Book Recs

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!

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Impostors Book Review

“Frey and Rafi are inseparable . . . two edges of the same knife. But Frey's very existence is a secret.

Scottwesterfeld.com

Scottwesterfeld.com

Frey is Rafi’s twin sister—and her body double. Their powerful father has many enemies, and the world has grown dangerous as the old order falls apart. So while Rafi was raised to be the perfect daughter, Frey has been taught to kill. Her only purpose is to protect her sister, to sacrifice herself for Rafi if she must.

When her father sends Frey in Rafi’s place as collateral in a precarious deal, she becomes the perfect impostor—as poised and charming as her sister. But Col, the son of a rival leader, is getting close enough to spot the killer inside her. As the deal starts to crumble, Frey must decide if she can trust him with the truth . . . and if she can risk becoming her own person.

With Impostors, master storyteller Scott Westerfeld returns with a new series set in the world of his mega-bestselling Uglies—a world full of twist and turns, rebellion and intrigue, where any wrong step could be Frey’s last.”

I first started reading Scott Westerfeld’s YA novels years ago. To this day I regularly recommend his Uglies book series for fans of dystopian novels. When I heard that he was returning to the Uglies world with a new book, I was ecstatic. It’s the first time in quite a while that I’ve gone to a bookstore to get a book as soon as it came out.

Book: Impostors

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Rating: 4/5

A New Exciting Look at What Happens After the Revolution Ends

Years after the revolution ends and Tally Youngblood vanishes, society has re-built. For some cities, the changes have been for the better. For other cities, citizens aren’t as free as Tally Youngblood probably envisioned.

Impostors is a fast-paced story with memorable, fleshed-out characters and an extensive look at what happens to society after a revolution ends. Once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down. At times I found myself skimming sentences because I was so eager to see what would happen next.

The action started right away and pretty much never stopped. There weren’t very many quiet moments in this novel, including much time for reflection. And yet, Westerfeld manages to craft masterful character development. Frey is a joy to read. She’s a strong girl who never lets her fears or psychological scars stop her from going after her goals.

Frey made this book. She’s fierce and strong, but still expresses vulnerability. As someone who was raised to be a body double, whose only purpose was to die for her sister, who doesn’t even exist in any official capacity, you would expect her to be a more jaded, cold individual. But her love for her sister is unbreakable and her feelings for Col are solid from early on.

You don’t need to read the Uglies series to understand this novel, but without the world-building from the previous four books you may find yourself a bit lost. Impostors makes quite a few nods and references to the first four books in the series. While this is fun for me, it may be confusing for a new reader.

What I love most about this book though is that we get to see what happens after the revolution is over. In dystopian novels the entire book (or book series) focuses on changing the social order and upending governmental policies. I love those stories, don’t get me wrong, but it is very rare that you get to see what happens when those goals are met. How does society rebuild after being broken? How do people move on after being set free?

Impostors shows us that there is no easy answer for this. In some cities, freedom and privacy are highly protected. In others, leaders rule in an absolute dictatorship, censoring the media and spying on every aspect of civilian and government life. And on the outskirts are the rebels, the ones who helped this revolution begin in the first place, still fighting for their own extreme ideological ideals.

Raising a body double certainly isn’t a new idea, but the political motivations for everything Frey and Rafia’s father have done over the course of their lives was honestly shocking. Raising Frey to die for Rafia wasn’t as simple as a chess move for power, though, it was rooted in fear after the death of their older brother. There’s a lot of layers built into this story and the ending has promised me it’s only going to get more complicated.

There are only a couple reasons this book didn’t get a 5/5 from me, but they’re pretty big ones. The first is simply that the romantic relationship between Frey and Col happened too quickly for me to believe. I didn’t feel their chemistry and I would have liked to see their relationship develop more organically over the course of the book.

My second reason for dropping the rating had to do with the chapter lengths. This is a personal pet peeve of mine so it won’t bother everyone, but I hated how short the chapters were. In most sections the content of three chapters could have been condensed into one. By having so many chapter breaks I actually felt jarred out of the story.

