after last week’s mammoth post, this week’s is a short one featuring books based on other literature and characters:
Sweet Shadows, Tera Lynn Childs (336 pages) – Three teenage descendants of Medusa must figure out where their fate will take them. The warring factions among the gods of Olympus are coming for them, the creatures of the abyss are pushing into San Francisco, and the boys in their lives are hiding dangerous secrets. Gretchen has fought the monsters the longest, but teaching the girls the ropes is hard. Can she rely on Grace and Greer, or even trust herself to keep them safe? Greer has pressing social commitments and little time to train her newfound powers. But her second sight won’t leave her alone. Grace is worried about her brother, Thane, who has disappeared. His secrets might have to do with the heritage the triplets share. How can the girls embrace the shadows of their legacy?
First lines: “As I stare across Gretchen’s dining table at Grace, who is flipping through a binder about some ridiculously hideous monster straight out of mythology, I still can’t really fathom that there are two girls right her in this loft who look just like me. Same long, dark-blonde hair – although mine glistens with pricey highlights – and silver-grey eyes that have always been my most unique characteristic. Not any more.”
The Clockwork Scarab, Colleen Gleason (356 pages) – Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate. Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high. If Stoker and Holmes don’t unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims.
First lines: “There are a limited number of excuses for a young, intelligent woman of seventeen to be traversing the fog-shrouded streets of London at midnight. A matter of protecting one’s life or preventing another’s death are two obvious ones. But as far as I knew, I was neither in danger for my life, nor was I about to forestall the death of another.”
Splintered : a novel, A. G. Howard (371 pages) – Alyssa Gardner hears the thoughts of plants and animals. She hides her delusions for now, but she knows her fate: she will end up like her mother, in an institution. Madness has run in her family ever since her great-great-great-grandmother Alice Liddell told Lewis Carroll her strange dreams, inspiring his classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. But perhaps she’s not mad. And perhaps Carroll’s stories aren’t as whimsical as they first seem. To break the curse of insanity, Alyssa must go down the rabbit hole and right the wrongs of Wonderland, a place full of strange beings with dark agendas. Alyssa brings her real-world crush – the provocative Jeb – with her, but once her journey begins, she’s torn between his solidity and the enchanting, dangerous magic of Morpheus, her guide to Wonderland. But no one in Wonderland is who they seem to be – not even Alyssa herself…
First lines: “I’ve been collecting bugs since I was ten; it’s the only way I can stop their whispers. Sticking a pin through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quick. Some of my victims line the walls in shadow boxes, while others get sorted into mason jars and placed on a bookshelf for later use. Crickets, beetles, spiders … bees and butterflies. I’m not picky. Once they get chatty, they’re fair game.”
Ashes on the Waves, Mary Lindsey (373 pages) – Liam MacGregor is cursed. Haunted by the wails of fantastical Bean Sidhes and labeled a demon by the villagers of Dòchas, Liam has accepted that things will never get better for him—until a wealthy heiress named Annabel Leighton arrives on the island and Liam’s fate is changed forever. With Anna, Liam finally finds the happiness he has always been denied; but, the violent, mythical Otherworlders, who inhabit the island and the sea around it, have other plans. They make awager on the couple’s love, testing its strength through a series of cruel obstacles. But the tragedies draw Liam and Anna even closer. Frustrated, the creatures put the couple through one last trial—and this time it’s not only their love that’s in danger of being destroyed. Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s chilling poem, “Annabel Lee,” Mary Lindsey creates a frighteningly beautiful gothic novel that glorifies the power of true love.
First lines: “She looked like something out of a dream . . . or a nightmare. Simultaneously, so terrible and beautiful, it made me ache. Waves pounded the jetty, shooting geysers of frigid salt water into the air as she leaned into the wind, her long hair whipping in all directions.”
and now for something completely different:
All the Truth That’s in Me, Julie Berry (266 pages) – After two years missing, Judith returns home – her tongue cut out, her best friend dead. No one knows what has happened and Judith cannot speak of it. All she can do is silently pour out her feelings to the boy who has owned her heart for as long as she can remember: Lucas. In a voice filled with hurt, yearning, hope and love, this is Judith’s story.
First lines: “You didn’t come. I waited all evening in the willow tree, with gnats buzzing in my face and sap sticking in my hair, watching for you to return from town.”
Zac & Mia, A. J. Betts (307 pages) – The last person Zac expects in the room next door is a girl like Mia, angry and feisty with questionable taste in music. In the real world, he wouldn’t—couldn’t—be friends with her. In hospital different rules apply, and what begins as a knock on the wall leads to a note… then a friendship neither of them sees coming. You need courage to be in hospital; different courage to be back in the real world. In one of these worlds Zac needs Mia. And in the other Mia needs Zac. Or maybe they both need each other, always.
First lines: “A newbie arrives next door. From this side of the wall I hear the shuffle of feet, unsure of where to stand. I hear Nina going through the arrival instructions in that buoyoant air-hostess way, as if this ‘flight’ will go smoothly, no need to pull the Emergency Exit lever. Just relax and enjoy the service. Nina has the kind of voice you believe.”
Leap of Faith, Jamie Blair (240 pages) – Leah Kurtz has finally found a place to call home, a town where she and baby Addy can live in peace, far from the drug-infested place she grew up. Chris is one of the best parts of her new life, the only person who’s ever made her feel safe. And now that she’s found him, there’s no way she can tell the truth: Her real name is Faith, not Leah. She’s seventeen, not nineteen. And the baby isn’t hers; Faith kidnapped her. Faith’s history catches up with her when a cop starts asking questions and Chris’s aunt spots her picture in the newspaper. She knows it’s time to run again, but if Faith leaves, she’ll lose Chris. If Chris is in love with a lie, though, did Faith ever really have him in the first place?
First lines: “The bangbangbanging of Mom’s headboard against my wall needs to stop before my head explodes. I’m exhausted and wish he’d just leave so I can sleep. Of course Mom’s bed has to be shoved right up against the other side of my wall. I roll my eyes and take a deep breath, pulling the covers up higher around my neck.”
The Ghost Bride, Yangsze Choo (384 pages) – In 1890s Malaya, Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price. After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.
First lines: “One evening, my father asked me whether I would like to become a ghost bride. ‘Asked’ is perhaps not the right word. We were in his study. I was leafing through a newspaper, my father lying on his rattan daybed. It was very hot and still. The oil lamp was lit and moths fluttered through the humid air in lazy swirls. ‘What did you say?'”
Bracelet of Bones, Kevin Crossley-Holland (256 pages) – One morning, Solveig wakes to find her father, Halfdan, has gone. He has followed the young Viking warrior Harald Hardrada to Miklagard (Constantinople), where he is leader of the Empress’s guard. Solveig sets off in a tiny boat to find him. So begins a fierce journey of discovery and survival, where the young Viking girl will meet a ghost ship and befriend an English slave, shoot rapids, survive an arrow storm, and witness a living sacrifice. Will Solveig reach Miklagard? And will her father be there?
First lines: “‘Is this it?’ Solveig called out. No trees stood on the battlefield. Nothing but little scrubby, twisted black bushes. Without breaking his long, limping stride, Halfdan glanced over his shoulder. ‘You all right, girl?’ It’s all dead, thought Solveig. There’s nothing left but black fingers, black hands, thousands of them. Stiklestad. What can ever grow in this place again?”
