2012 was an excellent year in Y.A. and middle grade across all boards — sales, growing acceptance for adults who love "cross-under" reads, and most importantly, content. Our new year is shaping up to be equally great. What can you expect, and what do you need to get your hands on now? There are some exciting reads forthcoming, including Ruta Sepetys' second book, the second in the Nightshade prequels from Andrea Cremer, and quite a few promising first novels as well. Thematically, fantasy/dystopia shows no signs of ceasing in popularity, partly because a lot of popular debuts are getting follow-ups, and in some cases, conclusions to their series. There are British thrillers, too, though, and sci-fi, historical fiction, and realistic novels as well — a new book from Caroline B. Cooney, for instance. Plus, nonfiction! 

Teen Lit Rock's Sandie Angulo Chen says, "It goes without saying that I'm counting down the days to the next installments in various fantasy/dystopian series, like the next Veronica Roth, Laini Taylor, Maggie Stiefvater, Cassandra Clare and Lauren Oliver." She adds, though, that "books I'm incredibly excited about in 2013 include Gayle Forman's Just One Day (which I read already and loved) and its companion (from the guy's perspective) late in the year; the always-amazing Sara Zarr's The Lucy Variations, and Stephanie Perkins' Isla and the Happily Ever After [both in May]. Here's our preview of some of the books we're most excited about this winter in Y.A. (and in fairness, we could go on — what about The Prince, Kiera Cass's upcoming Selection novella, for instance?).

JANUARY

The Fire-Horse Girl, by Kay Honeyman. (Arthur A. Levine, January 1). 17-year-old Jade Moon, born under the "worst sign in the Chinese zodiac for girls," is as fiery as her sign would have predicted, but her stubbornness, imagination, and will serve her well when she travels to America from her native Chine in 1923. Page-turning fiction involving the Asian-American experience, immigration, and American history. 

Lincoln's Grave Robbers, by Steve Sheinkin. (Scholastic, January 1). 2012 was a big year for Lincoln, but that doesn't mean 2013 can't be, too. Sheinkin's true crime thriller about the attempted heist of Abraham Lincoln's body in 1876 is not only a great read, it's also historically accurate, and totally cinematic.

The Dead and Buried, by Kim Harrington. (Scholastic, January 1). From the author of Clarity and Perception, mystery and romance tied up in creepy ghost stories mean for sleepless nights, but we can't resist.'

Janie Face to Face, by Caroline B. Cooney. (Delacorte, January 8). As a kid, you probably read The Face on the Milk Carton, first published in 1990, which has since sold more than a million copies. With her latest, Cooney concludes the Janie Johnson saga that started so many years ago. 

Just One Day, by Gayle Forman. (Dutton, January 8). Y.A. author Melissa Walker echoes our excitement for Forman's latest love story, about recent high school grad Allison and Willem, the Dutch actor she meets while touring Europe, saying, "I would spend time with Forman's characters anywhere, but a day in Paris filled with romance and adventure? I'm so down."

Rise, by Andrea Cremer. (Philomel, January 8). The conclusion to Rift, Rise is the second of two prequels to Cremer's Nightshade series. The prequels take us to the 15th century Scottish Highlands, where two factions of witches and warlocks battle in a centuries-old war using their powers of dark magic. 

The Wrap-Up List, by Steven Arntson. (Houghton Mifflin, January 8). A life-affirming book about death, Arntson takes on the topic with humor and a dash of magical realism: "Gabriela is devastated. Dying is bad, but dying without ever having kissed Sylvester Hale is even worse." Plus, I love the cover design by Carol Chu.

Through the Ever Night, by Veronica Rossi. (HarperTeen, January 8). Another book in Rossi's popular fantasy/sci-fi series begun by Under the Never Sky: Expect more action, more romance, and more drama with some of your favorite, familiar characters. 

Shades of Earth, by Beth Revis. (Razorbill, January 15). The final book in Revis' sci-fi trilogy, Across the Universe, this one finds Amy and Elder on a new planet, Centauri-Earth, which isn't exactly what they hoped it would be. Still, they have each other ...

    Cinders & Sapphires, by Leila Rasheed. (Hyperion, January 22). For the Downton Abbey crowd comes the first book in Rasheed's At Somerton series, a look into the lives of the wealthy Averly family and their servants, especially Lady Ada Averly (who's in love with a boy she can't marry) and her maid, Rose Cliffe. It's upstairs/downstairs Y.A.

    Everbound, by Brodi Ashton. (Balzer + Bray, January 22). Book two in Ashton's "highly addictive" series of Everneath novels promises more of the delicious same.

    The Madman's Daughter, by Megan Shepherd. (Balzer + Bray, January 29). A Gothic thriller (and the first of a series) inspired by H. G. Wells's The Island of Dr. Moreau. Yes, please.

    Nobody but Us, by Kristin Halbrook. (HarperTeen, January 29). Told in alternating perspectives between two troubled teens on the run and in love, Will and Zoe. Halbrook's debut has been described as "Bonnie and Clyde meets If I Stay" — but totally unique, at the same time — which sounds pretty great.

