and now for something completely different:
All the Truth That’s in Me, Julie Berry (266 pages) – After two years missing, Judith returns home – her tongue cut out, her best friend dead. No one knows what has happened and Judith cannot speak of it. All she can do is silently pour out her feelings to the boy who has owned her heart for as long as she can remember: Lucas. In a voice filled with hurt, yearning, hope and love, this is Judith’s story.
First lines: “You didn’t come. I waited all evening in the willow tree, with gnats buzzing in my face and sap sticking in my hair, watching for you to return from town.”
Zac & Mia, A. J. Betts (307 pages) – The last person Zac expects in the room next door is a girl like Mia, angry and feisty with questionable taste in music. In the real world, he wouldn’t—couldn’t—be friends with her. In hospital different rules apply, and what begins as a knock on the wall leads to a note… then a friendship neither of them sees coming. You need courage to be in hospital; different courage to be back in the real world. In one of these worlds Zac needs Mia. And in the other Mia needs Zac. Or maybe they both need each other, always.
First lines: “A newbie arrives next door. From this side of the wall I hear the shuffle of feet, unsure of where to stand. I hear Nina going through the arrival instructions in that buoyoant air-hostess way, as if this ‘flight’ will go smoothly, no need to pull the Emergency Exit lever. Just relax and enjoy the service. Nina has the kind of voice you believe.”
Leap of Faith, Jamie Blair (240 pages) – Leah Kurtz has finally found a place to call home, a town where she and baby Addy can live in peace, far from the drug-infested place she grew up. Chris is one of the best parts of her new life, the only person who’s ever made her feel safe. And now that she’s found him, there’s no way she can tell the truth: Her real name is Faith, not Leah. She’s seventeen, not nineteen. And the baby isn’t hers; Faith kidnapped her. Faith’s history catches up with her when a cop starts asking questions and Chris’s aunt spots her picture in the newspaper. She knows it’s time to run again, but if Faith leaves, she’ll lose Chris. If Chris is in love with a lie, though, did Faith ever really have him in the first place?
First lines: “The bangbangbanging of Mom’s headboard against my wall needs to stop before my head explodes. I’m exhausted and wish he’d just leave so I can sleep. Of course Mom’s bed has to be shoved right up against the other side of my wall. I roll my eyes and take a deep breath, pulling the covers up higher around my neck.”
The Ghost Bride, Yangsze Choo (384 pages) – In 1890s Malaya, Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price. After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.
First lines: “One evening, my father asked me whether I would like to become a ghost bride. ‘Asked’ is perhaps not the right word. We were in his study. I was leafing through a newspaper, my father lying on his rattan daybed. It was very hot and still. The oil lamp was lit and moths fluttered through the humid air in lazy swirls. ‘What did you say?'”
Bracelet of Bones, Kevin Crossley-Holland (256 pages) – One morning, Solveig wakes to find her father, Halfdan, has gone. He has followed the young Viking warrior Harald Hardrada to Miklagard (Constantinople), where he is leader of the Empress’s guard. Solveig sets off in a tiny boat to find him. So begins a fierce journey of discovery and survival, where the young Viking girl will meet a ghost ship and befriend an English slave, shoot rapids, survive an arrow storm, and witness a living sacrifice. Will Solveig reach Miklagard? And will her father be there?
First lines: “‘Is this it?’ Solveig called out. No trees stood on the battlefield. Nothing but little scrubby, twisted black bushes. Without breaking his long, limping stride, Halfdan glanced over his shoulder. ‘You all right, girl?’ It’s all dead, thought Solveig. There’s nothing left but black fingers, black hands, thousands of them. Stiklestad. What can ever grow in this place again?”
Sweet Peril, Wendy Higgins (371 pages) – Anna Whitt, the daughter of a guardian angel and a demon, promised herself she’d never do the work of her father—polluting souls. She’d been naive to make such a vow. She’d been naive about a lot of things. Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school’s party girl. Her life has never looked more bleak. And all the while there’s Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind. When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time. It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaidan must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: is loving someone worth risking their life?