Sweet Peril, Wendy Higgins (371 pages) – Anna Whitt, the daughter of a guardian angel and a demon, promised herself she’d never do the work of her father—polluting souls. She’d been naive to make such a vow. She’d been naive about a lot of things. Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school’s party girl. Her life has never looked more bleak. And all the while there’s Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind. When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time. It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaidan must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: is loving someone worth risking their life?
First lines: “Unbeknownst to the Roman community, 666 earthbound demons were making use of the infamous Colosseum. Twelve of the fallen ones, the Dukes, were present in human form, while the others hovered as spirits, blotting celestial light from the night sky. Rahab, the Duke of Pride, took his place in the center, exhilarated by the attention his presence commanded.”
The Messengers, Edward Hogan (214 pages) – When fifteen-year-old Frances is sent down to the coast to Helmstown, to live with her aunt, uncle and cousin, she meets and befriends Peter Kennedy, a somewhat tramp-like character who lives in a beach hut along the seafront. As soon as they meet, Peter recognizes that Frances is a messenger, just like him. As messengers, they experience black-outs, and when they come round, they have the ability to draw, in minute detail, the scene of an accident. Although Frances can’t change the past, she realises that she can change the future, at least for a chosen few.
First lines: “We’re drawn to each other, us messengers. We must be. I remember the first time I saw him, down by the beach huts. There was something about him. The look of him. How could I not go over? You might even say it was fate, but I don’t believe in that.”
The Neptune Project, Polly Holyoke (340 pages) – Nere has never understood why she feels so much more comfortable and confident swimming with the dolphins that her mother studies than hanging out with her classmates on land, but everything falls into place when Nere learns that she is one of a group of kids who – unbeknownst to them – have been genetically altered to survive in the ocean. These products of “The Neptune Project” are given a mission to build a better future under the sea, safe from the dangers on land. But there are some very big problems: no one asked Nere if she wanted to be a science experiment; the other Neptune kids aren’t exactly the friendliest bunch; and in order to reach the safe haven of the Neptune colony, Nere and her fellow mutates must swim through hundreds of miles of dangerous waters, relying only on their wits, dolphins, and each other to evade terrifying undersea creatures and a government that will stop at nothing to capture the Neptune kids … dead or alive.
First lines: “I wake to an urgent tap at my window. My heart thudding, I sit bolt upright in bed. The night is hot and still. I push my sweaty hair away from my face and try to ignore the twist of fear in my gut. No one brings good news at this hour. I slip from my bed and peer cautiously through my window.”
SYLO, D. J. MacHale (407 pages) – Fourteen-year-old Tucker Pierce prefers to fly under the radar. He’s used to navigating around summer tourists in his hometown on idyllic Pemberwick Island, Maine. He’s content to sit on the sidelines as a backup player on the high school football team. And though his best friend Quinn tells him to “go for it,” he’s too chicken to ask Tori Sleeper on a date. There’s always tomorrow, he figures. Then Pemberwick Island is invaded by a mysterious branch of the U.S. military called SYLO. And sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option for Tucker, because tomorrow may never come. It’s up to Tucker, Quinn, and Tori to uncover the truth about the singing aircraft that appears only at night—and the stranger named Feit who’s pushing a red crystal he calls the Ruby that brings unique powers to all who take it. Tucker and his friends must rescue not just Pemberwick Island, but the fate of the world.
First lines: “It was the perfect night for a football game. And for death. Not that the two have anything in common. When you hear the term “sudden death,” you normally don’t expect there to be an actual loss of life, sudden or otherwise, but there was nothing normal about that night.”
Death & Co., D.J. McCune (279 pages) – Adam Mortson is a Luman, one of the elite band of spirit guides who travel to the Hinterland to guide dead souls into the afterlife. And though Adam just wants to be a normal teenager – one who dates girls like Melissa, hangs out with his mates and avoids his homework – his role as a Luman is strictly non-negotiable. But as a hidden and dangerous power grows within him, Adam must make a terrible choice: to stand by and watch as lives are lost, or to disobey the rules of death … and risk everything.
First lines: “Nathanial Mortson stood in the darkness, hands thrust into the pockets of his camel-hair coat. In the physical world it was freezing, the road glittering with ice, but here in the Hinterland he couldn’t feel it. It was the middle of the night and he was tired. Usually he had company but on a job like this he preferred to work alone.”
Starglass, Phoebe North (448 pages) – Terra has never known anything but life aboard the Asherah, a city-within-a-spaceship that left Earth five hundred years ago in search of refuge. At sixteen, working a job that doesn’t interest her, and living with a grieving father who only notices her when he’s yelling, Terra is sure that there has to be more to life than what she’s got. But when she inadvertently witnesses the captain’s guard murdering an innocent man, Terra is suddenly thrust into the dark world beneath her ship’s idyllic surface. As she’s drawn into a secret rebellion determined to restore power to the people, Terra discovers that her choices may determine life or death for the people she cares most about. With mere months to go before landing on the long-promised planet, Terra has to make the decision of a lifetime–one that will determine the fate of her people.
First lines: “On the day of my mother’s funeral, we all wore white. My father said that dressing ourselves in the stiff, pale cloth would be a mitzvah. I ran the word over my tongue as I straightened a starched new shirt against my shoulders.
He Forgot to Say Goodbye, Benjamin Alire Sáenz (321 pages) – On the surface, Ramiro Lopez and Jake Upthegrove could not be more different. Ram is Mexican-America, living in “DizzyLand,” the poor side of El Paso. He’s struggling to keep his family together as his younger brother descends into a dangerous world of drugs and violence. Jake is a rich WASP with anger-management issues who can’t stand the falseness of his mother’s materialistic world. But as circumstances in both of their lives begin to spiral out of control, Jake and Ram turn to each other for comfort, friendship, and understanding. No one realizes what it’s like to know that all of your problems stem from one thing: that your father didn’t even care enough to say goodbye.
First lines: “My mom says I need to stop and think about things. I think about things all the effen time. Think and think and think. You know, it’s not like all that thinking has gotten me places.”
Steelheart, Brandon Sanderson (384 pages) – Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills. Nobody fights the Epics… nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them. And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience. He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.
First lines: “I’ve seen Steelheart bleed. It happened ten years ago; I was eight. My father and I were at the First Union Bank on Adams Street. We used the old street names than, before the Annexation.”
Ashes of Twilight, Kassy Tayler (320 pages) – Wren MacAvoy works as a coal miner for a domed city that was constructed in the mid-nineteenth century to protect the royal blood line of England when astronomers spotted a comet on a collision course with Earth. Humanity would be saved by the most groundbreaking technology of the time. But after nearly 200 years of life beneath the dome, society has become complacent and the coal is running out. Plus there are those who wonder, is there life outside the dome or is the world still consumed by fire? When one of Wren’s friends escapes the confines of the dome, he is burned alive and put on display as a warning to those seeking to disrupt the dome’s way of life. But Alex’s final words are haunting. “The sky is blue.” What happens next is a whirlwind of adventure, romance, conspiracy and the struggle to stay alive in a world where nothing is as it seems. Wren unwittingly becomes a catalyst for a revolution that destroys the dome and the only way to survive might be to embrace what the entire society has feared their entire existence.
