Poison Ivy: cycle of life and death, Amy Chu, Clay Mann and Seth Mann
Coming hot on the heels of Gotham City Sirens and Harley Quinn and Power Girl, it seems like more members of Batman’s rogue’s gallery (especially the female ones) are getting more attention. In this issue, Dr. Pamela Isley (one guess as to who she actually is) is working on a plant/human hybrid project for very personal reasons. However, someone is killing the other scientists…and Poison Ivy has to find out why.
The adventures of Supergirl, Sterling Gates and others
This is a tie-in comic to the TV show, but it works great as a standalone. New villains, new friends…Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin, tries to make a life for herself in National City, keeping her identity and powers a secret. But mysterious forces are working against her, and Kara has to work out who her real family is and where her loyalties lie. I’
Power Man and Iron Fist: the boys are back in town, David Walker, Sanford Greene and Flaviano
Power Man (aka Luke Cage, who really doesn’t like being called Power Man) and Iron Fist (aka Danny Rand, and it’s Iron Fist, not Iron face, and certainly not Iron Man) have definitely and absolutely split up. They’re still friends, but they’re not a team any more. Then their old boss gets out of jail, and the guys are agree to help her. Then they’re suddenly in way over their heads, and they have to fight together (but not as a team, because Power Man and Iron Fist are DEFINITELY not teaming up again) to get themselves out. There are a ton of Marvel Universe cameos, and every page is hilarious.
Secret wars too, a marvel comics non-event, various artists and writers
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book. It’s various strange and silly stories about the Marvel Universe, asking such important questions, such as what if Wolverine did appear in every comic? Then there’s the little vignettes about the secrets of various superheroes (Storm apparently dated a weatherman and then ruined his career when they broke up.) It’s funny, bizarre and sometimes a little gut churning (Galactus gets food poisoning) but it’s nice to see a studio happy to look at their work, tongue firmly in cheek.
Born scared, Kevin Brooks
Elliot is terrified of almost everything. From the moment he was born, his life has been governed by acute fear. The only thing that keeps his terrors in check are the pills that he takes every day. It’s Christmas Eve, there’s a snowstorm and Elliot’s medication is almost gone. His mum nips out to collect his prescription. She’ll only be 10 minutes – but she doesn’t come back, Elliot must face his fears and try to find her. She should only be 400 metres away. It might as well be 400 miles…(Goodreads)
First lines: I got as far as the hallway now. Coat, hat, boots, gloves…
Cold sweat running down my back.
It’s three o’clock in the afternoon, Christmas Even.
The snowstorm’s getting worse.
The road to ever after, Moira Young
Davy David is a thirteen-year-old orphan, who lives in the bushes in a town ruled by a strict minister, Reverend Fall. A talented artist, Davy loves to draw pictures of angels in the dirt, in the early hours of the morning before the townspeople are awake. He spends his days on his own, except for a small dog, who has attached himself to Davy, often going to the library to find inspiration for his pictures of angels. One day, after chasing after a ball for some of the town’s boys, he finds himself in the yard of the old boarded-up museum, now rumoured to be the home of a witch. The witch is Miss Elizabeth Flint, an elderly woman who has a proposition for Davy: drive her to her childhood home, where, it turns out, she has made the decision to die. (Goodreads)
First lines: There are times that are blind to such as angels. There are towns that are blind to them, too. If – by some chance or high design- an angel had tumbled from the blue, it would have lain, unseen, in Brownvale’s dry gutters till its mighty wings parched into dust.
All in pieces, Suzanne Young
That’s how they classified Savannah Sutton after she stuck a pencil in her ex-boyfriend’s hand because he mocked her little brother, Evan, for being disabled. That’s why they sent her to Brooks Academy—an alternative high school that’s used as a temporary detention center.
The days at Brooks are miserable, but at home, life is far more bleak. Savvy’s struggling to take care of her brother since her mom left years ago, and her alcoholic dad can’t be bothered. Life with Evan is a constant challenge, but he’s also the most important person in the world to Savvy. Then there’s Cameron, a new student at Brooks with issues of his own, a guy from a perfect family that Savvy thought only existed on TV. Cameron seems determined to break through every one of the walls Savvy’s built around herself—except if she lets herself trust him, it could make everything she’s worked so hard for fall apart in an instant. And with her aunt seeking custody of her brother and her ex-boyfriend seeking revenge, Savvy’s fighting to hold all the pieces together. But she’s not sure how much tighter she can be pulled before she breaks completely. (Goodreads)
First lines: My life is none of their business. I don’t want to be up here, don’t want to explain my reasons, but I can’t afford to miss another assignment.
The nerdy and the dirty, b.t. gottfred
Pen Lupo is sick and tired of hiding who she is. On the outside, Pen is popular, quiet, and deferential to her boyfriend. On the inside, however, Pen is honest, opinionated—and not quite sure that she’s like other girls. Do they have urges like she does? His classmates may consider him a nerd, but Benedict Pendleton knows he’s destined for great things. All he has to do is find a worthy girlfriend, and his social station will be secured. Sure, Benedict is different–but that’s what he likes about himself. When fate intervenes, both Pen and Benedict end up at the same vacation resort for winter break. Despite their differences, the two are drawn together. But is there such a thing as happily ever after for a nympho and a nerd?(Goodreads)
First lines: “I’m a very handsome. I don’t really think this is a question of opinion. I am objectively handsome,” I said to Robert, who was staring at his roast-beef sandwich. He always stared at his sandwiches. This made it difficult to have conversations. I’ve talked to him about it. He’s working on the problem.
Cloud and wallfish, Anne Nesbet
Noah Keller has a pretty normal life, until one wild afternoon when his parents pick him up from school and head straight for the airport, telling him on the ride that his name isn’t really Noah and he didn’t really just turn eleven in March. And he can’t even ask them why — not because of his Astonishing Stutter, but because asking questions is against the newly instated rules. (Rule Number Two: Don’t talk about serious things indoors, because Rule Number One: They will always be listening).As Noah—now “Jonah Brown”—and his parents head behind the Iron Curtain into East Berlin, the rules and secrets begin to pile up so quickly that he can hardly keep track of the questions bubbling up inside him: Who, exactly, is listening — and why? When did his mother become fluent in so many languages? And what really happened to the parents of his only friend, Cloud-Claudia, the lonely girl who lives downstairs?(Goodreads)
First lines: Noah knew something was up the moment he saw his mother that May afternoon in fifth garde. She swooped up in a car he didn’t recognise – that was the first thing. And, secondly, his father was sitting in the other front seat, and in Noah’s family, picking up kids at school was a one-parent activity.
Glitter, Aprilynne Pike
Outside the palace of Versailles, it’s modern day. Inside, the people dress, eat, and act like it’s the eighteenth century—with the added bonus of technology to make court life lavish, privileged, and frivolous. The palace has every indulgence, but for one pretty young thing, it’s about to become a very beautiful prison. When Danica witnesses an act of murder by the young king, her mother makes a cruel power play . . . blackmailing the king into making Dani his queen. When she turns eighteen, Dani will marry the most ruthless and dangerous man of the court. She has six months to escape her terrifying destiny. Six months to raise enough money to disappear into the real world beyond the palace gates. Her ticket out? Glitter. A drug so powerful that a tiny pinch mixed into a pot of rouge or lip gloss can make the wearer hopelessly addicted. Addicted to a drug Dani can sell for more money than she ever dreamed. But in Versailles, secrets are impossible to keep. And the most dangerous secret—falling for a drug dealer outside the palace walls—is one risk she has to take. (Goodreads)
First lines: I rush through the catacombs, my face shrouded beneath the brim of a cap, skimming by the empty eyes of ancient skulls. I’m fast and sleek in my borrowed jeans but feel scantily clad without the heavy silk and brocade skirts to which I’m accustomed.
Caged, Theresa Breslin
Escaping from a troubled home and struggling to survive on the streets, the abandoned tunnels of the London Underground are a perfect sanctuary for Kai. Along with other teenagers running from their pasts, Kai finds somewhere to belong in this strange community of outcasts. But Kai is now facing a very different kind of fight. Every night, led by the enigmatic Spartacus, the runaways must become cage fighters, each fight broadcast to the outside world via YouTube. With gambling profits from these videos racking up, Kai and his friends hope to be able to start a new life. Yet treachery and danger are never far behind, and a new arrival threatens the order that Spartacus has worked so carefully to maintain. And then there is the looming finale, the last battle between Kai and his nemesis Leo: the Kill Fight.(Goodreads)
First lines: Blood. In his mouth and his tongue. That last punch split his lip. Spinning him sideways to thud against the steel bars of the Cage. And he knew he’d taken a cut. Blood has a stale taste. Brings back a memory. Don’t think about that.
