Friedrich Nietzsche once said something that has formed the basis of many fictional story. “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster…” Whether or not the protagonists in these stories have won that particular battle is up to you.
The monstrumologist, Rick Yancey
Will Henry, an orphan, becomes an assistant to the titular character, an acerbic man called Dr. Pellinore Warthorpe. Be warned: the monsters in this book are nasty and the author pulls no punches in describing the gore and mayhem they cause.
The haunting of Alaizibel Cray, Chris Wooding
Monsters known as wych-kin have overrun an alternate-history London. Thaniel Fox is one of the best wych-hunters in London, along side his mentor, Cathaline Bennett. But he needs all his wit and skill when he encounters Alaizibel Cray and the horrific conspiracy that surrounds her…This is one of my favourite YA novels ever. This is a book not just about a few characters but an entire city in the grip of a terror caused by human and monster alike. Disease, poverty and violence stalk the streets – the wych-kin are only the beginning of this London’s problems.
Riverkeep, Martin Stewart
Unlike the other monster-hunters, Wulliam Fobisher has his sights set on a single monster: the mormorach, a magical but deadly creature that may be able to save his afflicted father. Riverkeep’s one of the most original and interesting novels I’ve read this year, with an enthralling fantasy world populated by all sorts of strange people.
The girl from the well, Rin Chupeco
“I am where the dead children go.”
This is a rarity in the “monster hunter” genre. Okiku is an unavenged spirit who seeks to avenge the murdered souls of others – the monsters she hunts are very human and very alive. It starts out with a terrifying chapter in which this is described. This is the first in a series – make sure you read them all, it’s well worth it.
Everyone loves a good ghost story, right? We’ve got so many that it was hard to pick my favourites.
The time of the ghost, Diana Wynne Jones
This was Diana Wynne Jones’ thirteenth book ever published; a Goodreads commenter pondered if this was an accident. Even if it wasn’t, it’s a genuinely creepy story told from a ghost’s perspective, as she tries to work out which of four sisters she is and how to prevent an “accident” she knows is coming. Then there’s a strange malevolent force that the sisters seem to have called up…
Frozen charlotte, Alex Bell
A drowning, a fire and a series of mysterious deaths at linked to a closed school; all are connected through a group of mysterious dolls known as Frozen Charlottes. Frozen Charlottes are a real type of doll by the way and their backstory is just as (if not more) morbid than the one in the book.
Long lankin, Lindsey Barraclough
An ancient evil stirs when two sisters are sent to live with their reclusive Aunt Ida. This book’s a bit of a slow burn; the terror and unease slowly growing as Cora, the elder of the two, discovers more and more about the mysteries of the old family home. This is not only a terrifying story of a ghost, but an interesting look at how a whole community can be haunted by the spectres of the past.
The graveyard book, Neil Gaiman
This is a warm, witty and sometimes outright terrifying retelling of the Jungle Book. The young hero, Nobody Owens, is raised in a graveyard by its mysterious and ghostly denizens. But a mysterious stranger threatens his home and himself, and he must find the courage to fight back. Chris Riddell – one of my favourite artists – provides some amazing illustrations as well.
Johnny and the Dead, Terry Pratchett
Johnny, an ordinary guy, meets a bunch of dead people in the cemetery, which is facing destruction at the hands of a local business. They’re not ghosts and get very offended when you suggest that they are, but they’re certainly not keen on being moved from their graves. Johnny decides he has to help. Unlike the others, this is more funny than scary – but well worth reading after if the other titles are keeping you awake…
I enjoy settling in with a long novel as much as the next horror fan, but sometimes I like short stories: they’re like the jump scares of scary books. Here are some great collections.
Extremities: stories of death, murder, and revenge, David Lubar
David Lubar’s better known as a writer for younger readers but this definitely belongs in the YA section. Despite the title, some of these stories have a sly, dark humour – but that doesn’t make them any less disturbing.
Scary stories, illustrated by Barry Moser with an introduction by Peter Glassman
This is a collection of “classic” horror stories – Roald Dahl, H.P Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and our very own Margaret Mahy have stories in here and it’s a good introduction to the other -but perhaps less well known to YA audiences- horror writers such as Saki and Ambrose Bierce. If you’re wanting more names to help broaden your reading. The illustrations are simple black and white – but are creepy as anything.
Slasher girls and monster boys, stories selected by April Genevieve Tucholke
There are some impressive names from YA literature in this collection; Marie Lu and Carrie Ryan to name just two. A more contemporary take on horror themed short stories, I have no doubt these will keep you up past bedtime…
Black Juice, Margo Lanagan
Margo Lanagan’s short stories aren’t scary in the conventional sense; there may be things that go bump in the night but more often than not they depict a muted, interior sense of unease that will persist long after you put the book down. Horror doesn’t always come the paranormal – often it’s humanity that shapes a hostile world. Lanagan also has three more short story collections availible; White time, Red Spikes and Yellowcake.
This year’s been a great year for graphic novels and horror, among other things. Here are my top ten picks for the best reads of 2015.
1) The singing bones, Shaun Tan
2) Baba Yaga’s assistant, Emily Carroll
3) Nimona, Noelle Stevenson
4) Part-time Princesses, Monica Gallagher
5) Gotham by midnight, Ray Fawkes and Ben Templesmith
6) Frozen Charlotte, Alex Bell
7) Calvin, Martine Leavitt
8) When Mr. Dog bites, Brian Conaghan
9) Our endless numbered days, Claire Fuller
10) Silver in the blood, Jessica Day George
Forever for a year, B.T. Gottfred
When Carolina and Trevor meet on their first day of school, something draws them to each other. They gradually share first kisses, first touches, first sexual experiences. When they’re together, nothing else matters. But one of them will make a choice, and the other a mistake, that will break what they thought was unbreakable. Both will wish that they could fall in love again for the first time . . . but first love, by definition, can’t happen twice. (Goodreads)
First lines: It was my idea for us to start using our full names. It was going to help us take ourselves more seriously now we were starting high school. It’s like I used to be Carrie, this awkward eighth-grader, but now I was going to be Carolina, this amazing freshman. Oh my gosh, this sounds so dumb when I say it like that. Never mind.
No such person, Caroline B. Cooney
Murder. One of the Allerdon sisters has been charged with a pre-meditated killing and taken to jail. It doesn’t seem possible–but it’s happening. What was supposed to be a typical summer is anything but for this seemingly ordinary family. Shortly after they arrive at their cozy family cottage on the river, Lander meets and is smitten witha handsome young man, and they begin to date. Miranda has a bad feeling about her sister’s new boyfriend. And when the family must deal with an unimaginable nightmare, Miranda can’t help feeling that the boyfriend has something to do with it. The police say they have solid evidence against Lander. Miranda wants to believe in her sister when she swears she is innocent. But as Miranda digs deeper into the past few weeks of Lander’s life, she wonders why everything keeps pointing to Lander’s guilt.(Goodreads)
First lines: At first the police are casual. She too is casual. Puzzled, but not worried. The questions become more intense. The questions frighten her. Where are the police going with this? They are not giving her time to think. Her tongue is dry and tastes of metal. Her hands are damp. Her breath is ragged.