First lines: “The Bible teaches us that the heavens and earth were made by the one true God. I have heard these things all of my life but I dare not ask the questions that the lessons have created in my mind. I am certain I know quite a bit about the earth, as I spend most of my waking moments within its clanking iron bowels. The heavens, however, are a mystery to me as my world is hollow and my sky is made of glass.”
Coda, Emma Trevayne (309 pages) – Deep in an abandoned basement, Anthem sings of truth and freedom with his illegal underground band. Yet on the surface and under watchful eyes, Anthem is unable to resist the call of the Corporation’s addictive, mind-altering music tracks, even as he knows they are used to control him and his fellow citizens. When tragedy strikes close to home, Anthem realizes that defying the Corp comes at a deadly price … and the stakes of preventing his brother and sister from being claimed by the government drug are worth every heart-pounding second. The key to the revolution might lie with the girl Anthem loves, but will he trust her enough to let her join the fight?
First lines: “I’m drawn toward the door. I can’t hear it yet, but I can feel it. A pulse, a heartbeat. The floor shakes. Inside, the cavernous, soundproof room is already packed, black and neon and flashing lights and stifling heat from the crush of bodies.”
with characters that go missing:
The Last Academy, Anne Applegate (320 pages) – Camden Fisher arrives at boarding school haunted by a falling-out with her best friend back home. But the manicured grounds of Lethe Academy are like nothing Cam has ever known. There are gorgeous, preppy boys wielding tennis rackets, and circles of girls with secrets to spare. Only … something is not quite right. One of Cam’s new friends mysteriously disappears, but the teachers don’t seem too concerned. Cam wakes up to strangers in her room, who then melt into the night. She is suddenly plagued by odd memories, and senses there might be something dark and terrible brewing. But what?
First lines: “You couldn’t pick a better night for a pool party: fire-red sunset, a breeze so hot it practically sparked as it floated across the lawn, chips and hot dogs and watermelon lined up and ready to eat. The whole thing was my best friend’s idea.”
Hold Your Breath, Caroline Green (244 pages) – Tara has the power to find missing things and people, but it’s only been a source of trouble for her so far and she’s relieved when her family move house so she can make a fresh start and try to forget about the odd images in her head. Making friends at her new school hasn’t been easy, especially with mean girls like Melodie Stone running the show. Then Melodie disappears. Tara’s not too sorry, but she starts to see strange images of a captive girl who she gradually realises must be Melodie. Tara tries but fails to ignore the pictures in her head and finally goes in search of Melodie, with the help of Melodie’s attractive half-brother. She finds herself trapped with her former enemy, and Tara and Melodie must work together to get free, with the help of Tara’s gift.
First lines: “The blackness began to dissolve. She tried to move her head but pain jack-hammered inside her skull and nausea gripped her stomach. Closing her eyes, she willed the sensations to pass. Minutes went by. Or was it longer?”
The Beautiful and the Cursed, Page Morgan (352 pages) – After a bizarre accident, Ingrid Waverly is forced to leave London with her mother and younger sister, Gabby, trading a world full of fancy dresses and society events for the unfamiliar city of Paris. In Paris there are no grand balls or glittering parties, and, disturbingly, the house Ingrid’s twin brother, Grayson, found for them isn’t a house at all. It’s an abandoned abbey, its roof lined with stone gargoyles that could almost be mistaken for living, breathing creatures. And Grayson has gone missing. Ingrid is sure her twin isn’t dead—she can feel it deep in her soul—but she knows he’s in grave danger. It will be up to her and Gabby to navigate the twisted path to Grayson, a path that will lead Ingrid on a discovery of dark secrets and otherworldly truths. And she’ll learn that once they are uncovered, they can never again be buried.
First lines: “The boy was late. Brigitte crossed the folds of her sable cape to shut out the creeping frost. It was still and quiet within the walled garden, the hollow sort of quiet that arrives just past midnight.”
Picture Me Gone, Meg Rosoff (256 pages) – Mila has an exceptional talent for reading a room—sensing hidden facts and unspoken emotions from clues that others overlook. So when her father’s best friend, Matthew, goes missing from his upstate New York home, Mila and her beloved father travel from London to find him. She collects information about Matthew from his belongings, from his wife and baby, from the dog he left behind and from the ghosts of his past—slowly piecing together the story everyone else has missed. But just when she’s closest to solving the mystery, a shocking betrayal calls into question her trust in the one person she thought she could read best.
First lines: “The first Mila was a dog. A Bedlington terrier. It helps if you know these things. I’m not at all resentful at being named after a dog.”
Freaks Like Us, Susan Vaught (240 pages) – When Jason Milwaukee’s best friend Sunshine vanishes, Jason knows that something is terribly wrong, but solving her disappearance will require pushing through all the voices in his head and then getting the world to listen to him. His schizophrenia is stopping him from remembering the events leading up to her disappearance, and often he discounts his own memories, and his own impressions. But his deep knowledge that he would never hurt his friend, plus the faith of his parents and a few others in the town bring him to the point of solving the mystery.
First lines: “Some days life makes more sense than other days. The algebra problems in front of me might as well be Moby Dick or A Tale of Two Cities or A Separate Peace. I’ve had to plow through all three of those since I got to high school, and I didn’t like any of them. I’m told I don’t think like other people, and I’m pretty sure that’s true. Not that I could explain it, even if I tried, but I always try, so – here’s this.”
that are full of magic:
Brightly Woven, Alexandra Bracken (354 pages) – The day the rains came was like any other, blistering air coating the canyon in a heavy stillness. Just as the rains come after ten long, dry years, a young wizard, Wayland North, appears, to whisk Sydelle Mirabil away from her desert village. North needs an assistant, and Sydelle is eager to see the country – and to join him on his quest to stop the war that surely will destroy her home. But North has secrets – about himself, about why he chose Sydelle, about his real reasons for the journey. What does he want from her? And why does North’s sworn enemy seem fascinated by Sydelle himself?
First lines: “The day the rains came was like any other, with blistering air coating the canyon in a heavy stillness. By late afternoon, the only thing more suffocating than the air was the dust kicked up by our feet. We were as quiet as the dead, moving from rock to crevice, always watching the path for movement.”
The Oathbreaker’s Shadow, Amy McCulloch (416 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert. Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all—not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin. Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed.
First lines: “Raim sat in the crook of an old, cracked tree, one leg dangling in the breeze, his head leaning back against the trunk. Long, needle-like leaves shaded him from the oppressive heat and hid him from the view of his grandfather, in case he was looking to assign Raim yet another chore. He just wanted a moment to himself.”
Shadows, Robin McKinley (368 pages) – Maggie knows something’s off about Val, her mom’s new husband. Val is from Oldworld, where they still use magic, and he won’t have any tech in his office-shed behind the house. But—more importantly—what are the huge, horrible, jagged, jumpy shadows following him around? Magic is illegal in Newworld, which is all about science. The magic-carrying gene was disabled two generations ago, back when Maggie’s great-grandmother was a notable magician. But that was a long time ago. Then Maggie meets Casimir, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. He’s from Oldworld too—and he’s heard of Maggie’s stepfather, and has a guess about Val’s shadows. Maggie doesn’t want to know … until earth-shattering events force her to depend on Val and his shadows. And perhaps on her own heritage. In this dangerously unstable world, neither science nor magic has the necessary answers, but a truce between them is impossible. And although the two are supposed to be incompatible, Maggie’s discovering the world will need both to survive.
