It’s finally here: Snow day season! If the weather gods cooperate, we can expect at least one unexpected stay-at-home-reading day, and you don’t want to find yourself unprepared. This month’s must-reads include heroines shouldering their families’ burdens, a proud band geek who will NOT go down quietly, an epic battle between evil and the damned, and the follow-up to a dishy political thriller. Here are 16 December releases to add to your wish lists.
This Raging Light, by Estelle Laure
After her dad breaks down and her mom takes off, 17-year-old Lucille becomes the de facto head of household, fighting to pay the bills, dodge child services, and raise both her younger sister and herself. The last thing she can afford is distraction, but when it comes in the form of her best friend’s compelling older brother, Digby, she finds it hard to resist. Lucille is a steel-strong, deeply human heroine fighting against impossible odds.
Not If I See You First, by Eric Lindstrom
Parker Grant doesn’t suffer fools, especially those foolish enough to treat her like a victim because she’s blind. Newly orphaned at the start of the book, and dealing with the sudden intrusion of her aunt and cousin into her life, Parker is more vulnerable than ever, despite the armor of her ironclad rules to life, including “Don’t deceive me” and “There are NO second chances.” She hates surprises, can’t stomach pity, and uses her visual impairment as a way to determine who’s worth her time, but emotional upheaval including the return of a detested ex may force her to reexamine her unbending perspective on life.
The Trouble with Destiny, by Lauren Morrill
A cruise ship takes to the open water with a boatload of theater kids on board, ready to battle it out to win a $25,000 prize in a performing arts competition. Indomitable drum major Liza needs to lead her school band to victory in order to save it from being defunded, and no crushes, competition, or former best friends are going to get in her way.
HEAR, by Robin Epstein
Kassandra Black always worked her vigilante justice in anonymity, bringing the crimes of high school bullies and other lowlifes to light—until she’s caught breaking into a fellow student’s car, and it costs her her acceptance to Columbia. Possible redemption comes in the form of a summer as research assistant to her great-uncle’s HEAR (Henley Engineering Anomalies Research) program, where she finds herself sucked into a murder mystery, aided by her own previously untapped psychic abilities.
Instructions For The End Of The World, by Jamie Kain
At the behest of their obsessive survivalist father, Nicole and younger sister Isabel find themselves scraping out a life in a cabin in the Sierra foothills. And when their mother snaps and abandons them, and their father sets out to bring her back, the girls find themselves alone. Dwindling supplies, approaching forest fires, and the limits of their survival skills lead them to a crisis. Narration is shared between the sisters and two teens living in a nearby commune, as their stories and fortunes entangle.
Unbound, by Neal Shusterman
In UnDivided, the concluding volume of Shusterman’s Unwind dystology, three would-be victims of the brutal process of “unwinding,” in which kids under the age of 18 have their organs harvested (and their lives ended) at the behest of their parents, lead a rebellion against the arm of government that created it. In Unbound, a short-story collection set in this dystopian world, readers learn what happens when the fight is over, and the world is left to rebuild itself.
Wandering Star: A Zodiac Novel, by Romina Russell
In 2014’s Zodiac, Russell introduced a galaxy built on the twelve signs of the Zodiac, with the people of each of its dozen houses sharing similar appearances and strengths. When her home planet is nearly destroyed, and the Guardian of Cancer killed, Cancerian Rhoma Grace is shocked to find herself named the next Guardian. But the rise of an ancient evil, one only her star-reading can perceive, endangers not just her rule but the future of her solar system. In follow-up Wandering Star, a disgraced Rhoma fights to redeem herself in the face of post-traumatic stress, a nascent uprising, and a terrorist foe.
Their Fractured Light, by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
In These Broken Stars, rich girl Lilac and hardened soldier Tarver survive a luxury spaceliner crash, and must rely on each other to live through the journey toward help. In This Shattered World, another pair of star-crossed lovers—a rebel fighter and the soldier he kidnaps—battle terrible circumstance and inconvenient attraction. And now the Starbound Trilogy concludes with Their Fractured Light, in which the paths of all four characters finally connect, as they join forces with a new pair of characters to bring down a deeply corrupt corporation.
The Devil’s Engine: Hellraisers, by Alexander Gordon Smith
Risk-avoidant New Yorker Marlow finds himself swept up in a terrifying supernatural war after he sees too much to be allowed to just walk away. Under the reluctant eye of hardened warrior Pandora, he joins the Hellraiser army, a force of people who trade their souls for dark abilities. An ancient machine called the Devil’s Engine gives them their infernal gifts—and a second Engine may prove the undoing of mankind, if the Hellraisers can’t stop the demonic forces behind the plot.
Did I Mention I Love You, by Estelle Maskame
Book one in Wattpad sensation Maskame’s sexy, sun-drenched romantic trilogy finds Portland girl Eden pulling up stakes for the summer to live with her deadbeat dad, suddenly intent on a reunion. Though she butts heads with stepbrother Tyler, she’s soon drawn into his glitzy rich-kid world of hard partying and extreme privilege. Her new life is a rush, but she finds herself battling culture shock, family drama, and a budding, impossible attraction to Tyler.
All We Left Behind, by Ingrid Sundberg
Two withdrawn teens get close at a party, but will their explosive chemistry be enough to keep them together? Marion is schoolwork-focused, Kurt a playboy athlete, and each is hiding trauma that makes it hard to connect. The story of their rocky relationship is narrated in turns by both, revealing the dark secrets that hold them back and the budding love that might propel them forward.
Forbidden, by Eve Bunting
In this early 19th-century Gothic thriller, orphaned Josie leaves her Edinburgh home to live with her aunt and uncle on the chilly Scottish coast. She gets a cold welcome from her forbidding relatives and their close-lipped town, but her curiosity is piqued when she learns the first friend she makes, a young man named Eli, is “forbidden” to her. A growing mystery and a swirl of supernatural secrets thicken this atmospheric tale.
See How They Run (Embassy Row Series #2), by Ally Carter
In All Fall Down, a rebellious army brat and daughter of a powerful ambassador investigates her mother’s murder in the shadowy halls of Embassy Row, where she must contend with fellow diplomat’s kids, suspicious activity, and her own heavily medicated grief process. In follow-up See How They Run, she finds that the truth hasn’t set her free—instead, it has put her in danger. She has to decide whether to bury it or keep fighting.
What’s Broken Between Us, by Alexis Bass
After her brother is responsible for a drunk driving accident that ended with one friend dead, another badly injured, and him in prison, Amanda can’t escape the feeling she should’ve done more to stop it. A year later, his release, and the resulting outcry, brings her family’s trauma back into the public eye. An unexpected romance complicates things, as does her brother’s seeming lack of repentance, as Amanda continues to shoulder the guilt of what he did.
Thicker Than Water, by Brigid Kemmerer
Soon after his arrival in Garret Mills, where he lives with his mother and new stepfather, Thomas’s life is shattered. His mother is murdered, and even the trust of his cop stepfather—not to mention that of Charlotte, local girl and kid sister to three cops—doesn’t keep him from becoming the number-one suspect. In the absence of evidence, in a tiny town that has gone without a murder for twenty years, new kid Thomas is, in fact, the only suspect. Her and Charlotte band together to catch the killer and save their own futures.