I was trying to decide whether to include 2016 debuts or not, and ended up deciding not to - I wanted to focus on books/authors that I'd previously missed out on. But then I felt bad for ignoring some amazing books, so there's a quick list of debuts at the end too!
Marianne Levy (Accidental Superstar) I've heard great things about Marianne's Ellie May series previously but my contemporary tastes generally don't hit that age group, so have never tried them myself. However her YA debut intrigued me and was actually the first YA novel I read this year - and it is still one of the funniest! The story of Katie Cox's surprising rise to stardom after being caught singing in her bedroom, with the resulting video going viral, is packed with laughs.
CB Lee (Seven Tears At High Tide) - I borrowed this from Charlie after hearing lots of good things about it late last year and really enjoying the other book I'd read from the same publisher, Duet Books (That one was the wonderful anthology Summer Love.) CB's gorgeous m/m selkie romance is a beautiful story with brilliant worldbuilding and a fabulous central couple.
Deirdre Sullivan (Needlework) - I own two of the three books in Deirdre's Prim trilogy but have never got around to reading them somehow, but strong recommendations from Louise O'Neill and Sarah Crossan got me to grab this one. It's an incredibly powerful, and beautifully written, book which deals sensitively with the aftermath of terrible abuse.
Laura Nowlin (This Song Is (Not) For You) - Possibly my book of the year, this stands out for me because it was so indescribably wonderful to see an asexual protagonist in a romance story! Gorgeous love triangle between two boys - one straight, one ace - and a girl had me falling hard for all three main characters.
Betsy Cornwell (Mechanica) - This steampunk Cinderella retelling is a brilliantly feminist fairy tale which focuses more on the friendship between central character Nicolette and the boy and girl she meets than on the romance. I also adored the worldbuilding here.
Will McIntosh (Burning Midnight) - I have such a hit and miss relationship with adult authors writing MG/YA, but Will McIntosh nails it with this incredibly exciting and fast-paced sci-fi romp which reads like a Pokemon inspired adventure. Great action and an interesting story make this a high recommendation for me - and best of all, it's that rarest of things in YA or MG SFF, a stand-alone!
Zen Cho (The Terracotta Bride) - I have somehow STILL not read Sorcerer to the Crown yet, much to the disgust of several of my friends who keep recommending it to me, but Zen's wonderful f/f novelette, set in the tenth court of hell, is completely enchanting. All three main characters - wives of the same man - are wonderfully well-written, while the ending felt perfect.
Sabaa Tahir (An Ember In The Ashes) - I finally got around to reading Sabaa's 2015 fantasy novel and was blown away by both the brilliant setting - inspired by ancient Rome - and her incredible writing. Book 2 is high on my 'needs' list.
Sophie Kinsella (Finding Audrey) - Sophie Kinsella's first YA novel - highly recommended for its brilliant portrayal of anxiety - was the first of her books I've read (despite lots of recommendations for her adult books, especially from my friend Debbie) - and it lived up to the considerable hype. A superb contemporary!
Christopher McDougall (Born To Run) - I've been meaning to read more sports books for ages - I used to love them and haven't read many recently - and this, about the author trying to track down a reclusive tribe of great distance runners, is a fascinating one. I love the characters here - both the Tarahumara Indians and the outsiders - and it's intriguing to read lots of interesting facts and anecdotes about running.
Awesome 2016 Debuts Read In 2016
Peter Bunzl (Cogheart) - Wonderful MG steampunk adventure.
Tamsin Cooke (Cat Burglar) - Really fun MG adventure with a great central character.
Brittany Cavallaro (A Study in Charlotte) - One of my favourite Sherlock Holmes inspired YAs.
Liz Flanagan (Eden Summer) - Stunning contemporary with a fantastic setting, which kept me guessing all the way through.
Beth Garrod (Super Awkward) - In a year with numerous really funny contemporaries, this was one of the only books I've ever read that made me laugh on EVERY page.
Heidi Heilig (The Girl From Everywhere) - Fabulous time-travel adventure story with my favourite m/f couple for years.
Harmony Jones (Girl vs Boyband) - One of my favourites of the many boyband stories out there, aimed at slightly younger readers than most of the rest - a super-cute read.
Dave Rudden (Knights of the Borrowed Dark) - Probably the best MG action adventure of the year, really incredibly exciting.
Meredith Russo (If I Was Your Girl) - Outstanding #ownvoices contemporary with a wonderful trans MC.
Alison Umminger (My Favourite Manson Girl) - Dark but hugely gripping, an amazing read.
Awesome 2016 Debuts I Read Prior To 2016
Sara Barnard (Beautiful Broken Things) - Who needs romance when you have a friendship story THIS good? I love the focus on the dynamic between the central trio of girls, who are all fantastic characters.
Jennifer Bell (The Crooked Sixpence) - This adventure is magical in more ways than one, brilliant worldbuilding and awesome characters.
Perdita and Honor Cargill (Waiting For Callback) - Hilarious YA contemporary with some of the best dialogue of the year.
Alwyn Hamilton (Rebel of the Sands) - Refreshingly slightly shorter than most epic fantasies, Alwyn still packs tons of action into this outstanding book - which also has one of my favourite openings ever!