First lines: “The story starts like something out of a fairy tale: I hated my stepfather. It’s usually stepmothers in fairy tales. Well, equal time for stepfathers.”
The Apprentices, Maile Meloy (432 pages) – Two years have passed since Janie Scott last saw Benjamin Burrows, the mysterious apothecary’s defiant son who stole her heart. On the other side of the world, Benjamin and his father are treating the sick and wounded in the war-torn jungles of Vietnam. But Benjamin has also been experimenting with a magical new formula that allows him to communicate with Janie across the globe. When Benjamin discovers that she’s in trouble, he calls on their friend Pip for help. The three friends are thrown into a desperate chase around the world to find one another, while unraveling the mystery of what threatens them all.
First lines: “The space between the stone library of Grayson Academy and the red brick science building created a ferocious wind tunnel, in any decent wind. Janie Scott ducked her head and leaned forward into the blast, on her way to dinner with her roommate’s parents in the town of Grayson, across the street from the school. It was November of 1954, and a cold autumn in New Hampshire.”
Fairytales for Wilde Girls, Allyse Near (432 pages) – There’s a dead girl in a birdcage in the woods. That’s not unusual. Isola Wilde sees a lot of things other people don’t. But when the girl appears at Isola’s window, her every word a threat, Isola needs help. Her real-life friends – Grape, James and new boy Edgar – make her forget for a while. And her brother-princes – the mermaids, faeries and magical creatures seemingly lifted from the pages of the French fairytales Isola idolises – will protect her with all the fierce love they possess. It may not be enough. Isola needs to uncover the truth behind the dead girl’s demise and appease her enraged spirit, before the ghost steals Isola’s last breath.
First lines: “Once upon a time, Isola Wilde was watching late-night television with her eldest brother, Alejandro, when Channel 12 broadcast a live suicide. The teenage boy in his leather jacket had hair the colour of desert dust and freckles like actual spots of desert dust. The news camera zoomed, and he blurred then sharpened, a drunken vision.”
Battle Magic, Tamora Pierce (440 pages) – Mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy are visiting the mystical mountain kingdom of Gyongxe when they are suddenly called away. The emperor of Yanjing has invited them to see his glorious gardens. During their brief stay, though, the mages see far more than splendid flowers. They see the emperor’s massive army, his intense cruelty, and teh devasting magic that keeps his power in place. It’s not till they leave that they discover he’s about to launch a major invasion of Gyongxe. The mountain land is home to many temples… including the First Temple of the Living Circle, which Rosethorn has vowed to defend. With time running out, the mages race to warn their Gyongxin friends of the emperor’s plans.
First lines: “Two boy-men sat on the river’s eastern bank, where an open-fronted tent gave them shelter from the chilly spring wind. It whistled down the canyon, making the banners around them snap.”
Some Quiet Place, Kelsey Sutton (331 pages) – Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions … she sees them. Longing, Shame, and Courage materialize around her classmates. Fury and Resentment appear in her dysfunctional home. They’ve all given up on Elizabeth because she doesn’t succumb to their touch. All, that is, save one—Fear. He’s intrigued by her, as desperate to understand the accident that changed Elizabeth’s life as she is herself. Elizabeth and Fear both sense that the key to her past is hidden in the dream paintings she hides in the family barn. But a shadowy menace has begun to stalk her, and try as she might, Elizabeth can barely avoid the brutality of her life long enough to uncover the truth about herself. When it matters most, will she be able to rely on Fear to save her?
First lines: “Fear is coming. As the day ends and I milk the cows, I wait for another meeting with my old friend. He comes swiftly, speeding over the plains as only one of his kind can do. Every second that he draws nearer, the cows become more agitated, eyes rolling, hooves stomping the floor. I know his only purpose for making the journey to Wisconsin is to taunt me again.”
The Burning Sky, Sherry Thomas (464 pages) – Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she’s being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death. Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he’s also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal. But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life
First lines: “Fire was easy. In fact, there was nothing easier. They said that when an elemental mage called forth flame, she stole a little from every fire in the world. That would make Iolanthe Seabourne quite the thief, gathering millions of sparks into one great combustion. That flame she sculpted into a perfect sphere ten feet across, suspended above the rushing currents of the River Woe.”
Chasing the Valley, Skye Melki-Wegner (416 pages) – Escape is impossible. Escape is their only hope. Danika is used to struggling for survival. But when the tyrannous king launches an attack to punish her city – echoing the alchemy bombs that killed Danika’s family – she risks her life in a daring escape over the city’s walls. Danika joins a crew of desperate refugees who seek Magnetic Valley, a legendary safe haven. But when she accidentally destroys a palace biplane, suddenly Danika Glynn becomes the most wanted fugitive in Taladia. Pursued by the king’s vicious hunters and betrayed by false allies, Danika also grapples with her burgeoning magical abilities. And when she meets the mysterious Lukas, she must balance her feelings against her crew’s safety.
First lines: “It’s a quiet night when the bombs fall. Just before they start, I’m scrubbing dishes in some grungy bar. The Alehouse, it’s called. Stupid way to mark the night your life changes, isn’t it?”
with real people and real problems:
Formerly Shark Girl, Kelly Bingham (304 pages) – It’s been a year since the shark attack that took Jane’s arm, and with it, everything she used to take for granted. Her dream of becoming an artist is on the line, and everything now seems out of reach, including her gorgeous, kind tutor, Max Shannon. While a perfectly nice guy from her science class is clearly interested in Jane — removing her fear that no one ever would want a one-armed girl — Jane can’t stop thinking about Max. But is his interest romantic? Or does he just feel sorry for her? Formerly Shark Girl picks up where Kelly Bingham’s artful, honest debut novel left off, following Jane as she deals with a career choice (should she “give back” by trying to become a nurse, or is art an equally valid calling?) along with family changes and her first real romance — all while remembering who she was before she was Shark Girl and figuring out who she is now.
First lines: “Over a year ago, /I went into the ocean /with my whole life /planned out, expected, /casually tucked between pages /of a sketchbook. /That all changed in a heartbeat. /A shark /took my arm /and nearly took my life.”
How I Lost You, Janet Gurtler (309 pages) – There are a few things Grace Anderson knows for sure. One is that nothing will ever come between her and her best friend, Kya Kessler. They have a pact. Buds Before Studs. Sisters Before Misters. But in the summer before senior year, life throws out challenges they never expected. And suddenly the person who’s always been there starts to need the favor returned. Grace and Kya are forced to question how much a best friend can forgive. And the answer is not what they expected.
First lines: “The boys were watching us, trying to get us to make mistakes. I knew from the swear words they were flinging around that they’d underestimated us. Inexperienced players shouted a lot. Kya and I didn’t.”
fml, Shaun David Hutchinson (304 pages) – Tonight’s the night: Simon’s big chance to finally get with Cassie. Cassie, who he’s loved for ages. Cassie, who is newly boyfriend-free. Cassie, who just happens to be throwing the biggest party of the year. Simon’s plan is simple: He’ll go to the party, she’ll fall in love with him, they’ll make out like crazy, and the night will be a complete success. But things don’t ever go as planned…especially when it comes to Cassie.
First lines: “I decided for about the hundredth time tonight that I’m not going to Cassandra Castillo’s spring break barter party. Then I changed my mind.”
