A bit late with this post, but better late than never! Here are some of the best books about living as a member of the LGBTQ community.
Exams are coming up, so I’ve been looking through the collection and online for resources to help you revise for your exams. This week we’re looking at Shakespeare. The Bard can be a little hard to get through but there’s plenty to help you out if you need it.
Reading the plays is one thing but sometimes you need to hear the speeches actually acted to gain an appreciation of what they mean. The Guardian newspaper’s website has a great series of videos “Shakespeare’s Solos” with some of the best actors in the world performing some of Shakespeare’s most famous monologues.
Many Answers, an online homework help service, has a great entry on how to get access to The Shakespeare collection. You’ll need to have a chat with one of the Any Questions operators to get the password and user name to access it, but it’s well worth it.
The Shakespeare Book is a more holistic look at Shakespeare, both his world and his works. It’s a great resource to flick through – it’s not a large, dense tome – which puts his works in chronological order, in context and lists characters, has a timeline for events in the play and also keeps a record of recent adaptations.
I love Halloween – in my opinion it’s the best holiday of the year. So every week in October I’ll be doing a round up of the best scary fiction, movies, crafts and other interesting bits and pieces. If I have time I might have a chat to the other librarians and get their recommendations as well.
If you’re like me, you want to get your costume and Halloween prep started early – we’ve got some great books on cosplay and other crafts!
Yaya Han is a big name in the cosplay world and she’s edited this great book of photos of amazing cosplayers – great inspiration for taking your halloween costume to the next level. 1000 incredible costume & cosplay ideas displays the best of the best. If you’re not quite at that level yet (like me) then pinterest is a great place to start.
There are quite a few awesome Halloween crafting books – it was hard to pick just a few! Here are some of my favourites: Artful Halloween, Creating your vintage Halloween and Glitterville’s handmade Halloween. There’s also the AntiCraft, one of my favourite craft books ever.
Hopefully you’ll enjoy these round-ups. You’ll certainly be ready by the time the 31st of October rolls around…
Here’s some nonfiction titles we’ve received recently, or are coming soon, proving there is some interesting goodness in the YA nonfiction collection!
The Gutsy Girl: Escapades For Your Life of Epic Adventure, Caroline Paul. Read this book and you may find yourself doing something completely mad and hair-raising and crazy… or something. “…A book about the glorious things that happen when you unshackle from fear and open up to exhilaration” says Goodreads.com. Yeehaaaaa.
On the subject of gutsy girls:
Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World, Laura Barcella. An introduction to the history of feminist activism in the United States, featuring, as the subtitle suggests, 50 short biographical pieces of noteworthy women.
Feminism: Reinventing the F Word, Nadia Abushanab Higgins. More on the topic!
This Book Loves You, PewDieDie. Inspiration from the Swedish online comedian.
Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts, Susan Cain. Being an introvert can get a bad rap, but this book may change your perspective on quiet people and what it means to be one. Can you be a loud introvert? Maybe, for short spaces of time, on special occasions.
This May Sound Crazy, Abigail Breslin. Abigail Breslin is a successful actor who starred in Little Miss Sunshine, My Sister’s Keeper, Ender’s Game. This is a collection of essays about life in the digital age.
Firebug, Lish McBride
Ava is a firebug—she can start fires with her mind. Which would all be well and good if she weren’t caught in a deadly contract with the Coterie, a magical mafia. She’s one of their main hit men . . . and she doesn’t like it one bit. Not least because her mother’s death was ordered by Venus—who is now her boss. When Venus asks Ava to kill a family friend, Ava rebels. She knows very well that you can’t say no to the Coterie and expect to get away with it, though, so she and her friends hit the road, trying desperately to think of a way out of the mess they find themselves in. Preferably keeping the murder to a minimum. (Goodreads)
First lines: Ryan slammed the book shut and tipped his head back, sprawling on the bench and claiming it as his own. I looked down at my lap, his current pillow, and shook my head.
“I’m not asking you to write the paper for me, Ava. Just engage in a lively discussion about the book.”
Hero Complex, Margaux Froley
Less than a month has passed since Devon Mackintosh uncovered the truth about the apparent suicide of Keaton’s golden boy and her unrequited love, Hutch. But that doesn’t mean the danger is over. Her own life has been threatened. Solving Hutch’s case only unearthed more questions: what lies beneath the Keaton land that could be so valuable as to tear the Hutchins family apart? Hutch’s grandfather, Reed Hutchins, knows the answer. But Reed is dying of cancer, and this dark family secret might die with him. Faced with no other option, Devon swipes Reed’s diary and plunges into his life as an 18-year-old science prodigy in the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor. Through his adolescent eyes—and his role in biological weapons research, still classified to this day—Devon fights to piece together the final clues to what haunts the Keaton hillsides, the truth Reed’s enemies are still willing to kill for. (Goodreads)
First lines: The limo had seemed excessive. That was before Devon boarded the 250-foot mega yacht- where she handed her overnight bag to her personal butler, slipped on a hand-beaded Marchesa gown, and requested a sing from the children’s choir singing the Rolling Stones catalogue: “Moonlight Mile.” It seemed an appropriate song for the moonlight waters of the San Francisco Bay on New Years Eve.
Perfectly good white boy, Carrie Mesrobian
Sean Norwhalt can read between the lines.
“You never know where we’ll end up. There’s so much possibility in life, you know?” Hallie said.
He knows she just dumped him. He was a perfectly good summer boyfriend, but now she’s off to college, and he’s still got another year to go. Her pep talk about futures and “possibilities” isn’t exactly comforting. Sean’s pretty sure he’s seen his future and its “possibilities” and they all look disposable. Like the crappy rental his family moved into when his dad left.Like all the unwanted filthy old clothes he stuffs into the rag baler at his thrift store job. Like everything good he’s ever known. The only hopeful possibilities in Sean’s life are the Marine Corps, where no one expected he’d go, and Neecie Albertson, whom he never expected to care about.(Goodreads)
First lines: I stood in the back of the barn, in front of a pile of boxes marked “Tools,” watching the party go on. The senior girls’ spring party was usually down by the old railroad trestle bridge off Highway 10, but this time it was out on someone’s farm, so they’d decided to make it a goddamn hoedown or something.
A thousand pieces of you, Claudia Gray
Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him. Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.(Goodreads)
First lines: My hand shakes as I brace myself against the brick wall. Rain falls cold and sharp against my skin, from a sky I’ve never seen before. It’s hard to catch my breath, to get any sense of where I am. All I know is that the Firebird worked. It hangs around my neck, glowing with the heat of the journey.
Dirty Wings, Sarah McCarry
Maia is a teenage piano prodigy and dutiful daughter, imprisoned in the oppressive silence of her adoptive parents’ house like a princess in an ivory tower. Cass is a street rat, witch, and runaway, scraping by with her wits and her knack for a five-fingered discount. When a chance encounter brings the two girls together, an unlikely friendship blossoms that will soon change the course of both their lives. Cass springs Maia from the jail of the only world she’s ever known, and Maia’s only too happy to make a break for it. But Cass didn’t reckon on Jason, the hypnotic blue-eyed rocker who’d capture Maia’s heart as soon as Cass set her free–and Cass isn’t the only one who’s noticed Maia’s extraordinary gifts. Is Cass strong enough to battle the ancient evil she’s unwittingly awakened–or has she walked into a trap that will destroy everything she cares about? In this time, like in any time, love is a dangerous game. (Goodreads)
First lines: Before any of this, she thinks, there was the kind of promise a girl just couldn’t keep. Before the bad decisions, before the night sky right now so big, so big it’s big enough to swallow the both of them, before her hands shaking stop shaking stop shaking stop shaking. She is standing at the precipice of a cliff, the edges of her vision sparking out into static, the heaving sea below her moving against the rocking shore with a roar.
Atlantia, Ally Condie
For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose. Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.(Goodreads)
First lines: My twin sister, Bay, and I pass underneath the brown-and-turquoise banners hanging from the ceiling of the temple. Dignitaries perch on their chairs in the gallery, watching and people crowd the pews in the nave. Statues of the gods adorn the walls and ceiling, and it seems as if they watch us, too.
Lies we tell ourselves, Robin Talley
In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever. Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honours student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily. Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”
Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.(Goodreads)
First lines: The white people are waiting for us. Chuck sees them first. He’s gone out ahead of our group to peer around the corner by the hardware store. From there you can see all of Jefferson High. The gleaming redbrick walls run forty feet high. The building is a block wide, and the window panes are spotless. A heavy concrete arch hangs over the two storey wood-and-glass doors at the front entrance.
Only ever yours, Louise O’Neill
In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful. For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim. Best friends freida and isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year. But as the intensity of final year takes hold, isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight.And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known.(Goodreads)
First lines: The chastities keep asking me why I can’t sleep. I am at the maximum permitted dosage of SleepSound, they say, eyes narrowed in suspicious concern. Are you taking it correctly, frieda? Are you taking it all yourself, freida? Yes.Yes. Now, can I have some more? Please?
