Steeplejack, A.J. Hartley
Seventeen-year-old Anglet Sutonga, makes a living repairing the chimneys, towers, and spires of Bar-Selehm. Dramatically different communities live and work alongside one another. The white Feldish command the nation’s higher echelons of society; the native Mahweni are divided between city life and the savannah. And then there’s Ang, part of the Lani community who immigrated there generations ago and now mostly live in poverty on Bar-Selehm’s edges. When Ang is supposed to meet her new apprentice, Berrit, she finds him dead. That same night the Beacon, an invaluable historical icon, is stolen. The Beacon’s theft commands the headlines, yet no one seems to care about Berrit’s murder—except for Josiah Willinghouse, an enigmatic young politician. When he offers Ang a job investigating the death, she plunges headlong into new and unexpected dangers.
Meanwhile, crowds gather in protests over the city’s mounting troubles. Rumors surrounding the Beacon’s theft grow. More suspicious deaths occur. With no one to help Ang except Josiah’s haughty younger sister, a savvy newspaper girl, and a kindhearted herder, Ang must rely on her intellect and strength to resolve the mysterious link between Berrit and the missing Beacon before the city descends into chaos. (Goodreads)
First lines: The last person up here never made it down alive, but there was no point thinking about that. Instead, I did what I always did-focused on the work, on the exact effort of muscle, the precise positioning of bone and boot that made it all possible. Right now, that meant pushing hard with my feet against the vertical surface of one wall while my shoulders strained against another, three feet away.
The bombs that brought us together, Brian Conaghan
Fourteen-year-old Hamish Law has lived in Little Town, on the border with Old Country, all his life. He knows the rules: no going out after dark; no drinking; no litter; no fighting. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of the people who run Little Town. When he meets Pavel Duda, a refugee from Old Country, the rules start to get broken. Then the bombs come, and the soldiers from Old Country, and Little Town changes for ever. Sometimes, to keep the people you love safe, you have to do bad things. As Little Town’s rules crumble, Hamish is sucked into a dangerous game. There’s a gun, and a bad man, and his closest friend, and his dearest enemy.(Goodreads)
First lines: It was hard to remain silent. I tried. I really did, but my breathing was getting louder as I gasped for clean air. My body was trembling, adding noise to the silence. Mum pulled me closer to her, holding tight. Dad cuddled us both. Three spoons under one duvet. With the summer heat and us huddled together the smell wasn’t amusing.
The geek’s guide to unrequited love, Sarvenaz Tash
Graham met his best friend, Roxy, when he moved into her neighborhood eight years ago and she asked him which Hogwarts house he’d be sorted into. Graham has been in love with her ever since. But now they’re sixteen, still neighbors, still best friends. And Graham and Roxy share more than ever—moving on from their Harry Potter obsession to a serious love of comic books. When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic, The Chronicles of Althena, is making a rare appearance at this year’s New York Comic Con, he knows he must score tickets. And the event inspires Graham to come up with the perfect plan to tell Roxy how he really feels about her. He’s got three days to woo his best friend at the coolest, kookiest con full of superheroes and supervillains. But no one at a comic book convention is who they appear to be…even Roxy. And Graham is starting to realize fictional love stories are way less complicated than real-life ones.(Goodreads)
First lines: “I know we’ve been friends for such a long time, Roxana. I only have about five years’ worth of memories without you in them. But…”
Here’s where the next panel would come. And in an ideal world, I’d ask Roxy to help me figure it out. She would sketch something, sometimes just a ghost of a line, and on the best of days, a dying ember would ignite and suddenly I’d know exactly what came next.
Agent of Chaos, Kami Garcia
How did Fox Mulder become a believer? How did Dana Scully become a skeptic? The X-Files Origins has the answers. The X-Files Origins: Agent of Chaos explores the teen years of Fox Mulder, the beloved character depicted in the cult-favorite TV show The X-Files. His story is set in the spring of 1979, when serial murder, the occult, and government conspiracy were highlighted in the news. The book will follow Mulder as he experiences life-changing events that set him on the path to becoming an FBI agent.(Goodreads)
First lines: Packs of teenagers, pumped for the official start of spring break, rushed past the black sedan parked across from the high school, unaware they were being watched from behind the car’s tinted windows. Jocks wearing Wilson High jerseys carried pretty cheerleaders on their shoulders, enjoying the chance to final touch some thigh. Other guys horsed around in the road, showing off for girls in tight jeans who pretended not to notice them.
Kids of appetite, David Arnold
Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell. It begins with the death of Vic’s father.It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle. The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it. But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.(Goodreads)
First lines: Consider this: billions of people in the world, each with billions of I ams. I am a quiet observer, a champion wallflower. I am a lover of art, the Mets, the memory of Dad. I represent approximately one seven-billionth of the population; these are my momentous multitudes, and that’s just for starters.
In the skin of a monster, Kathryn Barker
Three years ago, Alice’s identical twin sister took a gun to school and killed seven innocent kids; now Alice wears the same face as a monster. She’s struggling with her identity, and with life in the small Australian town where everyone was touched by the tragedy. Just as Alice thinks things can’t get much worse, she encounters her sister on a deserted highway. But all is not what it seems, and Alice soon discovers that she has stepped into a different reality, a dream world, where she’s trapped with the nightmares of everyone in the community. Here Alice is forced to confront the true impact of everything that happened the day her twin sister took a gun to school … and to reveal her own secret to the boy who hates her most. (Goodreads)
First lines: The night before you shot up our school, I slept like a baby. So much for twins having some kind of mysterious connection. I was probably dreaming of fluffy bunnies, or something stupid, when you crept out of our bedroom and nicked Dad’s gun.
