Conspiracy of blood and smoke, Anne Blankman
The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: She used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich, she lives with a kindly English family, posing as an ordinary German immigrant, and is preparing to graduate from high school. Her love, Daniel Cohen, is a reporter in town. For the first time in her life, Gretchen is content.
But then, Daniel gets a telegram that sends him back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside-down. And when she receives word that Daniel is wanted for murder, she has to face the danger she thought she’d escaped-and return to her homeland.
Gretchen must do everything she can to avoid capture and recognition, even though saving Daniel will mean consorting with her former friends, the Nazi elite. And as they work to clear Daniel’s name, Gretchen and Daniel discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and get out in time-or will Hitler discover them first? (Goodreads)
First lines: The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone bicycled down the country lane. Desolate fields, their grasses winter-brown and glistening from the afternoon’s rainfall, stretched out on either side of the road. The first strains of twilight darkened the distant hills to black, and nearby a few muddy sheep grazed, pausing to gaze blank-eyed at Gretchen as she peddled past.
Magonia, Maria Dahvana Headley
Aza Ray is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name. Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia. Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie? (Goodreads)
First lines: I breathe in. I breathe out. The sky’s full of clouds. A rope is looping down from above, out of the sky and down to earth. There is a woman’s face looing at me, and all around us, hundreds upon hundreds of birds.
Nanotech, Denis Wright
High School students on a science field trip to Auckland are captured by white supremacist group NAB, whose target is American biologist Professor Meinhoff. He’s made a startling and dangerous breakthrough in molecular biology–a virus that could destroy entire ethnic groups if it falls into the wrong hands. The kidnappers want it. Joe Baxter, his mates and teacher, Bernie, get in the way. Time is running out as they try to escape the kidnappers, save the professor, and ensure that the shocking plan doesn’t succeed. (Publisher information)
First lines: Even waiting around to be murdered can get kind of boring after a while. Don’t get me wrong. I mean, sure, we’ve been though the total freak-out stage, the numb-with-fear stage, followed by the red-and-white anger stage, but now we’re in a passive ‘whatever’ stage.
Rook, Sharon Cameron
History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a saviour of the innocent or a criminal? Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she. As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse. (Goodreads)
First lines: The heavy blade hung high above the prisoners, glinting against the stars, and then the Razor come down, a wedge of falling darkness cutting through the torchlight. One solid thump, and four more heads had been shaved from their bodies.
An ember in the ashes, Sabaa Tahir
Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free. Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear. It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do. But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy. There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself. (Goodreads)
First lines: My big brother reaches home in the dark hours before dawn, when even ghosts take their rest. He smells of steel and coal and forge. He smells of the enemy. He folds his scarecrow body through the window, bare feet silent on the rushes.
Dream a little dream, Kerstin Gier
Mysterious doors with lizard-head knobs. Talking stone statues. A crazy girl with a hatchet. Yes, Liv’s dreams have been pretty weird lately. Especially the one where she’s in a graveyard at night, watching four boys conduct dark magic rituals. The strangest part is that Liv recognizes the boys in her dream. They’re classmates from her new school in London, the school where she’s starting over because her mom has moved them to a new country (again). But what’s really scaring Liv is that the dream boys seem to know things about her in real life, things they couldn’t possibly know–unless they actually are in her dreams? Luckily, Liv never could resist a good mystery, and all four of those boys are pretty cute…(Goodreads)
First lines:The dog was snuffling at my bag. For a drug taking dog was a surprisingly fluffy specimen, like a golden retriever, and I was going to tickle it behind the ears when it bared its teeth and uttered a threatening “Woof!”
This week, for a change, some short stories / novellas. Both these books have content from some popular series: Dorothy Must Die, and the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix.
Dorothy Must Die: stories, D. M. Paige. Have you read Dorothy Must Die yet? We are told it is excellent! Particularly, probably, if you are sick of Dorothy being the hero of the Wizard of Oz. Good news for fans: Danielle Paige has produced a collection of three related stories: ‘No Place Like Oz’, ‘The Witch Must Burn’, ‘The Wizard Returns’. We see that the next book in the series is due for publication in 2017: these might fill a very small piece of the gap.
To Hold the Bridge: a Tale of the Old Kingdom and other stories, Garth Nix. “Far to the north of the magical Old Kingdom, the Greenwash Bridge Company has been building a bridge for almost a hundred years. It is not an easy task, for many dangers threaten the bridge builders, from nomad raiders to Free Magic sorcerers. Despite the danger, Morghan wants nothing more than to join the Bridge Company as a cadet. But the company takes only the best, the most skillful Charter mages, and trains them hard, for the night might come when only a single young cadet must hold the bridge against many foes. Will Morghan be that cadet? Also included in this remarkable collection are eighteen short stories that showcase Nix’s versatility as he adds a fantastical twist on an array of genres including science fiction, paranormal, realistic fiction, mystery, and adventure.” (goodreads.com)
Crimson Bound, by Rosamund Hodge. Another interesting classic fairy tale adaptation. “When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless – straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat. Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand – the man she hates most – Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?” (goodreads.com)
Looking forward to books we’re looking forward to ordering (we will let you know when we do!):
Lair of Dreams, by Libba Bray. The second Diviners book. We have been looking forward to this for ages (ages!), and it will be published at the end of August. In the mean time you can find out more at:
The series website
The series Facebook page
Queen of Shadows, by Sarah J. Maas. The fourth book in the really popular Throne of Glass series, available in early September.
