The Pond’s Most Anticipated Reads of 2019, Part III. – Eight Diverse Books That I’ll Inevitably Love in 2019

TEXT: The Pond's Most Anticipated Reads; eight diverse books that I'll inevitably love in 2019. Image: Xiaolong the pink axolotl, reading a book and sitting inside a book tent and fort, surrounded by books.

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening friends! Welcome back to the Pond and thank you for being here today.

After delving into the many lists on Goodreads about new releases in 2019, I had planned to write a short and sweet ‘top 8 most anticipated books of 2019’. However, I soon realised that one post detailing my top picks for 2019 was not only inadequate, but also impossible. Today, therefore, is the third post of my week-long event of The Pond’s Most Anticipated Reads of 2019!

Welcome to Part III of The Pond’s Most Anticipated Reads of ’19

At the beginning of the week, I shared with you all my top eight sequels that I’m dying to read, and then a few days later I shared my list of my top eight(een) diverse debuts that you and I cannot miss in 2019. Today’s post is one I’m particularly excited to share with you: my top eight diverse books that I’ll inevitably love in 2019.

This particular list is like a party mix; it has a little bit of everything inside it. A few days ago, I shared with you all my top debut books (and there are some debuts in here too!), but I really wanted to write this list to give a special shout-out to all the short stories authors contributed and some sophomore books too. In my eyes, sophomore books are just as exciting as debuts, particularly when you get to see a writer’s growth, new creative directions, and the scope of their brilliant minds.

So let’s dive into this exciting list, ordered in chronological order! Prepare your Goodreads lists! Your TBR is about to get heavier. 💜

1. Black Enough edited by Ibi Zoboi

Black Enough is a star-studded anthology edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi that will delve into the closeted thoughts, hidden experiences, and daily struggles of black teens across the country. From a spectrum of backgrounds—urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—Black Enough showcases diversity within diversity.

2018 was a great year of diverse anthologies and I’m thrilled that Black Enough released only a few days ago. What a great way to kick-start the new year! I am absolutely loving all the talented and excellent Black voices in this anthology. You can bet that I have already recommended this book to my local library and am trying to get my hands on a copy!

Why you should add this to your list too: If you aren’t particularly keen on anthologies, I firmly believe it’s just because you haven’t read a good one. Give Black Enough a go and I’m absolutely positive that you’ll change your mind! Also, this anthology features brilliant authors such as Dhonielle Clayton, Jason Reynolds, Brandy Colbert and Jay Coles.

Released on January 8th 2019! Add this book on Goodreads.

2. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Paris, 1889: In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

Chokshi has never failed to make my heart flutter with her poetic and lyrical writing and imagery. Early reviewers have said that The Gilded Wolves is the next big YA diverse heist story that we all wanted and asked for, with characters we’re all going to adore and a story that traverses across history and fantasy.

Why you should add this to your list too: The story sounds compelling as heck and I’ve heard that fantasy and history will intertwine. The cast is not only diverse, but an enigmatic and fun bunch, and I can’t wait for all the character dynamics and banter. Also, The Gilded Wolves has plenty of mythology to keep us intrigued. You’re right to be excited.

Releases January 15th 2019! Add this book on Goodreads.

3. Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera

Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City. That roles brings with it violent throw downs and access to the hottest boydega clubs, but the sixteen-year-old grows weary of the life. Her dream is to get off the streets and make a home in the exclusive Mega Towers, in which only a chosen few get to live. To make it to the Mega towers, Nalah must prove her loyalty to the city’s benevolent founder and cross the border in a search for a mysterious gang the Ashé Ryders. Led by a reluctant guide, Nalah battles other crews and her own doubts, but the closer she gets to her goal, the more she loses sight of everything—and everyone— she cares about.

Nalah must do the unspeakable to get what she wants—a place to call home. But is a home just where you live? Or who you choose to protect?

I know we all agree on this, but let’s say what we’re all thinking: isn’t that cover amazing?! I want a poster of this on my wall. Not only is the book cover cool, Dealing in Dreams sounds incredible and so fresh. I desperately need this book.