Allegedly, Tiffany D. Jackson
Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say. Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home. There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?(Goodreads)
First lines: Some children are just born bad, plain and simple. These are the children that don’t live up to the statistics. One cannot blame their surroundings or upbringings for their behaviour. It’s not a scientifically proven inheritable trait. These children are sociological phenomena.
Before you forget, Julia Lawrinson
Year Twelve is not off to a good start for Amelia. Art is her world, but her art teacher hates everything she does; her best friend has stopped talking to her; her mother and father may as well be living in separate houses; and her father is slowly forgetting everything. Even Amelia. (Goodreads)
First lines: Someone yelling wakes me up. I have no idea what time it is. I jump out of bed and head for the kitchen. I almost collide with Mum, who’s also coming out of her room.
“Go back to bed,” she whispers.
Pushing perfect, Michelle Falkoff
Kara has the perfect life. She gets perfect grades. She never messes up. Until now. Because perfection is an illusion, and Kara has been struggling to maintain it for as long as she can remember. With so much pressure to succeed, it’s hard not to do whatever it takes. But when Kara takes a new underground drug to help her ace the SATs, she doesn’t expect to get a text from a blocked sender, telling her to follow a set of mysterious instructions—or risk her dark secret getting out. Soon she finds herself part of a group of teens with secrets of their own, who are all under the thumb of the same anonymous texter. And if they don’t find a way to stop the blackmailer, their perfect futures will go up in flames.(Goodreads)
First lines: During the summer between eight and ninth grade, I turned into a monster. It didn’t happen overnight; it’s not like I woke up one day, looked in the mirror, and let out a dramatic scream. But it still felt like it happened really fast.
Valentine, Jodi McAlister
Four teenagers – all born on the same Valentine’s Day – begin to disappear. As the bodies mount up, Pearl Linford has to work out what in the supernatural hell is going on, before it happens to her. Finn Blacklin is the boy with whom Pearl shares a birthday, the boy she has known all her life and disliked every second of it, the boy her subconscious has a totally annoying crush on. Finn is also the Valentine: a Seelie fairy changeling swapped for a human boy at birth. The Unseelie have come to kill the Valentine – except they don’t know who it is. And now both the Seelie and the Unseelie think Pearl is the Valentine, and if they find out she isn’t, she’ll disappear too. Pearl must use all her wits to protect herself. Finn must come to terms with his newfound heritage. And then there’s the explosive chemistry between them that neither of them know quite what to do about…(Goodreads)
First lines: We might have been at the old stables, but the last thing any of us had expected to see was a horse. No one’s gone and changed the meaning of the word ‘abandoned’ on me, have they? Because I was pretty clear that it meant deserted, vacant, empty, assorted other shift+F7 adjectives. Abandoned stables = devoid of horses.
Of fire and stars, Audrey Coulthurst
Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.
Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed. When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more. But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other. (Goodreads)
First lines: When I was seven winters of age, my mother caught me in the hearth stacking red-hot coals with my bare hands. That evening had found Spire City chilled to the core with the kind of cold that only Havemont knows, when early sunsets leave the afternoon as dark as midnight and the sky swirls with relentless snow.
The severed land, Maurice Gee
From the high reaches of a tree, Fliss watches the soldiers attempting yet again to break through the invisible wall. Amid the explosions, a drummer boy tries to escape. As he is about to be shot, Fliss reaches through the wall and pulls him to safety. But Fliss is dismayed to find she has saved an overfed rich boy. She is even more dismayed to learn that she must accompany him back through the wall on a special mission to rescue the Nightingale. The world they have to travel through is a perilous one, full of predatory thieves, slave masters, beggars, dippers, mudlarks, drain-sliders, spies and wall-men. It is a world where the ruling families are caught up in a lethal power struggle. Will Fliss and the despised drummer boy learn to trust each other? Who is the Nightingale? And will they all make it back alive? (Publisher information)
First lines: From high in the branches Fliss watched slaves dig trenches where the wheels of the cannon would rest. Their overseer strolled back and forth, coiling his whip. A sergeant from the foot platoon lounged on a grassy slope, smoking his pipe. Now and then a trooper unslung his rifle and aimed at Fliss in her tree, hoping to see her flinch and lose her grip, but he did not fire.
To all the boys I loved before, Jenny Han
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.(Goodreads)
First lines: I like to save things. Not important things like whales or people or the environment. Silly things. Porcelain bells, the kind you get at souvenir shops. Cookie cutters you’ll never use, because who needs a cookie in the shape of a foot? Ribbons. Love letters. Of all the things I save, I guess you could say my love letters are my most prized possession.
Hope was here, Joan Bauer
When Hope and her aunt move to small-town Wisconsin to take over the local diner, Hope’s not sure what to expect. But what they find is that the owner, G.T., isn’t quite ready to give up yet – in fact, he’s decided to run for mayor against a corrupt candidate. And as Hope starts to make her place at the diner, she also finds herself caught up in G.T.’s campaign – particularly his visions for the future. After all, as G.T. points out, everyone can use a little hope to help get through the tough times… even Hope herself.(Goodreads)
First lines: Somehow I knew my time had come when Bambi Barnes tore her order book into little pieces, hurled it in the air like confetti, and got fired in the Rainbow Diner in Pensacola right in the middle of the lunchtime rush.
