A world without you, Beth Revis
Seventeen-year-old Bo has always had delusions that he can travel through time. When he was ten, Bo claimed to have witnessed the Titanic hit an iceberg, and at fifteen, he found himself on a Civil War battlefield, horrified by the bodies surrounding him. So when his worried parents send him to a school for troubled youth, Bo assumes he knows the truth: that he’s actually attending Berkshire Academy, a school for kids who, like Bo, have “superpowers.” At Berkshire, Bo falls in love with Sofía, a quiet girl with a tragic past and the superpower of invisibility. Soíia helps Bo open up in a way he never has before. In turn, Bo provides comfort to Sofía, who lost her mother and two sisters at a very young age. But even the strength of their love isn’t enough to help Sofia escape her deep depression. After she commits suicide, Bo is convinced that she’s not actually dead. He believes that she’s stuck somewhere in time—that he somehow left her in the past, and that now it’s his job to save her. And as Bo becomes more and more determined to save Sofía, he must decide whether to face his demons head-on or succumb to a psychosis that will let him be with the girl he loves. (Goodreads)
First lines: “It’s time, Bo,” Ryan says, putting his hand on my shoulder.
I shrug him off.
“Come on, buddy.” He reaches for me again, but I step further away. Ryan’s not my friend, and it’s pointless of him to pretend like he is. Ryan is no one’s friend.
Vicarious, Paula Stokes
Winter Kim and her sister, Rose, have always been inseparable. Together, the two of them survived growing up in a Korean orphanage and being trafficked into the United States. But they’ve escaped the past and started over in a new place where no one knows who they used to be. Now they work as digital stunt girls for Rose’s ex-boyfriend, Gideon, engaging in dangerous and enticing activities while recording their neural impulses for his Vicarious Sensory Experiences, or ViSEs. Whether it’s bungee jumping, shark diving, or grinding up against celebrities at the city’s hottest dance clubs, Gideon can make it happen for you—for a price. When Rose disappears and a ViSE recording of her murder is delivered to Gideon, Winter is devastated. She won’t rest until she finds her sister’s killer. But when the clues she uncovers conflict with the digital recordings her sister made, Winter isn’t sure what to believe. To find out what happened to Rose, she’ll have to untangle what’s real from what only seems real, risking her life in the process.(Goodreads)
First lines: I can’t seem to wipe away the blood. I rub my hands against my nightgown, but traces of the red remain, staining the lines of my palms and crescents beneath my fingernails. I wipe harder, gathering and bunching the soft cotton inside my fists.
Still life with tornado, A.S. King
Actually Sarah is several human beings. At once. And only one of them is sixteen. Her parents insist she’s a gifted artist with a bright future, but now she can’t draw a thing, not even her own hand. Meanwhile, there’s a ten-year-old Sarah with a filthy mouth, a bad sunburn, and a clear memory of the family vacation in Mexico that ruined everything. She’s a ray of sunshine compared to twenty-three-year-old Sarah, who has snazzy highlights and a bad attitude. And then there’s forty-year-old Sarah (makes good queso dip, doesn’t wear a bra, really wants sixteen-year-old Sarah to tell the truth about her art teacher). They’re all wandering Philadelphia—along with a homeless artist allegedly named Earl—and they’re all worried about Sarah’s future. But Sarah’s future isn’t the problem. The present is where she might be having an existential crisis. Or maybe all those other Sarahs are trying to wake her up before she’s lost forever in the tornado of violence and denial that is her parents’ marriage.(Goodreads)
First lines: Nothing ever really happens. Or, more accurately, nothing new ever really happens. My art teacher, Miss Smith, once said that there is no such thing as an original idea. We think we’re having original ideas, but we aren’t. “You’re stuck on repeat, I’m stuck on repeat. We’ll all stuck on repeat.”
Last seen leaving, Caleb Roehrig
Flynn’s girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own? Flynn’s girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can’t answer, and her friends are telling stories that don’t add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January’s boyfriend, he must know something.But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January’s disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself. (Goodreads)
First lines: There was a corpse in my neighbour’s front yard. Sprawled before a hedge of juniper bushes, its twisted arms and legs flung out bonelessly, as if it had plummeted there from a passing helicopter, there was an enormous granite boulder where its head should have been.
We were never here, Jennifer Gilmore
Did you know your entire life can change in an instant? For sixteen-year-old Lizzie Stoller that moment is when she collapses, out of the blue. The next thing she knows she’s in a hospital with an illness she’s never heard of. But that isn’t the only life-changing moment for Lizzie. The other is when Connor and his dog, Verlaine, walk into her hospital room. Lizzie has never connected with anyone the way she does with the handsome, teenage volunteer. However, the more time she spends with him, and the deeper in love she falls, the more she realizes that Connor has secrets and a deep pain of his own . . . and that while being with him has the power to make Lizzie forget about her illness, being with her might tear Connor apart.(Goodreads)
First lines: It’s a single moment: it’s on the archery field on the third-to-last day of my first year as a CIT-counsellor in training. I watch the campers all pull back on their bows, and they’re all in a line, ready to shoot.
Willful machines, Tim Floreen
In the near future, scientists create what may be a new form of life: an artificial human named Charlotte. All goes well until Charlotte escapes, transfers her consciousness to the Internet, and begins terrorizing the American public. Charlotte’s attacks have everyone on high alert—everyone except Lee Fisher, the closeted son of the US president. Lee has other things to worry about, like keeping his Secret Service detail from finding out about his crush on Nico, the eccentric, Shakespeare-obsessed new boy at school. And keeping Nico from finding out about his recent suicide attempt. And keeping himself from freaking out about all his secrets. But when the attacks start happening at his school, Lee realizes he’s Charlotte’s next target. Even worse, Nico may be part of Charlotte’s plan too. As Lee races to save himself, uncover Charlotte’s plan, and figure out if he can trust Nico, he comes to a whole new understanding of what it means to be alive … and what makes life worth living.(Goodreads)
First lines: The first time I set eyes on the new kid, he’d just pressed himself into a handstand on the stone wall above the cliff. Right away my heart started pounding and my shirt collar seemed to tighten around my neck -I had a complicated relationship with heights – but I couldn’t tear my eyes away from him either.
Whether in the face of the elements, climate change, mysterious conspiracies or zombies…here are my top picks for books about surviving (or not) against the odds. These aren’t easy reads, but they’re testament to the human spirit in challenging and overcoming.
Hatchet, Gary Paulsen
This is a classic and for good reason. After a plane crash, Brian finds himself alone with only the titular hatchet to help him survive in the middle of the wilderness. I haven’t read it for a while and I really appreciated it on the re-read. There are few other characters that appear but the majority of the book is Brian vs. nature. “One flip of the coin”, Brian thinks at one point, is all that stands between him and disaster. My heart was in my mouth until the very end.
