Here’s a small selection of upcoming YA fiction: some dystopian Sci Fi, a Greek mythology reworking, and an alternate history fantasy of a gangster given a second go at life.
Surfacing, Mark Magro. Featuring an A.I. character, which is cool. “After a nuclear war has ravaged the planet, children of the few survivors are sent to renowned scientist Dr. Parkman and his subterranean Parkman Institute of Science and Solutions. There, they learn, create, and test the latest technologies until they turn 18 and are sent back to the surface to help rebuild society. Sixteen-year-old students Balt and Zoe have begun to realize something is amiss when Zoe is given a glimpse of an entirely different reality during a freak accident, one completely foreign to what Parkman has always described to his students. With the help of Balt and his midterm robotics project, the talkative head of an A.I. called Smith, the three devise a plan to escape the institute and travel through the ruins of the old labs to get to the surface. As they draw closer to their destination, they begin to see that their biggest threat might be each other. The old lab is full of secrets, and some answers are perhaps better left buried.” (goodreads.com)
Arrows, Melissa Gorzelanczyk. “A modern cupid story set in present-day Wisconsin combining the fantastical elements of Greek mythology with the contemporary drama of MTV’s Teen Mom,” is the summary (goodreads.com). A story about Cupid’s son (Aaryn) basically having an incompetent time with one of his arrows (he was supposed to shoot the guy as well as the girl) should be a sort of comedy, but this book looks at some serious themes like teen pregnancy, responsibility, hopes for the future.
At the Edge of Empire, Daniel Kraus. Volume 1 in The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch. “May 7, 1896. Dusk. A swaggering seventeen-year-old gangster named Zebulon Finch is gunned down on the shores of Lake Michigan. But after mere minutes in the void, he is mysteriously resurrected. His second life will be nothing like his first. Zebulon’s new existence begins as a sideshow attraction in a traveling medicine show. From there, he will be poked and prodded by a scientist obsessed with mastering the secrets of death. He will fight in the trenches of World War I. He will run from his nightmares – and from poverty – in Depression-era New York City. And he will become the companion of the most beautiful woman in Hollywood. Love, hate, hope, and horror – Zebulon finds them. But will he ever find redemption?” (goodreads.com)
Rolling on from last week, here are some interesting books due to be published this May.
A Court of Mist and Fury, Sarah J. Maas. This is the sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses by the author of the Throne of Glass series (who is super busy since the next one of those is also due out a bit later in the year!). “Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court – but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people. Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms – and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future – and the future of a world cleaved in two” (goodreads.com)
The Crown, Kiera Cass. This is the next in the crazy popular Selection series. “Twenty years have passed since the events of The One, and America and Maxon’s daughter is the first princess to hold a Selection of her own. Princess Eadlyn didn’t think she would find a real partner among the Selection’s thirty-five suitors, let alone true love. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you… and now Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more difficult – and more important – than she ever expected” (goodreads.com)
The Rose & the Dagger, Renée Ahdieh. The sequel to The Wrath & the Dawn. “In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse – one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan. While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love” (goodreads.com)
The Unexpected Everything, Morgan Matson. “Andie had it all planned out. When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future. Important internship? Check. Amazing friends? Check. Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks). But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life. Because here’s the thing – if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?” (goodreads.com).
So recently we looked at what’s being published in March; here’s April, with an interesting selection (May next week is a bit wow).
The Glittering Court, Richelle Mead. This is a new series by the author of the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines books. The Glittering Court is described as “A dazzling new fantasy series set in a mix of Elizabethan and frontier worlds that’s dripping with romance” (goodreads.com). Adelaide, a countess, poses as her servant in order to escape an arranged marriage. In order to start a new life in the New World she must join the Glittering Court, a place where underprivileged girls go to be transformed into potential upper-class elite (Adelaide should therefore ace this).