History is all you left me, Adam Silvera
When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course. To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart. If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life. (Goodreads)
First lines: You’re still alive in alternate universes, Theo, but I live in the real world, where this morning you’re having an open-casket funeral. I know you’re out there, listening. And you should know I’m really pissed because you swore you would never die and yet here we are. It hurts even more because this isn’t the first promise you’ve broken.
Word nerd, Susin Nielsen
Twelve-year-old Ambrose is a glass-half-full kind of guy. A self-described “friendless nerd,” he moves from place to place every couple of years with his overprotective mother, Irene. When some bullies at his new school almost kill him by slipping a peanut into his sandwich — even though they know he has a deathly allergy — Ambrose is philosophical. Irene, however, is not and decides that Ambrose will be home-schooled. Alone in the evenings when Irene goes to work, Ambrose pesters Cosmo, the twenty-five-year-old son of the Greek landlords who live upstairs. Cosmo has just been released from jail for breaking and entering to support a drug habit. Quite by accident, Ambrose discovers that they share a love of Scrabble and coerces Cosmo into taking him to the West Side Scrabble Club, where Cosmo falls for Amanda, the club director. Posing as Ambrose’s Big Brother to impress her, Cosmo is motivated to take Ambrose to the weekly meetings and to give him lessons in self-defense. Cosmo, Amanda, and Ambrose soon form an unlikely alliance and, for the first time in his life, Ambrose blossoms. The characters at the Scrabble Club come to embrace Ambrose for who he is and for their shared love of words. There’s only one problem: Irene has no idea what Ambrose is up to. (Goodreads)
First lines: The day almost died, the sky was a bright, brilliant blue – a nice change from the rain earlier in the week. A few clouds hung over the North Shore mountains, but they were far away. I was sitting at a picnic table on the school grounds, eating my lunch.
Ever the hunted, Erin Summerill
Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer. However, it’s not so simple.
The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force. (Goodreads)
First lines: To survive these woods, a man has to be strong as the trees, Papa had said. The memory is a whisper compared to the attention my cramping stomach demands. I try not to think of him or my trembling legs as I dust my boot prints from the path with a broken branch.
By your side, Kasie West
When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her. Only he doesn’t come. No one does. Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side? (Goodreads)
First lines: I was locked in the library trying not to panic. Literally locked. As in, no escape. Every door, every window, every air vent. Okay, I hadn’t tried to the air vents, but I was seriously considering it. I wasn’t desperate enough…yet. My friends would realise what had happened and they’d come back and free me, I assured myself.
A list of cages, Robin Roe
When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years. Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives…(Goodreads)
First lines: There is a room in this school that no one knows about but me. If I could teleport, I’d be there now. Maybe if I just concentrate-
“Julian.” Mr. Pearce says my name sharp enough to make me flinch. “You’re less than a month into high school, and you’ve missed your English class six times.”
I’m sure I’ve missed more than that, but I guess no one realised I was gone.
King’s cage, Victoria Aveyard
Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner. As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back. When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down. (Goodreads)
First lines: I rise to my feet when he lets me. The chain jerks me up, pulling on the thorned collar at my throat. its points dig in, not enough to draw blood-not yet. But I’m already bleeding from the wrists. Slow wounds, worn from days of unconscious captivity in rough, ripping manacles. The colour stains my white sleeves dark crimson and bright scarlet, fading from old blood to new in a testament to my ordeal.
The edge of everything, Jeff Giles
It’s been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father’s shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods—only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X. X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and others like him. X is forbidden from revealing himself to anyone other than his prey, but he casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As they learn more about their colliding worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. (Goodreads)
First lines: She named him herself, so it felt like he belonged to her. He said that where he was from, which he called the Lowlands, they strip your name away like a husk the moment you arrive- to remind you that you’re no one and nothing. When he told her this, she moved a little closer. She should have been scared after what she’d seen him do to Stan, but she wasn’t. Stan deserved everything he got and worse.
Lisette’s Paris notebook, Catherine Bates
Eighteen-year-old Lisette has just arrived in Paris (France!) – the city of haute couture and all things stylish – to practise her French and see great works of art. Her clairvoyant landlady Madame Christophe forces her to attend language lessons with a bunch of international students but soon Lise discovers she’s more interested in studying boys than art or verbs. When the undeniably hot Anders jogs into her life it feels too good to be true. Things get even more complicated when she is pursued by Hugo, a charming English antiques dealer. Can she take a chance and follow her own dreams? How far into the future can Madame Christophe see? And could Lise really be falling in love – in Paris? (Goodreads)
First lines: What do you wear to Paris? Ami and I discussed it for hours, but I still couldn’t think of anything suitable. Ami and I discussed it for hours but I still couldn’t think of anything suitable. Ami said a trench coat with nothing underneath but your best underwear. That was only if some boy was meeting you at the airport, I said.
Windwitch, Susan Dennard
After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.
When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first? After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands. (Goodreads)
First lines: Blood on the floor. It weeps sideways, pooling in a moonbeam before the gentle roll of the ship sends it trickling back the other way. The prince releases the sword’s hilt and rocks back two steps, heart banging against his ribs. He’s never taken another man’s life before. He wonders if this will change him. The blade stays upright, lodged in the wood, even as the young man swekered beneath it tries to stand.