Not a drop to drink, Mindy McGinnis
“Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.” Lynn is lucky; she lives by a pond in a world where there is little water. She will defend it, even if it means killing to do so. But a stranger comes Lynn has to make some hard decisions about what to do about her water. Often these survival novels deal with people who are lacking something – this is one of the few that deals with the choices an individual has to make when they have control of the resources; when it’s not a question of your survival, but other people’s.
A drop of night, Stefan Bachmann
Anouk is contacted by a mysterious corporation, asking her to apply for a spot on a team of “talented young people” to explore an archaeological site, unlike any other. This one is an underground palace dating from the French Revolution somewhere near Paris. Of course, not everything is what it seems. I really enjoyed this book; it’s an intriguing premise and the book’s pace doesn’t let up.
The girl who owned a city, by O.T. Nelson ; adapted by Dan Jolley ; illustrated by Joëlle Jones
This is one of my favourite graphic novels ever. A plague has killed off everyone over the age of 12, leaving the children in a world where their main threat is each other. Is it survival of the fittest or is there an option to create a better world?
Bleeding earth, Kaitlin Ward
Lea and her girlfriend Aracely have enough to deal with in their lives, hiding their relationship from Aracely’s father. Then the earth starts bleeding, literally, and their struggle for survival begins. Quite apart from the representation of GLBTQ characters in genre fiction (which is great!), this a heartrending story of realising what the people you love are capable of when their lives are on the line.
The gilded cage, Lucinda Grey
After growing up on a farm in Virginia, Walthingham Hall in England seems like another world to sixteen-year-old Katherine Randolph. Her new life, filled with the splendor of upper-class England in the 1820s, is shattered when her brother mysteriously drowns. Katherine is expected to observe the mourning customs and get on with her life, but she can’t accept that her brother’s death was an accident. A bitter poacher prowls the estate, and strange visitors threaten the occupants of the house. There’s a rumor, too, that a wild animal stalks the woods of Walthingham. Can Katherine retain her sanity long enough to find out the truth? Or will her brother’s killer claim her life, too? (Goodreads)
First lines: I heft the gun to my shoulder, feeling its familiar weight and the heat of the metal through my dress. Sighting along the barrel, I curl my finger around the trigger. The world shrinks around my target as I breathe in. Exhaling, I squeeze.
Canyons, Gary Paulsen
Two boys, separated by the canyons of time and two vastly different cultures, face the challenges by which they become men. Coyote Runs, an Apache boy, takes part in his first raid — the one that will usher him into manhood. He is to be a man for but a short time….More than a hundred years later, while camping near Dog Canyon, fifteen-year-old Brennan Cole becomes obsessed with a skull that he finds, pierced by a bullet. He learns that it was the skull of an Apache boy executed by soldiers in 1864. A mystical link joins Brennan and Coyote Runs, and Brennan knows that neither boy will find any peace until Coyote Runs’ skull is returned to an ancient sacred place. In a grueling run through the canyon to return the skull, Brennan faces the challenge of his life. (Goodreads)
First lines: Soon he would be a man. Not after months, or years, as it had been, but in a day. In a day Coyote Runs would be a man and take the new name which only he would know because finally after fourteen summers they were taking him on a raid.
Words in deep blue, Cath Crowley
This is a love story. It’s the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets. It’s the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea. Now, she’s back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal and looking for the future in the books people love, and the words they leave behind.(Goodreads)
First lines: I open my eyes at midnight to the sound of the ocean and my brother’s breathing. It’s been ten months since Cal drowned, but the dreams still escape.
A separate peace, John Knowles
An American classic and great bestseller for over thirty years, A Separate Peace is timeless in its description of adolescence during a period when the entire country was losing its innocence to the second world war. Set at a boys boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.
First lines: I went back to the Devon school not long ago, and found it looking oddly newer than when I was a student fifteen years before. It seemed more sedate than I remembered it, more perpendicular and straight-laced, with narrower windows and shinier woodwork, as though a coat of varnish had been pit over everything for better preservation.
The graces, Laure Eve
Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on? (Goodreads)
First lines: Everyone said they were witches. I desperately wanted to believe it. I’d only been at this school a couple of months, but I saw how it was. They loved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wakes, stares following their backs and their hair.
Three truths and a lie, Brent Hartinger
Deep in the forest, four friends gather for a weekend of fun.
Truth #1: Rob is thrilled about the weekend trip. It’s the perfect time for him to break out of his shell…to be the person he really, really wants to be.
Truth #2: Liam, Rob’s boyfriend, is nothing short of perfect. He’s everything Rob could have wanted. They’re perfect together. Perfect.
Truth #3: Mia has been Liam’s best friend for years…long before Rob came along. They get each other in a way Rob could never, will never, understand.
Truth #4: Galen, Mia’s boyfriend, is sweet, handsome, and incredibly charming. He’s the definition of a Golden Boy…even with the secrets up his sleeve.
One of these truths is a lie…and not everyone will live to find out which one it is. (Goodreads)
First lines: It was my fault, everything that happened that weekend. It’s hard for me to admit that, but it’s the truth. I was the one who suggested going away in the first place. If I hadn’t had that dumb idea, who knows how things would’ve ended?
As I descended, Robin Talley
Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them. Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey. Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word. But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily. Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school. But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line. (Goodreads)
First lines: The Ouija board was Lily’s idea. Maria warned her not to go through with it, but Lily didn’t listen. She went onto eBay while Maria was at soccer practice and bought the prettiest board she could find. A “genuine antique” she called it.
Blame, Simon Mayo
What happens when society wants you banged up in prison for a crime your parents committed? That’s the situation in which Ant finds herself – together with her little brother Mattie and their foster-parents, she’s locked up in a new kind of family prison. None of the inmates are themselves criminals, but wider society wants them to do time for the unpunished ‘heritage’ crimes of their parents.
Tensions are bubbling inside the London prison network Ant and Mattie call home – and when things finally erupt, they realize they’ve got one chance to break out. Everyone wants to see them punished for the sins of their mum and dad, but it’s time for Ant to show the world that they’re not to blame. (Goodreads)
First lines: The girl with the pudding-bowl haircut crawled out of her bedroom, edging her way to the bannisters. She lay flat on the carpet and peered down into the hall. She watched as a white man in a smart coat half steered, half carried a black woman through the open front door.
The reader: sea of ink and gold, Traci Chee
Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book. Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learnes, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning. (Goodreads)
First lines: Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story. Once there was a world called Kelanna, a wonderful and terrible world of water and ships and magic. The people of Kelanna were like you in many ways – they spoke and worked and died-but they were different in one very important respect: they couldn’t read.
