In real life, Lawrence Tabak
Fifteen-year-old math prodigy Seth Gordon knows exactly what he wants to do with his life—play video games. Every spare minute is devoted to honing his skills at Starfare, the world’s most popular computer game. His goal: South Korea, where the top pros are rich and famous. But the best players train all day, while Seth has school and a job and divorced parents who agree on only one thing: “Get off that damn computer.” Plus there’s a new distraction named Hannah, an aspiring photographer who actually seems to understand his obsession.
While Seth mopes about his tournament results and mixed signals from Hannah, Team Anaconda, one of the leading Korean pro squads, sees something special. Before he knows it, it’s goodbye Kansas, goodbye Hannah, and hello to the strange new world of Korea. But the reality is more complicated than the fantasy, as he faces cultural shock, disgruntled teammates, and giant pots of sour-smelling kimchi. What happens next surprises Seth. Slowly, he comes to make new friends, and discovers what might be a breakthrough, mathematical solution to the challenges of Starcraft. Delving deeper into the formulas takes him in an unexpected direction, one that might just give him a new focus—and reunite him with Hannah. (Goodreads)
First lines: School called. Again. Unexcused absence, blah, blah blah. My interception rate on these calls is eighty-four percent (This is Seth’s father, how can I help you?) But they called Dad while I was at Mom’s.
Skink no surrender, Carl Hiaasen
Classic Malley—to avoid being shipped off to boarding school, she takes off with some guy she met online. Poor Richard—he knows his cousin’s in trouble before she does. Wild Skink—he’s a ragged, one-eyed ex-governor of Florida, and enough of a renegade to think he can track Malley down. With Richard riding shotgun, the unlikely pair scour the state, undaunted by blinding storms, crazed pigs, flying bullets, and giant gators.
First lines: I walked down to the beach and waited for Malley, but she didn’t show up. The ocean breeze felt warm. Two hours I say there on the sand – no Malley. In the beginning it was just annoying, but after a while I began to worry that something was wrong. My cousin, in spite of out all of her issues, is a punctual person.
Jackaby, William Ritter
Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny. (Goodreads)
First lines: It was late January, and New England wore a fresh coat of snow as I stepped along the gangplank to the shore. The city of New Fiddleham glistened in the fading dusk, lamplight playing across the icy buildings that lined the waterfront, turning their brickwork to twinkling diamonds in the dark.
Rites of passage, Joy N. Hensley
Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she’s not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.
So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She’s even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won’t risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty…no matter how much she wants him. As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out. At any cost. (Goodreads)
First lines: I’m physically incapable of saying no to a dare – I’ve got the scars and broken bone count to prove it. And that fatal flaw, Bad Habit #1, is the reason I’m sitting in the car with my parents right now, listening to some small-town radio DJ talk smack about me.
The Mark of Cain, Lindsey Barraclough
Aphra is not a normal child. Found abandoned as a baby among the reeds and rushes, the two outcast witches who raise her in their isolated cottage are never sure if she was born, or just pushed up through the foul, black mud for them to find. Little Aphra’s gifts in the dark craft are clear, even as an infant, but soon even her guardians begin to fear her. When a violent fire destroys their home, Aphra is left to fend for herself. Years of begging and stealing make her strong, but they also make her bitter, for she is shunned and feared by everyone she meets. Until she reaches Bryers Guerdon and meets the man they call Long Lankin – the leper. Ostracized and tormented, he is the only person willing to help her. And together, they plot their revenge.
Four years have passed since the death of Ida Guerdon, and Cora is back in Bryers Guerdon in the manor house her aunt left to her. It is a cold, bitter winter, and the horrifying events of that sweltering summer in 1958 seem long past.
Until Cora’s father arranges for some restoration work to take place at Guerdon Hall, and it seems that something hidden there long ago has been disturbed. The spirit of Aphra Rushes – intent on finishing what she began, four centuries ago.(Goodreads)
First lines: We hurry through the wood along the narrow dirt path that runs by the edge of the brook. Zillah’s swollen-knuckled old fingers grip my small hand as I stumble alongside her.
“Keep up, child. We have to make haste,” she urges. “It is not so good for us to be so close to the watermen. We must take care not to be seen.”
Schizo, Nic Sheff
Miles is the ultimate unreliable narrator—a teen recovering from a schizophrenic breakdown who believes he is getting better . . . when in reality he is growing worse. Driven to the point of obsession to find his missing younger brother, Teddy, and wrapped up in a romance that may or may not be the real thing, Miles is forever chasing shadows. As Miles feels his world closing around him, he struggles to keep it open, but what you think you know about his world is actually a blur of gray, and the sharp focus of reality proves startling. (Goodreads)
First lines: It’s starting again. There’s a sound like an airplane descending loudly in my ear. I can’t quite place it. The sweat is cold down my back. I feel my heart beat faster. My hands shake. God, I can’t take it.
She-Hulk #1: law and disorder, Charles Soule (writer), Javier Pulido and Ron Wimberly (artists)
Jennifer Walters is the She-Hulk! A stalwart member of the Avengers and FF, she’s also a killer attorney with a pile of degrees and professional respect. But juggling cases and kicking bad guy butt is a little more complicated than she anticipated. With a new practice, a new paralegal and a mounting number of super villains she’s racking up as personal enemies, She Hulk might have bitten off more than she can chew! When Kristoff Vernard, the son of Victor Von Doom, seeks extradition, it’s an international jailbreak, She-Hulk-style! Then, She-Hulk and Hellcat must uncover the secrets of the Blue File — a conspiracy that touches the entire Marvel Universe! And when someone important to She-Hulk is killed, and won’t let it stand — but who can she trust? She-Hulk takes on her most terrifying role yet: defendant! (Goodreads)
The Wrenchies, Farel Dalrymple
Meet the Wrenchies.
They’re strong, powerful, and if you cross them, things will quickly go very badly for you. Only one thing scares them—growing up. Because in the world of the Wrenchies, it’s only kids who are safe… anyone who survives to be an adult lives in constant fear of the Shadowsmen. All the teenagers who come into contact with them turn into twisted, nightmarish monsters whose minds are lost forever. When Hollis, an unhappy and alienated boy, stumbles across a totem that gives him access to the parallel world of the Wrenchies, he finally finds a place where he belongs. But he soon discovers that the feverish, post-apocalyptic world of the Wrenchies isn’t staying put… it’s bleeding into Hollis’s normal, real life. Things are getting very scary, very fast.
A song for Ella Grey, David Almond
Claire is Ella Grey’s best friend. She’s there when the whirlwind arrives on the scene: catapulted into a North East landscape of gutted shipyards; of high arched bridges and ancient collapsed mines. She witnesses a love so dramatic it is as if her best friend has been captured and taken from her. But the loss of her friend to the arms of Orpheus is nothing compared to the loss she feels when Ella is taken from the world. This is her story – as she bears witness to a love so complete; so sure, that not even death can prove final. (Goodreads)
First lines: I’m the one who’s left behind. I’m the one to tell the tale. I knew them both, knew how they lived and how they died. It didn’t happen long ago. I’m young, like them. Like them? Can that be possible? Can you be both young and dead?
When Nona’s guardian kills himself, she is immediately suspected of murdering him. In a world where nature and darkness are feared, where wild animals are killed or held captive and cities are illuminated by permanent light, who will believe her innocence? Nona must flee with her only friend – a bear who is strangely human. In their desperate attempt to escape capture, Nona and her bear encounter two strange boys, Caius and Jay. Together, the four of them will hide, and fight, and make the deadliest of enemies in their desperate race to a forbidden place called The Edge – where nature is unrestrained, where there is light and shade, forest and mountain, and where there are no shackles or boundaries. (Goodreads)
First lines: The snow falls heavily that night and in the morning lies in deep drifts, which smooth over the shapes of the edges of the jagged rocks and grassy knolls. It hides the bog holes that lie at the edge of the marshes and covers the recks of the burnt-out cars.
Mortal Heart (The fair assassin book III), Robin LaFevers
Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own. She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn’t mean she has…(Goodreads)
First lines: For most, the bleak dark months when the black storms come howling out of the north is a time of grimness and sorrow as people await the arrival of winter, which brings death, hunger and bitter cold in its wake. But we at the convent of Saint Mortain welcome winter with open arms, for it is Mortain’s own season, when he is full upon us.
Talon, Julie Kagawa
Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they’re positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.
Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George. Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon’s newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember’s bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons. (Goodreads)
First lines: “Ember, when did your parents die, and what was the cause of death?”
I stifled a groan and tore my gaze from the car window, where the bright, sunny town of Crescent Beach shimmered beyond the tinted glass. The air in the black sedan was cold and stale, and, annoyingly, the driver had engaged the child safety locks so I couldn’t roll down the window.
The hangman’s revolution (W.A.R.P book II) Eoin Colfer
Young FBI agent Chevie Savano arrives back in modern-day London after a time-trip to the Victorian age, to find the present very different from the one she left. Europe is being run by a Facsist movement known as the Boxites, who control their territory through intimidation and terror. Chevie’s memories come back to her in fragments, and just as she is learning about the WARP program from Professor Charles Smart, inventor of the time machine, he is killed by secret service police. Now they are after Chevie, too, but she escapes–into the past. She finds Riley, who is being pursued by futuristic soldiers, and saves him. Working together again, it is up to Chevie and Riley to find the enigmatic Colonel Clayton Box, who is intent on escalating his power, and stop him before he can launch missiles at the capitals of Europe. (Goodreads)
First lines: Towards the end of the twentieth century, Scottish professor Charles Smart succeeded in stabilizing a time tunnel to Victorian London (constructed from exotic matter with negative energy density, duh). Within months the FBI had established the Witness Anonymous Relocation Program to stash federal witnesses in the past.
