Donnel’s Promise, Anna Mackenzie
“When Risha takes up her mother’s throne there is celebration — for some. In the murky world of politics, how can you know who to trust, when to fight, when to run? As war between the Five Duchies threatens everyone Risha loves, the hidden truth of Cattra’s legacy is revealed — but for Risha there is no time to learn to use her arcane talent, even less to save those sacrificed in her name.” (Goodreads)
First lines: From a scarp of rock high on the slope above the citadel, Rosha gazed north. A spine of mountains steered her vision inland, across the hills and plains of LeMarc, the Elswater Sound a blue bite at the juncture of land and sea. Beyond that the distance defeated her.
The kiss of deception, Mary E. Pearson
“A princess must find her place in a reborn world.
She flees on her wedding day.
She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor’s secret collection.
She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.
She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.
The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can’t abide. Like having to marry someone she’s never met to secure a political alliance.
Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.” (Goodreads)
First lines: Journey’s end. The promise. The hope. Tell me again, Ama. About the light. I search my memories. A dream. A story. A blurred remembrance. I was smaller than you, child. The line between truth and sustenance unravels. The need. The hope. My own grandmother telling stories to fill me because there was nothing more.
The war of the four isles, Andrew McGahn
“Nearly three years have passed since Dow Amber escaped the ruin of the Twelfth Kingdom. In that time, war has raged across the Four Isles, but Dow himself has been hidden away by his Twin Islands hosts, relegated to a backwater of the war in the company of the beguiling Cassandra. But when word reaches Dow that Ignella of the Cave has been imprisoned on the infamous Ship Kings dungeon-isle of Banishment, he can be patient no longer. He sets forth on an epic voyage that will take him halfway around the world — defying storm and monster, betrayal and despair — to the heart of the greatest battle of the age, and to the discovery at last of his true purpose upon the high seas.” (Syndetics summary)
First lines: The War of the Four Isles – so called to set it apart from the Great War of eight decades earlier – was a complex and many-faceted affair, not easily summarised. But as this tale will mot join the war until the third year of the fighting, some account of the intervening years is required – and there not being the time nor space here to give that account in full, the merest summary must indeed suffice, and now follows.
Spark, Rachael Craw
“Evie doesn’t have a choice. One day she’s an ordinary seventeen year old, grieving for her mother. The next, she’s a Shield, the result of a decades-old experiment gone wrong, bound by DNA to defend her best friend from an unknown killer. The threat could come at home, at school, anywhere. All Evie knows is that it will be a fight to the death.” (Goodreads)
First lines: The dream is always the same. I’m running through a forest at night, air like warm water, lapping at my skin, warming my lungs. Above me a canopy of branches filters the moonlight in black and white – a strobe effect exaggerating the feel of speed, the pumping of my arms and legs. I am strong. Powerful. Fearless.
Playlist for a broken heart, Cathy Hopkins
“When Paige finds an old mix CD in a local charity shop, she can’t help but wonder about the boy who made it and the girl he was thinking of when he chose the songs. The tracks tell the story of a boy looking for his perfect girl, a girl to understand him, a story of being alone, being let down, misunderstood and not knowing where to turn. Following the clues of the music, Paige sets out to find the mysterious boy, going from gig to gig and band to band, hoping to track him down. But will who she finds at the end of the trail, be the boy she’s imagined?” (Goodreads)
First lines: “Here we go,” whispered Allegra.
I held my breath and waited for Mr Collins, our drama teacher, to read out who had got parts in the end-of-year play. Everyone who’d auditioned standing near the wooden stage in the school hall. It smelt of beeswax and lavender from the polish used by the cleaners who’d started the evening clear-up behind us. Please, please let me get Juliet, I prayed.