The Throne of Glass Facebook page is here, plus A Court of Thorns and Roses will be available between now and then.
Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell. Rainbow Rowell fans: we are looking forward to October, when Carry On will get here, featuring Simon Snow. We quite like the idea of this: a novel about a character from a book within a book (which makes him fictional fiction, if this exists!) about whom fan fiction is written (read Fangirl and all will be revealed). Whether or not Carry On also counts as fan fiction is debatable.
Finding Audrey, Sophie Kinsella. The first young adult novel from this very popular author of the Shopaholic series. “Meet Audrey: an ordinary teenage girl with not so ordinary problems. Aside from her completely crazy and chaotic family, she suffers from an anxiety disorder which makes talking to her brother’s hot new best friend a bit of a challenge [Editor: yep, we've been there too Audrey]. But Audrey has a plan to help her face her fears and take on the world again. First stop: Starbucks.” (supplier’s website).
What Waits in the Woods, Kieran Scott. “It’s a beautiful, sunny day. Callie Velasquez holds hands with her boyfriend Jeremy as they follow Callie’s new BFFs Penelope and Lissa up the trail. The four friends are embarking on a camping trip – a trip that immediately goes awry. They lose their way on the trail, and encounter a charismatic stranger with questionable motives. And when Callie stumbles upon a dead body, it becomes clear that the danger that lies in the woods is deadlier than she could have ever imagined. Tensions mount and friendships are tested as these teenagers try to survive the most sinister of circumstances.” (goodreads.com)
The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Patrick Ness (August/September). Exciting! We like Patrick Ness. “What if you’re not the one who’s so often the hero in YA fiction; who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you were like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend might just be the God of mountain lions…” (goodreads.com)
Plus, we are pleased to see that the last book in The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater now has a title – The Raven King – and will be published at the very end of September. We will order it soon!
My favourite band does not exist, Robert T. Jeschonek
Sixteen-year-old genius Idea Deity believes that he exists only in the pages of a novel written by a malevolent, omnipotent author . . . and that he will die in chapter 64. Meanwhile, an older teen named Reacher Mirage sings lead vocals for the undercover rock band Youforia . . . a band that exists in Idea’s world only as an Internet hoax that Idea himself perpetuated. Then there’s beautiful and mysterious Eunice Truant, who links their destinies. When Idea and Reacher plunge into the reality of Fireskull’s Revenant, the twisted epic fantasy novel they’ve both been reading, chapter 64 bears down on them like a speeding freight train on an unstoppable collision course. Being trapped in a bad book can be a nightmare. Just ask Idea Deity. (Goodreads)
First lines: When Idea Deity first met Eunice Truant, he thought that the back of her head was the front of it. He saw her while trying to escape the men who were chasing me on the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls. Idea was pushing through the crowd of cheering tourists gaping at the fireworks going off on the American side.
Ashes to ashes, Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
New Year’s Eve ended with a bang and Mary, Kat and Lillia may not be prepared for what is to come.
After Rennie’s death, Kat and Lillia try to put the pieces together of what happened to her. They both blame themselves. If Lillia hadn’t left with Reeve… If Kat had only stayed with Rennie… Things could have been different. Now they will never be the same.
Only Mary knows the truth about that night. About what she is. She also knows the truth about Lillia and Reeve falling in love, about Reeve being happy when all he deserves is misery, just like the misery he caused her. Now their childish attempts at revenge are a thing of the past and Mary is out for blood.(Goodreads)
First lines: I’m high up in the rear balcony of Holy Lady of the Sea, and it is pure agony. There aren’t enough tears in the whole wide world. My sobs echo those of the congregation below me.
Arcadia, James Treadwell
On a tiny archipelago out of sight of the rest of the world lives Rory, a ten-year-old boy. He and his mother and a handful of survivors live an exhausting and precarious existence, entirely isolated. The sea is alive, and angry. Every man Rory can remember has been drowned. Everyone knows he’ll be next. One night, for the first time since the world changed and the curse descended, strangers appear on the island. They’re on their way to England, seeking a powerful magic ring. And one of them seems to know Rory by sight. Caught up in their quest, Rory enters an England of terrors and marvels, at the heart of which lies a place where journeys unimaginably longer and older than his will reach their end: Pendurra.(Goodreads)
First lines: From the top of Briar Hill he can see the whole world. Once upon a time there was a stone plaque up here. Rory remembers it, mostly. There was a map on it which told you what you were looking at, which island in which direction.
