Fabulous new release and queer books

Queer books Boy Queen by George Lester CREDIT Minka Guides

If you’re looking for something new to read, here are some of the fabulous new release titles I’ve read lately. Naturally, there are a lot of queer books reviewed here plus other tasty titles that have piqued my interest. Found something you like? Make sure you use the bookstore links below each review when buying to support my site! And if you’re also Goodreads fan, follow me to stay up to date with my latest reading list.

📌 Looking for more fabulous book ideas? See my previous book reviews.

Love Frankie by Jacqueline Wilson

Book review: Love Frankie by Jacqueline Wilson | Minka Guides queer books

Frankie is nearly fourteen and teenage life certainly comes with its ups and downs. Her mum is seriously ill with MS and Frankie can feel herself growing up quickly, no thanks to Sally and her gang of bullies at school. When Sally turns out to be not-so-mean after all, they strike up a friendship and are suddenly spending all of their time together. But Frankie starts to wonder whether these feelings she has for Sally are stronger than her other friendships. Might she really be in love?

I didn’t grow up in the UK in the late 90s, so I had no idea who the author Jacqueline Wilson (or her most infamous character, Tracy Beaker) is but my flatmates were delighted when they discovered I was reading this book. Not only were they big fans of her books when they were children but also because Wilson has recently come out as a lesbian. Apparently, this is the first time she has featured a queer protagonist in her books, which they were very excited about.

I really enjoyed this book because it mixed all the highs and lows of your first teen crush with an interesting look at a family struggling with divorce, financial issues and a parent who has MS. Even as someone who hasn’t been a school kid in many decades, I enjoyed reading this YA book. Some of the words and phrases used by the teen characters didn’t feel like something they would say, which I found a little jarring at times, but overall I think Wilson did a great job of capturing that rush of first hormonal love and the struggle to realise that you don’t fit in with the heteronormative world.

I especially liked the relationship between Frankie and her boy next door/best friend Sam, who would like to be more than friends but is very accepting and supportive of the fact that Frankie isn’t interested. As for Sally, she’s pretty awful and I found it difficult to warm to her. I found the ending surprising and not that believable, so it wasn’t that satisfying for me. However, I still really enjoyed it and hope that Wilson will have another go at writing more queer books like this one.

Support my blog by buying this book from

US: Amazon

UK: Foyles | Waterstones | Amazon

AU: Dymocks | Amazon

Worldwide: The Book Depository

Boy Queen by George Lester

Queer books Boy Queen by George Lester review CREDIT Minka Guides

Robin Cooper’s life is falling apart. While his friends prepare to head off to university, Robin is looking at a pile of rejection letters from drama schools up and down the country, and facing a future without the people he loves the most. Everything seems like it’s ending, and Robin is scrabbling to find his feet. Unsure about what to do next and whether he has the talent to follow his dreams, he and his best friends go and drown their sorrows at a local drag show, where Robin realises there might be a different, more sequinned path for him . . .

While there’s nothing cute about homophobia, that’s the word that springs to mind when I try and describe this book. It’s pretty sweet, packed with so much angsty yet glam teen energy that I feel like it’s the drag queen equivalent of Pretty in Pink.

Robin feels like his whole life is over when he doesn’t make it into drama school. Plus, his jock boyfriend is in the closet and then there’s the sexy, mysterious new guy who is being surprisingly sweet. Then there’s Robin’s sassy BFF and their token straight guy, plus the gay nightclub in the next town over with a mind-blowing line-up of drag queens. It’s the making of a coming-of-age queer dream.

I really have to commend the author for ensuring that the representation of drag has some diversity. The queens aren’t all cis gay men, which is really important for a book aimed at teens who love RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s overt about the fact that drag way more inclusive than that tired TV show, which the characters repeat endless catchphrases from (one of the only annoying parts of the book). All in all, I think this is a wonderful novel for queer teens and adults.

Support my blog by buying this book from

UK: Foyles | Waterstones | Amazon

AU: Dymocks | Amazon

Worldwide: The Book Depository

Gears for Queers by Abigail Melton and Lilith Cooper

Queer books Gears for Queers by Abigail Melton and Lilith Cooper CREDIT Minka Guides

Keen to see some of Europe, queer couple Lilith and Abigail get on their old bikes and start pedalling. Along flat fens and up Swiss Alps, they will meet new friends and exorcise old demons as they push their bodies – and their relationship – to the limit.

I’m a keen cyclist but I mainly use it as a way of commuting around London. However, lockdown has meant that I’ve been going off on all kinds of two-wheeled adventures recently and left me feeling like this could be a fun way to travel. So this book landing in my lap during quarantine could not have been better timed. It had me Googling EuroVelo cycling routes and dreaming up future adventures. 

What I loved most about this book is how authentic it is. Abi and Lili originally published their story through a series of zines as they cycled around Europe together. Each chapter alternates between their two perspectives, so you see the journey through each of their eyes, encompassing their individual struggles with mental health and body image plus their combined experience of being a queer couple on the road. Their observations about what it was like to be a woman/non-binary person participating in an activity that is dominated by men really resonated with me. So if you’re queer and into cycling, I cannot recommend this book enough! 

Support my blog by buying this book from

US: Amazon

UK: Foyles | Waterstones | Amazon

Worldwide: The Book Depository

Music From Another World by Robin Talley

Queer books Music From Another World by Robin Talley review cropped CREDIT Minka Guides

It’s summer 1977 and closeted lesbian Tammy Larson can’t be herself anywhere. Not at her strict Christian high school, not at her conservative Orange County church and certainly not at home, where her ultrareligious aunt relentlessly organizes antigay political campaigns. Tammy’s only outlet is writing secret letters in her diary to gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk…until she’s matched with a real-life pen pal who changes everything.

