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realistic fiction




  • Comedy, Mysteries, New, Nicola, realistic fiction, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    New books

    15.06.18 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMonday’s not coming, Tiffany D. Jackson

    Monday Charles is missing, and Claudia seems to be the one person who notices. They’ve always been inseparable, and when Monday doesn’t show up for school for two weeks, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and her sister April is even less help. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: This is the story of how my best friend disappeared. How nobody noticed she was gone except me. And how nobody cared until they found her…one year later.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe way you make me feel, Maurene Goo

    Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: This paper plane was near perfect.
    Crisp edges, a pointy nose, and just the right weight. I held it up, closing my left eye to aim toward the stage. Rose Carver and her short-brimmed hat were in fine form today, a perfect target, her face lit up beatifically the stage lights.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPuddin’, Julie Murphy

    Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a little girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream of being a newscaster–and to kiss the boy she’s crushing on. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend. When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing that they might have more in common than they ever imagined.(Publisher summary)

    First lines: I’m a list maker. Write it down. (using my gel pens and a predetermined color scheme, of course. Make it happen. Scratch it off. There is no greater satisfaction than a notebook full of beautifully executed lists.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRoyals, Rachel Hawkins

    Meet Daisy Winters. She’s an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair; a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who’s nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond. While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince’s roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown–and the intriguing Miles–might be trying to make Daisy into a lady…but Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself.(Publisher summary)

    First lines: Ever since Prince Alexander of Scotland was spotted with the blond American beauty, we’ve been nuts for all things Ellie! But do you know everything about this maybe-princess-to-be? We bet at least a few will surprise you!

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA big dose of lucky, Marthe Jocelyn

    Malou has just turned sixteen–hardly old enough to be out in the world on her own–and all she knows for sure is that she’s of mixed race and that she was left at an orphanage as a newborn. When the orphanage burns to the ground, she finds out that she may have been born in a small town in Ontario’s cottage country. Much to her surprise, Parry Sound turns out to have quite a few young brown faces, but Malou can’t believe they might be related to her. After she finds work as a cleaner in the local hospital, an Aboriginal boy named Jimmy helps her find answers to her questions about her parents. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: It begins with the fire.
    Or maybe a few hours earlier, when I walk into town on a Saturday afternoon to buy, you know, girl products.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAftermath, Kelley Armstrong

    Three years after losing her brother Luka in a school shooting, Skye Gilchrist is moving home. But there’s no sympathy for Skye and her family because Luka wasn’t a victim; he was a shooter. Jesse Mandal knows all too well that the scars of the past don’t heal easily. The shooting cost Jesse his brother and his best friend–Skye. Ripped apart by tragedy, Jesse and Skye can’t resist reopening the mysteries of their past. But old wounds hide darker secrets. And the closer Skye and Jesse get to the truth of what happened that day, the closer they get to a new killer.(Publisher summary)

    First lines: I will not say the day Jesse Mandal asked me out was the best of my life. That’s silly, trite, foolish. But I was thirteen, which means I was all of those things.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAll the little lights, Jamie McGuire

    The first time Elliott Youngblood spots Catherine Calhoun, he’s just a boy with a camera, and he’s never seen a sadder and more beautiful sight. Both Elliott and Catherine feel like outcasts, yet they find an easy friendship with each other. But when Catherine needs him most, Elliott is forced to leave town. Elliott finally returns, but he and Catherine are now different people. He’s a star high school athlete, and she spends all her free time working at her mother’s mysterious bed-and-breakfast. Catherine hasn’t forgiven Elliott for abandoning her, but he’s determined to win back her friendship…and her heart. Just when Catherine is ready to fully trust Elliott, he becomes the prime suspect in a local tragedy. Despite the town’s growing suspicions, Catherine clings to her love for Elliott. But a devastating secret that Catherine has buried could destroy whatever chance of happiness they have left. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The old oak tree I’d climbed was one of a doze or more on Juniper Street. I’d chosen that particular wooden giant because it was standing right next to a white picket fence – one just tall enough for me to use as a step to the lowest branch.


  • Books, Espionage, Horror, New, Nicola, realistic fiction, Sci Fi

    New books

    01.06.18 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStarry eyes, Jenn Bennett

    Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets. But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together. What could go wrong? With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely. And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Spontaneity is overrated. Movies and television shows would like us to believe that life is better for partygoers who dare to jump into pools with their clothes on. But behind the scenes, it’s all carefully scripted. The water is the right temperature. Lighting and angels are carefully considered. Dialogue is memorized. And that’s why it looks so appealing – because someone planned it all.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTradition, Brendan Kiely

    Fullbrook Academy is an elite, historic prep school– where some traditions are profoundly dangerous. Jules Devereux just wants to keep her head down, get into the right college, and leave Fullbrook’s old-boy social codes behind. Jamie Baxter’s hockey scholarship gives him a chance to escape his past and fulfill the dreams of his parents and coaches. At a school where girls in the student handbook are rated by their looks and school-sponsored dances push first year girls out into the night with senior boys, the stakes for safe sex, real love, and true friendship couldn’t be higher. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I’m fighting for breath and all I can do is look up and see the white flame of moonlight outlining each branch, every leaf. I’m in the dirt, again, shoulder against the tree, the shock of the air so cold it seizes my bones.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe exact opposite of okay, Laura Steven

    Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Look, you probably bought this book because you read the blurb about how I’m an impoverished orphan and also at the heart of a national slut-shaming scandal, and you though, Oh great, this is just the kind of heart-wrenching tale I need to feel better about my own life, but seriously, you have to relax.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLifel1k3, Jay Kristoff

    On an island junkyard beneath a sky that glows with radiation, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap. 17-year-old Eve isn’t looking for trouble, but her discovery of a handsome android named Ezekiel – called a “Lifelike” because they resemble humans, will bring her world crashing down and make her question whether her entire life is a lie. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: They kill my father first.
    Shiny boots ring on the stairs as they march into our cell, four of them all in a pretty row. Blank faces and perfect skin, matte gray pistols in red, red hands. A beautiful man with golden hair says they’re here to execute us. No explanations. No apologies.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe window, Amelia Brunskill

    Anna is outgoing and athletic, the opposite of her twin sister Jess. The same on the outside, so completely different inside– yet they tell each other everything. Or so Jess thought. After Anna falls to her death while sneaking out her bedroom window, Jess questions where Anna was going, who she was meeting. Jess soon discovers that her twin kept a lot of secrets. And as she digs deeper, she learns that the answers she’s looking for may be truths that no one wants her to uncover. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I was inspecting my socks when they called my name. It was first-period gym class, and I’d just realised that my socks were entirely wrong. They were long and pulled up straight to midcalf, while those of every other girl in the room, were short, barely visible above their sneakers. There were obviously unwritten sock protocols.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSky in the deep, Adrienne Young

    Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan, but when faced with her brother’s betrayal, and driven by a growing love for her brother’s friend Fiske, she attempts to unite the two clans. (Publisher information)

    First lines: “They’re coming.”
    I looked down the row of Aska hunched against each other, ducking behind the muddy hill. The fog sat on the field like a veil, but we could hear it. Yhe blades of swords and axes brushing against armour vests. Quick footsteps in sucking mud. My heart beat almost in rhythm with the sounds, pulling one breath and in and letting it touch before I let it go.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOrphan monster spy, Matt Killeen

    Germany, 1939. After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah finds herself on the run from a government that wants to see her, along with every other Jew, dead. Then she meets a mysterious man who needs Sarah to pull off a spy mission he can’t attempt on his own: infiltrate a boarding school attended by the daughters of Nazi top brass, befriend the girl whose father is a high-ranking scientist, and find the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. With years of training from her actress mother in the art of impersonation, Sarah thinks she’s ready. But nothing prepares her for her cutthroat classmates, and soon she’s embroiled in a battle for survival unlike any she’d ever imagined–and fighting to hold onto her true self. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Finally, the car came to a stop. With difficulty, Sarah opened her eyes, blinked to clear her vision, and looked up from her hiding place in the footwell. Her mother was slumped in the driver’s seat, her head against the top of the steering wheel.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLady Helen and the dark days pact, Alison Goodman

    Summer, 1812. After the scandalous events at her presentation ball in London, Lady Helen is training to be a Reclaimer with the covert Dark Days Club. As she struggles to put aside her genteel upbringing and take up the weapons of a warrior, Helen realizes that her mentor, Lord Carlston, is fighting his own inner battle. Has the foul Deceiver energy poisoned his soul, or is something else driving him towards violent bouts of madness? Either way, Helen is desperate to help the man with whom she shares a deep but forbidden connection. When Mr Pike, the hard bureaucratic heart of the Dark Days Club, arrives in Brighton, no one is prepared for the ordinary evil he brings in his wake. He has a secret task for Helen and Mr Hammond, and the authority of the Prince Regent. They have no choice but to do as he orders, knowing that the mission will betray everyone around them and possibly bring about Lord Carlston’s annihilation. (Publisher information).