Lady Renegades, Rachel Hawkins. The third book in the Rebel Belle series, by the author of the popular Hex Hall series. “Just as Harper Price starts coming to terms with her role as David Stark’s battle-ready Paladin, protector, and girlfriend, her world goes crazy all over again. Overwhelmed by his Oracle powers, David flees Pine Grove and starts turning teenaged girls into Paladins – and these young ladies seem to think that Harper is the enemy David needs protecting from. Ordinarily, Harper would be able to fight off any Paladin who comes her way, but her powers have been dwindling since David left town, which means her life is on the line yet again. Now, it’s a desperate race for Harper to find and rescue David before she backslides from superhero to your garden-variety type – A belle” (goodreads.com).
The Mirror King, Jodi Meadows. The sequel to The Orphan Queen. “Though she’s ready for her crown, declaring herself queen means war. Caught between what she wants and what is right, Wilhelmina realizes the throne might not even matter. Everyone thought the wraith was years off, but already it’s destroying Indigo Kingdom villages. If she can’t protect both kingdoms, soon there won’t be a land to rule” (goodreads.com).
I thought to end the year with a couple of fantasy-type novels that are the third in a series, which is sort of where the similarity ends. Apart from the stories both being excellent!
Half Lost, Sally Green. This is the last book in the Half Bad trilogy. “Nathan Byrn is running again. The Alliance of Free Witches has been all but destroyed. Scattered and demoralized, constantly pursued by the Council’s Hunters, only a bold new strategy can save the rebels from total defeat. They need the missing half of Gabriel’s amulet – an ancient artifact with the power to render its bearer invincible in battle. But the amulet’s guardian – the reclusive and awesomely powerful witch Ledger – has her own agenda. To win her trust, Nathan must travel to America and persuade her to give him the amulet. Combined with the Gifts he has inherited from Marcus, the amulet might just be enough to turn the tide for the Alliance and end the bloody civil war between Black and White witches once and for all…” (goodreads.com)
A Tangle of Gold, Jaclyn Moriarty. This is the third book in the crazy and cool Colours of Madeleine series, which began with A Corner of White. “Cello is in crisis. Princess Ko’s deception of her people has emerged and the Kingdom is outraged: The Jagged Edge Elite have taken control, placing the Princess and two members of the Royal Youth Alliance under arrest and ordering their execution; the King’s attempts to negotiate their release have failed. Color storms are rampant, and nobody has heard the Cello wind blowing in months. Meanwhile, Madeleine fears she’s about to lose the Kingdom of Cello forever. Plans are in place to bring the remaining Royals home, and after that, all communication between Cello and the World will cease. That means she’ll also lose Elliot, now back in Cello and being held captive by a branch of Hostiles. And there’s nothing he can do to help his friends unless he can escape the Hostile compound. Worlds apart and with time running out, Madeleine and Elliot find themselves on a collision course to save the Kingdom they love, and maybe even save each other.” (goodreads.com)
The distance from me to you, Marina Gessner
McKenna Berney is a lucky girl. She has a loving family and has been accepted to college for the fall. But McKenna has a different goal in mind: much to the chagrin of her parents, she defers her college acceptance to hike the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia with her best friend. And when her friend backs out, McKenna is determined to go through with the dangerous trip on her own. While on the Trail, she meets Sam. Having skipped out on an abusive dad and quit school, Sam has found a brief respite on the Trail, where everyone’s a drifter, at least temporarily.
Despite lives headed in opposite directions, McKenna and Sam fall in love on an emotionally charged journey of dizzying highs and devastating lows. When their punch-drunk love leads them off the trail, McKenna has to persevere in a way she never thought possible to beat the odds or risk both their lives. (Goodreads)
First lines: McKenna couldn’t believe it. Maybe her ears were malfunctioning. Or her brain was playing tricks on her. Either option-deafness or insanity-seemed better than believing the words coming out of her best friend’s mouth.