The walled city, Ryan Graudin
730. That’s how many days I’ve been trapped.
18. That’s how many days I have left to find a way out.
DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible….
JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister….
MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She’s about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window…..(Goodreads)
First lines: There are three rules of survival in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. Right now, my life depends completely on the first. Run, run, run.
Don’t you forget about me, Kate Karyus Quin
Welcome to Gardnerville. A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies.Except…
There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them. Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all.(Goodreads)
First lines: It was a bizarre May Day Parade at midnight instead of midday. There were no floats, no firefighters dressed in full gear tossing out bubble gum while their single siren blared, no horns tooting in time to the beat of the drums. The golden girls did not prance and smile with their silver batons spinning figure eights. Little kids with faces red and sticky from Popsicles and candy apples didn’t shove and shout and cry when the balloon they’d forgotten they were holding escaped into the sky.
Terror kid, Benjamin Zephaniah
Rico knows trouble. He knows the look of it and the sound of it. He also knows to stay away from it as best as he can. Because if there’s one thing his Romany background has taught him, it’s that he will always be a suspect. Despite his best efforts to stay on the right side of the law, Rico is angry and frustrated at the injustices he sees happening at home and around the world. He wants to do something – but what? When he is approached by Speech, a mysterious man who shares Rico’s hacktivist interests, Rico is given the perfect opportunity to speak out about injustice. After all, what harm can a peaceful cyber protest do…(Goodreads)
First lines: Rico stood and stared and the shopping trolley flew through the air and smashed through the sports shop window. The boots and shoulders of the rioters had already weakened the toughened glass, and the force of the trolley caused the whole pane to shatter and collapse.
Blackbird, Anna Carey
A girl wakes up on the train tracks, a subway car barreling down on her. With only minutes to react, she hunches down and the train speeds over her. She doesn’t remember her name, where she is, or how she got there. She has a tattoo on the inside of her right wrist of a blackbird inside a box, letters and numbers printed just below: FNV02198. There is only one thing she knows for sure: people are trying to kill her. On the run for her life, she tries to untangle who she is and what happened to the girl she used to be. Nothing and no one are what they appear to be. But the truth is more disturbing than she ever imagined.(Goodreads)
First lines: The train holds the heat of the sun, even an hour after it has sunk below the pavement, pushing its way below the sprawling city. At the Vermont/Sunset station, a Chinese woman with a severe black bob leans over the platform’s edge, trying to gauge how far away the train is. A group of high school kids stands under a poster for some TV show, sharing ipod buds and discussing a boy called Kool-Aid.
Where silence gathers, Kesley Sutton
For as long as she can remember, Alexandra Tate has been able to see personified Emotions, and she’s found a best friend in Revenge. He’s her constant companion as she waits outside Nate Foster’s house, clutching a gun. Every night since Nate’s release from prison, Alex has tried to work up the courage to exact her own justice on him for the drunk driving accident that killed her family. But there’s one problem: Forgiveness. When he appears, Alex is faced with a choice—moving on or getting even. It’s impossible to decide with Forgiveness whispering in one ear . . . and Revenge whispering in the other.(Goodreads)
First lines: Revenge finds me on the bridge. He sits down just as I finish my uncle’s bottle of rum. His legs dangle off the edge. I don’t look at him, and for a few moments neither of us says a word. Plumes of air leave my mouth with every breath. It’s still too cold for crickets, so the night is utterly silent. If I listen hard enough, I can almost hear the stars whispering to each other. Cruel, biting whispers.
Apple and Rain, Sarah Crossnan
When Apple’s mother returns after eleven years away, Apple feels whole again. But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother’s homecoming is bittersweet. It’s only when Apple meets someone more lost than she is that she begins to see things as they really are.(Goodreads)
First lines: I don’t know if what I remember is what happened or just how I imagined it happened now I’m old enough to tell stories. I’ve read about this thing called childhood amnesia. It means we can’t remember anything from when we were really small because before three years old we haven’t practiced the skill of remembering enough to do it very well. That’s the theory, but I’m not convinced.
In real life, Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang
Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time. It’s a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It’s a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends.
But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer–a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake. (Goodreads)
The fashion book, Alexandra Black
From corsets and camis to tailoring and textiles, The Fashion Book is a sassy style guide for teenage girls who want to discover the stories behind their favorite looks, find their own style, and learn what makes the fashion world tick.Packed with gorgeous images, this illustrated book for young adults takes a unique look at fashion. It reveals how modern-day looks, from catwalk to high-street fashions, draw on the styles of the past from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and from the rebel attire of the 50’s to the sport-inspired looks of the 80’s.
Through witty graphics and bright lively text, teens can go behind the scenes of the exclusive fashion world. Style icons, designers, and top models all give practical tips to create stunning outfits, explain key fashion terms, discuss careers in fashion, and reveal secrets of the industry. Trivia, a glossary, inspirational quotes, and more make The Fashion Book a must-have accessory for teens.(Goodreads)
A song for Ella Grey, David Almond
Claire is Ella Grey’s best friend. She’s there when the whirlwind arrives on the scene: catapulted into a North East landscape of gutted shipyards; of high arched bridges and ancient collapsed mines. She witnesses a love so dramatic it is as if her best friend has been captured and taken from her. But the loss of her friend to the arms of Orpheus is nothing compared to the loss she feels when Ella is taken from the world. This is her story – as she bears witness to a love so complete; so sure, that not even death can prove final. (Goodreads)
First lines: I’m the one who’s left behind. I’m the one to tell the tale. I knew them both, knew how they lived and how they died. It didn’t happen long ago. I’m young, like them. Like them? Can that be possible? Can you be both young and dead?
When Nona’s guardian kills himself, she is immediately suspected of murdering him. In a world where nature and darkness are feared, where wild animals are killed or held captive and cities are illuminated by permanent light, who will believe her innocence? Nona must flee with her only friend – a bear who is strangely human. In their desperate attempt to escape capture, Nona and her bear encounter two strange boys, Caius and Jay. Together, the four of them will hide, and fight, and make the deadliest of enemies in their desperate race to a forbidden place called The Edge – where nature is unrestrained, where there is light and shade, forest and mountain, and where there are no shackles or boundaries. (Goodreads)
First lines: The snow falls heavily that night and in the morning lies in deep drifts, which smooth over the shapes of the edges of the jagged rocks and grassy knolls. It hides the bog holes that lie at the edge of the marshes and covers the recks of the burnt-out cars.
Mortal Heart (The fair assassin book III), Robin LaFevers
Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own. She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn’t mean she has…(Goodreads)
First lines: For most, the bleak dark months when the black storms come howling out of the north is a time of grimness and sorrow as people await the arrival of winter, which brings death, hunger and bitter cold in its wake. But we at the convent of Saint Mortain welcome winter with open arms, for it is Mortain’s own season, when he is full upon us.
Talon, Julie Kagawa
Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they’re positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.
Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George. Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon’s newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember’s bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons. (Goodreads)
First lines: “Ember, when did your parents die, and what was the cause of death?”
I stifled a groan and tore my gaze from the car window, where the bright, sunny town of Crescent Beach shimmered beyond the tinted glass. The air in the black sedan was cold and stale, and, annoyingly, the driver had engaged the child safety locks so I couldn’t roll down the window.
The hangman’s revolution (W.A.R.P book II) Eoin Colfer
Young FBI agent Chevie Savano arrives back in modern-day London after a time-trip to the Victorian age, to find the present very different from the one she left. Europe is being run by a Facsist movement known as the Boxites, who control their territory through intimidation and terror. Chevie’s memories come back to her in fragments, and just as she is learning about the WARP program from Professor Charles Smart, inventor of the time machine, he is killed by secret service police. Now they are after Chevie, too, but she escapes–into the past. She finds Riley, who is being pursued by futuristic soldiers, and saves him. Working together again, it is up to Chevie and Riley to find the enigmatic Colonel Clayton Box, who is intent on escalating his power, and stop him before he can launch missiles at the capitals of Europe. (Goodreads)
First lines: Towards the end of the twentieth century, Scottish professor Charles Smart succeeded in stabilizing a time tunnel to Victorian London (constructed from exotic matter with negative energy density, duh). Within months the FBI had established the Witness Anonymous Relocation Program to stash federal witnesses in the past.