    First lines: At Lord Carlston’s bidding, Lady Helen Wrexhall studied the gentleman walking rapidly towards them up the rise of Brighton’s Marine Parade. Even at such a distance she could see that he was a thin, bitter-faced man in a sober blue coat, rather badly cut across his stooped shoulders, and an unfashionable tricorn hat drawn low over his brow.


  • Comedy, dystopia, Fantasy, Mysteries, New, Nicola, realistic fiction

    New books

    10.05.18 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNot if I save you first, Ally Carter

    Maddie and Logan were torn apart by a kidnapping attempt when they were young. They were only kids — Logan’s dad was POTUS and Maddie’s father was the Secret Service agent meant to guard him. The kidnappers were stopped — but Maddie was whisked off to Alaska with her father, for satety. Maddie and Logan had been inseparable . . . but then she never heard from him again. Now it’s a few years later. Maddie’s a teenager, used to living a solitary life with her father. It’s quiet — until Logan is sent to join them. After all this time without word, Maddie has nothing to say to him — until their outpost is attacked, and Logan is taken. They won’t be out of the woods until they’re . . . out of the woods, and Maddie’s managed to thwart the foes and reconcile with Logan. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Dear Maddie,
    There’s a party at my house tomorrow night. Mom said I can invite a friend if I want to. So do you want to come?
    _YES
    _NO
    _MAYBE

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBravura, Sara Kingsley

    Raven Araroa is now Woman King of Nuimana and she’s finding island life suits her…especially with Leif by her side. When she learns all is not well back in her old kingdom and Leif must return, she chooses to follow, despite knowing her choice to defy the King of Nadir—her father—will put both their lives in danger. But what she finds upon her return to Nadir is far worse. (Goodreads)

    First lines: “Would you like some more, m’lady?”
    A nearby voice startles me out of my daydream. I look over at Leif, who is holding the decanter of wine. He’s already refilled his glass.
    “Yes, please.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHow you ruined my life, Jeff Strand

    Rod’s life doesn’t suck. If you ask him, it’s pretty awesome. He may not be popular, but he and his best friends play in a band that has a standing gig. Yeah, it’s Monday night and they don’t get paid, but they can turn the volume up as loud as they want. And Rod’s girlfriend is hot, smart, and believes in their band–believes in Rod. Aside from a winning lottery ticket, what more could he ask for? Answer: A different cousin. When Rod’s scheming, two-faced cousin Blake moves in for the semester, Rod tries to keep calm. Blake seems to have everyone else fooled with good manners and suave smile, except Rod knows better. Blake is taking over his room, taking over his band, taking over his life! But Rod’s not about to give up without a fight. Game on. May the best prankster win… (Publisher information)

    First lines: “Thanks for coming out tonight! Are you ready to rock?”
    A couple of people indicate that yes, they are indeed ready to begin the process of rocking. A few others don’t look up from their cell phones, but I’m confident that they’ll discover their readiness to rock as soon as we start playing.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTyler Johnson was here, Jay Coles

    When Marvin Johnson’s twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid. The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it’s up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Here’s what goes down:
    It’s just the four of us. My best friends, Ivy and Guillermo (G-mo), my brother, Tyler, and me. We’re just strolling through the aisles of a corner convenience store, rapping aloud to my favourite Kendrick Lamar song, “Feel,” turns rapping verses in out loud.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAce of shades, Amanda Foody

    Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school–and her reputation–behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted. Frightened and alone, Enne has only one lead: the name Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected–he’s a street lord and con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless Mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

    First lines: If I’m not home in two months, I’m dead.
    Her mother’s warning haunted her as Enne Salta lugged her leather trunk down the bridge leading off the ship, filling her with an inescapable sense of dread.
    If I’m not home in two months, I’m dead.
    It’d been four.


  • Fantasy, Mysteries, New, New Zealand, realistic fiction, Sci Fi, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them, Western

    New books

    24.04.18 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsVengeance Road, Erin Bowman

    When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there’s room for love in a heart so full of hate. In the spirit of True Grit , the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: It weren’t no secret Pa owned the best plot of land ‘long Granite Creek, and I reckon that’s why they killed him. I was down at the water, yanking a haul ‘cus the pump had gone and stuck dry again, when I saw the smoke.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDawn raid, Pauline Vaeluaga Smith

    Like many 13-year-old girls, Sofia’s main worries are how to get some groovy go-go boots, and how not to die of embarrassment giving a speech at school! But when her older brother Lenny starts talking about marches and protests and overstayers, and how Pacific Islanders are being bullied by the police for their passports and papers, a shadow is cast over Sofia’s sunny teenage days. Through her heartfelt diary entries, we witness the terror of being dawn-raided and gain an insight into the courageous and tireless work of the Polynesian Panthers in the 1970s as they encourage immigrant families across New Zealand to stand up for their rights.(Publisher summary)

    First lines: Dear Diary,
    I can’t believe the first McDonald’s in the WHOLE country is here – in Porirua! – at the shopping centre in Cobham Court. They had all sorts of problems with the date for the official opening though. Dad said it was because of ‘red tape’ and had to do with them putting in the wrong benches or something. So it just had its opening ceremony last Saturday, and Mum said when she drove past, there were people lined up out the door and down the footpath!

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe wicked deep, Shea Ernshaw

    Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town. Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under. Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into. Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters. But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.(Publisher summary)

    First lines: Three sisters arrived in Sparrow, Oregon, in 1822 aboard a fur trading ship named the Lady Astor, which sank later that year in the harbour just beyond the cape. They were among the first to settle in the newly founded costal town, and they strode onto the new land like thin-legged birds with wavy caramel hair and pastel skin. They were beautiful – too beautiful, the townspeople would later say.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHonor among thieves, Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

    Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell. Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan–a race of sentient alien ships–to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers. Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.(Publisher summary)

    First lines: I feel the stars,
    Energy pulses against my skin, murmuring secrets about this small galaxy, about obits and alignments and asteroids streaming in space. Impulse makes me want to dive and cruise those currents, but I control these urges.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIda, Alison Evans

    How do people decide on a path, and find the drive to pursue what they want?Ida struggles more than other twentysomethings to work this out. She can shift between parallel universes, allowing her to follow alternative paths. One day Ida sees a shadowy, see-through doppelganger of herself on the train. She starts to wonder if she’s actually in control of her ability, and whether there are effects far beyond what she’s considered.How can she know, anyway, whether one universe is ultimately better than another? And what if the continual shifting causes her to lose what is most important to her, just as she’s discovering what that is, and she can never find her way back? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: My shift is finally over and I want to scream. The thing about hospitality is that you always have to be switched on, always nice, welcoming, smiling. Even when someone’s yelling at you because their three-quarter soy latte is too cold.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe sacrifice box, Martin Stewart