If you’re lucky, Yvonne Prinz
When seventeen-year-old Georgia’s brother drowns while surfing halfway around the world in Australia, she refuses to believe Lucky’s death was just bad luck. Lucky was smart. He wouldn’t have surfed in waters more dangerous than he could handle. Then a stranger named Fin arrives in False Bay, claiming to have been Lucky’s best friend. Soon Fin is working for Lucky’s father, charming Lucky’s mother, dating his girlfriend. Georgia begins to wonder: did Fin murder Lucky in order to take over his whole life? Determined to clear the fog from her mind in order to uncover the truth about Lucky’s death, Georgia secretly stops taking the medication that keeps away the voices in her head. Georgia is certain she’s getting closer and closer to the truth about Fin, but as she does, her mental state becomes more and more precarious, and no one seems to trust what she’s saying. (Goodreads)
First lines: The phone rang at four o’clock in the morning. Someone on the other end said that Lucky was dead. And just like that I was big brotherless. I didn’t cry. Life without my brother had never even occurred to me. Not once.
Dangerous lies, Becca Fitzpatrick
After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.
But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows. As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks… (Goodreads)
First lines: An angry rap shook the motel room door. I lay perfectly still on the mattress, my skin hot and clammy. Beside me, Reed drew my body to his. So much for 10 minutes, I thought.
Dark metropolis, Jaclyn Dolamore
Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder’s mother is cursed with a spell that’s driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules. Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city’s secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own. Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they’re not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too.(Goodreads)
First lines: “I’m glad you girls are all here; by the looks of the crowd outside we’ll be busy, even for a Saturday.” Mr. Kortig raked his hand through his hair. “Lotties – I’d like you in the front. Nan, the private rooms. Thea, the balcony.” Who would Thea serve tonight?
The peony lantern, Frances Watts
When Kasumi leaves her remote village for the teeming city of Edo, her life is transformed. As a lady-in-waiting in a samurai mansion she discovers a rare talent for art and falls in love with a young samurai. How could she ever return to the life of a simple mountain girl? But Kasumi must set aside her own concerns. Her country is on the brink of change and Edo is simmering with tension. And her mistress has a dangerous secret-a secret that Kasumi is gradually drawn into…(Goodreads)
First lines: “Kasumi, I need you to go to the forest,” my mother called as I was putting the last futon into the cupboard.
“Have a lovely walk.” Hana was polishing the walls, which glowed a deep amber from years of smoke and soot. “Don’t spare a thought for those of us who have to work around here.”
No true echo, Gareth P. Jones
Nothing ever happens in idyllic Wellcome Valley, much to Eddie Dane’s dismay. Then, one day, Scarlett White steps onto the school bus. She’s a stranger but somehow familiar. Equal parts smitten and intrigued, Eddie tries to get to know her but finds she has more questions about him. Curious questions about his dead mother. One day he follows Scarlett to a remote house, where he witnesses a brutal murder, and suddenly he’s back on the school bus the day he first met Scarlett! Caught in a repeating time loop, Eddie learns the truth about his mother’s death, the nature of his connection to Scarlett, and how his past has shaped a dangerous future…one that he can prevent if he lets go of a person he loves.(Goodreads)
First lines: Since the trial, Liphook had found herself feeling increasingly nostalgic. She didn’t like it. All the other pensioners on the coach might have been content to natter on about the old days, but Liphook had never been interested in looking back. Only now that her memories were shifting and twisting did it feel important to try and cling to the truth. A part of her hoped that by remembering, she would be able to make it more real.
All the major constellations, Pratima Cranse
Laura Lettel is the most beautiful girl in the world. . . and Andrew’s not-so-secret infatuation.
Now he’s leaving high school behind and looking ahead to a fresh start at college and distance from his obsessive crush. But when a terrible accident leaves him without the companionship of his two best friends, Andrew is cast adrift and alone—until Laura unexpectedly offers him comfort, friendship, and the support of a youth group of true believers, fundamentalist Christians with problems and secrets of their own. Andrew is curiously drawn to their consuming beliefs, but why? Is it only to get closer to Laura? And is Laura genuinely interested in Andrew, or is she just trying to convert him?(Goodreads)
First lines: He stood at the top of the stairs and listened. A single note. A vibrational pull. A silk string. Laura.
