A couple of loose ends are tied up (we think):
Dreams of Gods & Monsters, Laini Taylor (April 2014) – the third in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy. Which must mean it’s the last?
“By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz…
“When Jael’s brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.
“And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love. But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing…” (goodreads.com)
The Caller, Juliet Marillier (January 2014) – this is the conclusion to the Shadowfell trilogy.
“Neryn has made a long journey to perfect her skills as a Caller. She has learned the wisdom of water and of earth; she has journeyed to the remote isles of the west and the forbidding mountains of the north. Now, Neryn must travel in Alban’s freezing winter to seek the mysterious White Lady, Guardian of Air. For only when Neryn has been trained by all four Guardians will she be ready to play her role in toppling the tyrannical King Keldec.
“But the White Lady is not what she seems. Trapped with Whisper, her fey protector, Neryn is unable to send word to her beloved Flint, who is in danger of being exposed as a double agent. When a new threat looms and the rebellion is in jeopardy, Neryn must enter Keldec’s court, where one false move could see her culled. She must stand up against forces more powerful than any she has confronted before, and face losses that could break her heart.” (goodreads.com)
Hello blog readers! My name’s Nicola, and you may have seen some of my posts on this blog before, mostly looking at graphic novels. Now I’m writing about books as well. Here are my picks for the best new books this week.
A trick of the light, Lois Metzger (189 pages) -Mike Welles had everything under control. But that was before. Now things are rough at home, and they’re getting confusing at school. He’s losing his sense of direction, and he feels like he’s a mess.
Then there’s a voice in his head. A friend, who’s trying to help him get control again. More than that—the voice can guide him to become faster and stronger than he was before, to rid his life of everything that’s holding him back. To figure out who he is again. If only Mike will listen.
First lines: “The first time I reach Mike Welles, he’s in a tunnel. It’s syrupy hot, July hot, the kind of heat where your breath going out feels like your breath going in, or so I imagine. I’ve been trying to talk to Mike but he can’t hear me or can’t listen- the distinction isn’t important.”
Fallout, Todd Strasser (258 pages) – In the summer of 1962, the possibility of nuclear war is all anyone talks about. But Scott’s dad is the only one in the neighborhood who actually prepares for the worst. As the neighbors scoff, he builds a bomb shelter to hold his family and stocks it with just enough supplies to keep the four of them alive for two critical weeks. In the middle of the night in late October, when the unthinkable happens, those same neighbors force their way into the shelter before Scott’s dad can shut the door. With not enough room, not enough food, and not enough air, life inside the shelter is filthy, physically draining, and emotionally fraught. But even worse is the question of what will — and won’t — remain when the door is opened again.
First lines: I wake to a hand on my shoulder. Dad’s voice is urgent. “Get up, Scott!” The light in a the bedroom is on, nd I squint up into his face. Dad’s eyes are wide, and he’s shaking me hard, not gently, the way he usually does when he wants to wake me. “Up, now!”
Julius and the Watchmaker, Tim Hehir (349 pages) -When Julius Higgins isn’t running from Crimper McCready and his gang of bullies he’s working in his grandfather’s bookshop in Ironmonger Lane. Until Jack Springheel, a mysterious clock collector, turns up looking for the fabled diary of John Harrison—the greatest watchmaker of all time.
Before he knows it, Julius becomes a thief and a runaway and makes a deal with Springheel that he will live to regret. And all before he finds out that Harrison’s diary is really an instruction manual for making a time machine.
First Lines: Give me seven extra long seconds. That’s all I ask, though Julius Higins as he sprinted around the corner into Ironmonger Lane. Crimper McCready and his two henchboys were close and gaining.
The eyes of minds , James Dashner (308 pages) – Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and it’s addictive. Thanks to technology, anyone with enough money can experience fantasy worlds, risk their life without the chance of death, or just hang around with Virt-friends. And the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway?
But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And recent reports claim that one gamer is going beyond what any gamer has done before: he’s holding players hostage inside the VirtNet. The effects are horrific—the hostages have all been declared brain-dead. Yet the gamer’s motives are a mystery.
The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker.And they’ve been watching Michael. They want him on their team.But the risk is enormous. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid. There are back alleys and corners in the system human eyes have never seen and predators he can’t even fathom—and there’s the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.
First Lines: Michael spoke against the wind, to a girl named Tanya.
“I know it’s water down there, but it might as well be concrete. You’ll be flat as a pancake the second you hit.” Not the most comforting of works when talking to someone who wanted to end her life, but it was certainly the truth.
Death, Dickinson and the demented life of Frenchie Garcia, Jenny Torres Sanchez (268 pages) – Frenchie Garcia can’t come to grips with the death of Andy Cooper. Her friends didn’t know she had a crush him. And they don’t know she was the last person with him before he committed suicide. But Frenchie’s biggest concern is how she blindly helped him die that night. Frenchie’s already insane obsession with death and Emily Dickinson won’t help her understand the role she played during Andy’s “one night of adventure.” But when she meets Colin, she may have found the perfect opportunity to recreate that night.
First lines: The man across the street is dead. I don’t know who figured it out or how, but I think he’s been dead for days when they found him. School has been out for three weeks. I estimate that would have been the last time I saw him. Alive.
Charm and Strange, Stephanie Kuehn (213 pages) Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself. He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost. He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.
Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present. Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.
First lines: I don’t feel the prescence of God here. I pay along the far side of the river, my ears filled with the hum of cidcadas and the war of water flowing over the milldam. Vermont is postcard perfect. I could stand on my toes and peer over the current and the cattails and see the whole town spread before me.”
Homeland, Cory Doctrow (414 pages)-In Cory Doctorow’s wildly successful Little Brother, young Marcus Yallow was arbitrarily detained and brutalized by the government in the wake of a terrorist attack on San Francisco—an experience that led him to become a leader of the whole movement of technologically clued-in teenagers, fighting back against the tyrannical security state.