Counting by 7s, Holly Goldberg Sloan (384 pages) – Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life … until now. Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read
First lines: “We sit together outside the Fosters Freeze at a sea-green, metal picnic table. All four of us. We eat soft ice cream, which has been plunged into a vat of liquid chocolate (that then hardens into a crispy shell). I don’t tell anyone that what makes this work is wax.”
Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell (433 pages) – Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan. But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words … And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
First lines: “There was a boy in her room. Cath looked up at the number painted on the door, then down at the room assignment in her hand. Pound Hall, 913. This was definitely room 913, but maybe he wasn’t Pound Hall – all these dormitories looked alike, like public housing towers for the elderly.”
Hurt, Tabitha Suzuma (400 pages) – At seventeen, Mathéo Walsh appears to have it all. He is a champion diver and a hot prospect for the upcoming Olympics. He is a heartthrob, a straight A student and lives in one of the wealthiest areas of London. He has great friends and is the envy of many around him. And most importantly of all, he is deeply in love with his girlfriend, Lola. He has always been a stable, well-adjusted guy … until one weekend. A weekend he cannot seem to remember. All he knows is that he has come back a changed person. One who no longer knows how to have fun, no longer wants to spend time with his friends, no longer enjoys diving. Something terrible happened that weekend – something violent and bloody and twisted. He no longer knows who he is. He no longer trusts himself around people: he only wants to hurt, wound and destroy. Slowly, he begins to piece back the buried, fragmented memories, and finds himself staring at the reflection of a monster.
First lines: “He opens his eyes and knows instantly that something is terribly wrong. He senses it through his skin, his nerves, his synapses, even though, spread-eagled on his back, all he can see is the frosted light-fitting on his bedroom ceiling. The room is white, violently bright, and he knows that it is a sunny day and he forgot to close the curtains, just as he knows, from the belt cutting into his side, the denim against his legs, the clammy cotton sticking to his chest, that he slept in his clothes.”
The Milk of Birds, Sylvia Whitman (384 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Nawra lives in Darfur, Sudan, in a camp for refugees displaced by the Janjaweed’s trail of murder and destruction. Nawra cannot read or write, but when a nonprofit organization called Save the Girls pairs her with an American donor, Nawra dictates her thank-you letters. Putting her experiences into words begins to free her from her devastating past—and to brighten the path to her future. K. C. is an American teenager from Richmond, Virginia, who hates reading and writing—or anything that smacks of school. But as Nawra pours grief and joy into her letters, she inspires K. C. to see beyond her own struggles. And as K. C. opens her heart in her responses to Nawra, she becomes both a dedicated friend and a passionate activist for Darfur.
First lines: “The khawaja moves down the line where Adeeba and I wait for water. We know her by her hat, pointed on top and tied beneath her chin, a wide roof shading her small, lined face. Adeeba says farmers in China wear such hats when they plant their rice in fields of water, if such a thing is possible. Sometimes I cannot tell when my friend is teasing me.”
a rather grisly theme this week, these new books all have a dead character in the premise.
Killing Rachel, Anne Cassidy (313 pages) – Rose’s mother and Joshua’s father have disappeared. Police inquiries have gone nowhere and the case, it seems, is closed: Rose and Joshua have been told that the police believe their parents are dead. But Rose and Joshua still hold out hope that they are alive. Joshua is determined to follow up his own inquiries, which includes working out the meaning of the cryptic notebooks – the murder notebooks – they have discovered. Then Rose is distracted by odd, desperate messages she receives from Rachel, a former best friend from her school, followed by the terrible news that Rachel is dead. But perhaps Rachel’s death will provide one more piece of the puzzle about what has happened to Rose and Joshua’s parents.
First lines: “Rose was hiding. It was dark and cold and she was in a shop doorway staring at two people across the road. The street was busy and a stream of people passed without noticing her, wrapped up against the cold night air.”
Dead Silence: a body finder novel, Kimberly Derting (389 pages) – Violet thought she’d made peace with her unique ability to sense the echoes of the dead and the imprints that cling to their killers. That is until she acquired an imprint of her own. Forced to carry a reminder of the horrible events of her kidnapping, Violet is more determined than ever to lead a normal life. However, the people who run the special investigative team Violet works for have no intention of letting her go. When someone close to Violet becomes a suspect in a horrific murder, she finds herself pulled into a deadly hunt for a madman with an army of devoted followers. Violet has survived dangerous situations before, but she quickly discovers that protecting those closest to her is far more difficult than protecting herself
First lines: “Jay hit the door with his shoulder, but it didn’t splinter beneath his weight or anything quite so dramatic. The handle, which was probably old and in disrepair anyway, fell apart on impact and the door shot open, banging against the wall on the other side. The crashing noise filled the dark house, echoing off the walls.”
Deviant, Helen FitzGerald (248 pages) – When 16-year-old Abigail’s mother dies in Scotland she leaves behind a faded photo, a weirdly cryptic letter, and a one-way ticket to America. Abigail’s mother gave her away when she was a baby, leaving her to grow up on an anti-nuclear commune and then in ugly foster homes. But the letter is a surprise in more ways than one: Her father is living in California. What’s more, Abigail discovers she has an eighteen-year-old sister, Becky. And the two are expecting Abigail to move in with them. Just as Abigail grows close to her newfound sister, Becky is found dead, the accidental victim of an apparent drug overdose. As Abigail wrestles with her feelings and compiles a “Book of Remembrance” of her sister’s short life, she uncovers a horrifying global plot aimed at controlling teen behavior: one that took her sister’s and mother’s lives, with vast implications.
First lines: “The guy facing Abigail across the desk wasn’t her parent and he wasn’t her friend. “Sit down, Abi,” he said, in a voice that tried to be both. He wasn’t a social worker either, more an unqualified asshole.”
Dangerous Girls, Abigail Haas (388 pages) – It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer, she discovers harsh revelations about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love. Awaiting the judge’s decree, it becomes clear to Anna that everyone around her thinks she is not only guilty, but also dangerous. And when the whole story comes out, reality is more shocking than anyone ever imagined
As a side note, go read the reviews on Goodreads, they’re full of people exclaiming about how good this book is and what an incredibly masterful storyteller Abigail Haas is. I completely agree with them.
First lines: “”Shots! Shots! Shots!” We yell it together, slamming our hands on the sticky wooden table. The dreadlocked waiter pours a row of something lurid, neon blue. It’s our first night on the island, and the music is almost too loud for me to think; some European dance-pop thing that shakes the crowded beach club, making the glasses quiver and the blood vibrate in my chest.”
Kill the Music, Nansi Kunze (280 pages) – Most people would love to be Lorna Powell, travelling the globe with her brother and his mega-famous band. Then again, most people don’t realise just how annoying four handsome rock stars can be. A new home and a new school seem like the start of a normal life – until Lorna overhears a chilling plot to silence the band forever. Soon Lorna is drawn into a frantic attempt to identify the killer before they strike. But it’s not easy to track suspects around the world when she’s got homework to do and secrets to protect. And when gorgeous lead singer Marius starts to act strangely, Lorna wonders if she’s had the wrong idea all along.
First lines: “The spa bubbled softly as I stepped into the green marble pool. Scented steam rose from the water; the faint note of a bird chimed in the air. I closed my eyes and sank into the warm depths.”
