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.
Tin Star, Cecil Castellucci (233 pages)On their way to start a new life, Tula and her family travel on the Prairie Rose, a colony ship headed to a planet in the outer reaches of the galaxy. All is going well until the ship makes a stop at a remote space station, the Yertina Feray, and the colonist’s leader, Brother Blue, beats Tula within an inch of her life. An alien, Heckleck, saves her and teaches her the ways of life on the space station.When three humans crash land onto the station, Tula’s desire for escape becomes irresistible, and her desire for companionship becomes unavoidable. But just as Tula begins to concoct a plan to get off the space station and kill Brother Blue, everything goes awry, and suddenly romance is the farthest thing from her mind. (Goodreads)
First lines: There are few things colder than the blackness of space. But lying here, I couldn’t imagine anything colder than the Human heart that left me half-concious at tne entrance to Docking Bay 12.
Between two worlds, Katherine Kirkpatrick (261 pages)On the treeless shores of Itta, Greenland, as far north as humans can settle, sixteen-year-old Inuit Billy Bah spots a ship far out among the icebergs on the bay–a sight both welcome and feared. Explorers have already left their indelible mark on her land and its people, and a ship full of white men can mean trouble.
The ship carries provisions for Robert E. Peary, who is making an expedition to the North Pole. As a child, Billy Bah spent a year in America with Peary’s family. When her parents went to America years later, they died in a tragic scandal. Now, Peary’s wife, daughter, and crew are in Itta to bring him supplies. Winter comes on fast, and when the ship gets caught in the ice, Billy Bah sets out to find Peary. The journey will imperil her life, and that of the man she loves.(Goodreads)
First lines: I climbed toward the sky, my fingers curling around the cold rocks, thousands of shrieking birds around me. Just under my feet the sheer red cliffs dropped to the water. Though it was summer, it was still cold and the wind felt fresh.
The edge of the water, Elizabeth George (387 pages) A mysterious girl who won’t speak; a coal black seal named Nera that returns to the same place very year; a bitter feud of unknown origin—strange things are happening on Whidbey Island, and Becca King, is drawn into the maelstrom of events. But Becca, first met in The Edge of Nowhere, has her own secrets to hide. Still on the run from her criminal stepfather, Becca is living in a secret location. Even Derric, the Ugandan orphan with whom Becca shares a close, romantic relationship, can’t be allowed to know her whereabouts.As secrets of past and present are revealed, Becca becomes aware of her growing paranormal powers, and events build to a shocking climax anticipated by no one.(Goodreads)
First lines: I was two years old when I came to my parenrs, but the only memories I have before the memories of them are like dreams. I’m carried. There’s water nearby. I’m cold. Some runs with me in his arms. My head is pressed so hard to his shoulder that it hurts every time he takes a step.
The museum of intangible things, Wendy Wunder (292 pages)Hannah and Zoe haven’t had much in their lives, but they’ve always had each other. So when Zoe tells Hannah she needs to get out of their down-and-out New Jersey town, they pile into Hannah’s beat-up old Le Mans and head west, putting everything—their deadbeat parents, their disappointing love lives, their inevitable enrollment at community college—behind them. As they chase storms and make new friends, Zoe tells Hannah she wants more for her. She wants her to live bigger, dream grander, aim higher. And so Zoe begins teaching Hannah all about life’s intangible things, concepts sadly missing from her existence—things like audacity, insouciance, karma, and even happiness.(Goodreads)
First lines: I am a freshwater girl. I live on the lake, and in New Jersey, that’s rare. The girls on the other side of town have swimming pools, and the girls in the south have the seashore. Other girls are dry, breezy, salty and bleached. I, on the other hand, am grounded, heavy and wet.
The shadow prince (Into the Dark, Book 1), Bree Despain (481 pages)Haden Lord, the disgraced prince of the Underrealm, has been sent to the mortal world to entice a girl into returning with him to the land of the dead. Posing as a student at Olympus Hills High—a haven for children of the rich and famous—Haden must single out the one girl rumored to be able to restore immortality to his race.