Silver in the blood, Jessica Day George
Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate… or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.(Goodreads)
First lines: Dearest Lou,
Whoever said that travel was exotic and full of adventure has clearly not sailed on the White Lady. Before you worry yourself sick that I am sitting in some squalid cabin, suffering from seasickness, fear not! Of course it is all that is respectable and luxurious, and I would never do anything so horribly undignified as become seasick.
Shadowshaper, Daniel Jose Older
Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “No importa” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on. Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future. (Goodreads)
First lines: “Sierra? What are you staring at?”
Blatant lie. Sierra glanced down from the scaffolding to where Manny the Domino King stood with his arms crossed over his chest.
“You sure?” he said.
The cut out, Jack Heath
Fero isn’t a spy. But he looks exactly like someone who is: Troy Maschenov – a ruthless enemy agent. But what starts as a case of mistaken identity quickly turns into a complicated and dangerous plan. Fero is recruited to fight for his country. He will have to impersonate Troy, enter enemy territory, hunt down a missing agent and bring her home in time to prevent a devastating terror attack. Fero is in way over his head. Hastily trained, loaded up with gadgets and smuggled across the border, he discovers the truth about espionage. Getting in is easy. Getting out alive is hard. (Goodreads)
First lines: “We shouldn’t be here,” Fero said.
“Will you relax?” Irla demanded. “It’s about to start.”
Irla didn’t look relaxed. She was shifting her weight from foot to foot on the cobblestones.
Adrift, Paul Griffin
Matt and his best friend, John, only came out to Montauk for the summer to make a little extra cash and then head back home. A seemingly basic plan for two guys from Queens.
And then Matt meets Driana. Because it’s always about a girl, right? The girl leads to a party, the party leads to a boat, which leads to being adrift at sea with three rich kids who have no clue about how to navigate a boat, let alone actually survive. Matt and John are used to creating stability in unstable situations, but Matt’s busy falling in love at the worst possible time, and John can rub people the wrong way when he’s focused on survival. Driana is trying to keep the peace, but her friends JoJo and Stef aren’t making it easy. The longer they are out there, the lower everyone’s reserves of mental and emotional strength, which is a problem since the biggest mistakes can happen when people are tired and hungry and have no hope. How far will each of them go to survive? (Goodreads)
First lines: The surfers called it The End for its killer waves. To Everyone else it was the end of Long Island. Montauk. It’s a town of beaches and bluffs on the tip of the south fork.
The glass arrow, Kristen Simmons
In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning. (Goodreads)
First lines: Run. My breath is sharp as a dagger, stabbing through my throat. It’s all I hear. Whoosh. Whoosh. In and out. They’re here. The Trackers. They’ve followed Bian from the lowland village where he lives. The fool lead them right to us.
The accident season, Moira Fowley-Doyle
The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items – but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear. But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free? (Goodreads)
First lines: So let’s raise our glasses to the accident season,
To the river beneath is where we sink our souls,
To the bruises and secrets, to the ghosts in the ceiling,
One more drink for the watery road.
Hit count, Chris Lynch
Arlo Brodie loves being at the heart of the action on the football field, getting hit hard and hitting back harder. That’s where he belongs, leading his team to championships, becoming “Starlo” on his way to the top. Arlo’s dad cheers him on, but his mother quotes head injury statistics and refuses to watch games. Arlo’s girlfriend tries to make him see how dangerously he’s playing; when that doesn’t work, she calls time out on their relationship. Even Arlo’s coaches begin to track his hit count, ready to pull him off the field when he nears the limit. But Arlo’s not worried about tallying collisions. The winning plays, the cheering crowds, and the adrenaline rush are enough to convince Arlo that everything is OK—in spite of the pain, the pounding, the dizziness, and the confusion. (Goodreads)
First lines: “All I ever wanted to do was hit people, is that so bad? Does that make me a bad guy?”
That would have been funny if Lloyd was trying to be funny but he wasn’t.
“That’s not so bad, Lloyd,” I told him, “And you are not a bad guy. I think you should stop that though.”
Reawakened, Collen Houck
When seventeen-year-old Lilliana Young enters the Metropolitan Museum of Art one morning during spring break, the last thing she expects to find is a live Egyptian prince with godlike powers, who has been reawakened after a thousand years of mummification. And she really can’t imagine being chosen to aid him in an epic quest that will lead them across the globe to find his brothers and complete a grand ceremony that will save mankind. But fate has taken hold of Lily, and she, along with her sun prince, Amon, must travel to the Valley of the Kings, raise his brothers, and stop an evil, shape-shifting god named Seth from taking over the world. (Goodreads)
First lines: In the great city of Itjawy, the air was thick and heavy, reflecting the mood of the men in the temple, especially in the countenance of the king and the terrible burden he carried in his heart. As King Heru stood behind a pillar and looked upon the gathered people, he wandered if the answer his advisers and priests had given was their salvation or instead, their utter destruction.
Lair of Dreams, Libba Bray
After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to “read” objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners’ abilities…Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer? (Goodreads)
First lines: Every city is a ghost. New buildings rise upon the bones of the old so that each skinny steel beam, each tower of brick carries within it the memories of what has gone before, an architectural haunting. Sometimes you can catch a glimpse of these former incarnations in the awkward angle of a street or a filigreed gate, an old oak door peeking out from a new façade, the plaque commemorating the spot that was a battleground, which became a saloon and is now a park.
Legacy of Kings, Eleanor Herman
Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise. Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters. (Goodreads)
First lines: Katerina races across the meadow, scanning for any roots or rocks in her way. Her heart thumps wildly in her chest. Her legs ache. The gazelle leaps slightly ahead of her, its hooves barely touching the grass. it is a blur of tan and white, with long, black-ringed horns; a creature not fully of the earth, but also of the sky.
Gotham Academy (graphic novel), Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl
Welcome to Gotham Academy, the most prestigious school in Gotham City. Only the best and brightest students may enter its halls, study in its classrooms, explore its secret passages, summon its terrifying spirits… Okay, so Gotham Academy isn’t like other schools. But Olive Silverlock isn’t like other students. After a mysterious incident over summer break, she’s back at school with a bad case of amnesia, an even worse attitude…and an unexplained fear of bats. Olive’s supposed to show new student Maps Mizoguchi the ropes. Problem: Maps is the kid sister of Kyle, Olive’s ex. Then there’s the ghost haunting the campus…and the secret society conducting bizarre rituals. Can Olive and Maps ace the biggest challenge of their lives? Or are they about to get schooled? (Goodreads)
To this day: for the bullied and the beautiful, Shane Koyczan
In February 2013, Shane Koyczan’s passionate anti-bullying poem “To This Day” electrified the world. An animated video of the lyric narrative went viral, racking up over 12 million hits to date and inspiring an international movement against bullying in schools. Shane later performed the piece to sustained applause on the stage of the 2013 annual TED Conference.