Rebel Magisters, Shanna Swendson
The Rebel Mechanics aren’t the only group plotting revolution against the magical British Empire. There are rebel magisters, as well, and Verity Newton and her magister employer, Lord Henry, know that the only way for the revolution to succeed is if both groups work together. A diplomatic mission seems like the perfect opportunity for them to meet with rebels in other colonies and gather support—right under the governor’s nose. From drawing rooms, ballrooms, and the harbor in Boston to the streets of Charleston, Verity and Henry find themselves up against stubborn factions of both magisters and Mechanics and increasingly aware that they can only really count on each other as their relationship deepens. It may take a real crisis to unite the rebel movements and rally them to the cause—but could such a crisis also tear them apart? (Goodreads)
First lines: The Rebel Mechanics made a daring last minute escape from a magister sweep, safely removing all of their machines from the city, one step ahead of the redcoats. Acting on a tip from a well-placed source, the rebels vanished as if by magic, leaving the authorities baffled.
…And a happy new year? Holly Bourne
Evie, Amber and Lottie are having a new year party to remember. For the first time since leaving college, all three girls are back together. It’s time for fun and flirting, snogs and shots.
(And not tears or tantrums or terrible secrets) Because everything’s going great for these girls – Spinster Club for ever! Right? (Goodreads)
First lines: “I can’t believe I’m actually going to have someone to kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve.” I took two ornamental vases off the mantlepiece, ready to hide them in the airing cupboard. All the breakables were going into lockdown. Kyle made his aww baby face and wrapped his arms around my waist. I had to put the vases down on the carpet.
Crongton knights, Alex Wheatle
Living on the South Crongton council estate has its worries – and life for McKay has been even tougher since his mum died. His dad has been working all hours to keep the bailiffs from their door.
His brother is always out riding the streets at night, tempting trouble. And now, having strayed off his turf on a ‘heroic’ (if misguided) mission to help out a girl, McKay finds himself facing a friend’s crazy ex-boyfriend, some power-tripping hood-rats and a notoriously violent gangster with a vendetta which hits too close to home. Poor McKay. He never asked for trouble . . . But during one madcap night of adventure and danger, he will find out who his true friends are and what it means to stick with your family. (Goodreads)
First lines: My mum told me I was named after her Scottish granddad, Danny McKay. Apparently, once a year, he served food to the best golfers in the world in some top-ranking hotel by the sea. I don’t love gold but Mum was proper proud of her grandpops. She wanted to keep his surname so I was branded McKay Medgar Tambo. It’s not the coolest of the names but it smacks the insults of the Gateau Kid, Slop Bag and Dumpling-Butt which I had to put up with in primary school.
Carve the mark, Veronica Roth
On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?
Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows. Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another. (Goodreads)
First lines: Hushflowers always bloomed when the night was longest. The whole city celebrated the day the bundle of petals peeled apart into rich red-partly because hushflowers were their nation’s lifeblood, and partly, Akos thought, to keep them all from going crazy in the cold.
Iris and the tiger, Leanne Hall
Twelve-year-old Iris has been sent to Spain on a mission: to make sure her elderly and unusual aunt, Ursula, leaves her fortune–and her sprawling estate–to Iris’s scheming parents. But from the moment Iris arrives at Bosque de Nubes, she realises something isn’t quite right. There is an odd feeling around the house, where time moves slowly and Iris’s eyes play tricks on her. While outside, in the wild and untamed forest, a mysterious animal moves through the shadows. Just what is Aunt Ursula hiding? But when Iris discovers a painting named Iris and the Tiger, she sets out to uncover the animal’s real identity–putting her life in terrible danger. (Goodreads)
First lines: No one had ever asked Iris to spy for them before. She wasn’t totally convinced she’d be any good at it. But Iris also wasn’t in the habit of saying no to her parents – they paid her so little regard as it was – and when they first sat her down to outline their plan, Iris felt the unfamiliar glow of their attention.
Songs that sound like blood, Jared Thomas
Roxy May Redding’s got music in her soul and songs in her blood. She lives in a hot dusty town and is dreaming big. She survives run-ins with the mean girls at high school, sings in her dad’s band and babysits for her wayward aunt. But Roxy wants a new start. When she gets the chance to study music in the big city, she takes it. Roxy’s new life, her new friends and her music collide in a way she could never have imagined. Being a poor student sucks… navigating her way through the pressure of a national music competition has knobs on it… singing for her dinner is soul destroying… but nothing prepares Roxy for her biggest challenge. Her crush on Ana, the local music journo, forces her to steer her way through a complex maze of emotions alien to this small town girl. Family and friends watch closely as Roxy takes a confronting journey to find out who the hell she is. (Goodreads)
First lines: Hanging Dad’s washing on the line straight after school on a Friday was the last thing I wanted to be doing. At least I was listening to Vance Joy and could smell the basil Dad was growing or I might have set his jocks on fire. Drives me crazy how he just leaves his things in the washing machine like that.
Battlesaurus: clash of empires, Brian Falkner
In this stunning sequel to a unique alt-history adventure, dinosaurs from a forbidden world have been turned into unstoppable weapons by one of the most ferocious military leaders of all time. In the wake of Napoléon’s crushing victory at Waterloo, the vicious French general Marc Thibault and his brigade of giant carnivorous battlesaurs have struck terror across Europe. England stands alone, but an invasion is looming. Its only hope is a secret attack led by a magician’s son named Willem deep inside enemy territory, to the very heart of Napoléon’s terrifying new army. Deception and betrayal threaten the mission from its outset, but the courage and perseverance of Willem the “saur killer” and his friends lead to a clash of titanic proportions.(Goodreads)
First lines: The young French soldier shivers, and not from the cold, although here at the parapet of the castle the wind is icy and pitiless. From behind him and below come deep grunting sounds and the rattle of chains. That area of the castle courtyard is covered with hastily erected screens of sailcloth to keep out prying, spying eyes.
