My 10 Favorite New Authors of 2018 (& 2018 Debut Author Challenge Review!)

Posted January 15, 2019 by Amber in Memes / 19 Comments


Last year, I participated in That Artsy Reader Girl’s 2018 Debut Authors Challenge.  This is a challenge Jana has been running for a few years now, though you probably know her better from Top Ten Tuesday!  The Debut Author Challenge is intended to encourage readers to reach out and support new and upcoming authors.  I’ve got to be honest, without this challenge, I most likely would have missed out of some of my favorite books of 2018.

As a twist on today’s Top Ten Tuesday, I wanted to talk a little about my Top Ten New Authors from 2018 that I discovered from this challenge.  I hope you give their books a go, and love them as much as I did!

All all author bios and photos are are pulled from either Goodreads or their individual websites.


Aminah Mae Safi

Debut Novel: Not The Girls You’re Looking For

GoodreadsWebsite / Twitter / Tumblr / Instagram

Aminah Mae Safi is a writer who explores art, fiction, feminism, and film. She loves Sofia Coppola movies, Bollywood endings, and has seen all of the Fast and Furious franchise. She lives in Los Angeles, CA with her partner and a cat bent on world domination (and another cat that is just here for the snacks). Her 2016 We Need Diverse Books winning story will appear in their forthcoming anthology FRESH INK (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2018). Find her on Instagram @aminahmae and her website. Not the Girls You’re Looking for is her first novel.


Miranda Asebedo

Debut Novel:  The Deepest Roots

Goodreads / Website / Twitter / Instagram

Miranda Asebedo was born and raised in rural Kansas with a love of fast cars, open skies, and books. She carried that love of books to college, where she got her B.A. and M.A. in English, with an emphasis in Creative Writing and Literature. A Seaton Fellowship recipient, her short fiction has appeared in Kansas Voices, Touchstone, and Midway Journal. 

Miranda still lives on the prairie today with her husband, two kids, and two majestic bulldogs named Princess Jellybean and Captain Jack Wobbles. If Miranda’s not writing or reading, she’s most likely convinced everyone to load up in the family muscle car and hit the road.


Emily X. R. Pan

Debut Novel: The Astonishing Color of After

Goodreads / Website / Twitter / Instagram

Emily X.R. Pan lives in Brooklyn, New York, but was born in the Midwestern United States to immigrant parents from Taiwan. She received her MFA from NYU, where she was a Goldwater Fellow. She is co-creator of FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology, a 2017 Artist-in-Residence at Djerassi, and a 2019 Artist-in-Residence at Caldera. She logs the books she reads in an Excel spreadsheet.


Somaiya Daud

Debut Novel: Mirage

Goodreads / Website / Twitter / Tumblr / Instagram

Somaiya Daud was born in a Midwestern city, and spent a large part of her childhood and adolescence moving around. Like most writers, she started when she was young and never really stopped. Her love of all things books propelled her to get a degree in English literature (specializing in the medieval and early modern), and while she worked on her Master’s degree she doubled as a bookseller at Politics and Prose in their children’s department. Determined to remain in school for as long as possible, she packed her bags in 2014 and moved the west coast to pursue a doctoral degree in English literature. Now she’s preparing to write a dissertation on Victorians, rocks, race, and the environment.


Sara Holland

Debut Novel:  Everless

Goodreads / Website / Twitter / Instagram

Sara Holland grew up in small-town Minnesota among hundreds of books. She graduated from Wesleyan University and worked in a tea shop, a dentist’s office, and a state capitol building before heading to New York to work in publishing. These days, she can be found exploring the city’s bookstores or finding new ways to put caffeine in her bloodstream. EVERLESS is her debut novel.


Katie Henry

Debut Novel:  Heretics Anonymous

Goodreads / Website / Twitter / Instagram

Hi! My name is Katie Henry, and I write books and plays for and about my favorite demographic of people: teenagers.

I spent my own teen years in Berkeley, California, an ultra-liberal college town where adolescent rebellion takes the form of eating refined sugars or voting Republican. I moved to New York City for college and decided to stay, even though the avocados here frequently disappoint me.

My interests include feminist/liberation theology, medieval history, and overthinking absolutely everything.


Adrienne Young

Debut Novel:  Sky in the Deep

Goodreads / Website / Twitter / Instagram

Adrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun.


R. F. Kuang

Debut Novel:  The Poppy War

Goodreads / Website / Twitter / Instagram

I immigrated to the US from Guangzhou, China in 2000. I have a BA in International History from Georgetown, where my research focused on Chinese military strategy, collective trauma, and war memorials. I’m a 2018 Marshall Scholar, and I’ll currently at the University of Cambridge doing my MPhil in Chinese Studies.

Writing-wise, I graduated from Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2016 and attended the CSSF Novel Writing Workshop in 2017. My debut novel, The Poppy War, is the first installment in a trilogy that grapples with drugs, shamanism, and China’s bloody twentieth century.

I really love corgis, drinking nice wines I know nothing about, and rewatching The Office! I’m slowly growing out a pixie cut so my hair looks different in every photo I’m in. When I’m not writing, I co-run the review blog Journey to the BEST! with Farah Naz Rishi.