First lines: “Unbeknownst to the Roman community, 666 earthbound demons were making use of the infamous Colosseum. Twelve of the fallen ones, the Dukes, were present in human form, while the others hovered as spirits, blotting celestial light from the night sky. Rahab, the Duke of Pride, took his place in the center, exhilarated by the attention his presence commanded.”
The Messengers, Edward Hogan (214 pages) – When fifteen-year-old Frances is sent down to the coast to Helmstown, to live with her aunt, uncle and cousin, she meets and befriends Peter Kennedy, a somewhat tramp-like character who lives in a beach hut along the seafront. As soon as they meet, Peter recognizes that Frances is a messenger, just like him. As messengers, they experience black-outs, and when they come round, they have the ability to draw, in minute detail, the scene of an accident. Although Frances can’t change the past, she realises that she can change the future, at least for a chosen few.
First lines: “We’re drawn to each other, us messengers. We must be. I remember the first time I saw him, down by the beach huts. There was something about him. The look of him. How could I not go over? You might even say it was fate, but I don’t believe in that.”
The Neptune Project, Polly Holyoke (340 pages) – Nere has never understood why she feels so much more comfortable and confident swimming with the dolphins that her mother studies than hanging out with her classmates on land, but everything falls into place when Nere learns that she is one of a group of kids who – unbeknownst to them – have been genetically altered to survive in the ocean. These products of “The Neptune Project” are given a mission to build a better future under the sea, safe from the dangers on land. But there are some very big problems: no one asked Nere if she wanted to be a science experiment; the other Neptune kids aren’t exactly the friendliest bunch; and in order to reach the safe haven of the Neptune colony, Nere and her fellow mutates must swim through hundreds of miles of dangerous waters, relying only on their wits, dolphins, and each other to evade terrifying undersea creatures and a government that will stop at nothing to capture the Neptune kids … dead or alive.
First lines: “I wake to an urgent tap at my window. My heart thudding, I sit bolt upright in bed. The night is hot and still. I push my sweaty hair away from my face and try to ignore the twist of fear in my gut. No one brings good news at this hour. I slip from my bed and peer cautiously through my window.”
SYLO, D. J. MacHale (407 pages) – Fourteen-year-old Tucker Pierce prefers to fly under the radar. He’s used to navigating around summer tourists in his hometown on idyllic Pemberwick Island, Maine. He’s content to sit on the sidelines as a backup player on the high school football team. And though his best friend Quinn tells him to “go for it,” he’s too chicken to ask Tori Sleeper on a date. There’s always tomorrow, he figures. Then Pemberwick Island is invaded by a mysterious branch of the U.S. military called SYLO. And sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option for Tucker, because tomorrow may never come. It’s up to Tucker, Quinn, and Tori to uncover the truth about the singing aircraft that appears only at night—and the stranger named Feit who’s pushing a red crystal he calls the Ruby that brings unique powers to all who take it. Tucker and his friends must rescue not just Pemberwick Island, but the fate of the world.
First lines: “It was the perfect night for a football game. And for death. Not that the two have anything in common. When you hear the term “sudden death,” you normally don’t expect there to be an actual loss of life, sudden or otherwise, but there was nothing normal about that night.”
Death & Co., D.J. McCune (279 pages) – Adam Mortson is a Luman, one of the elite band of spirit guides who travel to the Hinterland to guide dead souls into the afterlife. And though Adam just wants to be a normal teenager – one who dates girls like Melissa, hangs out with his mates and avoids his homework – his role as a Luman is strictly non-negotiable. But as a hidden and dangerous power grows within him, Adam must make a terrible choice: to stand by and watch as lives are lost, or to disobey the rules of death … and risk everything.
First lines: “Nathanial Mortson stood in the darkness, hands thrust into the pockets of his camel-hair coat. In the physical world it was freezing, the road glittering with ice, but here in the Hinterland he couldn’t feel it. It was the middle of the night and he was tired. Usually he had company but on a job like this he preferred to work alone.”
