STAFF PICK: Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens, by Tanya Boteju

TitleKings, Queens, and In-Betweens
Author: Tanya Boteju
NarratorSoneela Nankani

Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens was everything I wanted and more! As most people are, I am way too obsessed with Ru Paul’s Drag Race, so when the description of this book compared it to a mixture of Judy Blume and Ru Paul I was completely sold.

Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens, an #ownvoices novel, is told from the perspective of Nima Kumara-Clark, an awkward teenager who has reached that time in her life where she feels the pressure to discover who she is, who she wants to be, and what she wants to do with her life. Overwhelmed by these big decisions in her small-town, she finds inspiration in the most unlikely place – a drag show.

The main character, Nima, was way too relatable to me with the way she second-guessed everything she did and said, constantly worried about things that may not even happen, and was her own worst critic. These are all feelings that I’m sure most of us felt as awkward teenagers trying to navigate that grey area between being a kid and becoming an adult.

Listening to Soneela Nankani narrate this fabulous story made it so easy to get lost in Nima’s world. Each character was so real and after being introduced, it didn’t take long to visualize a fully-developed, well-rounded person that I was already attached to. I’ll be honest, when I got down to the final few chapters I almost didn’t want to finish them because I didn’t want to say goodbye to Nima and her friends.

The realness of these characters and the story that unfolds likely comes from Boteju’s personal experience with being a queer woman and also delving into the world of drag herself. This allowed her to paint the perfect picture of Nima trying out a new persona (or two) on her path to self discovery.

Giving the spotlight to an array of characters with different sexual and gender identifications, Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens is the perfect listen if you’re in need of a diverse, and heart-warming coming-of-age story.

Publisher’s Summary:

“Poignant and important.” —Refinery29

Judy Blume meets RuPaul’s Drag Race in this funny, feel-good debut novel about a queer teen who navigates questions of identity and self-acceptance while discovering the magical world of drag.

Perpetually awkward Nima Kumara-Clark is bored with her insular community of Bridgeton, in love with her straight girlfriend, and trying to move past her mother’s unexpected departure. After a bewildering encounter at a local festival, Nima finds herself suddenly immersed in the drag scene on the other side of town.

Macho drag kings, magical queens, new love interests, and surprising allies propel Nima both painfully and hilariously closer to a self she never knew she could be—one that can confidently express and accept love. But she’ll have to learn to accept lost love to get there.

From debut author Tanya Boteju comes a poignant, laugh-out-loud tale of acceptance, self-expression, and the colorful worlds that await when we’re brave enough to look.

Read more and sample the audio →

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Celebrating Love of all Kinds

This Valentine’s Day, we wanted to give a special shoutout to those of you who don’t feel represented by the protagonists of traditional romance novels. So, we’ve put together a list of audiobooks that celebrate love in all its forms, with representations of people of colour, protagonists with disabilities, LGBTQ love, non-monogamy, and so much more.

Check out this teaser of some of our favorite picks, then browse the full list here!

 

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Wedding Date, Jasmine Guillory

“What a charming, warm, sexy gem of a novel….One of the best books I’ve read in a while.” –Roxane Gay

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist. Now they are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in this fun and flirty debut novel.

 

Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity, Kristin Elizabeth Clark

The last time Jess saw her father, she was a boy. Now she’s a high school graduate, soon to be on her way to art school. But first she has some unfinished business with her dad. So she’s driving halfway across the country to his wedding. He happens to be marrying her mom’s ex-best friend. It’s not like Jess wasn’t invited; she was. She just never told anyone she was coming. Surprise!

Luckily, Jess isn’t making this trip alone. Her best friend, Christophe – nicknamed Chunk – is joining her.

Along the way, Jess and Chunk learn a few things about themselves – and each other – which call their feelings about their relationship into question.

 

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

Maybe Someday, Colleen Hoover

At twenty-two years old, Sydney is enjoying a great life: She’s in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her best friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers that Hunter is cheating on her—and she’s forced to decide what her next move should be.

Soon, Sydney finds herself captivated by her mysterious and attractive neighbor, Ridge. She can’t take her eyes off him or stop listening to the passionate way he plays his guitar every evening out on his balcony. And there’s something about Sydney that Ridge can’t ignore, either. They soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one.

Her Two Dads by Ariel Tachna

Her Two Dads, Ariel Tachna

Srikkanth Bhattacharya is a quintessential gay bachelor–until a tragedy brings his best friend’s newborn daughter into his life.

His housemate and friend, Jaime Frias, volunteers to help, never guessing he’ll fall in love with both the baby and Sri. Everything seems perfect until a visit from Social Services sends Sri into a tailspin, feeling like he has to choose between his daughter and a relationship with the man he’s coming to love.

 

Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan

Archer's Voice, Mia Sheridan

When Bree Prescott arrives in the sleepy, lakeside town of Pelion, Maine, she hopes against hope that this is the place where she will finally find the peace she so desperately seeks. On her first day there, her life collides with Archer Hale, an isolated man who holds a secret agony of his own. A man no one else sees.

Archer’s Voice is the story of a woman chained to the memory of one horrifying night and the man whose love is the key to her freedom. It is the story of a silent man who lives with an excruciating wound and the woman who helps him find his voice.

 

A Word for Love by Emily Robbins

Word for Love: A Novel, Emily RobbinsA mesmerizing debut set in Syria on the cusp of the unrest, A Word for Love is the spare and exquisitely told story of a young American woman transformed by language, risk, war, and a startling new understanding of love.

With melodic meditation on culture, language, and familial devotion. Robbins delivers a powerful novel that questions what it means to love from afar, to be an outsider within a love story, and to take someone else’s passion and cradle it until it becomes your own.

 

 

 

Water Under Bridges by Harper Bliss

Water Under Bridges, Harper Bliss

Louise Hamilton has returned to Sydney after her long term relationship broke down in Brisbane, and she’s loving her new job and her new friends. She feels like her life is finally back on track. Until a figure from her past unexpectedly comes back to haunt her.

What happens when a dark past comes back to slap you in the face? And can people ever truly move on from a deeply traumatizing experience?

 

Browse the full list to your heart’s content right here!

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