The catalyst, Helena Coggan
Rose Elmsworth has a secret. For eighteen years, the world has been divided into the magically Gifted and the non-magical Ashkind, but Rose’s identity is far more dangerous. At fifteen, she has earned herself a place alongside her father in the Department, a brutal law-enforcement organisation run by the Gifted to control the Ashkind. But now an old enemy is threatening to start a catastrophic war, and Rose faces a challenging test of her loyalties.(Goodreads)
First lines: The first they knew of it was the crack in the sky. It stretched across the sun, cutting swathes of light from the city streets – a great, black, jagged mouth, from the eastern horizon to the westernmost clouds. Through it came darkness, spilling shadows into the streetlights.
The sin eater’s daughter, Melinda Salisbury
Twylla is blessed. The Gods have chosen her to marry a prince, and rule the kingdom. But the favour of the Gods has it’s price. A deadly poison infuses her skin. Those who anger the queen must die under Twylla’s fatal touch.Only Lief, an outspoken new guard, can see past Twylla’s chilling role to the girls she truly is.(Goodreads)
First lines: Even when there are no prisoners, I can still hear the screams. They live in the walls like ghosts and echo between footsteps. If you travel down deep into the belly of the castle, beneath the barracks where the guards sleep, beneath the Telling Room, that is where they linger behind the quiet moments.
Half wild, Sally Green
In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, seventeen-year-old Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world’s most powerful and violent witch. Nathan is hunted from all sides: nowhere is safe and no one can be trusted. Now, Nathan has come into his own unique magical Gift, and he’s on the run–but the Hunters are close behind, and they will stop at nothing until they have captured Nathan and destroyed his father.(Goodreads)
a crossbill calls
another bird replies, not a crossbill
the first bird takes over again
The orphan queen, Jodi Meadows
Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.
She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.
She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.
She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others. (Goodreads)
First lines: The mirrors were an expensive superstition. Not that it mattered to Melanie. Every time we came to the western side of the city, she insisted that we stop and look, and I couldn’t find it in myself to deny her that pleasure.
The art of being normal, Lisa Williamson
David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl.
On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…
First lines: One afternoon, when I was eight years old, my class was told to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up. Miss Box went around the class, asking each one of us to stand up and read what we had written.
Vanishing girls, Lauren Oliver
Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it’s too late.
First lines: The funny thing about almost-dying is that afterward everyone expects you to jump on the happy train and take time to chase the butterflies through grassy fields or see rainbows in puddles of oil on the highway. It’s a miracle, they’ll say with an expectant look, as if you’ve been given a big old gift and you better not disappoint Grandma by pulling a face when you unwrap the box and find a lumpy, misshapen sweater.
Meteor Men, Jeff parker, Sandy Jarrell and Kevin Volo
On a summer night, Alden Baylor sits in a field watching the largest meteor shower in human history. What begins as teenage adventure becomes something more – the celestial event brings travelers who will change the world completely, and Alden discovers a connection to one of them. How does a young man who had to grow up fast handle the invasion of his planet? Can Alden keep humanity from oblivion?(Goodreads)
This week we’ve ordered three companions to some popular novels. Which got us to thinking about what a companion novel is. Like cousins, we decided. Related, but not as closely as sequels and series.
Lying Out Loud, Kody Keplinger. The companion novel to The Duff (or DUFF, it’s hard to know!), which is going to be a movie soon. “Sonny Ardmore is an excellent liar. She lies about her dad being in prison. She lies about her mom kicking her out. And she lies about sneaking into her best friend’s house every night because she has nowhere else to go. Amy Rush might be the only person Sonny shares everything with – secrets, clothes, even a nemesis named Ryder Cross.
“Ryder’s the new kid at Hamilton High and everything Sonny and Amy can’t stand – a prep-school snob. But Ryder has a weakness: Amy. So when Ryder emails Amy asking her out, the friends see it as a prank opportunity not to be missed. But without meaning to, Sonny ends up talking to Ryder all night online. And to her horror, she realizes that she might actually like him. Only there’s one small catch: he thinks he’s been talking to Amy. So Sonny comes up with an elaborate scheme to help Ryder realize that she’s the girl he’s really wanted all along. Can Sonny lie her way to the truth, or will all her lies end up costing her both Ryder and Amy?” (goodreads.com)
Off the Page, Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer. The companion to Between the Lines. “Sixteen-year-old Delilah is finally united with Oliver—a prince literally taken from the pages of a fairy tale. There are, however, complications now that Oliver has been able to enter the real world. To exist in Delilah’s world, Oliver must take the place of a regular boy. Enter Edgar, who agrees to take Oliver’s role in Delilah’s favorite book. In this multilayered universe, the line between what is on the page and what is possible is blurred, but all must be resolved for the characters to live happily ever after.” (goodreads.com)
The Remedy, Suzanne Young. A companion to the Program novels. “In a world before The Program… Quinlan McKee is a closer. Since the age of seven, Quinn has held the responsibility of providing closure to grieving families with a special skill: she can become anyone. Recommended by grief counselors, Quinn is hired by families to take on the short-term role of a deceased loved one between the ages of fifteen and twenty. She’s not an exact copy, of course, but she wears their clothes and changes her hair, studies them through pictures and videos, and soon, Quinn can act like them, smell like them, and be them for all intents and purposes. But to do her job successfully, she can’t get attached.
