Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, which features (you guessed it!) top ten lists on a given topic each week. This week’s topic is Top Ten 2014 Debut Books I Want to Read. Unlike last year when I just took some shots in the dark at books that look cool on GoodReads, I actually have reasoning behind (most) of these choices. And I am not even gonna pretend I tried to keep this list to only ten.
2014 Debuts I’ve Read but Want to Feature!
I’ve read a few ARCs of these 2014 debuts, but liked or loved them so much I felt the need to spotlight them and make sure everyone who could possibly stumble across my blog had these books on their radar.
1. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Summary: Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.
With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.
As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.
Glimpse of my review: The world of Arcadia is so fascinating. Piece by piece, readers learn along with Nyx the truth about her world. She knows some things, but as she explores the castle and learns about her new husband, she realizes just how little she actually knew. The truth has long been concealed from everyone, including Ignifex, and the main plot of this book is for Nyx and Ignifex to discover the truth and for Nyx to save the land as well.
2. Far From You by Tess Sharpe
Release Date: April 8, 2014
Summary:Sophie Winters nearly died. Twice.The first time, she’s fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that’ll take years to kick.
The second time, she’s seventeen, and it’s no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina’s murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery.
After a forced stint in rehab, Sophie returns home to a chilly new reality. Mina’s brother won’t speak to her, her parents fear she’ll relapse, old friends have become enemies, and Sophie has to learn how to live without her other half. To make matters worse, no one is looking in the right places and Sophie must search for Mina’s murderer on her own. But with every step, Sophie comes closer to revealing all: about herself, about Mina and about the secret they shared.
Glimpse of my review: Is it strange to call a book that’s part murder mystery beautiful? Because this book is, and it’s so much more than just the mystery of Mina’s murder. While that plays a role–quite a large one, definitely enough to satisfy mystery fans–it’s not really the heartbeat of this story. The relationship between Mina and Sophie is, and the exploration of that relationship is just done stunningly.
3. Ask Again Later by Liz Czusak
Release Date: March 11, 2014
Summary: Despite what her name might suggest, Heart has zero interest in complicated romance. So when her brilliant plan to go to prom with a group of friends is disrupted by two surprise invites, Heart knows there’s only one drama-free solution: flip a coin.
Heads: The jock. He might spend all night staring at his ex or throw up in the limo, but how bad can her brother’s best friend really be?
Tails: The theater geek…with a secret. What could be better than a guy who shares all Heart’s interests–even if he wants to share all his feelings?
Heart’s simple coin flip has somehow given her the chance to live out both dates. But where her prom night ends up might be the most surprising thing of all…
Glimpse of my review: I loved the concept of Ask Again Later. It’s a parallel reality story, but it’s different from books like Pivot Point or Parallel because the subject is less serious and more fun. Some of the prom night antics take a turn for the more serious, but on the whole it’s not the big LIFE OR DEATH! situations of most parallel reality stories.
4. Alienated by Melissa Landers
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Summary: Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.
Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.
Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.
But when Cara’s classmates get swept up by anti-L’eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn’t safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara’s locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.
Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she’s fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.
Glimpse of my review: I thought it was one of the most original novels I’ve ever read. I loved Cara’s voice. Even though the book is told in third person, Cara’s humor and personality shine through brilliantly. The effect that the world has on Aelyx is subtle but traceable.
5. Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anna Blankman
Release Date: April 22, 2014
Summary:In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.
Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.
And Gretchen follows his every command.
Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.
As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?
Glimpse of my review: I literally have nothing but praise to say for this debut historical novel. The attention to detail, the way the characters interact, and the story were so compelling I could not put this book down, even though it wasn’t an action-packed story. It completely captivated me and it is without a doubt one of my favorite historical novels I’ve ever read.
2014 Debuts I can’t Wait to Read!
1. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Summary: It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.
I’M EXCITED BECAUSE: This one sounds like it might be sad, but I really love the premise(it’s interesting to see how many of my picks are contemporary for 2014!). And I’m not even gonna lie, the cover has a huge part to play in why I want to read this book so badly.
2. Falls the Shadow by Stephanie Gaither
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Summary: When Cate Benson was twelve, her sister died.