More than this, Patrick Ness (480 pages) – A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this.
First lines: “Here is the boy, drowning. In these last moments, it’s not the water that’s finally done for him; it’s the cold. It has bled all the energy from his body and contracted his muscles into a painful uselessness, no matter how much he fights to keep himself above the surface.”
Acid, Emma Pass (429 pages) – The year is 2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID—the most brutal controlling police force in history—rule supreme. No throwaway comment or whispered dissent goes unnoticed—or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a horrendous crime she struggles to remember. But Jenna’s violent prison time has taught her how to survive by any means necessary. When a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed, and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID, and try to uncover the truth about what really happened on that terrible night two years ago. They have taken her life, her freedom, and her true memories away from her. How can she reclaim anything when she doesn’t know who to trust?
First lines: “The first time I notice the new inmate is when we’re all lined up outside our cells for morning head count. He’s standing five doors down from me, sneaking glances at the rest of us as the guards wave their wrist-scanners across our hips to read the spytags that are implanted when we first get here.”
This is W.A.R., Lisa & Laura Roecker (278 pages) – Everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club saw Willa Ames-Rowan climb into a boat with James Gregory, the Club’s heir apparent. And everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club watched him return. Alone. They all know he killed her. But none of them will say a word. The Gregory family is very, very good at making problems go away. Enter the W.A.R. – the war to avenge Willa Ames-Rowan. Four girls. Four very different motives for justice and revenge, and only one rule: destroy the Gregory family at any cost.
First lines: “Willa Ames-Rowan never thought she would die. She firmly believed white should be worn before Labor Day, champagne was best enjoyed on an empty stomach, and sleep was for the weak. If it weren’t for the inky black water tugging at her limbs, clawing its way into her mouth, she might have welcomed the dark solitude of Hawthorne Lake. She might have floated on her back, counting stars, dreaming about what it would be like to wake up next to her future husband.”
In the Shadows of Blackbirds : a novel, Cat Winters (387 pages) – In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?
First lines: “I stepped inside the railroad car, and three dozen pairs of eyes peered my way. Gauze masks concealed the passengers’ mouths and noses. The train smelled of my own mask’s cotton, boiling onions, and a whiff of something clammy and sour I took to be fear.”
It’s not quite summer, but some days, with all the sunshine happening it feels a lot like it is. Well it certainly looks like it from here in the library where we can’t feel the cold, only see the sunshine.
Nantucket Blue, Leila Howland (294 pages) – For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she’ll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams. Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn’t. When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer. But it’s the things Cricket hadn’t counted on- most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits- that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality. A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue.
First lines: “Even without Holly Howard and Dori Archer, who’d been suspended for drinking on campus, we were supposed to win that game. The sun was high and white, and the breeze carried the scent of sweaty, shampooed girls and a whiff of the fresh asphalt from the schools paved driveway.”
My Beautiful Hippie, Janet Nichols Lynch (186 pages) – It’s 1967, and Joanne’s San Francisco neighborhood has been invaded by hippies coming to be part of the “summer of love” – a development that thrills Joanne but disgusts her parents. In the midst of preparations for her sister’s wedding, Joanne meets Martin, an enigmatic and irresistible hippie, and begins to see him secretly. Over the course of the next year, Joanne discovers and an alternative culture of acid tests, street theater, anti-war demonstrations, and psychedelic dances that both fascinates and frightens her. But as her two worlds collide, Joanne must decide whether to stay in her middle-class family or follow free-spirited Martin into a new kind of life.
First lines: “I was in a hurry as usual, rushing down the hill on Ashbury street. Only minutes before Denise’s bridal shower was about start, my mother had sent me to the Sunrise Market for a tub of Cool Whip. I turned the corner onto Haight Street and smacked right into him.”
Rules of Summer, Joanna Philbin (337 pages) – When seventeen-year-old Rory MchShane steps off the train in East Hampton, it’s as if she has entered another universe, one populated by impossibly beautiful people wearing designer clothes and driving expensive cars. She’s signed on to be the summer errand girl for the Rules – a wealthy family with an enormous beach-front mansion. Upon arrival, she’s warned by other staff members to avoid socializing with the family, but Rory soon learns that may be easier said than done. Stifled by her friends and her family’s country club scene, seventeen-year-old Isabel Rule, the youngest of the family, embarks on a breathless romance with a guy whom her parents would never approve of. It’s the summer for taking chances, and Isabel is bringing Rory along for the ride. But will Rory’s own summer romance jeopardize her friendship with Isabel? And, after long-hidden family secrets surface, with the Rules’ picture-perfect world ever be the same?
First lines: “She really should have just told someone. Just dropped it casually into conversation the last day of school, when people were talking about their summer plans. Oh, really? You’re going to tennis camp? You’re spending a month at Wildwood? You got that internship in New York that you applied for six months ago? Well that’s great. I’ll be spending the summer in the Hamptons.
Riptide, Lindsey Scheibe (277 pages) – Grace has one summer to prove she’s good enough. For Grace Parker, surfing is all about the ride and the moment. Everything else disappears. She can forget that her best friend, Ford Watson, has a crush on her that she can’t reciprocate. She can forget how badly she wants to get a surf scholarship to UC San Diego. She can forget the pressure of her parents’ impossibly high expectations. When Ford enters Grace into a surf competition—the only way she can impress the UCSD surfing scouts—she has one summer to train and prepare. Will she gain everything she’s ever wanted or lose the only things that ever mattered?
First lines: “I stretch out my legs, enjoying the hot sand against my calves. Early morning sun creates an orange sheen on the ocean as I search for a big set of waves. The endless white formations roll in; lines of blurred corduroy become distinct opportunities – or not – as they roll closer to the local surf break.”
How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True, Sarah Strohmeyer (295 pages) – Seventeen-year-old Zoe and her cousin Jess eagerly start summer jobs at New Jersey’s Fairyland theme park, but Jess does not get her dream role and Zoe is assigned to be personal assistant to the park’s “Queen,” winning her no friends. Zoe learns there is a dark core under the glittering facade of the fairy-tale themed amusement park (cough, Disneyland, cough). For starters, her boss has a blacker heart than Snow White’s stepmother, and the other interns are worse backstabbers than Cinderella’s step-sisters. On the upside, she has the chance of romance with a real-life Prince Charming, and a shot at winning a big heap of cash. If she can just live through a summer in the Fairyland Kingdom.
First lines: “There was no getting around the fact that Tinker Bell was a little bitch. The tiny, white powder-puff bichon frise with professionally manicured toenails scampered under the thornbush and out of sight.”
set during a war (both real and imagined):
Dusk, Eve Edwards (293 pages) – When Helen, a young hard-working nurse, meets aristocratic artist Sebastian, she doesn’t expect to even like him, let alone fall in love. But against the troubled backdrop of wartime London, an unlikely but intense romance blossoms. And even the bloody trenches of the Somme, where they are both posted, cannot diminish their feelings for each other. But Helen is concealing a secret and when a terrible crime is committed there are devastating consequences for them both. When lives are being lost, can true love survive in the brutal backdrop of WWI?
