Tag: Feminist

Moxie Review: Netflix’s Teen Feminist Revolution Falls Short

Moxie Review: Netflix's Teen Feminist Revolution Falls Short

Netflix’s new teen comedy Moxie — directed by Amy Poehler, who also stars as the protagonist’s mother — aims for riot grrrl rage and zine-ready radical politics but falls short, coming off more like a glossy mag for girl power that is only loosely intersectional. It’s elevated by a stellar cast that manages to be charismatic and funny even when the script veers into stilted territory.

Based on a novel of the same name by Jennifer Mathieu, Moxie follows Vivian (Hadley Robinson), a teen girl struggling to find her voice as she faces down her junior year of high school. She has a lifelong best friend named Claudia (Lauren Tsai), but she mostly keeps her head down at Rockport High. Until she suddenly discovers feminism. This discovery is made in part due to Vivian unearthing the radical zines and Bikini Kill tracks of her mother’s youth. She also sees some of the inherent injustices at her high school with the help of new friends — mostly women of color — who are a little further along than Vivian when it comes to their relationship with feminism.

Moxie Review: Hadley Robinson and Lauren Tsai stand together in the hallway of their school.

When Vivian sees captain of the football team Mitchell (Patrick Schwarzenegger) harassing new girl Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Peña), she knows that Mitchell’s behavior is wrong, but rather than confront him, she finds Lucy and advises her to keep her head down. As if Lucy’s actions are the ones that need to be corrected. She’s coming from a good place, but her advice is so steeped in internalized sexism and an inability to see Mitchell’s behavior for what it really is. She calls him annoying. Lucy points out that “annoying” hardly covers it. And by the end of the movie, it’s starkly clear that Mitchell’s everyday inappropriate behavior with girls at school points toward more explicitly abusive and violent behaviors. But Vivian’s not ready to see all that yet. So she simply tells Lucy to keep her head down, to play by the rules imposed by Rockport High’s sexist and racist social structures.

The school’s principal (Marcia Gay Harden) is even more nefariously dismissive of Mitchell’s obvious harassment of Lucy, instead insisting that Lucy change the language from “harassing” to “bothering” because she can’t be troubled with the paperwork the former might entail. Witnessing what Lucy and some of the other girls at the school are subjected to, Vivian decides to don her mother’s old enamel pin-laden leather jacket and start Moxie, a feminist zine calling for gender equality at Rockport High, where the football team consistently loses games but gets lauded with more money and attention than the women’s soccer team, which consistently wins. She remains anonymous as the zine’s creator, but a movement builds around Moxie, yielding a club of young feminists who are fed up and ready to fight. But that fight is often stymied by Moxie’s reluctance to give its characters and the script more bite.

Moxie Review: Hadley Robinson and Amy Poehler stand in the doorway.

Vivian is both the movie’s hero and its biggest problem. She’s often a grating protagonist, which is no fault of Robinson at all. But Moxie preaches intersectional feminism while positioning the narrative in the point of view of a white girl who’s only just piecing together the deep-rooted impact of patriarchy. The development of her feminist consciousness feels simultaneously too hasty and overwrought. The cast is diverse, but the women of color exist mostly to help Vivian along her arc. And while the movie goes to painstaking lengths to explain the sexist implications of certain school policies — like the school dress code — it’s less willing to touch on the racism some of its characters experience. Mitchell’s harassment of Lucy — as well as the principal’s reaction to it — isn’t just sexist; it’s racist, too. Moxie occasionally names these things, and a standout moment in the movie comes when Claudia and Vivian have a massive friendship fight in which Claudia tells Vivian that Vivian can’t understand everything about her life and her choices because she’s white. But the movie remains muted and surface-level in its attempts to talk about race.

Moxie does nail it when it comes to depicting just how commonplace sexual harassment is in high schools. Throughout the movie, boys touch girls without permission. They make comments and jokes on girls’ bodies. Ike Barinholtz plays a teacher who’s well meaning but also completely blunders an attempt to express support for the Moxie movement because he’s afraid of saying the wrong thing. But the movie is occasionally too broad in its depiction of patriarchy, like when Vivian’s mom sits down to watch the news and a generic story about women coming forward with allegations about an unnamed man. The fact that this could be any number of real-life stories is part of the point no doubt, but it also feels heavy-handed.