A few years later, California’s economy collapses, but Marcus’s hacktivist past lands him a job as webmaster for a crusading politician who promises reform. Soon his onetime girlfriend Masha emerges from the political underground to gift him with a thumbdrive containing a Wikileaks-style cable-dump of hard evidence of corporate and governmental perfidy. It’s incendiary stuff—and if Masha goes missing, Marcus is supposed to release it to the world. Then Marcus sees Masha being kidnapped by the same government agents who detained and tortured Marcus years earlier.
Marcus can leak the archive Masha gave him—but he can’t admit to being the leaker, because that will cost his employer the election. He’s surrounded by friends who remember what he did a few years ago and regard him as a hacker hero. He can’t even attend a demonstration without being dragged onstage and handed a mike. He’s not at all sure that just dumping the archive onto the Internet, before he’s gone through its millions of words, is the right thing to do.
Meanwhile, people are beginning to shadow him, people who look like they’re used to inflicting pain until they get the answers they want.
First lines: Attending Burning Man made me simulteanously one of the most photographed on the planet and the one of the least surveilled humans in the modern world.
Transparent, Natalie Whipple (350 pages) Plenty of teenagers feel invisible. Fiona McClean actually is.
An invisible girl is a priceless weapon. Fiona’s own father has been forcing her to do his dirty work for years—everything from spying on people to stealing cars to breaking into bank vaults. After sixteen years, Fiona’s had enough. She and her mother flee to a small town, and for the first time in her life, Fiona feels like a normal life is within reach. But Fiona’s father isn’t giving up that easily. Of course, he should know better than anyone: never underestimate an invisible girl.
First lines: I nearly died the second I was born. The doctor dropped me, but it wasn’t his fault. When I smacked the floor and let out a screeching cry, all anyone could see was the semi-transparent umbilical cord. The poor guy scooped me up, grasping in shock at my invisble body.
The Rig - Joe Ducie (358 pages) Fifteen-year-old Will Drake has made a career of breaking out from high-security prisons. His talents have landed him at The Rig, a specialist juvenile holding facility in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. No one can escape from The Rig. No one except for Drake…
After making some escape plans and meeting the first real friends of his life, Drake quickly realises that all is not as it seems on The Rig. The Warden is obsessed with the mysterious Crystal-X – a blue, glowing substance that appears to give superpowers to the teens exposed to it. Drake, Tristan and Irene are banking on a bid for freedom – but can they survive long enough to make it?
First lines: The Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk flew low over the coean, low enough that a cool mist splashed William Drake in the face through the open bay doors. He could taste salt on his lips and feel the roaring wind rush past his ears. Handcuffed to a steel pivot-loop on the floor of the shopper, Drake glared out at the miles of endless ocean.
Antigoddess – Kendare Blake ( 333 pages) Old Gods never die…Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.
Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god. These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.
Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.
Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.
The Goddess War is about to begin.
First Lines: The feathers were starting to be a nuisance. There was one in her mouth, tickling the back of her throat. She chewed at is as she walked, grabbing it with her loars and pulling it loose. Warm, copper-penny blood flooded over her tongue. There were others, too, sprouting up inside her like a strange canceer, worming their way through her innards and muscle.
Who done it? – “conducted” by Jon Scieszka (352 pages) A star-studded anthology with a devilish hook, whose proceeds benefit 826nyc: the fabulous literacy non-profit founded by Dave Eggers.
Can you imagine the most cantankerous book editor alive? Part Voldemort, part Cruella de Vil (if she were a dude), and worse in appearance and odor than a gluttonous farm pig? A man who makes no secret of his love of cheese or his disdain of unworthy authors? That man is Herman Mildew.
The anthology opens with an invitation to a party, care of this insufferable monster, where more than 80 of the most talented, bestselling and recognizable names in YA and children’s fiction learn that they are suspects in his murder. All must provide alibis in brief first-person entries. The problem is that all of them are liars, all of them are fabulists, and all have something to hide…
First lines: Dearest friend, you are invited to a gathering! Where: The Old Abandoned Pickle Factory. When: 8pm sharp. Why: Because if you don’t attned, I will have to telll the world everything I know about you. (Yes: everything. ) Your boss/superior/editor Herman Q. Mildew.
The horror/thriller edition of recently-ordered fiction.
Her Dark Curiosity, Megan Shepherd (January) – this is the sequel to The Madman’s Daughter, in which Juliet travelled to a remote island in search of her father, to discover he was performing horrific experiments on the island’s animals, creating human-like monsters of them. In Her Dark Curiosity, “Months have passed since Juliet Moreau returned to civilization after escaping her father’s island – and the secrets she left behind. Now, back in London once more, she is rebuilding the life she once knew and trying to forget Dr. Moreau’s horrific legacy – though someone, or something, hasn’t forgotten her. As people close to Juliet fall victim one by one to a murderer who leaves a macabre calling card of three clawlike slashes, Juliet fears one of her father’s creations may have also escaped the island…” (goodreads.com) These are inspired by classic novels: The Madman’s Daughter was H. G. Wells, and this one’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. 19th century gothic!
Nightmare City, Andrew Klavan (December/January) – “Tom Harding only wants the truth. But the truth is becoming more dangerous with every passing minute. As a reporter for his high school newspaper, Tom Harding was tracking the best story of his life – when, suddenly, his life turned very, very weird. He woke up one morning to find his house empty… his street empty… his whole town empty… empty except for an eerie, creeping fog – and whatever creatures were slowly moving toward him through the fog. Now Tom’s once-ordinary world has become something out of a horror movie. How did it happen? Is it real? Is he dreaming? Has there been a zombie apocalypse? Has he died and gone to hell? Tom is a good reporter – he knows how to look for answers – but no one has ever covered a story like this before. With the fog closing in and the hungry creatures of the fog surrounding him, he has only a few hours to find out how he lost the world he knew. In this bizarre universe nothing is what it seems and everything – including Tom’s life – hangs in the balance” (goodreads.com).
