Ah, February. You’d think with the month that brings Valentine’s Day that we’d be slammed with contemporary romance books. Actually, that’s right. This month is set to deliver a bundle of saccharine novels along with some high fantasy, bold sci-fi and one seriously haunting thriller. Any of these reads would make the perfect Valentine’s Day gift, so go ahead and consider this list as a gift guide, too.
1. Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto?
Release Date: February 2nd from Balzer + Bray
Why You’ll Love It: Revenge and the Wild is a western that blends in magic, like True Grit mashed with your favorite fantasy novel. In fact, if the makers of Final Fantasy set one of their games in the Wild West, it would feel a lot like this. A teenager that’s lost her family, a gadget that harvests magic, monsters threatening to attack without magical barriers: basically, this book is everything you could want. ?
Description: The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for 17-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler. Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.
But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.
2. Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman?
Release Date: February 9th from Simon Pulse?
Why You’ll Love It: There are two pirate books I want you to read this month. There’s The Girl From Everywhere, which we’ll talk about later, and Nicole Castroman’s Blackhearts. Everyone knows the story of the terrible pirate Blackbeard, but what was he like as a teenager? Maybe not so awful? Maybe he was a young man full of hope, promise and love? Blackhearts is high stakes on the high seas, full of thrills and romance. Pair this one up with Heilig’s debut, and treat yourself to a perfect weekend of reading.
Description: Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.
Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?
From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.
3. Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan?
Release Date: February 9th from HarperTeen?
Why You’ll Love It: This really is the month of awesome new series and fairytale retellings, one of the first being Sophie Jordan’s latest, Reign of Shadows. The book offers up a new spin on Rapunzel within a lush fantasy world and a story packed with swoons. In Reign of Shadows, we meet the heir to a kingdom, Luna, who was raised in countryside seclusion. When Luna wants more than the walls around her, her journey proves just how terrifying the outside world can be. ?
Description: Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead. But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.
4. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard?
Release Date: February 9th from HarperTeen
Why You’ll Love It: Glass Sword is the sequel to the New York Times bestseller The Red Queen, and it picks up where all the intense action of the first book left off. If you haven’t read Aveyard’s first book in the series (or last month’s corresponding short novellas), I highly recommend you do—and then dive into this new book right away. This series is set in a world where society is separated by blood and superpowers. Common folks with red blood are plain mortals, while the silver blooded are wealthy and gifted with magical abilities. But Aveyard’s series focuses on a teen girl who shatters those rules, balancing powerful abilities with veins full of red blood.
Description: Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control. The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.
Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors. But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat. Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?
5. Morning Star by Pierce Brown
Release Date: February 9th from Del Rey?
Why You’ll Love It: Is it really time for the final book in Brown’s Red Rising trilogy? If so, I’m not sure I’m ready—but here we are. If you haven’t read the previous installments in this epic sci-fi adventure, you’ll be a little lost if you just read the third book. I highly recommend picking up Red Rising and Golden Son, snuggling up with the one you love and ignoring them as you read all three of these books over a single weekend. In Brown’s novels, we’re introduced to a world where people are separated by a color-caste system. Colors across the spectrum leave people in places of power like the almighty Golds, or practical slaves like the Reds. Darrow is a Red, hellbent on revenge for what’s happened to his people and the love of his life. When the character’s remade into a Gold to take them down from inside, the result is brutal, bloody and gripping. ?
Description: Born a lowly Red in the mines of Mars, Darrow lost his beloved wife to the treacherous Gold overlords. Vowing to fight for the future that his wife believed in, Darrow joins a secret revolutionary group and is remade into a Gold so that he can infiltrate the ruling class and bring them down from the inside. Now, after years of hiding amongst the Golds, Darrow is finally ready to declare open revolution and throw off the chains of oppression. Nothing in Darrow’s world has been easily won, and this final fight will be the most harrowing of all.
6. The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine?
Release Date: February 12th from Balzer + Bray?
Why You’ll Love It: Yes! A new series from C.J. Redwine, who a lot of you YA readers probably know for her fantastic wrapped Defiance trilogy. Although this Ravenspire series will include standalone books that retell fairy tales in adjoining kingdoms, Redwine fans should get excited. In the first book, she gives the tale of Snow White a wickedly dark twist: she’s a fugitive on a mission to take out the evil queen who’s taken her kingdom. And the Huntsman? A prince-turned-king who needs to take out our heroine.
Description: Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.
In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart. But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.
7. The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Release Date: February 16th from Greenwillow Books?
Why You’ll Love It: There is so much going on in this wonderful, wonderful book that I expect you to hang on every single page. I mean, we’ve got time travel on a pirate ship packed with characters from across time and loaded with incredible treasure. And on that ship rides Nix Song and her father, who is on a quest to save her mother. Seems noble enough, right? But if he succeeds with his quest, it might result in Nix no long existing. There are so many twists and turns in this lovely, utterly magical book. The sequel needs to exist now. ?
Description: It was the kind of August day that hinted at monsoons, and the year was 1774, though not for very much longer. Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times—although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix’s father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix’s existence rather dangerously in question. ?
Nix has grown used to her father’s obsession, but only because she’s convinced it can’t work. But then a map falls into her father’s lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it’s that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.
8. Riders by Veronica Rossi?
Release Date: February 16th from Tor Teen?
Why You’ll Love It: If you’re a YA reader, you know Veronica Rossi. Her bestselling smash trilogy Under the Never Sky is a staple in my books-to-recommend library, as it should be in yours. Riders was one of our most anticipated YA books of 2016, and let me tell you, I’m so happy it is finally here. It’s an exciting, fast-paced story about the four horsemen of the apocalypse and a teen who finds himself suddenly in the place of one of them. With memorable characters and a world on the brink of destruction, Riders is as thrilling as it is imaginative.
Description: For 18-year-old Gideon Blake, nothing but death can keep him from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does. Recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can’t remove. His death has brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse. Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen—Conquest, Famine and Death—are brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence. They fail.
Now—bound, bloodied and drugged—Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he’s fallen for—not to mention all of humankind—he needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger. But will anyone believe him?
9. Kill The Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky
Release Date: February 23rd from Point?
Why You’ll Love It: A friend of mine sent me an early copy of this book, and it is one hilarious romp through the world of music and fandom. What happens when a couple of superfans kidnap a member of their favorite boy band? The result is absolutely hilarious and thrilling, and it marks a debut author to watch. ?
Description: Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band. We didn’t mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he’s tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it’s Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn’t be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.
We didn’t mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn’t. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that’s what you do when you love a group so much it hurts. How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.
10. After the Woods by Kim Savage
Release Date: February 23rd from Farrar, Straus and Giroux?
Why You’ll Love It: This month’s must-read YA mystery thriller is After the Woods by Kim Savage, an intense, dark, staggering debut. Full of lovely writing that casts a serious contrast against the dark plot, this thriller will absolutely keep you guessing until the very end.?
Description: Would you risk your life to save your best friend? Julia did. When a paroled predator attacked Liv in the woods, Julia fought back and got caught. Liv ran, leaving Julia in the woods for a terrifying 48 hours that she remembers only in flashbacks.
One year later, Liv seems bent on self-destruction, starving herself, doing drugs and hooking up with a violent new boyfriend. A dead girl turns up in those same woods, and Julia’s memories resurface alongside clues unearthed by an ambitious reporter that link the girl to Julia’s abductor. As the devastating truth becomes clear, Julia realizes that after the woods was just the beginning.