Revolution, Deborah Wiles
It’s 1964, and Sunny’s town is being invaded. Or at least that’s what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi, are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote. They’re calling it Freedom Summer. Meanwhile, Sunny can’t help but feel like her house is being invaded, too. She has a new stepmother, a new brother, and a new sister crowding her life, giving her little room to breathe. And things get even trickier when Sunny and her brother are caught sneaking into the local swimming pool — where they bump into a mystery boy whose life is going to become tangled up in theirs. (Goodreads)
First lines: The first thing we do, me and Gillette, is make sure everybody is asleep. Daddy and Annabelle (I still can’t call her Mama) go to bed after watching the Lawrence Welk show on television. Parnell will be home at midnight, after he sweeps the floors and locks the doors on the corner of Fulton and West Washington Streets. Little Audrey-champion sleeper- has been snoring for hours, so we don’t worry about her.
Paranoia (Book II of the Night Walkers), J.R Johansson
In the aftermath of the events that nearly killed him, Parker Chipp is trying to learn to cope better with life as a Watcher. And it seems to be working…until he wakes up in jail with a hangover and 12 hours of missing time. Darkness has somehow taken control and Parker doesn’t have a clue how to stop him. He finds an unlikely ally in Jack, the mysterious guy in the motorcycle jacket who offers to help Parker master his abilities as a Watcher. But even as they practice, the darkness inside Parker is getting more and more powerful, taking over Parker’s body and doing everything he can to destroy Parker’s life. When Jack reveals that there is another kind of Night Walker, known as a Taker, Parker starts to wonder if the strange things happening in Oakville are more than just a coincidence. After all, people are more than just sleepwalking. They’re emptying their savings accounts with no memory of doing so, wandering into strange parts of town and disappearing, they’re even killing other people–all in their sleep. If Parker wants to find out what’s happening or have any hope of seeing his father again, he’ll have to defy Jack and put his own life in danger…because the more he learns about these other Night Walkers, the more certain he becomes that his life isn’t the only one that could be lost. (Goodreads)
First lines:Weird stuff was going down in Oakville, and this time I was definitely – well, fairly – sure that I had nothing to do with it. The Sunday morning news headline on the muted television above the kitchen counter read: Another mysterious withdrawal.
Fiendish, Brenna Yovanoff
When Clementine was a child, dangerous and inexplicable things started happening in New South Bend. The townsfolk blamed the fiendish people out in the Willows and burned their homes to the ground. But magic kept Clementine alive, walled up in the cellar for ten years, until a boy named Fisher sets her free. Back in the world, Clementine sets out to discover what happened all those years ago. But the truth gets muddled in her dangerous attraction to Fisher, the politics of New South Bend, and the Hollow, a fickle and terrifying place that seems increasingly temperamental ever since Clementine reemerged. (Goodreads)
First lines: When I was little, everything twinkled. Trees and clouds all seemed to shine around the edges. At night, the stars were long tails of light, smeared across the sky like paint. The whole county glowed.
Blind, Rachel De Woskin
Imagine this: You are fourteen, watching the fireworks at a 4th of July party, when a rocket backfires into the crowd and strikes your eyes, leaving you blind. In that instant, your life is changed forever. How do you face a future in which all your expectations must be different? You will never see the face of your newborn sister, never learn to drive. Will you ever have a job or fall in love? This is Emma’s story. The drama is in her manysmall victories as she returns to high school in her home town and struggles to define herself and make sense of her life, determined not to be dismissed as a PBK – Poor Blind Kid. This heartfelt and heart wrenching story takes you on Emma’s journey and leaves you with a new understanding of the challenges to be faced when life deals a devastating blow. (Goodreads)
First lines: Going blind is a bit like growing up. Maybe because the older you get, the more you have to close your eyes partway. From the time I was tiny, if I thought the words, When I die, I’ll be dead forever, I could actually understand, in my bone marrow, what forever meant.
The truth against the world, Sarah Jamila Stevenson
When Olwen Nia Evans learns that her family is moving from San Francisco to Wales to fulfill her great-grandmother’s dying wish, she starts having strange and vivid dreams about her family’s past. But nothing she sees in her dreams of the old country–the people, the places–makes any sense. Could it all be the result of an overactive imagination . . . or could everything she’s been told about her ancestors be a lie?Once in Wales, she meets Gareth Lewis, a boy plagued by dreams of his own–visions he can’t shake after meeting a ghost among the misty cairns along the Welsh seaside. A ghost named Olwen Nia Evans.
First lines: “Right over there, behind the old church.” Gareth’s mother pointed. “You used to love rolling down that hill. Over and over until you got dizzy.” She laughed, the wind blowing her pale hair out of its ponytail and whipping it around. Gareth glanced up from his phone. The hill looked a lot smaller than it had seemed in his memory.
The fire wish, Amber Lough
Najwa is a jinni, training to be a spy in the war against the humans. Zayele is a human on her way to marry a prince of Baghdad—which she’ll do anything to avoid. So she captures Najwa and makes a wish. With a rush of smoke and fire, they fall apart and re-form—as each other. A jinni and a human, trading lives. Both girls must play their parts among enemies who would kill them if the deception were ever discovered—enemies including the young men Najwa and Zayele are just discovering they might love. (Goodreads)
First lines: The earth and all her layers sped past while I traveled to the surface. I was smoke and flame, swirling through granite, through shale and sand. It took only a moment, then I emerged, myself again.
Mayday, Jonathan Friesen
Seventeen-year-old Crow will stop at nothing to protect her younger sister—even if it costs her her own life. But then she’s given a chance to come back and make things right. There are a few catches, though. First, she won’t come back as herself. And before she can set things straight, she’ll have to figure out what’s what—and things aren’t exactly as clear-cut as she remembered.
First lines: Let’s start with where I’m not. I’m not in dark tunnel walking toward a bright light. I’m not drifting toward heaven, looking down on my body. I’m seated in the front of an amubulance -alone- waiting. I’me not sure if this is a normal rest stop before the long trip; I’ve never died before.
Starbreak, Phoebe North
The Asherah has finally reached Zehava, the long-promised planet. There, Terra finds harsh conditions and a familiar foe—Aleksandra Wolff, leader of her ship’s rebel forces. Terra and Aleksandra first lock horns with each other . . . but soon realize they face a much more dangerous enemy in violent alien beasts—and alien hunters.
Then Terra finally discovers Vadix. The boy who has haunted her dreams may be their key to survival—but his own dark past has yet to be revealed. And when Aleksandra gets humanity expelled from the planet, it’s up to Terra, with Vadix by her side, to unite her people—and to forge an alliance with the alien hosts, who want nothing more than to see humanity gone forever.
First lines: I’ve never kept a journal before. Never thought about it. It’s not how my brain works, not really. I see colours, the way shadows mingle with light. But words? I could take them or leave them, or so I always thought. One of my ancestors kept a journal. All about how she arrived on the Asherah, how she came to live inside the dome. How she hated it there. She thought she was trapped in the deepness of space. She could never forget it- how her freedoms had been taken from her, one by one, by the High Council.
I’m just me, M.G Higgins
Nasreen and Mia are two very different girls. But they stand out at Arondale High. And kids make assumptions about the only Muslim and the new black girl–the only African American–in school. “Who let you into the suburbs?” Samantha asks. Everyone gawks. Nasreen has kept her head down for years. Eighteen months and she’s out, she tells herself. Off to college. Mia is bold. Yeah, she wishes she were somewhere else, but she’s not going to take the bullying lying down. She has to live her life. Graduate. Get into a good school. The school administrators are ignorant. And worse. The bullying escalates. Both at school and online. The girls come up with a plan to fight back. To regain some dignity. To turn the tables on the bullies. (Goodreads)
First lines: I knock on my brother’s door. His rap music is so loud, I’m sure he can’t hear me. I pound louder. “Jaffar! Open up!”
The volume goes down. He opens his door a crack and glares at me.
I clear my throat. He never lets me forget he’s older than me.
Evil librarian, Michelle Knudsen
When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He’s really young and super cute and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the creepy look in the librarian’s eyes, or the weird feeling Cyn gets whenever she’s around him. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact . . . a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian, who also seems to be slowly sucking the life force out of the entire student body!
First lines: Italian class. The shining highlight of my Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Not because I am any good at Italian (I’m not), or because I like the teacher (I don’t.) It’s because Ryan Halsey sits one row over and two rows up from where I sit, which is absolutely perfect for forty-five minutes of semi-shameless staring.
Eden, Joanna Nadin
After her cousin Bea is killed in a house fire, Evie returns to her childhood home of Eden, full of guilt for what might have been. She is not the only one seeking redemption. Bea’s boyfriend, Penn, arrives in Cornwall, desperate to atone for a terrible mistake. And as Penn and Evie’s feelings for each other intensify, Evie slowly unravels the dark truth behind Bea’s tragic death.
First lines: I still dream of Eden. Not the burnt, broken shell it is now, now even the sweating, stifling coffin it became that last summer, when it was shrouded in dust sheets, awaiting burial like a corpse. No, the Eden in my mind if the one from my childhood, when my entire world was contained within it’s cool, granite walls and high hedges, and my imagination played out on its velvet lawns and in the creeping dampness of the woods.