Revolution, Deborah Wiles
It’s 1964, and Sunny’s town is being invaded. Or at least that’s what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi, are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote. They’re calling it Freedom Summer. Meanwhile, Sunny can’t help but feel like her house is being invaded, too. She has a new stepmother, a new brother, and a new sister crowding her life, giving her little room to breathe. And things get even trickier when Sunny and her brother are caught sneaking into the local swimming pool — where they bump into a mystery boy whose life is going to become tangled up in theirs. (Goodreads)
First lines: The first thing we do, me and Gillette, is make sure everybody is asleep. Daddy and Annabelle (I still can’t call her Mama) go to bed after watching the Lawrence Welk show on television. Parnell will be home at midnight, after he sweeps the floors and locks the doors on the corner of Fulton and West Washington Streets. Little Audrey-champion sleeper- has been snoring for hours, so we don’t worry about her.
Paranoia (Book II of the Night Walkers), J.R Johansson
In the aftermath of the events that nearly killed him, Parker Chipp is trying to learn to cope better with life as a Watcher. And it seems to be working…until he wakes up in jail with a hangover and 12 hours of missing time. Darkness has somehow taken control and Parker doesn’t have a clue how to stop him. He finds an unlikely ally in Jack, the mysterious guy in the motorcycle jacket who offers to help Parker master his abilities as a Watcher. But even as they practice, the darkness inside Parker is getting more and more powerful, taking over Parker’s body and doing everything he can to destroy Parker’s life. When Jack reveals that there is another kind of Night Walker, known as a Taker, Parker starts to wonder if the strange things happening in Oakville are more than just a coincidence. After all, people are more than just sleepwalking. They’re emptying their savings accounts with no memory of doing so, wandering into strange parts of town and disappearing, they’re even killing other people–all in their sleep. If Parker wants to find out what’s happening or have any hope of seeing his father again, he’ll have to defy Jack and put his own life in danger…because the more he learns about these other Night Walkers, the more certain he becomes that his life isn’t the only one that could be lost. (Goodreads)
First lines:Weird stuff was going down in Oakville, and this time I was definitely – well, fairly – sure that I had nothing to do with it. The Sunday morning news headline on the muted television above the kitchen counter read: Another mysterious withdrawal.
Fiendish, Brenna Yovanoff
When Clementine was a child, dangerous and inexplicable things started happening in New South Bend. The townsfolk blamed the fiendish people out in the Willows and burned their homes to the ground. But magic kept Clementine alive, walled up in the cellar for ten years, until a boy named Fisher sets her free. Back in the world, Clementine sets out to discover what happened all those years ago. But the truth gets muddled in her dangerous attraction to Fisher, the politics of New South Bend, and the Hollow, a fickle and terrifying place that seems increasingly temperamental ever since Clementine reemerged. (Goodreads)
First lines: When I was little, everything twinkled. Trees and clouds all seemed to shine around the edges. At night, the stars were long tails of light, smeared across the sky like paint. The whole county glowed.
Blind, Rachel De Woskin
Imagine this: You are fourteen, watching the fireworks at a 4th of July party, when a rocket backfires into the crowd and strikes your eyes, leaving you blind. In that instant, your life is changed forever. How do you face a future in which all your expectations must be different? You will never see the face of your newborn sister, never learn to drive. Will you ever have a job or fall in love? This is Emma’s story. The drama is in her manysmall victories as she returns to high school in her home town and struggles to define herself and make sense of her life, determined not to be dismissed as a PBK – Poor Blind Kid. This heartfelt and heart wrenching story takes you on Emma’s journey and leaves you with a new understanding of the challenges to be faced when life deals a devastating blow. (Goodreads)
First lines: Going blind is a bit like growing up. Maybe because the older you get, the more you have to close your eyes partway. From the time I was tiny, if I thought the words, When I die, I’ll be dead forever, I could actually understand, in my bone marrow, what forever meant.
The truth against the world, Sarah Jamila Stevenson
When Olwen Nia Evans learns that her family is moving from San Francisco to Wales to fulfill her great-grandmother’s dying wish, she starts having strange and vivid dreams about her family’s past. But nothing she sees in her dreams of the old country–the people, the places–makes any sense. Could it all be the result of an overactive imagination . . . or could everything she’s been told about her ancestors be a lie?Once in Wales, she meets Gareth Lewis, a boy plagued by dreams of his own–visions he can’t shake after meeting a ghost among the misty cairns along the Welsh seaside. A ghost named Olwen Nia Evans.
First lines: “Right over there, behind the old church.” Gareth’s mother pointed. “You used to love rolling down that hill. Over and over until you got dizzy.” She laughed, the wind blowing her pale hair out of its ponytail and whipping it around. Gareth glanced up from his phone. The hill looked a lot smaller than it had seemed in his memory.
The fire wish, Amber Lough
Najwa is a jinni, training to be a spy in the war against the humans. Zayele is a human on her way to marry a prince of Baghdad—which she’ll do anything to avoid. So she captures Najwa and makes a wish. With a rush of smoke and fire, they fall apart and re-form—as each other. A jinni and a human, trading lives. Both girls must play their parts among enemies who would kill them if the deception were ever discovered—enemies including the young men Najwa and Zayele are just discovering they might love. (Goodreads)
First lines: The earth and all her layers sped past while I traveled to the surface. I was smoke and flame, swirling through granite, through shale and sand. It took only a moment, then I emerged, myself again.
Mayday, Jonathan Friesen
Seventeen-year-old Crow will stop at nothing to protect her younger sister—even if it costs her her own life. But then she’s given a chance to come back and make things right. There are a few catches, though. First, she won’t come back as herself. And before she can set things straight, she’ll have to figure out what’s what—and things aren’t exactly as clear-cut as she remembered.
First lines: Let’s start with where I’m not. I’m not in dark tunnel walking toward a bright light. I’m not drifting toward heaven, looking down on my body. I’m seated in the front of an amubulance -alone- waiting. I’me not sure if this is a normal rest stop before the long trip; I’ve never died before.
Starbreak, Phoebe North
The Asherah has finally reached Zehava, the long-promised planet. There, Terra finds harsh conditions and a familiar foe—Aleksandra Wolff, leader of her ship’s rebel forces. Terra and Aleksandra first lock horns with each other . . . but soon realize they face a much more dangerous enemy in violent alien beasts—and alien hunters.
Then Terra finally discovers Vadix. The boy who has haunted her dreams may be their key to survival—but his own dark past has yet to be revealed. And when Aleksandra gets humanity expelled from the planet, it’s up to Terra, with Vadix by her side, to unite her people—and to forge an alliance with the alien hosts, who want nothing more than to see humanity gone forever.
First lines: I’ve never kept a journal before. Never thought about it. It’s not how my brain works, not really. I see colours, the way shadows mingle with light. But words? I could take them or leave them, or so I always thought. One of my ancestors kept a journal. All about how she arrived on the Asherah, how she came to live inside the dome. How she hated it there. She thought she was trapped in the deepness of space. She could never forget it- how her freedoms had been taken from her, one by one, by the High Council.
I’m just me, M.G Higgins
Nasreen and Mia are two very different girls. But they stand out at Arondale High. And kids make assumptions about the only Muslim and the new black girl–the only African American–in school. “Who let you into the suburbs?” Samantha asks. Everyone gawks. Nasreen has kept her head down for years. Eighteen months and she’s out, she tells herself. Off to college. Mia is bold. Yeah, she wishes she were somewhere else, but she’s not going to take the bullying lying down. She has to live her life. Graduate. Get into a good school. The school administrators are ignorant. And worse. The bullying escalates. Both at school and online. The girls come up with a plan to fight back. To regain some dignity. To turn the tables on the bullies. (Goodreads)
First lines: I knock on my brother’s door. His rap music is so loud, I’m sure he can’t hear me. I pound louder. “Jaffar! Open up!”
The volume goes down. He opens his door a crack and glares at me.
I clear my throat. He never lets me forget he’s older than me.
Evil librarian, Michelle Knudsen
When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He’s really young and super cute and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the creepy look in the librarian’s eyes, or the weird feeling Cyn gets whenever she’s around him. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact . . . a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian, who also seems to be slowly sucking the life force out of the entire student body!
First lines: Italian class. The shining highlight of my Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Not because I am any good at Italian (I’m not), or because I like the teacher (I don’t.) It’s because Ryan Halsey sits one row over and two rows up from where I sit, which is absolutely perfect for forty-five minutes of semi-shameless staring.
Eden, Joanna Nadin
After her cousin Bea is killed in a house fire, Evie returns to her childhood home of Eden, full of guilt for what might have been. She is not the only one seeking redemption. Bea’s boyfriend, Penn, arrives in Cornwall, desperate to atone for a terrible mistake. And as Penn and Evie’s feelings for each other intensify, Evie slowly unravels the dark truth behind Bea’s tragic death.
First lines: I still dream of Eden. Not the burnt, broken shell it is now, now even the sweating, stifling coffin it became that last summer, when it was shrouded in dust sheets, awaiting burial like a corpse. No, the Eden in my mind if the one from my childhood, when my entire world was contained within it’s cool, granite walls and high hedges, and my imagination played out on its velvet lawns and in the creeping dampness of the woods.