Why you should add this to your list too: Okay first of all, Latinx girls fighting for the life they want. Girl gangs surviving a ruthless and brutal reality! Gah, I want this book so bad. I have a feeling it’s going to be a favourite of 2019.

Releases March 5th 2019! Add this book on Goodreads.

4. Internment by Samira Ahmed

Rebellions are built on hope.

Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.

With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.

I’m glad – and relieved – that this book is releasing soon, and that it’s written by a Muslim-American author. (Because I’m tired of the books misrepresenting Muslim people and their experiences.) Not only do I want to support Ahmed’s book for that reason, Internment is a must-read, particularly in today’s socio-political climate.

Why you should add this to your list too: Internment is undoubtedly a timely story about how oppression isn’t just prejudice, but also systemic; it’ll explore how a possible future detailed in the story is possible, and why silence is no longer acceptable. Written by a Muslim-American about a Muslim-American teen, this should be at the top of your to-read list of 2019.

Releases March 19th 2019! Add this book on Goodreads.

5. Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi

Sana Khan is a cheerleader and a straight A student. She’s the classic (somewhat obnoxious) overachiever determined to win.

Rachel Recht is a wannabe director who’s obsesssed with movies and ready to make her own masterpiece. As she’s casting her senior film project, she knows she’s found the perfect lead – Sana.

There’s only one problem. Rachel hates Sana. Rachel was the first girl Sana ever asked out, but Rachel thought it was a cruel prank and has detested Sana ever since.

Isn’t that an incredible cover? Two unambiguous women of colour in the front! Of a romance-contemporary novel! And they’re smiling! Heck, I love it so much, and I’m so excited for this story, because hate-to-love between two women characters of colour? Yes please.

Why you should add this to your list too: With this sort of story, you’d want alternating viewpoints, and this book is indeed told that way! More over, it’s inspired by classic romantic comedies, which I absolutely adore. I can’t wait to see how Sana and Rachel’s relationship unfolds, how they go from hate to love, and what they’re going to overcome together.

Releases June 11th 2019! Add this book on Goodreads.

6. Hungry Hearts edited by Elsie Chapman and Caroline T. Richmond

A shy teenager attempts to express how she really feels through the confections she makes at her family’s pasteleria. A tourist from Montenegro desperately seeks a magic soup dumpling that could cure his fear of death. An aspiring chef realizes that butter and soul are the key ingredients to win a cooking competition that could win him the money to save his mother’s life.

Welcome to Hungry Hearts Row, where the answers to most of life’s hard questions are kneaded, rolled, baked. Where a typical greeting is, “Have you had anything to eat?” Where magic and food and love are sometimes one and the same.

Told in interconnected short stories, Hungry Hearts explores the many meanings food can take on beyond mere nourishment. It can symbolize love and despair, family and culture, belonging and home.

When I first heard that Hungry Hearts was releasing, I nearly fainted from bookish bliss. I am the biggest foodie (how big, you ask? I have a detailed Excel spreadsheets where I rate all the eateries in my city… 😎) and this is everything that I wanted. Moreover, Vicky (from Vicky Who Reads!) and I are hosting a book tour (called a FOOD CRAWL!) for this book! Here’s more information if you are interested.

Why you should add this to your list too: Foodies! This is the anthology for you; it combines food from different cultures and places with themes of belonging and culture and family and love. I feel like I’ve been waiting for this book since forever, and I’m glad that it’ll be here soon!

Releases June 18th 2019! Add this book on Goodreads.

7. Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin.

There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job. Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise. And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

This has been said over and over again, but it isn’t said enough: the cover for Spin the Dawn is absolutely gorgeous and I want this on my wall. The story sounds absolutely gorgeous and I love the fantastical and celestial feelings that this book is giving me. I can’t wait for this one!

Why you should add this to your list too: Pitched as a Mulan meets Project Runway (heck, who would’ve thought we’d see this combination), has elements of Chinese culture, a forbidden romance, and has magic! I’m in love already. Can it be June 30th tomorrow please?

Releases July 30th 2019! Add this book on Goodreads.

8. The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim

Ds4U2D5VYAAVw2v.jpgA heartfelt portrayal of love, culture, family, and mental illness set in Sydney’s Inner West.