The Naturals, Jennifer Lynn Barnes (December/January) – Cassie can read people, can tell who they are and what they want just by looking at them. She’s not thought much of her talent until the FBI wants her for a classified programme called the Naturals, where they use gifted teenagers to help them crack cold cases. But the Naturals programme doesn’t just mean solving murders; when a new killer emerges, Cassie and the other Naturals are caught up in a lethal game of cat and mouse. Like Criminal Minds, people say!
after last week’s mammoth post, this week’s is a short one featuring books based on other literature and characters:
Sweet Shadows, Tera Lynn Childs (336 pages) – Three teenage descendants of Medusa must figure out where their fate will take them. The warring factions among the gods of Olympus are coming for them, the creatures of the abyss are pushing into San Francisco, and the boys in their lives are hiding dangerous secrets. Gretchen has fought the monsters the longest, but teaching the girls the ropes is hard. Can she rely on Grace and Greer, or even trust herself to keep them safe? Greer has pressing social commitments and little time to train her newfound powers. But her second sight won’t leave her alone. Grace is worried about her brother, Thane, who has disappeared. His secrets might have to do with the heritage the triplets share. How can the girls embrace the shadows of their legacy?
First lines: “As I stare across Gretchen’s dining table at Grace, who is flipping through a binder about some ridiculously hideous monster straight out of mythology, I still can’t really fathom that there are two girls right her in this loft who look just like me. Same long, dark-blonde hair – although mine glistens with pricey highlights – and silver-grey eyes that have always been my most unique characteristic. Not any more.”
The Clockwork Scarab, Colleen Gleason (356 pages) – Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate. Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high. If Stoker and Holmes don’t unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims.
First lines: “There are a limited number of excuses for a young, intelligent woman of seventeen to be traversing the fog-shrouded streets of London at midnight. A matter of protecting one’s life or preventing another’s death are two obvious ones. But as far as I knew, I was neither in danger for my life, nor was I about to forestall the death of another.”
Splintered : a novel, A. G. Howard (371 pages) – Alyssa Gardner hears the thoughts of plants and animals. She hides her delusions for now, but she knows her fate: she will end up like her mother, in an institution. Madness has run in her family ever since her great-great-great-grandmother Alice Liddell told Lewis Carroll her strange dreams, inspiring his classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. But perhaps she’s not mad. And perhaps Carroll’s stories aren’t as whimsical as they first seem. To break the curse of insanity, Alyssa must go down the rabbit hole and right the wrongs of Wonderland, a place full of strange beings with dark agendas. Alyssa brings her real-world crush – the provocative Jeb – with her, but once her journey begins, she’s torn between his solidity and the enchanting, dangerous magic of Morpheus, her guide to Wonderland. But no one in Wonderland is who they seem to be – not even Alyssa herself…
First lines: “I’ve been collecting bugs since I was ten; it’s the only way I can stop their whispers. Sticking a pin through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quick. Some of my victims line the walls in shadow boxes, while others get sorted into mason jars and placed on a bookshelf for later use. Crickets, beetles, spiders … bees and butterflies. I’m not picky. Once they get chatty, they’re fair game.”
Ashes on the Waves, Mary Lindsey (373 pages) – Liam MacGregor is cursed. Haunted by the wails of fantastical Bean Sidhes and labeled a demon by the villagers of Dòchas, Liam has accepted that things will never get better for him—until a wealthy heiress named Annabel Leighton arrives on the island and Liam’s fate is changed forever. With Anna, Liam finally finds the happiness he has always been denied; but, the violent, mythical Otherworlders, who inhabit the island and the sea around it, have other plans. They make awager on the couple’s love, testing its strength through a series of cruel obstacles. But the tragedies draw Liam and Anna even closer. Frustrated, the creatures put the couple through one last trial—and this time it’s not only their love that’s in danger of being destroyed. Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s chilling poem, “Annabel Lee,” Mary Lindsey creates a frighteningly beautiful gothic novel that glorifies the power of true love.
First lines: “She looked like something out of a dream . . . or a nightmare. Simultaneously, so terrible and beautiful, it made me ache. Waves pounded the jetty, shooting geysers of frigid salt water into the air as she leaned into the wind, her long hair whipping in all directions.”
and now for something completely different:
All the Truth That’s in Me, Julie Berry (266 pages) – After two years missing, Judith returns home – her tongue cut out, her best friend dead. No one knows what has happened and Judith cannot speak of it. All she can do is silently pour out her feelings to the boy who has owned her heart for as long as she can remember: Lucas. In a voice filled with hurt, yearning, hope and love, this is Judith’s story.
First lines: “You didn’t come. I waited all evening in the willow tree, with gnats buzzing in my face and sap sticking in my hair, watching for you to return from town.”
Zac & Mia, A. J. Betts (307 pages) – The last person Zac expects in the room next door is a girl like Mia, angry and feisty with questionable taste in music. In the real world, he wouldn’t—couldn’t—be friends with her. In hospital different rules apply, and what begins as a knock on the wall leads to a note… then a friendship neither of them sees coming. You need courage to be in hospital; different courage to be back in the real world. In one of these worlds Zac needs Mia. And in the other Mia needs Zac. Or maybe they both need each other, always.
First lines: “A newbie arrives next door. From this side of the wall I hear the shuffle of feet, unsure of where to stand. I hear Nina going through the arrival instructions in that buoyoant air-hostess way, as if this ‘flight’ will go smoothly, no need to pull the Emergency Exit lever. Just relax and enjoy the service. Nina has the kind of voice you believe.”