“All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” This translated Victor Hugo quote, which Harvey Milk copied out and hung on his office wall, is how the author opens her acknowledgements at the end of this beautiful novel. It’s an incredibly moving sentiment, especially at this current moment in history, and sums up the transformative effect that the gay rights movement had on the lives of LGBTQ+ people in the 60s and 70s.

The entire book is told through the eyes of Tammy and Sharon, two Californian high school students. They’ve been assigned each other as penpals for a school project and we see their letters to each other plus Sharon’s diary entries and Tammy’s letters to Harvey Milk. We see them bond over Patti Smith and punk music followed by the revelation that both Sharon’s brother and Tammy are gay. I adored this book and the way it is carefully crafted to weave moments in history into the personal lives of these characters. I especially loved the parts that take place at the women’s bookstore, as both characters are embraced by a community of feminist queer women.

Support my blog by buying this book from

US: Barnes & Noble | Amazon

UK: Foyles | Waterstones | Amazon

AU: Dymocks | Amazon

Worldwide: The Book Depository

Hideaway Inn by Philip William Stover 

Book review: Hideaway Inn by Philip William Stover  | Minka Guides | queer books

No one in the charming river town of New Hope, Pennsylvania, needs to know that Vince Amato plans on flipping The Hideaway Inn to the highest bidder and returning to his luxury lifestyle in New York City. He needs to make his last remaining investment turn a profit…even if that means temporarily relocating to the quirky small town where he endured growing up. He’s spent years reinventing himself and won’t let his past dictate his future. But on his way to New Hope, Vince gets stuck in the middle of nowhere and his past might be the only thing that can get him to his future. Specifically Tack O’Leary, the gorgeous, easygoing farm boy who broke his heart.

If you’re looking for a good MM romance novel that you can sink your teeth into during our current ‘staycation’, then grab a copy of this new book. I identified with Vince’s journey a lot: New Yorker returning to the small town that he grew up in, carrying a lot of pain from the abuse he received for being gay. He’s done a lot to put it all behind him – perhaps a little too much. Of course, the first person he runs into is Tack, the boy next door who was the object of his teen affection. They had a strong connection but there was never the opportunity to take it further.

I like how well-rounded the characters are for a story like this. Lots of baggage to overcome, hangups about each other that they have to work past, plus broader issues around bullying, toxic masculinity, gender identities and pride. I also have a real soft spot a ‘second chance’ love story, so this book was right up my street. I think Tack was a little too amazing to be believable at times, but maybe that says more about how low my expectations are about people.

Either way, I was delighted when I discovered that this queer book may be the first in a series. Stover weaves a blissfully feel-good story, packed with missed opportunities, throbbing desire and a host of delightful supporting characters. Perfect for an indulgent weekend read this spring.

Support my blog by buying this book from

US: Barnes & Noble |  Amazon

UK: Amazon

AU: Dymocks | Amazon

Worldwide: The Book Depository

Femme Tales by Anne Shade

Book review: Femme Tales by Anne Shade | Minka Guides | queer books

Local celebrity chef Chayse Carmichael has achieved a level of success she’d only imagined while learning to cook. But when free-spirited Georgia peach Serena Frasier walks into her restaurant, Chayse realizes that success doesn’t always bring happiness if you don’t have someone special to share it with. Does love at first sight truly exist?

You definitely shouldn’t judge this book by its cover. Honestly, I nearly passed on it because the quality of the cover images looked so stock-ish that I thought it was self-published. Thankfully, the stories inside made me glad I gave it a chance. They’re fun, sexy, butch/femme spins on the classic fairy tales Beauty and The BeastSleeping Beauty and Cinderella

I sped through this queer book because the stories were so juicy and sweet, with contemporary storylines that place these characters in Chicago. Each story is packed with tension and smouldering desire with adorably sweet endings. If you’re looking for some lesbian romance with B/F dynamic, then these stories are a cute contemporary take on the bedtime stories you loved as a kid, featuring stories exclusively about women of colour. 

Support my blog by buying this book from

US: Barnes & Noble | Amazon

UK: Amazon

AU: Dymocks | Amazon

Worldwide: The Book Depository

Miss World 1970 by Jennifer Hosten

Book review: Miss World 1970 by Jennifer Hosten | Minka Guides

Jennifer Hosten went to the 1970 Miss World pageant on a lark, representing the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada, and came home with the crown and a place in history. What was supposed to be a light-hearted affair, with a parade of the world’s most beautiful women vying for the attention of the judges and comedian/host Bob Hope, turned out to be the most controversial, politically charged, and consequential pageant ever.

This fascinating memoir is by the first woman of colour to win the Miss World pageant, way back at the dawn of the 1970s. Jennifer Hosten was also the first woman to ever represents her home country, Grenada, and she very much saw her participation in the competition as an almost ambassadorial role, making her win even more important as it bought so much recognition and pride to the Caribbean island.

This book has recently been turned into a film and if you’re looking for the full backstory behind the dynamics that the plot explores, you’ll probably be disappointed. The Miss World pageant and the surrounding controversy is only explored in the first couple of chapters and only from Hosten’s perspective (as you would expect in a memoir), whereas the film appears to tell the story from a range of women who were involved in the event, from other contestants to the feminist activists who staged protests on the night.

The rest of the book looks at how Hosten’s life unfolded after winning the pageant and the political turmoil that besieged Grenada in the late 70s. I found this all quite interesting, as there is obviously so much more to her life than this one public event.

Support my blog by buying this book from

US: Barnes & Noble | Amazon

UK: Foyles | Waterstones | Amazon

AU: Dymocks Amazon

Worldwide: The Book Depository

📌 Looking for more fabulous book ideas? See my previous book reviews.

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Fabulous new release and queer books | Minka Guides

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