Daphne Raines has dreams much bigger than her tiny southern Utah town, so when her rock star dad suddenly reappears, offering her full tuition to Olympus Hills High’s prestigious music program, she sees an opportunity to catch the break she needs to make it as a singer. But upon moving into her estranged father’s mansion in California, and attending her glamorous new school, Daphne soon realizes she isn’t the only student in Olympus who doesn’t quite belong. Haden and Daphne—destined for each other—know nothing of the true stakes their fated courtship entails. As war between the gods brews, the teenagers’ lives collide. But Daphne won’t be wooed easily and when it seems their prophesied link could happen, Haden realizes something he never intended—he’s fallen in love. Now to save themselves, Haden and Daphne must rewrite their destinies. But as their destinies change, so do the fates of both their worlds.(Goodreads)
First lines: I did the unforgivable the day my mother died, and for that I’ve been punished every moment of my life. He’s too weakminded. Impulsive. He’s too much like her. He’s too human.
Stolen songbird, Danielle Jensen (469 pages) For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined. Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity. But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader. As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.(Goodreads)
First lines: My voice rose an octave, resonating through the Goshawk’s Hollow marketplace, drowning out the bleating sheep and the hammer of the blacksmith down the way. Dozens of familiar faces abandoned their business, expressions unoform in their nervousness as they anticipated the note I had dreaded daily for the past month. She liked an audience for my failures.
Taken, David Massey (279 pages)A young crew of five are toughing it out together, sailing around the world on a gruelling charity challenge. They are used to being pushed to the limit, but nothing could have prepared them for being kidnapped. When they are taken hostage by a notorious warlord and his band of child soldiers, the trip of a lifetime turns into a one-way journey into the heart of the African jungle. When hope is all you have, survival is all you can fight for…(Goodreads)
First lines: My rucksack thuds on to the wooden pontoon and all the stress of getting here falls away with it. I feel light and dizzy, like I’ve just ditched the last thing that anchored me to reality.
Storm, Donna Jo Napoli (343 pages)The rain starts suddenly, hard and fast. After days of downpour, her family lost, Sebah takes shelter in a tree, eating pine cones and the raw meat of animals that float by. With each passing day, her companion, a boy named Aban, grows weaker. When their tree is struck by lightning, Sebah is tempted just to die in the flames rather than succumb to a slow, watery death. Instead, she and Aban build a raft. What they find on the stormy seas is beyond imagining: a gigantic ark. But Sebah does not know what she’ll find on board, and Aban is too weak to leave their raft.(Goodreads)
First lines: Each row has exactly as many pods as my fingers-ten. And there are exactly as many rows as my fingers on one hand. Five. I’ve laid them out on the ground perfectly. It’s my job to tie precisely fifty bean pods into the cloth because I’m good at numbers, better than my parents.
Dust of eden, Mariko Nagai (121 pages)In December 1941, thirteen year-old Mina Masako Tagawa and her Japanese-American family are sent from their home in Seattle to an internment camp in Idaho. What do you do when your home country treats you like an enemy? (Goodreads)
First lines: We held our breath for three years. We did not have anything to call our own except for the allowed number of bags: two. Te did not have anything except for a rose garden my grandfather made from hard earth and spit. We lived behind a barbed wire fence under a stark blue sky that could break your heart (as it did break my grandfather’s.)
Breaking butterflies, M. Anjelais (257 pages)Sphinxie and Cadence. Promised to each other in childhood. Drawn together again as teens. Sphinxie is sweet, compassionate, and plain. Cadence is brilliant, charismatic. Damaged. And diseased. When they were kids, he scarred her with a knife. Now, as his illness progresses, he becomes increasingly demanding. She wants to be loyal–but fears for her life. Only the ultimate sacrifice will give this love an ending.(Goodreads)
First lines: When my mother was a little girl, she walked out to the playground by herself every day after school. I can picture it easily; photos of her as a child are almost indistinguishable from photos of me when I was little.