But again, we’re watching this all unfold from Vivian’s perspective, and while everyone has to start somewhere when it comes to developing a feminist consciousness, Vivian’s politics just aren’t as radical as the movie insists them to be. Her revolution is pretty basic.

Moxie Review: Alycia Pascual-Pena yells with the other girls at her high school in Moxie.

But then at the very end of the movie, Moxie gets a lot more serious about the misogyny at Rockport and the way girls have been silenced and zooms out way beyond Vivian. The Moxie movement suddenly carries great weight, providing a support system for one student to come forward about her sexual assault. It’s a sharp depiction of how supposedly harmless and normalized things — like the list made at the beginning of each school year where boys rank girls in categories like “most bangable,” “best rack,” and “best butt” — are actually extremely fucking harmful. But because the movie plays it so safe leading up to that weightier ending, it doesn’t all come together as powerfully as it aims to.

The whole point of Moxie as a movement at the high school is to promote collective action against the administration and the boys who are protected by the patriarchal systems that run rampant at the school. And the movie would work so much better if that collectivity were applied to its narrative and if the other characters surrounding Vivian were as developed and consequential to the story as Vivian is. It’s a delightful ensemble, but it’s not an ensemble movie. Some of the best scenes feature the whole Moxie crew. Some of the best scenes are the ones that feel less determined to make a point and instead just let these characters have personalities, like when Vivian and Lucy go on a thrift shop trip together and goof around in a way that points toward their growing intimacy. They feel like real teen girls here and not like merely mouthpieces for the messages Moxie wants to shout.

Lucy shares a kiss with soccer player Amaya (Anjelika Washington) at a Moxie party scored by riot grrrl jams courtesy of the Linda Lindas (they’re a real band—  check them out!), and I’d seen a screenshot of this moment on social media approximately a dozen times before watching the movie, so I was ready for the movie to be a little more queer than it actually is. I’m a little torn on this though, because on the one hand, there’s something genuinely refreshing about the fact that Lucy and Amaya enthusiastically kiss and then don’t require a whole Coming Out Arc — that they’re just allowed to be comfortably and joyfully queer. But it also feels like yet another missed opportunity for deepening the characters around Vivian. The kiss happens and then nothing else. And while Moxie refreshingly doesn’t make heterosexual romance the driving force of its narrative (rather, it really is Vivian’s friendships and the mission of Moxie that stay the focus), the only romance that gets any play at all is Vivian’s relationship with sweet skater boy Seth (Nico Hiraga). The queer girls get to kiss, but that’s all. We barely see them interact in any capacity after that.

With a killer soundtrack its compelling cast, Moxie does have some charm to it, but it’s frustrating in its tepid and neatly constructed approach to a teenage gender revolution. Most of the movie lacks grit and fire. Vivian does eventually admit for herself that she lacks the moxie her friends have, but like much of the punchiness that finally emerges at the end of the film, it’s too little too late. If only Moxie as a whole felt more like the rage and reckoning encapsulated in one of the final images of the movie: a massive crowd of girls screaming at the top of their lungs.


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69 Queer and Feminist Books Coming Your Way in Winter 2020 and 2021

69 Queer and Feminist Books Coming Your Way in Winter

I believe we are in living in a truly incredible time for queer and feminist books. For proof, I offer you this majestic — if I do say so myself — list of queer and feminist books hitting shelves this winter. (Don’t miss this list for fall 2020 queer and feminist books too). There is really something for every kind of reader here: comics, speculative fiction, thrillers, YA, poetry, memoir, and so much more! I would also like to add that the number of books on this list was entirely accidental!

December

Collage of a variety of books coming out in December

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo (December 1)

Let’s start this list off with a bang, shall we? In Oluo’s characteristic incisive prose — you may have read her book So You Want to Talk about Race — she details how much white men’s undue influence in the US has cost the country and its people socially, economically, and politically.

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by Robin Talley (December 1)

In the prolific queer YA author’s latest book, Talley writes about a teenage stage manager, Melody, whose unsuccessful loves have a tendency to ruin her productions. This time for Les Mis, she swears, NO falling in love. Except that girl auditioning is pretty cute.

Why Letter Ellipses by Kimberly Alidio (December 1)

In this new poetry collection by queer Black poet Alidio, “History is really an invitation / by way of arranged language / to read the occulted / in plain sight: / a poem.” The book brims with a preoccupation with language itself and the forms that language takes to communicate meaning through nonfiction, archives, history, and poetry.

