lgbt novels

The Most Anticipated LGBT Books of 2019

Lots of books in a shelf

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed and 2019 is just several days away. Some amazing lgbt books have come out during 2018, and there’s even more coming out in 2019 that need to be added to your pre-order list.

Between traditionally published novels and indie authors, there is no shortage of lgbt books out there now, including Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell, which was originally slated for 2020. These are just some of the most anticipated lgbt novels coming out in 2019.

                                    

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

Release Date: January 29th

Unable to come out to her conservative Muslim parents, Rukhsana Ali keeps that part of her identity hidden. And that means keeping her girlfriend, Ariana, a secret from them too. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life at home and a fresh start at Caltech in the fall. But when Rukhsana’s mom catches her and Ariana together, her future begins to collapse around her.

Devastated and confused, Rukhsana’s parents whisk her off to stay with their extended family in Bangladesh, where she is met with a culture of arranged marriages, religious tradition, and intolerance. Fortunately, Rukhsana finds allies along the way, and, through reading her grandmother’s old diary, finds the courage to stand up for her beliefs, take control of her future, and fight for her love.

The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson

Release Date: February 19th

A good friend will bury your body, a best friend will dig you back up.

Dino doesn’t mind spending time with the dead. His parents own a funeral home, and death is literally the family business. He’s just not used to them talking back. Until Dino’s ex-best friend July dies suddenly—and then comes back to life. Except not exactly. Somehow July is not quite alive, and not quite dead.

As Dino and July attempt to figure out what’s happening, they must also confront why and how their friendship ended so badly, and what they have left to understand about themselves, each other, and all those grand mysteries of life.

Critically acclaimed author Shaun Hutchinson delivers another wholly unique novel blending the real and surreal while reminding all of us what it is to love someone through and around our faults.

 The Afterward by E.K. Johnston

Release Date: February 19th

It's been a year since the mysterious godsgem cured Cadrium's king and ushered in what promised to be a new golden age. The heroes who brought home the gem are renowned in story and song, but for two fellows on the quest, peace and prosperity don't come easily.

Apprentice Knight Kalanthe Ironheart wasn't meant for heroism so early in life, and while she has no intention of giving up the notoriety she's earned, reputation doesn't pay her bills. Kalanthe may be forced to betray not her kingdom or her friends, but her own heart as she seeks a stable future for herself and those she loves.

Olsa Rhetsdaughter was never meant for heroism at all. Beggar and thief, she lived hand to mouth on the streets until fortune--or fate--pulled her into Kalanthe's orbit. And now she's reluctant to leave it. Even more alarmingly, her fame has made her profession difficult, and a choice between poverty and the noose isn't much of a choice at all.

Both girls think their paths are laid out, but the godsgem isn't quite done with them and that new golden age isn't a sure thing yet.

In a tale both sweepingly epic and intensely personal, Kalanthe and Olsa fight to maintain their newfound independence and to find their way back to each other.

The Fever King by Victoria Lee

Release Date: March 1st

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman

Release Date: March 5th

Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violinist, dedicated volunteer, active synagogue congregant, and expected valedictorian. And he works hard―really hard―to make his success look effortless. A failed calculus quiz is not part of his plan. Not when he's number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman's body spray.

Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. But as his grade continues to slide, Ariel realizes he needs help and reluctantly enlists a tutor, his classmate Amir. The two have never gotten along, but Ariel has no other options.

Ariel discovers he may not like calculus, but he does like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl

Release Date: March 5th

Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the reason she isn't among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.

Clover is convinced she's the only one left until she hears a voice on the radio urging her to go to the former Area 51. When she arrives, she's greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.

Only they aren't the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The seven strangers seem more interested in pretending the world didn't end than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But when she finds a hidden spaceship within the walls of the compound, she doesn't know what to believe...or who to trust.

The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum

Release Date: March 19th

Ryann Bird dreams of traveling across the stars. But a career in space isn’t an option for a girl who lives in a trailer park on the wrong side of town. So Ryann becomes her circumstances and settles for acting out and skipping school to hang out with her delinquent friends. 