Unboxed, Non Pratt
Unboxed is about four teenagers who come together after several months apart. In previous years, they had put together a time capsule about their best summer with a friend who was dying. Now that their friend has passed, they reunite to open the box.(Goodreads)
First lines: It seems worse to break a promise to the dead than it does to break one made to the living. Why else would I be standing by the gates of my old school waiting for a bunch of strangers I used to call friends? Ben, Dean, Millie, Zara. Me-Alix. Five friends, five years…it feels like a lifetime.
Our chemical hearts, Krystal Sutherland
Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love that he’s been hoping for just hasn’t been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything’s about to change. Grace isn’t who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys’ clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It’s obvious there’s something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn’t your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland’s brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love. (Goodreads)
First lines: I always thought the moment you met the great love of your life would be more like the movies. Not exactly like the movies, obviously, with the slow-mo and the hair blwoing in the breeze and the swelling instrumental soundtrack. But I at least thought there would be something, you know?
Foulsham, Edward Carey
Foulsham, London’s great filth repository, is bursting at the seams. The walls that keep the muck in are buckling, rubbish is spilling over the top, back into the city that it came from. In the Iremonger family offices, Grandfather Umbitt Iremonger broods: in his misery and fury at the people of London, he has found a way of making everyday objects assume human shape, and the real people into objects. Abandoned in the depths of the Heaps, Lucy Pennant has been rescued by a terrifying creature, Binadit Iremonger, more animal than human. She is desperate and determined to find Clod. But unbeknownst to her, Clod has become a golden sovereign and ‘lost’. He is being passed as currency from hand to hand all around Foulsham, and yet everywhere people are searching for him, desperate to get hold of this dangerous Iremonger, who, it is believed, has the power to bring the mighty Umbitt down. But all around the city, things, everyday things, are twitching into life… (Goodreads)
First lines: They told me I was the only child in the whole great building, but I wasn’t. I knew I wasn’t. I heard them sometimes, the other children. I heard them calling out somewhere down below.
The secret diary of Lydia Bennet, Natasha Farrant
Lydia is the youngest of the five Bennet girls. She’s stubborn, never listens, and can’t seem to keep her mouth shut–not that she would want to anyway. She’s bored with her country life and wishes her older sisters would pay her attention . . . for once! Luckily, the handsome Wickham arrives at Longbourn to sweep her off her feet. Lydia’s not going to let him know THAT, of course, especially since he only seems to be interested in friendship. But when they both decide to summer in the fasionable seaside town of Brighton, their paths become entangled again. At the seaside, Lydia also finds exciting new ways of life and a pair of friends who offer her a future she never dreamed of. Lydia finally understands what she really wants. But can she get it? (Goodreads)
First lines: I am fifteen years old today, and this journal was a present from Mary. She says I must write in it every day to improve my mind.
“Whatever for,” Mamma cried, “when she is so pretty?”
Father asked, “Are we even certain Lydia has a mind?”
The diabolic, S.J Kincaid
A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.
Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe. When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire. (Goodreads)
First lines: Everyone believed Diabolics were fearless, but in my earliest years, all I knew was fear. It preyed on me the very morning the Impryreans viewed me in the corrals. I couldn’t speak, but I understood most words I heard.
Girl in the shadows, Gwenda Bond
Eighteen-year-old Moira Mitchell grew up in the shadows of Vegas’s stage lights while her father’s career as a magician soared. More than anything, Moira wants to be a magician too, but her father is dead set against her pursuing magic. When an invitation to join the Cirque American mistakenly falls into Moira’s possession, she takes action. Instead of giving the highly coveted invitation to its intended recipient, Raleigh, her father’s handsome and worldly former apprentice, Moira takes off to join the Cirque. If she can perform alongside its world-famous acts, she knows she’ll be able to convince her dad that magic is her future. But when Moira arrives, things take on an intensity she can’t control as her stage magic suddenly feels like…real magic. To further distract her, Raleigh shows up none too pleased at Moira’s presence, all while the Cirque’s cocky and intriguing knife thrower, Dez, seems to have it out for her. As tensions mount and Moira’s abilities come into question, she must decide what’s real and what’s an illusion. If she doesn’t sort it out in time, she may forever remain a girl in the shadows. (Goodreads)
First lines: I was waiting in the winds backstage at the Menagerie Hotel and Casino, preparing the equipment for my first stage illusion. Straightjackeet, check. Oversized timer and mood-music speakers, check. And most important, transparent coffin, check.
We’ve all heard of Twilight. But perhaps it’s time to try something different…
Afterlife with Archie, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla
I know what you’re thinking. Archie, wholesome hero of almost 77 years of comics set in the all-American town of Riverdale, fighting against the Undead? It’s a strange concept, but a concept that works. The art’s not the usually cartoony Archie style, which is also good. I don’t want to give the plot away, but it’s well worth a look.
Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula, Andi Watson
This is a rather wacky take on your bog-standard supernatural romance. Princess Decomposia spends most of her life running the kingdom while her hypochondriac father lies in bed. On her to do list is to hire a new cook. Luckily, Count Spatula appears. He’s a charming chap with a knack for baking impressive meals. It’s hardly the most terrifying story of love between the undead, but Halloween is equally parts “treat” to “trick.”** A nice break from all the chewing on brains.
The forest of hands and teeth, Carrie Ryan
What happens ten years after the zombie apocalypse? Twenty? This book is set in an undefined period of time after the zombies – here called “Unconsecrated” – have apparently taken over the world. It’s a wonderful blend of horror and dystopia and a really great look at how humanity copes with the undead after the initial attack. It’s also an interesting coming of age story about a young woman struggling with the traditions she’s grown up with and the promise of a world outside all that she’s ever known.
The abused werewolf rescue group, Catherine Jinks
Tobias Richard Vandevelde begins his lycanthropic journey not howling under the moon on a deserted moor but naked in a dingo pen. After that rather inglorious start thing escalate, and the titular group comes into play. I’ve been a fan of Catherine Jinks for a long time, so I was pretty excited to find out she’d written something in my favourite genre. Fair warning, though: you won’t find handsome men with rippling abs brooding under the full moon in this book. Refreshing, really.
**It took me a long time to think of this sentence and I refuse to apologise for it.
Remade, Alex Scarrow
Leon and his younger sister, Grace, have recently moved to London from New York and are struggling to settle into their new school when rumours of an unidentified virus in Africa begin to fill the news. Within a week the virus hits London. The siblings witness people turning to liquid before their eyes, and they run for their lives. A month after touching Earth’s atmosphere the virus has assimilated the world’s biomass. But the virus isn’t their only enemy, and survival is just the first step. (Goodreads)
First lines: The girl was only ten. Her name was Camille. She was on her way to collect water from the drinking well, a large battered and dented tin jug dangling from each hand, when she spotted it just a few meters off the hard dirt track. A dead dog. Not an uncommon sight. Except the fact it was only half a dead dog.
When Michael met Mina, Randa Abdel-Fattah
When Michael meets Mina, they are at a rally for refugees – standing on opposite sides. Mina fled Afghanistan with her mother via a refugee camp, a leaky boat and a detention centre. Michael’s parents have founded a new political party called Aussie Values. They want to stop the boats. Mina wants to stop the hate. When Mina wins a scholarship to Michael’s private school, their lives crash together blindingly. (Goodreads)
First lines: I know two things for a fact. My parents are good people. And ever since I can remember, they’ve been angry about almost everything. I scan the area and see my dad, draped in the Australian flag, talking to Li Chee, who’s wearing a flag top hat and holding up a Turn Back the Boats banner.
The monstrous child, Francesca Simon
A stunning, operatic, epic drama, like no other. Meet Hel, an ordinary teenager – and goddess of the Underworld. Why is life so unfair? Hel tries to make the best of it, creating gleaming halls in her dark kingdom and welcoming the dead who she is forced to host for eternity. Until eternity itself is threatened. (Goodreads)
First lines: You’d think after my brother the snake was born, they’d have stopped at one. But no. Next was the wolf, Fenrir. And then me. How Mum must have hoped, when my top half slithered out, that it was third time lucky. A human head. Praise the Blood Mother.