Long dark dusk, JP Smythe
The moment she learned the horrible truth about her life on Australia, the derelict ship overrun with violent gangs, Chan Aitch made it her mission to save everyone she could from their fate worse than death. But her efforts were in vain. Now, everyone she cares about is dead or in prison, and Chan is more alone than ever before. As the only person to have escaped Australia’s terrible crash-landing back to Earth, Chan is now living in poverty on the fringes of a huge city. She believes Mae, the little girl she once rescued on the Australia, is still alive – but she has no idea where Mae is, or how to find her. Everything on Earth is strange and new, and Chan has never felt more lost. But she’ll do whatever it takes to find Mae, even if it means going to prison herself. She’s broken out of prison before. How hard could it be to do it again? (Goodreads)
First lines: She says that her name is Alala, but I’m not sure if I believe her. She says that it has a meaning, that in the language her ancestors spoke it would carry some weight, but she doesn’t know what it is now. Nobody remembers. It’s a word that has been lost, from a language that went under the sea.
What I couldn’t tell you, Faye Bird
When love turns to jealousy, when jealousy turns to rage, when rage turns to destruction…Laura was head over heels in love with Joe. But now Laura lies in a coma and Joe has gone missing. Was he the one who attacked her? Laura’s sister Tessie is selectively mute. She can’t talk but she can listen. And as people tell her their secrets, she thinks she’s getting close to understanding what happened on that fateful night. (Goodreads)
“I love you.”
She said it.
She just said it.
She’d been waiting to say it, and there it was.
The fail safe, Jack Heath
Everyone seems to know who Fero is – except Fero. Is he a ruthless boy soldier from Besmar, or an innocent teen recruit from Kamau? He’s running out of time to decide. If he doesn’t help a renegade spy steal a politician’s briefcase, his two countries could end up in a full blown nuclear war – the kind that no one wins. (Goodreads)
“Why are we doing this?” Fero asked.
“Because potassium iodide stops radiation from-”
“From reaching the thyroid gland. You said. But won’t the shelter protect us.”
Street soldier, Andy McNab
Sean Harker is good at two things: stealing cars and fighting. One earns him money, the other earns him respect from the gang that he calls family.
A police chase through the city streets is just another rite of passage for Sean . . . as is getting nicked. But a brutal event behind bars convinces him to take charge, and turn his life around. Now he must put his street skills to the ultimate test: as a soldier in the British Army. And the battlefield is London, where innocent people are being targeted by a new and terrifying enemy. Undercover, under threat – only Sean Harker can save the streets from all-out war. (Goodreads)
First lines: A helicopter roared in enemy airspace. Its searchlight speared out of the warm night and swept over the rooftop. Sean Harker swore and ducked into the shadow of an air vent.
The last descendants, Matthew J. Kirby
Nothing in Owen’s life has been right since his father died in prison, accused of a crime Owen is certain he didn’t commit. Monroe, the IT guy at school, might finally bring Owen the means to clear his father’s name by letting him use an Animus — a device that lets users explore the genetic memories buried within their own DNA. The experience brings Owen more than he bargained for. During a simulation, Owen uncovers the existence of an ancient and powerful relic long considered legend — the Trident of Eden. Now two secret organizations will stop at nothing to take possession of this artefact — the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar Order. It soon becomes clear to Owen that the only way to save himself is to find the Trident first. Under the guidance of Monroe, Owen and a group of other teenagers enter a simulation of memories they all share within their DNA: the 1863 draft riots in New York City. Owen and his companions will find themselves tested on the gritty streets of New York, and their experiences in the past will have far-reaching consequences in the present. (Goodreads)
First lines: The informant cleared his throat across the dinner table, his long frock coat unbuttoned, his hair greased and curled at his temples. Evening had quickly overtaken the townhouse, and the man had emptied his plate before delivering his message.
An unexpected hero, L.P Hansen
What could be worse, Matt Turner wonders, than having to leave your parents, friends and the buzz of big city life for a remote rural school that’s so small it only has two classrooms, and two teachers who are married to each other? The twelve-year old soon finds out that worse things can happen. A school project plunges him into his worst nightmare – he has to make a speech in public. Matt decides to speak about New Zealand’s First World War pacifist, Archibald Baxter. But is that a good idea in a district where almost every family has lost someone to war?” (Back cover)
First lines: Matt rummaged in his backpack, pretending to be looking for something so he could be the last one getting on the bus. It was his first morning at this country school, so he could be the last one getting on the bus.
It was with a heavy heart that I discovered that, a week after my post on Mary Shelley, a graphic adaptation of Frankenstein – “Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein” appeared on the new books shelf. Bad timing! But then this has to be one of the best graphic adaptations of any classic novel I’ve ever read. It takes text directly from Frankenstein, and the illustrator/editor, Gris Grimly, is an amazing artist. The art itself has a gothic, vaguely steampunk vibe; Boris Karloff eat your heart out, because this is the best depiction of the ‘monster’ I’ve ever seen. Please, please, if you’ve got any interest in Frankenstein, pick this one up.
The long game, Jennifer Lynn Barnes
For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington, D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate’s campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets. Meanwhile, Tess’s guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can—and cannot—be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she’s about to discover firsthand that power always comes with a price. (Goodreads)
First lines: “Tess, has anyone ever told you that you’re an absolute vision when you’re plotting something?” Asher Rhodes shot a lazy grin my direction.
Wild swans, Jessica Spotswood
The summer before Ivy’s senior year is going to be golden; all bonfires, barbeques, and spending time with her best friends. For once, she will just get to be. No summer classes, none of Granddad’s intense expectations to live up to the family name. For generations, the Milbourn women have lead extraordinary lives—and died young and tragically. Granddad calls it a legacy, but Ivy considers it a curse. Why else would her mother have run off and abandoned her as a child? But when her mother unexpectedly returns home with two young daughters in tow, all of the stories Ivy wove to protect her heart start to unravel. The very people she once trusted now speak in lies. And all of Ivy’s ambition and determination cannot defend her against the secrets of the Milbourn past…(Goodreads)
First lines: Granddad says all the Milbourn women are extraordinary. Amelia, the Shakespeare professor up at the college, says cursed. Judy, the bookseller down at the Book Addict, says crazy. Here in Cecil, girls are still expected to be nice. Quiet. All sugar. Maybe a little spice. But not us. We Milbourn women are a complicated lot.
The boundless sublime, Lili Wilkinson
Ruby Jane Galbraith is empty. Her family has been torn apart and it’s all her fault. The only thing that makes sense to her is Fox – a gentle new friend who is wise, soulful and clever, yet oddly naive about the ways of the world. He understands what she’s going through and he offers her a chance to feel peace. Fox belongs to a group called the Institute of the Sublime – and Ruby can’t stay away from him. So she is also drawn in to what she too late discovers is a terrifying secretive community that is far from the ideal world she expected. Can Ruby find the courage to escape? Is there any way she can save Fox too? And is there ever really an escape from the far-reaching influence of the Institute of the Sublime?(Goodreads)
First lines: My name is Ruby Jane Galbraith, and I’m no Messiah. For a long time, there was grief. It pulled me down into suffocating darkness, and kept me anchored there. I went through the motions. I turned up at school. I ate food and watched TV and took algebra tests. But I didn’t feel anything. I was easier that way.