Now this extraordinary work has been adapted into an equally moving and visually arresting book. Thirty international artists, as diverse as they are talented, have been inspired to create exceptional art to accompany “To This Day.” Each page is a vibrant collage of images, colors and words that will resonate powerfully with anyone who has experienced bullying themselves, whether as a victim, observer, or participant. Born of Shane’s own experiences of being bullied as a child, “To This Day” expresses the profound and lasting effect of bullying on an individual, while affirming the strength and inner resources that allow people to move beyond the experience. A heartfelt preface and afterword, along with resources for kids affected by bullying, make this book an invaluable centerpiece of the anti-bullying movement. (Goodreads)
Read me like a book, Liz Kessler
Ashleigh Walker is in love. You know the feeling – that intense, heart-racing, all-consuming emotion that can only come with first love. It’s enough to stop her worrying about bad grades at college. Enough to distract her from her parents’ marriage troubles. There’s just one thing bothering her…Shouldn’t it be her boyfriend, Dylan, who makes her feel this way – not Miss Murray, her English teacher?(Goodreads)
First lines: Where’s your best friend when you need her? I mean, seriously. It’s Saturday night and here I am in Luke’s front room with his sister, Zoe, and a bunch of his mates, listening to a rock band blaring about how we’re all going to die and watching a couple of lads do something that I think is meant to be dancing but looks more like they’re being slowly electrocuted.
Lullaby, Bernard Beckett
Rene’s twin brother Theo lies unconscious in hospital after a freak accident left him with massively disrupted brain function. There is hope, though. An experimental procedure—risky, scientifically exciting and ethically questionable—could allow him to gain a new life. But what life, and at what cost? Only Rene can give the required consent. And now he must face that difficult choice. But first there is the question of Rene’s capacity to make that decision. And this is where the real story begins. (Goodreads)
First lines: I remember the machine by his bed. It made a sound like sighing. Numbers twitched, unable to settle. A jagged line sawed across the screen. At least it was something to look at. Something that wasn’t him. They’d brushed his hair, as if he were already dead. A song came into my head, as if he were already dead. A song came into my head, I couldn’t chase it away. ‘Girlfriend in a Coma.’
The alex crow, Andrew Smith
Once again blending multiple story strands that transcend time and place, Grasshopper Jungle author Andrew Smith tells the story of 15-year-old Ariel, a refugee from the Middle East who is the sole survivor of an attack on his small village. Now living with an adoptive family in Sunday, West Virginia, Ariel’s story of his summer at a boys’ camp for tech detox is juxtaposed against those of a schizophrenic bomber and the diaries of a failed arctic expedition from the late nineteenth century. Oh, and there’s also a depressed bionic reincarnated crow. (Goodreads)
First lines: “Here, kitty-kitty.”
The cat had a name -Alex-but General Parviz always called him in the same generic manner. General Parviz, all gilded epaulets, and clinking medals, a breathing propaganda poster, repeated, cooing, “Here, kitty-kitty.”
The wrath and the dawn, Renee Ahdieh
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend. She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.
First lines: It would not be a welcome dawn. Already the sky told this story, with its sad halo of silver beckoning from beyond the horizon. A young man stood alongside his father on the rooftop terrace of the marble palace. They watched the pale light of the early morning sun push back the darkness with slow, careful deliberation.
Disappear home, Laura Hurwitz
In 1970, as the hippie movement is losing its innocence, Shoshanna and her six-year-old sister, Mara, escape from Sweet Earth Farm, a declining commune, run by their tyrannical and abusive father, Adam. Their mother, Ella, takes them to San Francisco, where they meet one of her old friends, Judy, and the four of them decide to head off and try to make a life together. Finding a safe haven at the farm of kind, elderly Avery Elliot, the four of them find some measure of peace and stability. Then their mother’s crippling depression returns. Confused and paranoid, Ella is convinced that she and the girls must leave before Adam finds them and extracts revenge. The girls don’t wish to leave the only stable home they’ve ever had. But as Ella grows worse and worse, events conspire to leave them to face a choice they never could have imagined. Shoshanna has always watched over her sister and once again she has to watch over her ailing mother. Will she ever live a “normal” life? (Goodreads)
First lines: Shosanna knew evil when it crossed her path. Hell, she had walked with it by her side, whispering, like a serpent in her ear, for nearly fifteen years. She and Ella knew that time had run out. The time to think maybe next month, next week had passed. What came next had to be stopped. They had to leave. Now.
Bone gap, Laura Ruby
Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame? Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go. (Goodreads)
First lines: The people of Bone Gap called Finn a lot of things, but none of them was his name. When he was little, they called him Spaceman. Sidetrack. Moonface. You. As he got older, they called him Pretty Boy. Loner. Brother. Dude. But whatever they called him, they called him fondly.
Extraordinary means, Robyn Schneider
At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it’s easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French. There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times. But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down. (Goodreads)
First lines: My first night at Latham House, I lay awake in my narrow, gabled room in Cottage 6 wondering how many people had died in it. And I didn’t just wonder this casually, either. I did the math. I figured the probability. And I came up with a number: right. But then, I’ve always been terrible at math.
Skandal, Lindsay Smith
Life in Washington, D.C., is not the safe haven Yulia hoped for when she risked everything to flee communist Russia. Her father is reckless and aloof, and Valentin is distant and haunted by his past. Her mother is being targeted by the CIA and the US government is suspicious of Yulia’s allegiance. And when super-psychics start turning up in the US capitol, it seems that even Rostov is still a threat. Ultimately, Yulia must keep control of her own mind to save the people she loves and avoid an international Skandal. (Goodreads)
First lines: “Yulia Andreevna Chernina.” The general’s mouth stretches around the rubbery Russian vowels as he reads from the file before him. “Did I get that right?” He smiles at me like any mistake would be my fault, somehow. “We are here to determine whether someone of your…background is fit to serve the United States of America in her constant battle against tyranny.”
The haunting of sunshine girl, Paige Mckenzie
Based on the wildly popular YouTube channel, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl has been described as “ Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity for the new media age.” YA fans new and old will learn the secrets behind Sunshine—the adorkable girl living in a haunted house—a story that is much bigger, and runs much deeper, than even the most devoted viewer can imagine…(Goodreads)
First lines: She turned sixteen today. I watched it happen. Katherine, the woman who adopted her, baked her a cake: carrot cake, a burnt sort of orange colour with white frosting smothered over the top. A girl named Ashley came over to her house with candles, which they lit despite the sweltering Texas heat.