    Prodigy, by Marie Lu. (Putnam, January 29). People raved about Marie Lu's Legend (her debut), and it was dubbed "a new contender" in the race for the next Harry Potter by the Wall Street Journal. Her upcoming book, a sequel, has been described by USA Today as a combination of Les Misérables and Blade Runner, which is to say we are intrigued. A girl prodigy is hired to hunt down a teen criminal — and things don't go exactly as planned — in this next-level dystopia sure to please Hunger Games fans and others, too. 

    FEBRUARY

    Scarlet, by Marisa Meyer. (Macmillan, February 5). Book two in the Lunar Chronicles, which began with Cinder. Now Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, is trying to break out of prison, while halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother has gone missing. Of course, Scarlet (along with a street fighter named Wolf) and Cinder are destined to cross paths.

    Unravel Me, by Tahereh Mafi. (Harper, February 5). The much-anticipated sequel to Shatter Me continues the story after Juliette's escape to Omega Point.

    Out of the Easy, by Ruta Sepetys. (Philomel, February 12). Sepetys' debut, Between Shades of Gray, was highly acclaimed and also a best-seller, nabbing our award for best historical fiction, too. Her next book takes us to 1950 New Orleans and into the life of the 17-year-old daughter of a brothel prostitute who wants a better life than the one she's been born into. Escaping, though, is not without complications.

    Sever, by Lauren DeStefano. (Simon & Schuster, February 12). The conclusion to the bestselling Chemical Garden Trilogy, following Wither and Fever, set in a society in which men only live to age 25 and women to age 20. It features another gorgeous cover, too.

    Mind Games, by Kiersten White. (Harper Teen, February 19). The first in a new series from the author of the Paranormalcy trilogy, this time White delivers an intense psychological thriller about two sisters. Walker tells us, "I can't wait for this one because, in addition to creating great plots, White delivers whip-smart and truly funny characters."

    The Madness Underneath, by Maureen Johnson. (G.P. Putnam's Sons, February 26). Johnson's latest, book two in her Shades of London series, brings Rory Devereaux back to Wexford (and an attempt at normalcy) after her near-fatal run-in with a Jack-the-Ripper copycat murderer. That experience has given her special powers — namely, she can eliminate ghosts upon contact. And then a new series of deaths begin ...  

    MARCH

    Hold Fast, by Blue Balliett. (Scholastic, March 1). In a story filled with the poetry of Langston Hughes, 11-year-old Early, along with her mom and her brother, ends up in Chicago's shelter system after being forced to flee their apartment. There she sets to work solving the mystery of her father’s strange disappearance.

    The Runaway King: Book 2, of the Ascendance Triology, by Jennifer A. Nielsen. (Scholastic, March 1). We devoured Nielsen's first book in her Ascendance trilogy, The False Prince, featuring the compelling, not always perfectly likable, character of Sage. The second book brings an assassination attempt and new deadly situations for Sage/Prince Jaron. Readers are already clamoring for book three.

    Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality, by Elizabeth Eulberg. (Scholastic, March 1). Another book from the hilarious Eulberg, this one looks incredibly fun, about " about taking the wall out of the wallflower [Lexi] so she can bloom." 

    Prisoner B-3087, by Alan Gratz. (Scholastic, March 1). "If Anne Frank had been a boy, this is the story her male counterpart might have told," explains the Kirkus review for this moving, powerful read, which Gratz wrote with the help of Holocaust survivors Ruth and Jack Gruener, whose true story the book is based upon.

    Requiem, by Lauren Oliver. (Harper Collins, March 5). The final book in the best-selling Delirium trilogy, it's forbidden romance plus dystopia, so it's pretty much bound to be read in one night — even if it is 430-some pages. Make it a night you can stay up late.

    Spellcaster, by Claudia Gray. (Harper Teen, March 5). "Descended from witches, Nadia can sense that a spell has been cast over the tiny Rhode Island town" she moves to. If that doesn't have you intrigued, what about Nadia's nascent romance with Mateo..."her rescuer, her friend, and the guy she yearns to get closer to even as he pushes her away." Witches, curses, romance, mystery ... an irresistible combination.

    Starstruck, by Rachel Shukert. (Delacorte, March 12). Old Hollywood plus Y.A.,like a Laura Lamont for the teen-reader set. Margo Frobisher is chasing her dreams of stardom after being discovered by a powerful agent and thrust into the fold at Olympus Studios, where competition is brutal. "Starstruck follows the lives of three teen girls as they live, love, and claw their way to the top in a world where being a star is all that matters." 

    Strands of Bronze and Gold, by Jane Nickerson. (Knopf, March 12). This retelling of the Bluebeard fairy tale, set in the Mississippi in 1855, is Nickerson's debut, and it looks enthralling.

    Clockwork Princess, by Cassandra Clare. (Margaret K. McElderry Books, March 19). Clare's urban fantasy novels are always a huge draw, and we'd expect this one to be no exception, not least because it's the final installment of the Infernal Devices trilogy.

    We'll be back with more to take you through March, and into the spring, when the time comes. And as always, let us know what we missed!