Brown girl dreaming, Jaqueline Woodson
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become. (Goodreads)
First lines: I am born on a Tuesday at University Hospital
a country caught
between Black and White
When Mr. Dog bites, Brian Conaghan
Dylan Mint has Tourette’s. For Dylan, life is a constant battle to keep the bad stuff in – the swearing, the tics, the howling dog that escapes whenever he gets stressed. And, as a sixteen-year-old virgin and pupil at Drumhill Special School, getting stressed is something of an occupational hazard. But then a routine visit to the hospital changes everything. Overhearing a hushed conversation between the doctor and his mother, Dylan discovers that he’s going to die next March.
So he grants himself three parting wishes: three ‘Cool Things To Do Before I Cack It’.
It isn’t a long list, but it is ambitious, and he doesn’t have much time. But as Dylan sets out to make his wishes come true, he discovers that nothing – and no-one – is quite as he had previously supposed. (Goodreads)
First lines: When I found out, the first thing I did was type “100 things to do before you die” into Google. The Internet is, like, wow! How do those Google people make their thingy whizz about the world in a mega-swoosh style before sending me, Dylan Mint, all this big-eye info? No one could answer that question – I know this for a fact because I’ve googled it myself, six tines, and there is nada on it.
The summer I wasn’t me, Jessica Verdi
Lexi has a secret. She never meant for her mom to find out. And now she’s afraid that what’s left of her family is going to fall apart for good. Lexi knows she can fix everything. She can change. She can learn to like boys. New Horizons summer camp has promised to transform her life, and there’s nothing she wants more than to start over. But sometimes love has its own path… (Goodreads)
First lines: My mother drives right past the New Horizons sign.
“Um, Mom?” I touch her arm gently. She doesn’t respond. She’s zoning out again. But these moments have been happening a lot less often lately. Maybe soon they won’t be happening at all.
The astrologer’s daughter, Rebecca Lim
Avicenna Crowe’s mother, Joanne, is an astrologer with uncanny predictive powers and a history of being stalked. Now she is missing.
The police are called, but they’re not asking the right questions. Like why Joanne lied about her past, and what she saw in her stars that made her so afraid. But Avicenna has inherited her mother’s gift. Finding an unlikely ally in the brooding Simon Thorn, she begins to piece together the mystery. And when she uncovers a link between Joanne’s disappearance and a cold-case murder, Avicenna is led deep into the city’s dark and seedy underbelly, unaware how far she is placing her own life in danger.(Goodreads)
First lines: My mother always called it the eventuality. Not the maybe, or the probably.
“It’s going to happen,” she would tell me calmly. “I even know when. It’s a twist in my stars. It’s written there, and we have to accept it.”
My mother, Joanne Nielsen Crowe. She has a name, she’s not a was.
Amity, Micol Ostow
When Connor’s family moves to Amity, a secluded house on the peaceful banks of New England’s Concord River, his nights are plagued with gore-filled dreams of demons. destruction, and revenge. Dreams he kind of likes. Dreams he could make real, with Amity’s help.
Ten years later, Gwen’s family moves to Amity for a fresh start. Instead, she’s haunted by lurid visions, disturbing voices, and questions about her own sanity. But with her history, who would ever believe her? And what could be done if they did?
Because Amity isn’t just a house. She is a living force, bent on manipulating her inhabitants to her twisted will. She will use Connor and Gwen to bring about a violent end as she’s done before. As she’ll do again. And again. And again.(Goodreads)
First lines: Here is a housel bones of beam and joints of hardware, stone foundation smooth, solid as the core of the earth, nestled, pressed, cold and flat and dank against the hard-packed soil and all of its squirming secrets.
Night of the Zombie Chickens is supposed to be Kate Walden’s breakout film. But her supporting actresses-her mother’s prize organic hens-are high maintenance, to say the least. Thank goodness Kate’s best friend Alyssa is the star. She’s great at screaming and even better at killing zombies in creative ways. But when Alyssa turns into a real-life soulless zombie and ditches Kate for the most popular girl in seventh grade, Kate suddenly finds herself both friendless and starless. Now, thanks to Alyssa’s new crowd, Kate is the butt of every joke at school and consigned to the loser table at lunch. If movies have taught Kate anything, it’s that the good guy can always win-with the right script. And her fellow social outcasts may be the key to her own happy ending. Kate hatches the perfect revenge plot against her former best friend, but even though her screenplay is foolproof, Kate soon realizes that nothing-in filmmaking or in life-ever goes exactly as planned. Especially when there are diabolical hens out to get you.(Goodreads)
First lines: The last normal day of my life is a Saturday, and it starts pretty much like every other morning. When I go downstairs to the kitchen, my dad rattles his newspaper and my mother mumbles something in my direction and yawns.
Forget me, K.A Harrington
On the three-month anniversary of her boyfriend Flynn’s death, Morgan uploads her only photo of him to FriendShare to get some closure—but she’s shocked when the facial recognition software suggests she tag him as “Evan Murphy.” She’s never heard of Evan, but a quick search tells her that he lives in a nearby town and looks exactly like Flynn. Only this boy is very much alive. Digging through layers of secrets and lies, Morgan is left questioning everything she thought she knew about her boyfriend, her town, and even her parents’ involvement in this massive web of lies.(Goodreads)
First lines: He lied to me. That was my first thought when I saw him. I was alone in my car, on the way to the party where Toni and my other friends were waiting. As I drove down Lincoln Road, my eyes went to the tall chain-link fence that bordered the old amusement park.
As red as blood, Salla Simukka
In the midst of the freezing Arctic winter, seventeen-year-old Lumikki Andersson walks into her school’s dark room and finds a stash of wet, crimson-colored money. Thousands of Euros left to dry—splattered with someone’s blood.
Lumikki lives alone in a studio apartment far from her parents and the past she left behind. She transferred into a prestigious art school, and she’s singularly focused on studying and graduating. Lumikki ignores the cliques, the gossip, and the parties held by the school’s most popular and beautiful boys and girls. But finding the blood-stained money changes everything. Suddenly, Lumikki is swept into a whirlpool of events as she finds herself helping to trace the origins of the money. Events turn even more deadly when evidence points to dirty cops and a notorious drug kingpin best known for the brutality with which he runs his business. As Lumikki loses control of her carefully constructed world, she discovers that she’s been blind to the forces swirling around her—and she’s running out of time to set them right. When she sees the stark red of blood on snow, it may be too late to save her friends or herself.(Goodreads)
First lines: All around lay glittering white. Over old snow, a new, clean layer of soft flakes had fallen fifteen minutes earlier. Fifteen minutes earlier everything had still been possible. The world had looked beautiful, the future flickering somewhere in the distance, brighter, freer, more peaceful.
Monument 14, Emmy Laybourne
Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong. In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.(Goodreads)
First lines: Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t hug her and tell her that you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not – you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner.
The ghosts of Heaven, Marcus Sedgewick
A bold, genre-bending epic that chronicles madness, obsession, and creation, from the Paleolithic era through the Witch Hunts and into the space-bound future. Four linked stories boldly chronicle madness, obsession, and creation through the ages. Beginning with the cave-drawings of a young girl on the brink of creating the earliest form of writing, Sedgwick traverses history, plunging into the seventeenth century witch hunts and a 1920s insane asylum where a mad poet’s obsession with spirals seems to be about to unhinge the world of the doctor trying to save him. Sedgwick moves beyond the boundaries of historical fiction and into the future in the book’s final section, set upon a spaceship voyaging to settle another world for the first time. (Goodreads)
First lines: She is the one who goes on,
when the others remain behind.
The one who walks into the darkness,
when others cling to the light.
The young elites, Marie Lu
Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites. Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all. Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.
Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.(Goodreads)
First lines: I’m going to die tomorrow morning.
That’s what the Inquisitors tell me, anyway, when they visit my cell. I’ve been in here for weeks- I know this only because I’ve been counting the number of times my meals come.
Feral, Holly Schindler
It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.
But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened. But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley…(Goodreads)
First lines: In the rugged, underbrush-riddled rural town of Peculiar, Missouri, at the beginning of a January sleet storm, and beneath the dimming orange hues of dusk, a body lay half out of the window that led to the high school basement.
I hunt killers, Barry Lyga
Jasper “Jazz” Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say. But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal’s point of view. And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod. In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?(Goodreads)
First lines: By the time Jazz got to the field outside town, yellow police tape was everywhere, strung from stake to stake in a sort of drunken, off-kilter hexagon. The field was thick with cops – state troopers in their khakis, a cluster of deputies in their blues, even a crime-scene tech in jeans and a Windbreaker.
The fall, Bethany Griffin
Madeline Usher is doomed. She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.
Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.(Goodreads)
First lines: The first thing I notice is that my blanket is gone. The last of my nightly rituals is to pull it all the way to my chin, and it never falls away, no matter what nightmares I wrestle before I wake.
Some assembly required, Arin Andrews
Seventeen-year-old Arin Andrews shares all the hilarious, painful, and poignant details of undergoing gender reassignment as a high school student in this winning memoir. We’ve all felt uncomfortable in our own skin at some point, and we’ve all been told that it’s just a part of growing up. But for Arin Andrews, it wasn’t a phase that would pass. He had been born in the body of a girl and there seemed to be no relief in sight. In this revolutionary memoir, Arin details the journey that led him to make the life-transforming decision to undergo gender reassignment as a high school junior. In his captivatingly witty, honest voice, Arin reveals the challenges he faced as a girl, the humiliation and anger he felt after getting kicked out of his private school, and all the changes, both mental and physical, he experienced once his transition began. Arin also writes about the thrill of meeting and dating a young transgender woman named Katie Hill and the heartache that followed after they broke up. Some Assembly Required is a true coming-of-age story about knocking down obstacles and embracing family, friendship, and first love. But more than that, it is a reminder that self-acceptance does not come ready-made with a manual and spare parts. Rather, some assembly is always required.(Goodreads)
First lines: Getting dumped at prom sucks. I mean, getting dumped period sucks, obviously. But to have it happen in formal wear in front of hundreds of people adds a humiliating slap across the face that an I-just-want-to-be-friends text can’t compete with.
120 ways to annoy your mother (and influence people), Ana Benaroya
Ana Benaroya, a brilliant, young, independent American illustrator, has brought together 120 tips that provide an ironic, witty and gently subversive twist on all the guides to life for would-be prom queens and cheerleaders. This book provides the things that really matter for a teenage rebel, including How Not to Make Eye Contact with Your Mother and How to Turn Your Life into a Soap Opera, alongside humorous pointers for cultural and social advancement, such as How to Appreciate Jazz Music, and dreamy, surreal ideas, such as How to Fly and How to Breathe Fireballs. (Goodreads)
Shakespeare is taught in most college classes these days; whether you think this is a bad or good thing depends on you! I’m a fan, but I get tired of the same-old same-old productions and books. So here are a few of my favourite Shakespeare related books, websites and DVDs, to make your experience of the great man that much more interesting. I think this post is going to get a lot of flack from English teachers and Shakespeare purists everywhere, but I’m of the opinion that stuff like this should be enjoyable and accessible. I’m sure the Bard would have wanted it that way.
To be or not to be: a chooseable path adventure, by Ryan North, Shakespeare, and you!
This is unquestionably one of my favourite things to come into the YA collection in a while. I have fond memories of choose-your-own adventure books from my childhood, even though I always ended up dying! That’s an option in this book but the great thing is, you can always start again. Especially if you start out as Hamlet Senior…well, that’s not a spoiler. After all, I think the statue of limitations on spoiler warnings runs out after 415 years. Anyway, you can start the game as the aforementioned (deceased) King of Denmark, Ophelia or Hamlet himself. After that, it’s up to you. It’s written more like a YA novel than in prose, and the possible endings get pretty wacky. Added to this are the amazing illustrators; there are too many to namecheck all of them but Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant), Randall Munroe (XKCD) and Faith Erin Hicks (Friends with Boys, Nothing Possibly can go wrong) all contribute. What I find particularly awesome is that this book is the result of a kickstarter campaign: crowd funding for the win! A necessary disclaimer: I wouldn’t recommend using this to write your NCEA essays.
Hamlet: a novel, John Marsden
This book takes a rather more serious look at Hamlet. It keeps fairly close to the original story, but manages to convey the inner emotions of those entangled in the story. Retellings of Hamlet are by far the most popular among YA writers, but I think this one’s the best. The language is fresh and the pace makes the looming disaster all the more tragic. It also doesn’t try to force a happy ending on the characters, which I’ve always find a bit jarring, especially in books that aim to be taken seriously.
Lady Macbeth’s daughter, Lisa Klein
In the text of Macbeth, it is revealed that lady Macbeth has been pregnant before; but this is only mentioned once, and Macbeth’s lack of children plays a central role in the plot of the play. In this novel, Lisa Klein imagines what the life of such a child – a daughter, who is cast out by Macbeth – would be like. The historic Lady Macbeth also had a son, by her first husband, but is Lady Macbeth and Albia, her lost daughter, who tell the story in alternating chapters. The writer says she set out to give “an entirely new perspective on the events of Shakespeare’s play, using a protagonist who is outside the main action but crucial to its unfolding.” She more than succeeds, and manages to incorporate historical facts into the narrative fairly seamlessly, which keeps the book from seeming too fanciful.
The most excellent and lamentable tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare and illustrated by Gareth Hinds
This is the only book included in this blog post which takes its text entirely from the play, although it’s somewhat abridged. What sets it apart from the other graphic adaptations is its attention to detail; the artist, in his postscript, has taken actual features from Verona and uses them in backgrounds in his lavish illustrations. He does admit that he’s moved various places around for aesthetic purposes, but it doesn’t really affect the sense of a real Renaissance city. Gareth Hinds also tries to “fix” parts of the text that are often portrayed incorrectly in the staging.
Shakespeare retold DVD series
There are plenty of “pure” adaptaions out there but sometimes it can be a struggle to get through all that prose. These modern adaptations are a whole lot of fun. They feature some of the best actors England has to offer having a great time chewing the scenery and taking a break from having to memorise 16th century lines. Again, I wouldn’t recommend using these to help write your essay, but I’m a big believer in enjoying Shakespeare because it’s fun, rather than because you have to study it in class. My favourites are Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer night’s dream.
I remember when this film first came out, which, given that this was 15 years ago, is going to date me a bit. I didn’t realise that this was based off Taming of the Shrew until a while later though! It’s considered a classic, and for good reason. Even though the fashion is slightly dated, the movie still holds up: Heath Ledger, in his break-out role, has great chemistry with Julia Stiles, who’s equally impressive as Kat. It’s full of quotable dialogue and great acting, and conveys what it’s like to be young, cynical and in love in college. Well, as far as I can remember, anyway.
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are dead
This is a classic adaptation of an extraordinary play. It concerns the lives of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, two fairly minor characters in Hamlet. There are chunks of the actual play, but for the most part it’s in modern language. It deals with fate, the nature of theatre and performance, and various philosophical problems. It might sound a bit dry, but it’s extremely funny and features some of the best actors working today.
Tin Star, Cecil Castellucci (233 pages)On their way to start a new life, Tula and her family travel on the Prairie Rose, a colony ship headed to a planet in the outer reaches of the galaxy. All is going well until the ship makes a stop at a remote space station, the Yertina Feray, and the colonist’s leader, Brother Blue, beats Tula within an inch of her life. An alien, Heckleck, saves her and teaches her the ways of life on the space station.When three humans crash land onto the station, Tula’s desire for escape becomes irresistible, and her desire for companionship becomes unavoidable. But just as Tula begins to concoct a plan to get off the space station and kill Brother Blue, everything goes awry, and suddenly romance is the farthest thing from her mind. (Goodreads)
First lines: There are few things colder than the blackness of space. But lying here, I couldn’t imagine anything colder than the Human heart that left me half-concious at tne entrance to Docking Bay 12.
Between two worlds, Katherine Kirkpatrick (261 pages)On the treeless shores of Itta, Greenland, as far north as humans can settle, sixteen-year-old Inuit Billy Bah spots a ship far out among the icebergs on the bay–a sight both welcome and feared. Explorers have already left their indelible mark on her land and its people, and a ship full of white men can mean trouble.
The ship carries provisions for Robert E. Peary, who is making an expedition to the North Pole. As a child, Billy Bah spent a year in America with Peary’s family. When her parents went to America years later, they died in a tragic scandal. Now, Peary’s wife, daughter, and crew are in Itta to bring him supplies. Winter comes on fast, and when the ship gets caught in the ice, Billy Bah sets out to find Peary. The journey will imperil her life, and that of the man she loves.(Goodreads)
First lines: I climbed toward the sky, my fingers curling around the cold rocks, thousands of shrieking birds around me. Just under my feet the sheer red cliffs dropped to the water. Though it was summer, it was still cold and the wind felt fresh.
The edge of the water, Elizabeth George (387 pages) A mysterious girl who won’t speak; a coal black seal named Nera that returns to the same place very year; a bitter feud of unknown origin—strange things are happening on Whidbey Island, and Becca King, is drawn into the maelstrom of events. But Becca, first met in The Edge of Nowhere, has her own secrets to hide. Still on the run from her criminal stepfather, Becca is living in a secret location. Even Derric, the Ugandan orphan with whom Becca shares a close, romantic relationship, can’t be allowed to know her whereabouts.As secrets of past and present are revealed, Becca becomes aware of her growing paranormal powers, and events build to a shocking climax anticipated by no one.(Goodreads)
First lines: I was two years old when I came to my parenrs, but the only memories I have before the memories of them are like dreams. I’m carried. There’s water nearby. I’m cold. Some runs with me in his arms. My head is pressed so hard to his shoulder that it hurts every time he takes a step.
