Fall 2015 YA Preview: November & December Books

I know, late fall is fortunately still months away. But since I’ll start reading November and December releases soon, now’s a good time to give you a preview of my most anticipated books. (Summaries are from Goodreads.)

13206900Let’s start with the book I’m most excited about: Marissa Meyer’s Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4): Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana. Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long. Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

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Manners & Mutiny (Finishing School #4): When a dastardly Pickleman plot comes to fruition, only Sophronia can save her friends, her school, and all of London…but at what cost? Our proper young heroine puts her training and skills to the test in this highly anticipated conclusion of the rousing, intriguing, and always polishedNew York Times bestselling Finishing School series!

The Conjurer’s Riddle (The Inventor’s Secret #2), by Andrea Cremer: In this sequel to The Inventor’s Secret, Charlotte and her companions escape the British Empire, but they haven’t left danger behind. In fact, if they go against the revolutionaries, they face even greater peril. Charlotte leads her group of exiles west, plunging into a wild world of shady merchants and surly rivermen on the way to New Orleans. But as Charlotte learns more about the revolution she has championed, she wonders if she’s on the right side after all. Charlotte and her friends get to know the mystical New Orleans bayou and deep into the shadowy tunnels below the city–the den of criminals, assassins and pirates–Charlotte must decide if the revolution’s goals justify their means, or if some things, like the lives of her friends, are too sacred to sacrifice. This alternate-history adventure series asks the questions: What would have happened if America had lost the Revolutionary War? And what would people be willing to do to finally taste freedom?

Frozen Tides (Falling Kingdoms #4), by Morgan Rhodes: Rebels, royals, and monsters wage war over the Mytican throne….CLEO: Reeling after a bloody showdown in Limeros ending with Amara’s abduction of the water crystal, and a vacancy in the Mytican throne, Princess Cleo must cast aside her feelings and look toward her kingdom with the eyes of a Queen. MAGNUS: With the kingdom in chaos, Princess Lucia still missing and quite possibly in danger, and a shocking realization about Cleo, the steely prince is once again torn between love and duty, leaving him wondering whether he’s strong enough to rule his people. LUCIA: The young sorcercess has had her vengeance after the cruel death of her first and only love. Heartbroken and unable to trust anyone, she allies with the awoken Fire god, who also seeks revenge. JONAS: After escaping death by the skin of his teeth, the defeated rebel—along with a mysterious stranger–leader reunites with Princess Cleo, only to find himself a mere pawn in a dangerous hunt for the elusive Kindred. KING GAIUS: Abandoned by Melenia and betrayed by his own children, Gaius flees Mytica and sails to Kraeshia, where he attempts to ally with the famously brutal emperor across the Silver Sea.

The Vanishing Throne (The Falconer #2), by Elizabeth May: My name is Lady Aileana Kameron. First the fae murdered my mother. Then they destroyed my world. Now I’m fighting for more than revenge. Aileana took a stand against the Wild Hunt, and she lost everything: her home, her family and her friends. Held captive by her enemy, and tormenting herself over her failure, escape seems like only the faintest possibility. But when she gets her chance, she seizes it . . . to rejoin a world devastated by war. The future is bleak. Hunted by the fae, running for her life, Aileana has only a few options left. Trying to become part of a society scarred by – and hiding from – the Wild Hunt; trusting that a fragile alliance with the fae will save her; or walking the most dangerous path at all: coming in to her own powers as the last of the Falconers . . .

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Their Fractured Light (Starbound #3), by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner: A year ago, Flynn Cormac and Jubilee Chase made the now infamous Avon Broadcast, calling on the galaxy to witness for their planet, and protect them from destruction. Some say Flynn’s a madman, others whisper about conspiracies. Nobody knows the truth. A year before that, Tarver Merendsen and Lilac LaRoux were rescued from a terrible shipwreck—now, they live a public life in front of the cameras, and a secret life away from the world’s gaze. Now, in the center of the universe on the planet of Corinth, all four are about to collide with two new players, who will bring the fight against LaRoux Industries to a head.