One day she meets Alexandria: a furious loner who spurns Ryann’s offer of friendship. After a horrific accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the two misfits are brought together despite themselves—and Ryann learns her secret: Alexandria’s mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system. 

Every night without fail, Alexandria waits to catch radio signals from her mother. And its up to Ryann to lift her onto the roof day after day until the silence between them grows into friendship, and eventually something more . . .

A People's History of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian

Release Date: March 19th

Welcome to Heaven, a thirty-year-old slum hidden between brand-new high-rise apartment buildings and technology incubators in contemporary Bangalore, one of India's fastest-growing cities. In Heaven, you will come to know a community of people living hand-to-mouth and constantly struggling against the city government who wants to bulldoze their homes and build yet more glass high-rises. These families, men and women, young and old, gladly support one another, sharing whatever they can.

A People's History of Heaven centers on five best friends, girls who go to school together, a diverse group who love and accept one another unconditionally, pulling one another through crises and providing emotional, physical, and financial support. Together they wage war on the bulldozers that would bury their homes, and, ultimately, on the city that does not care what happens to them.
 
This is a story about geography, history, and strength, about love and friendship, about fighting for the people and places we love--even if no one else knows they exist. Elegant, poetic, bursting with color, Mathangi Subramanian's novel is a moving and celebratory story of girls on the cusp of adulthood who find joy just in the basic act of living.

 Once & Future by Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capetta

Release Date: March 26th

When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

No pressure.

 The Meaning of Birds by Jaye Robin Brown

Release Date: April 16th

Before: Jess has always struggled with the fire inside her. But when she meets Vivi, everything changes. As they fall for each other, Vivi helps Jess deal with her anger and pain and encourages her to embrace her artistic talent. And suddenly Jess’s future is a blank canvas, filled with possibilities.

After: When Vivi unexpectedly dies, Jess’s perfect world is erased. As she spirals out of control, Jess pushes away everyone around her and throws out her plans for art school. Because art is Vivi and Vivi is gone forever. Right when Jess feels at her lowest, she makes a surprising friend who just might be able to show her a new way to channel her rage, passion, and creativity. But will Jess ever be able to forge a new path for herself without Vivi?

A beautiful exploration of first love and first loss, this novel effortlessly weaves together past and present to tell a profound story about how you can become whole again when it seems like you’ve lost the most important part of yourself.

Starworld by  Audrey Coulthurst

Release Date: April 16th

April Sam Jones and Zoe Miller have one thing in common: they both want an escape from reality. Loner Sam flies under the radar at school and walks on eggshells at home to manage her mom’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, wondering how she can ever leave to pursue her dream of studying aerospace engineering. Popular, people-pleasing Zoe puts up walls so no one can see her true self: the girl who was abandoned as an infant, whose adoptive mother has cancer, and whose disabled brother is being sent away to live in a facility. When an unexpected encounter results in the girls’ exchanging phone numbers, they forge a connection through text messages that expands into a private universe they call Starworld. In Starworld, they find hilarious adventures, kindness and understanding, and the magic of being seen for who they really are. But when Sam’s feelings for Zoe turn into something more, will the universe they’ve built survive the inevitable explosion?

 Deposing Nathan by Zack Smedley

Release Date: May 7th

Nate never imagined that he would be attacked by his best friend, Cam.

Now, Nate is being called to deliver a sworn statement that will get Cam convicted. The problem is, the real story isn’t that easy or convenient—just like Nate and Cam’s friendship. Cam challenged Nate on every level from the day the boys met. He pushed him to break the rules, to dream, and to accept himself. But Nate—armed with a fierce moral code and conflicted by his own beliefs—started to push back. With each push, Nate and Cam moved closer to each other—but also spiraled closer to their breaking points.

