As the current pandemic continues to wreak havoc around the world, bookstores are closed, Amazon shipping is delayed, and authors have been forced to push back their release dates. Many in the book community are suffering as fewer and fewer are able to buy books. But you can help! Pre-ordering authors’ books is the best thing you can do to support them at any time, but especially now. You can even pre-order through most independent bookstores, helping to support them just as much as your favorite authors!
Debut authors in particular are publishing at a time when readers can’t access their books as easily. Without the same fan base as more established authors, they must rely on online marketing and purchases. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of seven of our most highly-anticipated debut reads of the year, along with their glowing Goodreads descriptions! We hope at least one or two (or seven!) will spark your interest–and maybe even a pre-order!
1. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
Looking for a rich, unique YA fantasy the likes of An Ember in the Ashes and The Wrath and the Dawn? This fantasy duology is set to release June 2, 2020!
For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts his younger sister, Nadia, as payment to enter the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.
But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.
When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a heart-pounding course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?
I, for one, am beyond excited for this YA debut. With high stakes, ancient magic, and characters trying to kill each other, this is one of the most highly-anticipated reads of the year.
2. Meet You in the Middle by Devon Daniels
In a time that’s more politically-charged than ever, this lighthearted rom-com about a guy and a girl on opposite sides of politics is the perfect read. The book is set to release September 8, 2020.
There’s just one thing standing between liberal Senate staffer Kate Adams and passage of the landmark legislation she’s been fighting for all year: Ben Mackenzie, intimidating gatekeeper for one of DC’s most powerful conservative senators. After Kate and Ben lock horns in a meet-not-so-cute, they vow to take each other down—by any means necessary.
She thinks he’s arrogant (and doesn’t deserve those gorgeous green eyes). He thinks she’s too quick to judge (and irresistibly maddening). But as their endless game of one-upmanship becomes Kate’s favorite part of the day, she starts to wonder if her feelings for Ben are closer to attraction than animosity…and maybe their sparring is flirting. When Kate realizes there’s more to Ben than meets the eye, she’s forced to confront her biggest fear: In her sworn enemy, she may have found her perfect match.
As someone who’s obsessed with Scandal, I’m eager to see where this book goes. Plus, who can resist a good hate-to-love romance?
3. Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson
Every YA lover will admit that sci-fi and fantasy books of the genre are prone to using the same tropes over and over again. While a strong author can re-purpose these tropes into something new, sometimes us readers just want something completely original. This YA sci-fi debut, set to release June 30, 2020, appears to be just that!
When Andra wakes up, she’s drowning.
Not only that, but she’s in a hot, dirty cave, it’s the year 3102, and everyone keeps calling her Goddess. When Andra went into a cryonic sleep for a trip across the galaxy, she expected to wake up in a hundred years, not a thousand. Worst of all, the rest of the colonists—including her family and friends—are dead. They died centuries ago, and for some reason, their descendants think Andra’s a deity. She knows she’s nothing special, but she’ll play along if it means she can figure out why she was left in stasis and how to get back to Earth.
Zhade, the exiled bastard prince of Eerensed, has other plans. Four years ago, the sleeping Goddess’s glass coffin disappeared from the palace, and Zhade devoted himself to finding it. Now he’s hoping the Goddess will be the key to taking his rightful place on the throne—if he can get her to play her part, that is. Because if his people realize she doesn’t actually have the power to save their dying planet, they’ll kill her.
With a vicious monarch on the throne and a city tearing apart at the seams, Zhade and Andra might never be able to unlock the mystery of her fate, let alone find a way to unseat the king, especially since Zhade hasn’t exactly been forthcoming with Andra. And a thousand years from home, is there any way of knowing that Earth is better than the planet she’s woken to?
I am obsessed with this premise!! Anything sci-fi with fantasy vibes is sure to please.
4. Crossings by Alex Landragin
This highly-anticipated adult read offers three stories—but two different ways of reading them. The book is set to release July 28, 2020!