Leap of Faith, Jamie Blair (240 pages) – Leah Kurtz has finally found a place to call home, a town where she and baby Addy can live in peace, far from the drug-infested place she grew up. Chris is one of the best parts of her new life, the only person who’s ever made her feel safe. And now that she’s found him, there’s no way she can tell the truth: Her real name is Faith, not Leah. She’s seventeen, not nineteen. And the baby isn’t hers; Faith kidnapped her. Faith’s history catches up with her when a cop starts asking questions and Chris’s aunt spots her picture in the newspaper. She knows it’s time to run again, but if Faith leaves, she’ll lose Chris. If Chris is in love with a lie, though, did Faith ever really have him in the first place?
First lines: “The bangbangbanging of Mom’s headboard against my wall needs to stop before my head explodes. I’m exhausted and wish he’d just leave so I can sleep. Of course Mom’s bed has to be shoved right up against the other side of my wall. I roll my eyes and take a deep breath, pulling the covers up higher around my neck.”
The Ghost Bride, Yangsze Choo (384 pages) – In 1890s Malaya, Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price. After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.
First lines: “One evening, my father asked me whether I would like to become a ghost bride. ‘Asked’ is perhaps not the right word. We were in his study. I was leafing through a newspaper, my father lying on his rattan daybed. It was very hot and still. The oil lamp was lit and moths fluttered through the humid air in lazy swirls. ‘What did you say?’”
Bracelet of Bones, Kevin Crossley-Holland (256 pages) – One morning, Solveig wakes to find her father, Halfdan, has gone. He has followed the young Viking warrior Harald Hardrada to Miklagard (Constantinople), where he is leader of the Empress’s guard. Solveig sets off in a tiny boat to find him. So begins a fierce journey of discovery and survival, where the young Viking girl will meet a ghost ship and befriend an English slave, shoot rapids, survive an arrow storm, and witness a living sacrifice. Will Solveig reach Miklagard? And will her father be there?
First lines: “‘Is this it?’ Solveig called out. No trees stood on the battlefield. Nothing but little scrubby, twisted black bushes. Without breaking his long, limping stride, Halfdan glanced over his shoulder. ‘You all right, girl?’ It’s all dead, thought Solveig. There’s nothing left but black fingers, black hands, thousands of them. Stiklestad. What can ever grow in this place again?”
Sweet Peril, Wendy Higgins (371 pages) – Anna Whitt, the daughter of a guardian angel and a demon, promised herself she’d never do the work of her father—polluting souls. She’d been naive to make such a vow. She’d been naive about a lot of things. Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school’s party girl. Her life has never looked more bleak. And all the while there’s Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind. When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time. It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaidan must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: is loving someone worth risking their life?
First lines: “Unbeknownst to the Roman community, 666 earthbound demons were making use of the infamous Colosseum. Twelve of the fallen ones, the Dukes, were present in human form, while the others hovered as spirits, blotting celestial light from the night sky. Rahab, the Duke of Pride, took his place in the center, exhilarated by the attention his presence commanded.”
The Messengers, Edward Hogan (214 pages) – When fifteen-year-old Frances is sent down to the coast to Helmstown, to live with her aunt, uncle and cousin, she meets and befriends Peter Kennedy, a somewhat tramp-like character who lives in a beach hut along the seafront. As soon as they meet, Peter recognizes that Frances is a messenger, just like him. As messengers, they experience black-outs, and when they come round, they have the ability to draw, in minute detail, the scene of an accident. Although Frances can’t change the past, she realises that she can change the future, at least for a chosen few.
First lines: “We’re drawn to each other, us messengers. We must be. I remember the first time I saw him, down by the beach huts. There was something about him. The look of him. How could I not go over? You might even say it was fate, but I don’t believe in that.”
The Neptune Project, Polly Holyoke (340 pages) – Nere has never understood why she feels so much more comfortable and confident swimming with the dolphins that her mother studies than hanging out with her classmates on land, but everything falls into place when Nere learns that she is one of a group of kids who – unbeknownst to them – have been genetically altered to survive in the ocean. These products of “The Neptune Project” are given a mission to build a better future under the sea, safe from the dangers on land. But there are some very big problems: no one asked Nere if she wanted to be a science experiment; the other Neptune kids aren’t exactly the friendliest bunch; and in order to reach the safe haven of the Neptune colony, Nere and her fellow mutates must swim through hundreds of miles of dangerous waters, relying only on their wits, dolphins, and each other to evade terrifying undersea creatures and a government that will stop at nothing to capture the Neptune kids … dead or alive.
First lines: “I wake to an urgent tap at my window. My heart thudding, I sit bolt upright in bed. The night is hot and still. I push my sweaty hair away from my face and try to ignore the twist of fear in my gut. No one brings good news at this hour. I slip from my bed and peer cautiously through my window.”
SYLO, D. J. MacHale (407 pages) – Fourteen-year-old Tucker Pierce prefers to fly under the radar. He’s used to navigating around summer tourists in his hometown on idyllic Pemberwick Island, Maine. He’s content to sit on the sidelines as a backup player on the high school football team. And though his best friend Quinn tells him to “go for it,” he’s too chicken to ask Tori Sleeper on a date. There’s always tomorrow, he figures. Then Pemberwick Island is invaded by a mysterious branch of the U.S. military called SYLO. And sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option for Tucker, because tomorrow may never come. It’s up to Tucker, Quinn, and Tori to uncover the truth about the singing aircraft that appears only at night—and the stranger named Feit who’s pushing a red crystal he calls the Ruby that brings unique powers to all who take it. Tucker and his friends must rescue not just Pemberwick Island, but the fate of the world.
First lines: “It was the perfect night for a football game. And for death. Not that the two have anything in common. When you hear the term “sudden death,” you normally don’t expect there to be an actual loss of life, sudden or otherwise, but there was nothing normal about that night.”
Death & Co., D.J. McCune (279 pages) – Adam Mortson is a Luman, one of the elite band of spirit guides who travel to the Hinterland to guide dead souls into the afterlife. And though Adam just wants to be a normal teenager – one who dates girls like Melissa, hangs out with his mates and avoids his homework – his role as a Luman is strictly non-negotiable. But as a hidden and dangerous power grows within him, Adam must make a terrible choice: to stand by and watch as lives are lost, or to disobey the rules of death … and risk everything.