Kojiki, Keith Yatsihashi
When eighteen year old Keiko Yamada’s father dies unexpectedly, he leaves behind a one way ticket to Japan, an unintelligible death poem about powerful Japanese spirits and their gigantic, beast-like Guardians, and the cryptic words: “Go to Japan in my place. Find the Gate. My camera will show you the way.” Alone and afraid, Keiko travels to Tokyo, determined to fulfil her father’s dying wish. There, beneath glittering neon signs, her father’s death poem comes to life. Ancient spirits spring from the shadows. Chaos envelops the city, and as Keiko flees its burning streets, her guide, the beautiful Yui Akiko, makes a stunning confession – that she, Yui, is one of a handful of spirits left behind to defend the world against the most powerful among them: a once noble spirit now insane. Keiko must decide if she will honour her father’s heritage and take her rightful place among the gods.(Goodreads)
First lines: Keiko Yamada lifted her battered thirty-five millimeter camera and held her breath. The metal casing was cool against her feverish cheeks and smooth enough to slip precariously in her sweaty fingers.
Diary of a haunting, M. Verano
When Paige moves from LA to Idaho with her mom and little brother after her parents’ high-profile divorce, she expects to completely hate her new life, and the small town doesn’t disappoint. Worse yet, the drafty old mansion they’ve rented is infested with flies, spiders, and other pests Paige doesn’t want to think about. She chalks it up to her rural surroundings, but it’s harder to ignore the strange things happening around the house, from one can of ravioli becoming a dozen, to unreadable words appearing in the walls. Soon Paige’s little brother begins roaming the house at all hours of the night, and there’s something not right about the downstairs neighbor, who knows a lot more than he’s letting on. Things only get creepier when she learns about the sinister cult that conducted experimental rituals in the house almost a hundred years earlier. The more Paige investigates, and the deeper she digs, the clearer it all becomes: whatever is in the house, whatever is causing all the strange occurrences, has no intention of backing down without a fight. (Goodreads)
First lines: New year, new journal! Or well, new attempt at an old journal. I haven’t posted here in forever. I can’t believe I even remember the password. All of my old posts are so ridiculous. I’m not even friends with those people anymore.
This savage song, V.E. Schwab
Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives. (Goodreads)
First lines: The night Kate Harker decided to burn down the school chapel, she wasn’t angry or drink. Burning down the church was really a last resort; she’d already broken a girl’s nose, smoked in the dormitories, cheated on her first exam, and verbally harassed three of the nuns.
Remade, Alex Scarrow
Leon and his younger sister, Grace, have recently moved to London from New York and are struggling to settle into their new school when rumours of an unidentified virus in Africa begin to fill the news. Within a week the virus hits London. The siblings witness people turning to liquid before their eyes, and they run for their lives. A month after touching Earth’s atmosphere the virus has assimilated the world’s biomass. But the virus isn’t their only enemy, and survival is just the first step. (Goodreads)
First lines: The girl was only ten. Her name was Camille. She was on her way to collect water from the drinking well, a large battered and dented tin jug dangling from each hand, when she spotted it just a few meters off the hard dirt track. A dead dog. Not an uncommon sight. Except the fact it was only half a dead dog.
When Michael met Mina, Randa Abdel-Fattah
When Michael meets Mina, they are at a rally for refugees – standing on opposite sides. Mina fled Afghanistan with her mother via a refugee camp, a leaky boat and a detention centre. Michael’s parents have founded a new political party called Aussie Values. They want to stop the boats. Mina wants to stop the hate. When Mina wins a scholarship to Michael’s private school, their lives crash together blindingly. (Goodreads)
First lines: I know two things for a fact. My parents are good people. And ever since I can remember, they’ve been angry about almost everything. I scan the area and see my dad, draped in the Australian flag, talking to Li Chee, who’s wearing a flag top hat and holding up a Turn Back the Boats banner.
The monstrous child, Francesca Simon
A stunning, operatic, epic drama, like no other. Meet Hel, an ordinary teenager – and goddess of the Underworld. Why is life so unfair? Hel tries to make the best of it, creating gleaming halls in her dark kingdom and welcoming the dead who she is forced to host for eternity. Until eternity itself is threatened. (Goodreads)
First lines: You’d think after my brother the snake was born, they’d have stopped at one. But no. Next was the wolf, Fenrir. And then me. How Mum must have hoped, when my top half slithered out, that it was third time lucky. A human head. Praise the Blood Mother.
One would think the deep, Claire Zorn
It’s 1997 and seventeen-year-old Sam is mourning the sudden loss of his mum…Sam has always had things going on in his head that no one else understands, even his mum. And now she’s dead, it’s worse than ever. With nothing but his skateboard and a few belongings in a garbage bag, Sam goes to live with the strangers his mum cut ties with seven years ago: Aunty Lorraine and his cousins Shane and Minty. Despite the suspicion and hostility emanating from their fibro shack, Sam reverts to his childhood habit of following Minty around and is soon surfing with Minty to cut through the static fuzz in his head. But as the days slowly meld into one another, and ghosts from the past reappear, Sam has to make the ultimate decision … will he sink or will he swim. (Goodreads)
First lines: Sam rang from the hospital. A social worker called Amanda gave him a dollar for the phone in the shop that sold teddy bears and balloons with the declarations of love. Sam plugged his ear with a finger to drown out the chaos in the corridor behind him. He didn’t know the voice of the guy who answered. He didn’t know any of them anymore.
The edge, Roland Smith
The International Peace Ascent is the brainchild of billionaire Sebastian Plank: Recruit a global team of young climbers and film an inspiring, world-uniting documentary. The adventure begins when fifteen-year-old Peak Marcello and his mountaineer mother are helicoptered to a remote base camp in the Hindu Kush Mountains on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. When the camp is attacked and his mother taken, Peak has no choice but to track down the perpetrators to try to save her. (Goodreads)
First lines: The snow leopard makes an impossible leap. Twelve feet. Maybe fifteen. Up the sheer rock face. Landing on a narrow shelf as if she is lighter than air. Her two cubs stand below, yowling for her to come back down.
Am I normal yet?, Holly Bourne
All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?
First lines: It started with a house party. This wasn’t just any house party. I was also My First Date. Like first EVER date. In my entire life. Because, finally, following all the crap that had gone down, I was ready for boys.