Returning to shore, Corinne Demas (196 pages)Her mother’s third marriage is only hours old when all hope for Clare’s fifteenth summer fades. Before she knows it, Clare is whisked away to some ancient cottage on a tiny marsh island on Cape Cod to spend the summer with her father – a man she hasn’t seen since she was three. Clare’s biological father barely talks, and when he does, he obsesses about endangered turtles. The first teenager Clare meets on the Cape confirms that her father is known as the town crazy person. But there’s something undeniably magical about the marsh and the islanda connection to Clares past that runs deeper than memory. Even her father’s beloved turtles hold unexpected surprises. As Clare’s father begins to reveal more about himself and his own struggle, Clare’s summer becomes less of an exile and more of a return home.(Goodreads)
First lines: The white balloons were released from behind the pirvet hedge at the exact moment the Clare’s mother kissed her new husband. Clare watched the balloons rise. They were snatched by an errant wind and blown stage left, free now, and undisciplined.
Awakening, Natalie King (272 pages)
When Zelie Taylor pulls a lost necklace out of the icy waters of the lake, she has no idea what the consequences will be. At first the pendant is just freezing cold – unnaturally so – but then she hears a voice inside her head and Zelie thinks she must be going mad. She’s not. Seventeen-year-old Tamas’ soul has been trapped in the silver necklace since 1918. His body is nearby, sleeping, and Zelie must help him awaken.
At first Zelie would like nothing better than for Tamas’ moody, enigmatic presence to be out of her life, but after a while she isn’t so sure. And what is waiting for Tamas when he does emerge? It seems that the sinister force that trapped him all those years ago has returned and is growing more powerful.(Goodreads)
First lines: Of all the emotions, guilt leaves the greatest mark. While fear and happiness can fade, guilt remains as heavy and harsh as the day it arrived. Zelie Taylor’s guilt weighed heavy, so when Kate Hearn asked, she couldn’t say no.
The true adventures of Nicolo Zen (271 pages)Nicolo Zen is all alone in 1700s Venice, save for his clarinet, which a mysterious magician had enchanted, allowing its first player to perform expertly. Soon Nicolo is a famous virtuoso, wealthy beyond his dreams, but he can’t stop wondering if he earned the success himself — or what might happen if the spell were removed. And throughout it all, he continues to think about the girl he met in Venice, what she might be doing and if she’s safe from harm. (Goodreads)
First lines: When the Master auditioned us, we were told not to speak. Luca, his assistant, a heavyset man in a black coat, handed each of us a page of sheet music, from the first moment of the Master’s latest concerto. “Just play this,” said said gruffly, pulling his black beard,” first in D major, then in B-flat minor.”
Guy in real life, Steve Brezenoff (386 pages)It is Labor Day weekend in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and boy and girl collide on a dark street at two thirty in the morning: Lesh, who wears black, listens to metal, and plays MMOs; Svetlana, who embroiders her skirts, listens to Björk and Berlioz, and dungeon masters her own RPG. They should pick themselves up, continue on their way, and never talk to each other again.
But they don’t.
This is a story of two people who do not belong in each other’s lives, who find each other at a time when they desperately need someone who doesn’t belong in their lives. A story of those moments when we act like people we aren’t in order to figure out who we are. A story of the roles we all play-at school, at home, with our friends, and without our friends-and the one person who might show us what lies underneath it all. (Goodreads)
First lines: “This is not my life.”
Everything is spinning on the curb in front of Vic B’s bar. I shouldn’t have been drinking. I knew that beforehand. I knew that as I drank. I know that now, sitting on said curb, with my head on my knees and a puddle of chunky vom next to my feet.
Drama Queens in the house, Julie Williams (426 pages)Sixteen-year-old Jessie Jasper Lewis doesn’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t surrounded by method actors, bright spotlights, and feather boas. Her parents started the Jumble Players Theater together, and theater is the glue that holds her crazy family together. But when she discovers that her father’s cheating on her mother with a man, Jessie feels like her world is toppling over. And on top of everything else, she has to deal with a delusional aunt who is predicting the end of the world. Jessie certainly doesn’t feel ready to be center stage in the production that is her family. But where does she belong in all of this chaos? (Goodreads)
First lines: The theater is lit up like an opening night gala celebrating the first show of a new season. It’s graduation night, the second Thursday in June, and this gala is all about me. JESSIE JASPER LEWIS…my name on the marquee in lights.
