Happy first-night-of-winter, fellow snowflakes (because, let's face it, the day is short here in the northern hemisphere on this date in particular)! Your choices are twofold: you can bemoan the cold and the gloom and the lack of proper daylight, or you can grab a good book and fail to notice the cold and the gloom and the lack of proper daylight.

You can also move to the southern hemisphere.

Or you can, plain and simply, enjoy the winter.

(I guess your choices are fourfold.)

To kick the season off on a good note (it's D#, we think), we have compiled a list of the ten of our most anticipated book releases in the upcoming months. Who needs swimsuits and beach when we have dragons, spaceships, pirates and murder?

Nobody, that's who.

This is for you, everybody.

December 22nd 2015 - This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

Series: N/A

Why: Contemporary representation! But also, Lexie got an ARC sampler of this book last spring, and it was poetic and divine and she devoured it like Nutella. It didn't quite have the same healing powers as Nutella, but it came close. It had that creamy, hazelnut potential. So there.

Synopsis: Can the best thing happen at the worst time?

Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she's about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend's brother. With blazing longing that builds to a fever pitch, Estelle Laure's soulful debut will keep readers hooked and hoping until the very last page.

January 3rd 2015 - Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Series: The Witchlands #1

Why: Because witches! Because magic! Because for once a female friendship saves the day! With all the promotional videos and plugs from Sarah J. Maas, the expectations for Truthwitch are up there with mountain trolls, medium-sized hills, and really lazy, droopy clouds. But witches! But magic! But a female friendship which saves the day! For once, we feel like a book might just live up to its hype.

Synopsis: On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

January 3rd 2016 - Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Series: Passenger #1

Why: Because time travel hasn't been done right since Dr. Who. Because actual effort was put into this book trailer, to pretty spectacular results. And because, despite shattering our hearts in the finale of her Darkest Minds trilogy, Alexandra Bracken has already proven her worth. As far as we are concerned, she is in the big leagues. And we'll read whatever she writes.

Synopsis: In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home... forever.

January 26th 2016 - Never Never 3 by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher

Series: Never Never #3

Why: Despite our rocky year where Colleen Hoover's titles are concerned, Never Never has been intriguing throughout. It's a novella series, each spans about 100 pages, and this is the conclusion to it all. (Also, New Orleans, voodoo, magic, and muuuuuurder. Those are very good reasons, too.)

February 2nd 2016 - Starflight by Melissa Landers

Series: Starflight #1

Why: Because the cover is astounding. We aren't even ashamed to admit it. And also because sci-fi has treated us (especially Lexie) well in the past year. In sci-fi we trust. (But also, look at that cover.)

Synopsis: Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She's so desperate to reach the realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he's been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world--and each other--the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe...

February 9th 2016 - Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Series: Red Queen #2

Why: So, we were less than impressed with Red Queen. On the one hand, it was perfectly entertaining. On the other, it lacked even a hint of originality. But when at the end Red Queen pulled a plot twist straight from one other beloved fantasy series we frequently mention on the blog, we got curious to see where the author takes it from here. (Also, we are still holding out hope for originality. Come on, Victoria. Surprise us!)

Synopsis: 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?

February 16th 2016 - The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Series: The Girl From Everywhere #1

Why: Is it a plane? Is it a ship? Is it a time-traveling contraption? It's all three, combined! On top of the time-and-space traveling aspect of the story (which, hello, wanderlust!), The Girl From Everywhere also promises cultural diversity, and a story we haven't heard before from parts of the world which the YA literature woefully neglects. Yes, and yes please.

Synopsis: Heidi Heilig’s debut teen fantasy sweeps from modern-day New York City to nineteenth-century Hawaii to places of myth and legend. Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.

Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.

In The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance.

February 23rd 2016 - A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Series: A Darker Shade of Magic #2

Why: Because Victoria Schwab is the best thing since chocolate met peanut butter. Because A Darker Shade of Magic was, to quote a recent starred review, fantasy done right. And because parallel/hiden Londons and men who travel between dimensions with girl-pirates isn't your everyday fantasy story.

Synopsis:  Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

March 8th 2016 - Map of Fates by Maggie Hall

Series: The Conspiracy of Us #2

Why: Because, despite some of its cliche trappings, The Conspiracy of Us pulled off what it had intended to do and left us off on a good note. (Also, because conspiracy and muuuuurder and a YA Contemporary version of Tomb Raider, basically.) We have it on good authority that the sequel surpasses its predecessor, too. Color us excited. And pink. Like that cover.

Synopsis: Two weeks. 

That’s how long it took for Avery West’s ordinary life to change forever: In two weeks, she discovered she was heiress to a powerful secret society known as the Circle, learned her mother was taken hostage by the Circle’s enemies, and fell for a boy she’s not allowed to love, just as she found out another was her unwelcome destiny. 

Now, Avery crosses oceans in private jets to hunt for clues that will uncover the truth about the Circle, setting her mom and herself free before it’s too late. By her side are both the boys: Jack—steady, loyal, and determined to help her even at the expense of his own duty—and Stellan, whose connection to Avery grows stronger by the day despite her best intentions, making her question what she believes at every turn.

But at the end of a desperate hunt from the islands of Greece to the red carpet at Cannes comes a discovery that not only changes everything, but could bring the whole world to its knees. And now Avery is forced to face the truth: in the world of the Circle, no one is what they seem.

March 8th 2016 - Lady Midnight by Cassandra Claire

Series: The Dark Artifices #1

Why: Because Lexie liked The Infernal Devices and then didn't like The Mortal Instruments, and she needs to decide where she and Cassandra Clare stand. Because Natalie has yet to give Cassandra Clare a chance. And because that cover is flipping stunning. (And because Jem.)

Synopsis: Los Angeles. It’s been five years since the events of the Mortal Instruments when Nephilim stood poised on the brink of oblivion and Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs lost her parents. After the blood and violence she witnessed as a child, Emma has dedicated her life to to discovering exactly what it was that killed her parents and getting her revenge.

Raised in the Los Angeles Institute with the Blackthorn family, Emma is paired as a parabatai with her best friend, Julian Blackthorn. A series of murders in the city catch her attention — they seem to have the same characteristics as the deaths of her parents. Could the murderer be the same person? And her attention isn’t the only one caught: someone has been murdering Downworlders as well. The Fair Folk make a deal with the Institute: if the Blackthorns and Emma will investigate the killings, they’ll return Mark Blackthorn to his home. The catch: they have only two weeks to find the killers. Otherwise it’s open war between faeries and Nephilim.

The Shadowhunters of the Institute must race against time to catch the killers, even as they begin to suspect the involvement of those closest to them. At the same time, Emma is falling in love with the one person in the world she’s absolutely forbidden by Shadowhunter Law to love. Set against the glittering backdrop of present-day Los Angeles, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches from the warlock-run nightclubs of the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica.

We aren't really here. We're sipping hot chocolate right now. 'Tis the season, and we're not even sorry. We recommend the same.

But before you abandon us for more delicious pursuits, leave us a comment and let us know what your most anticipated release of the upcoming months is. Our TBRs are overflowing, as usual, but they always crave more.