“Now seventeen, Quinn is deft at recreating herself, sometimes confusing her own past with those of the people she’s portrayed. When she’s given her longest assignment, playing the role of Catalina Barnes, Quinn begins to bond with the deceased girl’s boyfriend. But that’s only the beginning of the complications, especially when Quinn finds out the truth about Catalina’s death. And the epidemic it could start.” (goodreads.com)
This week, TV, dance, and a literary legend.
Homecoming, Kass Morgan. This is the final in the 100 trilogy, which the TV series The 100 is based on, so cover your eyes maybe because there might be spoilers! “Weeks after landing on Earth, the Hundred have managed to create a sense of order amidst their wild, chaotic surroundings. But their delicate balance comes crashing down with the arrival of new dropships from space. These new arrivals are the lucky ones – back on the Colony, the oxygen is almost gone – but after making it safely to Earth, Glass’s luck seems to be running out. Clarke leads a rescue party to the crash site, ready to treat the wounded, but she can’t stop thinking about her parents who may still be alive. Meanwhile, Wells struggles to maintain his authority despite the presence of the Vice Chancellor and his armed guards, and Bellamy must decide whether to face or flee the crimes he thought he’d left behind. It’s time for the Hundred to come together and fight for the freedom they’ve found on Earth, or risk losing everything – and everyone – they love.” (goodreads.com)
Dance of Fire, Yelena Black. The sequel to Dance of Shadows. “All dancers dream of the chance to try out for the Royal Court Ballet Company. Only two dancers from the elite New York Ballet Academy will have this honour. Vanessa is one of them. She dances with grace and elegance, and a fury that is unmatched. Justin – strong, sexy and caring – will be her partner. But the thrill of travelling to London for this once-in-a-lifetime competition is shrouded by their past and the demands of an ancient organisation. The Lyric Elite needs them to win the contest and to infiltrate the Royal Court Ballet in order to seek out a dark society of Necrodancers. Vanessa will dance like she has never danced before, but not for them. Vanessa is there to find her missing sister, Margaret, and she won’t let anything get in the way of that … Fierce rivals, dark forces and hidden motives weave together in a gripping thriller for fans of Black Swan and Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments.” (goodreads.com)
A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle. This is the first Sherlock Holmes mystery, first published in 1887. This edition is unabridged. “See how Holmes and Watson met for the first time. A baffling murder with puzzling clues and evil villains takes place and the … cold and quirky detective, with his razor-sharp deductive mind and obsessive attention to detail, is on the case. Told from the journals of his faithful companion, Dr. John Watson, join us for a trip to 221B Baker Street and the beginning of the legend of Sherlock Holmes.” (goodreads.com)
The homecoming, Ray Bradbury, illustrated by Dave McKean
The WISP series (Wonderfully Illustrated Short Pieces) represents an ingenious marriage of two creative forces: the artistry of today’s foremost illustrators and the literary legacy of beloved authors of popular short works for adults. The resulting offspring of this union are captivating, full-color illustrated editions of timeless classics that readers will want to savor and collect. For the first time ever, the series makes selected popular short works previously offered only in collections available in a unique, stand-alone format. Also for the first time, WISPs harness the talents of top illustrators for the benefit and delight of a new, older audience. This WISP presents RAY BRADBURY’S THE HOMECOMING, a little boy’s tale of his family reunion of vampires. This story was initially published in 1946 and later refashioned into further stories. Bringing this story to life are the wondrous illustrations of Dave McKean, whose delightful artwork perfectly matches the tale. (Goodreads)
First lines: “Here they come, said Cecy,” lying there flat in the High Attic dust.
“Where are they?” cried Timothy near the window, staring out.
Unleashed, Sophie Jordan
Davy has spent the last few months trying to come to terms with the fact that she tested positive for the kill gene HTS (also known as Homicidal Tendency Syndrome). She swore she would not let it change her, and that her DNA did not define her . . . but then she killed a man. Now on the run, Davy must decide whether she’ll be ruled by the kill gene or if she’ll follow her heart and fight for her right to live free. But with her own potential for violence lying right beneath the surface, Davy doesn’t even know if she can trust herself.
First lines: The man I killed won’t leave me alone. He comes to me at night. The first time he intruded on my dreams I thought it was an isolated thing. A sudden troublesome nightmare that would fade with the night, never to return. But it does. He does. And I begin to realise he’s never going away.