Juliet Takes a Breath: Graphic Novel by Gabby Rivera and Celia Moscote (December 1)

Rivera’s beloved lesbian Puerto Rican coming of age story has been adapted to graphic novel form, with Moscote’s work as an illustrator. In case you’re not already familiar: the story follows Juliet, who flies across the country to work for her favorite (white) feminist after disastrously coming out to her family.

Ritu Weds Chandni by Ameya Narvankar (December 1)

What a necessary and beautiful picture book Ritu Weds Chandni is, about a young Indian girl fighting for queer rights. Ayesha is so excited for her cousin Ritu’s wedding and is determined to show those not supporting the lesbian couple how wrong they are.

If You Dare by Sandy Lowe (December 1)

Any romance featuring a librarian character gets extra points in my book, let alone a lesbian romance! When down-on-her-luck Lauren plays truth or dare and ends up agreeing to seduce the next woman who walks through the doors of the bar she’s drinking in, she isn’t expecting it to be Emma, a so-called good girl librarian with kinky aspirations.

Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade of Harriet the Spy by Leslie Brody (December 1)

A biography of the lesbian author of Harriet the Spy!! I don’t think this book needs anything else to sell it, but here goes: Brody dives into Fitzhugh’s inspiring life, from growing up in segregated Memphis to moving to New York and discovering lesbian bars in Greenwich Village, later visiting the art world of Europe, and negotiating the difficult position of being a lesbian author of children’s books.

Party Favors by Erin McLellan (December 1)

The latest in McLellan’s So Over the Holidays romance series, Party Favors is set at New Years. Two online BFFS, Amanda and Wren, meet up in person for the first time to celebrate and discover how strong their spark of attraction is.

The Good Girls by Claire Eliza Bartlett (December 1)

YA needs more genre mysteries, and here’s one with lesbian and bisexual characters to boot! When a girl in Jefferson-Lorne High is murdered, three of her very different classmates — the head cheerleader, the partier, and the valedictorian — are prime suspects.

Black Futures by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham (December 1)

Bringing together a wide variety of artistic forms — visual art, essays, photos, memes, recipes, poems, tweets, and more — Drew and Wortham investigate what it means to be Black and alive today, with a distinct focus on queer Black lives.

Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez (December 8)

In this eerily relevant science fiction dystopia, Hernandez imagines a Toronto where LGBTQ and disabled people and people of color are held in concentration camps. A queer Black drag performer leads a group to plan an uprising.

Femme Like Her by Fiona Zedde (December 8)

Black femme lesbian Nailah lives by a certain rulebook: she only dates studs, driving her Camaro is her form of therapy, and she leaves her exes where they belong: in the past. But when her one femme ex — clearly a mistake — comes back into her life unexpectedly, Nailah might have to ditch the rulebook and follow her heart.

Trans-Galactic Bike Ride: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories of Transgender and Nonbinary Adventures by Lydia Rogue and Elly Blue (December 8)

I mean, the subtitle of this anthology basically tells you everything you need to know about why this book should be read asap. Bikes! Trans and nonbinary people! Feminism! Science Fictional Futures! Contributors include Charlie Jane Anders, Tucker Lieberman, Diane Lane, Ava Kelly, and more.

All Aglow: A Lesbian Christmas Romance by Bryce Oakley (December 11)

Listen, queer women deserve the book equivalents of a Hallmark Christmas movies, too okay? Two families have a long-standing tradition of spending Christmas together. Cass, from one family, has had a secret crush on Stevie, from the other family, for a while … since she was eight years old. Can she catch Stevie under the mistletoe this year?

From the Woods by Charlotte Greene (December 15)

In this creepy romantic thriller, Fiona is delighted to discover how attractive the trail guide is on the two week-long backpacking trip her friends dragged her on. Soon, though, the sexy woman Roz and Fiona are on their own in the woods, running from someone or something that is after them, trying to draw it away from Fiona’s friends.

16 Steps to Forever by Georgia Beers (December 15)

An adorable opposites-attract contemporary workplace romance, 16 Steps to Forever features Brooke (a reserved bisexual woman who likes to be in control) and Macy (a lesbian who is a bit of a mess). Despite their disastrous first encounter where Macy drops a plateful of danishes on Brooke, they keep meeting outside of work. Is there something meant to be?