Gemini, Sonya Mukherjee
Seventeen-year-old conjoined twins Clara and Hailey have lived in the same small town their entire lives—no one stares at them anymore. But there are cracks in their quiet existence, and they’re slowly becoming more apparent. Clara and Hailey are at a crossroads. Clara wants to stay close to home, avoid all attention, and study the night sky. Hailey wants to travel the world, learn from great artists, and dance with mysterious boys. As high school graduation approaches, each twin must untangle her dreams from her sister’s, and figure out what it means to be her own person.
First lines: About four years ago, when I was thirteen and still prone to crying spells, my mother liked to show off her so-called wisdom by telling me that every teenage girl sometimes feels like a freak of nature.
P.S. I like you, Kasie West
While Lily is spacing out in Chemistry one day, she picks up her pencil and scribbles a line from one of her favorite songs on the desk. The next day, someone else has written back to her on the desk! Soon enough Lily and the mystery student are exchanging notes, and lyrics, and even sharing secrets. When Lily finds out that her anonymous pen pal is a guy, she’s flustered — and kind of feels like she’s falling for him. She and her best friend set out to unravel the identity of the letter writer — but when the truth is revealed, the guy is the LAST person Lily could have ever imagined it to be. Now that Lily knows the truth, can she untangle her feelings and gather the courage to listen to her heart?
First lines: A lightning strike. A shark attack. Winning the lottery. No I lined through all the words. Too cliché. I tapped my pen against my lips. Rare. What was rare? Meat, I thought with a small laugh. That would go really well in a song.
Stand Still, Stay Silent is probably one of my favourite webcomics ever – which is surprising, since I only started it on Friday. I read it through in one sitting, and I keep going back – there’s stuff you miss on the first reading. This summary is taken from its website:
“It’s been 90 years after the end of the old world. Most of the surviving population of the Known world live in Iceland, the largest safe area in existence, while the safe settlements in the other Nordic countries; Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, are small and scarce. Countless mysterious and unspoken dangers lurk outside the safe areas, the Silent world, and hunters, mages and cleansers will spend their lives defending the settlements against the terrifying beings. Because of a great fear towards everything in the Silent world no official attempts to explore the ruins of the old have been made, and most of the information about it has turned into ancient lore, known by few. But now, at last, it is time to send out an research crew into the great unknown! A poorly funded and terribly unqualified crew, but a crew nonetheless.”
The title comes from a piece of advice for dealing with the strange beasts that lurk in the Silent World, which neatly sums up the comic’s creepy atmosphere.
“If you come across a Beast, a Troll or a Giant do not run or call for help, but stand still and stay silent. It might go away.”
There’s an awful lot of weight in that might, hmm?
Despite the grim sounding premise, the author also describes the comic this way: “(this) is a lighthearted, Nordic postapocalyptic adventure with a lot of friendship, some magic and a little bit of horror and drama.”
There’s a large amount of humour in this comic, as the various team members try to work past cultural differences and language barriers, their own inexperience and the fact that some of them are just plain weird, to accomplish their mission, or at the very least, survive. The Beasts, Trolls and Giants are truly terrifying, but luckily they have mages, a kitten and an Icelandic shepherd. You’ll have to read the comic to work out that last sentence. It’s also great to see fiction based in the Nordic countries – something that is rare and intriguing, since the author skillfully weaves Nordic mythology through the comic.
And the art. The art is stunning – lush, beautifully coloured, unique – a style which manages to convey both the humour and the horror of the setting. It’s clearly a labour of love, and the love of the characters and setting is obvious.
The other thing to love about this webcomic is its regular update schedule – every day, although obviously time zones come into play. It’s a small thing, but it means you won’t be left hanging around waiting for the next installment.
Burn baby burn, Meg Medina
After a freezing winter, a boiling hot summer explodes with arson, a blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam, who is shooting young people on the streets seemingly at random.
Not only is the city a disaster, but Nora has troubles of her own: her brother, Hector, is growing more uncontrollable by the day, her mother is helpless to stop him, and her father is so busy with his new family that he only calls on holidays. And it doesn’t stop there. The super’s after her mother to pay their overdue rent, and her teachers are pushing her to apply for college, but all Nora wants is to turn eighteen and be on her own. There is a cute guy who started working with her at the deli, but is dating even worth the risk when the killer especially likes picking off couples who stay out too late?
First lines: Mr. MacInerney drives way too slow, which is weird for a man who spends his life running into burning buildings. It could be that being a fireman has made Kathleen’s dad a safety freak, but I think it’s really that he likes to show off his Impala.
Zero day, Jan Gangsei
Eight years ago, Addie Webster was the victim of the most notorious kidnapping of the decade. Addie vanished—and her high-profile parents were forced to move on. Mark Webster is now president of the United States, fighting to keep the Oval Office after a tumultuous first term. Then, the unthinkable happens: the president’s daughter resurfaces. Addie is brought back into her family’s fold…but who is this sixteen-year-old girl with a quiet, burning intelligence now living in the White House? There are those in the administration who find her timely return suspicious. When a national security advisor approaches Darrow Fergusson, Addie’s childhood best friend and the son of the president’s chief of staff, he doesn’t know what to think. How could the girl he’s missed for all these years be a threat to the United States? Still, at the risk of having his own secrets exposed, Darrow agrees to spy on Addie. He soon realizes that his old friend is much more than the traumatized victim of a political fringe group. Addie has come with a mission…but will she choose to complete it?
First lines: Darrow had her. He finally had her. Addie Webster was going down. The two sat cross-legged on the floor of the playroom, a game of Connect Four perched between their almost-touching knees.
Thicker than water, Kelly Fiore
Cecelia Price killed her brother. At least, that’s what the police and the district attorney are saying. And although Cecelia is now locked up and forced into treatment, she knows the real story is much more complicated. Cyrus wasn’t always the drug-addled monster he’d become. He was a successful athlete, but when an injury forced him off the soccer field and onto pain medication, his life became a blur of anger, addiction, and violence. All CeCe could do was stand by and watch, until she realized one effective way to take away her brother’s drugs while earning the money she needed for college: selling the pills. Soon, CeCe becomes part drug dealer, part honor student. But even when all she wants is to make things right, she learns that sometimes the best intentions lead to the worst possible outcome. (Goodreads)
First lines: This is the truth. The whole truth. Nothing but the truth. I was seventeen, it was weeks from graduation, and was crouched behind a foldout couch, crushing a pile of pizza boxes and trying not to gag from the smell.
Kill the boy band, Goldy Moldavsky
Just know from the start that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near them. That’s why we got a room in the hotel where they were staying. We were not planning to kidnap one of them. Especially not the most useless one. But we had him—his room key, his cell phone, and his secrets. We were not planning on what happened next. We swear. (Goodreads).
First lines: People have called me crazy. It’s understandable; fangirls get a bad rap all the time. They say we’re weird, hysterical, obsessed, certifiable. But those people don’t understand.
