Spring 2015 YA Wrap-Up

No, spring isn’t officially coming to an end yet, but it’s starting to feel like summer (after a very long New England winter), and it seems like the perfect time for a spring YA recap before I give you a sneak peak at summer releases. This season has been very special for me: I launched Spellbinding Books, attended three author events (and live tweeted for the first time), met many local YA authors, and a bunch of my favorite 2015 releases finally hit the shelves!

Event Photos: Lori Goldstein’s Becoming Jinn Launch, Jen Brooks’s In a World Just Right Launch, BTAF Trivia Night

I was thrilled when Lori Goldstein asked me to live tweet her Becoming Jinn launch party at Porter Square Books on April 27th. It was wonderful to meet her after I recommended her book (read my post here). She talked about her journey to publication, writing habits, and inspiration for Becoming Jinn. She also had a surprise for us!  Teens acted out a scene from her book: Azra celebrating her 16th birthday with her sister jinn. Then Lori answered questions, signed books, and we all socialized over food and drink. Many YA authors, whose books I’ve recommended, were there to support her: Camille DeAngelis (Bones & All), MarcyKate Connolly (Monstrous), and Jen Brooks (In a World Just Right), who I interviewed in April. I also met Mackenzi Lee, whose debut This Monstrous Thing I will discuss next week.

On May 3rd, I live tweeted Jen Brooks’s launch party at the Community House of Hamilton and Wenham. The place was packed with her fans, family and friends, including the YA authors I mentioned above and Rhonda Mason (author of Empress Game, a summer release I will discuss soon). We socialized over food that was inspired by her book before entering the auditorium to hear Jen give a moving speech about her journey to publication and her inspiration for In a World Just Right. She showed us photos from her past and a beautiful book trailer, answered questions from the audience, and signed her book for many excited fans.

On May 7th, I attended the Boston Teen Author Festival Sneak Peak at the Cambridge Public Library Teen Room. Eight authors (Lori Goldstein, Jen Brooks, Trisha Leaver (The Secrets We Keep), Jen Malone, Annie Cardi, Karsten Knight, MarcyKate Connolly, and Rachel Shane) introduced themselves, read the first page of their new books, and answered questions from the audience. We also played trivia–authors vs. audience–and there were prizes (I won lots of new books!). We ate cupcakes and cookies, got our books signed, and socialized. I met bloggers and authors (including Shari Becker, whose book The Stellow Project I’d just won). All three events were so much fun, and if the Freshman Fifteens Spring Break Tour is headed your way, you must go (here’s the schedule).

Now let’s talk books! Here’s a recap of the other spring releases I’ve recommended at Coven Book Club:

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20345202Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes explores familiar themes in fantasy–tyranny, slavery, rebellion, magic, family loyalty, and forbidden love–in a complex and unique way. Set in a brutal Rome-like world, the novel alternates between the perspectives of Elias, an elite soldier, and his mother’s slave, Laia. (Read my full recommendation here).

Melissa Grey’s The Girl at Midnight  is a perfect choice for readers of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy and Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. I immediately loved this book’s protagonist, seventeen-year-old Echo, a runaway pickpocket whose home is a hidden room in the New York Public Library. Echo has been adopted by the Avicen–an ancient race of feathered people with magical abilities who live beneath the city–and she is the only human who can see them. (Read my full recommendation here).

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18798983Throne of Glass fans will love Sarah J. Maas’s first book in a brand new series: A Court of Thorns and Roses. Inspired by Beauty and the Beast mixed with faery lore, this series features another strong heroine: nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre. After she kills a wolf in the woods, a beastly creature demands retribution by taking her to a faraway magical land inhabited by the Fae. (Allison and Nicola also love ACOTAR, and be sure to check out our discussion post on Monday 5/18).

Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn has all the elements of a great fantasy: magic, a tyrannical villain, a strong, yet conflicted, heroine, a thrilling and suspenseful plot, amazing world-building, power struggles, moral dilemmas, and complicated romance. It is also inspired by A Thousand and One Nights. Every evening eighteen-year-old Khalid, the ruler of Khorasan, takes a new bride whom he executes at dawn. After he kills her best friend, sixteen-year-old Shahrzad (Shazi) leaves the man she loves and volunteers to marry Khalid. (Read my full recommendation here).

1819020820814989Virginia Boecker’s The Witch Hunter brilliantly reimagines an alternate 16h century England (Anglia) where magic is real and forbidden. The kingdom has always been divided by Reformists (magic supporters and practitioners) and Persecutors (magic opposers). The plot is fast-paced, action-driven, addictive, and full of twists and turns. There’s high-stakes adventure and romance, mystery, dark magic, a deadly curse, unlikely alliances, betrayal, and sacrifice. (Read my full recommendation here).

Sally Green’s Half Bad and Half Wild is another fantastic series about witches that takes place in modern-day Europe. Witches secretly coexist with humans and are divided into two warring factions: White (“good”) versus Black (“bad”) witches. Nathan, as a half code, is at the heart of this conflict. (Read my recommendation for Sally Green’s trilogy, along with Aisha Saeed’s Written in the Starshere).

1954785620649195-121853636As I was reading Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, I was reminded of another book: Leah Thomas’s Because You’ll Never Meet Me. While their stories are very different, Thomas’s debut is also about the close bond that develops between two male teen pen pals who are strangers in the real world. (Read my full recommendation for these book buddies here).

In Courtney Summers’s All the Rage no one believes Romy Grey was raped—certainly not by the sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner. Romy was once popular, but after she speaks up about being sexually assaulted her former friends won’t stop bullying her. (Read my full recommendation here).

I can’t wait to meet Melissa Grey, Renee Ahdieh and Becky Albertalli, among many authors, at the Boston Teen Author Festival in September. I love the YA community!

Alyssa Raymond recommends new and upcoming releases in young adult fiction at Coven Book Club and its sister site Spellbinding Books. She thanks Edelweiss, Netgalley, the Boulder Book Store, and publishers for providing her with ARCs and DRCs for review purposes. Please follow her on Tumblr and Twitter.

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