The Archived, Victoria Schwab (321 pages)Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.
Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive. Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what she once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive. Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall. (Goodreads)
First lines: The Narrows remind me of August nights in the South. They remind me of old rocks and places where the light can’t reach. They remind me of smoke – the stale, settled kind – and of storms and damp earth. Most of all, Da, they remind me of you.
Don’t look back, Jennifer L. Armentrout (369 pages) Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.
Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash. But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive? (Goodreads)
First lines: I didn’t recognise the name on the street sign. Nothing about the rural road looked familiar or friendly. Tall, imposing trees and overgrown weeks choked the front of the dilapidated home. Windows were boarded up/ There was a gaping hole where the front door had been. I shivered, wanting to be far away from here…wherever here was.
Hello, groin Beth Goobie (272 pages)When Dylan Kowolski agrees to create a display for her high school library, she has no idea of the trouble it’s going to cause–for the school principal, her family, her boyfriend Cam and his jock friends, and her best friend Jocelyn. And for Dylan herself. If only her English class had been studying a normal, run-of-the-mill, mundane book like Lord of the Flies instead of Foxfire things wouldn’t have gotten so twisted. Then the world wouldn’t have gone into such a massive funk. And then Dylan wouldn’t have had to face her deepest fear and the way she was letting it run her life. (Goodreads)
First lines: We were coming around a bend in the road just before the Dundurn Street bridge. I was double-riding my best friend, Jocelyn Hersch, on my bikem and we were running late, Difedenbaker Collegiate’s last warning bell about to sound. So I was tearing along with my head down, pretty much oblivious to the local scenery, when Joc tightened her grip on my waist and let out a yelp that could have raised the dead.
Deadfall, Chris Ryan (338 pages)Zak Darke is sent on what seems like a straightforward surveillance op in South Africa but it soon turns into the toughest, most dangerous mission he has ever faced. An old enemy has teamed up with a terrifying gang of child soldiers and Zak is caught in the middle. Having travelled to the heart of the African jungle, will he make it out alive …? (Goodreads)
First lines:There has been a thin layer of frost on the ice-cold bottle of Coke. Beads of Condensation ran down the glass. Just like the bead of sweat that ran down the side of Zak’s face. This should be an easy op. Why, then, did he feel so on edge?
Dance of the dark heart, Julia Hearn (233 pages)Jack Orion is a tormented soul. His childhood companion, and one true love, has been cruelly snatched away from him and now nothing matters to him but being reunited with her.
From the goatherd’s shack to the court of King Henry VIII, Jack will not be diverted from his path.And wherever he goes he plays his fiddle like a demon, while the demon in his head urges him on. But Jack is dangerous, and he has a dark heart. If you had the chance to dance with the devil . . . would you? (Goodreads)
First lines: There had been omens. Bad ones. A blood-coloured ring around the moon. Crows on the woodpile, watching the shack. A tree that fell without being axed, keeling over in its prime, like a man with a curse on him. Old Scratch noted these occurances -the moon, the crows, the tree – but kept his own counsel. For one thing, he had no one to tell.
When the tripods came, John Christopher (151 pages)Long ago, the Tripods–huge, three-legged machines–descended upon Earth and took control. Now people unquestioningly accept the Tripods’ power. They have no control over their thoughts or their lives. But for a brief time in each person’s life–in childhood–he is not a slave. For Will, his time of freedom is about to end–unless he can escape to the White Mountains, where the possibility of freedom still exists. The Tripods trilogy follows the adventures of Will and his cohorts, as they try to evade the Tripods and maintian their freedom and ultimately do battle against them. (Goodreads)
First lines: An explosion of noise woke me. It sounded if a dozen express trains were about to hit the shed. I rolled over in my blanket, trying to get out of the way, and was aware of a blaze of orange, lighting up boxes and bits of old farm equipment and tackle. An ancient rusting tractor looked briefly like an overgrown insect.