    Never come to the box alone. Never open it after dark. Never take back your sacrifice… Sep, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley: five friends thrown together one hot, sultry summer. When they discover an ancient stone box hidden in the forest, they decide to each make a sacrifice: something special to them, committed to the box for ever. And they make a pact: they will never return to the box at night; they’ll never visit it alone; and they’ll never take back their offerings. Four years later, the gang have drifted apart. Then a series of strange and terrifying events take place, and Sep and his friends understand that one of them has broken the pact. As their sacrifices haunt them with increased violence and hunger, they realise that they are not the first children to have found the box in their town’s history. And ultimately, the box may want the greatest sacrifice of all: one of them. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Sep knelt beside the box. The forest was tight with heat, and sweat prickled on his skin. The clearing around him was a blanket of root and stone, caged by silent trees and speckled by dark, leaf-spinning pools that hid the wriggling things of the soil.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsUnveiling Venus, Sophia Bennett

    In the gossip-fuelled world of Victorian London, Persephone Lavelle is the name on everyone’s lips. As Mary’s secret identity is exposed and rumours fly, she flees the scandal by escaping to Venice. Lost among the twisting alleyways and shadowy canals she encounters a mysterious, masked young man. He offers her the world, but at what price? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: My dearest Persephone,
    Oh, how you must curse me, and how sorry I am! I haven’t written to you in an age. All I can say is I have been so busy! And I have much news. More of which in a minute…

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe diminished, Kaitlyn Sage Patterson

    In the Alskad Empire, nearly all are born with a twin, two halves to form one whole…yet some face the world alone. The singleborn A rare few are singleborn in each generation, and therefore given the right to rule by the gods and goddesses. Bo Trousillion is one of these few, born into the royal line and destined to rule. Though he has been chosen to succeed his great-aunt, Queen Runa, as the leader of the Alskad Empire, Bo has never felt equal to the grand future before him. The diminished. When one twin dies, the other usually follows, unable to face the world without their other half. Those who survive are considered diminished, doomed to succumb to the violent grief that inevitably destroys everyone whose twin has died. Such is the fate of Vi Abernathy, whose twin sister died in infancy. Raised by the anchorites of the temple after her family cast her off, Vi has spent her whole life scheming for a way to escape and live out what’s left of her life in peace. As their sixteenth birthdays approach, Bo and Vi face very different futures–one a life of luxury as the heir to the throne, the other years of backbreaking work as a temple servant. But a long-held secret and the fate of the empire are destined to bring them together in a way they never could have imagined. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The first queen built the Alskad Empire from scorched earth and ash after the goddess Dzallie split the moon and rained fire from the sky. The god Hamil called the sea to wash away most of what was left of humanity, but the people who managed to survive gathered in the wild, unforgiving north, calling on Rayleane the Builder to help them shape an idyllic community that would be home and have to descendants of the cataclysm.


  • dystopia, Fantasy, Mysteries, New, realistic fiction

    New books

    29.03.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHero at the fall, Alwyn Hamilton

    Armed with only her revolver, her wits, and the Demdji powers she’s struggling to control, Amani must rally a crew of rebels to take on the bloodthirsty sultan of Miraji and free the imprisoned prince Ahmed. But as the rescue mission travels through the unforgiving desert to a place that, according to maps, doesn’t exist, Amani questions whether she is leading them all to their deaths. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I woke from a sleep filled with nightmares to the sound of my name.
    I was already reaching for a gun when I recognised Sara’s face above me, swimming in and out of focus as my eyes blurred with exhaustion.
    My grip on the trigger eased. It wasn’t an enemy, just Sara, the guardian of the Hidden House.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsObsidio, Amie Kaufman and Jay kristoff (#3 in the Illumiane Files)

    Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza–but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?(Publisher summary)

    First lines: Crowhurst, G: Perhaps we should get proceedings under way? Miss Donnelly, is the video feed operating at your end?
    Donnelly, H: We can see you, Mr. Crowhurst.
    Crowhurst, G: Thank you for making yourself available to us today. Please state your name and occupation for the record.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe beauty that remains, Ashley Woodfolk

    Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Autumn is a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan has always turned to writing love songs when his real love life was a little less than perfect. But death might pull them apart– when tragedy strikes each of them, music is no longer enough. Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend; Shay is struggling to keep it together; Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered. It is possible for one band’s music to reunite them and prove that beauty thrives in the people left behind? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I saw you yesterday.
    There’s no way this is real. It’s can’t be.
    I keep waiting for you to call.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFaceless, Alyssa Sheinmel

    Maisie is a normal sixteen-year-old, until an electrical fire caused by a lightning strike leaves her with severe burns, her face partially destroyed–she is lucky enough to get a full face transplant but she soon discovers how much her looks shaped her own identity and her relationship with those around her, including her boyfriend. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Step, breath. Step, breath.
    My best friend, Serena, doesn’t understand why I run. She said once that of all the different forms of working out, she thought running seemed like the absolute worst. The most punishing. Of course, Serena does yoga.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRide, Lisa Glass

    As a professional surfer, seventeen-year-old Iris has travelled the sun-kissed beaches of the globe. But after a tumultuous week in Miami leaves her heartbroken, Iris returns to her home town in the south coast of England. Putting her promising career on hold. Leaving behind Zeke, the boy who changed her world. Iris is desperate to get back to her old life, to the family and friends she grew up with. She wants to rediscover her passion for surfing. She needs to move on. But Iris soon realises it won’t be that simple. Because while a summer romance might only last the season, first loves never truly leave you…(Publisher information)

    First lines: The Florida wind in my face, I paddle into shark park, acutely aware of several long-lens cameras trained on me. I’ve made the decision to stop wearing bikinis when I compete, even in warm water. Instead, I’ll dress in either a one-piece swimsuit with men’s boardshorts and my contest jersey, or, if I can surf without getting cooked by neoprene, a spring wetsuit.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe belles, Dhonielle Clayton

    Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orleans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful. But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite, the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orleans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie, that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision. With the future of Orleans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide: save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles, or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever. (Publisher information)

    First lines: We all turned sixteen today, and for any normal girl that would mean raspberry and lemon macarons and tiny pastel blimps and pink champagne and card games. Maybe even a teacup elephant.
    But not for us. Today is our debut. There are only six of us this year.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsChildren of blood and bone, Tomy Adeyemi

    Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Pick me.
    It’s all I can do not to scream. I dig my nails into the marula oak of my staff and squeeze to keep from fidgeting. Beads of sweat drip down my back, but I can’t tell if it’s from dawn’s early heat or from my heart slamming against my chest. Moon after moon I’ve been passed over. Today can’t be the same.


  • Comedy, Environment, Espionage, Fantasy, Horror, Mysteries, New, Nicola, Real Problems, realistic fiction, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    New Books

    23.02.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on New Books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWildman, J.C. Geiger

    Lance Hendricks is just 400 miles from the best night of his life: an epic graduation party. When his ’93 Buick breaks down, Lance is sure he’ll be back on the road in no time. After all, he’s the high school valedictorian, first chair trumpet player, scholarship winner. Nothing can stop him. But afternoon turns to night, and Lance ends up stranded at the Trainsong Motel. The place feels ominous, even before there’s a terrible car wreck outside his room. When Lance goes to help, the townies take notice. They call him Wildman and it’s not long before he begins to live up to his new name. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The song skipped.
    A crackling beat, a brief tremor in the steering wheel-and Lance Hendricks noticed the gap in the music. He knew every last note of Classical Trumpet Ballads, which had been jammed the cassette player of his ’93 Buick since the unfortunate day his mother gave him the tape. Now it was his only option. No radio this far from the city.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFragments of the lost, Megan Miranda

    After months of mourning the death of her ex-boyfriend, Caleb, 16-year-old Jessa Whitworth is asked to pack up his room so that his mother and younger sister can move on. Witnesses say that the last time Caleb was seen-before driving off a bridge into a raging river-was at Jessa’s track meet. The two had an awkward moment there, and Caleb left angry. Jessa feels responsible for the accident, and her guilt mounts as she slowly packs away his belongings, each item bringing up a memory of their yearlong relationship. In addition to the memories dredged up by Caleb’s things, Jessa begins to piece together evidence that leads her to believe that Caleb was hiding a big secret. (Publisher Weekly Summary)