The museum of intangible things, Wendy Wunder (292 pages)Hannah and Zoe haven’t had much in their lives, but they’ve always had each other. So when Zoe tells Hannah she needs to get out of their down-and-out New Jersey town, they pile into Hannah’s beat-up old Le Mans and head west, putting everything—their deadbeat parents, their disappointing love lives, their inevitable enrollment at community college—behind them. As they chase storms and make new friends, Zoe tells Hannah she wants more for her. She wants her to live bigger, dream grander, aim higher. And so Zoe begins teaching Hannah all about life’s intangible things, concepts sadly missing from her existence—things like audacity, insouciance, karma, and even happiness.(Goodreads)
First lines: I am a freshwater girl. I live on the lake, and in New Jersey, that’s rare. The girls on the other side of town have swimming pools, and the girls in the south have the seashore. Other girls are dry, breezy, salty and bleached. I, on the other hand, am grounded, heavy and wet.
The shadow prince (Into the Dark, Book 1), Bree Despain (481 pages)Haden Lord, the disgraced prince of the Underrealm, has been sent to the mortal world to entice a girl into returning with him to the land of the dead. Posing as a student at Olympus Hills High—a haven for children of the rich and famous—Haden must single out the one girl rumored to be able to restore immortality to his race.
Daphne Raines has dreams much bigger than her tiny southern Utah town, so when her rock star dad suddenly reappears, offering her full tuition to Olympus Hills High’s prestigious music program, she sees an opportunity to catch the break she needs to make it as a singer. But upon moving into her estranged father’s mansion in California, and attending her glamorous new school, Daphne soon realizes she isn’t the only student in Olympus who doesn’t quite belong. Haden and Daphne—destined for each other—know nothing of the true stakes their fated courtship entails. As war between the gods brews, the teenagers’ lives collide. But Daphne won’t be wooed easily and when it seems their prophesied link could happen, Haden realizes something he never intended—he’s fallen in love. Now to save themselves, Haden and Daphne must rewrite their destinies. But as their destinies change, so do the fates of both their worlds.(Goodreads)
First lines: I did the unforgivable the day my mother died, and for that I’ve been punished every moment of my life. He’s too weakminded. Impulsive. He’s too much like her. He’s too human.
Stolen songbird, Danielle Jensen (469 pages) For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined. Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity. But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader. As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.(Goodreads)
First lines: My voice rose an octave, resonating through the Goshawk’s Hollow marketplace, drowning out the bleating sheep and the hammer of the blacksmith down the way. Dozens of familiar faces abandoned their business, expressions unoform in their nervousness as they anticipated the note I had dreaded daily for the past month. She liked an audience for my failures.
Taken, David Massey (279 pages)A young crew of five are toughing it out together, sailing around the world on a gruelling charity challenge. They are used to being pushed to the limit, but nothing could have prepared them for being kidnapped. When they are taken hostage by a notorious warlord and his band of child soldiers, the trip of a lifetime turns into a one-way journey into the heart of the African jungle. When hope is all you have, survival is all you can fight for…(Goodreads)
First lines: My rucksack thuds on to the wooden pontoon and all the stress of getting here falls away with it. I feel light and dizzy, like I’ve just ditched the last thing that anchored me to reality.
Storm, Donna Jo Napoli (343 pages)The rain starts suddenly, hard and fast. After days of downpour, her family lost, Sebah takes shelter in a tree, eating pine cones and the raw meat of animals that float by. With each passing day, her companion, a boy named Aban, grows weaker. When their tree is struck by lightning, Sebah is tempted just to die in the flames rather than succumb to a slow, watery death. Instead, she and Aban build a raft. What they find on the stormy seas is beyond imagining: a gigantic ark. But Sebah does not know what she’ll find on board, and Aban is too weak to leave their raft.(Goodreads)
First lines: Each row has exactly as many pods as my fingers-ten. And there are exactly as many rows as my fingers on one hand. Five. I’ve laid them out on the ground perfectly. It’s my job to tie precisely fifty bean pods into the cloth because I’m good at numbers, better than my parents.
Dust of eden, Mariko Nagai (121 pages)In December 1941, thirteen year-old Mina Masako Tagawa and her Japanese-American family are sent from their home in Seattle to an internment camp in Idaho. What do you do when your home country treats you like an enemy? (Goodreads)
First lines: We held our breath for three years. We did not have anything to call our own except for the allowed number of bags: two. Te did not have anything except for a rose garden my grandfather made from hard earth and spit. We lived behind a barbed wire fence under a stark blue sky that could break your heart (as it did break my grandfather’s.)
Breaking butterflies, M. Anjelais (257 pages)Sphinxie and Cadence. Promised to each other in childhood. Drawn together again as teens. Sphinxie is sweet, compassionate, and plain. Cadence is brilliant, charismatic. Damaged. And diseased. When they were kids, he scarred her with a knife. Now, as his illness progresses, he becomes increasingly demanding. She wants to be loyal–but fears for her life. Only the ultimate sacrifice will give this love an ending.(Goodreads)
First lines: When my mother was a little girl, she walked out to the playground by herself every day after school. I can picture it easily; photos of her as a child are almost indistinguishable from photos of me when I was little.
Returning to shore, Corinne Demas (196 pages)Her mother’s third marriage is only hours old when all hope for Clare’s fifteenth summer fades. Before she knows it, Clare is whisked away to some ancient cottage on a tiny marsh island on Cape Cod to spend the summer with her father – a man she hasn’t seen since she was three. Clare’s biological father barely talks, and when he does, he obsesses about endangered turtles. The first teenager Clare meets on the Cape confirms that her father is known as the town crazy person. But there’s something undeniably magical about the marsh and the islanda connection to Clares past that runs deeper than memory. Even her father’s beloved turtles hold unexpected surprises. As Clare’s father begins to reveal more about himself and his own struggle, Clare’s summer becomes less of an exile and more of a return home.(Goodreads)
First lines: The white balloons were released from behind the pirvet hedge at the exact moment the Clare’s mother kissed her new husband. Clare watched the balloons rise. They were snatched by an errant wind and blown stage left, free now, and undisciplined.
Awakening, Natalie King (272 pages)
When Zelie Taylor pulls a lost necklace out of the icy waters of the lake, she has no idea what the consequences will be. At first the pendant is just freezing cold – unnaturally so – but then she hears a voice inside her head and Zelie thinks she must be going mad. She’s not. Seventeen-year-old Tamas’ soul has been trapped in the silver necklace since 1918. His body is nearby, sleeping, and Zelie must help him awaken.
At first Zelie would like nothing better than for Tamas’ moody, enigmatic presence to be out of her life, but after a while she isn’t so sure. And what is waiting for Tamas when he does emerge? It seems that the sinister force that trapped him all those years ago has returned and is growing more powerful.(Goodreads)
First lines: Of all the emotions, guilt leaves the greatest mark. While fear and happiness can fade, guilt remains as heavy and harsh as the day it arrived. Zelie Taylor’s guilt weighed heavy, so when Kate Hearn asked, she couldn’t say no.
The true adventures of Nicolo Zen (271 pages)Nicolo Zen is all alone in 1700s Venice, save for his clarinet, which a mysterious magician had enchanted, allowing its first player to perform expertly. Soon Nicolo is a famous virtuoso, wealthy beyond his dreams, but he can’t stop wondering if he earned the success himself — or what might happen if the spell were removed. And throughout it all, he continues to think about the girl he met in Venice, what she might be doing and if she’s safe from harm. (Goodreads)
First lines: When the Master auditioned us, we were told not to speak. Luca, his assistant, a heavyset man in a black coat, handed each of us a page of sheet music, from the first moment of the Master’s latest concerto. “Just play this,” said said gruffly, pulling his black beard,” first in D major, then in B-flat minor.”
Guy in real life, Steve Brezenoff (386 pages)It is Labor Day weekend in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and boy and girl collide on a dark street at two thirty in the morning: Lesh, who wears black, listens to metal, and plays MMOs; Svetlana, who embroiders her skirts, listens to Björk and Berlioz, and dungeon masters her own RPG. They should pick themselves up, continue on their way, and never talk to each other again.
But they don’t.
This is a story of two people who do not belong in each other’s lives, who find each other at a time when they desperately need someone who doesn’t belong in their lives. A story of those moments when we act like people we aren’t in order to figure out who we are. A story of the roles we all play-at school, at home, with our friends, and without our friends-and the one person who might show us what lies underneath it all. (Goodreads)
First lines: “This is not my life.”