Dear Killer, Katherine Ewell (359 pages)Rule One—Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.
Rule Two—Be careful.
Rule Three—Fight using your legs whenever possible, because they’re the strongest part of your body. Your arms are the weakest.
Rule Four—Hit to kill. The first blow should be the last, if at all possible.
Rule Five—The letters are the law.
Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known. But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there. (Goodreads)
First lines: Rule one. Nothing is right, nothing is wrong. That is the most important guideline, and the hardest one for most people to understand – but I have understood it my entire life, from the moment I laid my hands on that first victim’s neck to this very moment as I think about the blood under my fingernails and the body I have so recently left behind.
The Nethergrim, Matthew Jobin (356 pages) Everyone in Moorvale believes the legend: The brave knight Tristan and the famed wizard Vithric, in an epic battle decades ago, had defeated the evil Nethergrim and his minions. To this day, songs are sung and festivals held in the heroes’ honor. Yet now something dark has crept over the village. First animals disappear, their only remains a pile of bones licked clean. Then something worse: children disappear. The whispers begin quietly yet soon turn into a shout: The Nethergrim has returned! Edmund’s brother is one of the missing, and Edmund knows he must do something to save his life. But what? Though a student of magic, he struggles to cast even the simplest spell. Still, he and his friends swallow their fear and set out to battle an ancient evil whose powers none of them can imagine. They will need to come together–and work apart–in ways that will test every ounce of resolve. (Goodreads)
First lines: The best horse I ever knew was a bay stallion with a white star on his face. Jis name was Juniper- a strange name for a steed of war, but that’s what he was called when he was born, and his rider never changed it.
Women in space, Karen Bush Gibson (206 pages)When Valentina Tereshkova blasted off aboard Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963, she became the first woman to rocket into space. It would be 19 years before another woman got a chance—cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982—followed by American astronaut Sally Ride a year later. By breaking the stratospheric ceiling, these women forged a path for many female astronauts, cosmonauts, and mission specialists to follow. Women in Space profiles 23 pioneers, including Eileen Collins, the first woman to command the space shuttle; Peggy Whitson, who logged more than a year in orbit aboard the International Space Station; and Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space; as well as astronauts from Japan, Canada, Italy, South Korea, France, and more. Readers will also learn about the Mercury 13, American women selected by NASA in the late 1950s to train for spaceflight. Though they matched and sometimes surpassed their male counterparts in performance, they were ultimately denied the opportunity to head out to the launching pad. Their story, and the stories of the pilots, physicists, and doctors who followed them, demonstrate the vital role women have played in the quest for scientific understanding.(Goodreads)
The smart girl’s guide to going vegetarian, Rachel Meltzer Warren (224 pages)What would you love. Love what you eat. No labels. No fuss. It’s not about what you call yourself–it’s about how you feel. Whether you’re going vegan, vegetarian, fish-only, chicken-only, or all veggies except grandma’s famous pigs-in-a-blanket, this book is your new best friend. Eating less meat can boost your energy, help you lose weight, and it’s better for the environment. If you’re looking to cut down on meat or cut it out completely, here you’ll find awesome advice and the answers you need to make it work for you.(Goodreads)
Betty Cornell’s teen-age popularity guide, Betty Cornell (141 pages)Available again for a whole new generation of readers, the original 1950s popularity guide that was the inspiration for teen author Maya Van Wagenen’s memoir Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek! Filled with fun tips and vintage wisdom, Betty Cornell’s Teen-Age Popularity Guide offers advice and guidance for teens who want to be poised, self-confident, and “shiny bright.” Betty covers topics ranging from “Figure Problems,” “Good Grooming,” and “What to Wear Where” to hints on dating, hosting a great party, and becoming “the most popular girl in your set!” (Goodreads)
First lines: I believe in fate. Not everyone does, but after what I’ve experienced because of this book in your hands, I would be crazy not to. This book found my dad years before I was born. I can imagine it, sitting on a cluttered book-shelf at a thrift store, no dust jacket, just a faded, torn, blue cover and a spine that read the name in bold red letters: BETTY CORNELL’S TEEN-AGE POPULARITY GUIDE.