Brown girl dreaming, Jaqueline Woodson
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become. (Goodreads)
First lines: I am born on a Tuesday at University Hospital
a country caught
between Black and White
Strike, D.J MacHale
#1 New York Times bestselling author D.J. MacHale is back with the third book in the SYLO Chronicles. Once again, Tucker Pierce and friends must fight for their lives against the better-equipped SYLO. All bets are off in Strike—with twists so big readers will never see them coming—while the action and pulse-pounding suspense remain as high as ever. Fans will be sure to devour this incredibly satisfying conclusion. (Goodreads)
First lines: “Strap in, this is going to get bumpy.”
Not words you wanted to hear from a pilot who has your life in his hands. Six of us were trapped in a military helicopter that was under attack, spinning out of control and headed for the ground. Fast.
The rules for breaking, Ashley Elston
Anna Boyd almost lost her life to get what she wanted most in the world: freedom. But just when it seems that her family has finally escaped Witness Protection, the illusion that Anna could resume a normal life comes crashing down. The deadly man Anna knows as Thomas is still on the loose, and now he’s using her as a pawn in a dangerous game with the drug cartel determined to silence her forever. When Thomas and a mysterious masked man capture not only Anna but also her fragile younger sister and her boyfriend, Anna decides it’s time to break all the rules-even if it means teaming up with the lesser of two evils. Anna will do whatever it takes to protect the people she loves and win her life back once and for all. But her true enemies are hidden in plain sight. Before long, Anna will learn that putting her trust in anyone may be the last mistake she ever makes. (Goodreads)
First lines: “Can you teach me how to shoot a gun?”
I’ve been putting off asking Ethan this question for a week. It’s now or never. We’re in his truck, headed to the farm, and there is a practice range there that Ethan and his dad use to sight in their guns before hunting season. If he agrees, I won’t have time to back out before the turnoff.
Promises to keep, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
It all begins with a wrong turn and a crashed party, and from there it’s an epic clash of elements and the promise of more chaos still to come. At the center of the storm is Jay, a young vampire hunter that no one would ever have predicted might be earth’s best bet to thwart the rise of a vampire-controlled slave empire called Midnight. Teens will find themselves drawn to Jay, who struggles to prove his worth even while he has his own fears that those who have written him off may be right to do so. (Goodreads)
First lines: When she first woke, Brina thought the stench and noise that greeted her were an extension of her nightmares. The stink of smoke and scalded flesh accompanied wails of pain and fear that echoed through Midnight’s stone halls.
Sacrifice, Brigid Kemmerer
Michael Merrick understands pressure. He’s the only parent his three brothers have had for years. His power to control Earth could kill someone if he miscalculates. Now an Elemental Guide has it in for his family, and he’s all that stands in the way. His girlfriend, Hannah, understands pressure too. She’s got a child of her own, and a job as a firefighter that could put her life in danger at any moment. But there are people who have had enough of Michael’s defiance, his family’s ‘bad luck’. Before he knows it, Michael’s enemies have turned into the Merricks’ enemies, and they’re armed for war. They’re not interested in surrender. But Michael isn’t the white flag type anyway. Everything is set for the final showdown. (Goodreads)
First lines: Michael Merrick stepped off the porch, put his bare feet in the grass, and waited for a bullet. He’d done this every night for a week. The air held still, waiting with him, cloaking the yard in darkness. Breath eased from his lips, fogging in the early November chill.
The perfectionists, Sara Shepherd
In Beacon Heights, Washington, five girls—Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie, and Parker—know that you don’t have to be good to be perfect. At first the girls think they have nothing in common, until they realize that they all hate Nolan Hotchkiss, who’s done terrible things to each of them. They come up with the perfect way to kill him—a hypothetical murder, of course. It’s just a joke…until Nolan turns up dead, in exactly the way they planned. Only, they didn’t do it. And unless they find the real killer, their perfect lives will come crashing down around them. (Goodreads)
First lines: In many ways, Beacon Heights, Washington, looks like any other affluent suburb: Porch swings creak gently in the evening breeze, the lawns are green and well kept, and all the neighbours know one another. But this satellite of Seattle is anything but average. In Beacon, it’s not enough to be good; you have to be the best.
Black Ice, Becca Fitzpatrick
Britt Pfeiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn’t prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage. In exchange for her life, Britt agrees to guide the men off the mountain. As they set off, Britt knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there… and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target. (Goodreads)
First lines: The rusted Chevy pickup truck clanked to a stop, and when Lauren Huntsman’s head thumped the passenger window, it jolted her awake. She managed a few groggy blinks, Her head felt strewn with broken memories, shattered fragments that, if she could just piece them together, would form something whole.
Bad luck girl, Sarah Zettel
After rescuing her parents from the Seelie king at Hearst Castle, Callie is caught up in the war between the fairies of the Midnight Throne and the Sunlit Kingdoms. By accident, she discovers that fairies aren’t the only magical creatures in the world. There’s also Halfers, misfits that are half fairy and half other–laced with strange magic and big-city attitude. As the war heats up, Callie’s world falls apart. And even though she’s the child of prophecy, she doubts she can save the Halfers, her people, her family, and Jack, let alone herself. The fairies all say Callie is the Bad Luck Girl, and she’s starting to believe them.(Goodreads)
First lines: Once upon a time, a girl from the Dust Bowl travelled across the country to rescue her parents (with some help from her best friend, Jack) from the evil fairy king who’d locked them in his enchanted castle. Now, normally that’d be the whole story, and there’d be the happy ending and all afterward. But that wasn’t the way things turned out.
Drowned, Nichola Reilly
Coe is one of the few remaining teenagers on the island of Tides. Deformed and weak, she is constantly reminded that in a world where dry land dwindles at every high tide, she is not welcome. The only bright spot in her harsh and difficult life is the strong, capable Tiam—but love has long ago been forgotten by her society. The only priority is survival.
Until the day their King falls ill, leaving no male heir to take his place. Unrest grows, and for reasons Coe cannot comprehend, she is invited into the privileged circle of royal aides. She soon learns that the dying royal is keeping a secret that will change their world forever.(Goodreads)
First lines: I write things on the sand so I won’t forget them. Things I like.
Things I want.
A warm dry place.
A long night of sound sleep.
Six feet over it, Jennifer Longo
Leigh sells graves for her family-owned cemetery because her father is too lazy to look farther than the dinner table when searching for employees. Working the literal graveyard shift, she meets two kinds of customers:
Pre-Need: They know what’s up. They bought their graves a long time ago, before they needed them.
At Need: They are in shock, mourning a loved one’s unexpected death. Leigh avoids sponging their agony by focusing on things like guessing the headstone choice (mostly granite).
Sarcastic and smart, Leigh should be able to stand up to her family and quit. But her world’s been turned upside down by the sudden loss of her best friend and the appearance of Dario, the slightly-too-old-for-her grave digger. Surrounded by death, can Leigh move on, if moving on means it’s time to get a life?(Goodreads)
First lines: For the body you go to the mortuary. A lot of people don’t know this. Kids at school don’t know this. They think bodies come to us. They also thing we’re out here at dusk with a pickaxe and a kerosene lantern, digging up graves with a shovel, rotting, moonlit hands reaching from the upturned earth to pull us down with them.
Fleabrain loves Franny, Joanne Rocklin
Franny Katzenback, while recovering from polio, reads and falls in love with the brand-new book Charlotte’s Web. Bored and lonely and yearning for a Charlotte of her own, Franny starts up a correspondence with an eloquent flea named Fleabrain who lives on her dog’s tail. While Franny struggles with physical therapy and feeling left out of her formerly active neighborhood life, Fleabrain is there to take her on adventures based on his extensive reading. (Goodreads)
First lines: One thing Franny knew. Angels did not exist in real life. But there they were, floating all around her. Some leaned close, almost touching Franny’s nose. Others waved at her from some impossible distance, whizzing about a cathedral ceiling.
Snow like Ashes, Sarah Raasch
Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.
Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again. So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own. (Goodreads)
First lines: “Block!”
“I can’t tell you where – you’re supposed to follow my movements!”
“Well, then, slow down.”
The cure for dreaming, Cat Winters
Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. (Goodreads)
First lines: The Metropolitan Theatre simmered with the heat of more than a thousand bodies packed together in red velvet chairs. My nose itched from the lingering scent of cigarette smoke wafting of the gentlemen’s coats- a burning odour that added to the sensation that we were all seated inside a beautiful oven, waiting to be broiled.
Red shadow, Paul Douswell
Russia, 1940. Fifteen-year-old Misha’s life is about to transform when his father is offered a job in Stalin’s inner circle. They move into a luxurious apartment in the Kremlin, but doubts about the glorious new Russia quickly surface. Misha realises that the secret police can do whatever they like. His own mother is arrested and sent to prison, but Misha and his father daren’t complain. Then as German troops advance on Moscow, the atmosphere in the Kremlin ignites. Misha and a friend find themselves at the heart of a battle against the mighty state in this powerful evocation of one of the most turbulent places and periods of the 20th century, told by a master storyteller. (Goodreads)
First lines: Misha looked at the grey clouds and shivered. That afternoon it was cold enough for a thin layer of ice to appear on the puddles on Moscow’s pavements. He was pleased, he supposed, at this first sign of very cold weather because it meant an end to the Rasputista – the season of soggy rain and mud that preceded the winter and summer.
The protected, Claire Zorn
Hannah’s world is in pieces and she doesn’t need the school counsellor to tell her she has deep-seated psychological issues. With a seriously depressed mum, an injured dad and a dead sister, who wouldn’t have problems?Hannah should feel terrible but for the first time in ages, she feels a glimmer of hope and isn’t afraid anymore. Is it because the elusive Josh is taking an interest in her? Or does it run deeper than that?(Goodreads)
First lines: I have three months left to call Katie my older sister. Then the gap will close and I will pass her. I will get older. But Katie will always be fifteen, eleven months and twenty-one days old.
