Every year, around this time, I start getting excited for the bookish season yet to come. A whole new world of adventures just waiting to be discovered in my greedy hands, an entirely new continent of magic straining to be unearthed. Debut authors are perhaps the part of this experience that make me the most giddy, and I must say 2016 looks like a stellar lineup to precede the absolutely amazing writers that made their first appearance in 2015. What story will crack the bestseller list, following in the footsteps of Red Queen? Is there a tale that can beat the lyrical beauty of The Wrath and the Dawn? Could the world be swept ashore once again by a fantasy like An Ember In the Ashes? All those questions remain to be seen, but nonetheless I’ve scavenged every corner of the book sphere in the object of unveiling what I believe are the top ten debuts of 2016. Looking for a book to satisfy any craving? Stick around!
A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro- March 1, 2016
Though I admit to never having watched the much adored BBC flick, Sherlock, or CBS’s Elementary; I can still appreciate the English accented detective and his fiery sidekick in a young adult reimagining of their great-great grandchildren falling in love and kicking some butt at an East Coast prep school. The atmosphere seems very similar to that of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, which I absolutely adore, and I expect the writing to be filled with lots of snide commentary that is sure to make little heart go a flutter. Not to mention that I shamefully lust over just about any love-hate relationship ever to appear in fiction, and I do believe this one has that exact dynamic with a twist. Oh, yeah and crime fighting investigator work tied into a mystery among private school elite (secrets, lies, and spies, oh my). But that cover though…it really kicks me where I’m weak with it’s blue and orange color scheme and clever designs. Be prepared to see a lot more mention of this one in the coming months.
Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor- March 1, 2016
Yet another early March release, Into the Dim is being laureled as a teenage version of Outlander, a comparison of which I’m sure will inspire many readers to pick up this otherwise dark horse. Basically, it involves time travel to twelfth century Scotland, where a girl must rescue her time traveler mother from the clutches of a malevolent secret society (!!!!!). Of course, there’s also hints to a “mysterious” boy who could be either Hope’s knight in shining armor or the force behind an untimely demise. This romantic trope is a bit overused (that whole sentence was practically filled with young adult buzz words), but nonetheless the Goodreads ratings are staggeringly stellar and enough reassurance for me to pick this one up. While I feel Into the Dim is likely to either make my top ten list of 2016, or be buried in the vault of memories I reserve for the worst of the worst. Pick your poison, Janet B. Taylor, as I’ll be watching out for you.
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig- February 16, 2016
Already signed to a two book deal, Heidi Heilig’s debut is intriguing, to say the least. It’s in the same ballpark as Into the Dim, with time travel taking a forefront in the book’s plot, but I suspect the end result will go in a far different vein with fewer angsty Scottish hotties in kilts, and more attention to the fantasy behind such science fiction. In a nutshell, Nix’s father holds the ability to transport throughout time, be it 19th century Hawaii, modern New York City, or the lands of mythical Scandinavia and One Thousand and One Nights. He has spent his whole life though in search for one specific map, one that would allow him to transport to 1868 Honolulu, to a time before Nix’s mother died in childbirth with her. Ignoring the obvious implication of what kind of father would want to erase his daughter off the face of the earth (what to the what?), I think the idea of how tinkering with the past can have drastic results on the future is one with countless entertaining outlets to go forth with. I’m still not entirely sure how Heidi Heilig will manage to tie together a modge podge of ideas into a cohesive storyline, but much like her publisher I can’t wait to give it a go.
These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas- February 9, 2016
After reading so many less than spectacular reviews on my 2015 superhero nod, Zeroes, I’m really in need of a new spin on supernatural extants to satisfy my cravings. Here’s hoping though that this mutant hybrid of Jane Austen regency and the X-Men adds a unique flavor to a genre increasingly bland compared to the TV offerings (gasp!). Could it be the next Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? While that certainly remains to be seen, I would say it could definitely hold its own as a contender in the running. I’m even willing to excuse the atrociously bland cover in favor of reading the content inside, a first for me. Though it does have hints at a love triangle involving two brooding bad boys, I think Evelyn has the potential to wield some serious street cred with knife throwing, and martial arts fighting inspired by Etiquette and Espionage. While two authors spinning a genre bending tale may not always be the easiest thing in the world to pull off in a debut, I’m confident in These Vicious Masks ability to tie it altogether.