Everything is spinning on the curb in front of Vic B’s bar. I shouldn’t have been drinking. I knew that beforehand. I knew that as I drank. I know that now, sitting on said curb, with my head on my knees and a puddle of chunky vom next to my feet.
Drama Queens in the house, Julie Williams (426 pages)Sixteen-year-old Jessie Jasper Lewis doesn’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t surrounded by method actors, bright spotlights, and feather boas. Her parents started the Jumble Players Theater together, and theater is the glue that holds her crazy family together. But when she discovers that her father’s cheating on her mother with a man, Jessie feels like her world is toppling over. And on top of everything else, she has to deal with a delusional aunt who is predicting the end of the world. Jessie certainly doesn’t feel ready to be center stage in the production that is her family. But where does she belong in all of this chaos? (Goodreads)
First lines: The theater is lit up like an opening night gala celebrating the first show of a new season. It’s graduation night, the second Thursday in June, and this gala is all about me. JESSIE JASPER LEWIS…my name on the marquee in lights.
The Archived, Victoria Schwab (321 pages)Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.
Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive. Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what she once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive. Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall. (Goodreads)
First lines: The Narrows remind me of August nights in the South. They remind me of old rocks and places where the light can’t reach. They remind me of smoke – the stale, settled kind – and of storms and damp earth. Most of all, Da, they remind me of you.
Don’t look back, Jennifer L. Armentrout (369 pages) Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.
Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash. But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive? (Goodreads)
First lines: I didn’t recognise the name on the street sign. Nothing about the rural road looked familiar or friendly. Tall, imposing trees and overgrown weeks choked the front of the dilapidated home. Windows were boarded up/ There was a gaping hole where the front door had been. I shivered, wanting to be far away from here…wherever here was.
Hello, groin Beth Goobie (272 pages)When Dylan Kowolski agrees to create a display for her high school library, she has no idea of the trouble it’s going to cause–for the school principal, her family, her boyfriend Cam and his jock friends, and her best friend Jocelyn. And for Dylan herself. If only her English class had been studying a normal, run-of-the-mill, mundane book like Lord of the Flies instead of Foxfire things wouldn’t have gotten so twisted. Then the world wouldn’t have gone into such a massive funk. And then Dylan wouldn’t have had to face her deepest fear and the way she was letting it run her life. (Goodreads)
First lines: We were coming around a bend in the road just before the Dundurn Street bridge. I was double-riding my best friend, Jocelyn Hersch, on my bikem and we were running late, Difedenbaker Collegiate’s last warning bell about to sound. So I was tearing along with my head down, pretty much oblivious to the local scenery, when Joc tightened her grip on my waist and let out a yelp that could have raised the dead.
Deadfall, Chris Ryan (338 pages)Zak Darke is sent on what seems like a straightforward surveillance op in South Africa but it soon turns into the toughest, most dangerous mission he has ever faced. An old enemy has teamed up with a terrifying gang of child soldiers and Zak is caught in the middle. Having travelled to the heart of the African jungle, will he make it out alive …? (Goodreads)
First lines:There has been a thin layer of frost on the ice-cold bottle of Coke. Beads of Condensation ran down the glass. Just like the bead of sweat that ran down the side of Zak’s face. This should be an easy op. Why, then, did he feel so on edge?
Dance of the dark heart, Julia Hearn (233 pages)Jack Orion is a tormented soul. His childhood companion, and one true love, has been cruelly snatched away from him and now nothing matters to him but being reunited with her.
From the goatherd’s shack to the court of King Henry VIII, Jack will not be diverted from his path.And wherever he goes he plays his fiddle like a demon, while the demon in his head urges him on. But Jack is dangerous, and he has a dark heart. If you had the chance to dance with the devil . . . would you? (Goodreads)
First lines: There had been omens. Bad ones. A blood-coloured ring around the moon. Crows on the woodpile, watching the shack. A tree that fell without being axed, keeling over in its prime, like a man with a curse on him. Old Scratch noted these occurances -the moon, the crows, the tree – but kept his own counsel. For one thing, he had no one to tell.
When the tripods came, John Christopher (151 pages)Long ago, the Tripods–huge, three-legged machines–descended upon Earth and took control. Now people unquestioningly accept the Tripods’ power. They have no control over their thoughts or their lives. But for a brief time in each person’s life–in childhood–he is not a slave. For Will, his time of freedom is about to end–unless he can escape to the White Mountains, where the possibility of freedom still exists. The Tripods trilogy follows the adventures of Will and his cohorts, as they try to evade the Tripods and maintian their freedom and ultimately do battle against them. (Goodreads)
First lines: An explosion of noise woke me. It sounded if a dozen express trains were about to hit the shed. I rolled over in my blanket, trying to get out of the way, and was aware of a blaze of orange, lighting up boxes and bits of old farm equipment and tackle. An ancient rusting tractor looked briefly like an overgrown insect.
Dear Killer, Katherine Ewell (359 pages)Rule One—Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.
Rule Two—Be careful.
Rule Three—Fight using your legs whenever possible, because they’re the strongest part of your body. Your arms are the weakest.
Rule Four—Hit to kill. The first blow should be the last, if at all possible.
Rule Five—The letters are the law.
Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known. But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there. (Goodreads)
First lines: Rule one. Nothing is right, nothing is wrong. That is the most important guideline, and the hardest one for most people to understand – but I have understood it my entire life, from the moment I laid my hands on that first victim’s neck to this very moment as I think about the blood under my fingernails and the body I have so recently left behind.
The Nethergrim, Matthew Jobin (356 pages) Everyone in Moorvale believes the legend: The brave knight Tristan and the famed wizard Vithric, in an epic battle decades ago, had defeated the evil Nethergrim and his minions. To this day, songs are sung and festivals held in the heroes’ honor. Yet now something dark has crept over the village. First animals disappear, their only remains a pile of bones licked clean. Then something worse: children disappear. The whispers begin quietly yet soon turn into a shout: The Nethergrim has returned! Edmund’s brother is one of the missing, and Edmund knows he must do something to save his life. But what? Though a student of magic, he struggles to cast even the simplest spell. Still, he and his friends swallow their fear and set out to battle an ancient evil whose powers none of them can imagine. They will need to come together–and work apart–in ways that will test every ounce of resolve. (Goodreads)
First lines: The best horse I ever knew was a bay stallion with a white star on his face. Jis name was Juniper- a strange name for a steed of war, but that’s what he was called when he was born, and his rider never changed it.
Women in space, Karen Bush Gibson (206 pages)When Valentina Tereshkova blasted off aboard Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963, she became the first woman to rocket into space. It would be 19 years before another woman got a chance—cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982—followed by American astronaut Sally Ride a year later. By breaking the stratospheric ceiling, these women forged a path for many female astronauts, cosmonauts, and mission specialists to follow. Women in Space profiles 23 pioneers, including Eileen Collins, the first woman to command the space shuttle; Peggy Whitson, who logged more than a year in orbit aboard the International Space Station; and Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space; as well as astronauts from Japan, Canada, Italy, South Korea, France, and more. Readers will also learn about the Mercury 13, American women selected by NASA in the late 1950s to train for spaceflight. Though they matched and sometimes surpassed their male counterparts in performance, they were ultimately denied the opportunity to head out to the launching pad. Their story, and the stories of the pilots, physicists, and doctors who followed them, demonstrate the vital role women have played in the quest for scientific understanding.(Goodreads)
The smart girl’s guide to going vegetarian, Rachel Meltzer Warren (224 pages)What would you love. Love what you eat. No labels. No fuss. It’s not about what you call yourself–it’s about how you feel. Whether you’re going vegan, vegetarian, fish-only, chicken-only, or all veggies except grandma’s famous pigs-in-a-blanket, this book is your new best friend. Eating less meat can boost your energy, help you lose weight, and it’s better for the environment. If you’re looking to cut down on meat or cut it out completely, here you’ll find awesome advice and the answers you need to make it work for you.(Goodreads)
Betty Cornell’s teen-age popularity guide, Betty Cornell (141 pages)Available again for a whole new generation of readers, the original 1950s popularity guide that was the inspiration for teen author Maya Van Wagenen’s memoir Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek! Filled with fun tips and vintage wisdom, Betty Cornell’s Teen-Age Popularity Guide offers advice and guidance for teens who want to be poised, self-confident, and “shiny bright.” Betty covers topics ranging from “Figure Problems,” “Good Grooming,” and “What to Wear Where” to hints on dating, hosting a great party, and becoming “the most popular girl in your set!” (Goodreads)
First lines: I believe in fate. Not everyone does, but after what I’ve experienced because of this book in your hands, I would be crazy not to. This book found my dad years before I was born. I can imagine it, sitting on a cluttered book-shelf at a thrift store, no dust jacket, just a faded, torn, blue cover and a spine that read the name in bold red letters: BETTY CORNELL’S TEEN-AGE POPULARITY GUIDE.