One would think the deep, Claire Zorn
It’s 1997 and seventeen-year-old Sam is mourning the sudden loss of his mum…Sam has always had things going on in his head that no one else understands, even his mum. And now she’s dead, it’s worse than ever. With nothing but his skateboard and a few belongings in a garbage bag, Sam goes to live with the strangers his mum cut ties with seven years ago: Aunty Lorraine and his cousins Shane and Minty. Despite the suspicion and hostility emanating from their fibro shack, Sam reverts to his childhood habit of following Minty around and is soon surfing with Minty to cut through the static fuzz in his head. But as the days slowly meld into one another, and ghosts from the past reappear, Sam has to make the ultimate decision … will he sink or will he swim. (Goodreads)
First lines: Sam rang from the hospital. A social worker called Amanda gave him a dollar for the phone in the shop that sold teddy bears and balloons with the declarations of love. Sam plugged his ear with a finger to drown out the chaos in the corridor behind him. He didn’t know the voice of the guy who answered. He didn’t know any of them anymore.
The edge, Roland Smith
The International Peace Ascent is the brainchild of billionaire Sebastian Plank: Recruit a global team of young climbers and film an inspiring, world-uniting documentary. The adventure begins when fifteen-year-old Peak Marcello and his mountaineer mother are helicoptered to a remote base camp in the Hindu Kush Mountains on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. When the camp is attacked and his mother taken, Peak has no choice but to track down the perpetrators to try to save her. (Goodreads)
First lines: The snow leopard makes an impossible leap. Twelve feet. Maybe fifteen. Up the sheer rock face. Landing on a narrow shelf as if she is lighter than air. Her two cubs stand below, yowling for her to come back down.
Am I normal yet?, Holly Bourne
All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?
First lines: It started with a house party. This wasn’t just any house party. I was also My First Date. Like first EVER date. In my entire life. Because, finally, following all the crap that had gone down, I was ready for boys.
Gemini, Sonya Mukherjee
Seventeen-year-old conjoined twins Clara and Hailey have lived in the same small town their entire lives—no one stares at them anymore. But there are cracks in their quiet existence, and they’re slowly becoming more apparent. Clara and Hailey are at a crossroads. Clara wants to stay close to home, avoid all attention, and study the night sky. Hailey wants to travel the world, learn from great artists, and dance with mysterious boys. As high school graduation approaches, each twin must untangle her dreams from her sister’s, and figure out what it means to be her own person.
First lines: About four years ago, when I was thirteen and still prone to crying spells, my mother liked to show off her so-called wisdom by telling me that every teenage girl sometimes feels like a freak of nature.
P.S. I like you, Kasie West
While Lily is spacing out in Chemistry one day, she picks up her pencil and scribbles a line from one of her favorite songs on the desk. The next day, someone else has written back to her on the desk! Soon enough Lily and the mystery student are exchanging notes, and lyrics, and even sharing secrets. When Lily finds out that her anonymous pen pal is a guy, she’s flustered — and kind of feels like she’s falling for him. She and her best friend set out to unravel the identity of the letter writer — but when the truth is revealed, the guy is the LAST person Lily could have ever imagined it to be. Now that Lily knows the truth, can she untangle her feelings and gather the courage to listen to her heart?
First lines: A lightning strike. A shark attack. Winning the lottery. No I lined through all the words. Too cliché. I tapped my pen against my lips. Rare. What was rare? Meat, I thought with a small laugh. That would go really well in a song.
Down with the shine, Kate Karyus Quinn
Lennie always thought her uncles’ “important family legacy” was good old-fashioned bootlegging. Then she takes some of her uncles’ moonshine to Michaela Gordon’s annual house party, and finds out just how wrong she was. At the party, Lennie has everyone make a wish before drinking the shine—it’s tradition. She toasts to wishes for bat wings, for balls of steel, for the party to go on forever. Lennie even makes a wish of her own: to bring back her best friend, Dylan, who was murdered six months ago. The next morning gives Lennie a whole new understanding of the phrase be careful what you wish for—or in her case, be careful what wishes you grant. Because all those wishes Lennie raised a jar of shine to last night? They came true. Most of them came out bad. And once granted, a wish can’t be unmade…(Goodreads).
First lines: “I gave you my name for a reason, Lennie. It might not be worth much now, but someday. Someday real soon, I’m gonna make it so Cash is a name nobody ever forgets. I’m serious, Lennie. People are gonna remember us.”
Draw the line, Laurent Linn
Adrian Piper is used to blending into the background. He may be a talented artist, a sci-fi geek, and gay, but at his Texas high school those traits only bring him the worst kind of attention. In fact, the only place he feels free to express himself is at his drawing table, crafting a secret world through his own Renaissance art-inspired superhero, Graphite. But in real life, when a shocking hate crime flips his world upside-down, Adrian must decide what kind of person he wants to be. Maybe it’s time to not be so invisible after all—no matter how dangerous the risk. (Goodreads).
First lines: I should have been born with an owner’s manual. You know the WARNING page at the beginning that mentions all the dangers? This morning I’ve got a new one to add to the growing list that would come with mine: Don’t let nerd boy cut his own hair.
Unrivaled, Alyson Noel
Everyone wants to be someone. Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter’s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic.” Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad’s life. But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago. She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel. That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the glamorous and gritty world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and lured into a high-stakes competition where Madison Brooks is the target. Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . . And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.(Goodreads).
First lines: Despite the crush of tourists storming the sidewalks year after year, Hollywood Boulevard is a place best viewed behind a pair of polarized lenses and lowered expectations.
The incident on the bridge, Laura McNeal
The last anyone saw of Thisbe Locke, she was standing by a car on the side of the bridge. She’d been depressed since she stopped seeing Clay, who humiliated her in front of everyone at his party. But would Thisbe really jump because of that? Her sister swears she wouldn’t.
The police know that grief-stricken families always hope for a different ending. And that decisions about jumping can be made in an instant. Either way, there’s no sign of Thisbe.(Goodreads).
First lines: Thisbe had to stop. She had to quit obsessing about Clay and Jerome and college and ride her bike down to Glorietta Bay, where she always felt better, where she had researched and written “The effect of Pleasure Boating on Mid-Intertidal Zone,” the best paper Ms. Berron had ever seen from a high school student.
Dan vs. nature, Don Colame
Dan Weekes has two dreams in life: to become a famous graphic novelist and to one day muster the courage to ask Erin Reilly out on a date. Dan’s mom, however, has just one goal: to date every man in the state of California until she finally finds her Prince Charming.
When Dan comes home to find a Hugh Jackman look-alike in his kitchen, he’s prepared to write off this mountain-man-slash-dentist as another soon-to-be-ex. But then his mom drops a bomb: she and Hugh—er, Hank—are engaged, and she’s sending her “two favorite men” on a survivalist camping trip in the wilds of Idaho to “bond.” But Dan knows that it’s only a matter of time till Hank shows his true—flawed—colors, so together with his nerdy, germophobe best friend, Charlie, Dan launches Operation Torment Crusade—a series of increasingly gross and embarrassing pranks they’ll pull on Hank until he breaks like a twig. But the boys didn’t count on a hot girl joining their trip or a man-hungry bear stalking their every move. How can Dan possibly scare off Hank when his very survival now depends on him? (Goodreads).
First lines: Charlie and I are getting our asses punched. That’s right, punched. It’s the wrestling team this time. The fists come fast and furious – to the back of my head, my kidneys, my shoulders. And, yes, my ass.
This is the part where you laugh, Peter Brown Hoffmeister
Rising sophomore Travis and his best friend, Creature, spend a summer in a Eugene, Oregon, trailer park dealing with cancer, basketball, first love, addiction, gang violence, and a reptilian infestation. (Goodreads).
First lines: When it’s good and dark, I drag the two duffel bags to the edge of the lake. Out in front of me, smallmouth bass come alive on the surface of the water, and I wish I’d brought my fishing pole. But it’s good I didn’t – I don’t want to draw attention to myself.