    First lines: There’s no light in the narrow stairway to the third floor. There’s no handrail, either. Just wooden steps and plaster walls that were probably added in an attic renovation long ago. The door above remains shut, but there’s a sliver of light that escapes from the bottom, coming from inside. He must have left the window uncovered.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCamp So-And-So, Mary McCoy

    Twenty five girls are invited to attend Camp So-and-So and work with their cabin mates to compete in the All-Camp Sports 7 Follies. But this is no ordinary camp. Cabin 1 must face off with the campers across the lake. Cabin 2 is being stalked by a murderous former camper. Cabin 3 must break and age-old curse. Cabin 4 will meet their soul-mates. Cabin 5… well, it might already be too late for Cabin 5. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The letters went out on mid-February, when the weather had been so cold and so gray, and everything been so buried in snow for so long, and the idea of riding a horse or rowing across a lake seemed so impossible, the brochures might as well have been promising magic.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGunslinger girl, Lyndsay Ely

    Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune at the Theater Vespertine in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. The Second Civil War fractured the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land, and there is a dark cost to the Theater– one that Pity may not be willing to pay. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: They dragged in the dead scrounger in the fade of the afternoon, tied to the last truck in the convoy. Dust clouds billowed after the vehicles like a fog, blanketing the compound’s entrance in ochre twilight. Pity squinted and pulled her bandana over her nose.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSparrow, Scot Gardner

    One, two, three, breath. When a juvenile detention exercise off the coast of the Kimberley goes wrong, sixteen-year-old Sparrow must swim to shore. There are sharks and crocs around him but the monsters he fears most live in the dark spaces in his mind. He’s swimming away from his prison life and towards a desolate, rocky coastland and the hollow promise of freedom. He’ll eat or be eaten, kill or be killed.With no voice, no family and the odds stacked against him, Sparrow has nothing left to lose. But to survive he’ll need something more potent than desperation, something more dangerous than a makeshift knife. (Publisher summary)

    First lines:The boy’s guts grew tight. The week of boot camp had been tense enough, especially after Ratcliffe, hyper at the best of times, stopped taking his meds. Now, on their way back to Derby, the boat had broken down and it felt like a flash point, The guards were on edge and the survival instructor, Maddox, was mutinous.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThunderhead, Neal Shusterman

    A year has passed since Rowan had gone off grid, becoming an urban legend, a vigilante snuffing out corrupt scythes in a trial by fire. As Scythe Anastasia, Citra gleans with compassion and openly challenges the ideals of the ‘new order.’ But it is clear that not everyone is open to the change. Will the Thunderhead intervene… or simply watch the world of Scythedom unravel? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Peach velvet with embroidered baby-blue trim. Honorable Scythe Brahms loved his robe. True, the velvet became uncomfortably hot in the summer months, but it was something he had grown accustomed to in his sixty-three years as a scythe. He had recently turned the corner again, resetting his physical age back to a spry twenty-five – and now, in his third youth, he found his appetite for gleaning was stronger than ever.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRoyal bastards, Andrew Shvarts

    Tilla, the sixteen-year-old illegitimate daughter of Lord Kent, spends her days exploring the tunnels beneath the castle and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out in her half-brother’s room. When they witness a crime that is part of a brutal coup, Tilla and her fellow bastards band together with other outcasts in an attempt to prevent civil war and protect Lyriana, a sheltered, visiting princess whose life is in danger. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Princess Lyriana came to Castle Waverly two months after I turned sixteen. That meant fall was setting in: the trees were red, the roads were muddy, and when Jax and I sat in abandoned sentry tower on the eastern wall, passing a skin of wine back and forth, we could just barely see our breath in the air as we talked.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBetween the blade and the heart, Amanda Hocking

    As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. When she unearths a secret about her mother that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin must decide where her loyalties lie. Torn between her ex-girlfriend and blue-eyed Asher, she must decide if helping him enact his revenge is worth the risk to the world and her heart. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: In the vast emptiness of space, the gods grew restless, and so they created the heavens above and the worlds below. They filled the earth with every create imaginable, from the smallest fish in the sea to the largest dragon in the sky.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAmerican panda, Gloria Chao

    A freshman at MIT, seventeen-year-old Mei Lu tries to live up to her Taiwanese parents’ expectations, but no amount of tradition, obligation, or guilt prevent her from hiding several truths–that she is a germaphobe who cannot become a doctor, she prefers dancing to biology, she decides to reconnect with her estranged older brother, and she is dating a Japanese boy. Can she find a way to be herself, before her web of lies unravels? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The stench of the restaurant’s speciality walloped my sense as soon as I entered. Even with seventeen years of practice, I didn’t have a fighting chance against a dish named stinky tofu. I gagged.
    My mother sniffed and smiled. “Smells like home.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCatch me when you fall, Eileen Merriman

    Seventeen-year-old Alex Byrd is about to have the worst day of her life, and the best. A routine blood test that will reveal her leukaemia has returned, but she also meets Jamie Orange. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: If you take photographs through a prism, you can turn people into ghosts. I’d taught Jamie that this year, my eighteenth year of life, and possibly my last. Whenever a bad memory crept into my brain, I held a prism up to it, and it would distort and soften. That way I could cope it a bit better.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDreamland burning, Jennifer Latham

    When Rowan finds a skeleton on her family’s property, investigating the brutal, century-old murder leads to painful discoveries about the past. Alternating chapters tell the story of William, another teen grappling with the racial firestorm leading up to the 1921 Tulsa race riot, providing some clues to the mystery. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Nobody walks in Tulsa. At least not to get anywhere. Oil built our houses, paved our streets, and turned us from a cow town stop on the Frisco Railroad into the heart of Route 66. My ninth-grade Oklahoma History joked that around these parts, walking is sacrilege. Real Tulsans drive.


  • dystopia, Environment, Fantasy, GLBT, Horror, Mysteries, New, Nicola, realistic fiction

    New books

    18.01.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAll the wind in the world, Samantha Mabry

    Sarah Jac Crow and James Holt have fallen in love working in the endless fields that span a bone-dry Southwest in the near-future–a land that’s a little bit magical, deeply dangerous, and bursting with secrets. To protect themselves, they’ve learned to work hard and–above all–keep their love hidden from the people who might use it against them. Then, just when Sarah Jac and James have settled in and begun saving money for the home they dream of near the coast, a horrible accident sends them on the run. With no choice but to start over on a new, possibly cursed ranch, the delicate balance of their lives begins to give way–and they may have to pay a frighteningly high price for their love. (Publisher information)

    First lines: The goal is to get to the heart:
    Slash off the spines,
    Sever the bulb from the roots.
    Move down the row.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOff the ice, Julie Cross

    Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business―a hockey bar beside the ice rink―afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again. Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good. It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love. For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Something cold and wet hits the side of my face. My braces clank against Haley’s, and we both jump apart. I hear giggling coming from several feet away. When I turn my head, my sister, Jody, is sitting on a log, a clear plastic cup of ice in her hand. Her friend Claire O’Connor smacks her on the arm. “You are so mean.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBeing fishkill, Ruth Lehrer

    Born in the backseat of a moving car, Carmel Fishkill was unceremoniously pushed into a world that refuses to offer her security, stability, love. At age thirteen, she begins to fight back. Carmel Fishkill becomes Fishkill Carmel, who deflects her tormenters with a strong left hook and conceals her secrets from teachers and social workers. But Fishkill’s fierce defenses falter when she meets eccentric optimist Duck-Duck Farina, and soon they, along with Duck-Duck’s mother, Molly, form a tentative family, even as Fishkill struggles to understand her place in it. This fragile new beginning is threatened by the reappearance of Fishkill’s unstable mother and by unfathomable tragedy. (Publisher information)

    First lines: My mother named me after a New York highway sign, passing through, passing be, not even stopping to squeeze out my blue body. Going north on the Taconic Parkway, she lay on the back seat and pushed. As I gushed onto the gray vinyl, she caught a glimpse of the Carmel/Fishkill exist sign and decided it was not just a highway sign but a cosmic sign, and I was Carmel Fishkill.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDaughter of the pirate king, Tricia Levenseller

    Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map – the key to a legendary treasure trove – seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship. Alosa only has one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King. (Publisher information)

    First lines: I hate having to dress like a man.
    The cotton shirt is too loose, the breeches too big, the boots too uncomfortable. My hair is bound on the top of my head, secured in a bun underneath a small sailor’s hat. My sword is strapped tightly to the left side of my waist, a pistol undrawn on my right.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEverless, Sara Holland

    In the kingdom of Sempera, time is extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocrats like the Gerling family tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries. No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember; she and her father were once servants at their estate, Everless, until an accident drove them away. After discovering her father is dying, Jules is desperate to earn more time for him, and returns to Everless amidst preparations for the wedding of Roan Gerling and the Queen’s daughter. Caught in a tangle of violent secrets, Jules must change her fate– and perhaps the fate of time itself. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Most people find the forest frightening, believing the old tales of fairies who will freeze the time in your blood, or witches who can spill your years out over the snow with only a whisper. Even the spirit of the Alchemist himself is said to wander these woods, trapping whole eternities in a breath.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWatched, Marina Budhos

    Naeem is a Bangledeshi teenager living in Queens who thinks he can charm his way through anything. But then mistakes catch up with him. So do the cops, who offer him an impossible choice: spy on his Muslim neighbors and report back to them on shady goings-on, or face a police record. Naeem wants to be a hero–a protector. He wants his parents to be proud of him. But as time goes on, the line between informing and entrapping blurs. Is he saving or betraying his community? (Publisher information)

    First lines: I’m watched.
    There’s a streetlight near my parents’ store, and I hear the click, a shutter snapping as I round the corner. My gaze swivels up, but there’s nothing. Just a white-eyed orb, a lamp, ticking. The dim sky floating behind. I shiver, tell myself it’s all my head. Nothing.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTimekeeper, Tara Sim

    Debut novelist Sim creates an alternate Victorian England in which every town, regardless of size, has a clock tower that controls the local flow of time. If a town’s clock runs slow, time runs slow as well, and the town goes out of sync with its surroundings. Mechanics, who can feel the flow of time and keep the clocks running, are vitally important, but Danny, the youngest mechanic in England at age 17, has been devastated by twin tragedies: his father was trapped, along with the citizens of Maldon, when its clock stopped, and Danny himself nearly died when another clock tower exploded for reasons unknown. Working on Colton Tower, which has apparently been sabotaged, Danny meets and falls for a mysterious apprentice, a boy who, it turns out, isn’t human. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Two o’clock was missing.
    Danny wanted it to be a joke. Hours didn’t just disappear. But the clock tower before him and the silver timepiece in his hand read 3:06 in the afternoon, when not fifteen minutes before they had read 1:51.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStrange fire, Tommy Wallach

    They said that the first generation of man was brought low by its appetites: for knowledge, for power, for wealth. They said mankind’s voracity was so great, the Lord sent his own Daughter to bring fire and devastation to the world. The survivors were few, but over the course of centuries they banded together to form a new civilization–the Descendancy–founded on the belief that the mistakes of the past must never be repeated. Brothers Clive and Clover Hamill, the sons of a well-respected Descendant minister, have spent their lives spreading that gospel. But when their traveling ministry discovers a community intent on rediscovering the blasphemous technologies of the past, a chain of events will be set in motion that will pit city against city…and brother against brother. Along with Gemma Poplin, Clive’s childhood sweetheart, and Paz Dedios, a revolutionary who dreams of overthrowing the Descendancy, Clive and Clover will each play a pivotal role in determining the outcome of this holy war, and the fate of humanity itself. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Florian Parks was sitting in the gantry watchtower, whittling a wooden doll for his little sister, when he first spotted the travelers over the pointed tips of the palisade. He was so surprised that he cut the figurine’s nose clean off.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe November girl, Lydia King

    A few months before his eighteenth birthday, Hector runs away to the remote Isle Royale on Lake Superior. In the spring, when he’ll be legally free from his brutal uncle, he can go back to the mainland. Until then, he’ll have to weather the vicious autumn storms and find a way to survive the hostile, uninhabited island. But he’s not as alone as he thinks. Anda is the Witch of November, the daughter of the lake itself, and she thirsts for storms and shipwrecks. When she finds Hector on her island, she should run him off for his own safety–but she’s fascinated by him and his unusual ability to see her. For the first time, she might have found a reason to fight her bloodthirsty nature. Hector is running away from violence; Anda has violence running in her veins. Together, they could save–or destroy–each other. (Publisher information)

    First lines: There’s a foolproof method to running away. I know the wrong ones all to well. This time there’ll be no mistakes. I’d left my cell phone, fully charged, duct-taped beneath a seat on a Duluth city bus. If they track it, they’ll think I’ve never left town.


  • dystopia, Fantasy, GLBT, Horror, Mysteries, New, Real Life, realistic fiction, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    New books

    12.01.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsYou bring the distant near, Mitali Perkins

    Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story. You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture–for better or worse. Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve her Bengali identity–award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The swimmers have finished their races and are basking in the sun. It’s almost time for the beginners’ event. Tara kneels at the shallow edge, giving her little sister last-minute instructions. Floating inside her ring, Sonia pretends to listen. Their mother stands alone by the deep end, sari-clad under the red monsoon umbrella she carries as a portable shade from the West African sun.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIn other lands, Sarah Rees Brennan

    The Borderlands aren’t like anywhere else. There are elves, harpies, and — best of all as far as Elliot is concerned — mermaids. Elliot is thirteen years old. He’s smart and just a tiny bit obnoxious. Sometimes more than a tiny bit. When his class goes on a field trip and he can see a wall that no one else can see, he is given the chance to go to school in the Borderlands. It turns out that on the other side of the wall, classes involve a lot more weaponry and fitness training and fewer mermaids than he expected. On the other hand, there’s Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, an elven warrior who is more beautiful than anyone Elliot has ever seen, and then there’s her human friend Luke: sunny, blond, and annoyingly likeable. There’s the chance Elliot might be able to change the world. In Other Lands is the exhilarating book about surviving four years in the most unusual of schools, about friendship, falling in love, diplomacy, and finding your own place in the world — even if it means giving up your phone. (Publisher information)

    First lines: So far magic school was total rubbish. Elliot sat on the fence bisecting two fields and brooded tragically over his wrongs. He had been plucked from geography class, one of his most interesting classes, to take some kind of scholarship test out in the wild. Elliot and three other kids from his class had been picked into a van by their harassed-looking French teacher and driven outside the city. Elliot objected because after an hour in a moving vehicle he would be violently sick. The other kids objected because after an hour in a moving vehicle they’d be violently sick of Elliot.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe day the angels fell, Shawn Smucker

    It was the summer of storms and strays and strangers. The summer that lightning struck the big oak tree in the front yard. The summer his mother died in a tragic accident. As he recalls the tumultuous events that launched a surprising journey, Samuel can still hardly believe it all happened.
    After his mother’s death, twelve-year-old Samuel Chambers would do anything to turn back time. Prompted by three strange carnival fortune-tellers and the surfacing of his mysterious and reclusive neighbor, Samuel begins his search for the Tree of Life–the only thing that could possibly bring his mother back. His quest to defeat death entangles him and his best friend Abra in an ancient conflict and forces Samuel to grapple with an unwelcome question: could it be possible that death is a gift? (Goodreads)

    First lines: I am old now. I still live on the same farm where I grew up, the same farm where my mother’s accident took place, the same farm that burned for days after the angels fell. My father rebuilt the farm after the fire, and it was foreign to me then, a new house trying to fill an old space. The trees he planted were all fragile and small, and the inside of the barns smelled like new wood and fresh paint. I think he was glad to start over, considering everything that summer was taken from us.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWater in May, Ismée Williams