Dead Silent, Sharon Jones (329 pages) When Poppy Sinclair and her boyfriend visit snowy Cambridge, she doesn’t expect to discover the body of a student – arms outstretched in the act of smearing bloody angel wings on the chapel’s floor. Suddenly, Poppy is faced with the possibility that the one closest to her heart might be the one committing the most malicious of crimes. Dodging porters and police, dreading what she might find, Poppy follows the clues left by a murderer bent on revenge… (Goodreads)
First lines: It had to be here. The soles of his shoes squeaked from marble to wood and he ran between the choir stalls, swinging the torch beam like a whip that could beat back the night. How could he have been so stupid as to lose the book? If he didn’t find it he was dead.
Dorothy must die, Danielle Page (452 pages) I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know? Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still the yellow brick road, though—but even that’s crumbling.What happened?
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.(Goodreads)
First lines: I first discovered I was trash three days before my ninth birthday – one year after my father lost his job and moved to Secaucus to live with a woman named Crystal and four years before my mother had the car accident, started talking pills, and began exclusively wearing bedroom slippers instead of normal shoes.
Noggin, John Corey Whaley (338 pages)Listen — Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t. Now he’s alive again. Simple as that. The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too. Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars. Oh well, you only live twice.(Goodreads)
First lines: Listen – I was alive once and then I wasn’t. Simple as that. Now I’m alive again. The in-between part is still a luittle fuzzy, but I can tell you that, at some point or another, my head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado.
Insanity, Susan Vaught (368 pages) Never, Kentucky is not your average scenic small town. It is a crossways, a place where the dead and the living can find no peace. Not that Forest, an 18-year-old foster kid who works the graveyard shift at Lincoln Hospital, knew this when she applied for the job. Lincoln is a huge state mental institution, a good place for Forest to make some money to pay for college. But along with hundreds of very unstable patients, it also has underground tunnels, bell towers that ring unexpectedly, and a closet that holds more than just donated clothing….When the dead husband of one of Forest’s patients makes an appearance late one night, seemingly accompanied by an agent of the Devil, Forest loses all sense of reality and all sense of time. Terrified, she knows she has a part to play, and when she does so, she finds a heritage that she never expected.(Goodreads)
First lines: There was something wrong with the dog. I saw it when I left the store, nothing but a little thing. I would have stopped to give it some love, but I had to get back before Imogene started to worry. Don’t go out tonight, boy. Death’s walking on two legs.
Sorry you’re lost, Matt Blackstone (312 pages)When Denny “Donuts” Murphy’s mother dies, he becomes the world’s biggest class clown. But deep down, Donuts just wants a normal life—one where his mom is still alive and where his dad doesn’t sit in front of the TV all day. And so Donuts tries to get back into the groove by helping his best friend with their plan to get dates for the end-of-the-year school dance. When their scheme backfires, he learns that laughter is not the best medicine for all of his problems. Sometimes it’s just as important to be true to yourself.(Goodreads)
First lines: There’s a gum wrapped at my feet. Juicy Fruit. I wish I new who dropped it so I could tell him not to litter at my mom’s funeral. The room is musty and smells of lemon. My starchy shirt and stiff suit are drenched in sweat. The priest tells me it’s time. Not for telling people to pick up their gum wrappers, but time for the service.
Never come back, David Bell (411 pages)Elizabeth Hampton is consumed by grief when her mother dies unexpectedly. Leslie Hampton cared for Elizabeth’s troubled brother Ronnie’s special needs, assuming Elizabeth would take him in when the time came. But Leslie’s sudden death propels Elizabeth into a world of danger and double lives that undoes everything she thought she knew….
When police discover that Leslie was strangled, they immediately suspect that one of Ronnie’s outbursts took a tragic turn. Elizabeth can’t believe that her brother is capable of murder, but who else could have had a motive to kill their quiet, retired mother? More questions arise when a stranger is named in Leslie’s will: a woman also named Elizabeth. As the family’s secrets unravel, a man from Leslie’s past who claims to have all the answers shows up, but those answers might put Elizabeth and those she loves the most in mortal danger.(Goodreads)
First lines: I saw people in uniform first- two cops, two paramedics. They were standing in the living room of my mom’s small house, their thumbs hooked into their belts, muttering to one another. Small talk and jokes. One of them, a cop about my age, laughed at something, then looked up and saw me in the doorway.
“Ma’am?” he said. A question. It meant: Do you have any business here?
Angel de la Luna and the 5th glorious mystery, M. Evelina Galang (331 pages) Angel has just lost her father, and her mother’s grief means she might as well be gone too. She’s got a sister and a grandmother to look out for, and a burgeoning consciousness of the unfairness in the world—in her family, her community, and her country. Set against the backdrop of the second Philippine People Power Revolution in 2001, the contemporary struggles of surviving Filipina “Comfort Women” of WWII, and a cold winter’s season in the city of Chicago is the story of a daughter coming of age, coming to forgiveness, and learning to move past the chaos of grief to survive.(Goodreads)
First lines: The day my Father, Ernesto de la Luna, disappeared he gave me one thousand pesos. “I’ll be home in three days,” Papang said, counting the money. “but just in case. Take care of your inay, Angel.” It’s been two weeks. My mother is out of her mind.
The Great American Dust Bowl, Don Brown, (80 pages)A speck of dust is a tiny thing. In fact, five of them could fit into the period at the end of this sentence. On a clear, warm Sunday, April 14, 1935, a wild wind whipped up millions upon millions of these specks of dust to form a duster—a savage storm—on America’s high southern plains. The sky turned black, sand-filled winds scoured the paint off houses and cars, trains derailed, and electricity coursed through the air. Sand and dirt fell like snow—people got lost in the gloom and suffocated . . . and that was just the beginning. Don Brown brings the Dirty Thirties to life with kinetic, highly saturated, and lively artwork in this graphic novel of one of America’s most catastrophic natural events: the Dust Bowl.(Goodreads)
First lines: A speck of dust is a tiny thing. Five of them could fit on the period at the end of this sentence. On a clear, warm Sunday, 1935, a wild wind whipped up billions upon billions of specks of dust to form a savage storn on Amerinca’s plains. Panicked birds and rabbits fled. The temperature plummeted fifty degrees. Electricity coursed through the air. frightened pople raced to the nearest shelter. But the story of the Black Sunday monster started much, much earlier…
The Grey Girl, Eleanor Hawken (262 pages) Poor Suzy thought she’d never get over the terrifying events from her time at St Marks, but she’s resolved to put all thoughts of ghosts and murders (and school…) behind her as she sets off to stay in her aunt’s country estate for the summer. Unfortunately, that quickly looks unlikely. Almost as soon as she arrives Suzy begins to feel watched, and she starts to see strange things. Things like a mysterious grey girl running towards the abandoned boathouse in the dead of the night. Is the girl real – or something altogether more sinister?
Helped by the rather hunky Nate (not that Suzy’s letting herself get distracted, of course) Suzy sets out to discover exactly what happened to this girl. She’s determined not to let another ghost get the better of her, but she might not have any choice in the matter…(Goodreads)
First lines: I saw a ghost today. A grey girl. She was standing at the window of the top-floor dormitory, looking down at the world below. I’ve never seen the girl before and today was the start of my forth year at Dudley Hall.
Where the rock splits the sky, Philip Webb (266 pages)The moon has been split, and the Visitors have Earth in their alien grip. But the captive planet? That’s not her problem. Megan just wants to track down her missing dad…The world stopped turning long before Megan was born. Ever since the Visitors split the moon and stilled the Earth, permanent sunset is all anyone has known. But now, riding her trusty steed Cisco, joined by her posse, Kelly and Luis, Megan is on the run from her Texas hometown, journeying across the vast, dystopic American West to hunt down her father. To find him, she must face the Zone, a notorious landscape where the laws of nature do not apply. The desert can play deadly tricks on the mind, and the quest will push Megan past her limits. But to solve the mystery of not just her missing father but of the paralyzed planet itself, she must survive it–and an alien showdown.(Goodreads)
First lines: Leaning against the doorpost of the smithy, I pretend it is a normal day. For the thousandth time in the last hour, I wonder whether I should say goodbye to Luis or just slip away. The boardwalk outside is as bright as the forge -it always is0under the light of a sun that sits on the horizon and refuses to set.
Sea of Shadows : Age of legends book 1 , Kelley Armstrong, (406 pages)n the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned. Only this year, the souls will not be quieted. Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.(Goodreads)
First lines: After three days of tramping across endless lava fields, Ronan quickened his steps at the sight of the forest. He swore he could soft earth under his feet, hear birds in the treetops, even smell icy spring water. If one had to pick a place to die, he supposed he could do worse.