“Jeeeesus, Jesus saves. He saves…me,” she sang. And then the single note returned, a wordless mmmm. Like the sound you make when you’re kissing someone, or pretending to kiss someone when you’re actually just pressing your face into your pillow.
Concentr8, William Sutcliffe
In a future London, Concentr8 is a prescription drug intended to help kids with ADD. Soon every troubled teen is on it. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Keep the undesirable elements in line. Keep people like us safe from people like them. What’s good for society is good for everyone. Troy, Femi, Lee, Karen and Blaze have been taking Concentr8 as long as they can remember. They’re not exactly a gang, but Blaze is their leader, and Troy has always been his quiet, watchful sidekick – the only one Blaze really trusts. They’re not looking for trouble, but one hot summer day, when riots break out across the city, they find it. What makes five kids pick a man seemingly at random – a nobody, he works in the housing department, doesn’t even have a good phone – hold a knife to his side, take him to a warehouse and chain him to a radiator? They’ve got a hostage, but don’t really know what they want, or why they’ve done it. And across the course of five tense days, with a journalist, a floppy-haired mayor, a police negotiator, and the sinister face of the pharmaceutical industry, they – and we – begin to understand why …This is a book about what how we label children. It’s about how kids get lost and failed by the system. It’s about how politicians manipulate them.
First lines: You want to know how I got famous? This is how. Weren’t proper famous. Didn’t last more than a few days. Weren’t popular famous neither. I mean most famous is we-love-you-famous or you-done-something-good famous – this was the opposite. For a few days me and Blaze and the others was the official scumbags of the universe. But what I’m saying is – we ain’t. We ain’t and we weren’t.
Until we meet again, Renee Collins
Cassandra craves drama and adventure, so the last thing she wants is to spend her summer marooned with her mother and stepfather in a snooty Massachusetts shore town. But when a dreamy stranger shows up on their private beach claiming it’s his own—and that the year is 1925—she is swept into a mystery a hundred years in the making. As she searches for answers in the present, Cassandra discovers a truth that puts their growing love—and Lawrence’s life—into jeopardy. Desperate to save him, Cassandra must find a way to change history…or risk losing Lawrence forever.
First lines: The beach is empty. In the fading glow of twilight, the waves roll up to the rocks in sweeping curls of white foam. The sand glistens like wet steel. The grass bends low in the briny night wind. Always changing, yet always the same. I imagine the beach has looked like this since the beginning of time.
The firebug of Balrog county, David Oppegaard
Dark times have fallen on remote Balrog County, and Mack Druneswald, a high school senior with a love of clandestine arson, is doing his best to deal. While his family is haunted by his mother’s recent death, Mack spends his nights roaming the countryside, looking for something new to burn. When he encounters Katrina, a college girl with her own baggage, Mack sets out on a path of pyromania the likes of which sleepy Balrog County has never seen before. (Goodreads)
First lines: A firebug has woken inside my heart. He feeds on smoke and char and he is always hungry, even when it appears he’s asleep and his flaming eye turned inward. I have done my best to feed him well, slinging him a diet of fires both large and small, yet this has not always held him in check. In fact, nourishing my inner firebug only made him stronger, increasing his appetite tenfold and bringing all manner of calamity to myself and the semi-innocent inhabitants of Balrog County.
Calvin, Martine Leavitt
As a child, Calvin felt an affinity with the comic book character from Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes. He was born on the day the last strip was published; his grandpa left a stuffed tiger named Hobbes in his crib; and he even had a best friend named Susie. Then Calvin’s mom washed Hobbes to death, Susie grew up beautiful and stopped talking to him, and Calvin pretty much forgot about the strip—until now. Now he is seventeen years old and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Hobbes is back, as a delusion, and Calvin can’t control him. Calvin decides that Watterson is the key to everything—if he would just make one more comic strip, but without Hobbes, Calvin would be cured. Calvin and Susie (is she real?) and Hobbes (he can’t be real, can he?) set out on a dangerous trek across frozen Lake Erie to track down Watterson.