This Is How We Fly by Anna Meriano (December 15)

A loose retelling of Cinderella based on a 17-year-old vegan feminist Latina who joins a local Quidditch team? Yes please! An ode to Harry Potter fan communities, high school friendships, and all-gender sports with a queer and feminist sensibility!

Get It Right by Skye Kilaen (December 15)

Finn — a butch lesbian parolee— and Vivi — a femme pansexual nurse — first met while Finn was in prison and Vivi was working there. When Vivi left abruptly, Finn worried but couldn’t do anything. But now that they’ve run into each other at a medical clinic, Finn notices Vivi doesn’t seem okay. Can Finn help Vivi? And is fate offering them a second chance at love?

Moonstruck Volume 3: Troubled Waters by Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle, and Claudia Aguirre (December 15)

In the ongoing all ages fantasy comic Moonstruck, spring and the annual Mermaid festival have arrived! Girlfriends Julie and Serena hit a roadblock when Julie meeting Serena’s friends for the first time goes horribly wrong. Can their relationship survive?

Blue by Abigail Padgett (December 15)

This brand new edition of the first book in the classic lesbian mystery series (originally published in 1998) is an exciting addition to the contemporary queer mystery genre. It introduces unlikely sleuth Blue, a retired social psychologist who gets hired to investigate why a 72-year-old widow confessed to a murder her brother thinks she didn’t commit.

Streetwalking: LGBTQ Lives and Protest in the Dominican Republic by Ana-Maurine Lara (December 18)

Lara’s academic study investigates the lives of Dominican LGBTQ people, particularly as they exercise power. Looking at specific strategies employed by LGBTQ community leaders, Lara shows how they fight for rights, recognition, and subjectivity.

A Comprehensive Guide to Intersex by Jay Kyle Peterson (December 21)

Written by an intersex author, A Comprehensive Guide to Intersex is as wide-ranging as it claims but equally accessible. Peterson details what intersex is (and what it is not), discuses 40-odd variations, and historical and sociocultural aspects including medical intervention. It also includes practical tips for folks who aren’t intersex on how they can support those who are.

Wound from the Mouth of a Wound by Torrin A. Greathouse (December 22)

This poetry collection is written from the intersections of (trans)gender, disability, trauma, and survival. “Some girls are not made,” she writes, “but spring from the dirt.” Greathouse challenges standards of what deserves to be in a poem and what’s called beautiful, turning her pen to the vestigial. She also challenges form, including broken essays and a sonnet made to be read in the mirror.

January

Collage of a variety of books coming out in January

Scent by Kris Bryant (January 1)

Nico is head of a successful packaging company. Now all she needs is a girlfriend, and Sophia, whom Nico spots on the train, looks like a prime candidate. Sophia is trying to save her family’s chocolate shop, and mistakes Nico for a warehouse employee of said packaging company, who she thinks can help her with her business. Nico roles with the mistaken identity, determined to win Sophia’s love.

Journey to Cash by Ashley Bartlett (January 1)

I was so pleased to see Bartlett’s third book in the reformed drug dealer / artist Cash Braddock mystery/thriller series was being released, as I loved the previous book. This time, Cash thinks she’s finally doing okay — she’s ditched the dealing, is no longer being forced to be an informant for the police, and she’s opening an art gallery. Then her ex-girlfriend returns with news that Cash’s ex-business partner wants to kill them both.

Veterinary Technician by Nancy Wheelton (January 1)

Single mom and vet tech Valerie doesn’t have good luck in the relationship department, although she loves her small town Saskatchewan life. When a new teacher Ronnie moves to town, Val is hopeful. But Ronnie has just suffered major career and relationship blows, plus is trying to stay clean. Only a threatened stable of horses is able to bring Val and Ronnie together.

Everybody (Else) Is Perfect: How I Survived Hypocrisy, Beauty, Clicks, and Likes by Gabrielle Korn (January 5)

This challenging, intimate, and darkly funny essay collection covering both personal and cultural topics comes from the former editor-in-chief of ,em>Nylon. Topics include disordered eating, fashion, young lesbian life in NYC, “commercialized body positivity,” and the pressure to have an Instagram perfect life.

White Feminism: From the Suffragettes to Influencers and Who They Leave Behind by Koa Beck (January 5)

Former editor in chief of Jezebel Koa Beck pens a rousing call to action investigating how mainstream white feminism has been commodified and continues to shut out women of color. Blending historical research, pop culture analysis, and personal storytelling, she argues that racism and elitism have driven feminist discourse for far too long.