The fall of butterflies, Andrea Portes
Willa Parker, 646th and least popular resident of What Cheer, Iowa, is headed east to start a new life. Did she choose this new life? No, because that would be too easy—and nothing in Willa’s life is easy. It’s her famous genius mother’s idea to send her to ultra-expensive, ultra-exclusive Pembroke Prep, and it’s only the strength of her name that got Willa accepted in the first place. But Willa has no intentions of fitting in at Pembroke. She’s not staying long, she decides. Not at this school—and not on this planet. But when she meets peculiar, glittering Remy Taft, the richest, most mysterious girl on campus, she starts to see a foothold in this foreign world—a place where she could maybe, possibly, sort of fit. When Willa looks at Remy, she sees a girl who has everything. But for Remy, having everything comes at a price. And as she spirals out of control, Willa can feel her spinning right out of her grasp. In Willa’s secret heart, all she’s ever wanted is to belong. But if Remy, the girl who gave her this world, is slip-sliding away, is Willa meant to follow her down? (Goodreads).
First lines: Bet you’d never though you’d be sitting at the freak table. It’s okay. You get used to it. Trust me.
Twenty questions for Gloria, Martyn Bedford
A bored teenager girl who meets a mysterious new boy bent on breaking all the rules. He is everything Gloria wishes to be, but he is not all he seems, and by the time she learns the truth about him, she is a long way from home. (Goodreads).
Question 1: Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
Detective Inspector Katharine Ryan: This interview is being audio- and video-recorded, with parental consent and the agreement of the interviewee.
The star-touched queen, Roshani Chokshi
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself. (Goodreads).
First lines: Staring at the sky in Bharata was like exchanging a secret. It felt private, like I had peered through the veil of a hundred worlds. When I looked up, I could imagine -for a moment-what the sky hid from everyone else.
Charlotte cuts it out, K.A. Barson
Lydia and I were in eighth grade when we came up with our Grand Plan to go to cosmetology school and get jobs to build our clientele while we earned business degrees. Then we’d open our own salon . . .Now Charlotte and Lydia are juniors, in a Cosmetology Arts program where they’ll get on-the-job training and college credits at the same time. The Grand Plan is right on schedule. Which means it’s time for Step Two: Win the Winter Style Showcase, where Cos Arts and Fashion Design teams team up to dazzle the judges with their skills. Charlotte is sure that she and Lydia have it locked up—so sure, in fact, that she makes a life-changing bet with her mother, who wants her to give up cos for college. And that’s when things start going off the rails. As the clock ticks down to the night of the Showcase, Charlotte has her hands full. Design divas. Models who refuse to be styled. Unexpectedly stiff competition. And then, worst of all, Lydia—her BFF and Partner in Cos—turns out to have a slightly different Grand Plan…(Goodreads).
First lines: As I apply another layer of lip gloss and smooth my hair at the tiny mirror inside my locker, a deep voice whispers in my ear. “I don’t mean to alarm you, but there’s a severed hand sticking out of your backpack.”
The girl from everywhere, Heidi Hellig
Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.
As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix. But the end to it all looms closer every day. Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.
For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters. She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love. Or she could disappear. (Goodreads).
First lines: It was the kind of August day that hinted at monsoons, and the year was 1774, though not for much longer. I was in the crowded bazaar of a nearly historical version of Calcutta, where my father had abandoned me.
The problem with forever, Jennifer L. Armentrout
For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime. Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day. It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard. (Goodreads).
First lines: Dusty, empty shoe boxes, stacked taller and wider than her slim body, wobbled as she pressed her back against them, tucked her bony knees into her chest.
Away we go, Emil Ostrovski
Westing is not your typical school. For starters, you have to have one very important quality in order to be admitted—you have to be dying. Every student at Westing has been diagnosed with PPV, or the Peter Pan Virus. No one is expected to live to graduation.
What do you do when you go to a school where no one has a future? Noah Falls, his girlfriend Alice, and his best friend Marty spend their time drinking, making out, and playing video games on awaywego.com. But when an older boy named Zach (who Noah may or may not be in love with) invites Noah and Marty to join his secret Polo Club, the lives of both boys change as they struggle to find meaning in their shortened existence.(Goodreads).
First lines: I was fifteen years old. It was a dreary March day, a year and a half before the world was supposed to end. And the closest person I had to family wanted me gone.
This is the story of you, Beth Kephart
On Haven, a six-mile long, half-mile-wide stretch of barrier island, Mira Banul and her Year-Rounder friends have proudly risen to every challenge. But when a superstorm defies all predictions and devastates the island, when it strands Mira’s mother and brother on the mainland and upends all logic, nothing will ever be as it was. A stranger appears in the wreck of Mira’s home. A friend obsessed with vanishing is gone. As the mysteries deepen, Mira must find the strength to carry on—to somehow hold her memories in place while learning to trust a radically reinvented future.(Goodreads).
First lines: Blue, for example. Like the colour the sun makes the sea. Like the beach bucket he wore as a hat, king of the tidal parade. Like the word I and the hour of nobody awake but me. I thought blue was mine, and that we were each ourselves, and that some things could not be stolen.
The steep and thorny way, Cat Winters
Scene: Oregon, 1923. Dramatis personae: Hanalee Denney, daughter of a white woman and an African American man. Hank Denney, her father—a ghost. Greta Koning, Hanalee’s mother. Clyde Konig, doctor who treated Hank Denney the night he died, now Hanalee’s stepfather.
Joe Adder, teenage boy convicted of accidentally killing Hank Denney. Members of the Ku Klux Klan. Townspeople of Elston, Oregon.
Question: Was Hank Denney’s death an accident…or was it murder most foul?(Goodreads).
First lines: I drew a deep breath and marched into the woods behind my house with a two barrelled pistol hidden beneath my blue cotton skirt. The pocket-size derringer rode against my outer right thigh, tucked inside a holster that had, according to the boy who’d given it to me, once belonged to a lady bootlegger who’d been arrested with three different guns strapped to her legs.
The passion of Dolssa, Julie Berry
Dolssa is a young gentlewoman with uncanny gifts, on the run from an obsessed friar determined to burn her as a heretic for the passion she refuses to tame. Botille is a wily and charismatic peasant, a matchmaker running a tavern with her two sisters in a tiny seaside town.
The year is 1241; the place, Provensa, what we now call Provence, France—a land still reeling from the bloody crusades waged there by the Catholic Church and its northern French armies. When the matchmaker finds the mystic near death by a riverside, Botille takes Dolssa in and discovers the girl’s extraordinary healing power. But as the vengeful Friar Lucien hunts down his heretic, the two girls find themselves putting an entire village at the mercy of murderers. (Goodreads).
First lines: I must write this account, and when I have finished, I will burn it. Mine is the historian’s task, to record the events of the last century, showing God’s mighty hand in ridding these southern lands between the Garona and the Rose rivers of the heresy of the Albigensians.
Starflight, Melissa Landers
Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith. When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…(Goodreads
First lines: What if nobody picks me? Nothing can be worse than that. Solara’s pulse quickened, and her palms turned cold. She hadn’t considered the possibility that no one would want her, but now, as she scanned the servants area, she noticed only two indenture candidates standing with her behind the gate – an elderly man with more hair in his ears than on his had and a teenage boy who couldn’t stop scratching himself.
The memory of light, Francisco X. Stork
Vicky Cruz shouldn’t be alive. That’s what she thinks, anyway—and why she tried to kill herself. But then she arrives at Lakeview Hospital, where she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she’s never had.
Yet Vicky’s newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up—sending her back to the life that drove her to suicide—Vicky must find her own courage and strength. She may not have any. She doesn’t know.
First lines: Nana
I tried to write to you in Spanish but my Espanol no es muy bueno en este momento. So I try in English. If you’re reading this it’s because you found it taped to the back of Mama’s painting. Take the painting with you to Mexico and the climbing pink roses will remind you of Mama and maybe of me too.
The stars at oktober bend, Glenda Millard
Alice is fifteen, with hair as red as fire and skin as pale as bone, but something inside her is broken. She has acquired brain injury, the result of an assault, and her words come out slow and slurred. But when she writes, heartwords fly from her pen. She writes poems to express the words she can’t say and leaves them in unexpected places around the town. Manny was once a child soldier. He is sixteen and has lost all his family. He appears to be adapting to his new life in this country, where there is comfort and safety, but at night he runs, barefoot, to escape the memory of his past. When he first sees Alice, she is sitting on the rusty roof of her river-house, looking like a carving on an old-fashioned ship sailing through the stars. (Goodreads)
First lines:i am the girl manny loves. the girl who writes our story in the book of flying. i am alice. they sewed me up when i was twelve. mended my broken head with fishbone stitches. tucked my frayed edges in. tucked everything in. things meant to be and things not. do it quick. stem the flow. stop life leaking out of alice. that’s all they wanted. so gram said.