First lines: Dear Bill,
This is Calvin again. I hope it’s okay if I call you Bill. Meaning no disrespect at all, but Bill is easier to type than Mr. Watterson and this is going to be a long letter. I am writing this letter for two reasons. One is because it has to be my English project, which is worth 50 percent of my final grade. My teacher gave me the idea but said it better be a long letter if it’s going to be worth 50 percent.
Modern Monsters, Kelly York
Vic Howard never wanted to go to the party. He’s the Invisible Guy at school, a special kind of hell for quiet, nice guys. But because his best friend is as popular as Vic is ignored, he went…
And wished he hadn’t. Because something happened to a girl that night. Something terrible, unimaginable, and Callie Wheeler’s life will never be the same. Plus, now Callie has told the police that Vic is responsible. Suddenly, Invisible Vic is painfully visible, on trial both literally, with the police, and figuratively, with the angry kids at school. As the whispers and violence escalate, he becomes determined to clear his name, even if it means an uneasy alliance with Callie’s best friend, the beautiful but aloof Autumn Dixon. But as Autumn and Vic slowly peel back the layers of what happened at the party, they realize that while the truth can set Vic free, it can also shatter everything he thought he knew about his life…(Goodreads)
First lines: Aaron Biggs leans over me to ask, “How’s it going, Vic?”
His freckled face and dyed black hair obscure my light. I squint at the page of algebra equations on the cafeteria table, decide they aren’t going to make any more sense to me whether or not I pause to see what Aaron wants, and look up at him. “Um. F-fine?”
Rookie is an online magazine for teens (rookiemag) and each year it produces its Yearbook in print. This year is Yearbook 4, and it looks amazing, as always. You can order it now; it won’t take long to arrive!
Rookie is the brainchild of Renaissance woman and influential teen Tavi Gevinson, who has been blogging and writing about fashion and popular culture since the age of 12 (!) as well as acting and singing… We’d all love a CV like that.
Well actually two.
The Year We Fell Apart, Emily Martin (January 2016). ” In the tradition of Sarah Dessen, this powerful debut novel is a compelling portrait of a young girl coping with her mother’s cancer as she figures out how to learn from – and fix – her past.” (goodreads.com) The book tells the story of Harper, who has really burned her friendship with Declan. On top of dealing with her mother’s illness, Harper must figure out whether or not it is possible to mend bridges, and if you should.
The Raven King, Maggie Stiefvater (April 2016). Okay so we’ve been waiting a while now and finally the final instalment in the Raven Cycle has got a proper publication date. We hope. What’s going to happen? Well we don’t really know, except the author is assuring people the important awful thing(s) she’s been saying will happen will actually happen even though readers are saying, “No don’t, you wouldn’t really.” Start with The Raven Boys if you haven’t already (trying not to spoiler).
The YA nonfiction collection is not very large – ‘compact’ might be a good word – but we do stock it up with some good stuff. We’ve recently ordered some new history titles (World War II, precisely) and other interesting things.
Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad, M. T. Anderson.
This is not just for classical music enthusiasts – it looks like a gripping book for anybody interested in World War II, or basically just for anybody. Written by the prize-winning author of Feed, Thirsty, and The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing.
“In September 1941, Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht surrounded Leningrad in what was to become one of the longest and most destructive sieges in Western history—almost three years of bombardment and starvation that culminated in the harsh winter of 1943–1944. More than a million citizens perished. Survivors recall corpses littering the frozen streets, their relatives having neither the means nor the strength to bury them. Residents burned books, furniture, and floorboards to keep warm; they ate family pets and—eventually—one another to stay alive. Trapped between the Nazi invading force and the Soviet government itself was composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who would write a symphony that roused, rallied, eulogized, and commemorated his fellow citizens—the Leningrad Symphony, which came to occupy a surprising place of prominence in the eventual Allied victory.” (goodreads.com)
Hitler’s Last Days: the Death of the Nazi Regime and the World’s Most Notorious Dictator, Bill O’Reilly.