First lines: “Nathanial Mortson stood in the darkness, hands thrust into the pockets of his camel-hair coat. In the physical world it was freezing, the road glittering with ice, but here in the Hinterland he couldn’t feel it. It was the middle of the night and he was tired. Usually he had company but on a job like this he preferred to work alone.”
Starglass, Phoebe North (448 pages) – Terra has never known anything but life aboard the Asherah, a city-within-a-spaceship that left Earth five hundred years ago in search of refuge. At sixteen, working a job that doesn’t interest her, and living with a grieving father who only notices her when he’s yelling, Terra is sure that there has to be more to life than what she’s got. But when she inadvertently witnesses the captain’s guard murdering an innocent man, Terra is suddenly thrust into the dark world beneath her ship’s idyllic surface. As she’s drawn into a secret rebellion determined to restore power to the people, Terra discovers that her choices may determine life or death for the people she cares most about. With mere months to go before landing on the long-promised planet, Terra has to make the decision of a lifetime–one that will determine the fate of her people.
First lines: “On the day of my mother’s funeral, we all wore white. My father said that dressing ourselves in the stiff, pale cloth would be a mitzvah. I ran the word over my tongue as I straightened a starched new shirt against my shoulders.
He Forgot to Say Goodbye, Benjamin Alire Sáenz (321 pages) – On the surface, Ramiro Lopez and Jake Upthegrove could not be more different. Ram is Mexican-America, living in “DizzyLand,” the poor side of El Paso. He’s struggling to keep his family together as his younger brother descends into a dangerous world of drugs and violence. Jake is a rich WASP with anger-management issues who can’t stand the falseness of his mother’s materialistic world. But as circumstances in both of their lives begin to spiral out of control, Jake and Ram turn to each other for comfort, friendship, and understanding. No one realizes what it’s like to know that all of your problems stem from one thing: that your father didn’t even care enough to say goodbye.
First lines: “My mom says I need to stop and think about things. I think about things all the effen time. Think and think and think. You know, it’s not like all that thinking has gotten me places.”
Steelheart, Brandon Sanderson (384 pages) – Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills. Nobody fights the Epics… nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them. And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience. He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.
First lines: “I’ve seen Steelheart bleed. It happened ten years ago; I was eight. My father and I were at the First Union Bank on Adams Street. We used the old street names than, before the Annexation.”
Ashes of Twilight, Kassy Tayler (320 pages) – Wren MacAvoy works as a coal miner for a domed city that was constructed in the mid-nineteenth century to protect the royal blood line of England when astronomers spotted a comet on a collision course with Earth. Humanity would be saved by the most groundbreaking technology of the time. But after nearly 200 years of life beneath the dome, society has become complacent and the coal is running out. Plus there are those who wonder, is there life outside the dome or is the world still consumed by fire? When one of Wren’s friends escapes the confines of the dome, he is burned alive and put on display as a warning to those seeking to disrupt the dome’s way of life. But Alex’s final words are haunting. “The sky is blue.” What happens next is a whirlwind of adventure, romance, conspiracy and the struggle to stay alive in a world where nothing is as it seems. Wren unwittingly becomes a catalyst for a revolution that destroys the dome and the only way to survive might be to embrace what the entire society has feared their entire existence.
First lines: “The Bible teaches us that the heavens and earth were made by the one true God. I have heard these things all of my life but I dare not ask the questions that the lessons have created in my mind. I am certain I know quite a bit about the earth, as I spend most of my waking moments within its clanking iron bowels. The heavens, however, are a mystery to me as my world is hollow and my sky is made of glass.”
Coda, Emma Trevayne (309 pages) – Deep in an abandoned basement, Anthem sings of truth and freedom with his illegal underground band. Yet on the surface and under watchful eyes, Anthem is unable to resist the call of the Corporation’s addictive, mind-altering music tracks, even as he knows they are used to control him and his fellow citizens. When tragedy strikes close to home, Anthem realizes that defying the Corp comes at a deadly price … and the stakes of preventing his brother and sister from being claimed by the government drug are worth every heart-pounding second. The key to the revolution might lie with the girl Anthem loves, but will he trust her enough to let her join the fight?
First lines: “I’m drawn toward the door. I can’t hear it yet, but I can feel it. A pulse, a heartbeat. The floor shakes. Inside, the cavernous, soundproof room is already packed, black and neon and flashing lights and stifling heat from the crush of bodies.”
Living with Jackie Chan, Jo Knowles – Josh, from Jumping Off Swings, is living with the consequences of a rash “one time thing” with Ellie. He has moved away from his home town and now lives with his Jackie Chan-obsessed uncle. He makes friends with Stella, with whom he practices karate (maybe the Jackie Chan thing rubs off on him a little?), and slowly comes to grips with his past actions.
This is How I Find Her, Sarah Polsky – “Sophie Canon has just started her junior year when her mother tries to kill herself. Sophie has always lived her life in the shadow of her mother’s bipolar disorder, monitoring her medication, rushing home after school to check on her instead of spending time with friends, and keeping her mother’s diagnosis secret from everyone outside their family. But when the overdose lands Sophie’s mother in the hospital, Sophie no longer has to watch over her. She moves in with her aunt, uncle, and cousin, from whom she has been estranged for the past five years. Rolling her suitcase across town to her family’s house is easy. What’s harder is figuring out how to build her own life.” (goodreads.com)
Hero, Alethea Kontis – this is the sequel to Enchanted. Saturday Woodcutter is a bit of a tomboy; she’d rather chop wood than go to the ball, plus she’s the only one in the Woodcutter family who has no magical ability – until she, quite randomly, conjures an ocean. As you do, she sets sail on a pirate ship (on her newly conjured ocean), only to find herself kidnapped by the mountain witch. Is she powerful enough to escape? Also, can she cope with a bit of romance?