The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith- March 22, 2016
My first contemporary to make its way onto the list is bound to be a gut wrenching one by the sound of things. It follows Eden, an incoming high school freshman who is raped by her brother’s best friend, and the next four years of her life as she struggles to overcome her traumatic experience in order to move forward. Told not in chapters, but instead employing time breaks such as freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year, I confidently believe Amber Smith will do justice to a complex emotional journey. I know in no way will this be an easy story to read, but it is a necessary one that deserves a place in our society. Touching on the messages of grief, trauma, self-destruction, family and friend dynamics, and finally, healing this raw debut seems destined to change the reader when they read the last line. Spoiler alert though, it seems things come to an uplifting ending for a protagonist I already care deeply for
Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw- April 19, 2016
Okay, so I’ll admit the main reason you’ll find me picking this debut up come April is the fact it fulfills two requirements for a challenge I’ve been woefully trying to complete for nearly a year and a half. Nevertheless, it does seem like an entertaining chick lit-y read, and who doesn’t need some of that fluff in their life? In a publication world taken by storm with the success of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here is clearly trying to channel that same relatable nerd culture (in this case inspired by teen soap opera fanfiction), mixed into deeper messages that will resonate with teens of any background. Whether or not Anna Breslaw will manage to tap that same vain and catapult her story to a spawn a book in a book (ahem, Carry On) is questionable, but I still believe it has the potential to be wickedly candid and entertaining at the least.
The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos- January 26, 2016
The synopsis for this one is…interesting, to say the least. Part magical realism, part mystery it promises to tell the tale of Imogene; a young woman whose only knowledge of her biological mother is one story her father tells describing their first meeting (a rather creepy tale of love to say the least). After her father goes missing however, presumably in search for the MIA woman, Imogene must put a lifetime of unanswered questions aside and pick up the pieces of two wayward lives. I’m anticipating a very soft, lyrical read, heavy on the purple prose waxing poetic, but nonetheless one with a deep meaning and insightful self discovery. Even more promising is the lack of romance, refreshing in the sea of current contemporaries, and the hints at a bit of detective snooping going on as Imogene uses the knowledge she’s gleaned from her father’s mystery novels to aid her in the quest for answers.
Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace- January 26, 2016
Danger, danger…step away from this book Megan! You’re practically daring heartbreak by highly anticipating a book being compared to the works of Nova Ren Suma and Holly Black, two of the do-not-attempt authors on your hit list. Well, what can I say though? That summary, it just kicks me where my bookish spidey receptors are most sensitive. It promises mysterious amnesia (practically its own sub genre in young adult fiction by this point), murder, REVENGE, and a character named Breezy Lin! I mean what kind of author has the kind of guts to name their character that?!? Oh, and there’s a cult. Buzzword alert! Shallow Graves is being hyped like nobody’s business and, even more pleasingly, I only have to wait a month and a half to get my hands on it! Also, on a totally unrelated note, does this cover remind anyone else of Rose Under Fire?
The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone- June 7, 2015
Not to make any readers think I’m, like, totally shallow or anything with the obscene amount of emphasis I put in covers in this post, but can we just take a minute to appreciate The Loose Ends List? Because, let me just say, the cover artist was on fleek with her trendspotting when it came to design. Yellow chevron? Anchors? Flower bouquets? Umm, yes please! Really though, that is neither here nor there, so let’s talk about the actual story itself. Maddie comes from a wacky family, but resident nut job, matriarch, and Maddie’s best friend, Gram takes the cake. Deciding to spend the final days of her life in excitement, she books a continental ocean cruise for the whole family. Along with the way Maddie comes to terms with what will soon be the passing of her grandmother, her first love with ship captain Enzo, and the general hijinks that come with being a member of the O’Neill clan. With a definite Where’d You Go Bernadette? feel to it, I’m a little excited for this one.
Please Don’t Tell by Laura Tims- May 24, 2016
Wrapping up this list I’ve got Thelma & Louise with sisters. Minus the road trip. Plus some blackmail. But still, female friendship and murder! In the ultimate show of sibling protection, Joy kills Adam Gordon, a boy doing inexcusable things to her twin sister Grace. Only to find out though, that maybe the truth is far from hidden in her tiny town. From there things spin rapidly out of control in a real life game of cat and mouse, pitting Joy against an anonymous blackmailer who refuses to back down from his stance in revealing the dark secrets of the most prominent members of their community. All those things make me jump for joy, especially when the narrative is described as “dark”, and leaving the reader “questioning their own sense of right and wrong” as the “complicated relationship between sisters” is explored. Here’s hoping though that the twins story ends on a brighter note than the aforementioned outlaws.
In other news, I am so sorry for my weeks long hiatus. NaNoWriMo kept me on my toes and duly unprepared to write adequate blog posts. Here’s to getting back on track though! Also, what’s on your guy’s must read list for the upcoming year?