Every last promise, Kristin Halbrook
Kayla saw something at the party that she wasn’t supposed to. But she hasn’t told anyone. No one knows the real story about what happened that night—about why Kayla was driving the car that ran into a ditch after the party, about what she saw in the hours leading up to the accident, and about the promise she made to her friend Bean before she left for the summer.
Now Kayla’s coming home for her senior year. If Kayla keeps quiet, she might be able to get her old life back. If she tells the truth, she risks losing everything—and everyone—she ever cared about.
First lines: We came back from spring break in Florida – me and Jen and Selma and Bean- with tans. Dark for Selena, whose skin deepened and just a kiss of golden cream for strawberry-haired bean. It has been, for all of us, our first trip without our parents.
Liberty’s fire, Lydia Syson
Paris, 1871. Four young people will rewrite their destinies. Paris is in revolt. After months of siege at the hands of the Prussians, a wind of change is blowing through the city, bringing with it murmurs of a new revolution. Alone and poverty-stricken, sixteen-year-old Zephyrine is quickly lured in by the ideals of the city’s radical new government, and she finds herself swept away by its promises of freedom, hope, equality and rights for women. But she is about to fall in love for a second time, following a fateful encounter with a young violinist. Anatole’s passion for his music is soon swiftly matched only by his passion for this fierce and magnificent girl. He comes to believe in Zephyrine’s new politics – but his friends are not so sure. Opera-singer Marie and photographer Jules have desires of their own, and the harsh reality of life under the Commune is not quite as enticing for them as it seems to be for Anatole and Zephyrine. And when the violent reality of revolution comes crashing down at all their feet, can they face the danger together – or will they be forced to choose where their hearts really lie? (Goodreads)
First lines: Jules stared intently at the image emerging under the sunlight. Blues turning to browns, the tones shifting before his eyes. Trapped behind the glass of the wooden printing frame were the ruins of the emperor’s out-of-town palace: scarred columns, gaping roof, sky and rubble, all slowly appearing in their sudden and terrible decay.
When my heart was wicked, Tricia Stirling
16-year-old Lacy believes that magic and science can work side by side. She’s a botanist who knows how to harness the healing power of plants. So when her father dies, Lacy tries to stay with her step-mother in Chico, where her magic is good and healing. She fears the darkness that her real mother, Cheyenne, brings out, stripping away everything that is light and kind.
Yet Cheyenne never stays away for long. Beautiful, bewitching, unstable Cheyenne who will stop at nothing, not even black magic, to keep control of her daughter’s heart. She forces Lacy to accompany her to Sacramento, and before long, the “old” Lacy starts to resurface. But when Lacy survives a traumatic encounter, she finds herself faced with a choice. Will she use her powers to exact revenge and spiral into the darkness forever? Or will she find the strength to embrace the light?
First lines: My stepmother, Anna, swears magic exists in the everyday. I used to think she was full of it, but then one morning at Big Chico Creek we found a mermaid’s eye under a patch of bird’s-foot trefoil. The eye was large and perfectly round like a human’s, but it had the glittering green iris of a fish.
One true thing, Nicole Hayes
Frankie is used to being a politician’s daughter, but it’s election time, so life’s crazier than usual. Add a best friend who’s being weirdly distant, a brother to worry about, and the fact that Frankie’s just humiliated herself in front of a hot guy – who later turns up at band practice to interview her about her music. Jake seems to like Frankie – really like her. But then everything crumbles. Photos appear of Frankie’s mum having secret meetings with a younger man – and she refuses to tell the public why. With her family falling apart around her, Frankie is determined to find out the truth – even if it means losing Jake. (Goodreads)
First lines: Most sixteen-year-olds get woken by their parents because they’re late for school, or the dog needs walking, or there’s a maths test in the first period. My mum drags me out of bed with reminders she has to fight for international peace or solves world hunger.
Things we have in common, Tasha Kavanagh
Yasmin would give anything to have a friend… And do anything to keep them.The first time I saw you, you were standing at the far end of the playing field. You were looking down at your brown straggly dog, your mouth going slack as your eyes clocked her. Alice Taylor. I was no different. I’d catch myself gazing at the back of her head in class, at her thick fair hair swaying between her shoulder blades. If you’d glanced just once across the field, you’d have seen me standing in the middle on my own looking straight at you, and you’d have gone back through the trees to the path quick, tugging your dog after you. You’d have known you’d given yourself away, even if only to me. But you didn’t. You only had eyes for Alice.(Goodreads)
First lines: The first time I saw you, you were standing at the far end of the playing field near the bit of fence that’s trampled down, where the kids that come to school along the wooded path cut across.
Don’t stay up late, R.L Stine
Ever since a car accident killed her father and put Lisa and her mother into the hospital, Lisa can’t think straight. She’s plagued by nightmares and hallucinations that force her to relive the accident over and over again in vivid detail. When Lisa finds out that a neighbor is looking for a babysitter for her young son, she takes the job immediately, eager to keep busy and shake these disturbing images from her head. But what promised to be an easy gig turns terrifying when Lisa begins to question exactly who — or what — she is babysitting. (Goodreads)
First lines: My name is Lisa Brooks and I’m a twisted psycho. I wasn’t always a total nutcase. Before the accident, I thought I was doing pretty okay. My family moved to Shadyside in February. It took a little while to adjust to a new house, a new town, and a new high school. That’s normal, right?
Othergirl, Nicola Burstein
Louise and Erica have been best friends since forever. They’re closer than sisters and depend on each other for almost everything. Just one problem: Erica has superpowers.
When Erica isn’t doing loop-the-loops in the sky or burning things with her heat pulse powers, she needs Louise to hold her non-super life together. After all, the girls still have homework, parents and boys to figure out. But being a superhero’s BFF is not easy, especially as trouble has a way of seeking them out. Soon Louise discovers that Erica might be able to survive explosions and fly faster than a speeding bullet, but she can’t win every fight by herself.(Goodreads)
First lines: I’ve started to do a new thing where I pretend to ignore her when she taps on my window. It’s funny to sense her getting quietly furious while she’s hovering out there, hair illuminated blazing gold by the garden security light, while I carry on with home. Of course it’s not all that funny for long because Erica’s quiet fury quickly turns to an irate pounding on the glass.
Exile, Kevin Emerson
Catherine Summer Carlson knows how to manage bands like a professional—she’s a student at the PopArts Academy at Mount Hope High, where rock legends Allegiance to North got their start. Summer knows that falling for the lead singer of her latest band is the least professional thing a manager can do. But Caleb Daniels isn’t an ordinary band boy—he’s a hot, dreamy, sweet-singing, exiled-from-his-old-band, possibly-with-a-deep-dark-side band boy. And he can do that thing. That thing when someone sings a song and it inhabits you, possesses you, and moves you like a marionette to its will. Summer also finds herself at the center of a mystery she never saw coming. When Caleb reveals a secret about his long-lost father, one band’s past becomes another’s present, and Summer finds it harder and harder to be both band manager and girlfriend. She knows what the well-mannered Catherine side of her would do, but she also knows what her heart is telling her. Maybe it’s time to accept who she really is, even if it means becoming an exile herself. . . .(Goodreads)
First lines: As all true music fans know, this year is the fifteenth anniversary of one of rock’s greatest triumphs and tragedies: the release of Allegiance to North’s seminal second album, Into the Ever & After, which dropped one year after the death of lead singer and songwriter Eli White.