Lonesome when you go, Saradha Koirala
Paige plays base in high school rock band Vox Pop, which means keeping a steady rhythm even in their most raucous rock and roll moments. But in the tense build-up to the Rockfest competition, Paige finds that she can’t control everything in her life, no matter how hard she practises and how loud she plays. There’s stuff happening in the band that she can’t put her finger on, a friend who can’t handle her own secret anymore and a mysterious guy who plays double bass like an angel. But there isn’t much time to sort things out – Rockfest looms and so does the end of school year, when everything will change for good. (Publisher information)
First lines: The stage is huge. Lighting rigs and speaker systems tower above us and there’s a noise I can’t yet place. Slowly I tune in to the rhythmic roaring of a vigorous crowd. They’re invisible; coloured lights glare down on me and I’m looking out into darkness.
The level, Olivia Levez
Frances is alone on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. She has to find water and food. She has to survive. And when she is there she also thinks about the past. The things that she did before. The things that made her a monster. Nothing is easy. Survival is hard and so is being honest about the past. Frances is a survivor however, and with the help of the only other crash survivor, she sees that the future is worth fighting for.(Goodreads)
First lines: They all know what I’ve done. Of course they do. That’s why they leave me well alone. Hi I’m Rufus! is fascinated, like I’m some frickin sideshow. You can tell because his eyes are on me every time I look.
Breathing under water, Sophie Hardcastle
Ben and Grace Walker are twins. Growing up in a sleepy coastal town it was inevitable they’d surf. Always close, they hung out more than most brothers and sisters, surfing together for hours as the sun melted into the sea. At seventeen, Ben is a rising surf star, the golden son and the boy all the girls fall in love with. Beside him, Grace feels like she is a mere reflection of his light. In their last year of school, the world beckons, full of possibility. For Grace, finishing exams and kissing Harley Matthews is just the beginning. Then, one day, the unthinkable. The sun sets at noon and suddenly everything that was safe and predictable is lost. And everything unravels.(Goodreads)
First lines: Chilled bones. Red skin. White clouds exhaled as teeth chatter, and the ocean, just waiting for them…Beneath a silk veil of silence, feet sprint across wet grass, wet sand, and then lift.
Drag teen, Jeffrey Self
Debut YA author Jeffery Self takes us on a road trip with an insecure high school senior who has one goal: to be the first in his family to leave Clearwater, Florida, and go to college. The problem is, he has zero means of paying for school — until his friends convince him to compete in a drag teen competition for a college scholarship. (Goodreads)
First lines: This isn’t one of those stories about a heartwarming journey toward accepting my cursed homosexual identity. No. First of all, being gay is far from a case. It’s like an extra order of fries at Wendy’s because the lady in the window isn’t paying attention while she fills your bag.
Stand Still, Stay Silent is probably one of my favourite webcomics ever – which is surprising, since I only started it on Friday. I read it through in one sitting, and I keep going back – there’s stuff you miss on the first reading. This summary is taken from its website:
“It’s been 90 years after the end of the old world. Most of the surviving population of the Known world live in Iceland, the largest safe area in existence, while the safe settlements in the other Nordic countries; Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, are small and scarce. Countless mysterious and unspoken dangers lurk outside the safe areas, the Silent world, and hunters, mages and cleansers will spend their lives defending the settlements against the terrifying beings. Because of a great fear towards everything in the Silent world no official attempts to explore the ruins of the old have been made, and most of the information about it has turned into ancient lore, known by few. But now, at last, it is time to send out an research crew into the great unknown! A poorly funded and terribly unqualified crew, but a crew nonetheless.”
The title comes from a piece of advice for dealing with the strange beasts that lurk in the Silent World, which neatly sums up the comic’s creepy atmosphere.
“If you come across a Beast, a Troll or a Giant do not run or call for help, but stand still and stay silent. It might go away.”
There’s an awful lot of weight in that might, hmm?
Despite the grim sounding premise, the author also describes the comic this way: “(this) is a lighthearted, Nordic postapocalyptic adventure with a lot of friendship, some magic and a little bit of horror and drama.”
There’s a large amount of humour in this comic, as the various team members try to work past cultural differences and language barriers, their own inexperience and the fact that some of them are just plain weird, to accomplish their mission, or at the very least, survive. The Beasts, Trolls and Giants are truly terrifying, but luckily they have mages, a kitten and an Icelandic shepherd. You’ll have to read the comic to work out that last sentence. It’s also great to see fiction based in the Nordic countries – something that is rare and intriguing, since the author skillfully weaves Nordic mythology through the comic.
And the art. The art is stunning – lush, beautifully coloured, unique – a style which manages to convey both the humour and the horror of the setting. It’s clearly a labour of love, and the love of the characters and setting is obvious.
The other thing to love about this webcomic is its regular update schedule – every day, although obviously time zones come into play. It’s a small thing, but it means you won’t be left hanging around waiting for the next installment.