Hot pterodactyl boyfriend, Alan Cumyn
Sheils is very pleased with her perfectly controlled life (controlling others while she’s at it). She’s smart, powerful, the Student Body Chair, and she even has a loving boyfriend. What more could a girl ask for? But everything changes when the first-ever interspecies transfer student, a pterodactyl named Pyke, enrolls at her school. There’s something about him—something primal—that causes the students to lose control whenever he’s around. Even Sheils, the seemingly perfect self-confident girl that she is, can’t keep her mind off of him, despite her doting boyfriend and despite the fact that Pyke immediately starts dating Jocelyn, the school’s fastest runner who Sheils has always discounted as a nobody. Pyke, hugely popular in a school whose motto is to embrace differences, is asked to join a band, and when his band plays at the Autumn Whirl dance, his preternatural shrieking music sends everyone into a literal frenzy. No one can remember what happened the next day, but Shiels learns that she danced far too long with Pyke, her nose has turned purple, and she may have done something with her boyfriend that she shouldn’t have. Who’s in control now? (Goodreads).
First lines: It started as a speck in the east, a hint of black that might have easily been a crow. The sky was full of crows in late September, crows by the thousands with their squawking, nervy calls, the way they would mass on a strand of lead-losing trees, a fractured black cloud of them.
The serpent king, Jeff Zentner
Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace. He and his fellow outcast friends must try to make it through their senior year of high school without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Graduation will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is content where he is thanks to his obsession with an epic book series and the fangirl turning his reality into real-life fantasy. Their diverging paths could mean the end of their friendship. But not before Dill confronts his dark legacy to attempt to find a way into the light of a future worth living. (Goodreads).
First lines: There were things Dillar Wayne Early Jr. dreaded more than the start of school at Forrestville High. Not many, but a few. Thinking of the future was one of them. Dill didn’t enjoy doing that.
Dreaming the enemy, David Metzenthen
Johnny Shoebridge has just returned from fighting in the jungles of Vietnam. He no longer carries a weapon – only photos of the dead and a dread of the living…Pursued by a Viet Cong ghost-fighter called Khan, Johnny makes one last stand – knowing that if he cannot lay this spectre to rest, he will remain a prisoner of war for ever.(Goodreads).
First lines: They’d played Samurai all summer holidays, Johnny remembered, like the show on TV. Long sticks for swords. Short sticks for star knives. And that Aboriginal kid, David, who was staying at someone else’s house for a month, played the game harder than anyone else.
Bullet catcher, Joaquin Lowe
In the small town of Sand, populated by gunslingers and surrounded by endless desert, Imma washes dishes and grieves for a life she never had. She and her brother, Nikko, dreamed of escaping to become bullet catchers, a legendary band of outlaws who can deflect bullets with their hands. But they were wiped out years ago, Nikko with them. And leaving is impossible when walking into the desert means certain death. When she sees a stranger catch a man’s bullet and turn it back on him, Imma knows it can only mean one thing: the bullet catchers live on, and this is her way out. Determined to follow him, Imma starts a journey that will take her to her physical extremes and force her to question just what family means and who she really is: bullet catcher or gunslinger; hero or monster. (Goodreads).
First lines: It’s late at night when the memory comes for me, like it always seems to when the relief of sleep seems ready to draw me under. The fire. I recall it as a heat on my face, a deep, quickened voice that might be my father’s, my brother’s skinny arms around me, the glass of the windows blowing out, explosions that for the longest time I thought were fireworks.
Red ink, Julie Mayhew
When her mother is knocked down and killed by a London bus, fifteen-year-old Melon Fouraki is left with no family worth mentioning. Her mother, Maria, never did introduce Melon to a ‘living, breathing’ father. The indomitable Auntie Aphrodite, meanwhile, is hundreds of miles away on a farm in Crete, and is unlikely to be jumping on a plane and coming to East Finchley anytime soon. But at least Melon has ‘The Story’. ‘The Story’ is the Fourakis family fairytale. A story is something. (Goodreads).
First lines: This is the recipe. Take five pounds of hulled whole wheat. Hold it in your arms. Feel that it weighs nothing compared to the load that lies heavy on your heart. Wash the wheat; let your tears join in.
A drop of night, Stefan Bachman
Seventeen-year-old Anouk has finally caught the break she’s been looking for—she’s been selected out of hundreds of other candidates to fly to France and help with the excavation of a vast, underground palace buried a hundred feet below the suburbs of Paris. Built in the 1780′s to hide an aristocratic family and a mad duke during the French Revolution, the palace has lain hidden and forgotten ever since. Anouk, along with several other gifted teenagers, will be the first to set foot in it in over two centuries. Or so she thought.
But nothing is as it seems, and the teens soon find themselves embroiled in a game far more sinister, and dangerous, than they could possibly have imagined. An evil spanning centuries is waiting for them in the depths…(Goodreads).
First lines: I heard it being built. Father’s secret Versailles, a palace beneath a palace. A world of gilt and crystal hidden deep within the roots of France.
Starflight, Melissa Landers
Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith. When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…(Goodreads
First lines: What if nobody picks me? Nothing can be worse than that. Solara’s pulse quickened, and her palms turned cold. She hadn’t considered the possibility that no one would want her, but now, as she scanned the servants area, she noticed only two indenture candidates standing with her behind the gate – an elderly man with more hair in his ears than on his had and a teenage boy who couldn’t stop scratching himself.
The memory of light, Francisco X. Stork
Vicky Cruz shouldn’t be alive. That’s what she thinks, anyway—and why she tried to kill herself. But then she arrives at Lakeview Hospital, where she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she’s never had.
Yet Vicky’s newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up—sending her back to the life that drove her to suicide—Vicky must find her own courage and strength. She may not have any. She doesn’t know.
First lines: Nana
I tried to write to you in Spanish but my Espanol no es muy bueno en este momento. So I try in English. If you’re reading this it’s because you found it taped to the back of Mama’s painting. Take the painting with you to Mexico and the climbing pink roses will remind you of Mama and maybe of me too.
The stars at oktober bend, Glenda Millard
Alice is fifteen, with hair as red as fire and skin as pale as bone, but something inside her is broken. She has acquired brain injury, the result of an assault, and her words come out slow and slurred. But when she writes, heartwords fly from her pen. She writes poems to express the words she can’t say and leaves them in unexpected places around the town. Manny was once a child soldier. He is sixteen and has lost all his family. He appears to be adapting to his new life in this country, where there is comfort and safety, but at night he runs, barefoot, to escape the memory of his past. When he first sees Alice, she is sitting on the rusty roof of her river-house, looking like a carving on an old-fashioned ship sailing through the stars. (Goodreads)
First lines:i am the girl manny loves. the girl who writes our story in the book of flying. i am alice. they sewed me up when i was twelve. mended my broken head with fishbone stitches. tucked my frayed edges in. tucked everything in. things meant to be and things not. do it quick. stem the flow. stop life leaking out of alice. that’s all they wanted. so gram said.