Zero Fade, Chris L Terry – “Zero Fade chronicles eight days in the life of inner-city Richmond, Virginia teen Kevin Phifer as he deals with wack hair-cuts, bullies, last-year fly gear, his uncle Paul coming out as gay, and being grounded.” (goodreads.com) Set in the 1990s, this book has got some great reviews.
with characters that go missing:
The Last Academy, Anne Applegate (320 pages) – Camden Fisher arrives at boarding school haunted by a falling-out with her best friend back home. But the manicured grounds of Lethe Academy are like nothing Cam has ever known. There are gorgeous, preppy boys wielding tennis rackets, and circles of girls with secrets to spare. Only … something is not quite right. One of Cam’s new friends mysteriously disappears, but the teachers don’t seem too concerned. Cam wakes up to strangers in her room, who then melt into the night. She is suddenly plagued by odd memories, and senses there might be something dark and terrible brewing. But what?
First lines: “You couldn’t pick a better night for a pool party: fire-red sunset, a breeze so hot it practically sparked as it floated across the lawn, chips and hot dogs and watermelon lined up and ready to eat. The whole thing was my best friend’s idea.”
Hold Your Breath, Caroline Green (244 pages) – Tara has the power to find missing things and people, but it’s only been a source of trouble for her so far and she’s relieved when her family move house so she can make a fresh start and try to forget about the odd images in her head. Making friends at her new school hasn’t been easy, especially with mean girls like Melodie Stone running the show. Then Melodie disappears. Tara’s not too sorry, but she starts to see strange images of a captive girl who she gradually realises must be Melodie. Tara tries but fails to ignore the pictures in her head and finally goes in search of Melodie, with the help of Melodie’s attractive half-brother. She finds herself trapped with her former enemy, and Tara and Melodie must work together to get free, with the help of Tara’s gift.
First lines: “The blackness began to dissolve. She tried to move her head but pain jack-hammered inside her skull and nausea gripped her stomach. Closing her eyes, she willed the sensations to pass. Minutes went by. Or was it longer?”
The Beautiful and the Cursed, Page Morgan (352 pages) – After a bizarre accident, Ingrid Waverly is forced to leave London with her mother and younger sister, Gabby, trading a world full of fancy dresses and society events for the unfamiliar city of Paris. In Paris there are no grand balls or glittering parties, and, disturbingly, the house Ingrid’s twin brother, Grayson, found for them isn’t a house at all. It’s an abandoned abbey, its roof lined with stone gargoyles that could almost be mistaken for living, breathing creatures. And Grayson has gone missing. Ingrid is sure her twin isn’t dead—she can feel it deep in her soul—but she knows he’s in grave danger. It will be up to her and Gabby to navigate the twisted path to Grayson, a path that will lead Ingrid on a discovery of dark secrets and otherworldly truths. And she’ll learn that once they are uncovered, they can never again be buried.
First lines: “The boy was late. Brigitte crossed the folds of her sable cape to shut out the creeping frost. It was still and quiet within the walled garden, the hollow sort of quiet that arrives just past midnight.”
Picture Me Gone, Meg Rosoff (256 pages) – Mila has an exceptional talent for reading a room—sensing hidden facts and unspoken emotions from clues that others overlook. So when her father’s best friend, Matthew, goes missing from his upstate New York home, Mila and her beloved father travel from London to find him. She collects information about Matthew from his belongings, from his wife and baby, from the dog he left behind and from the ghosts of his past—slowly piecing together the story everyone else has missed. But just when she’s closest to solving the mystery, a shocking betrayal calls into question her trust in the one person she thought she could read best.
First lines: “The first Mila was a dog. A Bedlington terrier. It helps if you know these things. I’m not at all resentful at being named after a dog.”
Freaks Like Us, Susan Vaught (240 pages) – When Jason Milwaukee’s best friend Sunshine vanishes, Jason knows that something is terribly wrong, but solving her disappearance will require pushing through all the voices in his head and then getting the world to listen to him. His schizophrenia is stopping him from remembering the events leading up to her disappearance, and often he discounts his own memories, and his own impressions. But his deep knowledge that he would never hurt his friend, plus the faith of his parents and a few others in the town bring him to the point of solving the mystery.
First lines: “Some days life makes more sense than other days. The algebra problems in front of me might as well be Moby Dick or A Tale of Two Cities or A Separate Peace. I’ve had to plow through all three of those since I got to high school, and I didn’t like any of them. I’m told I don’t think like other people, and I’m pretty sure that’s true. Not that I could explain it, even if I tried, but I always try, so – here’s this.”
that are full of magic:
Brightly Woven, Alexandra Bracken (354 pages) – The day the rains came was like any other, blistering air coating the canyon in a heavy stillness. Just as the rains come after ten long, dry years, a young wizard, Wayland North, appears, to whisk Sydelle Mirabil away from her desert village. North needs an assistant, and Sydelle is eager to see the country – and to join him on his quest to stop the war that surely will destroy her home. But North has secrets – about himself, about why he chose Sydelle, about his real reasons for the journey. What does he want from her? And why does North’s sworn enemy seem fascinated by Sydelle himself?
First lines: “The day the rains came was like any other, with blistering air coating the canyon in a heavy stillness. By late afternoon, the only thing more suffocating than the air was the dust kicked up by our feet. We were as quiet as the dead, moving from rock to crevice, always watching the path for movement.”
The Oathbreaker’s Shadow, Amy McCulloch (416 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert. Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all—not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin. Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed.
First lines: “Raim sat in the crook of an old, cracked tree, one leg dangling in the breeze, his head leaning back against the trunk. Long, needle-like leaves shaded him from the oppressive heat and hid him from the view of his grandfather, in case he was looking to assign Raim yet another chore. He just wanted a moment to himself.”