On the brink of the Nazi occupation of Paris, a German-Jewish bookbinder stumbles across a manuscript called Crossings. It has three narratives, each as unlikely as the next. And the narratives can be read one of two ways: either straight through or according to an alternate chapter sequence.
The first story in Crossings is a never-before-seen ghost story by the poet Charles Baudelaire, penned for an illiterate girl. Next is a noir romance about an exiled man, modeled on Walter Benjamin, whose recurring nightmares are cured when he falls in love with a storyteller who draws him into a dangerous intrigue of rare manuscripts, police corruption, and literary societies. Finally, there are the fantastical memoirs of a woman-turned-monarch whose singular life has spanned seven generations.
With each new chapter, the stunning connections between these seemingly disparate people grow clearer and more extraordinary. Crossings is an unforgettable adventure full of love, longing and empathy.
As outlined in the preface and reader’s note, the book can be read one of two ways. You can either start at the first page and read all the way to the last one, or you can jump between the three stories with the “Baroness sequence pagination.” Talk about reading creatively!
5. If We Were Us by K.L. Walther
This fun YA contemporary set at a prestigious high school is bound to relieve your coronavirus-related woes this June 2, 2020!
Everyone at the prestigious Bexley School believes that Sage Morgan and Charlie Carmichael are meant to be. Even though Charlie seems to have a new girlfriend every month, and Sage has never had a real relationship, their friends and family all know it’s just a matter of time until they realize that they are actually in love.
When Luke Morrissey shows up on the Bexley campus his presence immediately shakes things up. Charlie and Luke are drawn to each other the moment they meet, giving Sage the opportunity to steal away to spend time with Charlie’s twin brother, Nick.
But Charlie is afraid of what others will think if he accepts that he has much more than a friendship with Luke, that he’s never felt this way before. And Sage fears that if she lets things with Nick get too serious too quickly, they won’t be able to last as a couple outside of high school and miss their chance at forever. The duo will need to rely on each other and their lifelong friendship to figure things out with the boys they love.
What I love most about this premise is that it takes a cliche and completely turns it on its head. The author could easily have made the staple two friends everyone expects to get together, in fact, get together. But Walther gives us something even better—two friends struggling with public perception and the future. Needless to say, I can’t wait to get my hands on this!
6. All My Lover’s Mothers by Ilana Masad
Masad’s debut fiction novel (which is totally giving me Mamma Mia vibes, though maybe in a bit of a darker context) is set to release May 26, 2020, and has already made numerous lists for the most highly-anticipated reads of 2020.
Intimacy has always eluded twenty-seven-year-old Maggie Krause—despite being brought up by married parents, models of domestic bliss—until, that is, Lucia came into her life. But when Maggie’s mom, Iris, dies in a car crash, Maggie returns home only to discover a withdrawn dad, an angry brother, and, along with Iris’s will, five sealed envelopes, each addressed to a mysterious man she’s never heard of.
In an effort to run from her own grief and discover the truth about Iris—who made no secret of her discomfort with her daughter’s sexuality—Maggie embarks on a road trip, determined to hand-deliver the letters and find out what these men meant to her mother. Maggie quickly discovers Iris’s second, hidden life, which shatters everything Maggie thought she knew about her parents’ perfect relationship. What is she supposed to tell her father and brother? And how can she deal with her own relationship when her whole world is in freefall?
Told over the course of a funeral and shiva, and written with enormous wit and warmth, All My Mother’s Lovers is the exciting debut novel from fiction writer and book critic Ilana Masad. A unique meditation on the universality and particularity of family ties and grief, and a tender and biting portrait of sex, gender, and identity, All My Mother’s Lovers challenges us to question the nature of fulfilling relationships.
We often forget that our parents have lives beyond their children, and this debut explores just that.
7. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
This YA debut has been all the rage on Goodreads, and I could not be more excited for its September 1 (pushed back from June 7) release!
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
Cemetery Boys is not only paranormal AND romantic, but it features Latinx and LGTBIA representation! This book is so important, and I already feel like it’s going to be heart-wrenching in the best way possible.