The Sin-Eater’s Confession, Lisa J. Bick (287 pages) – People in Merit, Wisconsin, always said Jimmy was … you know. But people said all sorts of stupid stuff. Nobody really knew anything. Nobody really knew Jimmy. I guess you could say I knew Jimmy as well as anyone (which was not very well). I knew what scared him. And I knew he had dreams—even if I didn’t understand them. Even if he nearly ruined my life to pursue them. Jimmy’s dead now, and I definitely know that better than anyone. I know about blood and bone and how bodies decompose. I know about shadows and stones and hatchets. I know what a last cry for help sounds like. I know what blood looks like on my own hands. What I don’t know is if I can trust my own eyes. I don’t know who threw the stone. Who swung the hatchet? Who are the shadows? What do the living owe the dead?
First lines: “Call me Ben. Okay, it’s not Ishmael or anything, but the idea’s the same. Wicked and repentant, that’s me.”
Half Lives, Sara Grant (334 pages) – Present day: Icie is a typical high school teenager – until disaster strikes and her parents send her to find shelter inside a mountain near Las Vegas. The future: Beckett lives on The Mountain – a sacred place devoted to the Great I AM. He must soon become the leader of his people. But Beckett is forced to break one of the sacred laws, and when the Great I AM does not strike him down, Beckett finds himself starting to question his beliefs. As Beckett investigates The Mountain’s history, Icie’s story is revealed – along with the terrifying truth of what lies at the heart of The Mountain.
First lines: “If you’d asked me that day whether I could lie, cheat, steal and kill, I would have said ab-so-lutely not.”
Nine Days, Fred Hiatt (239 pages) – Set against the bustling backdrop of Hong Kong, Vietnam, and the border of China, this heart-pounding adventure takes place as two teens, an American teenage boy and his friend, a Chinese girl from his Washington, DC-area high school, must find her father who has been kidnapped—and they only have nine days.
First lines: “Already the summer heat is defeating the wheezing air-conditioning unit in a third-floor bedroom window of an apartment in Bethesda, Maryland. A fifteen-year-old girl in a T-shirt and shorts kicks off her sheet, rises and slips into the chair in front of her computer.”
Far Far Away, Tom McNeal (369 pages) – Jeremy Johnson once admitted he’s able to hear voices, and the townspeople of Never Better have treated him like an outsider since. After his mother left, his father became a recluse, and it’s been up to Jeremy to support the family. But it hasn’t been up to Jeremy alone. The truth is, Jeremy can hear voices. Or, specifically, one voice: the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of the infamous writing duo, The Brothers Grimm. Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next. But when the provocative local girl Ginger Boultinghouse takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a grim chain of events is put into motion. And as anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings.
First lines: “What follows is the strange and fateful tale of a boy, a girl, and a ghost. The boy possessed uncommon qualities, the girl was winsome and daring, and the ancient ghost … well, let it only be said that his intentions were good.”
The Rithmatist, Brandon Sanderson (370 pages) – More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings — merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing — kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery — one that will change Rithmatics — and their world — forever.
First lines: “Lilly’s lamp blew out as she bolted down the hallway. She threw the lamp aside, splashing oil across the painted wall and fine rug. The liquid glistened in the moonlight. The house was empty. Silent, save for her panicked breathing. She’d given up on screaming. Nobody seemed to hear.”
The Murmurings, Carly Anne West (370 pages) – Everyone thinks Sophie’s sister, Nell, went crazy. After all, she heard strange voices that drove her to commit suicide. But Sophie doesn’t believe that Nell would take her own life, and she’s convinced that Nell’s doctor knows more than he’s letting on. As Sophie starts to piece together Nell’s last days, every lead ends in a web of lies. And the deeper Sophie digs, the more danger she’s in—because now she’s hearing the same haunting whispers. Sophie’s starting to think she’s going crazy too. Or worse, that maybe she’s not.
First lines: “I’m supposed to wonder why Gregor Samsa is a cockroach. Not how. Why. That’s the way Mrs. Dodd says we need to think if we’re going to analyze The Metamorphosis.”
Portraits of Celina, Sue Whiting (349 pages) – Make him pay, Bayley. Make him pay. It’s as if the wooden chest is luring me, urging me to open it – daring me almost. Open me up. Look inside. Come on, just for a second; it won’t hurt. Celina O’Malley was sixteen years old when she disappeared. Now, almost forty years later, Bayley is sleeping in Celina’s room, wearing her clothes, hearing her voice. What does Celina want? And who will suffer because of it? A ghost story. A love story. A story of revenge.
First lines: “The day I turned sixteen we buried my father. No one realised what day it was. Not even me. We were too stunned. How could someone you love die – just like that?”