    Fifteen-year-old Mari Pujols believes that the baby she’s carrying will finally mean she’ll have a family member who will love her deeply and won’t ever leave her—not like her mama, who took off when she was eight; or her papi, who’s in jail; or her abuela, who wants as little to do with her as possible. But when doctors discover a potentially fatal heart defect in the fetus, Mari faces choices she never could have imagined. Surrounded by her loyal girl crew, her off-and-on boyfriend, and a dedicated doctor, Mari navigates a decision that could emotionally cripple the bravest of women. But both Mari and the broken-hearted baby inside her are fighters; and it doesn’t take long to discover that this sick baby has the strength to heal an entire family. (Goodreads)

    First lines: “His name ain’t Dr. Lobe. Coño. You’re messing with me, right?”
    Yaz smacks me in the shoulder. She’s doubled over, fingers clamping her mouth shut. Her purple silver-studded nails press dimples into her cheek. She’s trying not to laugh.
    “What?” I ask her. My cell slips as I shrug my shoulders. “They expect me to believe this guy’s name is Cr. Love? A heart doctor? How stupid do they think I am?”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBrooding YA hero, Carrie Diriso, illustrated by Linnea Gear

    Have you ever wished you could receive a little guidance from your favorite book boyfriend? Ever dreamed of being the Chosen One in a YA novel? Want to know all the secrets of surviving the dreaded plot twist? Or maybe you’re just really confused about what “opal-tinted, luminous cerulean orbs” actually are?
    Well, popular Twitter personality @broodingYAhero is here to help as he tackles the final frontier in his media dominance: writing a book. Join Broody McHottiepants as he attempts to pen Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me, a “self-help” guide (with activities–you always need activities) that lovingly pokes fun at the YA tropes that we roll our eyes at, but secretly love. As his nefarious ex, Blondie DeMeani, attempts to thwart him at every turn, Broody overcomes to detail, among other topics, how to choose your genre, how to keep your love interest engaged (while maintaining lead character status), his secret formula for guaranteed love triangle success, and how to make sure you secure that sequel, all while keeping his hair perfectly coiffed and never breaking a sweat. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Alone in his room, Broody McHottiepants contemplated his future. He was the best of all fictional characters ever created- that he knew. His phone never stopped ringing (playing his theme song, from his latest hit movie adaptation, of course) with Authors begging him to star in their latest novels. An endlessly talented man, he’d been everything from a vampire to a quarterback. Into each novel he brought his incredibly adjective-filled beauty; his gemstone-coloured gaze; his strong, strong arms; and his potent blend of wish fulfillment and slightly toxic masculinity.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDisappeared, Francisco X. Stork

    Four months ago: Sara Zapata’s best friend disappeared, kidnapped by the web of criminals who terrorize Juàrez.
    Four weeks ago: Her brother, Emiliano, fell in love with Perla Rubi, a girl whose family is as rich as her name.
    Four hours ago: Sara received a death threat…and her first clue her friend’s location.
    Four minutes ago: Emiliano was offered a way into Perla Rubi’s world—if he betrays his own.
    In the next four days, Sara and Emiliano will each face impossible choices, between life and justice, friends and family, truth and love. But when the criminals come after Sara, only one path remains for both the siblings: the way across the desert to the United States. (Goodreads)

    First lines: On the morning of November 14, the day she was kidnapped, Linda Fuentes opened the door to my house and walked into the kitchen, where my family was having breakfast. As usual, I wasn’t ready. Linda and I had an ongoing argument: She said I was always late, and I said she got to my house early to bask in the adoration of my younger brother, Emiliano.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAll about Mia, Lisa Williamson

    One family, three sisters. GRACE, the oldest: straight-A student. AUDREY, the youngest: future Olympic swimming champion. And MIA, the mess in the middle.
    Mia is wild and daring, great with hair and selfies, and the undisputed leader of her friends – not attributes appreciated by her parents or teachers.
    When Grace makes a shock announcement, Mia hopes that her now-not-so-perfect sister will get into the trouble she deserves. But instead, it is Mia whose life spirals out of control – boozing, boys and bad behaviour – and she starts to realise that her attempts to make it All About Mia might put at risk the very things she loves the most. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Everyone in Rushton knows the Campbell-Richardson sisters. Grace is the oldest and destined for a first from Cambridge. Signature scent: grapefruit shampoo, secondhand books, and perfection. Audrey is the youngest and destined for the Olympics. Signature scent: chlorine, Lucozade Sport, and discipline. Then there’s me, Mia. I’m in the middle. I have no idea what my destiny is. Signature scent: coconut oil, Haribo, and TROUBLE.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe hollow girl, Hillary Monahan

    Bethan is the apprentice to a green healer named Drina in a clan of Welsh Romanies. Her life is happy and ordered and modest, as required by Roma custom, except for one thing: Silas, the son of the chieftain, has been secretly harassing her. One night, Silas and his friends brutally assault Bethan and a half-Roma friend, Martyn. As empty and hopeless as she feels from the attack, she asks Drina to bring Martyn back from death’s door. “There is always a price for this kind of magic,” Drina warns. The way to save him is gruesome. Bethan must collect grisly pieces to fuel the spell: an ear, some hair, an eye, a nose, and fingers. She gives the boys who assaulted her a chance to come forward and apologize. And when they don’t, she knows exactly where to collect her ingredients to save Martyn. (Goodreads)

    First lines: My chin rested in my palm. My eyelids were heavy. Gran’s arm darted out, her liver-spotted hand whacking in the inside of my elbow to knock it off the table. It pulled me out of my stupor, but almost cost me my teeth.
    “I am not saying this twice.” She reached for a cluster of herbs hanging from a hook in the ceiling and snapped off two sprigs of green with dusky-purple flowers. “Dwayberry.”
    “Nightshade,” I said, fairly certain I had it right.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe grave keepers, Elizabeth Byrne

    Lately, Athena Windham has been spending all her spare time in her grave. Her parents—owners of a cemetery in Upstate New York—are proud of her devoutness, but her younger sister, Laurel, would rather spend her time exploring the forest that surrounds the Windham’s’ property than in her own grave. The Windham girls lead secluded lives—their older sister died in a tragic accident and their parents’ protectiveness has made the family semi-infamous. As the new school year begins, the outside world comes creeping in through encounters with mean girls, a new friend, and a runaway boy hiding out in the cemetery. Meanwhile, a ghost hangs around the Windham property—the only grave keeper never to cross over—plotting how to keep the sisters close to home and close to her…forever. (Goodreads)

    First lines: You should know that I died a long time ago, and that I was young when I died. But that doesn’t matter much to me anymore. I’ve been in the Catskills far longer than Rip Van Winkle. I’ve seen a town flooded for a reservoir. I’ve watched beetles chew leaves all the summer until the mountain’s scalp showed. I’ve seen people step out of second-storey windows in snowshoes and walk down the middle of Main Street; I’ve found a lost child hours before the authorities and waited with him until the first ranger arrived.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIt’s not like it’s a secret, Misa Sugiura

    Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like that fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself — the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend. When Sana and her family move to California she begins to wonder if it’s finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana’s ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana’s new friends don’t trust Jamie’s crowd; Jamie’s friends clearly don’t want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore anymore. Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, telling the truth is easy … what comes after it, though, is a whole lot more complicated. (Publisher information)

    First lines: “Sana, chotto…hanashi ga arun-ya kedo.”
    Uh-oh.
    Something big was about to go down.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA line in the dark, Malinda Lo

    Jess Wong is Angie Redmond’s best friend. And that’s the most important thing, even if Angie can’t see how Jess truly feels. Being the girl no one quite notices is OK with Jess anyway. While nobody notices her, she’s free to watch everyone else. But when Angie begins to fall for Margot Adams, a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess can see it coming a mile away. Suddenly her powers of observation are more curse than gift. As Angie drags Jess further into Margot’s circle, Jess discovers more than her friend’s growing crush. Secrets and cruelty lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of wealth and privilege, and when they come out, Jess knows Angie won’t be able to handle the consequences. When the inevitable darkness finally descends, Angie will need her best friend. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The air conditioner at the creamery is going full blast but it doesn’t make much of a dent in the sticky heat. Every time Angie opens the freezer case to scoop another cone I want to duck my head inside to cool off. She’s been opening the case a lot today. It’s the first Friday after Labour Day, and the shop is full of students from West Bedford High. When Angie has a break between customers, she glances at me, where I’m sitting on a stool on the corner. There’s a little counter back there where I’ve propped up my history textbook, pretending to study.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWe are okay, Nina La Cour

    Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Before Hannah left, she asked if I was sure I’d be okay. She had already waited an hour past when the doors were closed for winter break, until everyone but the custodians were gone. She had folded a load of laundry, written an email, searched her massive psychology textbook for answers to the final exam questions to see if she had gotten them right. She had run out of ways to fill time, so when I said, “Ye, I’ll be fine,” she had nothing left to do but believe me.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNow is everything, Amy Giles

    The McCauleys look perfect on the outside. But nothing is ever as it seems, and this family is hiding a dark secret. Hadley McCauley will do anything to keep her sister safe from their father. But when Hadley’s forbidden relationship with Charlie Simmons deepens, the violence at home escalates, culminating in an explosive accident that will leave everyone changed. When Hadley attempts to take her own life at the hospital post-accident, her friends, doctors, family, and the investigator on the case want to know why. Only Hadley knows what really happened that day, and she’s not talking. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Emergency first responders scramble up and down the hill around me like ants, trying to see what can be salvaged. We’re on different frequencies. Theirs is manic and frenzied, searching for life, while I watch without seeing. What I escaped below eclipses everything. Blank eyes. A blood-soaked Cornell sweatshirt. Necks bent unnaturally. Angry fists of heat pounding at my back as I crawled away from the wreckage.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDevils and thieves, Jennifer Rush

    In Jemmie Carmichael’s Hawthorne, New York, magic users are called “kindled,” and Jemmie would count herself among them if only she could cast a simple spell without completely falling apart. And she’s been snubbed by Crowe, the dangerous and enigmatic leader of the Black Devils kindled motorcycle gang and the unofficial head of their turf. During an annual festival, a rumor begins spreading that someone is practicing forbidden magic. Then people start to go missing. Jemmie and Crowe will have to put aside their tumultuous history to find their loved ones. And the only thing that might save them is the very flaw that keeps Jemmie from fully harnessing her magic. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I hated the mall. I hated the smell of fast, cheap food. I hated the windowless walls, the cavernous space that makes me feel trapped. Most of all, I hated the echoing cacophony of a thousand voices. There was already enough noise in my own head.
    “Jemmie?” Alex called. “What do you think?” She spun around in the tenth dress she’d on in the past hour.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAlone, Cyn Balog

    When her mom inherits an old, crumbling mansion, Seda’s almost excited to spend the summer there. The grounds are beautiful and it’s fun to explore the sprawling house with its creepy rooms and secret passages. Except now her mom wants to renovate, rather than sell the estate—which means they’re not going back to the city…or Seda’s friends and school. As the days grow shorter, Seda is filled with dread. They’re about to be cut off from the outside world, and she’s not sure she can handle the solitude or the darkness it brings out in her.Then a group of teens get stranded near the mansion during a blizzard. Seda has no choice but to offer them shelter, even though she knows danger lurks in the dilapidated mansion—and in herself. And as the snow continues to fall, what Seda fears most is about to become her reality…

    First lines: Sometimes I dream I am drowning.
    Sometimes I dream of bloated faces, bobbing on the surface of misty waters.
    And then I wake up, often screaming, heart racing, hands clenching fistfuls of my sheets.


  • Fantasy, Mysteries, Nicola, realistic fiction, Sci Fi

    New books

    20.12.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLast chance, Gregg Hurwitz

    In Creek’s Cause, the fight for humanity’s survival continues. Everyone over the age of eighteen has been turning into ferocious, zombie-like beings– and the spores that cause the transformation are not of this Earth. Now a new breed of predatory creature has been spawned, devouring everything in its path. Chance and Patrick Rain and their friend Alexandra may become humanity’s only hope for salvation. (Publisher summary)

    First lines:I wake up in the perfect darkness of Uncle Jim and Aunt Sue-Anne’s ranch house, and there’s a split second where everything is fine. I’m six years old and life is good. And then I remember.
    My parents are dead.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe knowing, Sharon Cameron

    The underground city of New Canaan is safe from the Forgetting which afflicts Canaan above ground, but in her rigidly controlled and repressive city eighteen-year-old Samara, one of the Knowing, is plagued by her memory of the horrors she has seen, and determined to seek answers in the cursed city above–where she will find Beckett Rodriguez and his parents, on a mission from Earth to study the lost colony. (Publisher summary)

    First lines:I am one of the Knowing.
    I was three years old the day my memories came. I had my arms stretched out, my brother, Adam, flying me up and around and over his head like the bluedads that dart through the linen fields. I was laughing. And suddenly there were voices in the rush of air. Images. Swirling color. And so much feeling.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsExile, Sophie Breeze

    Hybrids, outcasts, of their own world. Five children, Josh, Bailey, Ella, Eric and Blaire, live on planet Mellania. They each have one human parent and one Mellanian. Their partial alien DNA means they possess unique powers, making them both an asset and a threat to the Mellanian government. Captain Melsom, Mellania’s ruler, works beside Lucia, a malicious demon, to eliminate the young hybrids.The operation involves transferring the children to Earth where they will be immediately killed. Lucia is to be transported with them to oversee their termination. Upon arrival, things don’t work out quite as expected.The children have to draw on their powers to survive now, all the time trying to find Lucia before she can wreak her own chaos upon Earth.But just who is controlling the situation and for what reason suddenly becomes very clouded. Even those closest to them begin to drift apart, and it becomes increasingly clear that nothing is what it seems. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The Mellanian sky stretched across the whole planet in one seamless blanket of turquoise silk. It was a night one might take the time to stop and admire, but Sergeant Grion had far more pressing matters to attend to.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe last days of Archie Maxwell, Annabel Pitcher

    Dads leave home all the time. It’s not that unusual, really. Leon’s dad ran off with another woman. So did Mo’s. But Archie’s? Well, that’s a different story – a story that Archie must keep secret at all cost. Archie knows he should accept Dad for who he is, so he hides his turmoil until he can stand it no longer. With nowhere else to turn, he finds himself at the railway track. The track has been calling to him, promising escape, release. The only problem is, it’s been calling to someone else too … (Publisher summary)

    First lines: “So, that’s what we’ve decided. It’s for the best,” Dad said, after two or ten minutes of talking, Archie couldn’t tell. Time was standing still, or going fast, or doing both. That wasn’t possible, but Dad’s words hadn’t seemed possible that morning, and yet here they were, discussing divorce over Mum’s homemade chicken stew.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWe see everything, William Sutcliffe

    Lex lives on The Strip — the overcrowded, closed-off, bombed-out shell of London. He’s used to the watchful enemy drones that buzz in the air above him. Alan’s talent as a gamer has landed him the job of his dreams. At a military base in a secret location, he is about to start work as a drone pilot. These two young men will never meet, but their lives are destined to collide. Because Alan has just been assigned a high-profile target. Alan knows him only as #K622. But Lex calls him Dad. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I don’t know if I can go through with it.
    Pressed against a shrapnel-pitted wall, I stare out over the expanse of collapsed brick, crumpled tarmac, crushed concrete and twisted steel at the blackberry bush I spotted yesterday, a short distance into the exclusion zone.


