Relating to LGBTQ+ people

The Final Strife

The Final Strife

Author: Saara El-Arifi Format: Hardback Release Date: 23/06/2022

A debut that sings, in fact roars with strong vibrant themes, beautiful storytelling, and fabulous characters. Three women sit centre stage as the trials begin to find the next rulers of the Empire, each has different coloured blood and were born to very different roles. This is the first in the The Final Strife series, and Author Saara El-Arifi has created the most compelling world with roots in Ghanian folklore and Arabian myths. A vivid energy crackles into life from the start. The sense of place is immense, I saw, I felt, I believed. The three very different young women who lead in the story, in such different ways, have fascinating characters. The story flows through some thought-provoking topics, from oppression and rebellion through to drug addiction. Love can be found in its many guises including friendship as well as romance. While tyranny rules, this in an inclusive land in terms of relationships and diversity. I would say this is definitely not for younger teens due to content, but is suitable for those heading towards their twenties as well as adults. This first book sets up the continuing story rather wonderfully and I can’t wait to see where we head next. A LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, The Final Strife, so very clever, bold and provocative has set aflame a new world that promises much, highly recommended.

Star Books
Iron Annie

Iron Annie

Author: Luke Cassidy Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/06/2022

SHORTLISTED FOR THE DESMOND ELLIOT PRIZE 2022 When Dundalk underworld regular Aoife brings the wild and magnetic Annie to the Town, her desire to love and cling to this dangerous stranger culminates in a road trip through Britain to dispose of ten kilos of cocaine for her business partner, The Rat King. But when Annie decides not to return to Ireland, Aoife makes a decision that changes everything. Tender, tragic but ultimately hopeful, Iron Annie is a breakneck journey that crackles with energy, warmth and heart, and marks the arrival of a truly original new voice in literary fiction.

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead

Author: Emily Austin Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/06/2022

Meet Gilda. She cannot stop thinking about death. Desperate for relief from her anxious mind and alienated from her repressive family, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local church and finds herself abruptly hired to replace the deceased receptionist Grace. It's not the most obvious job - she's queer and an atheist for starters - and so in between trying to learn mass, hiding her new maybe-girlfriend and conducting an amateur investigation into Grace's death, Gilda must avoid revealing the truth of her mortifying existence. A blend of warmth, deadpan humour, and pitch-perfect observations about the human condition, Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is a crackling exploration of what it takes to stay afloat in a world where your expiration - and the expiration of those you love - is the only certainty.

Debut Books of the Month
Red, White and Royal Blue

Red, White and Royal Blue

Author: Casey McQuiston Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/04/2022

What happens when America's First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales? When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius-his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There's only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse. Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston's Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn't always diplomatic.  

Wild and Wicked Things

Wild and Wicked Things

Author: Francesca May Format: Hardback Release Date: 31/03/2022

Darkly suggestive and consuming, this historical fantasy novel offers a nod to The Great Gatsby. Annie Mason finds herself in an unknown world of blood magic and murder when she investigates her inheritance. This is set just after the First World War, where witchcraft, which had a huge influence in the war, has been all but banned. At the beginning I wondered if I had entered a realm already formed as I found myself hesitating and searching for information that wasn’t immediately available. However, I soon settled in and immersed myself in the stormy and decadent atmosphere, where the urge to live as large a life as possible after the effects of the war hits hard. The plot bubbled along in the background as the characters took centre stage. While Annie and Emmeline throbbed with energy as they explored their feelings for each other, the secondly characters added real depth and flavour before pulling the story together. Author Francesca May successfully evokes the excess of the time, and also balances the abuse, dark magic, and violence that can be found in the story with the innocence of Annie, love and friendship. Chosen as a Liz Pick of the Month, Wild and Wicked Things successfully steals into thoughts and thoroughly provokes feelings.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Exhibitionist

The Exhibitionist

Author: Charlotte Mendelson Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/03/2022

The longer the marriage, the harder truth becomes . . . Meet the Hanrahan family, gathering for a momentous weekend as famous artist and notorious egoist Ray Hanrahan prepares for a new exhibition of his art - the first in many decades - and one he is sure will burnish his reputation for good. His three children will be there: beautiful Leah, always her father's biggest champion; sensitive Patrick, who has finally decided to strike out on his own; and insecure Jess, the youngest, who has her own momentous decision to make . . . And what of Lucia, Ray's steadfast and selfless wife? She is an artist, too, but has always had to put her roles as wife and mother first. What will happen if she decides to change? For Lucia is hiding secrets of her own, and as the weekend unfolds and the exhibition approaches, she must finally make a choice. The Exhibitionist is the extraordinary fifth novel from Charlotte Mendelson, a dazzling exploration of art, sacrifice, toxic family politics, queer desire, and personal freedom.

Love, Sex & Murder Shows

Love, Sex & Murder Shows

Author: Kelly Banks Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/02/2022

When an old friend appears on Emily Caine’s doorstep one night, her quiet world is about to change forever. ‘Love, Sex & Murder Shows’ by Kelly Banks is a heady and sultry mix of crime fiction, thriller and romance. The countless hours spent in front of detective and true crime shows prepare Emily well for the events that unfold after Callie, an old friend from school, appears on her doorstep one Friday evening. Having left her gangster husband, Callie and Emily embark on a brief and fiery affair, an awakening for Emily that leads to her seeing the onscreen violence she’s familiar with, enter into her reality. The book gradually builds in tension, and Emily’s character becomes darker and more sinister as the story goes on. She claims at the beginning she is a “slave to her emotions” but by the end of the book I noticed the “disconnect” she was so fascinated by in the serial killers she watched. This was an interesting and certainly entertaining book, with action and tension of all kinds to keep you turning the page. The fallen angel referenced in the synopsis is reflected in the structure of the story, with Emily’s relationship with Callie being the catalyst to her falling into a darker world with the personality to match. 'Love, Sex & Murder Shows' is an entertaining read full of thrills and twists that you may not expect with an additional adult edge.