Hardwired, by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie: Genetically flawed. Perfectly human. When seventeen-year-old Lucas Marshall tests positive for the M0A1 gene—a genetic abnormality believed to predispose humans toward violence—he is shipped off to an impregnable government facility to undergo a battery of psychological tests aimed at making him crack. Now, having survived their tests and proven his mental stability, Lucas is labeled safe to return home. But any hope Lucas has of returning to a normal life is shattered when the van transporting him to the reintegration facility is forced off the road by a group of radicals intent on accessing the facility and exposing its dehumanizing practices. And Lucas is their ticket through the front door….

Soundless, by Richelle Mead: For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom. When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation. But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

This Raging Light, by Estelle Laure: Can the best thing happen at the worst time? Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she’s about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend’s brother.

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24951755-120909906Young Widows Club, by Alexandra Coutts: First came love, then came marriage, and then…For seventeen-year-old Tam, running off to marry her musician boyfriend is the ideal escape from her claustrophobic high-school life on the island, and the ultimate rebellion against her father and stepmother. But when Tam becomes a widow just weeks later, the shell-shocked teen is forced to find her way forward by going back to the life she thought she’d moved beyond—even as her struggle to deal with her grief is forcing her to reinvent herself and reach out to others in ways she never imagined.

Need, by Joelle Charbonneau: “No one gets something for nothing. We all should know better.” Teenagers at Wisconsin’s Nottawa High School are drawn deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need . . . regardless of the consequences. Soon the site turns sinister, with simple pranks escalating to malicious crimes. The body count rises.

Hotel Ruby, by Suzanne Young: Stay Tonight. Stay Forever. When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief. Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating, extending their stay as it provides endless distractions—including handsome guest Elias Lange, who sends Audrey’s pulse racing. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful.

Da Vinci’s Tiger, by Laura Malone Elliott: Young, beautiful, and witty, Ginevra de’ Benci longs to take part in the artistic ferment of Renaissance Florence. But as the daughter of a wealthy family in a society dictated by men, she is trapped in an arranged marriage, expected to limit her creativity to domestic duties….When the charismatic Venetian ambassador, Bernardo Bembo, arrives in Florence, he introduces Ginevra to a dazzling circle of patrons, artists, and philosophers—a world of thought and conversation she has yearned for….Choosing her as his Platonic muse, Bembo commissions a portrait by a young Leonardo da Vinci. Posing for the brilliant painter inspires an intimate connection between them—one Ginevra can only begin to understand…. 

Dangerous Lies, by Becca Fitzpatrick: Stella Gordon is not her real name. Thunder Basin, Nebraska, is not her real home. This is not her real life. After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer. But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows. As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks…

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The Anatomical Shape of the Heart, by Jenn Bennett: Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Leonardo da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down. Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix’s own family’s closet tear them apart?

For the Record, by Charlotte Huang: If Almost Famous were a YA novel… a raw, honest debut celebrating music, friendship, romance, and life on the road. Chelsea thought she knew what being a rock star was like… until she became one. After losing a TV talent show, she slid back into small-town anonymity. But one phone call changed everything. Now she’s the lead singer of the band Melbourne, performing in sold-out clubs every night and living on a bus with three gorgeous and talented guys. The bummer is that the band barely tolerates her. And when teen heartthrob Lucas Rivers take an interest in her, Chelsea is suddenly famous, bringing Melbourne to the next level—not that they’re happy about that. Her feelings for Beckett, Melbourne’s bassist, are making life even more complicated. Chelsea only has the summer tour to make the band—and their fans—love her. If she doesn’t, she’ll be back in Michigan for senior year, dying a slow death. The paparazzi, the haters, the grueling schedule… Chelsea believed she could handle it. But what if she can’t?

The Lies About Truth, by Courtney C. Stevens: Sadie Kingston, is a girl living in the aftermath. A year after surviving a car accident that killed her friend Trent and left her body and face scarred, she can’t move forward. The only person who seems to understand her is Trent’s brother, Max. As Sadie begins to fall for Max, she’s unsure if she is truly healed enough to be with him — even if Max is able to look at her scars and not shy away. But when the truth about the accident and subsequent events comes to light, Sadie has to decide if she can embrace the future or if she’ll always be trapped in the past.