We note the American angle on this interesting subject!
“By early 1945, the destruction of the German Nazi State seems certain. The Allied forces, led by American generals George S. Patton and Dwight D. Eisenhower, are gaining control of Europe, leaving German leaders scrambling. Facing defeat, Adolf Hitler flees to a secret bunker with his new wife, Eva Braun, and his beloved dog, Blondi. It is there that all three would meet their end, thus ending the Third Reich and one of the darkest chapters of history. Hitler’s Last Days is a gripping account of the death of one of the most reviled villains of the 20th century—a man whose regime of murder and terror haunts the world even today. Adapted from Bill O’Reilly’s historical thriller Killing Patton, this book will have young readers—and grown-ups too—hooked on history.” (goodreads.com)
Really Professional Internet Person, Jenn McAllister.
The author is really (also) Jennxpenn, YouTube personality.
“Really Professional Internet Person offers both an insider’s guide to building a successful YouTube channel and an intimate portrait of the surreality of insta-fame and the harsh reality of high school. Brimming with honesty, heart and Jenn’s patented sense of humor, Really Professional Internet Person features top ten lists, photos, screenshots, social media posts and never-before-posted stories chronicling Jenn’s journey from an anxious middle-schooler just trying to fit in, to a YouTube sensation unafraid to stand out.” (goodreads.com)
Some more newly-ordered titles!
The Anatomy of Curiosity, Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, Brenna Yovanoff. These three authors read and critique each other’s work regularly: they have a writing group, which is cool. The Anatomy of Curiosity is the follow up to The Curiosities, and similarly it contains illustrations and annotations about their writing process, which would be really interesting for writers and other creative people.
“In an unassuming corner of Brooklyn, a young woman learns to be ladylike, to love context, and to speak her mind from a very curious sort of tutor… In a faraway land convulsed by war, a young soldier hears the desert’s curious hum as he disarms bombs with the person he doesn’t know how to love… In a place so shriveled by drought that any drowning is a curiosity, a young writer tries again and again to tread water beneath the surface of a vast and unusual sea.” (goodreads.com)
Black Widow: Forever Red, Margaret Stohl. We did a double-take over this novel, thinking surely this is a graphic novel? But no, Black Widow gets some well-deserved attention from Margaret Stohl, co-author of the Beautiful Creatures series.
“Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives. Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments-until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type. Until now. When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned-and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams.” (goodreads.com)
Young Man With Camera, Emil Sher. “T– is used to getting grief. He gets it from his mom, who blames herself for his accident years earlier. He gets it from Mr. Lam, who suspects every kid of stealing from his shop. Worst of all, he gets it from Joined at the Hip, a trio of bullies so vicious that they leave T– terrified of even using his entire name. But T– has his own strength too: his camera, which captures the unique way he sees the world. His pictures connect him to Ms. Karamath, the kind librarian at school; his friend Sean, whose passion for mysteries is matched only by his love for his dog; and especially Lucy, a homeless woman who shares his admiration for the photographer Diane Arbus. When Lucy is attacked by Joined at the Hip, T– documents the assault on film. But the bullies know he has the photographs, and their anger could be deadly. What’s the right thing for T– to do? Do pictures ever tell the whole truth? And what if the truth isn’t always the right answer?” (goodreads.com) The novel is interspersed with T–’s photographs, which is pretty cool.
This broken wondrous world, Jon Skovron
A year ago, Boy, the son of Frankenstein’s monster, had never even met a human. Now he’s living with his human “family,” the descendants of Dr. Frankenstein, in Switzerland. That is, until the maniacal genius Dr. Moreau, long-ago banished to a remote island for his crimes against humanity, asks for his aid. Moreau wants Boy to join his army of animal/human hybrid creatures and help him overthrow human society. Boy must choose: side with the twisted doctor and save his fellow monsters, or try to defend the humans who run the planet?Boy will do anything to save this broken, wondrous world from the war that threatens to split it in two. But how much will he have to give up? And is the world worth saving?(Goodreads).
