone she might want a future with more than she needs the prize money.
After announcing their pronouns on national television, London Parker has enough on their mind without worrying about the klutzy competitor stationed in front of them. They’re there to prove the trolls—including a fellow contestant and their dad—wrong, and falling in love was never part of the plan.
As London and Dahlia get closer, reality starts to fall away. Goodbye, guilt about divorce, anxiety about uncertain futures, and stress from transphobia. Hello, hilarious shenanigans on set, wedding crashing, and spontaneous dips into the Pacific. But as the finale draws near, Dahlia and London’s steamy relationship starts to feel the heat both in and outside the kitchen—and they must figure out if they have the right ingredients for a happily ever after.
6. His Fresh Start Cowboy by A.M. Arthur
Summary: Hugo Turner’s boots haven’t touched Texas soil in almost a decade, and he’s not sure they should now. Being in the state is complicated, but Hugo can’t resist going back for a job working with his teenage crush. His best friend’s hot older brother is now the ranch’s foreman, so he’ll be Hugo’s boss. Inappropriate? Probably. Will it stop Hugo? Probably not.
Brand Woods isn’t ready for the return of Hugo Turner. He decided long ago to keep his bisexuality private and to focus his life on running the ranch. Working next to the most dangerously tempting man he’s ever known stirs up questions Brand thought he’d put to rest.
The sparks that send their hearts galloping lead to a deeper passion than either man expects. But by giving in to the chemistry without taking a risk and committing to each other—or, more importantly, to themselves and living the lives they’ve always wanted—Brand and Hugo might lose their second chance at true love.
7. The Map to You by Rachel Stockbridge
Summary: Sasha Deforest always seems to fall hardest for girls she can’t have. And she’s never fallen harder than she has for her tough, stubborn best friend Kinsey. Sasha can’t help all the outrageously flirty things that come out of her mouth when they’re together, even if Kinsey always plays it off as a running joke. Sasha doesn’t really mind, though. She likes that they’re just friends. It’s easy. Uncomplicated. And it means she has an excuse not to open up about her troubled family life back home.
Kinsey Han has been nursing one hell of a crush on sweet, sarcastic Sasha for the better part of the last year. Not that she’d ever let Sasha know it. Kinsey tends to express herself by frowning and ordering her loved ones around. Even if she thought Sasha meant all the flirty nonsense she’s always coming up with, Kinsey could never be the kind of cheerful, outgoing woman Sasha deserves to be with. It’s better for everyone if Kinsey keeps her true feelings to herself.
But when Sasha drops everything to drive Kinsey 600 miles to deal with a family emergency, things get complicated. The more time they spend together, the harder it is for Kinsey to keep her feelings for Sasha buried—and the harder it is for Sasha to remember why it’s so important to keep Kinsey at arm’s length. If they continue to conceal the depths of their feelings for each other, they’d be missing out on falling in love with the one person who could truly get them. But taking that chance also means opening themselves up to heartbreak. And neither is sure they’re willing to risk losing the other forever.
8. D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding by Chencia C. Higgins
Summary: Instant I Do could be Kris Zavala’s big break. She’s right on the cusp of really making it as an influencer, so a stint on reality TV is the perfect chance to elevate her brand. And $100,000 wouldn’t hurt, either.
D’Vaughn Miller is just trying to break out of her shell. She’s sort of neglected to come out to her mom for years, so a big splashy fake wedding is just the excuse she needs.
All they have to do is convince their friends and family they’re getting married in six weeks. If anyone guesses they’re not for real, they’re out. Selling their chemistry on camera is surprisingly easy, and it’s still there when no one else is watching, which is an unexpected bonus. Winning this competition is going to be a piece of wedding cake.
But each week of the competition brings new challenges, and soon the prize money’s not the only thing at stake. A reality show isn’t the best place to create a solid foundation, and their fake wedding might just derail their relationship before it even starts.
9. Manywhere by Morgan Thomas
Summary: The nine stories in Morgan Thomas’s shimmering debut collection witness Southern queer and genderqueer characters determined to find themselves reflected in the annals of history, whatever the cost. As Thomas’s subjects trace deceit and violence through Southern tall tales and their own pasts, their journeys reveal the porous boundaries of body, land, and history, and the sometimes ruthless awakenings of self-discovery.
A trans woman finds her independence with the purchase of a pregnancy bump; a young Virginian flees their relationship, choosing instead to immerse themself in the life of an intersex person from Colonial-era Jamestown. A writer tries to evade the murky and violent legacy of an ancestor who supposedly disappeared into a midwifery bag, and in the uncanny title story, a young trans person brings home a replacement daughter for their elderly father.
Winding between reinvention and remembrance, transition and transcendence, these origin stories resound across centuries. With warm, meticulous emotional intelligence, Morgan Thomas uncovers how the stories we borrow to understand ourselves in turn shape the people we become. Ushering in a new form of queer mythmaking, Manywhere introduces a storyteller of uncommon range and talent.
10. The Temperature of Me and You by Brian Zepka
Summary: Sixteen-year-old Dylan Highmark thought his winter was going to be full of boring shifts at the Dairy Queen, until he finds himself in love with a boy who’s literally too hot to handle.
Dylan has always wanted a boyfriend, but the suburbs surrounding Philadelphia do not have a lot in the way of options. Then, in walks Jordan, a completely normal (and undeniably cute) boy who also happens to run at a cool 110 degrees Fahrenheit. When the boys start spending time together, Dylan begins feeling all kinds of ways, and when he spikes a fever for two weeks and is suddenly coughing flames, he thinks he might be suffering from something more than just a crush.
Jordan forces Dylan to keep his symptoms a secret. But as the pressure mounts and Dylan becomes distant with his closest friends and family, he pushes Jordan for answers. Jordan’s revelations of why he’s like this, where he came from, and who’s after him leaves Dylan realizing how much first love is truly out of this world. And if Earth supports life that breathes oxygen, then love can only keep Jordan and Dylan together for so long.
What did you think about these LGBTQ+ books for January? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below!
Queerly Not Straight posts every Sunday with opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx community since I am Latinx.)