Starglass, Phoebe North (448 pages) – Terra has never known anything but life aboard the Asherah, a city-within-a-spaceship that left Earth five hundred years ago in search of refuge. At sixteen, working a job that doesn’t interest her, and living with a grieving father who only notices her when he’s yelling, Terra is sure that there has to be more to life than what she’s got. But when she inadvertently witnesses the captain’s guard murdering an innocent man, Terra is suddenly thrust into the dark world beneath her ship’s idyllic surface. As she’s drawn into a secret rebellion determined to restore power to the people, Terra discovers that her choices may determine life or death for the people she cares most about. With mere months to go before landing on the long-promised planet, Terra has to make the decision of a lifetime–one that will determine the fate of her people.
First lines: “On the day of my mother’s funeral, we all wore white. My father said that dressing ourselves in the stiff, pale cloth would be a mitzvah. I ran the word over my tongue as I straightened a starched new shirt against my shoulders.
He Forgot to Say Goodbye, Benjamin Alire Sáenz (321 pages) – On the surface, Ramiro Lopez and Jake Upthegrove could not be more different. Ram is Mexican-America, living in “DizzyLand,” the poor side of El Paso. He’s struggling to keep his family together as his younger brother descends into a dangerous world of drugs and violence. Jake is a rich WASP with anger-management issues who can’t stand the falseness of his mother’s materialistic world. But as circumstances in both of their lives begin to spiral out of control, Jake and Ram turn to each other for comfort, friendship, and understanding. No one realizes what it’s like to know that all of your problems stem from one thing: that your father didn’t even care enough to say goodbye.
First lines: “My mom says I need to stop and think about things. I think about things all the effen time. Think and think and think. You know, it’s not like all that thinking has gotten me places.”
Steelheart, Brandon Sanderson (384 pages) – Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills. Nobody fights the Epics… nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them. And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience. He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.
First lines: “I’ve seen Steelheart bleed. It happened ten years ago; I was eight. My father and I were at the First Union Bank on Adams Street. We used the old street names than, before the Annexation.”
Ashes of Twilight, Kassy Tayler (320 pages) – Wren MacAvoy works as a coal miner for a domed city that was constructed in the mid-nineteenth century to protect the royal blood line of England when astronomers spotted a comet on a collision course with Earth. Humanity would be saved by the most groundbreaking technology of the time. But after nearly 200 years of life beneath the dome, society has become complacent and the coal is running out. Plus there are those who wonder, is there life outside the dome or is the world still consumed by fire? When one of Wren’s friends escapes the confines of the dome, he is burned alive and put on display as a warning to those seeking to disrupt the dome’s way of life. But Alex’s final words are haunting. “The sky is blue.” What happens next is a whirlwind of adventure, romance, conspiracy and the struggle to stay alive in a world where nothing is as it seems. Wren unwittingly becomes a catalyst for a revolution that destroys the dome and the only way to survive might be to embrace what the entire society has feared their entire existence.
First lines: “The Bible teaches us that the heavens and earth were made by the one true God. I have heard these things all of my life but I dare not ask the questions that the lessons have created in my mind. I am certain I know quite a bit about the earth, as I spend most of my waking moments within its clanking iron bowels. The heavens, however, are a mystery to me as my world is hollow and my sky is made of glass.”
Coda, Emma Trevayne (309 pages) – Deep in an abandoned basement, Anthem sings of truth and freedom with his illegal underground band. Yet on the surface and under watchful eyes, Anthem is unable to resist the call of the Corporation’s addictive, mind-altering music tracks, even as he knows they are used to control him and his fellow citizens. When tragedy strikes close to home, Anthem realizes that defying the Corp comes at a deadly price … and the stakes of preventing his brother and sister from being claimed by the government drug are worth every heart-pounding second. The key to the revolution might lie with the girl Anthem loves, but will he trust her enough to let her join the fight?
First lines: “I’m drawn toward the door. I can’t hear it yet, but I can feel it. A pulse, a heartbeat. The floor shakes. Inside, the cavernous, soundproof room is already packed, black and neon and flashing lights and stifling heat from the crush of bodies.”