Finalist Quotes~Books of 2018

Finalist Quotes are anonymous quotes from our judges that finalist authors can choose to use for publicity, if they wish. Quotes were chosen from judges' mini-reviews and discussions about finalist books, during the reading and deliberations period.

{Books are listed alphabetically by title}

America is Not the Heart

Elaine Castillo



“America is Not the Heart is such a fresh look at the immigrant story, one that gives a new perspective of coming to America in the modern era. It gives an in-depth view of Filipino culture, the struggles of adapting to a new culture while maintaining a cultural identity, and familiar relationships within a multigenerational arc. Beautiful descriptions, touching relationships, and complex struggles create a well-written narrative that fills a gap, not only in bisexuality, but also in Filipino literature.”

Bhopal Dance

Jennifer Natalya Fink



“Remember what it was like to be young and passionate and angry and incredibly naïve, with ideas of the way things should be and the inexperience to think that they can easily be changed by challenging the system? Those characteristics are captured in Bhopal Dance: the characters' no-holds-barred approach to love and protest funneled into pellets and blasted out the barrel of a shotgun—a spray of discordant, aggressive prose mixed with a splash of performative anarchy, a flood of bodily fluids and a wad of jealousy create quite the ride through this narrative.”

Black Queer Hoe

Brittany Black Rose Kapri



“A stitching, a shaping, a celebration of the body, its powers and vulnerabilities.”

Carnal Knowledge: The Adoration of a Dangerous Woman and the Death of a Dream

Lexi Mohney

Erotic Fiction


“I like the way bisexuality was never an “issue” for the characters, who had sexual relations with people of either gender, based on their friendships. I also enjoyed the play with names throughout the book. Many of the names were suitable for both females and males.”

Cleaning House

Jeanine G'Fellers

Speculative Fiction


“I've never seen a book Quite Like This, either in the bi space or out of it. The combination of such a classic story (reincarnation/soulmates) with both bi romance and the Appalachian setting results in an experience that is utterly magic (pun not entirely intended). The overall writing quality is high, the characters are rich, the setting is lovely, and the interplay of magical realism with the Appalachian folkways is gorgeous. I especially loved the really deft weaving of the bi-ness of the elementals into the contemporary world's evolving relationship with bi-ness and other queerness. I also learned something about the experience of being bi (and also generally queer) in Appalachia, and for that the author has my gratitude.”

Dragon Magic

Megan Derr

Speculative Fiction


“Although bisexuality isn't much featured in this m/m/m/m romance, the characters are wonderfully written, the trans inclusion is top notch, the sex is hotter than hot, and the story is engaging. Recommended!”

Edge of Nowhere

Felicia Davin



“A gripping, highly readable mystery with believable bi characters and a compelling romantic plot. This author is one to watch.”

God Was Right

Diana Hamilton



“A really thought-provoking and masterful attack on the gender politics of modern poetry… This work will stick with me for a while.”

Go the Way Your Blood Beats: On Truth, Bisexuality and Desire

Michael Amherst



“This was a great book, and totally conveyed the bisexual condition. They absolutely captured it.”


Lilah Suzanne



“Well-constructed, diverse, funny and adorable. Everything we want from a Bi romance and more.”

Like Flesh Covers Bone

Jan Steckel



“Steckel dives into history to offer powerful glimpses of people and their lives and tragedies.”

A Love Song for Mr. Dakota

Gene Gant



“Well-polished and enjoyable novel ripe with characters across a diverse sexual and gender spectrum. The book touched on what it feels like to be an outsider and I think that is a feeling many, if not most, queer kids experience.”

Many Love: A Memoir of Polyamory and Finding Love(s)

Sophie Lucido Johnson




“Many Love is a unique reading experience; the writing is fun, direct and refreshing--and the drawings make the story come alive. This book explores bisexuality in thoughtful and complex ways.”


Layla Reyne



“Hot, steamy, slick - and that's just the swimming pool. An M/M novel where bisexuality is present and unapologetic.”

On the Road and Off the Record with Leonard Bernstein: My Years with the Exasperating Genius

Charlie Harmon



“An engaging tale of the backstage life of one of the most iconic musical geniuses of our time and the young assistant who helped to make it all possible.”

Other People's Oysters

Alexandra C.H. Nowakowski and J.E. Sumerau



“It's challenging to put into words the impact this book has had on me. From the preface, the reader is cautioned that the narrator of the book is different than typical characters in a story. The authors self-identify as neuro-atypical and have created a narrator in their image. This perspective has both subtle and vivid impacts on how the story unfolds. It took a while for me to get used to it. At times I found myself quite frustrated by it, but appreciated how much I learned about people on the autism spectrum. The narrator identifies as a type of bi+ person I have not encountered in fiction before. The narrator self-describes at different points in the narrative as bisexual, nonbinary, agender, polysexual, aromantic, and asexual. They don't actually use all those words, but describe those feelings. It was a refreshing ambiguity. It also didn't follow the typical formula for mysteries; it established a new approach to telling a mystery, and I was enchanted by that. I have continued to think about that book, and it still stands out in my mind distinctly from the others.”

Palmetto Rose

J.E. Sumerau



“Wonderful variety as far as gender, gender expression, and sexual identity. I would love for young folks to read this book.”