Outlawed by Anna North (January 5)

In this speculative western set in an America where women are valued only for their fertility, a young woman named Ada leaves her husband and midwife apprenticeship to join a gang of outlaws. The outlaws are determined to create a safe haven for outcast women. But their plan is wild and dangerous: will Ada risk it all to participate?

Persephone Station by Stina Leicht (January 5)

Leicht’s latest novel is an action-packed space opera set at Persephone Station, a supposedly backwater planet no one is interested in. That is, until it becomes the focus of Serrao-Orlov, a corporation that wants to exploit it. Two women — bar owner Rosie and honorable mercenary Angel — find themselves fighting Serrao-Orlov.

Goldie Vance: The Hocus Pocus Hoax by Lilliam Rivera and Brittney Williams (January 5)

This is the second installment in the historical middle grade series featuring lesbian tween detective Goldie Vance. Her latest mystery at the Crossed Palms resort in Florida, where Goldie lives, takes place at a magic convention. When a magician’s tricks go awry and threaten to ruin the convention, Goldie’s first date with her long-time crush Diane might crumble too!

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters (January 7)

Peters’s highly anticipated debut novel centres around three women — two trans and one cis — as their lives come together in very unexpected ways. Reese and Amy’s relationship falls apart when Amy — now Ames — makes the decision to detransition. When Ames’s lover/boss gets pregnant, Ames wonders if this might be the chance to bring the three of them together, as Reese has always wanted to be a mom.

The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry by C.M. Waggoner (January 12)

A charming historical fantasy with a queer romance at its heart, anyone? Dellaria is a hard-drinking thief down on her luck who answers an ad for a female bodyguard. Supposedly protecting a rich lady from assassins, Dellaria isn’t sure the danger is real — until it is. Also, she falls in love with a fellow bodyguard.

Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu (January 12)

Owusu’s genre-bending poetic memoir tackles themes of identity, home, Black womanhood, and the longstanding personal and generational effects of trauma. Abandoned by her mom as a child and left behind when her dad died in her teens, Owusu came to the US after living around the world, where she tried to contend with how many competing personas she felt she had inside herself.

Choosing Grace by Regina Jamison (January 14)

In 1986, Sky is a young Black woman from North Carolina who’s tired of being boxed in by what everyone thinks she should do. So she moves to Rhode Island for college, where she falls in love with her roommate Zenobia. Years later, after leaving the South for good to live in New York City, Zenobia comes back into Sky’s life. Except Sky is building a relationship with a new woman. How can she decide?

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo (January 19)

Powerhouse queer YA author Lo pivots genre-wise again with this historical YA set in 1950s San Francisco Chinatown. Two teen girls, Lily and Kathleen, risk everything for their love, as at the same time the so-called Red Scare threatens Chinese Americans like Lily and her family.

Wench by Maxine Kaplan (January 19)

In this queer feminist YA epic fantasy, Tanya is the main character who grew up in her family’s tavern. But when her guardian dies and she’s at risk for losing the tavern, Tanya must set out on a quest to petition the queen to let her keep the establishment in her own name.

Night Tide by Anna Burke (January 26)

The second installment in Burke’s Seal Cove romance series, Night Tide tackles the beloved hate-to-love trope. Lillian’s arch nemesis is Ivy, whom she initially met at veterinary school. But when Ivy is forced to move to be closer to family, she ends up taking a job at the same clinic as Lillian. Can they work together? Will they fall in love??

When Tara Met Farah by Tara Pammi (January 26)

Debuting in Pammi’s Bollywood Drama and Dance Society romance series, When Tara Met Farah is a new adult romance about Tara, a 19-year-old with a popular food blog who’s failing college math, and Farah, the 23-year-old bi research intern of Tara’s mom who’s been hired to tutor Tara. Soon they’re bonding over chicken biryani, dancing to Bollywood music, and … kissing.

Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion (January 26)

Ten never-before-collected pieces by the iconic writer make up this new book. Written in the 60s, 70s, and 2000s, the essays cover topics such as Martha Stewart, short stories, American newspapers, visiting Nancy Reagan, Gamblers Anonymous, and a piece titled “Why I Write.”