Through to you, Lauren Barnholt
“It starts with a scribbled note in class: I like your sparkle. Harper had casually threaded a piece of blue and silver tinsel through her ponytail in honor of school spirit day. And that carefree, corny gesture is what grabs Penn Mattingly’s eye. Penn—resident heartbreaker of the senior class. Reliably unreliable. Trouble with a capital “T.” Harper’s surprised by Penn’s attention—and so is Penn. The last thing he needs is a girlfriend. The note is not supposed to lead to anything. Oh, but it does. They hang out. They have fun. They talk. They make out. And after a while, it seems like they just click. But Penn and Harper have very different ideas about what relationships look like, in no small part because of their very different family backgrounds. Of course they could talk about these differences—if Penn knew how to talk about feelings. Harper and Penn understand their attraction is illogical, yet something keeps pulling them together. It’s like a crazy roller coaster—exhilarating, terrifying, and amazing all at once. And neither knows how to stop the ride…” (adapted from Goodreads)
First lines: This is how it ends:
With me crying in a bathroom and the Crowne Plaza Hotel, cursing myself for being so stupid. I knew it was wrong, I knew it wasn’t going to end well, I knew I was putting myself in a situation where I was going to end up broken hearted.
The boy’s own manual to being a proper Jew, Eli Glasman
“Yossi, at seventeen, feels as though his homosexuality makes him less of a Jew. Living as he does in Melbourne’s Orthodox Jewish community, he has a lot to hide. When non-religious rebel Josh turns up at school, Yossi is asked to look after him, and while Yossi educates Josh on the ancient traditions of their race, Josh does some educating of his own. Through their relationship, Yossi learns to see the laws of Judaism in a very new light. But when he and Josh are caught kissing in the bathhouse, Yossi’s life takes on a dramatic new turn, and he can ignore his new reality no longer.” (Goodreads)
First lines: Reading an article online from one of New York’s Jewish newspapers, I found an advertisement offering a Jewish alternative to homosexuality. I followed the link and read through everything the website had to say. The administrator of the website was a guy named Rabbi Pilcer. It took me three weeks to get up the courage to send him an email asking if I could speak with him.
A blind spot for boys, Justina Chen
“Sixteen-year-old Shana Wilde is officially on a Boy Moratorium. After a devastating breakup, she decides it’s time to end the plague of Mr. Wrong, Wrong, and More Wrong. Enter Quattro, the undeniably cute lacrosse player who slams into Shana one morning in Seattle. Sparks don’t just fly; they ignite. And so does Shana’s interest. Right as she’s about to rethink her ban on boys, she receives crushing news: Her dad is going blind. Quattro is quickly forgotten, and Shana and her parents vow to make the most of the time her father has left to see. So they travel to Machu Picchu, and as they begin their trek, they run into none other than Quattro himself. But even as the trip unites them, Quattro pulls away mysteriously…” (Goodreads)
First lines: If you want to see the world with fresh eyes, haul yourself off to the Gum Wall in Pike Place Market. At least that’s what Dad said twelve years ago when he brought me to the brick was studded with spat-out, stretched-thin, and air hardened wads of gum.
Zom-B Clans, Darren Shan
“B’s first mission with the Angels –sentient, do-gooder zombies– went horribly wrong when vicious members of the Ku Klux Klan attacked New Kirkham, a stronghold of precious human survivors. B is not about to let the racist thugs persecute innocent people, but while saving the town, one of B’s oldest friends is kidnapped by the Klan. The Angels are prepared to do what it takes to save him, but B will have to make some very hard decisions about loyalties–to old friends, to the Angels, and to new families and old.” (Goodreads)
First lines: When Becky Smith’s racist father told her to throw an innocent black boy to a pack of zombies, she did it because she had spent her whole life obeying his orders. Instantly horrified by what she had done, she told her father he was a monster and cut herself off from him.
Played, Liz Fichera
“He said: I like to keep under the radar and mostly hang out with my friends from the rez. But when I saved Riley Berenger from falling off a mountain, that rich suburban princess decided to try to save me.
She said: If I can help Sam Tracy win the heart of the girl he can’t get over, I’ll pay him back for helping me. I promised him I would, no matter what it takes.” (Goodreads)
First lines: being the good daughter wasn’t easy. First there was the guilt that gnawed at my self-esteem like a leech whenever I didn’t live up to my parents’ expectations. That guilt could be triggered by the smallest of things. Like when I snapped at Mom before school because I was late and she didn’t appreciate my lipstick shade, and she looked back at me with wide eyes as if wondering whether I was her real daughter or an imposter from outer space.