The Mark of the Dragonfly, Jaleigh Johnson (386 pages)Piper has never seen the Mark of the Dragonfly until she finds the girl amid the wreckage of a caravan in the Meteor Fields. The girl doesn’t remember a thing about her life, but the intricate tattoo on her arm is proof that she’s from the Dragonfly Territories and that she’s protected by the king. Which means a reward for Piper if she can get the girl home. The one sure way to the Territories is the 401, a great old beauty of a train. But a ticket costs more coin than Piper could make in a year. And stowing away is a difficult prospect–everyone knows that getting past the peculiar green-eyed boy who stands guard is nearly impossible. Life for Piper just turned dangerous. A little bit magical. And very exciting, if she can manage to survive the journey. (Goodreads)
First lines: Micah brought the music box to her on the night of the meteor storm. Piper never slept on these nights, when debris from other worlds feel from the sky. Restlessness kept her awake in bed, staring at the slanted ceiling of her tiny house.
The ring and the crown, Melissa De La Cruz (372 pages)Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?
Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. But even with the aid of Emrys’ magic, Eleanor’s extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen’s Guard. Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie’s face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she’s always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she’s always dreamed of–the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor’s court: trust no one. (Goodreads)
First lines: In 1429, the English army and its formidable magicians were led to victory by their Merlin, Emrys Myrddyn, defeating Charles VI of France and his dark Witch, Jeanne of Arkk. Henry VI was crowned King of England and France. Since the fifteenth century, the sun has never set on the Franco-British Empire.
Afterlife: Book 3 in the Parallon series, Dee Shulman (427 pages)Eva is on the brink of death. Ripped from her own world she’s woken in another, only to discover the devastating truth about the lethal fever she’s been fighting – and the enemy that’s chased her and Seth through time. Now the reckless twenty-first century girl and the fearless Roman gladiator must face the final battle. But it’s not just their love at stake; the fate of the universe is in their hands. (Goodreads)
First lines: “No!” Zackary stared at the cage in horror. How could this be happening to him now? He thought he’d finally cracked this thing. In fact he was so sure this time that he’d virtually written his Nobel Prize acceptance speech. So what the hell was happening to that rat? It was definitely sick.
Burn: Book 3 of the Pure trilogy, Julianna Baggot (418 pages)Inside the Dome, Patridge has taken his father’s place as leader of the Pures. His struggle has led him here, intent upon bringing down the Dome from the inside, with the help of a secret resistance force. But things are not as simple from his new position of power and he finds himself tempted by his father’s words: perhaps if the world is to survive it needs the Dome – and Partridge – to rule it…As Partridge’s resolve weakens, Pressia and Bradwell continue piecing together the clues left to them from the time before the Detonations. It is their hope that they will be able to heal the Wretches, and free them from their monstrous fusings and the Dome’s oppression once and for all. But everything depends, too, on Partridge. Separated by distance and history, can they still trust their friend and ally? Or is the world doomed to an eternity of war and hardship?
First lines: He knows the ending. He can see it almost as clearly as he saw the beginning.
“Start there,” he whispers into the wind. His wings are bulky. The quills ruffle; some drag behind him. He has to tighten his wings against the wind as he walks through the stubble fields toward the stone cliff. He wants to go backward, to tunnel and dig to the little boy he once was.
Fat Boy vs. the cheerleaders, Geoff Herbach (311 pages)When the high school cheerleading team takes over a soda vending machine’s funds, which were previously collected by the pep band, Gabe Johnson, an overweight “band geek” tired of being called names and looked down on, declares war. (Publisher’s summary)
First lines: Ripping off the pop machine last night wasn’t meant to be funny. It was my duty to all the geeks, burners and oddballs in the school because that machine sucks. Robbing it was serious business, okay? Why are you laughing, Mr. Rodriguez?