The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe (January 26)

Is 2021 the year for queer YA mysteries and thrillers? I hope so! Sharpe’s latest offering is about Nora, the daughter of a con artist. The morning after her ex walking in on her and her new girlfriend — they’re all friends but the ex didn’t know — the three girls are held hostage at bank during a robbery. These robbers have no idea who they’re dealing with.

Just As I Am by Cicely Tyson (January 26)

Tyson’s memoir traces her long and extraordinary career as a stage and screen actress from the vantage point of her ninetieth decade. She writes: “Just As I Am is my truth. It is me, plain and unvarnished, with the glitter and garland set aside.”

The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto by Charles M Blow (January 26)

From the mind of this Black bisexual journalist and author comes a powerful call to action for Black Americans coming together to amass political power to fight white supremacy. He focuses on achieving equality on Black Americans’ own terms, not under the stipulations of white people.

Don’t Forget to Water the Flowers by Jasmin Lankford (January)

Queer Black poet Lankford’s debut collection focuses on healing from trauma. She often employs extended ocean metaphors, mixing sea imagery with that of flowers, endangered species, and pollution. Check out some examples of her poetry here.

February

Collage of a variety of books coming out in February

Masquerade by Anne Shade (February 1)

In 1925 Harlem, masquerade drag balls unite people from all walks of life, such as Dinah, a nightclub chorus girl trying to support her family. She finds love with Celine, a recent transplant from New Orleans who is fleeing a family scandal. But when a notorious gangster sets his sights on Celine, the two women must risk everything to save themselves and their love.

Body Language by Renee Roman (February 1)

In this contemporary romance, Mika’s been seeking validation and a roof over her head between the sheets of rich women for too long. She decides to go back to college to prove herself. There she meets Jennifer, who offers Mika the help with her schoolwork in exchange for some help of the erotic variety.

Devil Incarnate by Ali Vali (February 1)

The seventh installment in Vali’s Cain Casey mystery series, Devil Incarnate finds Cain happier than she’s ever been, surrounded by family. But enemies threatening more than her business continue to lurk, including an FBI agent turned drug dealer and the Russian Mob.

Love Is an Ex-Country by Randa Jarrar (February 2)

Jarrar’s memoir embodies all her identities at once — queer, Arab American, fat, and Muslim — as it chronicles a cross-country American road trip inspired by an Egyptian belly dancer’s similar trip in 1940. She searches for and finds joy, as unlikely as it might seem in an America hostile to everything she is.

Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen (February 2)

This debut collection of literary short stories puts a spotlight on the diversity of China’s people, their history, and government. Oscillating between precise realism and playful magical realism, the stories feature a woman stalked by an ex-boyfriend, citizens trapped on a train for months, and more.

Milk Fed by Melissa Broder (February 2)

Broder’s first (I think?) queer book is full of dark humor, food, and religion. Rachel is a lapsed Jew who has replaced religion with calorie counting. When her therapist suggests a detox from her mother —where Rachel learnt the calorie counting — she meets Miriam, zaftig young Orthodox Jewish woman who works at a frozen yogurt shop and is eager to feed Rachel.

This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria (February 2)

This young adult fantasy stars an asexual protagonist, Karis, who has been forced to serve her country’s rulers, scribes whose goal is to unlock an ancient automaton army. But Karis’s priorities are to find her long-lost brother. On this quest, she accidentally awakens a hidden automaton and discovers a secret her country has been hiding for centuries.

Tell No Tales: Pirates of the Southern Seas by Sam Maggs and Kendra Wells (February 9)

Inspired by the real-life exploits of women pirates, this YA historical graphic novel is full of swashbuckling adventures! Anne is a pirate with a fierce reputation, her own ship, and a stellar crew. But a new enemy intent on eliminating piracy is afoot. Anne must convince her crew to follow the clues she found in a dream, which are the only route to defending their way of life.

We Play Ourselves by Jen Silverman (February 9)

Reeling from a humiliating scandal, Cass, a formerly lauded queer feminist New York playwright, flees to California to reinvent herself. There, she finds herself drawn into the world of her neighbor documentary filmmaker and the group of teen girls who are the subject of the director’s next film.

Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard (February 9)

Fireheart Tiger is a romantic fantasy novella set in a world inspired by pre-colonization Vietnam. Princess Thanh has returned to her mother’s court as a diplomat. Her new role puts her in the path of her first love, the formidable and alluring Eldris of Ephteria. Can Thanh pursue love and shape her country’s future for the better at the same time?