Identity crisis, Melissa Schorr
Annalise’s audacious freshman-year hookup with Cooper Franklin has a trio of friends thirsting for revenge. So they catfish Annalise by creating the perfect virtual guy, with Noelle playing along reluctantly only because her lifelong crush, Cooper, is in love with Annalise. As Annalise falls for it, even scoring tickets to the concert of the year for her and her mythical new guy, Noelle feels more and more guilty. Then, the whole thing blows up. Annalise must face her betrayers and decide whether or not she can ever forgive.
First lines: Cooper Franklin thinks that just because I’m staring at the clock on the wall, I didn’t notice him sneak a peek at my boobs. But I did. I totally did. Didn’t anyone teach this boy the concept of peripheral vision? I half-want to call him on it and give him a piece of my mind, but I decide I better not.
Rebel of the sands, Alwyn Hamilton
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from. Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him…or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is. (Goodreads)
First lines: They said the only folk who belonged in Deadshot after dark were the ones up to no good. I wasn’t up to no good. Then again, I wasn’t exactly up to no bad either.
The great hunt, Wendy Higgins
When a strange beast terrorizes the kingdom of Lochlanach, fear stirs revolt. In an act of desperation, a proclamation is sent to all of Eurona—kill the creature and win the ultimate prize: the daughter of King Lochson’s hand in marriage. Princess Aerity knows her duty to the kingdom but cannot bear the idea of marrying a stranger…until a brooding local hunter, Paxton Seabolt, catches her attention. There’s no denying the unspoken lure between them…or his mysterious resentment. Paxton is not the marrying type. Nor does he care much for spoiled royals and their arcane laws. He’s determined to keep his focus on the task at hand—ridding the kingdom of the beast—but the princess continues to surprise him, and the perilous secrets he’s buried begin to surface. (Goodreads)
First lines: A late summer breeze blew warm over the deep and wide Lanach Creek. Moonlight caught the shock of Wyneth’s red-orange curls as she let her fiancé, Breckon, lay her back on the end of the dock.
Rules for stealing stars, Corey Ann Haydu
Silly is used to feeling left out. Her three older sisters think she’s too little for most things—especially when it comes to dealing with their mother’s unpredictable moods and outbursts. This summer, Silly feels more alone than ever when her sisters keep whispering and sneaking away to their rooms together, returning with signs that something mysterious is afoot: sporting sunburned cheeks smudged with glitter and gold hair that looks like tinsel. When Silly is brought into her sisters’ world, the truth is more exciting than she ever imagined. The sisters have discovered a magical place that gives them what they truly need: an escape from the complications of their home life. But there are dark truths there, too. Silly hopes the magic will be the secret to saving their family, but she’s soon forced to wonder if it could tear them apart. (Goodreads)
First lines: Everything is standard Sunday morning today except for a streak of glitter on Astrid’s cheek and the way never-tired Eleanor keeps yawning like a cat.
The great American whatever, Tim Federle
Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry used to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister Annabeth. Of course, that was all before—before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa…and before Annabeth was killed in a car accident. Enter Geoff, Quinn’s best friend who insists it’s time that Quinn came out—at least from hibernation. One haircut later, Geoff drags Quinn to his first college party, where instead of nursing his pain, he meets a guy—a hot one—and falls hard. What follows is an upside-down week in which Quinn begins imagining his future as a screenplay that might actually have a happily-ever-after ending—if, that is, he can finally step back into the starring role of his own life story. (Goodreads)
First lines: I don’t consider myself to be precious, necessarily, but give me air-conditioning or give me death. Maybe the only thing worse than a Midwestern winter is a Midwestern summer, especially when your AC is broken.
Bleeding earth, Kaitlin Ward
Lea was in a cemetery when the earth started bleeding. Within twenty-four hours, the blood made international news. All over the world, blood appeared out of the ground, even through concrete, even in water. Then the earth started growing hair and bones. Lea wants to ignore the blood. She wants to spend time with her new girlfriend, Aracely, in public, if only Aracely wasn’t so afraid of her father. Lea wants to be a regular teen again, but the blood has made her a prisoner in her own home. Fear for her social life turns into fear for her sanity, and Lea must save herself and Aracely whatever way she can.
First lines: I drape my arm around a towerlike gravestone, watching my best friend hover the cemetery’s edge. She’s lived across from this graveyard her entire life, and still, she’s terrified of it.
This monstrous thing, Mackenzi Lee
In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits. His brother, Oliver—dead. His sweetheart, Mary—gone. His chance to break free of Geneva—lost. Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead. But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship. Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay… (Goodreads)
First lines: My brother’s heart was heavy in my hands. The screws along the soldered edges flashed as the candlelight flickered, and I checked one last time to be certain the mainspring was tight.
Nothing bad is going to happen, Kathleen Hale
After helping to catch the man who murdered her best friend, Kippy Bushman was looking forward to life returning to normal. Well, at least as normal as it could get in a town like hers. But then the unthinkable happens: Kippy finds her boyfriend, Davey, in his house, barely breathing and surrounded by pills and empty beer bottles. The sheriff is quick to rule the incident an attempted suicide, but Kippy refuses to believe it. She and Davey are completely in love; there’s no way he’d ever hurt himself. Right? Kippy swears she saw someone else at Davey’s house that night and is convinced that person tried to murder him. Without any real evidence, though, no one—not even Kippy’s own father—believes her. So she has no choice but to team up with her former nemesis, Bible-thumping Libby, to try to catch this new killer. But in a town where everyone has their own secrets and a next-door neighbor could be a serial killer, who’s left to trust? (Goodreads).
First lines: Dear Kippy Bushman,
Nice touch with the PO box return address! I’m assuming you’re trying to keep all of this is a secret from Dom, which is fantastic. INTELLIGENSIAAAAAA. No offense but he’s a worried, and we don’t need him to fret about OUR INCREDIBLE REUNION.
Forget tomorrow, Pintip Dunn
It’s Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she’s eagerly awaiting her vision―a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they’re meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist. Or in Callie’s case, a criminal. In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo―a prison for those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes the hellish prison. But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all – Callie herself. (Goodreads).
First lines: “The next leaf that falls will be red,” my six-year-old sister Jessa announces. An instant later, a crimson leaf flutters through the air like the tail feather of a cardinal.
Where you’ll find me, Natasha Friend
The first month of school, thirteen-year-old Anna Collette finds herself… Dumped by her best friend, Dani, who suddenly wants to spend eighth grade “hanging out with different people.”
Deserted by her mom, who’s in the hospital recovering from a suicide attempt. Trapped in a house with her dad, a new baby sister, and a stepmother young enough to wear her Delta Delta Delta sweatshirt with pride. Stuck at a lunch table with Shawna the Eyebrow Plucker and Sarabeth the Irish Stepper because she has no one else to sit with. But what if all isn’t lost? What if Anna’s mom didn’t exactly mean to leave her? What if Anna’s stepmother is cooler than she thought? What if the misfit lunch table isn’t such a bad fit after all? With help from some unlikely sources, including a crazy girl-band talent show act, Anna just may find herself on the road to okay. (Goodreads).
First lines: I used to think your friends were your friends no matter what, but that’s not how it works. There is elementary school, and then there is middle school, where suddenly all the rules change and no one tells you how to play and the only thing you know for sure is that you are losing.
Forbidden, Eve Bunting
Sixteen-year-old Josie Ferguson has just lost both her parents. She is sent to live with an unknown aunt and uncle in a town on the stormy northwest coast of Scotland. But the townspeople, including her relatives, are as cold and hostile as the sea. Josie has never felt so alone. Then Eli appears. Mysterious but kind—and handsome—he sparks a desire in Josie unlike anything she has ever experienced. Even though she’s been warned that Eli is forbidden, she can’t stop thinking about him. And the locals are harboring a secret. When curious, determined Josie sets out to uncover it, the truth is more horrific than she could have imagined. (Goodreads).
First lines: We had arrived.
I’d taken two traps, a coach, and a carriage to get here from my old, beloved home in Edinburgh. It was sad and strange to think of myself as an orphan now that my parents had died. But that was what I was. Sorrow threatened to overwhelm me. But I told myself to be brave and to consider myself fortunate to have an aunt and an uncle to go to. Though an orphan, I would have a family again.
Thicker than water, Brigid Kemmerer
Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.
Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years. The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers. Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden… (Goodreads).