 Keep This to Yourself by Tom Ryan

Release Date: May 7th

It’s been a year since the Catalog Killer terrorized the sleepy seaside town of Camera Cove, killing four people before disappearing without a trace. Like everyone else in town, eighteen-year-old Mac Bell is trying to put that horrible summer behind him—easier said than done since Mac’s best friend Connor was the murderer’s final victim. But when he finds a cryptic message from Connor, he’s drawn back into the search for the killer—who might not have been a random drifter after all. Now nobody—friends, neighbors, or even the sexy stranger with his own connection to the case—is beyond suspicion. Sensing that someone is following his every move, Mac struggles to come to terms with his true feelings towards Connor while scrambling to uncover the truth.

 Switchback by Danika Stone

Release Date: May 28th

Vale loves to hike, but kind of hates her classmates. Ash is okay with his classmates, but kind of hates the outdoors. So, needless to say they are both fairly certain that the overnight nature hike with their PE class is going to be a hellish experience. But when they get separated from the group during a storm, they have worse things to worry about than bullies and blisters.

Lost in the Canadian wilderness with limited supplies, caught in dangerous weather conditions, and surrounded by deadly wildlife, it's going to take every bit of strength, skill, and luck they can muster to survive.

The Grief Keeper, by Alexandra Villasante

Release Date: June 11th

Seventeen-year-old Marisol has always dreamed of being American, learning what Americans and the US are like from television and Mrs. Rosen, an elderly expat who had employed Marisol's mother as a maid. When she pictured an American life for herself, she dreamed of a life like Aimee and Amber's, the title characters of her favorite American TV show. She never pictured fleeing her home in El Salvador under threat of death and stealing across the US border as "an illegal", but after her brother is murdered and her younger sister, Gabi's, life is also placed in equal jeopardy, she has no choice, especially because she knows everything is her fault. If she had never fallen for the charms of a beautiful girl named Liliana, Pablo might still be alive, her mother wouldn't be in hiding and she and Gabi wouldn't have been caught crossing the border.

But they have been caught and their asylum request will most certainly be denied. With truly no options remaining, Marisol jumps at an unusual opportunity to stay in the United States. She's asked to become a grief keeper, taking the grief of another into her own body to save a life. It's a risky, experimental study, but if it means Marisol can keep her sister safe, she will risk anything. She just never imagined one of the risks would be falling in love, a love that may even be powerful enough to finally help her face her own crushing grief.

The Grief Keeper is a tender tale that explores the heartbreak and consequences of when both love and human beings are branded illegal.

Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells

Release Date: July 30th

Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold.

If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she uncovers: rumors of a lost prince, a brewing rebellion, and a prophecy that threatens to shatter the empire itself. Not to mention the strange dreams she’s been having about a beast deep underground…

With time running out, can Maren survive long enough to rescue Kaia from impending death? Or could it be that Maren is destined for something greater than she could have ever imagined?

 Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

Release Date: ???

There is no summary yet and no blurb, but it’s the sequel to Carry On which is really all you need to know.

Read about what I need to see in the second book of this series HERE.

What book are you most looking forward to in 2019? Let me know in the comments!

You May be Interested in:

7 Amazing LGBT Books Coming Out This Fall (Sep 2018)

10 Queer Authors You Need to Follow Immediately

We Need More LGBT Representation in Fantasy

My Top Five Books Featuring LGBTQ+ Characters

A Free FanFact Short Story

How Queerbaiting Got me a Wife

We Need More LGBT Representation in Fantasy

The fantasy genre has plenty of problems. Fantasy tropes can be so overused that they become comical, such as the idea of The Chosen One or the stereotypical races such as elves and dwarfs. Many fantasy novels struggle to break barriers and create something that is truly original within the genre.

I don’t even want to start writing about how women are treated in fantasy novels. There’s some amazing, strong women protagonists out there, but too many stories use women as props, or use them just for a romantic storyline.

And I cannot tell you how sick I am of reading a summary of a novel that sounds amazing when the line “and then she met a mysterious man” pops up. It’s enough to make me put the novel back about 95% of the time.