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna (February 9)

The first book in a new YA fantasy series, “Deathless,” The Gilded Ones tells the story of Deka, whose blood ceremony shows her menstrual blood runs gold instead of red. Facing a fate worse than death, Deka is approached by a woman offering her another option: join an army of girls just like her who are the only hope of defeating the empire’s greatest threat.

Kink: Stories edited by R.O Kwon and Garth Greenwell (February 9)

This collection of literary short stories on the themes of kink and BDSM includes work by queer writers such as Roxane Gay, Melissa Febos, Alexander Chee, Zeyn Joukhadar, and Carmen Maria Machado, as well as editorial work by R.O. Kwon. The stories explore intersecting themes of love, desire, and power.

Breaking Out by Lise MacTague (February 11)

In this hockey-themed romance, KJ is determined to win the league championship, which means it’s a bad time to be breaking in a new defensive partner. Said new partner, Adrienne, is pretty cute though. But is Adrienne interested? And is KJ the best partner for a woman looking for a person with the stability she and her young son need?

The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey (February 16)

A speculative thriller, The Echo Wife features a clone, Martine, who was constructed from Evelyn’s research. Martine is patient, gentle, obedient: everything Evelyn has never wanted to be. She’s also having an affair with Evelyn’s husband. When said husband dies, the two wives have quite the mess to clean up.

Soulstar by C.L. Polk (February 16)

The third book in Polk’s historical fantasy romance series, “The Kingston Cycle,” Soulstar is set in a magical neo-Edwardian England setting. This book concludes the twisty story of politics, witches, assassinations, deadly weather, and queer love. Featuring bisexual woman representation!

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Vol 2 by Emil Ferris (February 18)

The publication of this book has been delayed so many times: can we please all cross our collective fingers that this is finally it? Ferris’s story is set in 1960s Chicago, drawn in majestic art all done in ballpoint pen. She continues the story of Karen, baby tween dyke investigating the mystery of her Holocaust survivor neighbor’s murder.

Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters, and Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion by Tori Telfer (February 23)

This true crime book focuses on women con artists and their outrageous scams from the 1700s through to the present day. Included are an 18th century woman who stole a diamond necklace by pretending to be BFFs with Marie Antoinette and a 20th century teen girl who scammed the whole NFL.

Love is For Losers by Wibke Brueggemann (February 23)

15-year-old Phoebe thinks falling in love is for the birds in Brueggemann’s debut novel. But while volunteering at a thrift store, Phoebe meets Emma, who might just disprove all her theories. Sex-positive queer YA romantic comedies for the win!

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers (February 23)

Honey Girl might be the most anticipated sapphic romance of 2021, for good reason. It follows Grace, an over-achieving late 20s Black woman finishing her PhD in Astronomy. In an uncharacteristic turn while on a girls’ trip, she gets impulsively married in Vegas to a woman she just met. In another uncharacteristic move, Grace decides to hit pause on her controlled life and spend the summer in New York with her “wife,” whose name she only recently learned.

It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake by Claire Christian (February 23)

I firmly believe the world needs more bisexual chick lit romps, and the answer for early 2021 is It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake. At the end of a decade-long relationship, Noni makes a pact to focus on herself. She’s been living for other people for too long. Her resolution takes her all over the world, as she realizes she might be able to have everything — and everyone — she ever wanted.

Mazie by Melanie Crowder (February 23)

In the 1950s, Mazie is an 18-year-old actress who, armed with some inheritance money, leaves rural Nebraska for a six-week trip to New York, dreaming of Broadway. But as her money dwindles, the only role she manages to snag is in an industrial musical intended to sell farm equipment. In other words: Mazie is brought right back to where she started.

A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth (February 23)

Set in Toronto, this urban fantasy YA follows a whole cast of queer characters as they work together against a racing clock to stop a serial killer who might expose the world of the faeries to humans. Queer representation includes pansexuality, bisexuality, lesbianism, and gender fluidity!

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel (February 23)

Colombian American author Engel tells the story of a Colombian family ruptured by deportation in this work of searing literary fiction. Elena and Mauro make the choice to leave Bogotá for the US when their daughter is born. But their decision to overstay their visa plunges them in precariousness, eventually resulting in Mauro being sent back to Colombia. In his absence, Elena is forced to make difficult decisions to take care of herself and her growing children.