First lines: I hate this suit. Mom bought it two weeks ago, and I hated it then. But she started with the whole please and for me and just this once and I gave in. Because she knows my buttons. Knew. She knew my buttons. I hate the past tense. I’m definitely not a suit guy. She knows that. Damn it.
Hide and seek, Jane Casey
It’s Christmas in Port Sentinel, the tiny English town where Jess Tennant has been living for more than a year now. Jess wasn’t sure how she felt about moving to Port Sentinel when her mom dragged her there right in the middle of high school, but even Jess has to admit the town has completely outdone itself for the holidays. There’s a Christmas market complete with mini ice-rink and fairy lights, and the bare trees stand stark against the sky. But for Gilly Poynter, one of Jess’s classmates, the Christmas season is anything but magical. She’s disappeared, leaving behind only her diary and a lot of questions. Has she run away from her unhappy home, or has something more sinister happened? And will Jess be able to find her before it’s too late?(Goodreads).
First lines: As parties went, it was a fairly typical Port Sentinel night out: too many people crammed into a large, expensive house, most of them determined to have fun. If there was one thing I’d learned in the five months I’d been living in Port Sentinel, it was that any excuse for a party would do. The mere fact it was Friday night counted.
Black widow: forever red, Margaret Stohl
Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives. Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments—until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type. Until now.
When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned—and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams…(Goodreads).
First lines: Natasha Romanoff hated pierogies – but more than that, she hated lies. Lying she was fine with. Lying was a necessity, a tool of her tradecraft. It was being lied to that she hated, even if it was how she had been raised.
Truthwitch, Susan Dennard
On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others. In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well. Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.
Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness. Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.(Goodreads).
First lines: Everything had gone horribly wrong. None of Safiya fon Hasstrel’s hastily laid plans for this hold up were unfolding as they ought. First, the black carriage with the gleaming gold standard was not the target Safi and Iseult had been waiting for. Worse, this cursed carriage was accompanied by eight rows of city guards blinking midday sun from their eyes.
Sound, Alexandra Duncan
As a child, Ava’s adopted sister Miyole watched her mother take to the stars, piloting her own ship from Earth to space making deliveries. Now a teen herself, Miyole is finally living her dream as a research assistant on her very first space voyage. If she plays her cards right, she could even be given permission to conduct her own research and experiments in her own habitat lab on the flight home. But when her ship saves a rover that has been viciously attacked by looters and kidnappers, Miyole—along with a rescued rover girl named Cassia—embarks on a mission to rescue Cassia’s abducted brother, and that changes the course of Miyole’s life forever. (Goodreads)
First lines: The butterflies keep dying. Their gossamer corpses line the back wall of Dr. Osman’s office -spotted swallowtails and the dark-tinged bird-wings-all suspended in squat acrylic resin cylinders behind her desk.
“It has to be a genetic disorder.” I hold the latest casualty, a common blue, out to Dr. Osmani in my gloved hand. “They can’t handle the atmosphere.”
Young man with camera, Emil Sher
T– is used to getting grief. He gets it from his mom, who blames herself for his accident years earlier. He gets it from Mr. Lam, who suspects every kid of stealing from his shop. Worst of all, he gets it from Joined at the Hip, a trio of bullies so vicious that they leave T– terrified of even using his entire name. But T– has his own strength too: his camera, which captures the unique way he sees the world. His pictures connect him to Ms. Karamath, the kind librarian at school; his friend Sean, whose passion for mysteries is matched only by his love for his dog; and especially Lucy, a homeless woman who shares his admiration for the photographer Diane Arbus. When Lucy is attacked by Joined at the Hip, T– documents the assault on film. But the bullies know he has the photographs, and their anger could be deadly. What’s the right thing for T– to do? Do pictures ever tell the whole truth? And what if the truth isn’t always the right answer? (Goodreads)
First lines: This is not a fire hydrant. And the truth is, a hydrant isn’t always a hydrant. Sometimes it’s a perch. I stood on my perch to take a picture of Ruby. Ruby is Mr. Lam’s daughter. Mr. Lam is the owner of McCreary’s Corner Store, which is a lie, since the store is in the middle of the block and should be called McCreary’s Nowhere-Near-the-Corner Store.
Gathering deep, Lisa Maxwell
When Chloe Sabourin wakes in a dark, New Orleans cemetery with no memory of the previous days, she can hardly believe the story her friends tell her. They say Chloe was possessed by a witch named Thisbe, who had used the darkest magic to keep herself alive for over a century. They tell her that the witch is the one responsible for the unspeakable murders that nearly claimed the life of Chloe’s friend, Lucy. Most unbelievable of all, they say that Thisbe is Chloe’s own mother. As she struggles with this devastating revelation and tries to rebuilt her life, Chloe wants nothing to do with the magic that corrupted her mother…especially since she feels drawn to it.
Now, a new series of ritualistic killings suggests that Thisbe is plotting again, and Chloe is drawn unwillingly back into the mystical underworld of the French Quarter. To stop Thisbe before she kills again, Chloe and her friends must learn what they can from the mysterious Mama Legba. But when her boyfriend Piers vanishes, Chloe will have to risk everything and embrace her own power to save the one person she has left… even if that means bringing down her mother. (Goodreads)
First lines: Hair don’t weigh no more than a soul, but taken all together, it’s got the sort of gravity that anchors a person. Shh. Shh. The scissors whispered their sharp commands, and pieces of who I was fell all around me. I wanted to scream, to tell them I’d changed my mind. But I couldn’t seem to make my mouth form the words.
The suffering, Rin Chupeco
Seventeen-year-old Tark knows what it is to be powerless. But Okiku changed that. A restless spirit who ended life as a victim and started death as an avenger, she’s groomed Tark to destroy the wicked. But when darkness pulls them deep into Aokigahara, known as Japan’s suicide forest, Okiku’s justice becomes blurred, and Tark is the one who will pay the price… (Goodreads)
First lines: I’m no hero, believe me. I’ve never rescued babies from burning buildings. I’ve never volunteered to save humpback whales or the rain forest. I’ve never been to protest rallies, fed the hungry in Africa, or righted any of the eighty thousand things that are wrong with the world these days. Heroism isn’t a trait commonly found in teenage boys.
The rosemary spell, Virginia Zimmerman
Best friends Rosie and Adam find an old book with blank pages that fill with handwriting before their eyes. Something about this magical book has the power to make people vanish, even from memory. The power lies in a poem—a spell. When Adam’s older sister, Shelby, disappears, they struggle to retain their memories of her as they race against time to bring her back from the void, risking their own lives in the process.(Goodreads)
First lines:For ten years, my father’s furniture and books lurked in the study he abandoned. I don’t remember a time when we thought he might come back, but his belongings were like a bookmark, holding a place in our lives, until Mom found out he’d moved to London.
This raging light, Estelle Laurie
Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she’s about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend’s brother.(Goodreads)
First lines: Mom was supposed to come home yesterday after her two-week vacation. Fourteen days. Said she needed a break from everything (See also: Us) and that she would be back before the first day of school.
Through the woods, Emily Carroll (Graphic novel)
Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss. These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll. Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there…(Goodreads)
First lines: When I was little I used to read before I slept at night. And I read the light of a lamp clipped to my headboard. Stark white and bright, against the darkness of my room. I dreaded turning it off. What if I reached out…just past the edge of bed and something waiting there, grabbed me and pulled me down, into the dark-
The mystery of hollow places, Rebecca Podos
All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when Imogene was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as “troubled waters.”
Now Imogene is seventeen, and her father, a famous author of medical mysteries, has struck out in the middle of the night and hasn’t come back. Neither Imogene’s stepmother nor the police know where he could’ve gone, but Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. And she decides it’s up to her to put to use the skills she’s gleaned from a lifetime of reading her father’s books to track down a woman she’s only known in stories in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she’s carried with her for her entire life.
First lines: The bedtime story my dad used to tell me began with my grandmother’s body. Back when my dad wasn’t yet my dad, but a young forensic pathologist at Good Shepherd Hospital the city, a dead woman landed on his table. She was middle-aged and unremarkable, her hair colourless, her face like a vacant moon.
The emperor of any place, Tim Wynne-Jones
When Evan’s father dies, Evan finds a hand-bound yellow book on his desk—a book his father had been reading when he passed away. It is the diary of a Japanese soldier stranded on a small Pacific island in WWII. Why was his father reading it? Who was the American soldier also stranded there? And what could this possibly mean for Evan? (Goodreads)
First lines: Evan stands at the door to his father’s study. There is a sign at eye level: THE DOCKYARD. It was a present he gave to his father last Christmas, made of cork so that if the house sank, at least the sign would still float. Their little joke. He raises his hand to knock – a habit he can begin to unlearn. So much of grief is unlearning.