  • dystopia, Environment, Espionage, Mysteries, New, Nicola, Real Problems, realistic fiction, Separated at Birth

    New books

    07.12.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFar from the tree, Robin Benway

    Grace, adopted at birth, is raised as an only child. At sixteen she’s just put her own baby up for adoption, and now is looking for her biological family. She discovers Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio twin sister who was also adopted ; and Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother after seventeen years in the foster care system. Grace struggles to between cautious joy at having found them, and the true meaning of family in all its forms. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Grace hadn’t really thought too much about homecoming. She knew that she’d go, though. She figured that she and her best friend, Janie, would get dressed together, get their hair done together. She knew that her mom would try to be cool about it and not get excited, and she’d make Grace’s dad charge the fancy, expensive camera-not the iPhone- and then Grace would take pictures with Max, her boyfriend of just over a year.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA short history of the girl next door, Jared Reck

    Matt Wainwright is constantly sabotaged by the overdramatic movie director in his head. He can’t tell his best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her, he implodes on the JV basketball team, and the only place he feels normal is in Mr. Ellis’s English class, discussing the greatest fart scenes in literature and writing poems about pissed-off candy-cane lumberjacks. If this were a movie, everything would work out perfectly. Tabby would discover that Matt’s madly in love with her, be overcome with emotion, and would fall into his arms. Maybe in the rain. But that’s not how it works. Matt watches Tabby get swept away by senior basketball star and all-around great guy Liam Branson. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough, but screwing up and losing her as a friend is even worse. After a tragic accident, Matt finds himself left on the sidelines, on the verge of spiraling out of control and losing everything that matters to him. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I know it’s over when Liam Branson’s black Accord pulls in front of Tabby’s house before the school. I’m shooting free throws in my driveway, like I do every morning, waiting for the bus to deliver me to another memorable day as a freshman at Franklin High. It’s late October, which means the weather is perfect for my before-school shootaround ritual.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThat inevitable Victorian thing, E.K Johnston

    It is a near-future Toronto where the British Empire never fell. Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the Empire, hoping for a summer of freedom before an arranged marriage. She meets Helena, daughter of a geneticist, and August, heir to a shipping firm. The trio is caught off-guard by the discovery of a love so intense they are willing to change the course of the monarchy to keep it. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Helena Marcus had given much thought to her marriage. She was no princess, whose wedding could change the nations, and neither was she a creature of high society, confident that suitors might come knocking on her door, eager to make first impressions with her door, eager to make first impressions with the hope of being remembered as a mutually beneficial option after the Computer did its work at genetic matchmaking.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTool of war, Paolo Bacigalupi

    Tool, a half-man/half-beast designed for combat, is capable of so much more than his creators had ever dreamed. He has gone rogue from his pack of bioengineered “augments” and emerged a victorious leader of a pack of human soldier boys. But he is hunted relentlessly by someone determined to destroy him, who knows an alarming secret: Tool has found the way to resist his genetically ingrained impulses of submission and loyalty toward his masters… The time is coming when Tool will embark on an all-out war against those who have enslaved him.
    First lines: The drone circled high of the wreckage of war. A week before, it hadn’t been there. A week before, the Drowned Cities hadn’t been worth mentioning, let alone committing drones to overwatch. The Drowned Cities: a coastline swamped by rising sea levels and political hatreds, a place of shattered rubble and eternal gunfire. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The drone circled high above the wreckage of war. A week before, it hadn’t been there. A week before, the Drowned Cities hadn’t been worth mentioning, let alone worth committing drones to overwatch. The Drowned Cities: a coastline swamped by rising sea levels and political hatreds, a place of shattered rubble and eternal gunfire.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSometimes we tell the truth, Kim Zarins

    Jeff boards the bus for the Civics class trip to Washington, DC, with a few things on his mind: Six hours trapped with his classmates sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. He somehow ended up sitting next to his ex-best friend, who he hasn’t spoken to in years. He still feels guilty for the major part he played in pranking his teacher, and the trip’s chaperone, Mr. Bailey. And his best friend Cannon, never one to be trusted and banned from the trip, has something “big” planned for DC. But Mr. Bailey has an idea to keep everyone in line: each person on the bus is going to have the chance to tell a story. It can be fact or fiction, realistic or fantastical, dark or funny or sad. It doesn’t matter. Each person gets a story, and whoever tells the best one will get an automatic A in the class. But in the middle of all the storytelling, with secrets and confessions coming out, Jeff only has one thing on his mind–can he live up to the super successful story published in the school newspaper weeks ago that convinced everyone that he was someone smart, someone special, and someone with something to say. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: My mother drives me to school like I’m little again, and I stir awake when she turns off the engine. it’s still nowhere close to sunrise, and my classmates huddle under the streetlamps in the parking lot, some staying warm by smoking. I pray to God my mom doesn’t notice them.
    No such luck.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBody parts, Jessica Kapp

    Raised in an elite foster center off the California coast, sixteen-year-old Tabitha has been protected from the outside world. Her trainers at the center have told her she’ll need to be in top physical condition to be matched with a loving family. So she swims laps and shaves seconds off her mile time, dreaming of the day when she’ll meet her adoptive parents. But when Tabitha’s told she’s been paired, instead of being taken to her new home, she wakes up immobile on a hospital bed. Moments before she’s sliced open, a group of renegade teenagers rescues her, and she learns the real reason she’s been kept in shape: PharmPerfect, a local pharmaceutical giant, is using her foster program as a replacement factory for their pill-addicted clients’ failing organs. Determined to save the rest of her friends at the center, Tabitha joins forces with her rescuers, led by moody and mysterious Gavin Stiles. As they race to uncover the rest of PharmPerfect’s secrets, though, Tabitha finds herself with more questions than answers. Will trusting the enigmatic group of rebels lead her back to the slaughterhouse? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Ten seconds. That’s how much air I have left. I peek at Paige, her body submerged next to me. Stray hairs float around her face. She looks peaceful like she found a way to sleep underwater. The chlorine stings my eyes so I shut them, letting my mind fill with fuzz until all I hear is the cadence of my heart – the sluggish beat coursing all the way to my fingertips.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe first to know, Abigail Johnson

    Dana Fields’s father never knew his parents. When Dana secretly does a DNA test for her dad, hoping to find him some distant relatives for his birthday, her entire world implodes. Instead of a few third cousins, Dana discovers a half brother her age whose very existence means her parents’ happy marriage is a lie. Dana’s desire to know her half brother, Brandon, and the extent of her dad’s deception, clashes with her wish not to destroy her family. When she sees the opportunity to get to know Brandon through his cousin, the intense yet kind Chase, she takes it. But the more she finds out about Brandon, her father’s past and the irresistible guy who’ll never forgive her if he discovers the truth, the more she sees the inevitable fallout from her own lies. With her family crumbling around her, Dana must own up to her actions and find a way to heal the breach–for everyone–before they’re torn apart for good. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The swing was so smooth and effortless I barely felt it. Adrenaline slammed through my body as I hit a screamer into right center, knowing it would find the gap. I dropped my bat and bolted for first, picking up speed as I rounded to second. I had at least a triple. I made the split-second decision to ignore the stop sign from my coach, kicking up dust as I passed third and charged for home.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHere we are now, Jasmine Wanga

    Taliah Sahar Abdallat lives and breathes music. Songs have always helped Tal ease the pain of never having known her father. Her mother, born in Jordan and very secretive about her past, won’t say a word about who her dad really was. But when Tal finds a shoebox full of old letters from Julian Oliver–yes, the indie rock star Julian Oliver–she begins to piece the story together. She writes to Julian, but after three years of radio silence, she’s given up hope. Then one day, completely out of the blue, Julian shows up at her doorstep, and Tal doesn’t know whether to be furious or to throw herself into his arms. Before she can decide, he asks her to go on a trip with him to meet her long-estranged family and to say good-bye to his father, her grandfather, who is dying. Getting to know your father after sixteen years of estrangement doesn’t happen in one car ride. But as Tal spends more time with Julian and his family, she begins to untangle her parents’ secret past, and discovers a part of herself she never recognized before. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: There are people that you never expect to show up on your doorstep. For me, this list begins with the pope, the president and my second-grade teacher, Mrs. Jenkins, because she absolutely hated me. He wouldn’t been somewhere on my Most Unlikely List. Probably top ten. But there was a time, not so long ago, when he wouldn’t have been on that list. There wwas actually a time when I would camp out by the window, willing him to pull up into the driveway.


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