Zafir, Pure Mason
Six months after Zafir has moved to Homs from Dubai with his parents, the excitement of living in a new city has worn off. But then he sees a body thrown from a moving car, and when no one stops to help – and he’s told to forget what he’s seen – he realises there’s a lot he doesn’t understand about life in Syria. A lot that no one will tell him. Soon after, the campaign for revolution in Syria begins, and Zafir’s parents argue about their country’s future. Things get worse when his father is arrested and his mother must leave Homs. As the conflict in the city escalates, everyday life becomes dangerous for a boy alone. (Goodreads)
First lines: Zafir shivered. It was an icy morning in the city of Homs and the wind felt sharp enough to strip the skin from his body. Tetah, his grandmother, has said it might even snow. Zafir hoped it would, but he wished winter didn’t have to be this cold.
The five stages of Andrew Brawley, Shaun David Hutchinson
Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night. His parents did, and so did his sister, but he survived. Now he lives in the hospital. He serves food in the cafeteria, he hangs out with the nurses, and he sleeps in a forgotten supply closet. Drew blends in to near invisibility, hiding from his past, his guilt, and those who are trying to find him. Then one night Rusty is wheeled into the ER, burned on half his body by hateful classmates. His agony calls out to Drew like a beacon, pulling them both together through all their pain and grief. In Rusty, Drew sees hope, happiness, and a future for both of them. A future outside the hospital, and away from their pasts. But Drew knows that life is never that simple. Death roams the hospital, searching for Drew, and now Rusty. Drew lost his family, but he refuses to lose Rusty, too, so he’s determined to make things right. He’s determined to bargain, and to settle his debts once and for all. But Death is not easily placated, and Drew’s life will have to get worse before there is any chance for things to get better.
First lines: The boy is on fire. EMTs wheel him into Roanoke General’s sterile emergency room. He screams and writhes on the gurney as though the fire that burned his skin away burns still, flaring deep within his bones, where paramedics and doctors and nurses crowding around him, working desperately, will never be able to extinguish it.
The bargaining, Carly Anne West
The fact that neither of her parents wants to deal with her is nothing new to Penny. She’s used to being discussed like a problem, a problem her mother has finally passed on to her father. What she hasn’t gotten used to is her stepmother…especially when she finds out that she’ll have to spend the summer with April in the remote woods of Washington to restore a broken-down old house. Set deep in a dense forest, the old Carver House is filled with abandoned antique furniture, rich architectural details, and its own chilling past. The only respite Penny can find away from April’s renovations is in Miller, the young guy who runs the local general store. He’s her only chance at a normal, and enjoyable, summer.
But Miller has his own connection to the Carver House, and it’s one that goes beyond the mysterious tapping Penny hears at her window, the handprints she finds smudging the glass panes, and the visions of children who beckon Penny to follow them into the dark woods. Miller’s past just might threaten to become the terror of Penny’s future…(Goodreads)
First lines: The first thing I should see is Pop with his belt. He called me from the top of the stairs, so that’s where he should be waiting, leather and buckle in hand, knuckles bulging against his grip.
The winner’s crime, Marie Rutkoski
The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret. As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.
First lines: She cut herself opening the envelope. Kestrel has been eager, she’d been a fool, tearing into the letter simply because it had been addressed in Herrani script. The letter opener slipped. Seeds of blood hit the paper and bloomed bright.
Under my skin, James Dawnson
Seventeen-year-old Sally Feather is not exactly a rebel. Her super-conservative parents and her treatment at the hands of high school bullies means that Sally’s about as shy and retiring as they come – but all that’s about to change. Accidentally ending up in the seedier side of town one day, Sally finds herself mysteriously lured to an almost-hidden tattoo parlour – and once inside, Sally is quickly seduced by its charming owner, Rosita, and her talk of how having a secret tattoo can be as empowering as it is thrilling. Almost before she knows what she is doing, Sally selects sexy pin-up Molly Sue, and has her tattooed on her back – hoping that Molly Sue will inspire her to be as confident and popular as she is in her dreams. But things quickly take a nightmareish turn. Almost immediately, Sally begins to hear voices in her head – or rather, one voice in particular: Molly Sue’s. And she has no interest in staying quiet and being a good girl – in fact, she’s mighty delighted to have a body to take charge of again. Sally slowly realises that she is unable to control Molly Sue… and before long she’s going to find out the hard way what it truly means to have somebody ‘under your skin’. (Goodreads)
First lines: I can’t say I wasn’t warned. This is what all those stories told us about. This is the dark at the heart of the forest; this is the Big Bad Wolf; this is both the serpent and the apple. There are warnings everywhere – in the Bible, on TV, in nursery rhymes. I always thought they were metaphors or allegories to get me to go to bed, to make me eat my vegetables. I ignored them. I think we all do.
Frozen Charlotte, Alex Bell
We’re waiting for you to come and play. Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind…Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lilias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there’s her other cousin. The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn’t be there. The girl that died. (Goodreads)
First lines: The girls were playing with the Frozen Charlotte dolls again. The schoolmistress had given them some scarps of fabric and ribbon from the sewing room to take out to the garden. They were to practice their embroidery skills by making little dresses and bonnets for the naked porcelain dolls.
“They’ll catch their death of cold otherwise,” the teacher had said.