What’s Broken Between Us, by Alexis Bass: Look to the left, look to the right. We’re all going to die. But someone has to do it first. So who’s it going to be? Tragedy struck Amanda Tart’s town a year and a half ago when a sophomore girl was killed in a car accident on graduation night. Amanda’s brother, Jonathan, was behind the wheel and too drunk to drive. He’s spent the past year in prison and has cut off all ties. But now Jonathan is coming home. Just as Amanda’s trying to figure out what that means for her family and herself, she’s paired up for a school project with Henry Crane—a former crush, and brother of Jonathan’s ex-girlfriend, who survived the crash with horrible injuries. Everyone is still incredibly damaged by the events of that night. Can Amanda and Henry finally begin to heal what’s broken and find some peace?

Alyssa recommends new and upcoming releases in (mostly) young adult fiction at Coven Book Club and its sister site Spellbinding BooksShe thanks Edelweiss, NetGalley, the publishers, and the Boulder Book Store for providing her with galleys for review purposes. Please chat with her on Twitter about books! What are your most anticipated upcoming releases?


Summer/Fall Sequels and Spin-offs

Recently I shared with you my most anticipated May/June, July/August, September, and October releases in YA fiction. My updates of those posts are becoming massive, so this follow-up post will focus specifically on the YA series I’m most excited to (re-)read because they have new or upcoming sequels, prequels or spin-offs.

ScarletUS.indd1618163016181625Scarlet Trilogy, by A.C. Gaughen: I haven’t read Scarlet (#1), Lady Thief (#2) and Lion Heart (#3) yet, but this series is at the top of my TBR list. Here’s why: all the books are already out; and in this new version of “Robin Hood,” Will Scarlet is a young woman, masquerading as one of Robin’s Merry Men, and she plays a major role in their fight against the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham.

1642961921569527The Remnant Chronicles, by Mary E. Pearson: I will likely write about this series in detail after I’ve read The Heart of Betrayal (#2). If you haven’t read The Kiss of Deception (#1), DO SO NOW because: a) it just came out in paperback and b) its sequel comes out July 7th! In The Kiss of Deception, a princess, who runs away on her wedding day and becomes a barmaid in a distant village, is unaware that the two mysterious and handsome strangers she meets are the prince she jilted and an assassin sent to kill her. One of the book’s major strengths is that it is narrated from all three points of view and keeps you in the dark about who is the prince and who is the assassin.

185185221756681422678141Midnight Thief series, by Livia Blackburne: Before I read Daughter of Dusk (#2), which launches August 4th, I’ll read Midnight Thief (#1), releasing in paperback on July 7th, and its prequel Poison Dance (#0.5). Here’s what Goodreads says about Midnight ThiefGrowing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs. But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.

2252156020753330-1Before I read Bethany Hagen’s Jubilee Manor (out 8/11/15), I want to re-read Landry Park (out in paperback). Here’s what Goodreads says about Landry ParkIn a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish gentry, seventeen-year-old Madeline Landry dreams of going to the university. Unfortunately, gentry decorum and her domineering father won’t allow that. Madeline must marry, like a good Landry woman, and run the family estate. But her world is turned upside down when she discovers the devastating consequences her lifestyle is having on those less fortunate. As Madeline begins to question everything she has ever learned, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself and David at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty – her family and the estate she loves dearly – and desire.  

1789935116060716The Diviners series, by Libba Bray: I will likely recommend this series next month–after I’ve finished re-reading The Diviners (#1) and read Lair of Dreams (#2), which launches on August 25th. It’s been three years since I read The Diviners, and I’m loving it even more the second time around. Here’s what Goodreads says about The DivinersEvie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult. Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer. 

1866805622671541The Mapmakers Trilogy, by S. E. Grove: I’m looking forward to reading The Glass Sentence (#1), which just came out in paperback, and The Golden Specific (#2), which will be released on July 14th. Here’s what Goodreads says about The Glass SentenceBoston, 1891. Sophia Tims comes from a family of explorers and cartologers who, for generations, have been traveling and mapping the New World—a world changed by the Great Disruption of 1799, when all the continents were flung into different time periods.  Eight years ago, her parents left her with her uncle Shadrack, the foremost cartologer in Boston, and went on an urgent mission. They never returned. 

