Winter 2016 YA Wrap-up

Now that it’s officially spring, it’s a perfect time to post a roundup of the winter releases I’ve recommended:


Nicola, Allison, and I enjoyed Truthwitch, by Susan Dennard, immensely. (Read our discussion post here.)

Passenger, by Alexandra Bracken: Passenger brilliantly brings together teenagers Etta, a present-day New Yorker and prodigy violinist, and Nicholas, a biracial seafarer in colonial America. After Etta’s violin competition goes horribly wrong, she finds herself transported to an unfamiliar time and place. She is aboard a colonial ship, as Nicholas’s passenger. (Read my full recommendation here.)

Sword and Verse, by Kathy Macmillan: Sixteen-year-old Raisa is an orphan and a slave at the royal palace of Quilara. Ten years ago, the Quilarite king’s forces raided her homeland of Arnath, killing her parents and capturing her. In Arnath, Raisa’s father taught her to read and write, training her to take his place as the Learned One. But in Quilara, she must keep her literacy secret, since the Arnathim, the lowest class, are forbidden from reading and writing. (Literacy among the Arnathim is punishable by death.) Raisa’s status improves, however, after the royal tutor is executed for treason, and Raisa is chosen as the tutor-in-training for the Crown Prince, Mati. (Read my full recommendation here.)

The Dark Days Club, by Alison Goodman: If you’ve read Eon (2008) and Eona (2011), then you know how hard it’s been to wait FIVE YEARS for Alison Goodman’s next book! The Dark Days Club, the first book in her new historical fantasy series, set in Regency London and starring aristocratic Lady Helen as a reluctant demon-hunter, is worth the long wait. (Read my full recommendation here.)


Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys: Did you know that the worst disaster in maritime history occurred seventy-one years ago? On January 30, 1945, nine thousand people, mostly civilians, more than half of them children, died during the sinking of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff, as they attempted to escape the Russian invasion of East Prussia. Yet this tragedy has been largely forgotten…until now. In Salt to the Sea, Ruta Sepetys, the acclaimed author of Between Shades of Gray (2011) and Out of the Easy (2013), brings to light and humanizes this tragedy. (Read my full recommendation here.)

Glass Sword, by Victoria Aveyard: Red Queen was one of my favorite books of 2015, so while I was very excited to finally get my hands on its sequel, Glass Sword, I was afraid that it would not live up to the awesomeness of its predecessor. Fortunately, what I love most about Red Queen–its rich world-building, dynamic characters, high-stakes adventure and romance, and plot twists and turns that never lose their punch (even after multiple reads)–continues in Glass Sword, but with an even more elaborate and expansive setting, cast of characters, and storyline. (Read my full recommendation here.)

Assassin’s Heart, by Sarah Ahiers: Attention Throne of Glass fans, there’s a new female assassin in YA fantasy! Like Celaena Sardothien, Oleander “Lea” Saldana, the seventeen-year-old heroine of Sarah Ahiers’s Assassin’s Heart (the first book in a planned duology), is a kick-ass, mask-wearing, revenge-seeking assassin. But the similarities between Maas’s and Ahiers’s series end here. (Read my full recommendation here.)

Blackhearts, by Nicole Castroman: Blackhearts is a smart, creative debut that imagines Edward “Teach” Drummond’s life…before he became Blackbeard! Blackhearts is not a pirate story, though. It’s a love story, told in alternating perspectives. Before “Teach” was a fearsome pirate, terrorizing the Caribbean from aboard Queen Anne’s Revenge, another Queen Anne stole his heart–his father’s maid–in 1697 Bristol, England, when he returned home after a year at sea. (Read my full recommendation here.)

The Girl from Everywhere, by Heidi Heilig: This debut is a fun, smart, unique, magical, diverse, and intricately plotted historical fantasy that explores complex issues of family, friendship, trust, identity, and belonging. Sixteen-year-old Nix has traveled on her father’s ship, The Temptation, across many time periods and places, both real and imagined. As long as she and her father have a map of a place and time, they can go there. Which is wonderfully adventurous, except for one problem. Her father is determined to find the map that will take him back to 1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. But won’t his return to the past and desire to save the woman he loves eliminate Nix’s very existence? (Read my full recommendation here.)


Rebel of the Sands, by Alwyn Hamilton: It’s nearly impossible not to fall in love with Amani, a heroine whose tongue is as sharp as her shooting, and Jin, the mysterious and handsome foreign fugitive who helps her escape an oppressive life. They’re as fierce as their world: the sultanate dessert nation of Miraji, where Old West meets Middle Eastern mythology and mythical beasts, including djinn, still exist in more remote and wild areas. Determined to battle oppression and embrace her own powers, Amani is one of my favorite new heroines in YA fantasy. (Read my full recommendation here.)

Into the Dim, by Janet B. Taylor: You don’t want to miss Into the Dim‘s time-traveling adventure, thrilling romance, and historical richness. After her mom disappears and is presumed dead, Hope Walton travels to Scotland to stay with her mom’s family, whom she’s never met. When she discovers their secret–they are time travelers–she journeys to 12th century England, where she encounters Eleanor of Aquitaine, Thomas Becket, and her mom (alive). Now she has three days to bring her mom back to the present, or they’ll be trapped in the 12th century forever! (Read my full recommendation here.)

Alyssa recommends new and upcoming releases in young adult fiction (and occasionally middle grade and adult). She thanks Edelweiss, the publishers, and the Boulder Book Store for providing her with digital review copies for review purposes only.



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