Quake, Patrick Carman
Faith Daniels and Dylan Gilmore are in love, and they have a special ability called a pulse: they can move things with their minds. They’re caught in the middle of a deadly war with two other pulses: Clara and Wade Quinn, who have joined forces with Hotspur Chance, the most wanted man in the world. At the start of Quake, Faith and Dylan are holed up in a spectacular abandoned mountain lodge (once used in the film The Shining 71 years before), and their Intel friend Hawk leaves them in the middle of the night, in spite of a newly blossoming love with a girl named Jade. Hawk’s plan is to penetrate the Western State and make contact with a sleeper cell working on the inside that will give them valuable information about Hotspur’s violent plan. But while Hawk is searching for answers on the inside, Faith and Dylan are still fighting on the outside. In a series of hair-raising battles, the second pulses duel it out, only to raise the body count on both sides. During the battles, Faith and Dylan discover an even great strength: the power of their combined love. Together, Faith and Dylan might just be able to save the world with a quake that is big enough to change the course of history. (Goodreads)
First lines: I used to draw things and make little notes but I don’t do that anymore. I’m too tired. I’ve let so many details slip away these past months because living is a lot of work or because I grew out of writing things down or I just got lazy. I woke up one day and realised I wasn’t writing things down anymore. I guess it happens.
Burning Kingdoms, Lauren DeStefano
After escaping Internment, Morgan and her fellow fugitives land on the ground to finally learn about the world beneath their floating island home.
The ground is a strange place where water falls from the sky as snow, and people watch moving pictures and visit speakeasies. A place where families can have as many children as they want, their dead are buried in vast gardens of bodies, and Internment is the feature of an amusement park. It is also a land at war. Everyone who fled Internment had their own reasons to escape their corrupt haven, but now they’re caught under the watchful eye of another king who wants to dominate his world. They may have made it to the ground, but have they dragged Internment with them? (Goodreads)
First lines: Snow. That’s the word the people of the ground have for this wonder.
“Goddamn snow,” our driver mumbles for the second time, as the mechanical arms sweep the dust from the window. It’s like a stab to the heart hearing a god referred to so unkindly. I wonder which god he means.
Undead with benefits, Jeff Hart
Jake and Amanda are in love, on the run—and undead. They’ve teamed up with Cass, who’s ditched her former job as shady government psychic zombie-tracker, and they’re headed across the border into Iowa, where there’s rumored to be a zombie cure. Armed with a trunk full of guinea pigs (aka zombie snacks), they’re ready to take on the Midwest’s first undead warlord, the psycho psychic out for their blood, and their own superawkward love triangle. But the virus is spreading faster than you can say “zombie apocalypse,” and Jake, Amanda, and Cass have to find the cure—if it even exists—before the whole state of Iowa goes up in flames. (Goodreads)
First lines: My first week as a zombie ended when a dark haired psychic collapsed into my arms, blood curling out of her nose, her eyes wide and pleading with me. Behind us: a farmhouse where a hoard of Iowan zombies were still snacking on recently massacred government agents. Around us: Tall grass and the unconscious bodies of our friends, courtesy of some psychic mojo I couldn’t even begin to understand. In front of us: the future, the great unknown, and probably a lot of walking.
The boy I love, Nina de Gramont
Sixteen-year-old Wren has been content to stay in her best friend Allie’s shadow. It doesn’t bother her that Ally gets the cutest guys, the cutest clothes, and even a modeling gig—Wren is happy hanging with the horses on her family’s farm and avoiding the jealousy of other girls. But when Tim, the most intriguing guy in school, starts hanging out with Ally and Wren, jealousy is unavoidable, but not the kind Wren expects. Because even though Ally is way into him and Wren hasn’t flirted, not one little bit, it becomes increasingly clear that Tim prefers Wren’s company above anyone else’s. Tim’s unexpected devotion comes at the exact time Wren’s home life is about to be turned upside down. But at least there is Tim…always a gentleman and ever dependable. But as his own seemingly perfect world comes spiraling down around him and he tells Wren his biggest secret, Wren must decide what she’ll really do for love. (Goodreads)
First lines: I could tell you that the trouble between Allie and me started with Tim Greenlaw, but that wouldn’t be completely true. If I’m going to be honest (and what’s the point of telling this story of I’m not going to be honest?), it’s never been easy having a friend who looks like Allie.
Zodiac, Romina Russell
Rhoma Grace is a 16-year-old student from House Cancer with an unusual way of reading the stars. While her classmates use measurements to make accurate astrological predictions, Rho can’t solve for ‘x’ to save her life—so instead, she looks up at the night sky and makes up stories. When a violent blast strikes the moons of Cancer, sending its ocean planet off-kilter and killing thousands of citizens—including its beloved Guardian—Rho is more surprised than anyone when she is named the House’s new leader. But, a true Cancerian who loves her home fiercely and will protect her people no matter what, Rho accepts. Then, when more Houses fall victim to freak weather catastrophes, Rho starts seeing a pattern in the stars. She suspects Ophiuchus—the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac legend—has returned to exact his revenge across the Galaxy. Now Rho—along with Hysan Dax, a young envoy from House Libra, and Mathias, her guide and a member of her Royal Guard—must travel through the Zodiac to warn the other Guardians. But who will believe anything this young novice says? Whom can Rho trust in a universe defined by differences? And how can she convince twelve worlds to unite as one Zodiac?(Goodreads)
First lines: When U think of home, I see blue. The swirl blue of the seawater, the infinite blue of the sky, the brilliant blue of Mom’s gaze. Sometimes I question if her eyes were really that blue, or if the blue of House Cancer colours them in my memory.