What we saw, Aaron Harker
Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone’s house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early—the feeling that maybe he’s becoming more than just the guy she’s known since they were kids. But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Deacon Mills’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details. When Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the whole town erupts into controversy. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface, and every answer Kate finds leads back to the same question: Where was Ben when a terrible crime was committed? (Goodreads)
First lines: This video doesn’t show you everything. For instance, you can’t tell that it’s been raining or that the grass is still wet beneath our cleats. I’m five years old in the shaky footage, which was shot before you could make a video using your phone. I pull out Dad’s old camera everyone in a while and watch my first game. This tape from twelve years ago is always inside when I do.
Velocity, Chris Wooding
The Hunger Games’ behind the wheel of a souped-up rally car. Losers die. Winners take all. A race through a psycho-future with genius Wooding in the driving seat. Fast? Yes. Furious? Yes. Fatal? We’ll see. (Goodreads)
First lines: Over the line, into the final lap, ambushed by the rough raw howl of the crowd. The bleachers were a dusty smear, faces lost in blurred chaos, gone in a moment. There was only the race.
Soundless, Richelle Mead
For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom. When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation. But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon. (Goodreads)
First lines: My sister is in trouble, and I have only minutes to help her. She doesn’t see it. She’s having difficulty seeing a lot of things lately, and that’s the problem. Your brushstrokes are off, I sign to her. The lines are crooked, and you’ve misjudged some of the hues. Zhang Jing steps back from her canvas. Surprise lights her features for only a moment before despair sets in.
Hotel Ruby, Suzanne Young
When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief. Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating, extending their stay as it provides endless distractions—including handsome guest Elias Lange, who sends Audrey’s pulse racing. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful. Nightly fancy affairs in the ballroom are invitation only, and Audrey seems to be the one guest who doesn’t have an invite. Instead, she joins the hotel staff on the rooftop, catching whispers about the hotel’s dark past. The more Audrey learns about the new people she’s met, the more her curiosity grows. She’s torn in different directions—the pull of her past with its overwhelming loss, the promise of a future that holds little joy, and an in-between life in a place that is so much more than it seems…(Goodreads)
First lines: The treetops curve above the road like an archway, blotting out the moon and stars. We’ve been driving through these woods for close to an hour, and our car headlights shine only a short distance in the tick fog. I glance into the backseat to check my older brother’s current state of annoyance, but Daniel hasn’t spoken to me since the rest stop near vegas. He stiffens, aggressively ignoring me when he turns to face the dark outside the window.
13 days of midnight, Leo Hunt
When Luke Manchett’s estranged father dies unexpectedly, he leaves his son a dark inheritance: a Host of eight unique, powerful, and restless spirits. Unfortunately, Luke has no clue how to manage them, which the ghosts figure out pretty quickly. Armed with only his father’s indecipherable notes and a locked copy of The Book of Eight, Luke struggles to adapt to his new role as a necromancer. Meanwhile, the increasingly belligerent Host mutinies, possesses Luke’s mother, and forces him out of his own house. Halloween, the night when ghosts reach the height of their power, is fast approaching, and Luke knows his Host is planning something far more trick than treat. With the help of school outcast Elza Moss, who knows a bit about ghosts herself, Luke has just thirteen days to uncover the closely guarded secrets of black magic and send his unquiet spirits to their eternal rest.(Goodreads)
First lines: The first thing that happens is that I unseal an envelope and Dad’s death falls out onto the breakfast table. I always thought I’d learn about it from the papers first, or that maybe news like this would be delivered by an angel, holding out a gilded scroll, its perfect face scribbled with sorrow.
What we left behind, Robin Talley
Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They’ve been together forever. They never fight. They’re deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they’re sure they’ll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, their relationship will surely thrive.
The reality of being apart, however, is a lot different than they expected. As Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, falls in with a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship. While Toni worries that Gretchen, who is not trans, just won’t understand what is going on, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in Toni’s life. As distance and Toni’s shifting gender identity begins to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?(Goodreads)
First lines: Even before I saw her, it was the best night of my life. It was Homecoming. I was about to walk into a ballroom full of people. A girl in a flouncy dress was clinging to my elbow, her photo-ready smile firmly in place, her left hand already raised in a preparatory wave. I didn’t smile with her. I didn’t know if I could even remember how to smile. I was happy, yeah – I was so, so, so happy that night- but I was terrified, too.
The many lives of John Stone, Linda Buckley-Archer
An English teen questions all she knows about aging when she encounters a set of journals that date from the present back to the reign of King Louis XIV in this blend of contemporary and historical fiction from the author of the acclaimed Gideon trilogy. Stella Park (Spark for short) has found summer work cataloguing historical archives in John Stone’s remote and beautiful house in Suffolk, England. She wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and her uncertainty about living at Stowney House only increases upon arriving: what kind of people live in the twenty-first century without using electricity, telephones, or even a washing machine? Additionally, the notebooks she’s organizing span centuries—they begin in the court of Louis XIV in Versailles—but are written in the same hand. Something strange is going on for sure, and Spark’s questions are piling up. Who exactly is John Stone? What connection does he have to these notebooks? And more importantly, why did he hire her in the first place?(Goodreads)
First lines: Spark finds Mum hunched over the kitchen table, feet shoved into sheepskin slippers, hands around a mug of tea, the fridge door open for light.
“What are you doing up already?”
“Couldn’t get a wink,” says Mum, “Knowing how early you’ve got to be off.”
MARTians, Blythe Woolston
Last girl Zoë Zindleman, numerical ID 009-99-9999, has just been graduated. Early. Her options: wait for her home to be foreclosed and stripped of anything valuable now that AnnaMom has moved away, or move to the Warren, an abandoned strip-mall-turned-refuge for other left-behinds—a safe place, and close to AllMART, Zoë’s new employer, where “your smile is AllMART’s welcome mat.” Zoë may be the last girl, but her name means “life,” and Zoë isn’t ready to disappear into the AllMART abyss. Zoë wants to live.(Goodreads)
First lines: Sexual responsibility is boring. It isn’t Mrs Brody’s fault. She’s a good teacher. She switches channels at appropriate moments, tases students who need tasing -zizz-ZAPPP!- and she only once got stuck in the garbage can beside her teaching station.
The detour, S.A. Boden
On her way to a writer’s conference, a bestselling teenage author takes a detour that has been deliberately set up by her biggest fans—a mother and daughter who kidnap her. Livvy Flynn is a big deal—she’s a New York Times-bestselling author whose YA fiction has sold all over the world. She’s rich, she’s famous, she’s gorgeous, and she’s full of herself. When she’s invited to an A-list writer’s conference, she decides to accept so she can have some time to herself. She’s on a tight deadline for her next book, and she has no intention of socializing with the other industry people at the conference. And then she hits the detour. Before she knows it, her brand new car is wrecked, she’s hurt, and she’s tied to a bed in a nondescript shack in the middle of nowhere. A woman and her apparently manic daughter have kidnapped her. And they have no intention of letting her go. (Goodreads)
First lines: How often do you see a girl standing barefoot on a log by the side of the road, playing a flipping flute? Never, that’s how often.
Which is why my focus left the winding gravel for a split second too long, which turned out to be way more than enough time to catch the tires of my red Audi convertible on the raised edge of the road, which I happened to be driving along much too fast.
Silence is goldfish, Annabel Pitcher
My name is Tess Turner – at least, that’s what I’ve always been told. I have a voice but it isn’t mine. It used to say things so I’d fit in, to please my parents, to please my teachers. It used to tell the universe I was something I wasn’t. It lied. It never occurred to me that everyone else was lying too. But the words that really hurt weren’t the lies: it was six hundred and seventeen words of truth that turned my world upside down. Words scare me, the lies and the truth, so I decided to stop using them. I am Pluto. Silent. Inaccessible. Billions of miles away from everything I thought I knew. (Goodreads)
First lines:There must be a list on the Internet of what to buy when you’re running away but my phone is typically dead, like I swear it just passes out whenever things get stressful. It’s unconscious in my pocket so I can’t look up a list of essential items for life on the road, but a children’s torch in the shape of a goldfish seems a very sensible choice.