Paris Syndrome

Lisa Walker



“This was truly a romp, and a decidedly queer one, at that. The story exudes charm, no question about it.”

The Prince of Mirrors

Alan Robert Clark



“Lovely prose, the urgency of third present, and the removal of the viewpoint camera create a unique lens for these historical figures. Reminiscent of Steve Erickson, this book captures the strain of bisexuality in an era of Victorian ideals.”

Reckless Behavior

Cari Z & L.A. Witt



“A powerful and fast-paced detective thriller that shows a full-bodied, loving, and fun relationship between two men while celebrating the bisexuality and healthy relationships the main protagonist has with his two female exes. I found myself wanting to be friends with the main characters and missing them when the book was over.”


Julian Randall



“Every new poem feels like a city to explore.”

Rough Sleepers

Nem Rowan



“Lovable characters and an engaging story, with an enjoyably fresh approach to bisexuality.”

The Seeds of Dissolution

William C. Tracy

Speculative Fiction


“Magic as science and structured around music, an interestingly dimensional approach to world-building that leaves a great deal to explore, multiple well-developed and unique alien species representing, among other things, an impressively wide array of gender structures -- an impressive exercise in world-building, and characters that grew on me throughout the book.”

The Thing About Forever

Michelle Engardt



“A love story with charm, wit, and a strong grasp of bisexuality.”


Felicia Davin

Speculative Fiction


“Thoughtful world-building with an underlying hard sf spin that hit the spot for me. Ev and Alizhan are rounded and believable, and their relationship to each other is utterly endearing. The antagonists are complex with too-understandable reasons for their decisions. I also really appreciated the excellent integration of a neurodivergent character's perspectives. I can't wait to read the next book and find out more about where the story is headed.”

The Torches We Carry

L.A. Witt



“A quintessential Bi romance - a fun plot, likeable characters and some very enjoyable escapism.”

True Ash

Elizabeth J. Colen and Carol Guess



“Brief hints at the scope of the greater world and its technological wonders; the longing; the hunger for intimacy; the ambiance and threat of danger: these are all intertwined in a series of vignettes knit together to form a tapestry. The hidden mysteries keep the reader guessing, almost as if the reader is a part of the story and are given a sense of being "drugged" and not having a clear sense of reality. Illustrating a multitude of relationships and arrangements, this book illustrates how difficult it is to label love.”

We Are Young

Cat Clarke




“What impressed me most about the book was the quality and complexity of the mystery. Though the characters were either good-though-flawed or evil, they were still believable and sympathetic. The story and plot were original—I’ve never seen anything like this in a bisexual YA Mystery before. Although having an evil stepparent is as old as Cinderella, the way it was used in this story was new. I'm ecstatic that we finally have an LGBTQIA novel that takes young adults and mental health issues seriously. I long for the day when we can have queer characters just be queer like it isn't a thing, and I love that this book does that.”

The Weekend Bucket List

Mia Kerick



“Kerick knows how to create characters you can care about by showing how they care about each other.”

We Play a Game

Duy Doan



“A collection brimming with ghosts—a duet of language.”

Whatever Comes First

M.K. Lee

Erotic Fiction


“The increasing intimacy is paced like a romance book, but rather than proceeding through first touch through first kiss, the couple proceeds through increasingly intimate sex acts and experiences. It's a romance for those who do have sex on the first date, and erotica for those who don't want to wait for the sex scenes.”

What You Want to See

Kristen Lepionka



“The narrator is self-effacing and entertaining. Her detective work is her first love, relationships a confusing second. Not because she is confused but because she conveys reluctance to fully engage. Her friends-with-benefits relationship with Tom felt genuine and evolving, and the evident history with Catherine resolved into intimacy once she let her guard down. The bi writing was rich and her lovers so robust I felt I knew them. The storyline was mystifying until the end, when all the loose ends were tied up.”

Who is Vera Kelly?

Rosalie Knecht



“I loved Vera Kelly because it took me away to another country, another culture, another city, another vibe. I truly felt all her emotions, including feeling numb or feeling lost or feeling in limbo or feeling trapped. She was so clever for figuring out how to be a spy despite lack of training. She used her genuine attraction to men to survive all the while feeling an irresistible pull to women. It’s hard for a spy to let down their guard enough to be in a “real" relationship because they have to lie about themselves the whole time. The story left me wanting more. What happens after a coup? The sense of being trapped and there is no way out—all exits and methods of travel closed—just like that. A situation I’ve never been in but the author made me imagine it—put me in her character’s place. This book stuck in my mind a long time after reading it.”

The Wild Birds

Emily Strelow



“The Wild Birds follows a string of stories throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, each linked to one another by an ornamental box of preserved bird eggs and a profound respect for the natural world. Sad but also terribly lovely and full of characters who are queer in their own way, it defies the traditions of the times they live in, and eventually finding communities that hold them close.”

The Worship of Mystery

J.R. Mabry

Speculative Fiction


“J.R. Mabry weaves subtle, relentless character building with rigorous philosophical and existential inquiry to create a surprisingly funny and empathetic examination of aliens and religion. At the end, however, Mabry leaves us fundamentally wondering about humanity and our constraints upon our own growth. What a lovely, challenging exploration of sexuality and faith.”


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