We were liars, e. Lockhart (225 pages)A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth. (Goodreads)
First lines: Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family. No one is a criminal. No one is an addict. No one is a failure. The Sinclairs are athletic, tall and handsome. We are old-money Democrats. Our smiles are wide, our chins square, and our tennis serves aggressive.
Free to fall, Lauren Miller (469 pages) Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision making for the best personal results. Just like everyone else, sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn knows the key to a happy, healthy life is following what Lux recommends. When she’s accepted to the elite boarding school Theden Academy, her future happiness seems all the more assured. But once on campus, something feels wrong beneath the polished surface of her prestigious dream school. Then she meets North, a handsome townie who doesn’t use Lux, and begins to fall for him and his outsider way of life. Soon, Rory is going against Lux’s recommendations, listening instead to the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore — a choice that leads her to uncover a truth neither she nor the world ever saw coming. (Goodreads)
First lines: It came in a plain white envelope, which made both more and less of its significance. More, because their decision was printed in ink, on thick cotton paper, which felt a little like they’d carved it in stone. Less, because there was nothing about that nondescript rectangle to imply there was life-changing information inside.
Grandmaster, David Klass (226 pages) Freshman Daniel Pratzer gets a chance to prove himself when the chess team invites him and his father to a weekend-long parent-child tournament. Daniel, thinking that his father is a novice, can’t understand why his teammates want so badly for them to participate. Then he finds out the truth: as a teen, his father was one of the most promising young players in America, but the pressures of the game pushed him too far, and he had to give up chess to save his own life and sanity. Now, thirty years later, Mr. Pratzer returns to the game to face down an old competitor and the same dark demons that lurk in the corners of a mind stretched by the demands of the game. (Goodreads)
First lines: Chess club was done for the day, and so was eye. I had played three games that afternoon, two of which I’d managed to lose in the first fifteen moves. I tried to remind myself that I had just taken up the game six months ago and was still leanring the basics, but there were times when I wanted to heave the nearest chess set out the window and never touch another rook or pawn again.
Broken Strings, Maria Farrer (423 pages)Jess, a talented 17-year-old violinist, suffers from stage-fright as she auditions for a place at a prestigious music school. Her family do not have enough money for her to continue to study so when she fails, she vows not to play again. Until her wealthy grandmother – estranged from her family since Jess’s mother fell pregnant – shows up at their doorstep and promises six months of tuition in exchange for Jess moving to live with her. Once ensconced in her grandmother’s rich, but empty, life she starts to uncover the mystery of why her grandmother never spoke to her mother again, and the secret which tore her family apart. (Goodreads)
First lines: I slump back in my chair, push the table leg with the bottom of my shoe. It grates across the floor and puts my teeth on edge. My heard’s hurting; pounding between my eyes. I shudder-full of hope, full of dread.
What we did for love, Natasha Farrat (205 pages)Arianne knew Luc before he went away, of course she did. Everyone in Samaroux knows each other. When he returns after five years, the spark between them reignites and becomes something more. But will the war let them be together? As the two teens fall deeply in love, their world starts to crumble around them. German forces, reeling from defeats in the east, are closing in, and Luc, desperate to atone for his family’s past, wants to join the resistance. Arianne will do anything to keep him safe. But in such a small village, Luc is not alone in his love for Arianne. And Luc’s rival just might be a traitor. How far will they go to protect what they believe in? And what will they do for love?(Goodreads)
First lines: I should leave. I want to- I think- but it’s so difficult. I love it here. There’s the lake, look, surrounded by trees. And there’s the river going into it, where we used to swin because the lake is so muddy, and there’s the road curving around the hill uptowards the village. It’s so peaceful.