Faith Erin Hicks has been one of my favourite graphic novelists for a while; she wrote and drew both Friends with boys and Nothing can possibly go wrong, both slightly offbeat stories about high school and growing up. But I think her latest work, The Nameless City, is her most standout title so far. The titular city has been squabbled over for centuries by three “great” nations. It’s located in the only gap in the mountains, and whoever controls the city controls the wealth of this world. It has been invaded and conquered so many times that it no longer has a name. Or at least, no one can agree on one. The book follows Kai and Rat; one a dreamy military recruit from the current occupiers of the city, the Dao; Rat is a street urchin with every reason to hate the invaders. Of course, they strike up an uneasy friendship, but a fraught one, between the occupier and the occupied. By it’s more than just a story of two conflicting peoples; it’s a great adventure story as well. It’s funny and poignant. And the art, as always with Hicks, is incredible. She manages to convey a rich, lush world without being cluttered or busy. It’s a historically inspired world,
On the very opposite end of the spectrum, we have Through the woods, by Emily Carroll. I first discovered her through her magnificently creepy website, which she updates yearly with a terrifying story. I’m not kidding about the “terrifying” by the way – this is the stuff of nightmares. But it’s not Freddy Kruger jump scares – the stories that Carroll writes are just as visceral, but subtle. Gory, sometimes – but they’re equally about psychological terror. Her stories often don’t have neat and tidy endings, which I like, and I personally find all the more creepy. I honestly can’t pick a favourite among the five short stories that appear in this collection.
If I was your girl, Meredith Russo
Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school in Lambertville, Tennessee. Like any other girl, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. There’s a reason why she transferred schools for her senior year, and why she’s determined not to get too close to anyone. And then she meets Grant Everett. Grant is unlike anyone she’s ever met—open, honest, kind—and Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself…including her past. But she’s terrified that once she tells Grant the truth, he won’t be able to see past it. Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew. (Goodreads)
First lines: The bus smelled of mildew, machine oil, and sweat. As the suburban Atlanta sprawl disappeared behind us, I tapped my foot on the floor and chewed a lock of my newly long hair. A nagging voice reminded me that I was only half an hour from home, that if I got off at the next stop and walked back to Smyrna, by sunset I could be back in my own bedroom, the familiar smell of Mon’s starchy cooking in the air.
Warrior witch, Danielle L. Jensen
Cécile and Tristan have accomplished the impossible, but their greatest challenge remains: defeating the evil they have unleashed upon the world. As they scramble for a way to protect the people of the Isle and liberate the trolls from their tyrant king, Cécile and Tristan must battle those who’d see them dead. To win, they will risk everything. And everyone. But it might not be enough. Both Cécile and Tristan have debts, and they will be forced to pay them at a cost far greater than they had ever imagined.(Goodreads)
First lines: My voice, the one thing about me that had always been valued, suddenly seemed inconsequential in the cacophony of voices filling the courtyard. Questions and demands fought with the cries of those whose nerves had collapsed in the face of this unknown adversary, their collective onslaught driving me back step by step until I stood apart in the snow.
Dream on, Kerstin Gier
Things seem to be going well for Liv Silver: she’s adjusting to her new home (and her new family) in London; she has a burgeoning romance with Henry Harper, one of the cutest boys in school; and the girl who’s been turning her dreams into nightmares, Anabel, is now locked up. But serenity doesn’t last for long. It seems that Liv’s troubles are far from over–in fact, suddenly they’re piling up. School gossip blogger Secrecy knows all of Liv’s most intimate secrets, Henry might be hiding something from her, and at night Liv senses a dark presence following her through the corridors of the dream world. Does someone have a score to settle with Liv?(Goodreads)
First lines: Charles really hadn’t made it hard for me to find his dream door: it had a life-size photograph of Charles himself printed on it. The photo showed him wearing a broad grin and a pristine white coat, with the words Charles Spencer, DDS on its breast pocket, and under that: The best dentist you can find for your teeth.
23 minutes, Vivian Vande Velde
Fifteen-year-old Zoe has a secret ability: she can travel back in time twenty-three minutes to relive events she wants to change. But Zoe has learned from experience that this is more curse than gift. Things almost never end well and people just tend to think she’s crazy. But when she steps into a bank to get out of the rain and finds herself in the middle of a robbery gone horrifyingly wrong, Zoe knows she’s the only one who can help. The problem is, she has only a limited number of tries to make things right. Plus, a single mistake could get her killed—and not even time travel could bring her back from that. Zoe has always considered herself a loser, about as far from a heroine as a girl can get. Now she has to dig deep to find a strength she never thought she possessed.(Goodreads)
First lines: The story begins with an act of stunning violence. Or…well…maybe not exactly. Maybe, exactly, the story starts when Zoe walks into the bank-except she doesn’t recognise it as a story yet.
Dark energy, Robinson Wells
WE ARE NOT ALONE. Five days ago, a massive UFO crashed in the Midwest, killing thousands of people. Since then, nothing–or no one–has come out.THEY HAVE ARRIVED. If it were up to Alice, she’d be watching all of this on the news from Miami, Florida. Instead, she’s the newest student at a boarding school not far from the crash site–because her dad is the director of special projects for NASA, and if anything’s a special project, it’s this. AND THERE’S NO GOING BACK. A shell-shocked country is waiting, glued to televisions and computer screens, for a sign of what the future holds. But when the aliens emerge, they’re nothing like what Alice expected. And only one thing is clear: Nothing will ever be the same again.(Goodreads)
First lines: Want to hear something freaky? Go outside and look at the night sky. Assuming you’re not in a big city, you should see quite a few stars- in the neighbourhood of a few thousand. If you have a good set of binoculars, you can increase that to 200,000. If you’re using a telescope in an observatory, you can see more than a billion.
