Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, where book bloggers are invited to share their top ten lists centered on a certain theme.
This week’s theme was books I loved with fewer than 2,000 ratings on Goodreads, but since I’ve done similar lists before, I decided to instead talk about upcoming releases that I think deserve more hype than they’ve gotten! Here are 2019 debuts that I think are going to be amazing and deserve more attention & TBR adds.
1. Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart
This YA contemporary about a burn survivor sounds heartbreaking, and we totally need more books that tackle trauma and center survivors of different experiences.
Goodreads summary: “Relatable, heartbreaking, and real, this is a story of resilience–the perfect novel for readers of powerful contemporary fiction like Girl in Pieces and Every Last Word.
“Before, I was a million things. Now I’m only one. The Burned Girl.”
Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn’t need a mirror to know what she looks like–she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her.
A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be “normal” again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends–no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever.
But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn’t have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn’t afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Piper introduces Ava to Asad, a boy who loves theater just as much as she does, and slowly, Ava tries to create a life again. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she’s going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.”
2. The Virtue of Sin by Shannon Schuren
A YA novel about a modern-day cult where women’s voices are constantly silenced. I’m really curious about this book and am looking forward to seeing how the author tackles such a complex subject!
Goodreads summary: “A compelling novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free — perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Miriam lives in New Jerusalem, a haven in the desert far away from the sins and depravity of the outside world. Within the gates of New Jerusalem, and under the eye of its founder and leader, Daniel, Miriam knows she is safe. Cared for. Even if she’s forced, as a girl, to quiet her tongue when she has thoughts she wants to share, Miriam knows that New Jerusalem is a far better life than any alternative. So when God calls for a Matrimony, she’s thrilled; she knows that Caleb, the boy she loves, will choose her to be his wife and they can finally start their life together.
But when the ceremony goes wrong and Miriam winds up with someone else, she can no longer keep quiet. For the first time, Miriam begins to question not only the rules that Daniel has set in place, but also what it is she believes in, and where she truly belongs.
Alongside unexpected allies, Miriam fights to learn–and challenge–the truth behind the only way of life she’s ever known, even if it means straying from the path of Righteousness.
A compelling debut novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free. “
3. The Art of Breaking Things by Laura Sibson
This sounds like a great read-a-like for Akemi Dawn Bowman’s Starfish and it has such a cool cover!
Goodreads summary: “In the tradition of Laurie Halse Anderson and Sara Zarr, one girl embraces the power of her voice: rules are meant to be broken and she won’t stay silent.
Seventeen-year-old Skye has her sights set on one thing: getting the heck out of Dodge. Art school is her ticket out and she’s already been accepted to her first choice, MICA. All she has to do is survive her senior year, not get too drunk at parties, and be there for her little sister, Emma. Sure, she’s usually battling a hangover when she drives to pick Emma up, but she has everything under control. Until he returns.
When her mom’s ex-boyfriend slithers his way back into her family, it’s all Skye can do to keep the walls of her world from crumbling. Her family has no idea Skye has been guarding a dark secret about her past–about him–and she never thought she would have to face him again. She knows she has to get away from him at all costs. But how can she abandon Emma? Skye’s heart is torn between escaping the man who hurt her years ago and protecting her loved ones from the monster in their midst. Running away from her fears isn’t an option. To save her sister–and herself–she’ll have to break all the rules.”
4. My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail Villanueva
I’ve seen this own-voices MG book about a young Filipino girl getting some buzz but not nearly as much as it deserves!
Goodreads summary: “When superstitious Sab sees a giant black butterfly, an omen of death, she knows that she’s doomed! According to legend, she has one week before her fate catches up with her — on her 11th birthday. With her time running out, all she wants is to celebrate her birthday with her entire family. But her sister, Ate Nadine, stopped speaking to their father one year ago, and Sab doesn’t even know why.
If Sab’s going to get Ate Nadine and their father to reconcile, she’ll have to overcome her fears — of her sister’s anger, of leaving the bubble of her sheltered community, of her upcoming doom — and figure out the cause of their rift.
So Sab and her best friend Pepper start spying on Nadine and digging into their family’s past to determine why, exactly, Nadine won’t speak to their father. But Sab’s adventures across Manila reveal truths about her family more difficult — and dangerous — than she ever anticipated.
Was the Butterfly right? Perhaps Sab is doomed after all! “
5. Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett
This YA contemporary about a black teen who is HIV-positive dealing with a first crush sounds AMAZING and absolutely needs more buzz! (Note: this isn’t the finished cover)
Goodreads summary: “FULL DISCLOSURE is Camryn’s debut ya novel about a girl born HIV+, and how her previous attitude of acceptance toward her status shifts when she becomes sexually interested in someone for the first time.
Simone Garcia-Hampton is absolutely positive that having a crush is more dangerous than having HIV; after all, she’s got her viral load under control. Simone knows that her status isn’t a death sentence, as long as she remembers to take her medication and go to her doctor’s appointments, she can live a long, healthy life. There’s just one problem: she wants to have sex. Badly.
She knows abstinence is the safest policy, she’s heard it almost every day of her life from her sweet and well-meaning Dads, and up until now, she’s been able to handle it herself, but Miles Austin has ruined that. He’s hot! He plays lacrosse! He asks Simone about her favorite plays because of how it lights her face up! What’s a horny (but responsible) teenage girl to do!?
Simone is already agonizing about how to tell Miles about her status, but she’s been burned before when she told people that she loved that she was positive—she even had to switch schools over it, leaving her boarding school when there was a huge public outcry from uneducated parents, not to mention a scarring shunning from the people she cared about most. She’s determined to keep her status a secret, but the cardinal rule of dating-while-positive is disclosure. Allowing herself to get close to Miles would be a gigantic risk.