1357471025016375I love what I’ve read so far by Maggie Stiefvater, Brenna Yovanoff, and Tessa Gratton, so I can’t wait to read The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories (2012), which accompanies their website, and The Anatomy of Curiosity (10/15), which includes three new stories. Here’s a Goodreads summary of The Curiosities: A vampire locked in a cage in the basement, for good luck. Bad guys, clever girls, and the various reasons why the guys have to stop breathing. A world where fires never go out (with references to vanilla ice cream). These are but a few of the curiosities collected in this volume of short stories by three acclaimed practitioners of paranormal fiction.

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Rin Chupeco’s The Girl from the Well books seem like my kind of ghost story. Here’s a Goodreads summary of The Girl from the Well (#1): A dead girl walks the streets. She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago. And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. Its sequel, The Suffering (#2), is also a ghost story, taking place two years later. [T]here is a strange village inside Aokigahara, a village people claim does not exist. A village where strange things lie waiting. A village with old ghosts and an ancient evil–one that may be stronger than even Okiku…

2373188724396880I have not read Kendall Kulper’s books about the Roe Witches yet, but I have heard lots of wonderful things about Salt & Storm and its prequel, Drift & Dagger. Here’s what Goodreads says about Salt & StormAvery Roe wants only to claim her birthright as the witch of Prince Island and to make the charms that have kept the island’s sailors safe at sea for generations, but instead she is held prisoner by her mother in a magic-free life of proper manners and respectability. 

1606700824565038Since I’m a huge fan of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, I think I’ll like R.C. Lewis’s futuristic, sci-fi retellings of “Snow White” (Stitching Snow) and “The Wild Swans” (Spinning Starlight (10/6/15)). I am intrigued by their plots involving corrupt rulers, star-crossed lovers, space travel, and interplanetary politics, conspiracies and conflicts. Here’s what Goodreads says about Stitching Snow: Princess Snow is missing. Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.

1351810224202895I really enjoyed Salvage when I read it a couple of years ago, and I’d like to re-visit it before I read its stand-alone companion novel, Sound. Here’s what Goodreads says about Salvage: Ava, a teenage girl living aboard the male-dominated, conservative deep space merchant ship Parastrata, faces betrayal, banishment, and death. Taking her fate into her own hands, she flees to the Gyre, a floating continent of garbage and scrap in the Pacific Ocean.

1739916017404295Snow Like Ashes Trilogy, by Sara Raasch: Here’s a Goodreads summary of Snow Like Ashes (#1) (which I will re-read before Ice Like Fire (#2) comes out in October): Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since. Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather—she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

1606878024585267-1The Lone City series, by Amy Ewing: I have not read The Jewel (#1) and The White Rose (#2) yet, which are pitched as The Selection meets The Handmaid’s Tale. Here’s what Goodreads says about The JewelThe Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring. 

20821111I23846013 want to re-read Marie Lu’s The Young Elites before its sequel, The Rose Society, comes out October 13th. Here’s a Goodreads summary of The Young ElitesAdelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings….Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites. 

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18006496I think it pretty much goes without saying that I’m super excited about Sarah J. Maas’s Queen of Shadows (9/1/15), and I’ve been re-reading Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, The Assassin’s Blade, and Heir of Fire.

SPIN-OFF SERIES

12954620225713651019415723437156I highly recommend you read Morgan Rhodes’s Falling Kingdoms, Rebel Spring, and Gathering Darkness before reading the first book in the Falling Kingdoms spin-off series, A Book of Spirits and Thieves. And before reading Six of Crows (9/29/15), I suggest you read Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising.

Alyssa recommends new and upcoming releases in young adult fiction at Coven Book Club and its sister site Spellbinding Books. She also reviews books for the Boulder Book Store, where she worked for more than ten years as a bookseller. She thanks the Boulder Book Store and the publishers for ARCs of The DivinersLandry Park, Rebel Spring, SalvageThrone of GlassCrown of MidnightShadow and Bone, and Siege and Storm. She thanks Edelweiss and the publishers for digital review copies of The Heart of Betrayal, The Jewel, The White Rose, Snow Like AshesIce Like Fire, Drift & Dagger, The Golden SpecificThe Girl from the Well, The Suffering, Falling KingdomsGathering DarknessA Book of Spirits and Thieves, The Anatomy of Curiosity, and The Young Elites. She thanks NetGalley and the publishers for digital review copies of Lion HeartLair of DreamsDaughter of DuskSpinning Starlight, and Heir of Fire. Please chat with her on Twitter about books!