The last leaves falling, Sarah Benwell
Japanese teenager, Sora, is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Lonely and isolated, Sora turns to the ancient wisdom of the samurai for guidance and comfort. But he also finds hope in the present; through the internet he finds friends that see him, not just his illness. (Goodreads)
First lines: I stare at the cursor blinking expectantly at the top of the page. Who do I want to be? There are so many choices; honest, funny, brave. A superhero with a tragic past and a bright, mysterious future; with super strength or telekinetic powers. I could be anyone and they would never know.
Avalon, Mindee Arnett
Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light. Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they’re damn good at it. Jeth doesn’t care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents’ ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he’ll go to get the freedom he’s wanted for so long.(Goodreads)
First lines: Stealing a spaceship shouldn’t be this easy. Jeth Seagrave peered around the corner and counted the number of sentries standing at the docking bay terminal. There were two of them, both sporting the tan uniforms of the local guards, with matching bored expressions. He slipped back before being spotted.
First team, Tim Green
Brock Nickerson is on the run…again. But this time his dad promises it’s going to be different. With his strong left arm, Brock knows he can be a great quarterback, and with the help of his new friend, Mak, he has a plan to beat the odds and make the first team. But the coaches have plans of their own, especially for the kids from the wrong side of the tracks, which is exactly where Brock now lives. Brock is trying to finally fit in, but his father’s past is creeping up on him—and one chance meeting causes everything to come crashing down. Will Brock finally be able to navigate his new life, or will his past force him back on the run? (Goodreads)
First lines: Brock was used to running. It’s just what he and his dad did. He could hear the thump of his own pounding heart. He looked out the window. The darkness outside their racing car was complete. Clouds covered the moon and a light drizzle rushed by in a mist.
Slump, Kevin Waltman
Derrick Bowen’s sophomore year is a grind. He’s been looking forward to the basketball season all summer, but his girlfriend Jasmine leaves him for putting too much focus on basketball. The promise his Marion East basketball team showed at the end of last season isn’t materializing. And the sweet jumper D-Bow worked on all summer just isn’t falling. When Derrick’s father is severely injured in a car crash, Derrick is faced with a new reality where basketball can’t be his only priority. (Goodreads)
First lines: Any other sixteen-year-old gets invited over to his girl’s place to watch a movie and it doesn’t mean they’re going to “watch a movie.” But with Jasmine, it actually means that’s what we’re doing – sitting on the couch in her living room, her tablet between us, checking out Jackie Robinson and 42.
Rat runners, Oisin McGann
Four young criminals. One simple task: steal a mysterious box from the daughter of a dead scientist. They have to follow her, bug her phone, hack her computer, search her home, all without her knowing. But WatchWorld run this city now. On every street are cameras, X-ray scanners, microphones. Terrifying Safe-Guards can see through walls, hear your heartbeat, analyze the smell of your sweat. Their motto? If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear. But Nimmo, Scope, Manikin and FX, who work in the blind-spots of the city’s shady underworld, are soon caught in a maze of deception, treachery and murder… will they make it out of the rat-runs alive?(Goodreads)
First lines: Nimmo heard the whistles and immediately stopped what he was doing. People on the ground floor of the tenement were warning those above. There was a Safe-Guard in the building. He looked at his watch, noting the time. Six-fifteen – three hours before sundown. He needed to be gone before seven, or he’d have to leave the job for another night.
Waiting for Unicorns, Beth Hautala
After her mother dies, twelve-year-old Talia McQuinn goes to the Arctic with her father, a whale researcher. Over the course of one summer, and through several unlikely friendships, Talia learns that stories have the power to connect us, to provide hope, and to pull us out of the darkness.(Goodreads)
First lines: The Inuit woman told me that if I ever saw a unicorn, to close my eyes. Tight.
“Unicorns break your heart,” she said, all the warmth seeping out of her voice. She was warning me against the very thing I was dying to see.
Diamond boy, Michael Williams
“Diamonds for everyone.” That’s what fifteen-year-old Patson Moyo hears when his family arrives in the Marange diamond fields. Soon Patson is working in the mines himself, hoping to find his girazi–the priceless stone that could change his life forever. But when the government’s soldiers comes to Marange, Patson’s world is shattered.(Goodreads)
First lines: How did you get here, Patson? Sometimes the simple questions are the hardest to answer. My tongue lay like a chisel in my mouth; my eyes leaden. I was swimming from a place of no feeling, moving steadily upward into a world of sensation to the dark, throbbing pain that lived in my leg.