My true love gave to me: twelve holiday stories, edited by Stephanie Perkins
If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. (Goodreads)
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)
Far from you, Tess Sharpe
Nine months. Two weeks. Six days.
That’s how long recovering addict Sophie’s been drug-free. Four months ago her best friend, Mina, died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong – a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered. Forced into rehab for an addiction she’d already beaten, Sophie’s finally out and on the trail of the killer – but can she track them down before they come for her? (Goodreads)
First lines: It doesn’t start here. You think it would: two terrified girls in the middle of nowhere, cowering together, eyes bulging at the gun in his hand. But it doesn’t start here. It starts the first time I almost die.
The sowing, Steven Dos Santos
Lucian “Lucky” Spark leads a double life. By day, he trains to become one of the Establishment elite. At night, he sabotages his oppressors from within, seeking to avenge the murder of his love, Digory Tycho, and rescue his imprisoned brother. But when he embarks on a risky plot to assassinate members of the Establishment hierarchy, Lucky is thrust into the war between the Establishment and the rebellion, where the lines between friend and foe are blurred beyond recognition. His only chance for survival lies in facing the secrets of the Sowing, a mystery rooted in the ashes of the apocalyptic past that threatens to destroy Lucky’s last hope for the future.(Goodreads)
First lines: I squint through my protective goggles against the maelstrom of swirling sand and blinding neon lights closing in on either side of me, trying to crush me in their rainbow vise. This is it. The Avenue of Longing. Home of the Pleasure Emporiums, the place where every appetite can be satisfied-for a steep price.
The vigilante poets of Selwyn Academy, Kate Hattemer
Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art’s Sake, that is being filmed at their high school, the esteemed Selwyn Arts Academy, where each student is more talented than the next. While studying Ezra Pound in English class, the friends are inspired to write a vigilante long poem and distribute it to the student body, detailing the evils of For Art’s Sake. But then Luke—the creative force behind the poem and leader of the anti-show movement—becomes a contestant on the nefarious show. It’s up to Ethan, his two remaining best friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save their school. Along the way, they’ll discover a web of secrets and corruption involving the principal, vice principal, and even their favorite teacher.(Goodreads)
First lines: Just call me Ethan. You’re reading this first, but I’m writing it last. I;m at a corner table in this low-rent Starbucks a few blocks from my house. I had planned to write this on the living room couch, but I have triplet sisters and they are four years old.
The winter horses, Philip Kerr
It will soon be another cold winter in the Ukraine. But it’s 1941, and things are different this year. Max, the devoted caretaker of an animal preserve, must learn to live with the Nazis who have overtaken this precious land. He must also learn to keep secrets-for there is a girl, Kalinka, who is hiding in the park. Kalinka has lost her home, her family, her belongings-everything but her life. Still, she has gained one small, precious gift: a relationship with the rare wild and wily Przewalski’s horses that wander the preserve. Aside from Max, these endangered animals are her only friends-until a Nazi campaign of extermination nearly wipes them out for good. Now Kalinka must set out on a treacherous journey across the frozen Ukrainian forest to save the only two surviving horses-and herself.(Goodreads)
First lines: Much of this old story has been gathered together like the many fragments of a broken vase. The pieces do not always fit as best they might, and indeed it’s quite possible that several of them do not belong here at all.
Mystic City, Theo Lawrence
Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City’s two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents’ sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud – and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths.
But Aria doesn’t remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can’t conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place. Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection – and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city – including herself.(Goodreads)
First lines: So little time is left.
“Take this.” He folds the locket into my hand. It throbs as if it has a pulse, giving off a faint white glow. “I’m sorry for putting you in danger.”
“I would do it all again,” I tell him. “A thousand times.”
The caller, Juliet Marillier
Neryn has made a long journey to perfect her skills as a Caller. She has learned the wisdom of water and of earth; she has journeyed to the remote isles of the west and the forbidding mountains of the north. Now, Neryn must travel in Alban’s freezing winter to seek the mysterious White Lady, Guardian of Air. For only when Neryn has been trained by all four Guardians will she be ready to play her role in toppling the tyrannical King Keldec. But the White Lady is not what she seems. Trapped with Whisper, her fey protector, Neryn is unable to send word to her beloved Flint, who is in danger of being exposed as a double agent. When a new threat looms and the rebellion is in jeopardy, Neryn must enter Keldec’s court, where one false move could see her culled. She must stand up against forces more powerful than any she has confronted before, and face losses that could break her heart.(Goodreads)
First lines: Done. He was done. No more lies; no more acts of blind savagery; no longer any need to pretend he was Keldec’s loyal retainer. His precarious double life as Enforcer and rebel spy was over. He had turned his back on it, and he was going home.
Predator’s Gold, Philip Reeve
Tom and Hester are in danger. Pursued by the grim aviators of the Green Storm, they stumble onto the ice city of Anchorage just in time. But Anchorage is not a safe refuge: devastated by plague and haunted by thieves or ghosts, the city is barely lurching along. And savage Huntsmen are closing in. Surrounded by danger, Tom and Hester struggle as jealousy threatens to destroy them and the city. In a desperate bid for survival, the young ruler of Anchorage sets a course for the Dead Continent: America. (Goodreads)
First lines: Freya woke early and lay for a while in the dark, feeling her city shiver and sway beneath her as its powerful engines sent it skimming across the ice. Sleepily, she waited for her servants to come and help her out of bed. It took her a few moments to remember that they were all dead.
Searching for Sky, Jillian Cantor
Sky and River have always lived on Island, the only world they’ve ever known. Until the day River spots a boat. Across Ocean, in a place called California, Sky is separated from River and forced to live with a grandmother she’s just met. Here the rules for survival are different. People rely on strange things like cars and cell phones. They keep secrets from one another. And without River, nothing makes sense. Sky yearns for her old life where she was strong and capable, not lost and confused. She must find River so they can return to Island, but the truth behind how they ended up there in the first place will come as the biggest shock of all. (Goodreads)
First lines: On the afternoon of my sixteenth birthday, River spears a fish. “Happy birthday,” he says, and he’s grinning as he holds the fish out in front of me. It is large, the length of River’s outstretched arms, and I’m both surprised and impressed by the size of his catch.
The slayer chronicles: Second chance, Heather Brewer
The summer after Joss failed to kill the vampire Vladimir Tod, he gets a second chance to prove himself as a Slayer. He is sent to New York City to hunt down a serial killer that the Slayer Society believes is a vampire. It is up to Joss to lead his Slayer team, and through their detective work, they discover that there are actually four vampire brothers who are on the killing rampage. Joss must use all his skill to save the innocent people of New York City from the murderers. Joss’s status as a Slayer depends on it. (Goodreads)
First lines: Kilian whipped around the corner of the building, his long hair flowing behind him, his coat billowing in the wind. His heart beat steadily in an unhurried pace. His breaths came even and smooth. But Kilian was terrified and didn’t know where to go, or who could possibly help him.
Creature of Moonlight, Rebecca Hahn
As the only heir to the throne, Marni should have been surrounded by wealth and privilege, not living in exile-but now the time has come when she must choose between claiming her birthright as princess of a realm whose king wants her dead, and life with the father she has never known: a wild dragon who is sending his magical woods to capture her. (Goodreads)
First lines: All Summer long the villagers have been talking of the woods. Even those living many hills away can see it: their crops are disappearing; their land is shrinking by the day. We hear story after story.
Gifts, Ursula K. Le Guin
Scattered among poor, desolate farms, the clans of the Uplands possess gifts. Wondrous gifts: the ability–with a glance, a gesture, a word–to summon animals, bring forth fire, move the land. Fearsome gifts: They can twist a limb, chain a mind, inflict a wasting illness. The Uplanders live in constant fear that one family might unleash its gift against another. Two young people, friends since childhood, decide not to use their gifts. One, a girl, refuses to bring animals to their death in the hunt. The other, a boy, wears a blindfold lest his eyes and his anger kill. (Goodreads)
First lines: He was lost when he came to us, and I fear the silver spoons he stole from us didn’t save him when he ran away and went up into the high domains. Yet in the end the lost man, the runaway man, was our guide.
The end or something like that, Anne Dee Ellis
Emmy’s best friend Kim had promised to visit from the afterlife after she died. But so far Kim hasn’t shown up even once. Emmy blames herself for not believing hard enough. Finally, as the one-year anniversary of Kim’s death approaches, Emmy is visited by a ghost—but it’s not Kim. It’s Emmy’s awful dead science teacher. Emmy can’t help but think that she’s failed at being a true friend. But as more ghosts appear, she starts to realize that she’s not alone in her pain. Kim would have wanted her to move forward—and to do that, Emmy needs to start letting go. (Goodreads)
First lines: One day my best friend named Kim died. Before she died, Kim made me promise to contact her. I didn’t want to. But she made me promise. So then I tried. And tried. And tried. And tried. And tried. Turns out I suck at talking to dead people.
Calypso Summer, Jared Thomas
After failing to secure employment in sports retail, his dream occupation, Calypso finds work at the Henley Beach Health Food shop where his boss pressures him to gather native plants for natural remedies. This leads him to his Nukunu family in southern Flinders Ranges and the discovery of a world steeped in cultural knowledge. The support of a sassy, smart, young Ngadjuri girl, with a passion for cricket rivalling his own, helps Calypso to reconsider his Rastafarian façade and understand how to take charge of his future.(Goodreads)
First lines: It was thirty-nine degrees, my boss hadn’t paid me and I was too broke to fix my piece of shit ten-speed. A woman in skirt and bathers walked around the corner and quickly sidestepped out the way. People are always doing that type of thing to me.
