A Match Made in High School, Kristin Walker (278 pages) – some bright spark teacher at Fiona’s high school has decided to make her class do the mother of all social experiments/class projects called “Trying the Knot”: they have to be “married” for a year, and the mandatory pairings produce a story that is “laugh-out-loud funny, unpredictable, and fresh”, says Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
First sentence: I should have known.
The Sweet Life of Stella Madison, Lara M Zeises (228 pages) – read this if you like culinary things. Stella is the daughter of a famous chef (father) and restaurant owner (mother), but she’s more into food of the fast variety, so when she lands a summer job as a food writer she’s in for a challenge. But the summer also brings on other challenges of the relationship variety, with her own confused romances, and the lives of her separated parents.
Last line: “So what’s for dinner?” I say. “I’m starving.”
Leverage, Joshua C Cohen (425 pages) – the author is a gymnast and acrobat: the photo on the back cover proves it to be so. Anyhow Leverage is about the cauldron of high school sport, and the friendship between the school fullback (American football has fullbacks: Friday Night Lights taught me so) and a gymnast that grows out of the wake of what the book calls a “violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war”. [Edited to add: It's not for the faint hearted.]
First sentence: The high bar’s chalky bite threatens to rip the yellowed calluses right off my palms at the bottom of the swing, where the pull is heaviest.
The Iron Witch, Karen Mahoney (289 pages) – Donna Underwood needs Harry Potter as a mentor! Practically an orphan after the fey attacked and killed her father and drove her mother mad, she’s left with injuries that are magically fixed, but her hands and arms are covered with iron tattoos. Which makes her a powerful weapon in the war between humans and fairies. So, when her best friend is abducted by wood elves, Donna must accept her fate in order to save her friend (with the help of the gorgeous Xan).
First sentence: My father died saving my life when I was seven years old.
Abandon, Meg Cabot (292 pages) – A new Meg Cabot series! Following an accident (and while being worked on by hospital staff) Pierce died briefly and visited the Underworld, where she met a mysterious boy. The following year, a mysterious boy shows up at her school: the same mysterious boy. He wants to take her back. You might learn something about Persephone and Greek mythology while reading.
First sentence: Anything can happen in the blink of an eye.
The Dark Flight Down, Marcus Sedgwick (234 pages) – the conclusion to The Book of Dead Days. Boy and Willow are held captive in the Emperor Frederick’s palace where they are in constant danger, and must follow a “deadly trail” that will lead them to the Phantom. A gothic fantasy thriller.
First sentence: Midnight at the Imperial Court of Emperor Frederick III.
Chime, Franny Billingsley (361 pages) – Briony is a witch, a fact that she keeps secret on pain of death. She thinks herself to be dark and evil, until Eldric arrives and refuses to believe there is anything bad about her. Can his faith in her save her from death or insanity? “A wild, haunting mystery and romance,” says the cover.
First sentence: I’ve confessed to everything and I’d like to be hanged.
Afterlife, Claudia Gray (360 pages) – over to you, back cover: “Packed with romance, suspense and page-turning drama, Afterlife delivers a heart-stopping conclusion that won’t disappoint the many fans who have made the Evernight series such a runaway success.” So yes basically, if you’ve been reading Evernight you must read this one!
First sentence: “Sunrise is coming,” Balthazar said.
Still Sucks to be Me, Kimberly Pauley (374 pages) – Mina is a teen vampire, who has had to fake her own death in order to deal with the whole never-aging problem. Sensible! So, she’s had to move to a new town, without her bff and her boyfriend, where she finds herself in relationship tangles that even “vampire superstrength” can’t sort. The sequel to Sucks to be Me.
First sentence: I, Mina Hamilton, am officially dead.
Blink & Caution, Tim Wynne-Jones (342 pages) – cool cover (there are, like, bullet holes)! Blink and Caution are actually people, on the run (separately) until they run into each other, with Blink the unfortunate only witness to a crime and Caution escaping from her drug-dealer boyfriend. Can they work together to get out of their messes, and maybe perhaps begin an unlikely friendship?
First sentence: Look up at the Plaza Regent, Blink, in the shivery morning light.