Two hours after the funeral, they picked up Violet’s replacement, and it was like nothing had ever happened. Because Cate’s parents are among those who decided to grant their children a sort of immortality—by cloning them at birth. So this new Violet has the same smile. The same laugh. That same perfect face. Thanks to advancements in mind-uploading technology, she even has all the same memories as the girl she replaced.
She also might have murdered the most popular girl in school.
Or at least, that’s what the paparazzi and crazy anti-cloning protesters want everyone to think: that clones are violent, unpredictable monsters. Cate is used to hearing all that, though. She’s used to standing up for her sister too, and she’s determined to prove her innocence now—at whatever the cost. But the deeper she digs for the truth, the further Cate’s carefully-constructed life begins to unravel, unveiling a world filled with copies and lies, where nothing and no one—not even her sister— is completely what they seem.
WHY I’M EXCITED: I LOVE this title so much, you don’t even know. Also, the summary just sounds fantastic. The idea of immortality via cloning–with a clone that even has all the same memories of the original person–is scary but is fascinating and man, I wish I had thought of this book idea. And it sounds like there’s a murder mystery involved in the sci-fi here as well.
3.The Nethergrim by Matthew Jobin
Release Date: April 8, 2014
Summary: Everyone in Moorvale believes the legend: The brave knight Tristan and the famed wizard Vithric, in an epic battle decades ago, had defeated the evil Nethergrim and his minions. To this day, songs are sung and festivals held in the heroes’ honor. Yet now something dark has crept over the village. First animals disappear, their only remains a pile of bones licked clean. Then something worse: children disappear. The whispers begin quietly yet soon turn into a shout: The Nethergrim has returned!
Edmund’s brother is one of the missing, and Edmund knows he must do something to save his life. But what? Though a student of magic, he struggles to cast even the simplest spell. Still, he and his friends swallow their fear and set out to battle an ancient evil whose powers none of them can imagine. They will need to come together–and work apart–in ways that will test every ounce of resolve.
WHY I’M EXCITED: I don’t read much middle grade, but this sounds FANTASTIC. Also, I’m a little jealous, since my NaNo project was a story about a village in which children disappear/die mysteriously. *sigh*. You beat me to it(though I would say mine is quite different, but still–the concept still appeals to me on that basis alone).
4. Nil by Lynn Matson
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Summary: On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have one year. Exactly 365 days–to escape, or you die.
Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing she remembers is blacking out, and when she wakes up, she’s lying naked in an empty rock field.
Lost and alone, Charley finds no sign of other people until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought . . . and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that to save their future, Charley must first save him. And on an island rife with dangers, their greatest threat is time.
WHY I’M EXCITED: When I read the first line of the summary, I went “Meh.” BUT then I read the scond paragraph, about the main character, Charley, not knowing what’s going on. The summary sort of reminds me of The Maze Runner, which I’m not a huge fan of, but here’s to hoping this one is unique and original.
5. Half Bad by Sally Green
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Summary: In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and fifteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his sixteenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?
In the tradition of Patrick Ness and Markus Zusak, Half Bad is a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive, a story that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page.
WHY I’M EXCITED: Witches? Three gifts? It sounds sort of dark hero’s journey-ish, and I love stories like that.
6. My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal
Release Date: June 10, 2014
Summary: Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss—the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died—is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn’t a suicide as everyone assumes. She can’t remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she’s worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend.
If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she’ll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made—good and bad—that led to her last kiss.
WHY I’M EXCITED: At first, I thought this sounded similar to Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, but the line about Cassidy left with a suspicion that her death wasn’t a suicide made me click “want to read” this book SO fast. Cassidy not being able to recall her own death? Sounds like it will probably be an unreliable narrator and part mystery told from the “ghost” perspective, so I’m all in.
7. Illusive by Emily-Lloyd Jones
Release Date: July 15, 2014
Summary: When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She’s what’s known as an illusionist…She’s also a thief.
After a robbery goes awry, Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn’t?
The lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against he government that could cost them their lives.
WHY I’M EXCITED: Um, super-hero like powers? AND the main character can change her appearance at will and uses it for thievery? Yes, please. Yes to all of this.
8. The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Release Date: June 3rd, 2014
Summary: Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.
WHY I’M EXCITED: This sounds like it has the potential to be a really great, hard-hitting contemporary read. I’m not sure if I can be excited about a book like this with that summary, but I am definitely looking forward to it.