Scan, Sarah Fine and Walter Jury
Tate and his father don’t exactly get along. As Tate sees it, his father has unreasonably high expectations for Tate to be the best—at everything. Tate finally learns what he’s being prepared for when he steals one of his dad’s odd tech inventions and mercenaries ambush the school, killing his father in the process and sending Tate on the run from aliens who look just like humans. All Tate knows–like how to make weapons out of oranges and lighter fluid–may not be enough to save him as he’s plunged into a secret inter-species conflict that’s been going on for centuries. Aided only by his girlfriend and his estranged mother, with powerful enemies closing in on all sides, Tate races to puzzle out the secret behind his father’s invention and why so many are willing to kill for it. (Goodreads)
First lines: In my world, things are simple. At least, they are right now, The hard, pulsing beat of my music is all my head contains. My muscles are loose. My bare feet are flat on the hardwood. My ass is on this metal bench, but not for long. Any second now, they’re going to call me. I am ready.
September 17, Amanda West Lewis
September 17 is a novel that tells the story of three of the children that were on board the City of Benares, as they experience and survive the disaster and wait to be rescued. One lifeboat was not picked up by the destroyer sent to make the rescue, and was at sea with 46 passengers, children and adults for eight days until it was picked up near the Irish coast. Two teenaged girls held onto an overturned lifeboat for 18 hours before they were picked up, while another family, including two children not on the CORB program, floated on a tiny raft for hours before being rescued. The characters whose adventures are described are all real, though some conversations and encounters have been fictionalized by author Amanda Lewis. (Goodreads)
First lines: A heavy clod of wet earth fell on Ken’s head. His hands began to shake. It wasn’t the hideous and sickening lurch of the ground. It wasn’t the overwhelming, deafening crash. It wasn’t even the thought of death. No, it was the idea of being buried alive that most terrified Ken.
House of Ivy and Sorrow, Natalie Whipple
Josephine Hemlock has spent the last 10 years hiding from the Curse that killed her mother. But when a mysterious man arrives at her ivy-covered, magic-fortified home, it’s clear her mother’s killer has finally come to destroy the rest of the Hemlock bloodline. Before Jo can even think about fighting back, she must figure out who she’s fighting in the first place. The more truth Jo uncovers, the deeper she falls into witchcraft darker than she ever imagined. Trapped and running out of time, she begins to wonder if the very Curse that killed her mother is the only way to save everyone she loves.(Goodreads)
First lines: They say a witch lives in the old house under the interstate bridge. Always in the shadows, draped in ivy and sorrow, the house waits for child too daring for his own good. And inside, the witch sits with her black eyes and toothless sneer.
Resurrection, Amy Carol Reeves
When she catches Edmund Wyatt following her through the streets of London, Abbie Sharp learns that every British monarch for hundreds of years has known about—and financially supported—the Conclave. Furious that the monarchy would cooperate with such a nefarious group, Abbie refuses Wyatt’s request for help in catching the person who is blackmailing Queen Victoria with this secret information. But a far greater threat emerges when the Ripper, Max, returns and brings a string of new murders with him. Abbie must choose whether to help the Queen she now despises or stop Max from succeeding at his most diabolical plan yet—the creation of a whole new Conclave aimed at usurping the British throne. (Goodreads)
First lines: By the time he stepped outdoors to escape the stifling billiard game conversation, young Lionel Millbrough the Third’s head swam from the three brandies he had unwisely consumed.
A time to dance, Padma Venkatraman
Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance—so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. For a girl who’s grown used to receiving applause for her dance prowess and flexibility, adjusting to a prosthetic leg is painful and humbling. But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, taking beginner classes with the youngest dancers. Then Veda meets Govinda, a young man who approaches dance as a spiritual pursuit. As their relationship deepens, Veda reconnects with the world around her, and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her.
Clinging to the free end of Ma’s sari,
I follow the tired shuffle of other pilgrims’ feedt
into the cool darkness of the temple,
where sweat-smell mingles with the fragrance of incense.
One man guy, Michael Barakiva
Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshman year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan. Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again. (Goodreads)
First lines: Alek stared at the menu suspiciously. He smelled mrinara sauce and a trap.
“Welcome to Trattori dell’Arte. My name is Lizzy. Can I start you off with something to drink?” The waitress was young, maybe a college student alreadt home for the summer, with a kind, round face framed by bangs the curled up at the bottom. Alek pitied her. She had no idea what she was in for.
The drowned Forest, Kristopher Reisz
Losing Holly is the hardest thing Jane has ever had to endure … until Holly comes back.
Best friends Jane and Holly have jumped off the bluff over their Alabama reservoir hundreds of times. But one day, Holly’s jump goes wrong. Her body never comes up, yet something else does—a sad creature of mud, full of confusion and sorrow. It’s Holly, somehow, trapped and mixed up with the river. And if Jane can’t do something to help, Holly will take everybody down with her—even the people they love the most. (Goodreads)
First lines: But it’s a beautiful day, Holly, It’s the most beautiful day. Pastor Wesley stands in the river, frog-green water swirling around his thighs. Sunlight ripples in his outstretched hands and across the robes of those about to be baptised.
Always, Emily Michaela MacColl
Emily and Charlotte Brontë are about as opposite as two sisters can be. Charlotte is practical and cautious; Emily is headstrong and imaginative. But they do have one thing in common: a love of writing. This shared passion will lead them to be two of the first published female novelists and authors of several enduring works of classic literature. But they’re not there yet. First, they have to figure out if there is a connection between a string of local burglaries, rumors that a neighbor’s death may not have been accidental, and the appearance on the moors of a mysterious and handsome stranger. The girls have a lot of knots to untangle—before someone else gets killed. (Goodreads)
First lines: The minister pronounced the final benediction for Elizabeth Bronte, aged 10. The funeral was finally over. The surviving Brontes huddled in the family pew. Charlotte, the eldest child at nine, sat stiffly, her back perfectly straight. She frowned at her younger sister, Emily, who had fidgeted unconscionably during the long service. Then she clutched her eight year old brother Branwell’s hand.
I have a bad feeling about this, Jeff Strand
Henry Lambert would rather play video games than spend time in the great outdoors–but that doesn’t make him a wuss. Skinny nerd? Fine. But wuss is a little harsh. Sadly, his dad doesn’t agree. Which is why Henry is being shipped off to Strongwoods Survival Camp. Strongwoods isn’t exactly as advertised. It looks like the victim of a zombie apocalypse, the “camp director” is a psycho drill sergeant, and Henry’s sure he saw a sign written in blood…(Goodreads)
First lines: “Hi everybody. This is Rad rad Roger here at the world premiere of I Have a Bad Feeling About This, and let me tell you, this par-taaay is wild! You can’t spit without hitting a celebrity! Watch – I’m gonna try it right now! Hoccccccccchhhhh-patoo!”
Nowhere boys, Elise McCredie
Four teenage boys are hiking in the bush when they are caught in a freak storm. After surviving the night, the boys expect a hero’s welcome, but instead they find that nobody knows who they are. Not their family. Not their friends. They are faced with a town of blank faces and are trapped in a world where they don’t exist. Sam, Jake and Andy are desperate to right their lives. They need to figure out how to make things go back to the way they used to be. Only Felix is conflicted: there are certain things about this new world that he likes. But as they grapple with their situation, it becomes clear that other things have been disturbed. A dark force has been unleashed and suddenly the situation becomes desperate. The boys must find a way to right their lives before evil destroys them. (Goodreads)
First lines: Felix’s fingers thrashed at the strings of his electric guitar as if he were trying to do it damange. The chords screeched out of his amp in ragged harmony with his vocals.
“Water, fire, earth and air
Elements that we all share.”
Who doesn’t love a good fairytale? Handsome knights, beautiful princesses, wicked witches, gingerbread cottages…but these books offer a much darker different take on classics such as the Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping beauty, and many others besides. Many of these are truer to the original spirit of the stories than those pretty Disney movies you might have watched as a kid. And a warning: there’s not always a “happily ever after”…
Lies, knives and girls in red dresses, Ron Koertge
I’ve featured this book before; it’s one of my favourites. It’s a collection of poetry, that often deals with the twisted consequences of the “happily ever after.” It’s nothing you’ve ever read before. Ron Koertege pulls no punches; these poems are often brutal but still beautifully written. The first lines perfectly capture the eerie spirit of this book.
Do you want to sleep? Find another storyteller. Do you
want to think about the world in a new way?
Come closer. Closer, please.
I want to whisper in your ear.
The stepsister scheme, Jim C. Hines
This is another book that deals with a “happily ever after” that’s gone wrong, but The Stepsister Scheme’s tone is a bit lighter. After Cinderella’s Prince Charming is kidnapped, she teams up with Snow White and Sleeping Beauty to kick some Fae buttock and rescue her husband. Despite this focus on action, there are some cool dark threads that run through the book.
Book of a thousand days, Shannon Hale
Maid Maleen is a rather obscure Brothers Grimm fairytale, which documents the imprisonment of a Princess in a tower for seven years. Unlike Rapunzel, however, no rescuer is immediately forthcoming. Book of a Thousand days transplants the story from Europe to the Asian Steppes, and it’s a fascinating and engrossing story that neglects the “magical” elements of faiytales for a more realistic tone.
The rose and the beast:fairy tales retold, Francesca Lia Block
This is an awesome collection of short stories, told in Block’s unique voice. It’s a potent mixture of realism and Americana – the fey, somewhat feral heroines run away from home, go to L.A, or the desert, or wherever – only to find that the monsters have followed them. These haunting stories that stay with you, right until after you’ve closed the book.