This broken wondrous world, Jon Skovron
A year ago, Boy, the son of Frankenstein’s monster, had never even met a human. Now he’s living with his human “family,” the descendants of Dr. Frankenstein, in Switzerland. That is, until the maniacal genius Dr. Moreau, long-ago banished to a remote island for his crimes against humanity, asks for his aid. Moreau wants Boy to join his army of animal/human hybrid creatures and help him overthrow human society. Boy must choose: side with the twisted doctor and save his fellow monsters, or try to defend the humans who run the planet?Boy will do anything to save this broken, wondrous world from the war that threatens to split it in two. But how much will he have to give up? And is the world worth saving?(Goodreads).
First lines: When I was a little boy, I had nightmares about them: mad scientists in lab coats and rubber gloves, hunched and wild-eyed, with bedhead hair and shrill voices that crackled like electricity. The Frankensteins.
The ultimate truth, Kevin Brooks
When Travis Delaney’s parents die in a car crash, Travis is devastated. In a bid to pull himself out of his grief, he starts to look into the last case they were investigating at the private investigation agency they ran. What starts as a minor distraction soon becomes a sinister, unbelievable mystery – and Travis is determined to solve it. Why were his parents looking for a missing boy when the boy’s family says he isn’t missing? Where is the boy himself? And why would a man who is in surveillance photos taken by Travis’s parents turn up at their funeral?
As Travis searches for answers, he starts to have the chilling realization that the question he should be asking is the one he most wants to avoid: Was the accident that killed his parents really what it seemed?(Goodreads).
First lines: I only noticed the man with the hidden camera because I couldn’t bear to look at the coffins any more. I’d been looking at them for a long time now. From the moment the two wooden boxes had been brought into the church, to the moment they’d been carried out into the graveyard and lowered gently into their freshly dug graves, I’d never taken my eyes off them.
Wolf by wolf, Ryan Graudin
The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s ball. Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission? (Goodreads).
First lines: There were five thousand souls stuffed into the train cars – thick and deep like cattle. The train groaned and bent under their weight, weary from all of their many trips. (Five thousand times five thousands. Again and again. So many, so many.)
Dumplin’, Julie Murphy
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back. Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.(Goodreads).
First lines: All the best things in my life have started with a Dolly Parton song. Including my friendship with Ellen Dryver. The song that sealed the deal was “Dumb blonde” from her 1967 debut album, Hello, I’m Dolly. During the summer before my first grade, my aunt Lucy bonded with Mrs. Dryver over their mutual devotion to Dolly.
Dead upon a time, Elizabeth Paulson
It’s a fairy-tale nightmare…One girl is kept in a room where every day the only food she’s given is a poisoned apple. Another is kept in a room covered in needles — and if she pricks her finger, she’ll die. Then there are the brother and sister kept in a cell that keeps getting hotter and hotter…A sinister kidnapper is on the loose in Kate’s world. She’s not involved until one day she heads to her grandmother’s house in the woods — and finds her grandmother has also been taken. Already an outcast, Kate can’t get any help from the villagers who hate her. Only Jack, another outsider, will listen to what’s happened. Then a princess is taken, and suddenly the king is paying attention – even though the girl’s stepmother would rather he didn’t. It’s up to Kate and Jack to track down the victims before an ever after arrives that’s far from happy.(Goodreads).
First lines: Not for the first time while trekking up the steepest part of Birch Hill, Kate Hood wished her boots had been sewn onto slightly thicker soles. She stuck to the center of Woodson Road, the part most travelled by carriage and coach, but still felt every pebble and puddle beaneth her feet. She knew that, by the time she kicked loose the boots and peeled off her woollen socks in the crackling hearth at Nan’s house, her toes would be blue and numb.
Shadow of the wolf, Tim Hall
Robin Loxley is seven years old when his parents disappear without trace. Years later the great love of his life, Marian, is also taken from him. Driven by these mysteries, and this anguish, Robin follows a darkening path into the ancient heart of Sherwood Forest. What he encounters there will leave him transformed, and will alter forever the legend of Robin Hood.(Goodreads).
First lines: First, forget everything you’ve heard. Robin Hood was no prince, and he was no disposed lord. He didn’t fight in the Crusades. He never gave a penny to the poor. In fact, all of those Sherwood legends, only one holds true: Robin was blind.
Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo, Brian Falkner
This alternative history re-imagines the 1815 Battle of Waterloo as a victory for the French emperor Napoléon Bonaparte, when he unleashes a terrible secret weapon – giant carnivorous survivors from pre-history – on his unsuspecting British and Prussian adversaries. In this world, smaller “saurs” are an everyday danger in the forests of Europe, and the Americas are a forbidden zone roamed by the largest and most deadly animals ever to walk the earth. But in his quest for power, Napoléon has found a way to turn these giant dinosaurs into nineteenth century weapons of mass destruction. Only Willem Verheyen, an outsider living in hiding in the tiny village of Gaillemarde, has the power to ruin the tyrant’s plans. And Napoléon will stop at nothing to find him. War is coming, and young Willem is no longer safe, for Gaillemarde is just a stone’s throw from the fields of Waterloo — fields which will soon run red with blood.(Goodreads).
First lines: The boy who brings the bread is Willem Verheyen. This is not true. His name is Pieter Geerts, but neither he, nor his mother, no anyone in the world has used that name in so long that it is just a distant reflection of a life that once was. Willem was born on the first day of the first month of a new century. When he was just seven years old, he saved the life of a village girl from a bloodthirsty raptor.
Carry on: the rise and fall of Simon Snow, Rainbow Rowell
Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen. That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.
Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up. (Goodreads).
First lines: I walk to the bus station by myself. There’s always fuss over my paperwork when I leave. All summer long, we’re not allowed to walk to Tescos without a chaperone and permission from the Queen – then, in the autumn, I just sign myself out of the children’s home and go.
Daughters unto devils, Amy Lukavics
When sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner’s family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly Ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries. When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn’t right on the prairie. She’s heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can’t be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul.(Goodreads).
First lines: The first time I lay with the post boy was on a Sunday, and I broke three commandments to do it. Honor thy father and they mother, thou shalt not lie, and remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Why couldn’t I stop counting all of my sins? it was if I was craving the wrath that was to follow them, challenging it, if only to make certain that I was indeed, alive.
The trouble in me, Jack Gantos
Fourteen-year-old Jack is sick of his old self. When his family moves to a new rental home in Fort Lauderdale, he wants to become everything he’s never been before. Then in an explosive encounter, he meets his new neighbor, Gary Pagoda, just back from juvie for car theft. Instantly mesmerized, Jack decides he will do all it takes to be like Gary. As a follower, Jack is desperate for whatever crazy, hilarious, frightening thing might happen next. But he may not be as ready as he thinks when the trouble inside him comes blazing to life.(Goodreads).
First lines: I was still in my white Junior Sea Cadet uniform and was marching stiff-legged like a windup toy across the golden carpet of scorched lawn behind our new rental house. Each splinter of dead grass had once been a soft green blade, but the summer heat had baked them into tanned quills that now crackled like trophy pelts beneath the hard rubber of my shoes.
These shallow graves, Jennifer Donnelly
Set in gilded age New York, These Shallow Graves follows the story of Josephine Montfort, an American aristocrat. Jo lives a life of old-money ease. Not much is expected of her other than to look good and marry well. But when her father dies due to an accidental gunshot, the gilding on Jo’s world starts to tarnish. With the help of a handsome and brash reporter, and a young medical student who moonlights in the city morgue, Jo uncovers the truth behind her father’s death and learns that if you’re going to bury the past, you’d better bury it deep.(Goodreads).
First lines: Josephine Montfort stared at the newly mounded grave in front of her and at the wooden cross marking it.
“This is the one you’re after. Kinch.” Flynn, the gravedigger, said, pointing at the name painted on the cross. “He died on Tuesday.”
Tuesday, Jo thought. Four days ago. Time enough for the rot to start. And the stink.
Gotham by midnight, Ray Fawkes and Ben Templesmith
Spinning out of Batman Eternal, Detective Jim Corrigan aka The Spectre stars in his very own series Gotham By Midnight! Normally Batman and the other caped protectors of Gotham have the streets of the city covered. But when monsters, ghosts and other supernatural beings enter the mix, even the Dark Knight needs help. Enter Detective Jim Corrigan to prowl the streets of Gotham, solving the unsolvable supernatural crimes the city can muster. (Publisher summary).