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I love discovering new authors, and what better way to do it than to read debut novels? 2015 and involvement with WinterHaven Books has given me a chance to read so many more debut novels than I have read in the previous years of my blogging history, and I hope this trend continues in the new year.
I will first introduce five authors who will debut in 2016. If these books are not on your to-read lists already, I warmly recommend you add them there RIGHT NOW! All of these titles are ones I have given 5 shining stars and I cannot wait for their publication to see how they do in the big, bad world.
The latter five books are titles that have already been released and ones that you should definitely check out as well. And the best thing is, you can walk into a bookstore or an online retailer and get them right away. All of these books have also received 5 stars in my super strict grading (lol!) and they are all titles that make me very very very excited for what these authors come up with next.
1. Nicole Castroman, debut novel Blackhearts (February 9, 2016 by Simon Pulse) - I just read this a couple of weeks ago and though it was a lot different than I expected, I absolutely loved it! The ending makes me think that Castroman's sophomore novel will be a continuation for this one, and I am definitely okay with that. Though I am not a big series reader these days, I fell in love with these characters and I am desperate to know more about them. If you are looking for an epic pirate adventure book, this is not that (I think I had read about 60% of it before pirates were even mentioned), but despite that, it is a brilliant, well-written and exciting read.
2. Marieke Nijkamp, debut novel This is Where it Ends (January 6, 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire) - Once I started this one, I couldn't put it down. The way it is written, the intensity of its narrative and events, and the subject matter it deals with all took me completely by surprise and left a long lasting effect on me. Last year I read Dave Cullen's Columbine, a non-fiction piece about the Columbine school shootings and this novel really made me think of that one. I appreciated Nijkamp's approach to such difficult topic and the novel really shows that she has done a lot of research in how to execute the stories of these young people in a respectful, realistic manner.
3. Marisa Reichardt, debut novel Underwater (January 12, 2016 by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux) - Underwater is magical and Marisa Reichardt is my new queen! This book was so incredibly good and beautiful and well-written and amazing and just all the things I want from a contemporary novel. I loved the slow-burning romance, the family relationships, the supporting characters and figuring out the events from the past the novel makes references to. I HOPE THIS BOOK GETS ALL THE PRAISE IT DESERVES!
4. Ashley Herring Blake, debut novel Suffer Love (May 3, 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers) - Ashley Herring Blake is freaking awesome and this novel is contemporary gold! I loved the family dynamics (I am really digging family stories in contemporary YA these days). The one thing that comes to my mind right away when someone mentions this novel is the incredibly well done pacing of it! Pacing is one of those things you might not think about at first, but when someone does it well, you cannot miss it and you start to hope that everyone would do it that way! For someone who loves witty humor, Shakespeare references and gritty YA contemporary, this one is must read!
5. Emily Henry, debut novel The Love That Split the World (January 26, 2016 by Razorbill) - Before I say anything else, I probably should let out my repeated rant about the beauty of that cover... JUST LOOK AT IT! It is so so so so so so beautiful. Fortunately, what's between the covers is also extremely beautiful. The genre specification for this one is tricky - there definitely are elements of fantasy there, but for me, it read like a contemporary novel with fantastical elements. The detailed world-building, the characters, the romance, the writing and the friendship narrative together made this book a magical experience. Emily Henry also seems like such a nice person and I was extremely touched by the thanks she gave to me in Twitter for taking the time to write my review. Authors who communicate with their readers make blogging so much better! Also, as a little added bonus, this book made me think of TIM RIGGINS, a man I am sure I am meant to marry... too bad he is fictional.
6. Emma Mills, debut novel First & Then (October 13, 2015 by Henry Holt and Co.) - Another book that made me think of Tim Riggins. You will probably see a trend here - every single book that makes me think of Tim Riggins is good in my eyes. This one is described as a mix between Pride and Prejudice and Friday Night Lights which definitely are on my list of my favorite things, so obviously I was very excited about this book. It is one of those perfect contemporary reads that mixes family narratives with romance. In addition, I loved the main character Devon's process of trying to figure out what she wants to do after high school. I feel like often YA protagonists know exactly what they want to do, which is completely fine, but once it a while it is nice to read about someone who is still figuring out what she ones to do when she "grows up".
7. Becky Albertalli, debut novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (April 7, 2015 by Balzer + Bray) - I want to reread this novel so badly. I read it in February or March of this year and absolutely loved it, but I feel like I did not funny savor it because I just kept reading and reading since it was impossible to put it down. I love Albertalli's way of writing, her characters and pretty much everything about this book. Before you start reading this one make sure you are stocked up on Oreos, because I promise you, you will start to crave for some (sincerely someone who went to the store at 10 pm to get Oreos!)
8. Adam Silvera, debut novel More Happy than Not (June 2, 2015 by Soho Teen) - This list is very female-author driven, but I was glad to notice that two guys made it to the list as well, the first of them being Adam Silvera. It took me quite a while to actually pick up More Happy Than Not, mostly because I often find having troubles connecting with books from a male point of view. Fortunately that wasn't the case with More Happy Than Not. Aaron's struggle to find happiness and his true-identity is something so easy to identify with. I loved the slightly dystopian aspect of the novel that the Leteo Institute and its process of memory-alteration introduces to it, but also, as a contemporary lover, appreciated the fact that this is essentially a contemporary read.
9. Jasmine Warga, debut novel My Heart and Other Black Holes (February 10, 2015 by HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray) - I cannot believe it is almost a year since I read this novel. I am always wary about suicide books because of my own experience of losing someone to suicide, but this one fortunately did not bring up any red flags for me and I ended up really enjoying it. I loved the way the connection between Aysel and Roman is established, as well as the family dynamics the novel gets into.
10. David Arnold, debut novel Mosquitoland (March 3, 2015 by Viking Books for Young Readers) - This book was SO SO SO SO good! And alsoa complete surprise for me. The way Arnold writes is absolutely beautiful and the journey Mim and a set of supporting characters go through. While reading this book I was able to see it as a perfect Wes Anderson-style indie film.