First lines: “‘Nurse, I’m ready for the next patient. What do we have?’ Helen checked her hastily scribbled notes for the surgeon. Dr Cameron was one of her favourites among the medical staff, a cheery Scot, short of stature, whose balding crown glowed in the operating theatre lights with a steady and reassuring beam. “
Shahana, Rosanne Hawke (195 pages) – Shahana lives alone with her young brother in the shadow of the Line of Control, the border patrolled by Pakistani and Indian soldiers that divides Kashmir in two. Life is hard, but Shahana ekes out a living with her beautiful embroidery. Then she finds a boy lying unconscious near the border. Zahid is from across the Line of Control, and Shahana takes a terrible risk by sheltering him. But how can she give Zahid up to the authorities when she knows he’ll be imprisoned – or worse?
First lines: “The early sun was shining as Shahana skipped down the village bazaar. Her beloved big brother Irfan was taking her to tent school. Their cement school had never been rebuilt after the earthquake. Shahana had on her blue qameez and white shalwar; she was nine and had just learned how to iron her school uniform. Today would be exciting.”
Torn, David Massey (274 pages) – In war-torn Afghanistan, a girl walks right into a hail of bullets: Elinor watches it with her own eyes. The young British army medic risks the line of fire to rescue her, only to realize the girl is gone. To find the missing, mysterious child, Elinor enlists the help of an American Navy SEAL. But in all the confusion, with coalition troops fighting every day to maintain a fragile peace, does Ben have something to hide? Elinor came to Afghanistan with the hope of changing hearts and minds: What she’s about to discover will make her question everything she ever believed about love and war.
First lines: “Five a.m. I’m woken by yapping dogs and the first distant call to prayer, carried to me on a light breeze. My first morning in Afghanistan. Private Elinor Nielson, recently qualified medic, first tour of active duty. That’s what I keep telling myself – over and over like a demented idiot – to calm my nerves.”
The Elementals, Saundra Mitchell (296 pages) – In 1917, war spells the death of one age in Europe; the rise of motion pictures heralds the birth of a new one in America. Caught between both are two extraordinary souls, bound by destiny. Kate Witherspoon has lived a bohemian life with her artist parents. In 1917, the new art form of the motion picture is changing entertainment—and Kate is determined to become a director. Meanwhile, midwestern farm boy Julian Birch has inherited the wanderlust that fueled his parents’ adventures. A childhood bout with polio has left him crippled, but he refuses to let his disability define him. Strangers driven by a shared vision, Kate and Julian set out separately for Los Angeles, the city of dreams. There, they each struggle to find their independence. When they finally meet, the teenage runaways realize their true magical legacy: the ability to triumph over death, and over time. But as their powerful parents before them learned, all magic comes with a price.
First lines: “Ordinary girls are untroubled by destiny. Unfortunately, neither Amelia van den Broek nor Zora Stewart Birch was entirely ordinary. They leaned against the dining counter, watching the whole of the world grow smaller as they rose into the air on the great Ferris wheel.”
Faerie After, Janni Lee Simner (264 pages) – After a devastating war between humanity and Faerie, Liza’s world was forever changed. Plants and trees became aggressive, seeking to root in living flesh and bone, and newborn children were discovered to have magic powers. Liza was one of these children, and with her abilities she brought her mother back from the ruined Faerie realm and restored the seasons to her own. Now there are signs of a new sickness in the forest. Piles of ash are found where living creatures once stood. Liza investigates and discovers the Faerie realm has continued to deteriorate, slowly turning to dust, and that its fate is inexorably linked to that of the human realm. To find a solution, Liza must risk crossing over, putting herself and all she cares about at risk. Will Liza be forced to sacrifice her life and the lives of her friends in order to save both worlds?
First lines: “He came to me in the rain, as the first maple leaves were surrendering their green. Beyond the path where I waited, their veins burned orange and red beneath a steel-gray sky, and their branches hissed restlessly as they reached for the falling water.”
Out of this Place, Emma Cameron (402 pages) – Luke spends his days hanging out at the beach, working shifts at the local supermarket, and trying to stay out of trouble at school until he can be on his own. Bongo gets wasted, blocking out memories of the little brother Social Services took away from his addict mom and avoiding the stepdad who hits him. And Casey, the girl they both love, longs to get away from her strict, controlling father and start anew in a place where she can be free. When their lives all take very different and surprising paths, will these three friends find a way to come together again?
First lines: “A cave on Pebble Beach, /a bike ride from home, /where the sting of salt air /tears away the built-up wondering /of what to do- /on the last day of holidays, /about Casey, /with my life. /Tomorrow, /school will throw a cover /over the last six weeks /and pack it away. /I don’t mind.”
Last Chance Angel, Alex Gutteridge (367 pages) – What would you do for another chance at life? When Jess is knocked off her bike in a traffic accident, she finds herself at the gates of heaven before her destined death date. Given one last chance to say goodbye, she heads back to Earth to visit friends and family. Closely kept secrets are revealed to the now-invisible Jess, and one shocking discovery leads her to the biggest choice she’ll ever have to make.
First lines: “It was a spur of the moment decision to take the bike, one of those uncharacteristic impulses which can change your life and your death. We’d been given this really hard maths homework and I’d left it until the last minute. Even my brother, Jamie, couldn’t work it out and he’s two years older than me and went through all the GCSE stress last year. There was no point bothering Mum.”
The Rose Throne, Mette Ivie Harrison (390 pages) – Ailsbet loves nothing more than music; tall and red-haired, she’s impatient with the artifice and ceremony of her father’s court. Marissa adores the world of her island home and feels she has much to offer when she finally inherits the throne from her wise, good-tempered father. The trouble is that neither princess has the power – or the magic – to rule alone, and if the kingdoms can be united, which princess will end up ruling the joint land? For both, the only goal would seem to be a strategic marriage to a man who can bring his own brand of power to the throne. But will either girl be able to marry for love? And can either of these two princesses, rivals though they have never met, afford to let the other live?
First lines: “”Princess Ailsbet, your father demands your attendance at court this morning,” said Duke Kellin of Falcorn, bowing. He was King Haikor’s new favourite, looked hardly older than Ailsbet, and was dark-haired, tall, broad-shouldered, and handsome in a dark sable cloak over a silver-embroedered tunic.”
Linked, Imogen Howson (359 pages) – Elissa used to have it all: looks, popularity, and a bright future. But for the last three years, she’s been struggling with terrifying visions, phantom pains, and mysterious bruises that appear out of nowhere. Finally, she’s promised a cure: minor surgery to burn out the overactive area of her brain. But on the eve of the procedure, she discovers the shocking truth behind her hallucinations: she’s been seeing the world through another girl’s eyes. Elissa follows her visions, and finds a battered, broken girl on the run. A girl—Lin—who looks exactly like Elissa, down to the matching bruises. The twin sister she never knew existed. Now, Elissa and Lin are on the run from a government who will stop at nothing to reclaim Lin and protect the dangerous secrets she could expose—secrets that would shake the very foundation of their world.
First lines: “As Elissa and her mother entered the waiting room, the sky above Central Canyon City was a chill, predawn gray, the spaceport a colorless blaze on the horizon. Lines and points of light pricked up from the canyon floor far below.”
Catch Rider, Jennifer H. Lyne (279 pages) – Tough-as-nails fourteen-year-old Sid may not have expensive boots like the privileged teen riders in Virginia, but she knows her way around horses. Working with her Uncle Wayne since childhood, she’s learned to evaluate horses, break and train them, care for them . . . and ride like a professional. Amid turmoil at home, she dreams of becoming a catch rider—a show rider who can ride anything with hooves. In this salty, suspenseful teen novel, an unexpected opportunity to ride a top-notch horse in an equitation show takes the small-town girl all the way to Madison Square Garden.