Troll’s-eye view: a book of villainous tales, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
For something much darker, you can’t go past this collection, which features some of the best YA authors writing today. Each tale shows the other side of the fairy-tale’s primary encounter: what does the giant’s wife have to say about the young man who climbed up her beanstalk? The answer may surprise you…
The replacement, Brenna Yovanoff
This should be compulsory reading for those who think that faeries are sweet and gentle creatures who spend their time rescuing princesses in distress. The faeries of The Replacement are implacable, inhuman creatures who have made a deal with the town of Gentry: economic security for the life of one child. The story is narrated by Mackie, a “replacement” changeling, who was swapped out for a human child and now dying because of his allergies to blood and iron, a nice nod to traditional superstitions about faeries. It’s a an interesting take on a slightly overdone subject, that retains the grimness of the original stories.
Ash, Malinda Lo
Ash is not your typical Cinderella story, although it begins the same: Ash’s father dies and the main character is reduced to a mere servant. Ash does receive help from the faerie, but his intentions may not be entirely benevolent. Then she meets the King’s huntress, the enigmatic Kaisa, and has to decide between her fairytale ending or one, more uncertain, that may end in true love. I like this particular retelling because it avoids the traps of many; getting too caught up in the glitter and not enough time spent on character development. The lesbian romance at its heart also separates it, and adds an interesting twist on a very old story.
Rivals in the city, Y.S Lee (298 pages)Convicted fraudster Henry Thorold is dying in prison, and the Agency asks Mary to take on one last case: to watch for the return of his estranged wife. Mrs Thorold is an accomplished criminal and will surely want to settle scores with Mary’s fiancé, James. With the additional complications of family and conflicting loyalties, the stakes for all involved are higher than ever.(Goodreads)
First lines: It was a miserable day for a walk: sleety, frigid, dark. Nevertheless, Mary Quinn and James Easton, Private Detectives, were out for a ramble about Bloomsbury, bundled against the freezing perpetual drizzle, straining to distinguish people from lampposts in the dense fog that swamped the streets.
Sekret, Lindsay Smith (341 pages)Yulia knows she must hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive in Communist Russia. But if she sometimes manipulates the black market traders by reading their thoughts when she touches their skin, so what? Anything to help her survive.
Russia’s powerful spy agency, the KGB, is recruiting young people with mind-reading capabilities for their psychic espionage program. Their mission: protect the Soviet space program from American CIA spies. Why shouldn’t the KGB use any means necessary to make the young psychic cooperate? Anything to beat the American capitalist scum to the moon.
Yulia is a survivor. She won’t be controlled by the KGB, who want to harness her abilities for the State with no regard for her own hopes and dreams. She won’t let handsome Sergei plan her life as a member of elite Soviet society, or allow brooding Valentin to consume her with his dangerous mind and even more dangerous ideas. And she certainly won’t become the next victim of the powerful American spy who can scrub a brain raw—and seems to be targeting Yulia. (Goodreads)
First lines: My rules for the Black Market are simple. Don’t make eye contact -especially with men. Their faces are sharp, but their eyes sharper, and you never want to draw that blade. Always act as though you could walk away from a trade at any moment. Desperation only leaves you exposed.
Sleep no more, Aprilynne Pike, (340 pages)Charlotte Westing has a gift. She is an Oracle and has the ability to tell the future. But it doesn’t do her much good. Instead of using their miraculous power, modern-day Oracles are told to fight their visions—to refrain from interfering. And Charlotte knows the price of breaking the rules. She sees it every day in her wheelchair-bound mother and the absence of her father. But when a premonition of a classmate’s death is too strong for her to ignore, Charlotte is forced to make an impossible decision: continue following the rules or risk everything—even her sanity—to stop the serial killer who is stalking her town. (Goodreads)
First lines: Ten years earlier: I sit on the itchy couch and stare at Mommy’s eyes, wishing for them to open. Everyone tells me she’s going to wake up, but it’s been two days. Aunt Sierra promised and the doctor said so. But Daddy’s not coming back. Ever. In my vision, it was Sierra who died. I was just trying to stop that.
Sunrise, Mike Mullin (542 pages)The Yellowstone supervolcano nearly wiped out the human race. Now, almost a year after the eruption, the survivors seem determined to finish the job. Communities wage war on each other, gangs of cannibals roam the countryside, and what little government survived the eruption has collapsed completely. The ham radio has gone silent. Sickness, cold, and starvation are the survivors’ constant companions. When it becomes apparent that their home is no longer safe and adults are not facing the stark realities, Alex and Darla must create a community that can survive the ongoing disaster, an almost impossible task requiring even more guts and more smarts than ever — and unthinkable sacrifice. If they fail . . . they, their loved ones, and the few remaining survivors will perish.
First lines: I left the farmhouse in the darkest hour of the night to make a weapon. The light from my oil lamp drew a pitiful circle of gray around my feet. Other lams and torches shone here and there amid the ramshackle refugee encampment surrounding Uncle Paul’s farm, fading pockets of humanity in the chaotic dark. People huddled within the lights, cleaning guns and sharpening knives.
The bow, Catherine Mayo (362 pages)“There’s only one arrow, but you only have to shoot one man. I know you won’t miss.”
War is coming to Bronze Age Greece. It’s time to skill up. And Odysseus’s challenges are mounting. Can he find his grandfather’s hidden gold? Find the strength to string and shoot from the Great Bow of Eurytos, which no man has done for generations? Toughest of all, can he persuade a girl to love him? (Goodreads)
First lines: It had been a good morning for hunting, their last chance before the war began in earnest. They’d been up over Mount Neion, the three of them, and the thought of a second breakfast was making Odysseus’s stomach rumble.
Geek girl: picture perfect, Holly Smale (408 pages)Harriet Manners knows more facts that most. She knows that New York is the most populous city in the United States. She knows that its official motto is “Ever Upward”. She knows that 28% of Americans believe we never landed on the moon. But she knows nothing about modelling in the Big Apple, and how her family will cope with life stateside. Or how to “become a brand”, as the models in New York put it. And, even more importantly, what to do when the big romantic gestures aren’t coming from your boyfriend…(Goodreads)
First lines: My name is Harriet Manners, and I am a girlfriend. I know I’m a girlfriend because I can’t stop beaming. Apparently the average girl smiles sixty-two times a day, so I must be statistically stealing someone else’s happiness. I’m grinning every thirty or forty seconds, minimum.
In the end, Demitria Lunetta, (432 pages)It’s been three months since Amy escaped New Hope, and she’s been surviving on her own, like she did in the After. Until one day, her former fellow Guardian’s voice rings out in her earpiece. And in a desperate tone, Kay utters the four words Amy had hoped she would never hear: Dr. Reynolds has Baby.
Now it’s a race against time, for Baby is in imminent danger, her life threatened by the malevolent doctor who had helped start the end of the world. In order to save Baby, Amy must make her way to Fort Black, a prison-turned-survivor-colony, where she will need to find Ken, Kay’s brother. He alone holds the key to Baby’s survival.
One small slip-up on this quest could spark a downward spiral that would not only cost Baby and Amy their lives, but threaten the very survival of the people in the After.
First lines: I long for the comfort of night. The sun feels warm on my face. Before, sunshine was a good thing. But this is After, and outside of New Hope, the light means only one thing if you’re not armed: death.
The chapel wars, Lindsey Leavitt (292 pages)Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance?
And then there’s Grandpa’s letter. Not only is Holly running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money—fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family’s mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and… Dax. No wait, not Dax. Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there’s a wedding chapel to save.
First lines: Inheritance. I hate that word. Translation:Sorry someone you like kicked the bucket; now here’s your present. It’s like getting hit by a car, only to make a fortune in the lawsuit. People constantly remind you what a financial blessing that accident was, such a sweet silver lining, when the truth is, you still got hit by a car.
The sky so heavy, Claire Zorn (294 pages)For Fin, it’s just like any other day – racing for the school bus, bluffing his way through class, and trying to remain cool in front of the most sophisticated girl in his universe, Lucy. Only it’s not like any other day because, on the other side of the world, nuclear missiles are being detonated. (Goodreads)
First lines: There are two things I know right now: one is that a guy is holding a gun to my head, the other is that I don’t want to die. I guess I could try to look at it from the positive side: I’ve made it seventeen years without anyone trying to kill me.
Soldier doll, Jennifer Gold (277 pages)Fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Bryant is not happy. She’s had to leave all her friends behind and move across the country for her dad’s job in the military. One hot summer evening during her first week in her new city, she’s out killing time at a local garage sale when she spots a little soldier doll amid the junk. She thinks only that it might be a good last-minute birthday gift for her dad, who’s about to ship out to Afghanistan. She doesn’t realize that it might be a missing (and very valuable) historical artifact. With the help of Evan, the cute guy she’s just met at a local used book store, Elizabeth discovers that the doll might be THE soldier doll: the inspiration for a famous World War I poem of the same name.
Elizabeth’s story is interwoven with the amazing, tumultuous story of the soldier doll itself. Fashioned with love by a father for his only child in England years ago, we follow the doll back to England during World War I, then on to Nazi Germany in the 1930s, a Czech concentration camp during World War II, Vietnam in 1970 and through the aftermath of 9/11. (Goodreads)
First lines: It looks like a doll-at first. It has a doll’s baby face, complete with pink cherubic cheeks and rosebud mouth. The craved and painted hair is soft-looking and yellow-blond. A closer look, however, tells a different story.