First lines: When I was a little boy, I had nightmares about them: mad scientists in lab coats and rubber gloves, hunched and wild-eyed, with bedhead hair and shrill voices that crackled like electricity. The Frankensteins.
The ultimate truth, Kevin Brooks
When Travis Delaney’s parents die in a car crash, Travis is devastated. In a bid to pull himself out of his grief, he starts to look into the last case they were investigating at the private investigation agency they ran. What starts as a minor distraction soon becomes a sinister, unbelievable mystery – and Travis is determined to solve it. Why were his parents looking for a missing boy when the boy’s family says he isn’t missing? Where is the boy himself? And why would a man who is in surveillance photos taken by Travis’s parents turn up at their funeral?
As Travis searches for answers, he starts to have the chilling realization that the question he should be asking is the one he most wants to avoid: Was the accident that killed his parents really what it seemed?(Goodreads).
First lines: I only noticed the man with the hidden camera because I couldn’t bear to look at the coffins any more. I’d been looking at them for a long time now. From the moment the two wooden boxes had been brought into the church, to the moment they’d been carried out into the graveyard and lowered gently into their freshly dug graves, I’d never taken my eyes off them.
Wolf by wolf, Ryan Graudin
The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s ball. Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission? (Goodreads).
First lines: There were five thousand souls stuffed into the train cars – thick and deep like cattle. The train groaned and bent under their weight, weary from all of their many trips. (Five thousand times five thousands. Again and again. So many, so many.)
Dumplin’, Julie Murphy
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back. Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.(Goodreads).
First lines: All the best things in my life have started with a Dolly Parton song. Including my friendship with Ellen Dryver. The song that sealed the deal was “Dumb blonde” from her 1967 debut album, Hello, I’m Dolly. During the summer before my first grade, my aunt Lucy bonded with Mrs. Dryver over their mutual devotion to Dolly.
Dead upon a time, Elizabeth Paulson
It’s a fairy-tale nightmare…One girl is kept in a room where every day the only food she’s given is a poisoned apple. Another is kept in a room covered in needles — and if she pricks her finger, she’ll die. Then there are the brother and sister kept in a cell that keeps getting hotter and hotter…A sinister kidnapper is on the loose in Kate’s world. She’s not involved until one day she heads to her grandmother’s house in the woods — and finds her grandmother has also been taken. Already an outcast, Kate can’t get any help from the villagers who hate her. Only Jack, another outsider, will listen to what’s happened. Then a princess is taken, and suddenly the king is paying attention – even though the girl’s stepmother would rather he didn’t. It’s up to Kate and Jack to track down the victims before an ever after arrives that’s far from happy.(Goodreads).
First lines: Not for the first time while trekking up the steepest part of Birch Hill, Kate Hood wished her boots had been sewn onto slightly thicker soles. She stuck to the center of Woodson Road, the part most travelled by carriage and coach, but still felt every pebble and puddle beaneth her feet. She knew that, by the time she kicked loose the boots and peeled off her woollen socks in the crackling hearth at Nan’s house, her toes would be blue and numb.
Shadow of the wolf, Tim Hall
Robin Loxley is seven years old when his parents disappear without trace. Years later the great love of his life, Marian, is also taken from him. Driven by these mysteries, and this anguish, Robin follows a darkening path into the ancient heart of Sherwood Forest. What he encounters there will leave him transformed, and will alter forever the legend of Robin Hood.(Goodreads).
First lines: First, forget everything you’ve heard. Robin Hood was no prince, and he was no disposed lord. He didn’t fight in the Crusades. He never gave a penny to the poor. In fact, all of those Sherwood legends, only one holds true: Robin was blind.
Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo, Brian Falkner
This alternative history re-imagines the 1815 Battle of Waterloo as a victory for the French emperor Napoléon Bonaparte, when he unleashes a terrible secret weapon – giant carnivorous survivors from pre-history – on his unsuspecting British and Prussian adversaries. In this world, smaller “saurs” are an everyday danger in the forests of Europe, and the Americas are a forbidden zone roamed by the largest and most deadly animals ever to walk the earth. But in his quest for power, Napoléon has found a way to turn these giant dinosaurs into nineteenth century weapons of mass destruction. Only Willem Verheyen, an outsider living in hiding in the tiny village of Gaillemarde, has the power to ruin the tyrant’s plans. And Napoléon will stop at nothing to find him. War is coming, and young Willem is no longer safe, for Gaillemarde is just a stone’s throw from the fields of Waterloo — fields which will soon run red with blood.(Goodreads).
First lines: The boy who brings the bread is Willem Verheyen. This is not true. His name is Pieter Geerts, but neither he, nor his mother, no anyone in the world has used that name in so long that it is just a distant reflection of a life that once was. Willem was born on the first day of the first month of a new century. When he was just seven years old, he saved the life of a village girl from a bloodthirsty raptor.
Carry on: the rise and fall of Simon Snow, Rainbow Rowell
Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen. That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.
Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up. (Goodreads).
First lines: I walk to the bus station by myself. There’s always fuss over my paperwork when I leave. All summer long, we’re not allowed to walk to Tescos without a chaperone and permission from the Queen – then, in the autumn, I just sign myself out of the children’s home and go.
Daughters unto devils, Amy Lukavics
When sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner’s family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly Ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries. When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn’t right on the prairie. She’s heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can’t be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul.(Goodreads).
First lines: The first time I lay with the post boy was on a Sunday, and I broke three commandments to do it. Honor thy father and they mother, thou shalt not lie, and remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Why couldn’t I stop counting all of my sins? it was if I was craving the wrath that was to follow them, challenging it, if only to make certain that I was indeed, alive.
The trouble in me, Jack Gantos
Fourteen-year-old Jack is sick of his old self. When his family moves to a new rental home in Fort Lauderdale, he wants to become everything he’s never been before. Then in an explosive encounter, he meets his new neighbor, Gary Pagoda, just back from juvie for car theft. Instantly mesmerized, Jack decides he will do all it takes to be like Gary. As a follower, Jack is desperate for whatever crazy, hilarious, frightening thing might happen next. But he may not be as ready as he thinks when the trouble inside him comes blazing to life.(Goodreads).
First lines: I was still in my white Junior Sea Cadet uniform and was marching stiff-legged like a windup toy across the golden carpet of scorched lawn behind our new rental house. Each splinter of dead grass had once been a soft green blade, but the summer heat had baked them into tanned quills that now crackled like trophy pelts beneath the hard rubber of my shoes.
These shallow graves, Jennifer Donnelly
Set in gilded age New York, These Shallow Graves follows the story of Josephine Montfort, an American aristocrat. Jo lives a life of old-money ease. Not much is expected of her other than to look good and marry well. But when her father dies due to an accidental gunshot, the gilding on Jo’s world starts to tarnish. With the help of a handsome and brash reporter, and a young medical student who moonlights in the city morgue, Jo uncovers the truth behind her father’s death and learns that if you’re going to bury the past, you’d better bury it deep.(Goodreads).
First lines: Josephine Montfort stared at the newly mounded grave in front of her and at the wooden cross marking it.
“This is the one you’re after. Kinch.” Flynn, the gravedigger, said, pointing at the name painted on the cross. “He died on Tuesday.”
Tuesday, Jo thought. Four days ago. Time enough for the rot to start. And the stink.
Gotham by midnight, Ray Fawkes and Ben Templesmith
Spinning out of Batman Eternal, Detective Jim Corrigan aka The Spectre stars in his very own series Gotham By Midnight! Normally Batman and the other caped protectors of Gotham have the streets of the city covered. But when monsters, ghosts and other supernatural beings enter the mix, even the Dark Knight needs help. Enter Detective Jim Corrigan to prowl the streets of Gotham, solving the unsolvable supernatural crimes the city can muster. (Publisher summary).