Overall, Impostors makes a great addition to the Uglies universe, with strong characters and a fast-paced plot. I can’t wait to read what happens next.

7 Amazing LGBT Books Coming Out This Fall

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for new queer books. Years ago when I was first figuring out my sexuality, LGBT novels could actually be kinda hard to find. Luckily in 2018, new books featuring queer characters are coming out much more frequently.

Here’s 7 of them that are coming out this fall that I’m super excited about.

LGBT Books Fall 2018

1. What If It’s Us - Adam Silvera & Becky Albertalli

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

Release Date: October 9th, 2018

2. Summer Bird Blue - Akemi Dawn

Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.

Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.

Release Date: September 11th, 2018


3. Someday - David Levithan

For as long as A can remember, life has meant waking up in a different person's body every day, forced to live as that person until the day ended. A always thought there wasn't anyone else who had a life like this.

But A was wrong. There are others.

A has already been wrestling with powerful feelings of love and loneliness. Now comes an understanding of the extremes that love and loneliness can lead to -- and what it's like to discover that you are not alone in the world.

In Someday, David Levithan takes readers further into the lives of A, Rhiannon, Nathan, and the person they may think they know as Reverend Poole, exploring more deeply the questions at the core of Every Day and Another Day: What is a soul? And what makes us human?

Release Date: October 2nd, 2018

4. Black Wings Beating - Alex London

The people of Uztar have long looked to the sky with hope and wonder. Nothing in their world is more revered than the birds of prey and no one more honored than the falconers who call them to their fists.

Brysen strives to be a great falconer-- while his twin sister, Kylee, rejects her ancient gifts for the sport and wishes to be free of falconry. She's nearly made it out, too, but a war is rolling toward their home in the Six Villages, and no bird or falconer will be safe.

Together the twins must journey into the treacherous mountains to trap the Ghost Eagle, the greatest of the Uztari birds and a solitary killer. Brysen goes for the boy he loves and the glory he's long craved, and Kylee to atone for her past and to protect her brother's future. But both are hunted by those who seek one thing: power.

Release Date: September 25th, 2018

5. Girls of Paper and Fire - Natasha Ngan

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It's the highest honor they could hope for...and the most cruel.

But this year, there's a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she's made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it's Lei they're after--the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king's interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king's consort. But Lei isn't content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable--she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.

Release Date: November 6th, 2018


6. On a Sunbeam - Tillie Walden

On a Sunbeam is an epic graphic novel about a girl who travels to the ends of the universe to find a long lost love, from acclaimed author Tillie Walden.

Two timelines. Second chances. One love.

A ragtag crew travels to the deepest reaches of space, rebuilding beautiful, broken structures to piece the past together.

Two girls meet in boarding school and fall deeply in love―only to learn the pain of loss.

With interwoven timelines and stunning art, award-winning graphic novelist Tillie Walden creates an inventive world, breathtaking romance, and an epic quest for love.

Release Date: October 2nd, 2018


7. Pulp - Robin Talley

In 1955, eighteen-year-old Janet Jones keeps the love she shares with her best friend Marie a secret. It’s not easy being gay in Washington, DC, in the age of McCarthyism, but when she discovers a series of books about women falling in love with other women, it awakens something in Janet. As she juggles a romance she must keep hidden and a newfound ambition to write and publish her own story, she risks exposing herself—and Marie—to a danger all too real.

Sixty-two years later, Abby Zimet can’t stop thinking about her senior project and its subject—classic 1950s lesbian pulp fiction. Between the pages of her favorite book, the stresses of Abby’s own life are lost to the fictional hopes, desires and tragedies of the characters she’s reading about. She feels especially connected to one author, a woman who wrote under the pseudonym “Marian Love,” and becomes determined to track her down and discover her true identity.

In this novel told in dual narratives, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley weaves together the lives of two young women connected across generations through the power of words. A stunning story of bravery, love, how far we’ve come and how much farther we have to go.

Release Date: November 13th, 2018

But why wait to read queer stories? Check out my free queer fiction or take a look at my favorite LGBT novels that are already available!