Misfits of Avalon, vol.1 Kel McDonald (Graphic novel)
Four modern-day misfit teens are reluctant recruits to save the mystical isle of Avalon. Magically empowered–and chained to the task–by a set of rings, and directed in their mission by a tight-lipped talking dog, they must stop the rise of King Arthur. But as they struggle to get used to their powers and each other, they’re faced with an even greater challenge: the discovery that they may not be the good guys in this story…
Bandette vol.2: Stealers, Keepers, Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Graphic novel)
Bandette returns to steal readers’ hearts once again! The teenaged master burglar has thrown down the gauntlet with the Great Thieving Race, and friendly rival Monsieur has stepped in to take the challenge. This second charming collection of the award-winning digital series sees the two competing to steal the most priceless artifacts from the criminal organization FINIS and turning over whatever they learn about its plans to the long-suffering Inspector B. D. Belgique. But FINIS’s response could make this Bandette’s final crime spree!
The unfinished life of Addison Stone, Adele Griffin
From the moment she stepped foot in NYC, Addison Stone’s subversive street art made her someone to watch, and her violent drowning left her fans and critics craving to know more. I conducted interviews with those who knew her best—including close friends, family, teachers, mentors, art dealers, boyfriends, and critics—and retraced the tumultuous path of Addison’s life. I hope I can shed new light on what really happened the night of July 28. (Goodreads)
First lines: The New York City Police Department confirmed they are investigating the death of artist Addison Stone. Her body was recovered early this morning in the East River near the Manhattan Bridge. Initial reports indicate that the victim fell while attempting to plaster a billboard at the Manhattan Bridge overpass.
They all fall down, Roxanne St. Claire
Every year, the lives of ten girls at Vienna High are transformed. All because of the list. Kenzie Summerall can’t imagine how she’s been voted onto a list of the hottest girls in school, but when she lands at number five, her average life becomes dazzling. Doors open to the best parties, new friends surround her, the cutest jock in school is after her. This is the power of the list. If you’re on it, your life changes. If you’re on it this year? Your life ends. The girls on the list have started to die, one by one. Is it a coincidence? A curse? Or is the list in the hands of a killer? Time is running out for Kenzie, but she’s determined to uncover the deadly secret of the list…before her number’s up.(Goodreads)
First lines: I run away from home in a downpour. Guilt wends its way through my belly, knotting things up before catapulting into my throat, making it impossible to swallow or breathe. But I have to breathe. I have to exhale the taste of the words my mother and I just slung at each other.
For the forest of a bird, Sue Saliba
Nella waits for the swallows by the creek each spring. It’s a secret vigil she’s followed ever since her father left. This year she’s going to take him with her . . . but can we ever return to the way things were?(Goodreads)
First lines: Nella stood by the creek and waited. Blue sky above and thistles below that reached her knees, she knew the swallows returned in the second week of spring. Nella was fifteen and each September, she came here. No one knew about her vigil and she held it private inside her like a thing that might die if it were to flee into the open.
Playlist for the dead, Michelle Falkoff
Here’s what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you’ll understand. As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it’s only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.(Goodreads)
First lines: All my years of watching TV made me think it was possible you could find a dead body and not know it until you turned the person over and found the bullet whole or stab wound or whatever. And I guess in some ways that was right – Hayden was lying under the covers, tangled up in a bunch of his lame-ass Star Wars sheets (how old were we, anyway?), just like he always was when I slept at his house.
Shutter, Courtney Alameda
Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She’s aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera’s technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever. When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn’t exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she’s faced before . . . or die trying.(Goodreads)
First lines: Call it Reaper’s insomnia, but the dead wouldn’t let me sleep at night. Every time the sun went down, I swore I sensed them stirring, starving. Killing. Tonight was no different. As the boys and I pulled up to St. Mary’s hospital, the scene seized and help my nerves at knife-point. The hospital’s power? Out.
Suspicion, Alexandra Monir
“There’s something hidden in the maze.”
Seventeen-year-old Imogen Rockford has never forgotten the last words her father said to her, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family’s English country manor. For seven years, images of her parents’ death have haunted Imogen’s dreams. In an effort to escape the past, she leaves Rockford Manor and moves to New York City with her new guardians. But some attachments prove impossible to shake—including her love for her handsome neighbor Sebastian Stanhope. Then a life-altering letter arrives that forces Imogen to return to the manor in England, where she quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind Rockford’s aristocratic exterior. At their center is Imogen herself—and Sebastian, the boy she never stopped loving.(Goodreads)
First lines: I should know this room. I’ve been inside countless times. But everything looks different now. The vibrant colours have all turned gray, the view out the windows is a foreign blur, and someone must have rearranged the furniture without telling me. Everything feels out of place, and as I moved toward a favourite chair, I nearly sink into empty space.
City of Savages, Lee Kelly
It’s been nearly two decades since the Red Allies first attacked New York, and Manhattan is now a prisoner-of-war camp, ruled by Rolladin and her brutal, impulsive warlords. For Skyler Miller, Manhattan is a cage that keeps her from the world beyond the city’s borders. But for Sky’s younger sister, Phee, the POW camp is a dangerous playground of possibility, and the only home she’d ever want.
When Sky and Phee discover their mom’s hidden journal from the war’s outbreak, they both realize there’s more to Manhattan—and their mother—than either of them had ever imagined. And after a group of strangers arrives at the annual POW census, the girls begin to uncover the island’s long-kept secrets. The strangers hail from England, a country supposedly destroyed by the Red Allies, and Rolladin’s lies about Manhattan’s captivity begin to unravel. Hungry for the truth, the sisters set a series of events in motion that end in the death of one of Rolladin’s guards. Now they’re outlaws, forced to join the strange Englishmen on an escape mission through Manhattan. Their flight takes them into subways haunted by cannibals, into the arms of a sadistic cult in the city’s Meatpacking District and, through the pages of their mom’s old journal, into the island’s dark and shocking past. (Goodreads)
First lines: Through our wall of windows, I watch darn stand up and take on the city. It throws a thick, molten net over the sky-scrapers, sets the river on fire, and makes me restless to be outside. It’s our last day downtown, and I want to enjoy every second of it.
X, Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon
Malcolm Little’s parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that’s nothing but a pack of lies—after all, his father’s been murdered, his mother’s been taken away, and his dreams of becoming a lawyer have gotten him laughed out of school. There’s no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls, and reefer. But Malcolm’s efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory when what starts as some small-time hustling quickly spins out of control. Deep down, he knows that the freedom he’s found is only an illusion—and that he can’t run forever. X follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.(Goodreads)
First lines: Friends tell me trouble’s coming. I ease out of the restaurant onto the sidewalk, gun in my pocket. Hand in there, too, keeping it close for good measure. I gotta get back to my pad, and quick now. One foot in front of the other. Keep my head down, hope no one sees me.
Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass, Meg Medina
One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is.(Goodreads)
First lines: “Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass.”
A kid named Vanesa tells me this in the morning before school. She springs out with no warning and blocks my way, her textbook held at her chest like a shield. She’s tall like me and caramel. I’ve seen her in the lunchroom, I think. Or maybe just in the halls. It’s hard to remember.
Hidden, Donna Jo Napoli
Lost at sea when her sister is taken captive on a marauding slave ship, Brigid is far removed from the only life she knew as a princess and the pampered daughter of an Irish king. Now Brigid has few choices. Alone and abandoned, she disguises herself as a boy and vows to find her innocent sister taken into slavery. Through her search many years pass and she grows from being a child to a woman, tough Brigid does not give up. She lives from the land, meets friend and foe along the way, and gains a reputation as a woman thought to be fierce enough to conquer men. It is not fierceness that guides her but the love of isster and the longing for her family to be united. One day she finds her way, knowing that her only real power comes from within herself.(Goodreads)
First lines: The shock of the cold makes me go instantly rigid. I lift my arms and break the water’s surface and claw at my cheeks till I manage to pull the gag down, and I’m gasping. White glitters the water, the air. Splashes come from somewhere. My arms flail. Shivers seize me. I clamp my jaw shut to hold down the chattering.
Waiting for Gonzo, Dave Cousins
Meet Oz . . . he’s got a talent for trouble but his heart’s always in the right place (well, nearly always).
Uprooted from his friends and former life, Oz finds himself stranded in the sleepy village of Slowleigh. When a joke backfires on the first day at his new school, Oz attracts the attention of Isobel Skinner, the school psycho – but that’s just the beginning.
After causing an accident that puts his mum in hospital, Oz isn’t exactly popular at home either. His older sister’s no help, but then she’s got a problem of her own . . . one that’s growing bigger by the day. Oz knows he’s got to put things right, but life isn’t that simple, especially when the only people still talking to you are a hobbit-obsessed kid and a voice in your own head!(Goodreads)
First lines: Listen, G- this is important and there isn’t much time. I want you to know what really happened, because things weren’t supposed to end like this. I blame Marcel Duchamp, but he’s dead, so there’s not much anybody can do to him now.
Monkey wars, Richard Kurti
When the Langur monkey troop rises to power on the dusty streets of Calcutta, it is at a price. A brutal massacre drives the Rhesus troop out of the place they called home and forces them to embark on a dangerous journey. But one Langur monkey, Mico, is prepared to stand up to the tyrannical Langur regime and fight for truth, friendship and love. As Mico uncovers the secrets and lies at the heart of the corrupt Langur leadership, he quickly realizes he is playing a dangerous game. And when monkeys turn on each other, there can be no survivors…(Goodreads)
First lines: They struck at noon. Monkeys shrieked in confusion as langur fighters sprang down from the cemetery walls, howling in an attacking frenzy. As they stormed through the tombs, fear and panic flashed everywhere. And with the screams came the smell of blood.
Like water on stone, Dana Walrath
It is 1914, and the Ottoman Empire is crumbling into violence. Beyond Anatolia, in the Armenian Highlands, Shahen Donabedian dreams of going to New York. Sosi, his twin sister, never wants to leave her home, especially now that she is in love. At first, only Papa, who counts Turks and Kurds among his closest friends, stands in Shahen’s way. But when the Ottoman pashas set their plans to eliminate all Armenians in motion, neither twin has a choice. After a horrifying attack leaves them orphaned, Shahen and Sosi flee into the mountains, carrying their little sister, Mariam. Shahen keeps their parents’ fate a secret from his sisters. But the children are not alone. An eagle named Ardziv watches over them as they run at night and hide each day, making their way across mountain ridges and rivers red with blood. (Goodreads)
First lines: Three young ones,
one black pot,
a single quill,
and a tuft of red wool
are enough to start
a new life
in a new land.
I knew this is true
because I saw it.
Vango: between sky and earth, Timothee de Fombelle (translated by Sarah Ardizzone)
In a world between wars, a young man on the cusp of taking priestly vows is suddenly made a fugitive. Fleeing the accusations of police who blame him for a murder, as well as more sinister forces with darker intentions, Vango attempts to trace the secrets of his shrouded past and prove his innocence before all is lost. (Publisher’s information).
First lines: Forty men in white were lying facedown on the cobbled square. It looked like a giant snowfield. Swallows whistled as they brushed past the bodies. Thousands of people were watching the spectacle. The cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris spread her shadow over the assembled crowd.
There will be lies, Nick Lake
In four hours, Shelby Jane Cooper will be struck by a car. Shortly after, she and her mother will leave the hospital and set out on a winding journey toward the Grand Canyon.All Shelby knows is that they’re running from dangers only her mother understands. And the further they travel, the more Shelby questions everything about her past—and her current reality. Forced to take advantage of the kindness of unsuspecting travelers, Shelby grapples with what’s real, what isn’t, and who she can trust . . . if anybody. (Goodreads)
First lines: I’m going to be hit by a car in about four hours, but I don’t know that yet. The weird thing is, it’s not the car that’s going to kill me, that’s going to erase me from the world. It’s something totally different. Something that happens eight days from now and threatens to end everything.
Killing time in Crystal City, Chris Lynch
Crystal City called for him, and Kevin answered. And why wouldn’t he? His relationship with his father is broken—as is his arm. With barely anyone to miss him or care if he’s gone, it seemed like the perfect time for Kevin to run away to his estranged uncle and create an entirely new identity. New name. New attitude. New friends. Maybe even a new girl. From the first moment of adventure, Kevin’s life takes a turn for the exciting. Making friends seems easy with his new persona, especially when a group of homeless beach bums instantly includes him in their crew. But do they like the real Kevin, or the guy he’s pretending to be? And will this new lifestyle help Kevin escape from the misery of his former life—or will it drag him right back into the reasons he left home? (Goodreads)
First lines: I came for the name. I should probably be embarrassed to admit making a decision on such lameness. But I figure if you are aiming for a place to do a total reboot on your entire self, then you aim for a place with a name like Crystal City.
Falling Kingdoms, Morgan Rhodes
In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love. (Goodreads)
First lines: She’d never killed before tonight.
“Stay back,” her sister hissed.
Jana pressed against the stone wall of the villa. She searched the shadows that surrounded them, briefly looking up at the stars, bright as diamonds against the black sky.
Some fiction sequels we’ve been hanging out for.