Identity crisis, Melissa Schorr
Annalise’s audacious freshman-year hookup with Cooper Franklin has a trio of friends thirsting for revenge. So they catfish Annalise by creating the perfect virtual guy, with Noelle playing along reluctantly only because her lifelong crush, Cooper, is in love with Annalise. As Annalise falls for it, even scoring tickets to the concert of the year for her and her mythical new guy, Noelle feels more and more guilty. Then, the whole thing blows up. Annalise must face her betrayers and decide whether or not she can ever forgive.
First lines: Cooper Franklin thinks that just because I’m staring at the clock on the wall, I didn’t notice him sneak a peek at my boobs. But I did. I totally did. Didn’t anyone teach this boy the concept of peripheral vision? I half-want to call him on it and give him a piece of my mind, but I decide I better not.
Rebel of the sands, Alwyn Hamilton
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from. Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him…or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is. (Goodreads)
First lines: They said the only folk who belonged in Deadshot after dark were the ones up to no good. I wasn’t up to no good. Then again, I wasn’t exactly up to no bad either.
The great hunt, Wendy Higgins
When a strange beast terrorizes the kingdom of Lochlanach, fear stirs revolt. In an act of desperation, a proclamation is sent to all of Eurona—kill the creature and win the ultimate prize: the daughter of King Lochson’s hand in marriage. Princess Aerity knows her duty to the kingdom but cannot bear the idea of marrying a stranger…until a brooding local hunter, Paxton Seabolt, catches her attention. There’s no denying the unspoken lure between them…or his mysterious resentment. Paxton is not the marrying type. Nor does he care much for spoiled royals and their arcane laws. He’s determined to keep his focus on the task at hand—ridding the kingdom of the beast—but the princess continues to surprise him, and the perilous secrets he’s buried begin to surface. (Goodreads)
First lines: A late summer breeze blew warm over the deep and wide Lanach Creek. Moonlight caught the shock of Wyneth’s red-orange curls as she let her fiancé, Breckon, lay her back on the end of the dock.
Rules for stealing stars, Corey Ann Haydu
Silly is used to feeling left out. Her three older sisters think she’s too little for most things—especially when it comes to dealing with their mother’s unpredictable moods and outbursts. This summer, Silly feels more alone than ever when her sisters keep whispering and sneaking away to their rooms together, returning with signs that something mysterious is afoot: sporting sunburned cheeks smudged with glitter and gold hair that looks like tinsel. When Silly is brought into her sisters’ world, the truth is more exciting than she ever imagined. The sisters have discovered a magical place that gives them what they truly need: an escape from the complications of their home life. But there are dark truths there, too. Silly hopes the magic will be the secret to saving their family, but she’s soon forced to wonder if it could tear them apart. (Goodreads)
First lines: Everything is standard Sunday morning today except for a streak of glitter on Astrid’s cheek and the way never-tired Eleanor keeps yawning like a cat.
The great American whatever, Tim Federle
Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry used to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister Annabeth. Of course, that was all before—before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa…and before Annabeth was killed in a car accident. Enter Geoff, Quinn’s best friend who insists it’s time that Quinn came out—at least from hibernation. One haircut later, Geoff drags Quinn to his first college party, where instead of nursing his pain, he meets a guy—a hot one—and falls hard. What follows is an upside-down week in which Quinn begins imagining his future as a screenplay that might actually have a happily-ever-after ending—if, that is, he can finally step back into the starring role of his own life story. (Goodreads)
First lines: I don’t consider myself to be precious, necessarily, but give me air-conditioning or give me death. Maybe the only thing worse than a Midwestern winter is a Midwestern summer, especially when your AC is broken.
Bleeding earth, Kaitlin Ward
Lea was in a cemetery when the earth started bleeding. Within twenty-four hours, the blood made international news. All over the world, blood appeared out of the ground, even through concrete, even in water. Then the earth started growing hair and bones. Lea wants to ignore the blood. She wants to spend time with her new girlfriend, Aracely, in public, if only Aracely wasn’t so afraid of her father. Lea wants to be a regular teen again, but the blood has made her a prisoner in her own home. Fear for her social life turns into fear for her sanity, and Lea must save herself and Aracely whatever way she can.
First lines: I drape my arm around a towerlike gravestone, watching my best friend hover the cemetery’s edge. She’s lived across from this graveyard her entire life, and still, she’s terrified of it.
This monstrous thing, Mackenzi Lee
In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits. His brother, Oliver—dead. His sweetheart, Mary—gone. His chance to break free of Geneva—lost. Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead. But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship. Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay… (Goodreads)
First lines: My brother’s heart was heavy in my hands. The screws along the soldered edges flashed as the candlelight flickered, and I checked one last time to be certain the mainspring was tight.
Nothing bad is going to happen, Kathleen Hale
After helping to catch the man who murdered her best friend, Kippy Bushman was looking forward to life returning to normal. Well, at least as normal as it could get in a town like hers. But then the unthinkable happens: Kippy finds her boyfriend, Davey, in his house, barely breathing and surrounded by pills and empty beer bottles. The sheriff is quick to rule the incident an attempted suicide, but Kippy refuses to believe it. She and Davey are completely in love; there’s no way he’d ever hurt himself. Right? Kippy swears she saw someone else at Davey’s house that night and is convinced that person tried to murder him. Without any real evidence, though, no one—not even Kippy’s own father—believes her. So she has no choice but to team up with her former nemesis, Bible-thumping Libby, to try to catch this new killer. But in a town where everyone has their own secrets and a next-door neighbor could be a serial killer, who’s left to trust? (Goodreads).
First lines: Dear Kippy Bushman,
Nice touch with the PO box return address! I’m assuming you’re trying to keep all of this is a secret from Dom, which is fantastic. INTELLIGENSIAAAAAA. No offense but he’s a worried, and we don’t need him to fret about OUR INCREDIBLE REUNION.
Forget tomorrow, Pintip Dunn
It’s Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she’s eagerly awaiting her vision―a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they’re meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist. Or in Callie’s case, a criminal. In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo―a prison for those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes the hellish prison. But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all – Callie herself. (Goodreads).
First lines: “The next leaf that falls will be red,” my six-year-old sister Jessa announces. An instant later, a crimson leaf flutters through the air like the tail feather of a cardinal.
Where you’ll find me, Natasha Friend
The first month of school, thirteen-year-old Anna Collette finds herself… Dumped by her best friend, Dani, who suddenly wants to spend eighth grade “hanging out with different people.”