Girl in reverse, Barbara Stuber (320 pages)When Lily was three, her mother put her up for adoption, then disappeared without a trace. Or so Lily was told. Lily grew up in her new family and tried to forget her past. But with the Korean War raging and fear of “commies” everywhere, Lily’s Asian heritage makes her a target. She is sick of the racism she faces, a fact her adoptive parents won’t take seriously. For Lily, war is everywhere—the dinner table, the halls at school, and especially within her own skin. Then her brainy little brother, Ralph, finds a box hidden in the attic. In it are a baffling jumble of broken antiques—clues to her past left by her “Gone Mom.” Lily and Ralph attempt to match these fragments with rare Chinese artifacts at the art museum. She encounters the artistic genius Elliot James, who attracts and infuriates Lily as he tries to draw out the beauty of her golden heritage. Will Lily summon the courage to confront her own remarkable creation story? The real story, and one she can know only by coming face-to-face with the truth long buried within the people she thought she knew best.
First lines: “Say it, Lily.”
I bow my head, close my eyes, press my hands together.
nancy bends down and whispers, “Again…like a magic prayer.”
“Choose me. Please.”
Shakespeare is taught in most college classes these days; whether you think this is a bad or good thing depends on you! I’m a fan, but I get tired of the same-old same-old productions and books. So here are a few of my favourite Shakespeare related books, websites and DVDs, to make your experience of the great man that much more interesting. I think this post is going to get a lot of flack from English teachers and Shakespeare purists everywhere, but I’m of the opinion that stuff like this should be enjoyable and accessible. I’m sure the Bard would have wanted it that way.
To be or not to be: a chooseable path adventure, by Ryan North, Shakespeare, and you!
This is unquestionably one of my favourite things to come into the YA collection in a while. I have fond memories of choose-your-own adventure books from my childhood, even though I always ended up dying! That’s an option in this book but the great thing is, you can always start again. Especially if you start out as Hamlet Senior…well, that’s not a spoiler. After all, I think the statue of limitations on spoiler warnings runs out after 415 years. Anyway, you can start the game as the aforementioned (deceased) King of Denmark, Ophelia or Hamlet himself. After that, it’s up to you. It’s written more like a YA novel than in prose, and the possible endings get pretty wacky. Added to this are the amazing illustrators; there are too many to namecheck all of them but Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant), Randall Munroe (XKCD) and Faith Erin Hicks (Friends with Boys, Nothing Possibly can go wrong) all contribute. What I find particularly awesome is that this book is the result of a kickstarter campaign: crowd funding for the win! A necessary disclaimer: I wouldn’t recommend using this to write your NCEA essays.
Hamlet: a novel, John Marsden
This book takes a rather more serious look at Hamlet. It keeps fairly close to the original story, but manages to convey the inner emotions of those entangled in the story. Retellings of Hamlet are by far the most popular among YA writers, but I think this one’s the best. The language is fresh and the pace makes the looming disaster all the more tragic. It also doesn’t try to force a happy ending on the characters, which I’ve always find a bit jarring, especially in books that aim to be taken seriously.
Lady Macbeth’s daughter, Lisa Klein
In the text of Macbeth, it is revealed that lady Macbeth has been pregnant before; but this is only mentioned once, and Macbeth’s lack of children plays a central role in the plot of the play. In this novel, Lisa Klein imagines what the life of such a child – a daughter, who is cast out by Macbeth – would be like. The historic Lady Macbeth also had a son, by her first husband, but is Lady Macbeth and Albia, her lost daughter, who tell the story in alternating chapters. The writer says she set out to give “an entirely new perspective on the events of Shakespeare’s play, using a protagonist who is outside the main action but crucial to its unfolding.” She more than succeeds, and manages to incorporate historical facts into the narrative fairly seamlessly, which keeps the book from seeming too fanciful.
The most excellent and lamentable tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare and illustrated by Gareth Hinds
This is the only book included in this blog post which takes its text entirely from the play, although it’s somewhat abridged. What sets it apart from the other graphic adaptations is its attention to detail; the artist, in his postscript, has taken actual features from Verona and uses them in backgrounds in his lavish illustrations. He does admit that he’s moved various places around for aesthetic purposes, but it doesn’t really affect the sense of a real Renaissance city. Gareth Hinds also tries to “fix” parts of the text that are often portrayed incorrectly in the staging.
Shakespeare retold DVD series
There are plenty of “pure” adaptaions out there but sometimes it can be a struggle to get through all that prose. These modern adaptations are a whole lot of fun. They feature some of the best actors England has to offer having a great time chewing the scenery and taking a break from having to memorise 16th century lines. Again, I wouldn’t recommend using these to help write your essay, but I’m a big believer in enjoying Shakespeare because it’s fun, rather than because you have to study it in class. My favourites are Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer night’s dream.
I remember when this film first came out, which, given that this was 15 years ago, is going to date me a bit. I didn’t realise that this was based off Taming of the Shrew until a while later though! It’s considered a classic, and for good reason. Even though the fashion is slightly dated, the movie still holds up: Heath Ledger, in his break-out role, has great chemistry with Julia Stiles, who’s equally impressive as Kat. It’s full of quotable dialogue and great acting, and conveys what it’s like to be young, cynical and in love in college. Well, as far as I can remember, anyway.
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are dead
This is a classic adaptation of an extraordinary play. It concerns the lives of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, two fairly minor characters in Hamlet. There are chunks of the actual play, but for the most part it’s in modern language. It deals with fate, the nature of theatre and performance, and various philosophical problems. It might sound a bit dry, but it’s extremely funny and features some of the best actors working today.
Silver people: voices from the Panama canal, Margarita Eagle (255 pages)One hundred years ago, the world celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal, which connected the world’s two largest oceans and signaled America’s emergence as a global superpower. It was a miracle, this path of water where a mountain had stood—and creating a miracle is no easy thing. Thousands lost their lives, and those who survived worked under the harshest conditions for only a few silver coins a day.
From the young “silver people” whose back-breaking labor built the Canal to the denizens of the endangered rainforest itself, this is the story of one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, as only Newbery Honor-winning author Margarita Engle could tell it. (Goodreads)
First lines: Fear is a fierce wind
that sends me reeling
down to the seashore,
where I beg for work,
any work at all,
to carry me far
from my father’s
Tigers on the beach, Doug MacLeod (251 pages)Have you heard the one about the guy who lost a grandfather, but found a girlfriend? It’s funny. It’s also kind of sad. And some of the bits that are sad are also kind of funny (but only if you laugh at that sort of thing). Adam thinks Samantha could be the one for him. But first he has to sort out his parents’ crumbling marriage, stop getting into embarrassing situations involving public nudity, find out what’s making his gran so angry, stop his little brother doing something really, really dangerous and work out what’s so funny about two tigers on a beach. It can’t be that hard, can it? (Goodreads)
First lines: My grandpa tells jokes. Some are ridiculous and rambling, like the one about the boy born with a screw in his belly button.
Maniac Magee, Jerry Spinelli (184 pages)Jeffrey Lionel “Maniac” Magee might have lived a normal life if a freak accident hadn’t made him an orphan. After living with his unhappy and uptight aunt and uncle for eight years, he decides to run–and not just run away, but run. This is where the myth of Maniac Magee begins, as he changes the lives of a racially divided small town with his amazing and legendary feats. (Goodreads)
First lines: They say Maniac Magee was born in a dump. They say his stomach was a cereal box and his heart a sofa spring. They say he hept an eight-inch cockroach on a leash and that rats stood guard over him while he slept. They say if you knew he was coming and you sprinkled salt on the ground and he ran over it, within two or three blocks he would be slow as everyone else. They say.
#16thingsIthoughtweretrue, Janet Gurtler (278 pages)Heart attacks happen to other people #thingsIthoughtweretrue When Morgan’s mom gets sick, it’s hard not to panic. Without her mother, she would have no one—until she finds out the dad who walked out on her as a baby isn’t as far away as she thought…Adam is a stuck-up, uptight jerk #thingsIthoughtweretrue…Now that they have a summer job together, Morgan’s getting to know the real Adam, and he’s actually pretty sweet…in a nerdy-hot kind of way. He even offers to go with her to find her dad. Road trip, anyone? 5000 Twitter followers are all the friends I need #thingsIthoughtweretrue…
With Adam in the back seat, a hyper chatterbox named Amy behind the wheel, and plenty of Cheetos to fuel their trip, Morgan feels ready for anything. She’s not expecting a flat tire, a missed ferry, a fake girlfriend…and that these two people she barely knew before the summer started will become the people she can’t imagine living without. (Goodreads)
First lines:After pausing for a deep breath, I force myself to walk into the room with my head held high and my shoulders pulled back. I can totally do this, show people who I really am – not the girl they saw dancing on the video.
Gladiator: Vengeance, Simon Scarrow (292 pages)Marcus may be free from the brutal training regime of the gladiators but he will not rest until he finds his mother. With his old friends Festus and Lupus at his side, and a letter from Caesar instructing all who cross his path to help him, he begins his journey. He is going back to the lands where he lived as a slave boy: the remote farming estate of the savage Decimus. Yet Ancient Greece is ruled by deceit and corruption. Many do not want to see Marcus succeed. Many more would rather see him dead. As the most powerful men in the country plot against him, is it finally over for the son of Spartacus? (Goodreads)
First lines: “Ready?” asked Festus.
Marcus nodded and then glanced round the marketplace of Chalcis, a small port on the coast of the Gulf of Corinth. Below the market the ground sloped down to the sea, brilliant beneath the clear sky and the glare of the early afternoon sun.