Shadows, Robin McKinley (368 pages) – Maggie knows something’s off about Val, her mom’s new husband. Val is from Oldworld, where they still use magic, and he won’t have any tech in his office-shed behind the house. But—more importantly—what are the huge, horrible, jagged, jumpy shadows following him around? Magic is illegal in Newworld, which is all about science. The magic-carrying gene was disabled two generations ago, back when Maggie’s great-grandmother was a notable magician. But that was a long time ago. Then Maggie meets Casimir, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. He’s from Oldworld too—and he’s heard of Maggie’s stepfather, and has a guess about Val’s shadows. Maggie doesn’t want to know … until earth-shattering events force her to depend on Val and his shadows. And perhaps on her own heritage. In this dangerously unstable world, neither science nor magic has the necessary answers, but a truce between them is impossible. And although the two are supposed to be incompatible, Maggie’s discovering the world will need both to survive.
First lines: “The story starts like something out of a fairy tale: I hated my stepfather. It’s usually stepmothers in fairy tales. Well, equal time for stepfathers.”
The Apprentices, Maile Meloy (432 pages) – Two years have passed since Janie Scott last saw Benjamin Burrows, the mysterious apothecary’s defiant son who stole her heart. On the other side of the world, Benjamin and his father are treating the sick and wounded in the war-torn jungles of Vietnam. But Benjamin has also been experimenting with a magical new formula that allows him to communicate with Janie across the globe. When Benjamin discovers that she’s in trouble, he calls on their friend Pip for help. The three friends are thrown into a desperate chase around the world to find one another, while unraveling the mystery of what threatens them all.
First lines: “The space between the stone library of Grayson Academy and the red brick science building created a ferocious wind tunnel, in any decent wind. Janie Scott ducked her head and leaned forward into the blast, on her way to dinner with her roommate’s parents in the town of Grayson, across the street from the school. It was November of 1954, and a cold autumn in New Hampshire.”
Fairytales for Wilde Girls, Allyse Near (432 pages) – There’s a dead girl in a birdcage in the woods. That’s not unusual. Isola Wilde sees a lot of things other people don’t. But when the girl appears at Isola’s window, her every word a threat, Isola needs help. Her real-life friends – Grape, James and new boy Edgar – make her forget for a while. And her brother-princes – the mermaids, faeries and magical creatures seemingly lifted from the pages of the French fairytales Isola idolises – will protect her with all the fierce love they possess. It may not be enough. Isola needs to uncover the truth behind the dead girl’s demise and appease her enraged spirit, before the ghost steals Isola’s last breath.
First lines: “Once upon a time, Isola Wilde was watching late-night television with her eldest brother, Alejandro, when Channel 12 broadcast a live suicide. The teenage boy in his leather jacket had hair the colour of desert dust and freckles like actual spots of desert dust. The news camera zoomed, and he blurred then sharpened, a drunken vision.”
Battle Magic, Tamora Pierce (440 pages) – Mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy are visiting the mystical mountain kingdom of Gyongxe when they are suddenly called away. The emperor of Yanjing has invited them to see his glorious gardens. During their brief stay, though, the mages see far more than splendid flowers. They see the emperor’s massive army, his intense cruelty, and teh devasting magic that keeps his power in place. It’s not till they leave that they discover he’s about to launch a major invasion of Gyongxe. The mountain land is home to many temples… including the First Temple of the Living Circle, which Rosethorn has vowed to defend. With time running out, the mages race to warn their Gyongxin friends of the emperor’s plans.
First lines: “Two boy-men sat on the river’s eastern bank, where an open-fronted tent gave them shelter from the chilly spring wind. It whistled down the canyon, making the banners around them snap.”
Some Quiet Place, Kelsey Sutton (331 pages) – Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions … she sees them. Longing, Shame, and Courage materialize around her classmates. Fury and Resentment appear in her dysfunctional home. They’ve all given up on Elizabeth because she doesn’t succumb to their touch. All, that is, save one—Fear. He’s intrigued by her, as desperate to understand the accident that changed Elizabeth’s life as she is herself. Elizabeth and Fear both sense that the key to her past is hidden in the dream paintings she hides in the family barn. But a shadowy menace has begun to stalk her, and try as she might, Elizabeth can barely avoid the brutality of her life long enough to uncover the truth about herself. When it matters most, will she be able to rely on Fear to save her?
First lines: “Fear is coming. As the day ends and I milk the cows, I wait for another meeting with my old friend. He comes swiftly, speeding over the plains as only one of his kind can do. Every second that he draws nearer, the cows become more agitated, eyes rolling, hooves stomping the floor. I know his only purpose for making the journey to Wisconsin is to taunt me again.”
The Burning Sky, Sherry Thomas (464 pages) – Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she’s being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death. Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he’s also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal. But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life
First lines: “Fire was easy. In fact, there was nothing easier. They said that when an elemental mage called forth flame, she stole a little from every fire in the world. That would make Iolanthe Seabourne quite the thief, gathering millions of sparks into one great combustion. That flame she sculpted into a perfect sphere ten feet across, suspended above the rushing currents of the River Woe.”
Chasing the Valley, Skye Melki-Wegner (416 pages) – Escape is impossible. Escape is their only hope. Danika is used to struggling for survival. But when the tyrannous king launches an attack to punish her city – echoing the alchemy bombs that killed Danika’s family – she risks her life in a daring escape over the city’s walls. Danika joins a crew of desperate refugees who seek Magnetic Valley, a legendary safe haven. But when she accidentally destroys a palace biplane, suddenly Danika Glynn becomes the most wanted fugitive in Taladia. Pursued by the king’s vicious hunters and betrayed by false allies, Danika also grapples with her burgeoning magical abilities. And when she meets the mysterious Lukas, she must balance her feelings against her crew’s safety.
First lines: “It’s a quiet night when the bombs fall. Just before they start, I’m scrubbing dishes in some grungy bar. The Alehouse, it’s called. Stupid way to mark the night your life changes, isn’t it?”