New YA Fairy Tale Retellings: Valiant & The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

I don’t think I have to tell you that fairy tale retellings have become very popular. Too popular perhaps? Even if, like me, you’re an avid reader of fairy tale retellings that promote female agency and take a feminist perspective, you probably can’t help worrying that publishing will soon be oversaturated with them. How much longer will re-imaginings of well-worn tales such as “Cinderella” and “Snow White” be as creative and unique as, say, Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles?

One way a retelling stands out is if it is inspired by a lesser-known fairy tale, as is the case with two new releases: Sarah McGuire’s Valiant, a gender-bending reimagining of “The Brave Little Tailor,” and Stephanie Oakes’s The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, a contemporary story of violence against women based on “The Handless Maiden.” Both debut novels advocate for female empowerment and bring new life to familiar fairy tale tropes, but in very different ways.

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McGuire was smart to choose “The Brave Little Tailor” as the basis for Valiant. A clever and courageous tailor’s daughter, masquerading as a boy, defends a kingdom from an immortal duke and his army of giants.

In the beginning, Saville is at the mercy of her mean-spirited father who values his bolts of velvet and silk more than her. When he becomes ill, however, she takes a great risk: she dresses up as a boy and convinces the king to commission her as his tailor. Her masquerade is further jeopardized after she outsmarts two giants who threaten to attack the city, and she is declared the king’s champion and future brother-in-law. If the king finds out her true identity, she’ll likely be accused of treason and executed–even if she is the kingdom’s savior.

17185496Valiant relies heavily on fantasy elements like most fairy tale retellings, while The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is set in the real world. Both female protagonists are brave, clever, and rebellious, but Minnow Bly’s heroism depends on overcoming real-life imprisonment: first in a religious commune that abuses women and next in a juvenile detention center.

Oakes couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate fairy tale than “The Handless Maiden” for portraying Minnow’s brutal victimization as well as resilience. Minnow lost her hands after she rebelled against the Kevinian cult, and now she is in a juvenile detention center as the main suspect in the Prophet’s murder investigation. Fortunately, this novel is hopeful as well as harrowing since, rather ironically, it’s during her incarceration that she gains freedom and faith in herself.

If you like Valiant and The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly,  you may also be interested in Malindo Lo’s Ash, Rhionnan Thomas’s  A Wicked Thing (read Nicola’s recommendation here), Christine Heppermann’s Poisoned Apples, Betsy Cornwell’s Mechanica (8/15), and Sarah Prineas’s Ash & Bramble (9/15).

While market oversaturation is a valid concern, I believe that fairy tale retellings can continue to be creative and unique. Here are a few of my most anticipated 2016 fairytale-inspired releases. (Summaries are from Goodreads.)

C. J. Redwine’s The Shadow Queen: From Publisher’s Weekly…a dark fantasy inspired by “Snow White.” A princess has lived in hiding from her stepmother for years, until the false queen sends out a new kind of huntsman – the crown prince of a nation of powerful dragon shifters, desperate enough to save his people to ally himself with even an evil usurper.

Wendy Higgins’s The Great Hunt: A strange beast stirs fear in the kingdom of Lochlanach, terrorizing towns with its brutality and hunger. In an act of desperation, a proclamation is sent to all of Eurona—kill the creature and win the ultimate prize: the daughter of King Lochson’s hand in marriage. Inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ tale, “The Singing Bone,” New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins delivers a dark fantasy filled with rugged hunters, romantic tension, outlawed magic, and a princess willing to risk all to save her people. 

Danielle Paige’s Stealing Snow: Reminiscent of Wicked and Maleficent, in Stealing Snow, seventeen-year-old Snow escapes a mental institution in upstate New York and ends up lost in Algid, a Winterland of ice. Confronted with a past she never knew she’d had, in a strange world that mirrors her dreams, Snow meets the River Witch who tells of a prophecy: Snow must save this mysterious frozen land from the evil King Lazar and claim it for her own or she will never escape Algid….This gripping, re-imagination of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” is equal parts romance and fairy tale—a quest to fulfill a destiny that may not go where the heart leads…and the dark twists and turns it sometimes takes to get there.

