Top Ten Tuesday #2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a book-related prompt for book bloggers to answer. This week’s prompt is ‘Top Ten 2016 Debuts We Are Looking Forward To.’

I’m still in denial that there’s only four weeks left of the year! Although, I should probably note that my sense of time stopped working in 2000. So, there’s that. Like most people, I have a tendency to pay more attention to authors whose work I know and love, and debut authors often fall off my radar until their book is blowing up all over GoodReads.  Making this list definitely helped me organise my reading list for next year!



The Year We Fell Apart
Author: Emily Martin
Publication Date: 26th January 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 320
Add on GoodReads
Summary: Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.

Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis. While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from.

As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.

I think good YA not only appeals to older audiences, but also takes you back to your teenage years – so if the early reviews are anything to go by, The Year We Fell Apart is an excellent book. I like my heroines flawed, strong, and witty and I love a good emotional journey, so it sounds like this book will be right up my alley!

The Mystery of Hollow Places
Author: Rebecca Podos
Publication Date: 26th January 2016
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Pages: 304
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Summary: All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when she was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as troubled waters.

When Imogene is seventeen, her father, now a famous author of medical mysteries, strikes out in the middle of the night and doesn’t come back. Neither Imogene’s stepmother nor the police know where he could’ve gone, but Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. She decides to put to use the skills she’s gleaned from a lifetime of her father’s books to track down a woman she’s never known, in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she’s carried with her for her entire life.

Rebecca Podos’ debut is a powerful, affecting story of the pieces of ourselves that remain mysteries even to us – the desperate search through empty spaces for something to hold on to.

I want to kick off 2016 with something a little different, so the first debut on my list is The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos. Going by the title and cover, it sounds like something a little supernatural (or maybe it’s just because the cover makes me think of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – don’t ask), so I was pleased to find out it’s more of a contemporary/mystery YA novel.  A lot of the early reviews have characterised it as a slow-moving, psychological drama. Given that my favourite book of 2015, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, was described similarly, I’m ready to give this genre another shot!

Symptoms of Being Human
Author: Jeff Garvin
Publication Date: 2nd February 2016
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Pages: 352
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Summary: The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is . . . Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender-fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

Apparently I’m going to be adding half of Balzer & Bray’s 2016 catalogue to my wishlist next year, but they’ve made some AMAZING acquisitions if the blurbs are anything to go by. I’m so excited that we’re getting books that are aimed for LGBTQIA+ and genderfluid/genderqueer books and the books that are aimed towards teens are getting more and more diverse. What’s more exciting than books that encourage teens to be their authentic selves? Nothing, I tell you. What a time to be alive.

The Smell of Other People’s Houses
Author: Bonnie Sue Hitchcock
Publication Date: 23rd February 2016
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Pages: 240
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Summary: Ruth has a secret that she can’t hide forever. Dora wonders if she can ever truly escape where she comes from, even when good luck strikes. Alyce is trying to reconcile her desire to dance, with the life she’s always known on her family’s fishing boat. Hank and his brothers decide it’s safer to run away than to stay home—until one of them ends up in terrible danger. Four very different lives are about to become entangled. This unforgettable book is about people who try to save each other—and how sometimes, when they least expect it, they succeed.

How gorgeous does that cover look? How interesting does that title sound? I saw those two things put together, and I immediately added this book to my to-read list. While the comparisons to Rainbow Rowell have me raising my eyebrow a bit (I think I’ve been fairly vocal about my apprehensions to reading books that have a blurb comparing the work to anything by John Green or Rowell), a lot of reviewers have been commenting on the diversity in this one, and I don’t think I read enough diverse reads.

Rebel of the Sands
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Publication Date: 8th March 2016
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 400
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Summary: She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him…or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Oh my God, tell me a book is a mix of those corny American Western movies and Arabic mythology and my only response will be sign me up.

The Way I Used to Be
Author: Amber Smith
Publication Date: 22nd March 2016
Publisher: Margaret K. Elderberry Books
Pages: 384
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Summary: Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.

I might ruffle a few feathers by saying this, but I don’t think that there’s enough intelligently written YA novels being published right now. There seems to be an assumption that because you’re writing novels for a younger audience, you need to dumb your story down or spell things out for them; that you need to shelter them from the realities of the world. The teenagers presented in these stories, more often than not, feel like caricatures of real teens. So when a book starts getting reviews that say things like, “[the] writing is searing, raw, courageous, deep” and that “the power of Smith’s debut will respectfully add to the conversations of sexual violence that need to happen, and surely help spark dialogue that can’t be silenced,” I start to get excited. Like, really excited. Not to mention, there’s a slew of four and five star reviews on GoodReads.