If you’re keen to find out what happens in Allegiant and you don’t want to wait too long in a reserve queue, we recommend the book on CD, which has just arrived and is right now today getting labelled and library-ready thanks to the fabulous library technical services team.
We have two copies of the audiobook, which is available for four weeks and free on a young adult card! It’s narrated by Emma Galvin (the narrator for the Divergent and Insurgent audiobooks), and Aaron Stanford, who features in the TV series Nikita.
We’ve got heaps of YA titles on audiobook, some of them hot off the press: here’s the complete list.
Allegiant print copy update: we’ll have these very very shortly and we’ll get them out to you as soon as possible (once again thanks to tech services).
with real people and real problems:
Formerly Shark Girl, Kelly Bingham (304 pages) – It’s been a year since the shark attack that took Jane’s arm, and with it, everything she used to take for granted. Her dream of becoming an artist is on the line, and everything now seems out of reach, including her gorgeous, kind tutor, Max Shannon. While a perfectly nice guy from her science class is clearly interested in Jane — removing her fear that no one ever would want a one-armed girl — Jane can’t stop thinking about Max. But is his interest romantic? Or does he just feel sorry for her? Formerly Shark Girl picks up where Kelly Bingham’s artful, honest debut novel left off, following Jane as she deals with a career choice (should she “give back” by trying to become a nurse, or is art an equally valid calling?) along with family changes and her first real romance — all while remembering who she was before she was Shark Girl and figuring out who she is now.
First lines: “Over a year ago, /I went into the ocean /with my whole life /planned out, expected, /casually tucked between pages /of a sketchbook. /That all changed in a heartbeat. /A shark /took my arm /and nearly took my life.”
How I Lost You, Janet Gurtler (309 pages) – There are a few things Grace Anderson knows for sure. One is that nothing will ever come between her and her best friend, Kya Kessler. They have a pact. Buds Before Studs. Sisters Before Misters. But in the summer before senior year, life throws out challenges they never expected. And suddenly the person who’s always been there starts to need the favor returned. Grace and Kya are forced to question how much a best friend can forgive. And the answer is not what they expected.
First lines: “The boys were watching us, trying to get us to make mistakes. I knew from the swear words they were flinging around that they’d underestimated us. Inexperienced players shouted a lot. Kya and I didn’t.”
fml, Shaun David Hutchinson (304 pages) – Tonight’s the night: Simon’s big chance to finally get with Cassie. Cassie, who he’s loved for ages. Cassie, who is newly boyfriend-free. Cassie, who just happens to be throwing the biggest party of the year. Simon’s plan is simple: He’ll go to the party, she’ll fall in love with him, they’ll make out like crazy, and the night will be a complete success. But things don’t ever go as planned…especially when it comes to Cassie.
First lines: “I decided for about the hundredth time tonight that I’m not going to Cassandra Castillo’s spring break barter party. Then I changed my mind.”
Counting by 7s, Holly Goldberg Sloan (384 pages) – Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life … until now. Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read
First lines: “We sit together outside the Fosters Freeze at a sea-green, metal picnic table. All four of us. We eat soft ice cream, which has been plunged into a vat of liquid chocolate (that then hardens into a crispy shell). I don’t tell anyone that what makes this work is wax.”
Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell (433 pages) – Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan. But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words … And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
First lines: “There was a boy in her room. Cath looked up at the number painted on the door, then down at the room assignment in her hand. Pound Hall, 913. This was definitely room 913, but maybe he wasn’t Pound Hall – all these dormitories looked alike, like public housing towers for the elderly.”
Hurt, Tabitha Suzuma (400 pages) – At seventeen, Mathéo Walsh appears to have it all. He is a champion diver and a hot prospect for the upcoming Olympics. He is a heartthrob, a straight A student and lives in one of the wealthiest areas of London. He has great friends and is the envy of many around him. And most importantly of all, he is deeply in love with his girlfriend, Lola. He has always been a stable, well-adjusted guy … until one weekend. A weekend he cannot seem to remember. All he knows is that he has come back a changed person. One who no longer knows how to have fun, no longer wants to spend time with his friends, no longer enjoys diving. Something terrible happened that weekend – something violent and bloody and twisted. He no longer knows who he is. He no longer trusts himself around people: he only wants to hurt, wound and destroy. Slowly, he begins to piece back the buried, fragmented memories, and finds himself staring at the reflection of a monster.
First lines: “He opens his eyes and knows instantly that something is terribly wrong. He senses it through his skin, his nerves, his synapses, even though, spread-eagled on his back, all he can see is the frosted light-fitting on his bedroom ceiling. The room is white, violently bright, and he knows that it is a sunny day and he forgot to close the curtains, just as he knows, from the belt cutting into his side, the denim against his legs, the clammy cotton sticking to his chest, that he slept in his clothes.”
The Milk of Birds, Sylvia Whitman (384 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Nawra lives in Darfur, Sudan, in a camp for refugees displaced by the Janjaweed’s trail of murder and destruction. Nawra cannot read or write, but when a nonprofit organization called Save the Girls pairs her with an American donor, Nawra dictates her thank-you letters. Putting her experiences into words begins to free her from her devastating past—and to brighten the path to her future. K. C. is an American teenager from Richmond, Virginia, who hates reading and writing—or anything that smacks of school. But as Nawra pours grief and joy into her letters, she inspires K. C. to see beyond her own struggles. And as K. C. opens her heart in her responses to Nawra, she becomes both a dedicated friend and a passionate activist for Darfur.
First lines: “The khawaja moves down the line where Adeeba and I wait for water. We know her by her hat, pointed on top and tied beneath her chin, a wide roof shading her small, lined face. Adeeba says farmers in China wear such hats when they plant their rice in fields of water, if such a thing is possible. Sometimes I cannot tell when my friend is teasing me.”