Tomi Adeyemi

Debut Novel:  Children of Blood and Bone

Goodreads / Website / Twitter / Instagram

Tomi Adeyemi is a Nigerian-American writer and creative writing coach based in San Diego, California. Her debut novel, CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE, comes out March 6th, 2018 and the movie is currently in development at Fox with the producers of Twilight and The Maze Runner attached. After graduating Harvard University with an honors degree in English literature, she received a fellowship that allowed her to study West African mythology and culture in Salvador, Brazil. When she’s not working on her novels or watching Scandal, she can be found blogging and teaching creative writing to her 3,500 subscribers at Her website has been named one of the 101 best websites for writers by Writer’s Digest.


C. G. Drews

Debut Novel:  A Thousand Perfect Notes

Goodreads / Website / Twitter / Tumblr / Instagram

C.G. Drews lives in Australia with her piano and the goal of reading every book in existence. Consequently, her brain has overflowed with words and she spends her days writing novels to make you laugh or cry (or both). She never sleeps and believes in cake for breakfast.


Outside of my top ten, I also read books by the below new authors.  Some of these books are incredible; others I didn’t care for.  Either way, y’all should definitely check out these nw(er) faces in the YA literature world and give their books a go!  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll discover a new insta-buy author!

Rebecca Ross – The Queen’s Rising
Hank Green – An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
Lianne Oelke – Nice Try, Jane Sinner
L. L. McKinney – A Blade So Black
Alexandra Cristo – To Kill a Kingdom
Gwendolyn Clare – Ink, Iron, and Glass
Florence Gonsalves – Love & Other Carnivorous Plants
Caitlin Seal – Twice Dead
Maura Milan – Ignite the Stars
Cayla Keegan – Catching Stars
Christina de Witte – The Ultimate Survival Guide to Being a Girl
Shea Earnshaw – The Wicked Deep
Melissa Albert – The Hazel Wood
Julia Whicker – Wonderblood
Lyndsay Ely – Gunslinger Girl
Gloria Chao – American Panda

In regards to the 2019 Debut Authors Challenge, I don’t think I’m going to be participating.  This isn’t to say I won’t be reading 2019 authors!  I have a whole Goodreads shelf devoted to the debuts I’m interested in.  There are two reasons I’m not participating this year:

  1. My book buying ban.
  2. I ended up reading exclusively debuts in hardcopy for the last third of the year.  While this is great on one hand, on the other… I’d really like to read some of the other books I own without struggling to read ALL THE DEBUTS before the end of the year.

I do still intend to seek out debuts, and I will tag my reviews with 2019 Debut Author.  Seriously, though, I challenge my readers to take part in Jana’s 2019 challenge – I think it’s a great idea, and it’s so much fun to find new authors and share them with the bookish world!


This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt was:

New-to-Me Authors I Read In 2018


While I read a handful of popular authors for the first time this year (Becky Albertalli, Jay Kristoff, Marissa Meyer, to name a few) I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to flaunt some of my new favorites who published their debut last year.


Do you read debut authors?

Have you read (and loved!) any debuts listed here?

What 2018 debuts were INCREDIBLE but I missed?

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19 responses to “My 10 Favorite New Authors of 2018 (& 2018 Debut Author Challenge Review!)

    • Amber

      So glad you enjoyed them as well! I’m really looking forward to the next books Adrienne Young and Somaiya Daud publish!

  1. I’ve heard good things about Heretics Anonymous so Katie Henry is an author I can see trying. And Sky in the Deep was fun- I would definitely read whatever else she writes!

    • Amber

      I hit Sky in the Deep after a slew of “just okay” books – it was such a refresher! Loved the world building. 🙂

      I haven’t seen Heretics Anonymous around much, so I’m glad you heard good things about it!

  2. Love the little twist you put on this week’s prompt! I didn’t read any debuts last year (I suck) but I plan to step it up a bit this year, while also trying to work on my backlisted books… I’ll be a busy bee! I am so excited to read Cait’s book!

    • Amber

      Thank you! 🙂 It worked with two different posts I was thinking about writing, so I figured, why not double it up! 🙂

      I hope you love A Thousand Perfect Notes! It was absolutely heartbreaking for me, but the characters and world is so unique and vibrant. Really a breath of fresh air compared to what I had been reading.

  3. Great picks! There were so many good debuts this past year (and of course, some that weren’t all that impressive depending on our preferences) and I’m really happy to see so many familiar names on here. Here’s to another great year of literature and debuts!

    Also, can I just say that your blog is beautiful? So. Aesthetically. Pleasing. I may or may not be swooning. (Hint: I AM in fact swooning.)

    Jessica at Booked J recently posted: Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Read In 2018 (#25)
    • Amber

      ohmygosh you are just the sweetest! 🙂 🙂 🙂 I played around with the blog design a lot until I settled on this. Every once and a while I think about making it something sharper and cleaner, but at the end of the day… I just love the aesthetic too! <3

      And yes - cheers! Here's to another year of amazing debuts! *clinks glass*

  4. This is such a great list, Amber <3 I loved Children of Blood and Bone and The Astonishing Color, I am so excited to read everything these authors will write next. I'm very excited to read Jane Sinner, as well as The Deepest Roots, really hope to get to both of them this year, I can't wait 😀

    • Amber

      I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed Children of Blood and Bone and The Astonishing Color of After! I hope we both have fantastic reads this year! 🙂 Do let me know what you think about Jane Sinner and The Deepest Roots!

    • Amber

      So glad to hear your enjoyed Children of Blood and Bone as much as I did! The Poppy War is a very intense story, but also very good. And I hope you enjoy Everless – people are either loving it or hating it.