The crown’s game, Evelyn Skye
Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side. And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death. Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?
For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her. And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love… or be killed himself. As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear… the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.
First lines: The smell of sugar and yeast welcomed Vika even before she stepped into the pumpkin-shaped shop on the main street of their little town. She resisted the urge to burst into Cinderella Bakery – her father had laboured for sixteen years to teach her how to be demure- and she slipped into the shop and took her place quietly at the end of the line of middle-aged women.
Devil and the bluebird, Jennifer Mason-Black
Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass. Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself to finding family in unexpected places.
First lines: The guitar rested against her back the way her mother’s hand had when she was small and afraid. She pulled her fingers into the sleeves of her canvas barn coat, searching for warmth there. Above her, the stars burned cold; everything else was black and silent.
Girl against the universe, Paula Stokes
Maguire is bad luck. No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch. It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.
First lines: There’s a thing that sometimes happens in your brain when you’re the only survivor of a horrific accident. Part of you is happy you’re alive, but the rest of you is devastated.
Moth girls, Anne Cassidy
They called them the Moth Girls because they were attracted to the house. They were drawn to it. Or at least that is what is written in the newspapers that Mandy reads on the anniversary of when her two best friends went missing. Five years have passed since Petra and Tina were determined to explore the dilapidated house on Princess Street. But what started off as a dare ended with the two girls vanishing. As Mandy’s memories of the disappearance of her two friends are ignited once again, disturbing details will resurface in her mind.
First lines: The day before the house on Princess Street was due to be demolished, Mandy Crystal stood by the wire fence, looking through it. She stared hungrily, her fingers tugging on a pendant that was hanging from her neck.
Every exquisite thing, Matthew Quick
Star athlete and straight-A student Nanette O’Hare has played the role of dutiful daughter for as long as she can remember. But one day, a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bubblegum Reaper—a mysterious, out-of-print cult classic—and the rebel within Nanette awakens. As the new and outspoken Nanette attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, she befriends the reclusive author and falls in love with a young, troubled poet. Forced to make some hard choices that bring devastating consequences, Nanette learns the hard way that rebellion can sometimes come at a high price.
First lines: The last lunch period before Christmas break junior year, when I arrived at Mr. Grave’s classroom, he was full of holiday cheer and smiling much more than usual.
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.
Burn baby burn, Meg Medina
After a freezing winter, a boiling hot summer explodes with arson, a blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam, who is shooting young people on the streets seemingly at random.
Not only is the city a disaster, but Nora has troubles of her own: her brother, Hector, is growing more uncontrollable by the day, her mother is helpless to stop him, and her father is so busy with his new family that he only calls on holidays. And it doesn’t stop there. The super’s after her mother to pay their overdue rent, and her teachers are pushing her to apply for college, but all Nora wants is to turn eighteen and be on her own. There is a cute guy who started working with her at the deli, but is dating even worth the risk when the killer especially likes picking off couples who stay out too late?
First lines: Mr. MacInerney drives way too slow, which is weird for a man who spends his life running into burning buildings. It could be that being a fireman has made Kathleen’s dad a safety freak, but I think it’s really that he likes to show off his Impala.
Zero day, Jan Gangsei
Eight years ago, Addie Webster was the victim of the most notorious kidnapping of the decade. Addie vanished—and her high-profile parents were forced to move on. Mark Webster is now president of the United States, fighting to keep the Oval Office after a tumultuous first term. Then, the unthinkable happens: the president’s daughter resurfaces. Addie is brought back into her family’s fold…but who is this sixteen-year-old girl with a quiet, burning intelligence now living in the White House? There are those in the administration who find her timely return suspicious. When a national security advisor approaches Darrow Fergusson, Addie’s childhood best friend and the son of the president’s chief of staff, he doesn’t know what to think. How could the girl he’s missed for all these years be a threat to the United States? Still, at the risk of having his own secrets exposed, Darrow agrees to spy on Addie. He soon realizes that his old friend is much more than the traumatized victim of a political fringe group. Addie has come with a mission…but will she choose to complete it?
First lines: Darrow had her. He finally had her. Addie Webster was going down. The two sat cross-legged on the floor of the playroom, a game of Connect Four perched between their almost-touching knees.
Thicker than water, Kelly Fiore
Cecelia Price killed her brother. At least, that’s what the police and the district attorney are saying. And although Cecelia is now locked up and forced into treatment, she knows the real story is much more complicated. Cyrus wasn’t always the drug-addled monster he’d become. He was a successful athlete, but when an injury forced him off the soccer field and onto pain medication, his life became a blur of anger, addiction, and violence. All CeCe could do was stand by and watch, until she realized one effective way to take away her brother’s drugs while earning the money she needed for college: selling the pills. Soon, CeCe becomes part drug dealer, part honor student. But even when all she wants is to make things right, she learns that sometimes the best intentions lead to the worst possible outcome. (Goodreads)
First lines: This is the truth. The whole truth. Nothing but the truth. I was seventeen, it was weeks from graduation, and was crouched behind a foldout couch, crushing a pile of pizza boxes and trying not to gag from the smell.