The Wicked Will Rise, Danielle Page – the sequel to Dorothy Must Die, a subversive retelling of the Wizard of Oz books by Frank L. Baum. “Amy Gumm must do everything in her power to kill Dorothy and free Oz. To make Oz a free land again, Amy Gumm was given a mission: remove the Tin Woodman’s heart, steal the Scarecrow’s brain, take the Lion’s courage, and then Dorothy must die… But Dorothy still lives. Now the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked has vanished, and mysterious Princess Ozma might be Amy’s only ally. As Amy learns the truth about her mission, she realizes that she’s only just scratched the surface of Oz’s past – and that Kansas, the home she couldn’t wait to leave behind, may also be in danger. In a place where the line between good and evil shifts with just a strong gust of wind, who can Amy trust – and who is really Wicked?” (goodreads.com) We should get this in early April, all things being equal.
Miss Mayhem, Rachel Hawkins – the sequel to Rebel Belle, and with a cover that’s just as blingy. “Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant. Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her… or connect her to David for life.” (goodreads.com) This is also due out in early April.
The Shadow Cabinet, Maureen Johnson – the third in the Shades of London, a spooky series about Rory, who discovers she can see dead people, some of whom are perfectly pleasant and some of whom are definitely not. I am still reeling from Jack the Ripper (book 1, not really a spoiler). The second book ends on a massive cliffhanger (at least I hope it is), so really looking forward to this one. We should be getting it in the next few weeks.
“Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory’s classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte’s in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming. Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her spectral nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they’ll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself – and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret.” (goodreads.com)
When Mr. Dog bites, Brian Conaghan
Dylan Mint has Tourette’s. For Dylan, life is a constant battle to keep the bad stuff in – the swearing, the tics, the howling dog that escapes whenever he gets stressed. And, as a sixteen-year-old virgin and pupil at Drumhill Special School, getting stressed is something of an occupational hazard. But then a routine visit to the hospital changes everything. Overhearing a hushed conversation between the doctor and his mother, Dylan discovers that he’s going to die next March.
So he grants himself three parting wishes: three ‘Cool Things To Do Before I Cack It’.
It isn’t a long list, but it is ambitious, and he doesn’t have much time. But as Dylan sets out to make his wishes come true, he discovers that nothing – and no-one – is quite as he had previously supposed. (Goodreads)
First lines: When I found out, the first thing I did was type “100 things to do before you die” into Google. The Internet is, like, wow! How do those Google people make their thingy whizz about the world in a mega-swoosh style before sending me, Dylan Mint, all this big-eye info? No one could answer that question – I know this for a fact because I’ve googled it myself, six tines, and there is nada on it.
The summer I wasn’t me, Jessica Verdi
Lexi has a secret. She never meant for her mom to find out. And now she’s afraid that what’s left of her family is going to fall apart for good. Lexi knows she can fix everything. She can change. She can learn to like boys. New Horizons summer camp has promised to transform her life, and there’s nothing she wants more than to start over. But sometimes love has its own path… (Goodreads)
First lines: My mother drives right past the New Horizons sign.
“Um, Mom?” I touch her arm gently. She doesn’t respond. She’s zoning out again. But these moments have been happening a lot less often lately. Maybe soon they won’t be happening at all.
The astrologer’s daughter, Rebecca Lim
Avicenna Crowe’s mother, Joanne, is an astrologer with uncanny predictive powers and a history of being stalked. Now she is missing.
The police are called, but they’re not asking the right questions. Like why Joanne lied about her past, and what she saw in her stars that made her so afraid. But Avicenna has inherited her mother’s gift. Finding an unlikely ally in the brooding Simon Thorn, she begins to piece together the mystery. And when she uncovers a link between Joanne’s disappearance and a cold-case murder, Avicenna is led deep into the city’s dark and seedy underbelly, unaware how far she is placing her own life in danger.(Goodreads)
First lines: My mother always called it the eventuality. Not the maybe, or the probably.
“It’s going to happen,” she would tell me calmly. “I even know when. It’s a twist in my stars. It’s written there, and we have to accept it.”
My mother, Joanne Nielsen Crowe. She has a name, she’s not a was.
Amity, Micol Ostow
When Connor’s family moves to Amity, a secluded house on the peaceful banks of New England’s Concord River, his nights are plagued with gore-filled dreams of demons. destruction, and revenge. Dreams he kind of likes. Dreams he could make real, with Amity’s help.
Ten years later, Gwen’s family moves to Amity for a fresh start. Instead, she’s haunted by lurid visions, disturbing voices, and questions about her own sanity. But with her history, who would ever believe her? And what could be done if they did?
Because Amity isn’t just a house. She is a living force, bent on manipulating her inhabitants to her twisted will. She will use Connor and Gwen to bring about a violent end as she’s done before. As she’ll do again. And again. And again.(Goodreads)
First lines: Here is a housel bones of beam and joints of hardware, stone foundation smooth, solid as the core of the earth, nestled, pressed, cold and flat and dank against the hard-packed soil and all of its squirming secrets.
Night of the Zombie Chickens is supposed to be Kate Walden’s breakout film. But her supporting actresses-her mother’s prize organic hens-are high maintenance, to say the least. Thank goodness Kate’s best friend Alyssa is the star. She’s great at screaming and even better at killing zombies in creative ways. But when Alyssa turns into a real-life soulless zombie and ditches Kate for the most popular girl in seventh grade, Kate suddenly finds herself both friendless and starless. Now, thanks to Alyssa’s new crowd, Kate is the butt of every joke at school and consigned to the loser table at lunch. If movies have taught Kate anything, it’s that the good guy can always win-with the right script. And her fellow social outcasts may be the key to her own happy ending. Kate hatches the perfect revenge plot against her former best friend, but even though her screenplay is foolproof, Kate soon realizes that nothing-in filmmaking or in life-ever goes exactly as planned. Especially when there are diabolical hens out to get you.(Goodreads)
First lines: The last normal day of my life is a Saturday, and it starts pretty much like every other morning. When I go downstairs to the kitchen, my dad rattles his newspaper and my mother mumbles something in my direction and yawns.
Forget me, K.A Harrington
On the three-month anniversary of her boyfriend Flynn’s death, Morgan uploads her only photo of him to FriendShare to get some closure—but she’s shocked when the facial recognition software suggests she tag him as “Evan Murphy.” She’s never heard of Evan, but a quick search tells her that he lives in a nearby town and looks exactly like Flynn. Only this boy is very much alive. Digging through layers of secrets and lies, Morgan is left questioning everything she thought she knew about her boyfriend, her town, and even her parents’ involvement in this massive web of lies.(Goodreads)
First lines: He lied to me. That was my first thought when I saw him. I was alone in my car, on the way to the party where Toni and my other friends were waiting. As I drove down Lincoln Road, my eyes went to the tall chain-link fence that bordered the old amusement park.