[Cover is not final!] I absolutely loved Chim’s Freedom Swimmer, one of my favourite reads of 2017, a historical fiction based on a real life story about Chinese people escaped the Chinese Cultural Revolution by swimming to Hong Kong. So I was delighted when I heard that Chim has a new book planned, and it’s going to be brilliant!

Why you should add this to your list too: I don’t know much about this story yet, but all I’ve gleaned is that The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling will be explore culture, family, and mental illness, and will be set in Sydney, Australia!

Releases August 2019. Add this book on Goodreads.

CW, why is this list not stopping at 8? Why does the list continue?

Mariah Carey putting on a pair of sunglasses, with text underneath: I can't read suddenly. I don't know.

I can’t read count suddenly. I don’t know. 

I mean… technically… the rest of the list doesn’t exceed 8? 👉😎👉

8b. Color Outside the Lines edited by Sangu Mandanna

A YA anthology centered around interracial relationships and the complicated, rewarding and sometimes hilarious dynamics between friends, family, and first loves.

When I heard about this, I knew I needed this book. As someone in an interracial relationship, I’ve liked the representation of interracial relationships, but the issue I often found was that not enough explored the, indeed, complicated and rewarded dynamics between friends and family. Y’all know that before introducing my partner to my parents, I schooled him on Chinese Etiquette 101? (Modules included Food Etiquette, House Etiquette, and Respect Etiquette.)

Why you should add this to your list too: Not only is the central subject matter really cool and important, but it has stories told by brilliant writers such as Anna-Marie McLemore, Tara Sim, Adam Silvera, Eric Smith, and Lydia Kang.

Releases Fall (Northern Hemisphere) 2019. Add this book on Goodreads.

8c. The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender.

While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light.

If you haven’t read a Stacey Lee book yet, then read aone immediately (I recommend Under a Painted Sky and The Secret of a Heart Note) so we can be excited together! Lee’s books are incredible, and I particularly love her narratives that include and center on Asian women in historical contexts. The Downstairs Girl sounds amazing and I can’t wait to read another Stacey Lee book!

Why you should add this to your list too: First of all, Lee’s historical fiction books are wonderful, and The Downstairs Girl sounds brilliant. Her narratives are empowering and it sounds like this book will tackle issues such as race and gender. I’m definitely not going to miss out on this book.

Releases August 13th 2019. Add this book on Goodreads.

8d. Caster by Elsie Chapman

Aza Wu knows that real magic is dangerous and illegal. After all, casting killed her sister, Shire. As with all magic, everything comes at a price. For Aza, it feels like everything in her life has some kind of cost attached to it. Her sister had been casting for money to pay off Saint Willow, the gang leader that oversees her sector of Lotusland. If you want to operate a business there, you have to pay your tribute. And now with Shire dead, Aza must step in to save the legacy of Wu Teas, the teahouse that has been in her family for centuries.

When Aza comes across a secret invitation, she decides she doesn’t have much else to lose. She quickly realizes that she’s entered herself into an underground casting tournament, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Real magic, real consequences. As she competes, Aza fights for her life against some very strong and devious competitors.

When the facts about Shire’s death don’t add up, the police start to investigate. When the tributes to Saint Willow aren’t paid, the gang comes to collect. When Aza is caught sneaking around with fresh casting wounds, her parents are alarmed. As Aza’s dangerous web of lies continues to grow, she is caught between trying to find a way out and trapping herself permanently.

Doesn’t this summary sound amazing? I’m so excited about this book and this was a last minute, albeit necessary, addition to my 2019 list! And I absolutely cannot wait to see the cover. This book is giving me a lot of YA-Jade City vibes and I am here for it.

Why you should add this to your list too: Chapman has pitched this as ‘Fight Club meets magic feat. a Chinese MC,’ and I can’t think of a cooler mix of inspirations. I feel like I have been waiting for this book my whole life.

Releases September 3rd 2019! Add this book on Goodreads.