Alyssa recommends new and upcoming releases in young adult fiction at Coven Book Club and its sister site Spellbinding Books. She also writes staff recommendations for the Boulder Book Store, where she worked for many years as a bookseller. She thanks Edelweiss for The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly and NetGalley for Valiant. Please chat with her on Twitter about books! What are your favorite and most anticipated fairy tale retellings?


Fall 2015 YA Preview: October Books

Yay! Check out these October releases by women writers. (Summaries are from Goodreads.)

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A Madness So Discreet, by Mindy McGinnis: Grace Mae knows madness. She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

Ice Like Fire (Snow Like Ashes #2), by Sara Raasch: It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell. Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay.

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1), by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded. The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

It’s a Wonderful Death, by Sarah J. Schmitt: Seventeen-year-old RJ always gets what she wants. So when her soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. But in her quest for mortality, she becomes a pawn in a power struggle between an overzealous archangel and Death Himself.

252053012152444624807186The Lightning Queen, by Laura Resau (middle grade): Nothing exciting happens on the Hill of Dust, in the remote mountains of Mexico in the 1950s. There’s no electricity, no plumbing, no cars, just day after day of pasturing goats. And now, without his sister and mother, eleven-year-old Teo’s life feels even more barren. And then one day, the mysterious young Esma, who calls herself the Gypsy Queen of Lightning, rolls into town like a fresh burst of color. Against all odds, her caravan’s Mistress of Destiny predicts that Teo and Esma will be longtime friends. Suddenly, life brims with possibility. With the help of a rescued duck, a three-legged skunk, a blind goat, and other allies, Teo and Esma must overcome obstacles-even death-to fulfill their impossible destiny. Inspired by true stories derived from rural Mexico, The Lightning Queen offers a glimpse of the encounter between two fascinating but marginalized cultures–the Rom and the Mixtec Indians–while telling the heart-warming story of an unlikely friendship that spans generations.

A Thousand Nights, by E.K. Johnston: Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next. And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow.

Wolf by Wolf, by Ryan Graudin: The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s ball. Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

1797314518658082Dreamstrider, by Lindsay Smith: A high-concept, fantastical espionage novel set in a world where dreams are the ultimate form of political intelligence. Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject’s body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin. She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire.

Velvet Undercover, by Teri Brown: Samantha Donaldson’s family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the homefront as a Girl Guide and messenger for the intelligence organization MI5.

250163752290796124187925The Anatomy of Curiosity: The follow-up to the acclaimed The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff.

Our Lady of the Ice, by Cassandra Rose Clarke: Hope City, Antarctica. The southernmost city in the world, with only a glass dome and a faltering infrastructure to protect its citizens from the freezing, ceaseless winds of the Antarctic wilderness. Within this bell jar four people–some human, some not–will shape the future of the city forever.

These Shallow Graves, by Jennifer Donnelly: Set in gilded age New York, These Shallow Graves follows the story of Josephine Montfort, an American aristocrat. Jo lives a life of old-money ease. Not much is expected of her other than to look good and marry well. But when her father dies due to an accidental gunshot, the gilding on Jo’s world starts to tarnish. With the help of a handsome and brash reporter, and a young medical student who moonlights in the city morgue, Jo uncovers the truth behind her father’s death and learns that if you’re going to bury the past, you’d better bury it deep.

23358109-12201012921525983Black Widow: Forever Red: This novel features all the thrilling adventure readers will expect from the Marvel brand, backed up by the young-adult cred of #1 New York Times bestselling author Margaret Stohl.

We’ll Never Be Apart, by Emiko Jean: Murder. Fire. Revenge. That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything.

Romancing the Dark in the City of Light, by Ann Jacobus: A troubled teen, living in Paris, is torn between two boys, one of whom encourages her to embrace life, while the other—dark, dangerous, and attractive—urges her to embrace her fatal flaws.

238460132458526724565038The Rose Society (The Young Elites #2), by Marie Lu: Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she and her sister flee Kenettra to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies.

The White Rose (The Lone City #2), by Amy Ewing: Violet is on the run. After the Duchess of the Lake catches Violet with Ash, the hired companion at the Palace of the Lake, Violet has no choice but to escape the Jewel or face certain death….The White Rose is a raw, captivating sequel to The Jewel that fans won’t be able to put down until the final shocking moments.

Spinning Starlight, by R.C. Lewis: Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired. Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead. Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’sThe Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to Stitching Snow.

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The Immortal Heights (The Elemental Trilogy #3), by Sherry Thomas: In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage.

An Inheritance of Ashes, by Leah Bobet: The strange war down south—with its rumors of gods and monsters—is over. And while sixteen-year-old Hallie and her sister wait to see who will return from the distant battlefield, they struggle to maintain their family farm.

Underneath Everything, by Marcy Bellar Paul: Mattie shouldn’t be at the bonfire. She should be finding new maps for her collection, hanging out with Kris, and steering clear of almost everyone else, especially Jolene. After all, Mattie and Kris dropped off the social scene the summer after sophomore year for a reason. But now Mattie is a senior, and she’s sick of missing things. So here she is.

Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell: Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters. 

ICYMI: Here are my most anticipated May/June, July/August, and September releases.

Alyssa Raymond recommends new and upcoming releases in young adult fiction at Coven Book Club and its sister site Spellbinding Books. She also writes staff recommendations for the Boulder Book Store, where she worked for many years as a bookseller. She thanks Edelweiss, Netgalley, Boulder Book Store, authors, and publishers for providing her with ARCs and DRCs for review purposes. Please chat with her on Twitter about books! What are you looking forward to reading this summer and fall?


Spring YA: Written in the Stars, Becoming Jinn, Half Wild

It may seem strange to recommend Aisha Saeed’s Written in the Stars, Lori Goldstein’s Becoming Jinn (out 4/21), and Sally Green’s Half Wild together in one post. Besides being YA new releases, what do they have in common?

Not much if you compare their characters, settings, and plots. Written in the Stars is about a Pakistani-American forced into an arranged marriage. In Becoming Jinn, Azra doesn’t want to turn sixteen, even if she does become a drop-dead gorgeous and magically-gifted Jinn. Half Bad and Half Wild are about Nathan’s complex identity as half White Witch and half Black Witch. But what ties them together is how their protagonists struggle with the issue of destiny.

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Written in the Stars opens with seventeen-year-old Naila living in America and having no clue that she will soon travel to Pakistan on a vacation that will become an arranged marriage. Although her parents’ strict rules prevent her from having much of a social life, she’s deeply in love with her secret boyfriend and she’s going to college in a few months. Since Saif is Pakistani-American too, maybe her parents will eventually approve of their relationship? However, after Naila is caught attending prom with Saif, her dreams of going to college and being with him are shattered. Will she be able to escape her unwanted marriage? Can she still choose her own fate?

22718738Becoming Jinn also explores what it’s like to not have control over your own destiny. In the opening scene, Azra is trying desperately to cut through a silver bangle, but nothing she conjures–a chisel, a hammer, a wrench–can free her from becoming a Jinn like her ancestors. Now she must value Jinn sisterhood above all human relationships (including friendship and romance with cute boys).

What I like most about Azra is that even though she doesn’t want to accept her new identity, she’s generally good-natured and witty. She isn’t consumed with self-pity and she enjoys her new powers that include wish-granting. You’ll also quickly learn to put your assumptions about Genies aside while reading this book. Goldstein has created a unique and interesting world of the Jinn, especially considering their secret co-existence with humans and complicated relationship with the elite Afrit.

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Sally Green’s Half Bad trilogy also explores the question of destiny in relation to complex notions of identity and world-building. 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. Is he White or Black? Good or bad? He’s not sure and neither are the witches.

The White Witches consider him an abomination and threat, since he’s the son of the world’s most evil witch, Marcus. The Black Witches don’t trust him either and think he’s spying for the White Witches. Then there’s his father, whom (in Half Bad) he must find by his seventeenth birthday to give him the three gifts that will become his own magical powers. But his father doesn’t trust Nathan either, believing his son is destined to kill him. As Nathan struggles to understand his fate and where he stands in the conflict (which worsens and becomes more complicated in Half Wild), whom can he trust? Is he destined to be either good or bad? Is being a half code a gift or a curse?

All three writers explore the difficulties of choosing your own destiny when restrictions are severe, choices are very limited, and being rebellious means risking harsh punishment or death. Do they even have free will? Have their destinies been pre-determined or will they be able to choose their own fates?

Alyssa Raymond recommends new and upcoming releases in young adult fiction (and occasionally middle grade and adult) for Coven Book Club and its newly-launched 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.