Elusion, Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam (382 pages)Soon, Elusion® will change the world and life as we know it.A new technology called Elusion is sweeping the country. An app, visor and wristband will virtually transport you to an exotic destination where adventure can be pursued without the complications—or consequences—of real life. Regan is an Elusion insider. Or at least she used to be. Her father invented the program, and her best friend, Patrick, heir to the tech giant Orexis, is about to release it nationwide. But ever since her father’s unexpected death, Regan can’t bear to Escape, especially since waking up from the dream means crashing back to her grim reality.
Still, when there are rumors of trouble in Elusion—accusations that it’s addictive and dangerous— Regan is determined to defend it. But the critics of Elusion come from surprising sources, including Josh, the handsome skeptic with his own personal stakes. As Regan investigates the claims, she discovers a disturbing web of secrets. She will soon have to choose between love and loyalty…a decision that will affect the lives of millions. (Goodreads)
First lines: “Don’t be scared, Regan,” my father says. “I’ll be next to you the whole time, I promise.”
But I’m not scared at all. The reason my breath is coming out in quick, little gasps is because I’m excited. After all, I’ve been waiting for this moment for such a long time.
What we hide, Marthe Jocelyn (275 pages)Americans Jenny and her brother, Tom, are off to England: Tom to university, to dodge the Vietnam draft, Jenny to be the new girl at a boarding school, Illington Hall. This is Jenny’s chance to finally stand out, so accidentally, on purpose, she tells a lie. But in the small world of Ill Hall, everyone has something to hide. Jenny pretends she has a boyfriend. Robbie and Luke both pretend they don’t. Brenda won’t tell what happened with the school doctor. Nico wants to hide his mother’s memoir. Percy keeps his famous dad a secret. Oona lies to everyone. Penelope lies only to herself. (Goodreads)
First lines: So here we were, running away to save Tom’s life. And turning mine inside out. If there hadn’t been a war going on, my brother would have taken a year off before college and doodled down to Mexico in a van. But now it was college versus Vietnam.
#scandal, Sarah Ockler (399 pages)Lucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. And especially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time.
When Cole surprises her at the after party with a kiss under the stars, it’s everything Lucy has ever dreamed of… and the biggest BFF deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole’s lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they’ll have to ’fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics of her and Cole, along with tons of other students’ party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral. By Monday morning, Lucy’s been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc, mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal just weeks before graduation.
Lucy’s been battling undead masses online long enough to know there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend’s trust, and graduate with a clean slate. There’s just one snag—Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love…(Goodreads)
First lines: If a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture tagged on Miss Demeanor’s Scandal of the Month page is worth about a million. Especially when the story all those words tell is an absolute lie.
Graduation day, Joelle Charbonneau (291 pages)She wants to put an end to the Testing. In a scarred and brutal future, The United Commonwealth teeters on the brink of all-out civil war. The rebel resistance plots against a government that rules with cruelty and cunning. Gifted student and Testing survivor, Cia Vale, vows to fight. But she can’t do it alone. This is the chance to lead that Cia has trained for – but who will follow? Plunging through layers of danger and deception, Cia must risk the lives of those she loves–and gamble on the loyalty of her lethal classmates. Who can Cia trust? The stakes are higher than ever-lives of promise cut short or fulfilled; a future ruled by fear or hope–in the electrifying conclusion to Joelle Charbonneau’s epic Testing trilogy. Ready or not…it’s Graduation Day. (Goodreads)
First lines: A knock makes me jump. My hands shake from exhaustion, fear and sorrow as I unlatch the door of my residence hall rooms and turn the handle. I let out a sigh of relief as I see Raffe Jeffries in the doorway.
Razorhurst, Justine Larbalestier (365 pages) The setting: Razorhurst, 1932. The fragile peace between two competing mob bosses—Gloriana Nelson and Mr Davidson—is crumbling. Loyalties are shifting. Betrayals threaten. Kelpie knows the dangers of the Sydney streets. Ghosts have kept her alive, steering her to food and safety, but they are also her torment. Dymphna is Gloriana Nelson’s ‘best girl’, experienced in surviving the criminal world, but she doesn’t know what this day has in store for her.When Dymphna meets Kelpie over the corpse of Jimmy Palmer, Dymphna’s latest boyfriend, she pronounces herself Kelpie’s new protector. But Dymphna’s life is in danger too, and she needs an ally. And while Jimmy’s ghost wants to help, the dead cannot protect the living…(Goodreads)
First lines: Tommy was a talker and didn’t much like other ghosts, so he was forever talking to Kelpie. That’s how she divided them up: talkers and silent ones. Most ghosts were silent. Most ignored the living. Kelpie thought that was just as well. She wished Tommy was a silent one. She wished she hadn’t listened.
I kill the mockingbird, Paul Acampora, (163 pages)When Lucy, Elena, and Michael receive their summer reading list, they are excited to see To Kill A Mockingbird included. But not everyone in their class shares the same enthusiasm. So they hatch a plot to get the entire town talking about the well-known Harper Lee classic. They plan controversial ways to get people to read the book, including re-shelving copies of the book in bookstores so that people think they are missing and starting a website committed to “destroying the mockingbird.” Their efforts are successful when all of the hullabaloo starts to direct more people to the book. But soon, their exploits start to spin out of control and they unwittingly start a mini revolution in the name of books. (Goodreads)
First lines: My mother’s wheeelchair does not fit through the bathroom door, and I don’t know what to do about it. I pull the chair back an inch and then roll it into the door frame again. The clunk makes Mom sit up straight. “You have got to be kidding me,” she says. Actually, those are not her exact words. I am not allowed to repeat her exact words.
This side of salvation, Jeri Smith-Ready (368 pages)Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure: The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels. Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation. But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined… (Goodreads)
First lines: If this were the first night of my life, I could be at peace with that. That, and everything else, as I walk hand in hand with Bailey out of the pool house and back into the blare of the party. Her long hair brushes my elbow, stirring memories of reaching, fumbling in the dark; memories so fresh they feel more like dreams – not etched as events in my past but posed as possibilities in my future.
Shadow sister, Carole Wilkinson (356 pages)Tao is learning to be a dragonkeeper. With no one to teach him it is not easy. He must keep Kai safe but there is danger at every turn – they are pursued by a gang of murderous nomads, tricked by unseen spirits, attacked by a giant seven-headed snake and disoriented in the realms of the dead. Most terrifying of all is the ghost who can turn blood into ice. Tao knows he must prove he is truly worthy of the name dragonkeeper. But the road west is never straight and nothing for Tao and Kai is what it seems. (Goodreads)
First lines: The dragon groaned. “My stomach hurts.” He had been slow-moving all day, insisting on stopping often to rest.
“Let me see your tongue.”
The dragon sat on his haunches in front of the boy. Tao had grown a little in the weeks the two had been travelling together but, when sitting, Kai was still head and shoulders taller.
Buffalo Soldier, Tanya Landman, (361 pages)What kind of a girl steals the clothes from a dead man’s back and runs off to join the army? A desperate one, that’s who. World been turned on its head by that big old war, and the army seemed like the safest place to be, until we was sent off to fight them Indians. And then? Heck! When Death’s so close you can smell his breath, ain’t nothing makes you feel more alive. (Goodreads)
First lines: Two covered wagons are heading out into the open, slow and steady, like little ships afloat on the ocean. Axles are greased, wheels barely creaking. The oxen are well groomed, their hides glossy as polished wood. Gaily coloured ribbons are tied to their horns and silver bells hang around their necks.
The eagle trail, Robert Rigby (289 pages)WWII, German-occupied Antwerp, and life continues as usual for 16-year-old Paul Hansen – until his father is shot. Paul learns that his parents are part of a group of resistance fighters and he’s whisked away by Jos Theys, his father’s closest friend, to the home of an elderly couple. There Paul learns he must leave Antwerp as quickly as possible and travel south through France and across the Pyrenees into Spain, and from there to England, and freedom … Along the way he is aided by a collection of courageous men and women prepared to risk everything to help him in his desperate fight for survival (Publisher information)
First lines: The leader of the Andorrans was built like a bull, but he moved with the lightness of a mountain goat. Not once had he stumbled or tripped as he led the small group further and deeper into the towering Pyrenees.
The wardens, Stuart Daly (329 pages)A secret brotherhood of treasure hunters. An invading army coming ever closer. Five young apprentices. The race is on. Life as a thief is cold, miserable and hungry. Caspan leaps at the opportunity to compete to join the Brotherhood of Thieves – a secret order sanctioned by the king. What the Brotherhood seeks are the lost magical weapons of an ancient race that will help them defeat the Roon, the invading army who creep ever closer. Defeat seems inevitable. Unless Caspan and his fellow recruits – Roland, Lachlan, Sara and Kilt – can set aside their differences and use their new skills to help turn the tide. With swords strapped to their belts, riding magical beasts called Wardens that come only to their call, they leave the sanctuary of their training ground for their first mission. Will it be their last? (Goodreads)
First lines: Caspan ran for his life. The cry of alarm brought confusion and panic to the market square, as the teenage footpad weaved through the caravans and food stalls, away from the man whose purse he had tried to take.
Hate, Alan Gibbons (230 pages)Eve’s older sister, Rosie, was bright and alive and always loved being the centre of attention. Then one day, she is brutally murdered. Six months later, Eve meets Antony and discovers that he was there the night Rosie died and did nothing to help. Is there any way she can ever get past that? (Goodreads)
First lines: The last time I saw Rosie, she was getting on the bus with Paul. It was August and the air was hick with dust and petrol fumes on the Manchester road. Off to our left, on the far side of the housing estate, sun and shadow were playing tag on the hills.