Deserted by her mom, who’s in the hospital recovering from a suicide attempt. Trapped in a house with her dad, a new baby sister, and a stepmother young enough to wear her Delta Delta Delta sweatshirt with pride. Stuck at a lunch table with Shawna the Eyebrow Plucker and Sarabeth the Irish Stepper because she has no one else to sit with. But what if all isn’t lost? What if Anna’s mom didn’t exactly mean to leave her? What if Anna’s stepmother is cooler than she thought? What if the misfit lunch table isn’t such a bad fit after all? With help from some unlikely sources, including a crazy girl-band talent show act, Anna just may find herself on the road to okay. (Goodreads).
First lines: I used to think your friends were your friends no matter what, but that’s not how it works. There is elementary school, and then there is middle school, where suddenly all the rules change and no one tells you how to play and the only thing you know for sure is that you are losing.
Curio, Evangeline Denmark
Grey Haward has always detested the Chemists, the magicians-come-scientists who rule her small western town. But she has always followed the rules, taking the potion the Chemists ration out that helps the town’s people survive. A potion that Grey suspects she—like her grandfather and father—may not actually need. By working at her grandfather’s repair shop, sorting the small gears and dusting the curio cabinet inside, Grey has tried to stay unnoticed—or as unnoticed as a tall, strong girl can in a town of diminutive, underdeveloped citizens. Then her best friend, Whit, is caught by the Chemists’ enforcers after trying to protect Grey one night, and after seeing the extent of his punishment, suddenly taking risks seems the only decision she can make. But with the risk comes the reality that the Chemists know her family’s secret, and the Chemists soon decide to use her for their own purposes. Panicked, Grey retreats to the only safe place she knows—her grandfather’s shop. There, however, a larger secret confronts her when her touch unlocks the old curio cabinet in the corner and reveals a world where porcelain and clockwork people are real. There, she could find the key that may save Whit’s life and also end the Chemists’ dark rule forever. (Goodreads).
First lines: The chemist came just before closing. Granddad shot Grey a warning look as he hurried to the front of the store. Time to make herself unnoticeable. As if that were possible.
The love that split the world, Emily Henry
Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.
Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.
That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau. (Goodreads).
First lines: The night before my last official day of high school, she comes back. I feel her in my room before I even open my eyes. That’s how it’s always been.
Lady Helen and the dark days club, Alison Goodman
London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap? (Goodreads).
First lines: In the sun-warmed quiet of her uncle’s library, Lady Helen Wrexhall spread the skirt of her muslin morning gown and sank into the deep curtsey required for Royal presentation: back held straight, head slightly bowed, left knee bent so low it nearly touched the floor. And, of course, face set into a serene Court smile.
Revenge and the wild, Michelle Modesto
The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler. Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways. But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.(Goodreads)
First lines: Westie had left the valley at dawn to head home. The sun had risen soon after and followed her throughout the day. By four it just felt spiteful. Though her skin was burned and blistered, she preferred the sun over darkness during her travels.
Shallow graves, Kali Wallace
Breezy remembers leaving the party: the warm, wet grass under her feet, her cheek still stinging from a slap to her face. But when she wakes up, scared and pulling dirt from her mouth, a year has passed and she can’t explain how. Nor can she explain the man lying at her grave, dead from her touch, or why her heartbeat comes and goes. She doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past. Haunted by happy memories from her life, Breezy sets out to find answers in the gritty, threatening world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight, and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she discovers is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.(Goodreads)
First lines: The first time I killed a man it was an accident. He didn’t have any identification on him. He was white, probably in his mid-fifties. Average build, average height. Smoker. No tattoos or distinguishing scars. His fingerprints matched those found at a thirty-year-old crime scene in North Dakota: a family murder, both parents, son and two daughters, all killed one night at the dinner table. Nobody was ever arrested.
These vicious masks, Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.(Goodreads)
First lines: Death. This carriage was taking me straight to my death.
“Rose,” I said, turning to my younger sister. “In your esteemed medical opinion, is it possible to die of ennui?”
“I…can’t recall a documented case.”
The sister pact, Stacie Ramey
Allie is devastated when her older sister commits suicide – and not just because she misses her. Allie feels betrayed. The two made a pact that they’d always be together, in life, and in death, but Leah broke her promise and Allie needs to know why. Her parents hover. Her friends try to support her. And Nick, sweet Nick, keeps calling and flirting. Their sympathy only intensifies her grief. But the more she clings to Leah, the more secrets surface. Allie’s not sure which is more distressing: discovering the truth behind her sister’s death or facing her new reality without her.(Goodreads)
First lines: The last thing we did as a family was bury my sister. That makes this meeting even harder to face. I don’t have to be a psychic to know what everyone thinks when they look at me. Why did she do it? Why didn’t I? And the thing is, after all that happened, I’m not sure I know to the answer to either.
A madness so discreet, Mindy McGinnis
Grace Mae knows madness. She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum. When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.(Goodreads)
First lines: They all had their terrors. The new girl believed that spiders lived in her veins. Her screams sliced through the darkness, passing through the thin walls of Grace’s cell and filling her brain with another’s misery to add to the pressures of her own.
My sister Rosa, Justine Larbalestier
Che Taylor has four items on his list: 1. He wants to spar, not just train in the boxing gym. 2. He wants a girlfriend. 3. He wants to go home. 4. He wants to keep Rosa under control. Che’s little sister Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and so good at deception that Che’s convinced she must be a psychopath. She hasn’t hurt anyone yet, but he’s certain it’s just a matter of time. And when their parents move them to New York City, Che longs to return to Sydney and his three best friends. But his first duty is to his sister Rosa, who is playing increasingly complex and disturbing games. Can he protect Rosa from the world – and the world from Rosa?(Goodreads)
First lines: Rosa is pushing all the buttons. She makes the seat go backwards and forwards, the leg rest up and down, in and out, lights on, lights off TV screen up, TV screen down. We’ve never been in business class. Rosa has to explore everything and figure out what she’s allowed to do and how to get away with what she isn’t.
The red cardigan, J.C Burke
Sometimes Evie sees things that other people don’t. She’s wary of the other kids at school, of what they might see in her drawings, or of what they would say if they knew she was different. So most of the time she blocks it all out and pretends she’s just like everyone else. But a missing girl is trying to tell Evie something. A girl who is very persistent, who will not give up until she is found. A girl who once wore the red cardigan Evie now wears. And Evie can no longer ignore the question that needs an answer . Who is the girl in the red cardigan?(Goodreads)
First lines: She searches for the smell. She finds it- the sweet perfume of a Murraya bush in summer. It’s the only memory of her grandfather and it’s still exactly as it was. She is sitting on his knee in an old green kitchen. A loose thread hangs from his singlet. Winding it around her finger, she listens to him speak.
Into the dim, Janet B. Taylor
When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.(Goodreads)
First lines: Everyone in town knew the coffin was empty. I think that’s what packed the pews – the pure curiosity of the thing. They didn’t come for love or admiration. Nope. They came for the show. They came because it was big news. A juicy scandal that jolted our small southern town like spikes of summer lightning.