8e. Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

Simone Garcia-Hampton is a black teen born HIV-Positive. Raised by loving queer parents who assure her that her diagnosis doesn’t define her, Simone must navigate a whole new world of fear, disclosure, and radical self-acceptance when she falls in love—and lust—for the first time. Simone’s journey to share her secret while still protecting her heart is a thoughtful, compelling, and heartwarming look at the particular challenges of adolescence, written as only a teen could.

Not only does this sound like a powerful and emotional read, but it’s also Garrett’s debut! I can only count one book that I’ve read that centered on a HIV-Positive teen, so I’m truly excited for Full Disclosure.

Why you should add this to your list too: Not only for its subject matter and, what I’m certain will be, its compelling story, but also because Garrett is an important and valuable voice in the book community, and look forward to supporting her.

Releases September 10th 2019! Add this book on Goodreads.

8f. Frankly in Love by David Yoon

High school senior Frank Li is a Limbo–his term for Korean-American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance–“Date Korean”–which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful–and white. Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love–or himself–at all.

Friends! I’m disappointed that no one told me this book and I discovered this in the deep depths of Goodreads. So, for everyone else who didn’t know this book existed, you’re welcome! And if David’s surname sounds familiar, it’s probably because you do know him. 😉

Why you should add this to your list too: First of all… fake dating, which is a trope I’ve grown to love over time. Second, I love that this book tackles the prejudices some Asian parents have when it comes to their children’s dating choices, which is an issue that is fraught with complex dynamics and challenging to navigate. Also, that the two Korean main characters may fall in love? SIGN ME UP.

Releases September 10th 2019! Add this book on Goodreads.

8g. The Last Witchdoctor by Rena Barron

Set in a West African-inspired fantasy kingdom, a girl descended from a long line of powerful witchdoctors, fails at magic, fails to call upon the ancestors, and can’t even cast the simplest curse. But when her kingdom is threatened by the terrible Demon King, she must trade years off her life for magic to stop him from destroying the world.

I love that we’re getting more and more African-inspired fantasy narratives, and I’m particularly excited for The Last Witchdoctor, which is the sort of book that I’ve waited my whole life to read. Also, I absolutely love stories about characters with powerful families but have less of that same power themselves; I can’t wait to see how the main character in The Last Witchdoctor is going to grow and overcome.

Why you should add this to your list too: Hello! West-African inspired fantasy! All of us could definitely read more stories with African-inspired content by Black writers, and The Last Witchdoctor sounds like it’s going to be heart-pounding and electrifying with the magic, high stakes, and themes of family.

Releases September 19th 2019! Add this book on Goodreads.

8h. Guardians of Dawn by S. Jae-Jones

An East Asian-inspired fantasy series by Wintersong author S. Jae-Jones. Inspired by girl-centric narratives like Sailor Moon, four girls must combine their elemental magic to defeat a growing evil and restore the rightful heir to the throne.

Two words: SAILOR MOON. Jae-Jones has already stated that Guardians of Dawn is inspired by Sailor Moon (as well as Avatar: The Last Airbender and Dragon Age, both being one of my favourite TV shows and games respectively of all time). Therefore, I need it. IMMEDIATELY.

Why you should add this to your list too: East-Asian inspired fantasy! Led my four women! Elemental magic?! Did I already say Sailor Moon?

Releases Spring/Summer (Northern Hemisphere) 2019! Add this book on Goodreads.

What can you do with this list?
  • You can pre-order these books. (I encourage supporting your local indie booksellers!)

However, I know that not everyone is in the position to pre-order books, so here are some other things you can do to support these debuts:

  • Add this book to your Goodreads.
  • Write your own blog post about new releases that you are excited for. Not everyone knows what the latest releases are, so simply talking about them goes a long way.
  • Include or talk about these books in your book club.
  • Spread the word about the book. Talk about the books in your own platforms (whether it be Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – anywhere!) and tell your friends outside the book communities about it!
  • Support the author. Retweet the author’s tweets about their books and follow them too.
  • Recommend these books to your local library, if possible.
What new book releases are you excited for?