The Star Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publication Date: 3rd May 2016
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Pages: 352
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Summary: Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteen-year-old Maya has only earned the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is upheaved when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. But when her wedding takes a fatal turn, Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Yet neither roles are what she expected. As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds friendship and warmth.

But Akaran has its own secrets – thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran’s magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger. When she ignores Amar’s plea for patience, her discoveries put more than new love at risk – it threatens the balance of all realms, human and Otherworldly.

Now, Maya must confront a secret that spans reincarnated lives and fight her way through the dangerous underbelly of the Otherworld if she wants to protect the people she loves.

I loved books that are based in mythology, especially when that mythology is something other than Greek/Roman. Everything about this book’s description excites me, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it. Although – small side note – does the cover artwork remind anybody else of The Queen of the Tearling‘s?

True Letters from a Fictional Life
Author: Kenneth Logan
Publication Date: 7th June 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 240
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Summary: A thoughtful, authentic coming-out story about a high school boy who can only deal with his own truth through secret, unsent letters.

If you asked anyone in his small Vermont town, they’d tell you the facts: James Liddell, star athlete, decent student, and sort-of boyfriend to cute, peppy Theresa is a happy, funny, carefree guy.

But whenever James sits down at his desk to write, he tells a different story. As he fills his drawers with letters to the people in his world—letters he never intends to send—he spills the truth: he’s trying hard but just isn’t into Theresa. It’s his friend, a boy, who lingers in his thoughts.

James’s secret letters are his safe space—until someone leaks them, and words he never meant to share are being broadcast all over school. Will he come clean to his parents, his teammates, and himself or is he destined to live a life of fiction?

To be honest, this book sounds quite similar to Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – another favourite of 2015 – and I’m kind of hoping that this will be something as light and fluffy as that. Although if this book went the opposite way and had a darker take on what life is like for closeted gay teens, I wouldn’t complain (but with a cover and summary like that, it’s gotta be light and fluffy, right?)

A Shadow Bright and Burning
Author: Jessica Cluess
Publication Date: 20th September 2016
Publisher: Random House
Pages: N/A
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Summary: Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she’s shocked when instead of being executed, she’s named the first female sorcerer in hundreds of years and invited to train as one of Her Majesty’s royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the prophesied one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.

But Henrietta doubts that she’s the chosen one. As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city–and the one she loves?

Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess’s spellbinding fantasy introduces Henrietta Howel, a powerful, unforgettable heroine, and an entertaining world filled with magic, monsters, and mayhem.

How great does this book sound? I have my fingers crossed that it’ll be everything that I wanted The Witch Hunter to be. Early reviews have promised a heroine that’ll make feminists’ hearts sing, three-dimensional characters, and impressive world building. I am ready, Random House.



In Another Life
Author: Julie Christine Johnson
Publication Date: 2nd February 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Pages: 384
Add on GoodReads
Summary: Historian Lia Carrer has finally returned to southern France, determined to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. But instead of finding solace in the region’s quiet hills and medieval ruins, she falls in love with Raoul, a man whose very existence challenges everything she knows about life–and about her husband’s death. As Raoul reveals the story of his past to Lia, she becomes entangled in the echoes of an ancient murder, resulting in a haunting and suspenseful journey that reminds Lia that the dead may not be as far from us as we think.  Steeped in the rich history and romantic landscape of rural France, In Another Life is a story of love that conquers time and the lost loves that haunt us all.

Because sometimes you need to pick up a historical fiction/romance/mystery/possible time travel book with a The Great Gatsby-esque cover.


What debut novels are you looking forward to in 2016? Which have I missed? Tell me below – and don’t forget to link to your Top 10 so I can check out yours!




13 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday #2

  1. I’m ridiculously excited for Rebel of the Sands!! (And I’m in denial about the year ending too..omg, I’m not ready to type 2016 yet. GAH. MAKE TIME SLOWER…except don’t, because I want all these beautiful books too. xD) Here’s my TTT!


  2. Yes! to Rebel Sands and The Way I Used To Be!!! I considered a lot of the same books for my list (and picked some of the same ones as well). Plus, I see more books to add to my TBR list. Thanks!!! Here is my TTT list.


  3. Kim, I am SO honored and excited to see my debut novel, In Another Life, on this list- thank you! Total chills and hot flashes of excitement!

    Just wanted to point out that the release date is February 2 (OMG- two months from today- my stomach is so full of butterflies!) and my publisher is Sourcebooks Landmark. I’d be thrilled if y’all added it to your Goodreads TBR shelves, but the link goes to another author’s book. Thank you! And let me know if you have any questions. I’m so touched by the support and excitement!

    Hearts- Julie


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