Knockout games, G. Neri
Knockout Games is set in modern day St. Louis amidst a disturbing rash of seemingly random attacks on bystanders by a group of urban teenagers in a crew called the TKO club. The protagonist, Erica, is one of a few girls who is down with TKO in part due to her natural skill with a video camera and her ability to make art out of the attacks. (Goodreads)
First lines: It came out of nowhere. The sound of Nikes charging across asphalt – the bounce of baby fat in the black kid’s face- the meat of his fist smashing into a random stranger’s jaw- I heard the SMACK! from where I was standing. Through my lens, I saw the stranger’s cigarette fly out of frame, his eyes rolling back into his head _ and then he just fell. Hard.
The Halcyon Bird, Kat Beyer
Mia has settled into her life with the Della Torres — Milan’s premier demon-catching family, accompanying them to exorcisms and even learning some way to be useful in the family trade. Then Bernardo comes into her life, handsome, well-mannered, someone who makes her forget her impossible crush on Emilio, her cousin. But always lurking in the background is the demon who possessed Mia once before, and who has not given up on possessing her again–this time for good. (Goodreads)
First lines: It was only a small candle. The first match went out, but the second took, and Nonno Giuliano nodded at the tiny flame like an old friend. The man on the floor lay perfectly still, his eyes on the ceiling, in the middle of a rug full of shattered glad, his head twisted at a frightening angle.
Seeker, Arwen Elys Dayton
Quin Kincaid has been put through years of brutal training for what she thinks is the noble purpose of becoming a revered ‘Seeker’. Only when it’s too late does she discover she will be using her new-found knowledge and training to become an assassin. Quin’s new role will take her around the globe, from a remote estate in Scotland to a bustling, futuristic Hong Kong where the past she thought she had escaped will finally catch up with her. (Goodreads)
First lines: It would be nice to make it through alive, Quinn thought, She ducked to the right as her opponent’s sword came whistling past the left side of her body, nearly slicing of her arm. Quin’s own whipsword was coiled in her hand in its whip form. With a crack, she flicked it out, and it solidified into a long sword.
Salt and storm, Kendall Kulper
Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the sea witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe and prosperous at sea. But before she could learn how to control her power, her mother – the first Roe woman in centuries to turn her back on magic – steals Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roe’s power. The one magical remnant left to Avery is the ability to read dreams, and one night she foresees her own murder. Time is running short, both for her and for the people of her island who need the witches’ help to thrive. Avery has never read a dream that hasn’t come true, but a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane tells her he can help her change her fate. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected. And as she falls in love with Tane, she learns it is his life and hers that hang in the balance. (Goodreads)
First lines: Despite my mother’s best efforts, I never forgot the day my grandmother taught me how to tie the winds. That was ten years ago, when Prince Island was more than just a rock out in the Atlantic Ocean, when its docks choked with ships, when the factory furnaces spat out a constant stream of thick black smoke and the island’s bars spat out a constant stream of laughing men, their faces round and shiny.
A cold legacy, Megan Shepherd
After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.
Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own. (Goodreads)
First lines: The last traveller’s inn on the road from Inverness was no place to die. Freezing rain lashed the windowpanes as I huddled over a warm bowl of soup in a corner of the inn’s ground floor tavern. Across the table, Montgomery rubbed a scar on his arm and stared out the window, scanning the muddy road for signs we were being pursued.
Three interesting-looking books that will be arriving in the next month (as long as they don’t fall off the boat/plane).
Under a Painted Sky, Stacey Lee. They (you know, them) say this is a book for Code Name Verity lovers, which we are! “Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.” (goodreads.com)
Everybody Knows Your Name, Andrea Seigel & Brent Bradshaw. Ford and Magnolia come from quite different backgrounds. “When the two teens are cast in Spotlight, a reality TV singing competition, both see it as their chance to start anew. With each episode, as they live together in a Hollywood Hills mansion and sing their hearts out, Ford and Magnolia fall in love. But how genuine can that love be when a television audience is watching their every move—and when their pasts are catching up them so much faster than they can run?” (goodreads.com)
Black Dove, White Raven, Elizabeth Wein. Speaking of Code Name Verity! Here’s the new novel by author Elizabeth Wein. “Emilia and Teo’s lives changed in a fiery, terrifying instant when a bird strike brought down the plane their stunt pilot mothers were flying. Teo’s mother died immediately, but Em’s survived, determined to raise Teo according to his late mother’s wishes-in a place where he won’t be discriminated against because of the color of his skin. But in 1930s America, a white woman raising a black adoptive son alongside a white daughter is too often seen as a threat.
“Seeking a home where her children won’t be held back by ethnicity or gender, Rhoda brings Em and Teo to Ethiopia, and all three fall in love with the beautiful, peaceful country. But that peace is shattered by the threat of war with Italy, and teenage Em and Teo are drawn into the conflict. Will their devotion to their country, its culture and people, and each other be their downfall or their salvation?” (goodreads.com)