Sing for My Baby by Jenn Matthews (February)

This opposites-attract contemporary lesbian romance is about Rosie, a teacher and singer, and Amber, a woman early on her journey to sobriety. When the two women meet at a community choir, sparks fly. But Amber isn’t sure if she’s ready for a relationship, and Rosie has a secret: she’s trying to get pregnant.

Modern English by Rachel Spangler (February)

Lady Victoria returns to her family’s castle to unexpectedly find drama when she was trying to avoid it: there’s a Hollywood crew filming on location. Soon, sparks fly with starlet Sophia, who has had more than a lifetime’s worth of dealing with rich entitled men in her way. Although Victoria is a woman, Sophia is initially inclined to put her in the same category, until she realizes how much they have in common.


Which winter 2020 / 2021 queer and feminist books are you most excited about? Did I miss anything? Let everyone know in the comments!

Flamingo Rampant Kickstarts New Season of Feminist, Culturally-Diverse, and LGBTQ-Positive Kids’ Books

Flamingo Rampant Kickstarts New Season of Feminist, Culturally-Diverse, and LGBTQ-Positive

Flamingo Rampant micropress is back with a new Kickstarter for its fourth season of feminist, racially diverse, and LGBTQ-positive children’s books! This new set of #OwnVoices books includes their first middle grade titles as well as picture books. As always, they depict an array of intersectional identities that few (if any!) other publishers have matched—all with fun, joyous storylines that include Afro-futurism, seahorse dads, baseball, magic, body hair, pancakes, and more!

Flamingo Rampant Adventure

The theme for the new season of books is “Adventure.” Here are the book descriptions from the project’s Kickstarter page (though they caution that it’s possible some things could change):

  • Noodin’s Perfect Day (PB), written by Ansley Simpson and illustrated by Rhael McGregor. Noodin, a nonbinary urban Indigenous kid, doesn’t have the day they planned with a book and Ninaatig (a maple tree)—but they have a lot of fun anyway!
  • The Magic Shell (PB), written by Jillian Christmas and illustrated by Diana G. A. Mungaray. When Pigeon Pea asks one question too many, her auntie gives her a magic cowrie shell that lets her time travel back and meet her ancestors, including some pre-colonial gender transcenders.
  • The Light Of You (PB), written by Trystan Reese and Biff Chaplow, illustrated by Van Binfa. A family-building story featuring adoption and a seahorse papa (a trans man birth parent), told through a poem—with space for you to add your own family stanzas! [Mombian’s note: This is not just what I believe is the first picture book about a pregnant trans dad and one of few about trans parents overall, but also one of very few with LGBTQ parents of any identity that shows a child getting a sibling. (I can think of only one other, an older self-published work.)]
  • It’s A Hit! (MG), written by Arin Cole Barth and Marika Barth. A story of baseball and friendship, where a nerdy, newly-out trans boy and the super-jock son of two queer parents form a lasting friendship.
  • Metatron’s Children (MG), written by Chy Ryan Spain and illustrator TBD. An Afro-Futurist tale set in a dystopian future, in which two Black, nonbinary children unlock a secret that might just save the world.
  • Puberty: Pick Your Path! (MG) written by Dr. Sydney Tam, MD, CCFP and Rakiyah Jones, DNP, FNP-BC, illustrated by Bishakh Som and kd diamond. This groundbreaking book introduces young people to the process of puberty, allowing any kid to learn about the changes that may come. The book describes many options for trans and nonbinary kids to explore—for the first time ever—possible routes and options through puberty and into adulthood, with age-appropriate illustrations and diagrams throughout. Kids can feel a sense of agency about their puberty experience, learn about their friends’ experiences, and explore differences as well as commonalities—everyone  makes a stop at Body Hair Station.

It will take money, though, to bring these books to our shelves. If your financial situation allows, I hope you’ll consider supporting the project. Note that you can choose to receive all six books, just the picture books, or just the middle grade ones. (Pro tip: If your kids are still in the picture book age range, get the full set. They’ll be ready for the middle grade ones before you know it. Or if they’re older, get the full set and offer the picture books to a friend, library, or school.) The books are estimated to ship in September 2021.

Want to know more? Check out the promotional video, in which the authors and Flamingo Rampant Chief Flamingo S. Bear Bergman tell you more about these stories: