Sixteen Anticipated Releases for 2016

Hello, hello!

Top Ten TuesdayI laugh about it with friends and family, but it’s all too true: my TBR list grows with every visit to the library and every click on Goodreads. What can I say? I’m a curious reader, easily captivated by a gorgeous cover or an interesting synopsis. However, for every book I add on a whim, it’s matched by a beloved author’s release I’m anxiously awaiting to hit shelves. In honor of the new year and in participation with The Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday, I’ve chosen several such novels I can’t wait to read in 2016 {sixteen for twenty-sixteen, of course!}. Consider these my priorities for the year – it’s my hope I’ll have each and every one read by next December. Fortunately, next year’s line-up of books have me all sorts of excited, so completing the goal should be a breeze. Which novels are on your list?

The Mother Daughter book CampFirst up, I’m counting down the days until I can get a copy of Heather Vogel Frederick’s The Mother Daughter Book Camp, the final installment in her long-popular Mother Daughter Book Club series. I’ve practically grown up with the characters – bookish Emma, kind Jess, stylish Megan, confident Becca, and sporty Cassidy – so it will be a bittersweet return to the story. I’ve chosen not to worry, though; Frederick is sure to deliver a heartwarming ending. {out May 3}

When We CollidedI thought Emery Lord was a strong contender when I read her debut, Open Road Summer, but it was only when I read her sophomore novel, The Start of Me and You, that she secured a spot on my auto-read list for years to come. When We Collided is her third book, and from what I can tell, it’s her best one yet. Though Lord tackles the heavy topics of grief and mental illness, I have no doubt of her ability to craft a powerful story. Can April come sooner? {out April 8}

The Unexpected EverythingWhenever I recommend one of Morgan Matson’s novels to a friend, I describe the author as the queen of YA contemporary. It may seem silly, but the title has merit, as I’ve yet to read a Matson book that I haven’t adored {see here and here for proof!}. I expect no less of a case with her next book, The Unexpected Everything, coming out in May. A political scandal, “an insane number of dogs,” and one of 2016’s best covers? Count me in. {out May 3}

Salt to the SeaI’ve read only one other novel by Ruta Sepetys {her outstanding Out of the Easy}, but even that last a lasting enough of an impression that I’ve eyed her other work ever since. Though Between Shades of Gray remains on my shelf unread – a problem I’ll have to fix soon! – I’m looking forward to her next release, Salt to the Sea. Set in the final years of WWII, the story recounts an oft-overlooked tragedy of the war: the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. Intriguing, no? {out February 2}

A Clatter of JarsLisa Graff is one of my favorite middle grade authors, something I say with full confidence having found her novels consistently well-written. I’m quick to recommend each of her books, but A Tangle of Knots, a creative and engaging example of magical realism, holds a special place in my heart. You can then imagine my excitement over the companion novel, A Clatter of Jars, slated for release in May 2016. I’m head over heels for it – and I haven’t even read it yet! {out May 24}

The Geek's Guide to Unrequited LoveIt’s rare that I grow so excited over a novel from an author I haven’t read from previously, but, hey, here we are! Credit the pitch-perfect title, the even better cover, or the charming premise {the author describes it as “Pretty in Pink goes to comic con”}, but no matter what, The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love, Sarvenaz Tash’s second young adult novel, has a guaranteed spot in my reading pile come the summer. I’m all for kooky love stories. {out June 14}

Poison is Not PoliteJust as I eagerly await the next season of Downton Abbey long after British audiences have already obsessed over them, so have I waited for the American publication of Robin Stevens’ second Wells and Wong mystery, Poison is Not Polite. Young sleuths Daisy and Hazel were among the most memorable characters I read about this year, so I’m delighted they are back to their detective work at Daisy’s glamorous manor. Will it live up to the hype? Without a doubt. {out April 26}

The Tiara on the TerraceIf you, like me, are in need of another middle grade mystery for 2016, I suggest we anticipate the release of Kristen Kittscher’s The Tiara on the Terrace together. Even having read it two years ago, The Wig in the Window remains one of my favorite MG books to date, so it’s no wonder I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel! I plan to put my Amazon gift card to good use by purchasing a copy, which means I’m only days away from reuniting with Grace and Sophie. {out January 5}

Summer Days and Summer NightsThough I was underwhelmed by Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss, I believe it fully to be a case of a book for the wrong reader, not a bad author. Perkins is clearly a talented writer and, as she proved with last year’s holiday anthology, a talented editor too. I couldn’t be happier that she is bringing together even more famous YA names {think: Libba Bray, Nina LaCour} for a summer edition of love stories. I know what I’ll be doing on my last day of junior year! {out June 14}

A Tyranny of PetticoatsAnother short story collection I’ve been crushing on for months on end? Jessica Spotswood’s A Tyranny of Petticoats, a collection that brings readers “on a thrill ride through history with American girls charting their own course.” I, for one, think YA literature can always benefit from strong female protagonists, and this anthology promises plenty. Authors Elizabeth Wein and Marissa Meyer are both contributing, so I’m hard-pressed to imagine me not liking it. {out March 8}

Highly Illogical BehaviorI read John Corey Whaley’s Noggin just last year and quickly found the unique plot and distinct voice irresistible. I’m hoping the same will happen with his 2016 release, Highly Illogical Behavior, a story about an agoraphobic teen and an ambitious aspiring psychologist. The colorful cover grabs your interest, the story catches your attention, and I can count on Whaley for a good book, so only one problem remains: that May 10th is not yet here! {out May 10}

The Family Fletcher Takes Rock IslandDana Alison Levy’s 2014 debut, The Misadventures of Family Fletcher, was a pleasant surprise; I didn’t think I would fall in love with it so much, and I certainly didn’t expect to be in such anxious anticipation over its sequel, The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island, a year later. Already earning much praise, Levy’s sophomore novel has me looking forward to spending more time with one of my favorite fictional families – likely in one sitting with a glass of lemonade in hand. {out May 10}

The Inside of OutJenn Marie Thorne was one of many debut authors whose work I devoured this year. She’s also one of the few that already has a book not only in the works, but planned for publication. Her next novel, titled The Inside of Out, has quite the storyline: Daisy, in support of her best friend, goes full steam ahead in advocating for the LGBTQIA cause, only to have her societal privilege backfire. A diverse contemporary, by a skilled author no less, is right up my alley. {out July 10}

Outrun the MoonStacey Lee is another author who quickly found a home in the YA world. I was blown away by her debut, Under a Painted Sky, over the summer for its careful characterization and rich historical detail, and I’m sure she’ll bring the same skill set to her next book, Outrun the Moon. Lee explores a setting – Chinatown in the early 1900’s – that I don’t see very often on shelves, so here’s hoping or, rather, knowing she’ll do the period justice. {out May 24}

The Great American WhateverTime escapes me, blog posts go unfinished, books return to the library unread – life happens, and that’s the only excuse I can provide for not yet having read Tim Federle’s middle grade series, Better Nate Than Ever. They sound delightful, so I’m making it my mission to read those, along with Federle’s equally-good-sounding The Great American Whatever, in the coming year. I believe the well-designed cover and glowing reviews are strong indicators of my enjoyment. {out March 29}

The Last Boy and Girl in the WorldFinally, I think Siobhan Vivian can do no wrong – or, at least, that’s what I like to think having obsessed over her Burn for Burn series co-written with Jenny Han. Her next novel, The Last Boy and Girl in the World, is a stand-alone, but it looks to me just as engaging and just as fun of a read as her other books. As the title suggests, it presents an answer to a relevant looming question: what do you when weather wreaks lasting havoc on your town? Color me intrigued. {out April 26}

Have the most wonderful Tuesday!
Bella

Psst. Stalking Goodreads for new books? I can make it easier: catch the 2016 debuts I can’t wait to read here and the books I read and loved in 2015 over here.

Pros & Cons / Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff

Hi!

Pros and ConsIf there’s anything I’ve learned in my years of posting book reviews, it’s that good books will make writing a novel seem effortless, even if doing so is anything but. With well-paced plots and characters rich with development, Lisa Graff’s work serves as a prime example of superb reads and writing. Lost in the Sun is Graff’s latest release for middle grade readers, and it contains the same elements that made her past novels a success: an engaging and realistic protagonist, complex family relationships, and a tearjerker of a story. I enjoyed it immensely, and it kicked off what has been a terrific summer break for reading. My full review is below!

Everyone says that middle school is awful, but Trent knows nothing could be worse than the year he had in fifth grade, when a freak accident on Cedar Lake left one kid dead, and Trent with a brain full of terrible thoughts he can’t get rid of. Trent’s pretty positive the entire disaster was his fault, so for him middle school feels like a fresh start, a chance to prove to everyone that he’s not the horrible screw-up they seem to think he is. 

If only Trent could make that fresh start happen. It isn’t until Trent gets caught up in the whirlwind that is Fallon Little—the girl with the mysterious scar across her face—that things begin to change. Because fresh starts aren’t always easy. Even in baseball, when a fly ball gets lost in the sun, you have to remember to shift your position to find it. {Goodreads}

Lost in the Sun Pros and ConsNeed more convincing? Here’s what other reviewers had to say.
“The truth is; I may never be able to offer you fancy words and magical sentences, but what I can tell you is that in the 90 days since I finished Lost In The Sun, I think about it almost every single day. I think about how I’ve never loved so many characters in one single book” {read the rest of the review at Sharp Read HERE}.

“Lisa Graff is the author of the highly regarded A Tangle of Knots, and there’s a lot to admire about this book, too. She draws a moving portrait of Trent in all his self-imposed torment, fighting back — or, on at least one occasion, succumbing to — the volcanic rage that’s forever bubbling up inside of him” {read the rest of the review at The New York Times HERE}.

“Graff tackles the unimaginable and makes the subject manageable. Students who read this unflinching portrayal of grief and forgiveness will walk away changed. I can’t recommend this one enough” {read the rest of the review at Prose and Kahn HERE}.

Let’s discuss! Have you read any of Lisa Graff’s books before? If so, do you have a favorite? {My own continues to be A Tangle of Knots}. Finally, what have YOU been reading this summer? I’m always up for a recommendation!

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

My Twelve Favorite Books of the Past Three Years

Hi!

Top Ten TuesdayMy least favorite question is “What is your favorite book?” Reading near one hundred books a year, I find it so difficult to narrow down my reading experience to just one novel! {For time’s sake, I usually go with the classic, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee}. Fortunately, The Broke and The Bookish‘s feature, Top Ten Tuesday, allows me to share more than just one book for this week’s topic: Books You Would Classify as Your All-TIme Favorites from the Past Three Years. I’ve have been blogging for just over three years now, so making up my list only required a look through my past reviews. It was challenging, but the following twelve novels are ones I would return to again and again with glee.

Favorite Reads Since Blogging[1] Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein • It took me a couple of times before I fell in love with Code Name Verity {I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds some historical fiction hard to get into}, but I am so glad I stuck with this WWII-set novel. Wein’s endless amount of research pours out of the pages, and her writing is captivating. I couldn’t put it down, finished it in one afternoon, and now declare Elizabeth Wein one of my most favorite authors with confidence. You’re missing out if you haven’t read it.

[2] Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell • Over the past three years, many young adult novels have become bestsellers for teens and YA-loving adults. Whether it’s due to the author’s reputation and emotional story {The Fault in Our Stars, anyone?!}, an adaptation hitting the big screen {that would be If I Stay, by the always amazing Gayle Forman}, or because it is just so good, like Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park, you can hardly go wrong with these popular reads. I loved – and still do! – Rowell’s novel, and I urge you to read it if you haven’t already.

[3] Winger by Andrew Smith • Andrew Smith is known for his bizarre, yet well-written, stories {i.e. not everyone’s cup of tea :)}, but Winger is a must-read, regardless of your reading preferences. Authentic, humorous, and intense all at once, Winger lives up to its eye-catching cover. My only regret?! I never wrote a review when I read it a couple of years ago, giving me the perfect excuse to re-read it this spring.

[4] Cinder by Marissa Meyer • You would have to be living under a rock to never have heard of Marissa Meyer’s ever-so popular The Lunar Chronicles; they have dominated the bookseller and book blogger world for several years now. The novels are all winners, but I gave Cinder, the first book, a shout-out. Even I, who doesn’t read much in the science-fiction and fantasy genres, adored Book One, and I cannot wait to see how the saga wraps up later this year.

[5] Something Real by Heather Demetrios • I’ve lost count at how many times I’ve praised Heather Demetrios’ debut, Something Real. I suppose there’s only so many times I can say read it for its superb characterization, compelling story, and wonderful writing! I rarely come across a novel that takes priority over my homework, so do take note: Something Real should be on your TBR list {as well as Demetrios’ other novels, since I’m convinced she can do no wrong as an author}.

[6] Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson • I could have easily put any of Matson’s books on this list, because, like Demetrios, Morgan Matson is a master in the young adult genre. However, Second Chance Summer has an emotional depth that’s hard to overlook. I never have a problem recommending her books to realistic fiction fans.

Favorite Reads Since Blogging[7] A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff • My favorite middle grade novels deserve the spotlight as well, such as Lisa Graff’s A Tangle of Knots. A perfect blend of magic, realism, and charm, this book made me a Lisa Graff fan forever and ever. The whimsical story is more detailed and layered than it first lets on, and if that doesn’t hint at Graff’s skill, I don’t know what will! A companion novel is set to release next year, so there’s no time to lose in grabbing your own copy.

[8] Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne • I debated including Monument 14 on this list because, if anything, it’s a “guilty pleasure” of mine, but the addictive story and fleshed out dystopian world won a spot. Laybourne’s series isn’t perfect, but it is oh-so successful in hooking the reader from page one. I speak from experience; start now, and you won’t stop until you’ve reached the final page of the third book, Savage Drift.

[9] The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine • I’m saddened that I rarely see Kristin Levine’s books publicized online. Her historical fiction novels may be aimed at the middle grade audience, but I can’t see why any age – kid, teen, or adult – wouldn’t enjoy them. What I find so impressive about her work, as is the case with her debut, The Lions of Little Rock, is that she presents historical material in an engaging and fully developed way, avoiding the dreaded history textbook like style.

[10] Spy School by Stuart Gibbs • Spy School is another novel I can’t go a month without mentioning in a post, but praise it again I will! I have little doubt that avid middle grade readers, humor seekers, and budding spies will all enjoy Gibb’s series {or ANY of his books}. Save me the words, and read it as soon as you can :)

[11] Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone • I picked up Stone’s novel on a whim; I had heard some good things about it, and the designer in me loved the pale blue cover. Little did I no that it would soon become book one of my most beloved companion series {Time After Time is its sequel}! I could spend hours discussing how much I enjoyed it.

[12] Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian • Finally, Burn for Burn is one of my more recent reads, but I don’t think I’ve said how much I LOVE it over the past few months. Like many of the novels on this list, I didn’t suspect that Han and Vivian’s collaboration would rank among my favorites, but that’s the beauty of finding a good book, right?!

What novels would you call your favorites from the past few years?

Have a lovely day!
Bella