Indie Books We Love
The Second Cut

The Second Cut

Author: Louise Welsh Format: Hardback Release Date: 27/01/2022

Auctioneer Rilke has been trying to stay out of trouble, keeping his life more or less respectable. Business has been slow at Bowery Auctions, so when an old friend, Jojo, gives Rilke a tip-off for a house clearance, life seems to be looking up. The next day Jojo washes up dead. Jojo liked Grindr hook-ups and recreational drugs - is that the reason the police won't investigate? And if Rilke doesn't find out what happened to Jojo, who will? Thrilling and atmospheric, The Second Cut delves into the dark side of twenty-first century Glasgow. Twenty years on from his appearance in The Cutting Room, Rilke is still walking a moral tightrope between good and bad, saint and sinner.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Author: Malinda Lo Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/01/2022

WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE From the award winning author of Ash comes a gripping story of love and duty set in San Francisco's Chinatown during the 1950s. Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can't remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father - despite his hard-won citizenship - Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

To Paradise

To Paradise

Author: Hanya Yanagihara Format: Audiobook Release Date: 11/01/2022

From the author of the modern classic A Little Life, a bold, brilliant novel spanning three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment, about lovers, family, loss and the elusive promise of utopia. In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems). The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist's damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him - and solve the mystery of her husband's disappearances. These three sections are joined in an enthralling and ingenious symphony, as recurring notes and themes deepen and enrich one another: A townhouse in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village; illness, and treatments that come at a terrible cost; wealth and squalor; the weak and the strong; race; the definition of family, and of nationhood; the dangerous righteousness of the powerful, and of revolutionaries; the longing to find a place in an earthly paradise, and the gradual realization that it can't exist. What unites not just the characters, but these Americas, are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: Fear. Love. Shame. Need. Loneliness. To Paradise is a fin-de-siecle novel of marvellous literary effect, but above all it is a work of emotional genius. The great power of this remarkable novel is driven by Yanagihara's understanding of the aching desire to protect those we love - partners, lovers, children, friends, family and even our fellow citizens - and the pain that ensues when we cannot.

Audiobooks of the Month
Queer Life. Queer Love

Queer Life. Queer Love

Author: Golnoosh Nour, Matt Bates, Sarah Beal, Kate Beal Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/11/2021

Edited by Kate and Sarah Beal, the industry innovators behind Muswell Press, writer and poet Golnoosh Nour, and editor Matt Bates, who curates the publisher’s LGBTQI+ list, Queer Life, Queer Love is the glorious result of a global call-out for original submissions. Keen to not only push "the boundaries of gender and sexuality, but also the boundaries of literature itself," no constraints were set on the form submissions might take. And the result is a triumph - a showcase of variously stirring, subversive, intoxicating and moving poetry and prose, short stories and narrative non­-fiction that delivers the anthology’s desire to “honour a young, lost, queer life”, “to create more space to encourage and salute the diversity of queer writing, and to celebrate the richness of queer life experience”.  Among the anthology’s engaging non-fiction offerings we have Jonathan Kemp’s piece on identity and the early 1990s re-appropriation of the word “queer” as a “critical and disruptive force rather than a stinging insult”. Then there’s Sal Harris’ beautifully inventive writing on transition - its meaning, its reasons, its magic - and Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile’s punch-packing piece on being a Black transgender woman. The fiction and poetry is every bit as dazzling and varied, too - a striking, shifting kaleidoscope of lived experiences and wisdom that speaks to the soul. Brilliantly curated, the dynamic, diverse writings in Queer Life, Queer Love will have readers in their thrall.

Books of the Month
Under the Whispering Door

Under the Whispering Door

Author: TJ Klune Format: Audiobook Release Date: 28/10/2021

Witty, haunting, and kind, Under the Whispering Door is a gift for troubled times. TJ Klune brings us a warm hug of a story about a man who spent his life at the office - and his afterlife building a home. From the author of joyous New York Times bestseller The House in the Cerulean Sea. Welcome to Charon’s Crossing. The tea is hot, the scones are fresh and the dead are just passing through. When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own sparsely-attended funeral, Wallace is outraged. But he begins to suspect she’s right, and he is in fact dead. Then when Hugo, owner of a most peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace reluctantly accepts the truth. Yet even in death, he refuses to abandon his life – even though Wallace spent all of it working, correcting colleagues and hectoring employees. He’d had no time for frivolities like fun and friends. But as Wallace drinks tea with Hugo and talks to his customers, he wonders if he was missing something. The feeling grows as he shares jokes with the resident ghost, manifests embarrassing footwear and notices the stars. So when he’s given one week to pass through the door to the other side, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in just seven days. Fans of A Man Called Ove and The Good Place will fall for this queer love story by TJ Klune.

Audiobooks of the Month