Before she’s able to figure out what to do, Simone finds a threatening note left in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know, too.”
6. The Year I Didn’t Eat by Samuel Pollen
We definitely need more YA & MG books that talk about eating disorders among boys, and this one is definitely on my TBR! I hope that the subject matter is handled with care and that this book gets some more attention as an important addition to this topic.
Goodreads summary: “”Some days are normal. Some days, everything is OK, and I eat three square meals, pretty much, even if those squares are ridiculously small squares. Some days, I can almost pretend there’s nothing wrong.”
Max is 14, and anorexic. His eating disorder has pretty much taken over his whole life.
His brother, Robin, gives him a geocache for Christmas. Max hides it in the forest near his house. Before long, he gets a note from ‘E’. But who is E? Is it Evie, the new girl at school, playing a trick on him?
In the midst of a family crisis, Max’s eating disorder quickly deteriorates. Anorexia pulls him further and further away from his family and friends, until he feels totally alone. Can anyone help him find a way out?”
7. The Pioneer by Bridget Tyler
This sci-fi YA novel has definitely been getting some positive buzz, but I was surprised to see that it has less than 1000 TBR adds on Goodreads. This book sounds amazing and definitely needs to be on more people’s radars!
Goodreads summary: “When Jo steps onto Tau Ceti E, it should be the happiest moment of her life. After all, she’s been training for as long as she can remember to be a cadet pilot in the International Space Agency. She’s dreamed of the day she and her family would leave Earth forever and begin life as pioneers on a new planet.
But now she can’t stop thinking of everything that has gone wrong on their mission: the terrible accident that nearly destroyed their craft, that set their voyage back years, that killed her brother, that left her unable to fly…
As Jo struggles to live with her grief and figure out who she’s going to be now, she falls in love with her new world. It isn’t hard. Jo’s team is camped out by a pristine, tumbling river at the base of a mountain range that looks like huge prisms buried in the prairie. The soring crystal peaks transform every sunset into rainbows full of colors human eyes have never seen before. And that’s just the beginning. Tau offers Jo and her family a lifetime of beauty and adventure.
Jo throws herself into helping her team, lead by her commander mother, establish their community on this amazing new world. But just when she starts to feel like her old self again, she uncovers a devastating secret her mother has been keeping from her people. A secret that could destroy her family’s pioneering dreams…if they survive that long.
With the fate of the pioneers in her hands, Jo must decide how far she’s willing to go to expose the truth — before the truth destroys them all.”
8. Making Friends with Alice Dyson by Poppy Nwosu
This YA contemporary from Australia sounds cute and has such a striking cover! I hope it gets some more love.
Goodreads summary: “My hand, which is following a stray pencil rolling across the floor, stops dead right in front of two ratty green sneakers.
My gaze follows the shoes up over long legs to a towering figure.
I stand abruptly.
Tall, black eyes, messy hair, a permanent scowl on a permanently angry face. Our school’s delinquent, a waster, the kind of boy who always sits at the back of class. The kind of boy even popular people like Sophia are afraid of.
Alice Dyson knows exactly how she’ll be spending her final year of high school. With her head down, quietly concentrating on her textbooks and homework. She’s focused on the future, and nothing and no one is going to get in her way. Until a bizarre encounter with the school’s most notorious troublemaker derails all her plans, turning Alice into the unwilling centre of attention and her life into one enormous complication.
And even worse? Now Teddy Taualai won’t leave her alone.
A story about rumours, friendship, and discovering who you really are.”
9. All of Us With Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil
I’ve mentioned this own-voices YA novel about a Latinx teen but have to mention it again! This book sounds incredible and I still think it needs more hype.
Goodreads summary: “All of Us With Wings, Michelle Ruiz Keil’s mythology-inspired #OwnVoices debut is a post-punk San Francisco fairy tale about a seventeen-year-old Latinx governess, her tween genius change, the girl’s rock star family, and a pair of ancient children bound to right the wrongs of her stolen childhood.
Seventeen-year-old Xochi loves her job as live-in governess for tween genius Pallas, enchanted by the girl’s pagan rock star parents and the storybook Victorian mansion they share with their band, Lady Frieda. Determined to deserve the fairy tale life she’s fallen into, Xochi does her best to put Pallas’s needs before her own–ignoring the grief that lingers from her grandmother’s death and rejecting her growing attraction to Pallas’s guitar player dad, who shares her half Mexican heritage and troubled past.
Then, on the night of the Vernal Equinox with a party raging in the house below, Xochi and Pallas perform a riot-grrrl ritual that unintentionally summons the Waterbabies.
When her new life and past traumas collide, Xochi must come to terms with her complicated feelings for Pallas’s father, save the mother who abandoned her and find a way to send the Waterbabies home before the San Francisco fog extinguishes their fierce magic.”
10. No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter
This is another one that I’ve talked about before but still want to see it get more attention! This fat-positive YA novel sounds soooo good and I adore the cover.
Goodreads summary: “‘It’s not my body that’s holding me back. I think it’s more of a problem that people tell me my body should hold me back.’
Meet Emily Daly, a stylish, cute, intelligent and hilarious seventeen-year-old about to start her last year at school. Emily is also fat. She likes herself and her body. When she meets Joe at a house party, he instantly becomes The Crush of Her Life. Everything changes. At first he seems perfect. But as they spend more time together, doubts start to creep in.
With her mum trying new fad diets every week, and increasing pressure to change, Emily faces a constant battle to stay strong, be her true self and not change for anyone.
A warm, funny inspiring debut YA novel from Bethany Rutter: influencer, editor and a fierce UK voice in the debate around body positivity.”
What 2019 debut do you think deserves more attention?