Kill the boy band, Goldy Moldavsky
Just know from the start that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near them. That’s why we got a room in the hotel where they were staying. We were not planning to kidnap one of them. Especially not the most useless one. But we had him—his room key, his cell phone, and his secrets. We were not planning on what happened next. We swear. (Goodreads).
First lines: People have called me crazy. It’s understandable; fangirls get a bad rap all the time. They say we’re weird, hysterical, obsessed, certifiable. But those people don’t understand.
Hot pterodactyl boyfriend, Alan Cumyn
Sheils is very pleased with her perfectly controlled life (controlling others while she’s at it). She’s smart, powerful, the Student Body Chair, and she even has a loving boyfriend. What more could a girl ask for? But everything changes when the first-ever interspecies transfer student, a pterodactyl named Pyke, enrolls at her school. There’s something about him—something primal—that causes the students to lose control whenever he’s around. Even Sheils, the seemingly perfect self-confident girl that she is, can’t keep her mind off of him, despite her doting boyfriend and despite the fact that Pyke immediately starts dating Jocelyn, the school’s fastest runner who Sheils has always discounted as a nobody. Pyke, hugely popular in a school whose motto is to embrace differences, is asked to join a band, and when his band plays at the Autumn Whirl dance, his preternatural shrieking music sends everyone into a literal frenzy. No one can remember what happened the next day, but Shiels learns that she danced far too long with Pyke, her nose has turned purple, and she may have done something with her boyfriend that she shouldn’t have. Who’s in control now? (Goodreads).
First lines: It started as a speck in the east, a hint of black that might have easily been a crow. The sky was full of crows in late September, crows by the thousands with their squawking, nervy calls, the way they would mass on a strand of lead-losing trees, a fractured black cloud of them.
The serpent king, Jeff Zentner
Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace. He and his fellow outcast friends must try to make it through their senior year of high school without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Graduation will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is content where he is thanks to his obsession with an epic book series and the fangirl turning his reality into real-life fantasy. Their diverging paths could mean the end of their friendship. But not before Dill confronts his dark legacy to attempt to find a way into the light of a future worth living. (Goodreads).
First lines: There were things Dillar Wayne Early Jr. dreaded more than the start of school at Forrestville High. Not many, but a few. Thinking of the future was one of them. Dill didn’t enjoy doing that.
Dreaming the enemy, David Metzenthen
Johnny Shoebridge has just returned from fighting in the jungles of Vietnam. He no longer carries a weapon – only photos of the dead and a dread of the living…Pursued by a Viet Cong ghost-fighter called Khan, Johnny makes one last stand – knowing that if he cannot lay this spectre to rest, he will remain a prisoner of war for ever.(Goodreads).
First lines: They’d played Samurai all summer holidays, Johnny remembered, like the show on TV. Long sticks for swords. Short sticks for star knives. And that Aboriginal kid, David, who was staying at someone else’s house for a month, played the game harder than anyone else.
Bullet catcher, Joaquin Lowe
In the small town of Sand, populated by gunslingers and surrounded by endless desert, Imma washes dishes and grieves for a life she never had. She and her brother, Nikko, dreamed of escaping to become bullet catchers, a legendary band of outlaws who can deflect bullets with their hands. But they were wiped out years ago, Nikko with them. And leaving is impossible when walking into the desert means certain death. When she sees a stranger catch a man’s bullet and turn it back on him, Imma knows it can only mean one thing: the bullet catchers live on, and this is her way out. Determined to follow him, Imma starts a journey that will take her to her physical extremes and force her to question just what family means and who she really is: bullet catcher or gunslinger; hero or monster. (Goodreads).
First lines: It’s late at night when the memory comes for me, like it always seems to when the relief of sleep seems ready to draw me under. The fire. I recall it as a heat on my face, a deep, quickened voice that might be my father’s, my brother’s skinny arms around me, the glass of the windows blowing out, explosions that for the longest time I thought were fireworks.
Red ink, Julie Mayhew
When her mother is knocked down and killed by a London bus, fifteen-year-old Melon Fouraki is left with no family worth mentioning. Her mother, Maria, never did introduce Melon to a ‘living, breathing’ father. The indomitable Auntie Aphrodite, meanwhile, is hundreds of miles away on a farm in Crete, and is unlikely to be jumping on a plane and coming to East Finchley anytime soon. But at least Melon has ‘The Story’. ‘The Story’ is the Fourakis family fairytale. A story is something. (Goodreads).
First lines: This is the recipe. Take five pounds of hulled whole wheat. Hold it in your arms. Feel that it weighs nothing compared to the load that lies heavy on your heart. Wash the wheat; let your tears join in.
A drop of night, Stefan Bachman
Seventeen-year-old Anouk has finally caught the break she’s been looking for—she’s been selected out of hundreds of other candidates to fly to France and help with the excavation of a vast, underground palace buried a hundred feet below the suburbs of Paris. Built in the 1780’s to hide an aristocratic family and a mad duke during the French Revolution, the palace has lain hidden and forgotten ever since. Anouk, along with several other gifted teenagers, will be the first to set foot in it in over two centuries. Or so she thought.
But nothing is as it seems, and the teens soon find themselves embroiled in a game far more sinister, and dangerous, than they could possibly have imagined. An evil spanning centuries is waiting for them in the depths…(Goodreads).
First lines: I heard it being built. Father’s secret Versailles, a palace beneath a palace. A world of gilt and crystal hidden deep within the roots of France.
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.