Countdown Pick #1: Defy (Defy, #1) by Sara B. Larson (01/07/2014)
Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.
The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?
Get ready to add this one to your 2014 debut author challenge lists, because I'm pretty sure no one will want to miss out on the chance to check this one out for themselves.
Countdown Pick #2: Minders by Michele Jaffe (01/30/2014)
Q: If the boy you love commits a crime, would you turn him in?
Sadie Ames is a type-A teenager from the wealthy suburbs. She's been accepted to the prestigious Mind Corps Fellowship program, where she'll spend six weeks as an observer inside the head of Ford, a troubled boy with a passion for the crumbling architecture of the inner city. There's just one problem: Sadie's fallen in love with him.
Q: What if the crime is murder?
Ford Winters is haunted by the murder of his older brother, James. As Sadie falls deeper into his world, dazzled by the shimmering pinpricks of color that form images in his mind, she begins to think she knows him. Then Ford does something unthinkable.
Q: What if you saw it happen from inside his mind?
Back in her own body, Sadie is faced with the ultimate dilemma. With Ford's life in her hands, she must decide what is right and what is wrong. And how well she can really ever know someone, even someone she loves.
A little science-fiction never hurt anybody right? This sounds like a winning combination and it's one that I have every intention of taking a look at to see if it can live up to this anxiety building synopsis.
Countdown Pick #3: Aspen by Rebekah Crane (January 2014)
Next thing you know, you're seeing ghosts.
Before their cars collided, Aspen was the nondescript slacker flying under the radar, Katelyn the sleek-haired popular girl, one half—with gorgeous boyfriend Ben Tyler—of Boulder High’s “It” couple.
After the accident, Aspen is unexpectedly popular, her new lab partner Ben, as in Katelyn’s Ben, is unexpectedly interested in her … and in the biggest twist of all, Katelyn’s ghost appears unexpectedly at every turn. At first, Aspen feels badly.
Then she starts to feel annoyed.
With the help of best friends Kim and Cass, her childlike mother, Ninny, and Ben, Aspen must learn the difference between an accident and fate, while defining the role she wants to take in an indefinite world. It might just be the only way to banish Katelyn from her life forever.
Rebekah Crane’s darkly humorous new young adult novel, ASPEN, is the story of an accident and its aftermath. It's about a girl struggling to forget the past while being deathly afraid of the future. But most of all, it's the story of what comes next.
I can't decide what type of book this will turn out to be, can you? Is it a ghost story? A coming of age? No matter what it turns out to be categorized as, it's a future read that I plan on picking up as soon as it hits the shelves.
Countdown Pick #4: See Jane Run by Hannah Jayne (01/01/2014)
Riley Spencer never thought twice about keeping secrets from her parents--not big ones, at least. They didn't need to know that her math tutor was also her boyfriend and that cocktail dress she "borrowed" from her mom would be back before she missed it. But when she finds a birth certificate with the name Jane O'Callahan wedged inside her baby book, Riley must face the reality that her parents are the ones who might be lying to her.
I'm already acknowledging the fact that I know full well my anxiety will be through the roof with this read. I'm not always great with thrillers or mysteries...the tension and build up usually leave me wrecked and unable to sleep or be productive in any way shape or form. But I don't think that's going to stop me from picking this January release up and testing that theory out.
Countdown Pick #5: Divided We Fall (Divided We Fall Trilogy, #1) by Trent Reedy (01/28/2014)
Danny Wright never thought he'd be the man to bring down the United States of America. In fact, he enlisted in the National Guard because he wanted to serve his country the way his father did. When the Guard is called up on the Idaho governor's orders to police a protest in Boise, it seems like a routine crowd-control mission ... but then Danny's gun misfires, spooking the other soldiers and the already fractious crowd, and by the time the smoke clears, twelve people are dead.
The president wants the soldiers arrested. The governor swears to protect them. And as tensions build on both sides, the conflict slowly escalates toward the unthinkable: a second American civil war.
With political questions that are popular in American culture yet rare in YA fiction, and a provocative plot that could far too easily become real, DIVIDED WE FALL is Trent Reedy's very timely YA debut.
Not sure what this cover will look like yet, but it's another 2014 YA debut to add to your lists. I'm on the fence as to whether I'll read this right out of the gate, or if I'll wait to hear a little feedback from other reviewers first. It all sounds so plausible that I might need a heads up or bit of a starting block before I let my anxiety get away from me with this read.