I’m sorry for the deception friends! I really couldn’t stop at only eight books. I hope this emphasises how wonderful of a reading year that we all have ahead of us, especially for diverse books and diverse book readers. I really had a lot of fun putting this list together; seeing all these wonderful and diverse books has made me so hopeful and optimistic for the future.

I’ll be sharing with you all my last list in a few days, one I’m particularly excited about: Eight Self-Published and Indie Books That We Should All Support in 2019! And in case you’ve missed it, don’t miss on my previous two lists:

So friends, how about you? I’d love to hear about the books that you’re excited to read.

  • What books are you looking forward to in 2019?
  • Are you excited for any of the above books as well?
  • Have you read any ARCs of them and have some insight? What should we be excited for?

27 thoughts on “The Pond’s Most Anticipated Reads of 2019, Part III. – Eight Diverse Books That I’ll Inevitably Love in 2019

  1. I have been LOVING your anticipated reads lists, thank you so much for taking the time to write them down and share them, I’m discovering so many good books and seeing so many I already want to read ❤ I haven't read anything by Stacey Lee, but I really want to, all of her books sound so good! 🙂 and I am so, so impatient for Spin The Dawn, that book sounds INCREDIBLE, I can't wait ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Marie!! 💛
      Ooh oh my gosh, you absolutely have to read a Stacey Lee book! Her stories are so delightful, especially The Secret of a Heart Note which is contemporary with some very light urban fantasy elements. You’ll love it!!


  2. ohhhh no I just added A TON MORE BOOKS 😂😂like my TBR isn’t tall enough. But help, there are so so many diverse books coming out and I just…want them all?? I hadn’t heard of Caster or The Last Witchdoctor or Frankly In Love so *dashes to goodreads*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay! I’m glad I could add more to your list 😘 I’m particularly excited for both, especially The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling!!!
      It’s my pleasure; hope you have a great reading year in 2019!


  3. I’m proud to say almost half of these are in my own list of anticipated releases 😎
    And just wow, all of these sound so great, even the ones that don’t sound exactly of my alley! 💘
    Tell Me How You Really Feel, Full Disclosure, Frankly in Love, and Spin the Dawn are all ones I’m aching to read! And I hadn’t seen the full synopsis of Caster yet and now I’m even more excited 😭

    Liked by 1 person

    • YAY SANTANA! Ahead of the curve already! hehe

      Oooh right?! I’m aching to read those too and they sound brilliant. I can’t wait; 2019 is going to be SOOO GOOD.

      HAHAHA I never ever use gifs in my reviews unless I feel like they’d work; in which case, I’m glad it did! haha! 😘

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful list CW! 😍💕 Happy to say I’ve heard of almost all of these (except Wai Chim’s novel; it sounds good!). As for Gilded Wolves, it was fantastic! 💕✨🎉–if you’ve loved Chokshi’s writing, you’ll absolutely adore it in her new series!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, thank you!!
      Ooh yes! Wai’s first YA novel, FREEDOM SWIMMER, is so so good. Such an important historical fiction that covers something not a lot of people know about. I hope you’ll be able to pick it up!!

      Oooh I can’t wait! I do indeed like her writing so I’m really excited to read it now. 💛


    • Oooh that’s great news!! I unfortunately (and criminally) have not read her first book yet, but I absolutely should.
      Me too! I think it’s definitely a challenging subject for some, so I’m definitely looking forward to INTERNMENT!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. omg all of these books. I’m so excited for all of them !!!!!!!!!!! hungry hearts and the new s. Jae Jones book!!! also, you should do a post on diverse anthologies in 2018 specifically with poc 👀 (unless you’ve already done that oops) bc I really want to find more of those, but most of them are mainly white rip

    Liked by 1 person

  6. How had I not heard of The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling before?! That sounds great! I’m also really interested to read Color Outside the Lines. My partner is British-Asian and we are constantly discovering the different ways in which our families raised us, their expectations of partners, and things like that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahh I’m so happy to have brought DUMPLING to you attention! It’s going to be so good; Chim’s writing is delightful and I can’t wait.

      ME TOO! I’m in an interracial relationship myself and it’s an ongoing learning process with more surprises than you could ever anticipate. I hope you enjoy it!! 💛


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