A new year means new lists, and many captivating Young Adult books are scheduled to hit shelves in 2016 (as you might already know). In January, prepare for some heavy-hitting debut novels that bring the tears as well as new series from established authors. Whether you’re looking for a bit of fantasy or romance, there are a lot of titles to get excited about this month—not to mention plenty of books to keep you warm on these chilly winter nights.
1. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Release Date: January 5th from Tor Teen
Why You’ll Love It: This book was first on my Most Anticipated YA Books of 2016 list last month, and now that it’s officially out in the world, I certainly hope you pick it up. You might recognize Susan Dennard from her beloved Something Strange & Deadly trilogy, which wrapped with HarperTeen in 2014. Her new series, The Witchlands, is primed to be another exciting romp through the supernatural. Truthwitch, book one, is packed full of action, swoons and powerful friendships. It’s the first great fantasy novel of 2016, and the next three books in the series can’t come soon enough. ?
Description: In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well. Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires. Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness. Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.
2. This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Release Date: January 5th from Sourcebooks Fire
Why You’ll Love It: Beautifully written and utterly heartbreaking, Marieke Nijkamp’s debut delivers an emotional thrill ride that takes place over the course of 54 minutes during a school shooting. Multiple points of view help readers gain new perspective as the events unravel, and they also make the book impossible to put down. With a diverse cast and an emotional punch to the gut, it’s the first great cry of 2016. ?
Description: 10:00 a.m.: The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve. 10:02: The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class. 10:03?: The auditorium doors won’t open. 10:05: Someone starts shooting. Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.
3. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
Release Date: January 5th from Disney-Hyperion?
Why You’ll Love It: Passenger, the first book in Alexandra Bracken’s newest series, possesses time travel, music and pirates. An exciting romp through time and space that focuses on two teens searching for an artifact that could shatter time, Passenger kicks off another epic story from the author of The Darkest Minds series. (And if you missed out on those books, pick them up immediately. They’ll hold you over until the release of Wayfarer, the second book in the Passenger duology.)
Description: In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of—until now.??
Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.??
Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever.
4. Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Release Date: January 5th from St. Martin’s Griffin?
Why You’ll Love It: Laurie Elizabeth Flynn’s debut contemporary novel is a funny, head-on look at sex and peer pressure. If you enjoyed Jody Keplinger’s books, this one’s for you.
Description: Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time—the kind Mercedes never had herself.
??Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn—or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.?? When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process.
5. Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake
Release Date: January 5th from Entangled
Why You’ll Love It: Magic. Wizards. Books that are portals to other libraries. There is so much to love in Brendra Drake’s first book in the Library Jumpers series, and you’ll never look at a dusty, old book the same way again. Thief of Lies is a jet-setting adventure across the world and through a hidden magical society, making for an imaginative and thrilling read. Definitely look for this one in your local bookstore, and support an author who does a lot for the YA community. (Check out #PitchWars, an online event that Drake leads connecting agents with authors, on Twitter.)
Description: Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound.??
Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed.
6. Underwater by Marisa Reichardt
Release Date: January 12th from Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Why You’ll Love It: Like This Is Where it Ends, Underwater addresses school shootings—only this one is after the fact. Marisa Reichardt’s novel packs an emotional punch, tackling PTSD and trauma through a complex and heartbreaking story. ?
Description: Morgan didn’t mean to do anything wrong that day. Actually, she meant to do something right. But her kind act inadvertently played a role in a deadly tragedy. In order to move on, Morgan must learn to forgive—first someone who did something that might be unforgivable, and then, herself. ??But Morgan can’t move on. She can’t even move beyond the front door of the apartment she shares with her mother and little brother. Morgan feels like she’s underwater, unable to surface. Unable to see her friends. Unable to go to school. ??
When it seems Morgan can’t hold her breath any longer, a new boy moves in next door. Evan reminds her of the salty ocean air and the rush she used to get from swimming, and he might be just what she needs to help her reconnect with the world outside.
7. The Siren by Kiera Cass
Release Date: January 26th from Harper Teen
Why You’ll Love It: A standalone novel from Kiera Cass?! Yes please. If you read YA, you definitely know Cass’ name from her bestselling The Selection series, which is like The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games. But before those books rocked the YA world, Cass self-published her first novel. And now here it is, republished in a gorgeous hardcover. A romance novel about a Siren who falls in love with a human, it’s a book I’m thrilled to add to my growing Cass library. ?
Description: Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again. Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude…until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. Falling in love with a human breaks the Ocean’s rules, but Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.
8. The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry
Release Date: January 26th from Razorbill
Why You’ll Love It: Touted as The Time Traveler’s Wife meets Friday Night Lights, Emily Henry’s debut novel seriously brings the tears. Between the romance and time traveling, Henry weaves some powerful themes, discussing the struggles with being adopted and the family ties that hold us together. A beautiful read, it’s already a shoe in for my Best Books of 2016 roundup.
Description: ??Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.??
Then Nat gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.
9. The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
Release Date: January 26th from Viking Books for Young Readers?
Why You’ll Love It: You probably recognize Alison Goodman from her epic dragon books, Eon and Eona. Now she’s back, and this time introducing readers to a demon hunter. The Dark Days Club follows a teen girl who will have to battle demons if she’s going to save London. It’s the first in a trilogy that will enthrall fans of Gail Carriger and Cheri Priest. ?
Description: London, April 1812. On the eve of 18-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears—and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?
10. Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk
Release Date: January 26th from Delacorte Press?
Why You’ll Love It: My goodness, I feel like I’ve been waiting for this book forever! Melissa Gorzelanczyk’s romantic fantasy novel highlights the drama that ensues when cupid’s son only shoots one of two teens in a should-be-perfect couple. The result? A life crumbles apart, and cupid’s son has to fix things…without falling in love with the girl he’s there to save. Contemporary romance blending with fantasy. Yes. Please. ?
Description: People don’t understand love. If they did, they’d get why dance prodigy Karma Clark just can’t say goodbye to her boyfriend, Danny. No matter what he says or does or how he hurts her, she can’t stay angry with him . . . and can’t stop loving him. But there’s a reason why Karma is helpless to break things off: she’s been shot with a love arrow.
?Aaryn, son of Cupid, was supposed to shoot both Karma and Danny, but he found out too late that the other arrow in his pack was useless. And with that, Karma’s life changed forever. One pregnancy confirmed. One ballet scholarship lost. And dream after dream tossed to the wind.??
A clueless Karma doesn’t know that her toxic relationship is Aaryn’s fault . . . but he’s going to get a chance to make things right. He’s here to convince Danny to man up and be there for Karma. But what if this god from Mount Olympus finds himself falling in love with a beautiful dancer from Wisconsin who can never love him in return?