First lines: “It was raining hard and the lightning was getting close. I ran the red gelding down the path in Dunn’s Gap and listened for that moment when a horse is at a full gallop and none of his feet touch the ground, because during that split second, we’re flying.”
Crown of Midnight, Sarah J. Maas (418 pages) – After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes. Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon — forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice. Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?
First lines: “The shutters swinging in the storm winds were the only sign of her entry. No one had noticed her scaling the garden wall of the darkened manor house, and with the thunder and the gusting wind off the nearby sea, no one heard her as she shimmied up the drainpipe, swung onto the windowsill, and slithered into the second-floor hallway.”
Tall Tales from Pitch End, Nigel McDowell (377 pages) – Ruled by the Elders, policed by an unforgiving battalion of Enforcers and watched by hundreds of clockwork Sentries, Pitch End is a town where everybody knows their place. Soon-to-be fifteen-year-old Bruno Atlas still mourns the death of his Rebel father ten years ago, and treasures the book of stories he secretly uncovered: the Tall Tales from Pitch End. After discovering a chilling plot planned by the Elders, Bruno flees, escaping to the mountains where a bunch of disparate young Rebels are planning a final attack on Pitch End. With secrets and betrayal lying around every corner, Bruno will find himself fighting not only for his life, but the life of the town.
First lines: “Bruno Atlas didn’t speak, didn’t scream, only thought with eyes shut tight and a mind full of crimson fireworks: This is it and I’ll be gone soon. I’ll not be here any more. I’m going to die.“
Wild Awake, Hilary T. Smith (375 pages) – Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away: You will remember to water the azaleas. You will take detailed, accurate messages. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.
Things that actually happen: A stranger calls who says he knew your sister. He says he has her stuff. What stuff? Her stuff. You tell him your parents won’t be able to— Sukey died five years ago; can’t he— You pick up a pen. You scribble down the address. You get on your bike and go. Things . . . get a little crazy after that. Also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.
First lines: “It’s the first day of summer, and I know three things: One, I am happy. Two, I am stoned. Three, if Lukas Malcywyck’s T-shirt was any redder I would lean over and bite it like an apple.”
When You Were Here, Daisy Whitney (257 pages) – Danny’s mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that she was hanging on to see. Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He doesn’t know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore. When he gets a letter from his mom’s property manager in Tokyo, where she had been going for treatment, it shows a side of his mother he never knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to connect with his mother’s memory and make sense of her final months, which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew. There, among the cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lies in how she died.
First lines: “When someone you love has died, there is a certain grace period during which you can get away with murder. Not literal murder, but pretty much anything else. “
Absent, Katie Williams (180 pages) – When seventeen-year-old Paige dies in a freak fall from the roof during Physics class, her spirit is bound to the grounds of her high school. At least she has company: her fellow ghosts Evan and Brooke, who also died there. But when Paige hears the rumor that her death wasn’t an accident–that she supposedly jumped on purpose–she can’t bear it. Then Paige discovers something amazing. She can possess living people when they think of her, and she can make them do almost anything. Maybe, just maybe, she can get to the most popular girl in school and stop the rumors once and for all.
First lines: “”When you die,” Lucas Hayes once told me, “it’s like every wound your body has ever had – every skinned knee, paper cut, pimple – opens up and says See? I told you so.” Lucas had held Brooke Lee as she’d jittered and bucked, rolled and foamed, and – yeah – died, so I figured he knew what he was talking about. My best friend, Usha Das, took a different view.”
with leading men:
Being Henry David, Cal Armistead (304 pages) – Seventeen-year-old “Hank” has found himself at Penn Station in New York City with no memory of anything – who he is, where he came from, why he’s running away. His only possession is a worn copy of Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. And so he becomes Henry David-or “Hank”-and takes first to the streets, and then to the only destination he can think of, Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Hank begins to piece together recollections from his past. The only way Hank can discover his present is to face up to the realities of his grievous memories. He must come to terms with the tragedy of his past, to stop running, and to find his way home.
First lines: “The last thing I remember is now. Now, coming at me with heart-pounding fists. My eyes shoot open, and there is too much. Of everything. Blurred figures, moving. White lights. Muffled waves of sound. Voices. Music. Chaos.”
Period 8, Chris Crutcher (276 pages) – Paul “the Bomb” Baum tells the truth. No matter what. It was something he learned at Sunday School. But telling the truth can cause problems, and not minor ones. And as Paulie discovers, finding the truth can be even more problematic. Period 8 is supposed to be that one period in high school where the truth can shine, a safe haven. Only what Paulie and Hannah (his ex-girlfriend, unfortunately) and his other classmates don’t know is that the ultimate bully, the ultimate liar, is in their midst.
First lines: “Near midnight Paulie Bomb pulls his VW Beetle onto the shoulder of Ridgeview Drive and kills the engine. He’s just finished his shift at The Rocket Bakery and Coffee House, where Hannah kept him company for the last hour. He releases the seat back a couple of inches and breathes deep, staring over the blanket of city lights below.”
The Freedom Merchants, Sherryl Jordan (426 pages) – In 1615, corsair pirates from the Barbary Coast prowl the coasts of England and Ireland, attacking ships and raiding villages for slaves to sell to masters in the Mediterranean. When 13-year-old Liam’s brother is captured, Liam is desperate to get him back and travels with a small band of monks to the heart of the pirate world, into the turmoil of religious persecution, and the horrors of slavery.
First lines: “Liam was the first to hear the bell. He was sitting huddled by the fire, his fair head bent over the wooden fox he was carving. Behind him, firelight and shadows wrestled together on the rough door, and over his head smoke swirled about the high, thatched roof.”
Darius & Twig, Walter Dean Myers (201 pages) – Darius is a supersmart writer, Twig is an outstanding middle-distance runner. Best friends. They need to navigate their Harlem world: the gangs, the bullies, an absent dad, an abusive uncle, the sleazy side of sports, the uncertainty of an artist’s prospects. And they need to figure out how to grow up together, but apart.
First lines: “High above the city, above the black tar rooftops, the dark brick chimneys spewing angry wisps of burnt fuel, there is a black speck making circles against the gray patchwork of Harlem sky. From the park below it looks like a small bird. No, it doesn’t look like a small bird but what else could it be?”
Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets, Evan Roskos (310 pages) – James Whitman hugs trees and tries to save animals. He talks to an imaginary pigeon therapist named Dr. Bird. He often hates himself, but loves to recite Walt Whitman because it can be recited with exclamation points! His parents believe that life is better since they kicked his sister, Jorie, out of the house but James feels her absence deeply. How can James continue to wake up with a celebratory YAWP like his namesake poet-hero? James tries to connect the dots around his sister’s mysterious expulsion, but his mission falters as he discovers that some of her secrets are not that different from his own. Secrets that not even Dr. Bird can help with. It’s going to take some radical intervention for James to help his sister and truly celebrate himself.
First lines: “I yawp most mornings to irritate my father, the Brute. “Yawp! Yawp!” It moves him out of the bathroom faster. He responds with the gruff “All right.” He dislikes things that seem fun.”