As red as blood, Salla Simukka
In the midst of the freezing Arctic winter, seventeen-year-old Lumikki Andersson walks into her school’s dark room and finds a stash of wet, crimson-colored money. Thousands of Euros left to dry—splattered with someone’s blood.
Lumikki lives alone in a studio apartment far from her parents and the past she left behind. She transferred into a prestigious art school, and she’s singularly focused on studying and graduating. Lumikki ignores the cliques, the gossip, and the parties held by the school’s most popular and beautiful boys and girls. But finding the blood-stained money changes everything. Suddenly, Lumikki is swept into a whirlpool of events as she finds herself helping to trace the origins of the money. Events turn even more deadly when evidence points to dirty cops and a notorious drug kingpin best known for the brutality with which he runs his business. As Lumikki loses control of her carefully constructed world, she discovers that she’s been blind to the forces swirling around her—and she’s running out of time to set them right. When she sees the stark red of blood on snow, it may be too late to save her friends or herself.(Goodreads)
First lines: All around lay glittering white. Over old snow, a new, clean layer of soft flakes had fallen fifteen minutes earlier. Fifteen minutes earlier everything had still been possible. The world had looked beautiful, the future flickering somewhere in the distance, brighter, freer, more peaceful.
Monument 14, Emmy Laybourne
Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong. In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.(Goodreads)
First lines: Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t hug her and tell her that you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not – you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner.
The ghosts of Heaven, Marcus Sedgewick
A bold, genre-bending epic that chronicles madness, obsession, and creation, from the Paleolithic era through the Witch Hunts and into the space-bound future. Four linked stories boldly chronicle madness, obsession, and creation through the ages. Beginning with the cave-drawings of a young girl on the brink of creating the earliest form of writing, Sedgwick traverses history, plunging into the seventeenth century witch hunts and a 1920s insane asylum where a mad poet’s obsession with spirals seems to be about to unhinge the world of the doctor trying to save him. Sedgwick moves beyond the boundaries of historical fiction and into the future in the book’s final section, set upon a spaceship voyaging to settle another world for the first time. (Goodreads)
First lines: She is the one who goes on,
when the others remain behind.
The one who walks into the darkness,
when others cling to the light.
The young elites, Marie Lu
Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites. Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all. Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.
Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.(Goodreads)
First lines: I’m going to die tomorrow morning.
That’s what the Inquisitors tell me, anyway, when they visit my cell. I’ve been in here for weeks- I know this only because I’ve been counting the number of times my meals come.
Feral, Holly Schindler
It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.
But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened. But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley…(Goodreads)
First lines: In the rugged, underbrush-riddled rural town of Peculiar, Missouri, at the beginning of a January sleet storm, and beneath the dimming orange hues of dusk, a body lay half out of the window that led to the high school basement.
I hunt killers, Barry Lyga
Jasper “Jazz” Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say. But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal’s point of view. And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod. In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?(Goodreads)
First lines: By the time Jazz got to the field outside town, yellow police tape was everywhere, strung from stake to stake in a sort of drunken, off-kilter hexagon. The field was thick with cops – state troopers in their khakis, a cluster of deputies in their blues, even a crime-scene tech in jeans and a Windbreaker.
The fall, Bethany Griffin
Madeline Usher is doomed. She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.
Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.(Goodreads)
First lines: The first thing I notice is that my blanket is gone. The last of my nightly rituals is to pull it all the way to my chin, and it never falls away, no matter what nightmares I wrestle before I wake.
Some assembly required, Arin Andrews
Seventeen-year-old Arin Andrews shares all the hilarious, painful, and poignant details of undergoing gender reassignment as a high school student in this winning memoir. We’ve all felt uncomfortable in our own skin at some point, and we’ve all been told that it’s just a part of growing up. But for Arin Andrews, it wasn’t a phase that would pass. He had been born in the body of a girl and there seemed to be no relief in sight. In this revolutionary memoir, Arin details the journey that led him to make the life-transforming decision to undergo gender reassignment as a high school junior. In his captivatingly witty, honest voice, Arin reveals the challenges he faced as a girl, the humiliation and anger he felt after getting kicked out of his private school, and all the changes, both mental and physical, he experienced once his transition began. Arin also writes about the thrill of meeting and dating a young transgender woman named Katie Hill and the heartache that followed after they broke up. Some Assembly Required is a true coming-of-age story about knocking down obstacles and embracing family, friendship, and first love. But more than that, it is a reminder that self-acceptance does not come ready-made with a manual and spare parts. Rather, some assembly is always required.(Goodreads)
First lines: Getting dumped at prom sucks. I mean, getting dumped period sucks, obviously. But to have it happen in formal wear in front of hundreds of people adds a humiliating slap across the face that an I-just-want-to-be-friends text can’t compete with.
120 ways to annoy your mother (and influence people), Ana Benaroya
Ana Benaroya, a brilliant, young, independent American illustrator, has brought together 120 tips that provide an ironic, witty and gently subversive twist on all the guides to life for would-be prom queens and cheerleaders. This book provides the things that really matter for a teenage rebel, including How Not to Make Eye Contact with Your Mother and How to Turn Your Life into a Soap Opera, alongside humorous pointers for cultural and social advancement, such as How to Appreciate Jazz Music, and dreamy, surreal ideas, such as How to Fly and How to Breathe Fireballs. (Goodreads)
This Shattered World, Amie Kaufman (December). This is a companion novel to These Broken Stars (in which Lilac and Tarver are stranded alone on a planet after a catastrophic spaceship crash (Lilac, unfortunately, in a very impractical green dress)). In This Shattered World, we are introduced to new characters, Flynn and Lee, who are on opposing sides in a war on Avon, a terraformed planet: “Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.” (goodreads.com) Post-exam reading.
The Iron Trial, Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. This is the first book in a new series (Magisterium) from extremely popular YA writing friends. The Magisterium is an academy for students with a gift for magic. “In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will — is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It’s a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.” (goodreads.com) Will it be as Harry Potter-ish as it seems, we want to know.
Atlantia, Ally Condie (November). From the author of the popular Matched trilogy. “For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above – of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self – and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden – she has nothing left to lose. Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths” (goodreads.com).
Ghost House, Alexandra Adornetto. “After the loss of her mother, Chloe Kennedy starts seeing the ghosts that haunted her as a young girl again. Spending time at her grandmother’s country estate in the south of England is her chance to get away from her grief and the spirits that haunt her. Until she meets a mysterious stranger… Alexander Reade is 157 years dead, with secrets darker than the lake surrounding Grange Hall and a lifelike presence that draws Chloe more strongly than any ghost before. But the bond between them awakens the vengeful spirit of Alexander’s past love, Isobel. And she will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who threatens to take him from her. To stop Isobel, Chloe must push her developing abilities to their most dangerous limits, even if it means losing Alex forever… and giving the hungry dead a chance to claim her for their own” (goodreads.com)