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When it comes to queer representation in fantasy, you see a couple of things (listed in order from most common to least common).

  1. There is no mention of queerness at all. Like, AT ALL.

  2. There’s a queer side character, but they’re mostly just there.

  3. There’s a queer character who has their sexuality explored, usually in a coming out subplot.

  4. There are queer characters and they just are.

I’ve written about queerbaiting before and when it comes to shipping, I can have a lot of fun with it, but that doesn’t give people the excuse to constantly write it without ever creating a queer character.

In fantasy, characters fall in love with robots. Through time travel, they fall in love with their own children. They travel across dimensions, sleep with characters that aren’t human, and fight armies off, entirely on their own.

So why exactly is it so hard to get some decent queer characters?

Of course there has been progress. A lot of media has introduced queer characters in recent years, and there are some amazing fantasy books out there that feature LGBT characters.

But in this day and age we still see a lot of media that shys away from having a protagonist, or even simply a main character, who is queer because they don’t want to be seen as “that kind of media”.

What kind of media? Because I can tell you, us queer people are tired of queer stories being all about us being queer. I want more queer stories where sexuality simply is. There are plenty of books out there about coming out, and that’s great, but we need more books where being gay isn’t a plotpoint. Our entire existence isn’t about being queer, and we need characters that reflect that.

And don’t get me started on the bury your gays trope. It makes me too angry. Too often we get amazing queer characters that are quickly killed off. And yes, in fantasy a lot of characters die, but queer characters die a lot and it has created an association between queerness and tragedy. For a long time growing up I would Google queer media before consuming it because I was tired of watching people I related to die.

Fantasy is all about exploration. In fantasy novels we explore new worlds, new races, new societies, and new ideas. If we can explore topics like that we should be able to explore sexuality and gender.

And no, you can’t say a character is gay after the book series is over with no references to it in the text. You can’t tell me across the entire wizarding world and all of Hogwarts that we couldn’t make space for a single queer character. And now, Dumbledore’s sexuality will not be explored in the Fantastic Beasts movies. Plus The Cursed Child had its own queerbaiting, and it sucks that a series I love so much has such a blatant problem.

When I think about queer representation in the media and in books, fantasy is falling behind. And though there are some great queer characters out there, none of the Big series seem to have any. Look at Avengers. With so many characters don’t you think at least someone would fall under the queer umbrella?

I don’t buy the idea that commercial book publishing won’t take queer characters. Sure, marketing a book about coming out in this day and age may be a bit tougher, but there’s no reason for a publishing house to reject a book just because a character is queer. Plenty of straight people will still read it and with more queer visibility and the demand for queer visibility, this argument doesn’t make as much sense to me as it would have a decade or two ago.

We need more queer representation in fantasy novels, especially in YA fiction. It’s not only that queer people want to see themselves represented. We want everyone to acknowledge that we exist, and that we have something to offer besides tropes and coming-of-age plots. Queer people are just people, and more of them need to be seen in this genre.

Visibility is so important for so many reasons. I want more bisexual characters. I want more ace characters. What about trans stories that don’t focus on the story of being trans? The LGBT community is huge. We shouldn’t still be fighting to get noticed in the media.

I can’t imagine I’ll ever write a novel without queer characters. I’m bisexual, I have a wife, and most of my friends are under the queer umbrella. Frankly seeing nothing but hetersoxuality in novels is jarring to me, simply because I am so used to seeing queer people in everyday life.

This month I’m participating in #LGBTWIP and you can find tons of amazing authors working on projects that feature queer characters. Our voices are getting out there more than ever, and I can’t wait to see what the future of the fantasy genre looks like with people like us in it.

Resources:

Autostraddle
The Illustrated Page
Queerly Reads
We Need Diverse Books
LGBTQ Reads
Geeks OUT
Lesbrary

Have any queer fantasy book recommendations? Let me know in the comments!