Dead and buried, Anne Cassidy (328 pages)It’s been five years since Rose’s mother Kathy went missing and, after recent events, all Rose wants to do is get on with her life. Which means taking a break from her complicated stepbrother, Joshua. Then police officer Henry Thompson comes calling with bad news: a body has been found buried in the garden of Rose’s old house. A body that has lain undiscovered for five years. The body of a missing teenage girl. With Kathy and Brendan implicated in her death, Rose and Joshua have one last chance to clear their parents’ names. But if they fail, the consequences will be deadly . . .(Goodreads)
First lines: Now, when Rose thought of her mother, the word killer came into her head. It conjured up pictures sje did not want to see, sounds that she did not want to hear. It was better not to think of her at all.
Graffiti Knight, Karen Bass (282 pages)After a childhood cut short by war and the harsh strictures of Nazi Germany, sixteen-year-old Wilm is finally tasting freedom. In spite of the scars World War II has left on his hometown, Leipzig, and in spite of the oppressive new Soviet regime, Wilm is finding his own voice. It’s dangerous, of course, to be sneaking out at night to leave messages on police buildings. But it’s exciting, too, and Wilm feels justified, considering his family’s suffering. Until one mission goes too far, and Wilm finds he’s endangered the very people he most wants to protect.(Goodreads)
First lines: The broken windows of the building to the right watched our progress with the hollow stare of someone defeated and beyond caring.
Year of mistaken discoveries, Ellen Cook (257 pages)As first graders, Avery and Nora bonded over a special trait they shared;they were both adopted. Years later, Avery is smart, popular, and on the cheerleading squad, while Nora spends her time on the fringes of school society, wearing black, reading esoteric poetry, and listening to obscure music. They never interact…until the night Nora approaches Avery at a party, saying it’s urgent. She tells Avery that she thought she found her birth mom, but it turned out to be a cruel lie. Avery feels for Nora, but returns to her friends at the party. Then Avery learns that Nora overdosed on pills. Left to cope with Nora’s loss and questioning her own actions, Avery decides to honor her friend by launching a search for her own birth mother. Aided by Brody, a friend of Nora’s who is also looking for a way to respect Nora’s legacy, Avery embarks on an emotional quest. But what she’;s really seeking might go far deeper than just genetics.(Goodreads)
First lines: It was clear that beer didn’t make my boyfriend a deep thinker.
“I never thought about it before, but Jesus was adopted.” Colton nodded slowly, as if realizing something very profound. Or he didn’t want to move too quickly in case he got the spins.
“Joseph was, like, his stepdad.”
Spirit of a mountain wolf, Rosanne Hawke (205 pages)Fourteen-year-old Razaq Khan lives in the Pakistani tribal area of Kala Dhaka, Black Mountain. When an earthquake devastates his family home, Razaqs dying father tells him to travel to his uncle Javaid. A man preying on orphans lures Razaq to the city with the promise of finding his uncle. But it is not long before Razaq realizes he has not been helped at allhe has been sold in to slavery. Losing hope while in captivity, Razaq meets Tahira, a young girl suffering just like him.(Goodreads)
First lines: Abdur-Razaq Nadeem felt the rumble in the earth- like a truck rushing underground. Then, an eerie heaviness, a sound almost, but there were no words to describe it -like a mourning song with no music.
City in the desert: the serpent crown, Moro Rogers (149 pages) Monster hunter Irro is perhaps the only person in Kevala making a good living. The city pays him and his tailed assistant, Hari, a bounty for each monster carcass they bring in. But one day a religious sect called The Way of the Sacred Peace comes to Kevala to solve the monster problem by capping the city’s Spirit Fountain. Out of a job with all the monsters gone, Irro and Hari are determined to prove that there is a more sinister plot behind the Sacred Peace’s plan. Irro and Hari leave the walls of Kevala to seek new lives elsewhere. However, when the Crown Serpent of Kevala tracks them down and informs them that the evils of the Sacred Peace have spread far beyond Kevala’s borders, our heroes decide to return and save the city they love. Before they can do that, though, they must journey across the wastelands to the prison of the Monster King, and release him in exchange for his help. (Goodreads)
Will o’ the Wisp, Tom Hammock and Megan Hutchison (214 pages)After her parents’ accidental death by mushroom poisoning, young Aurora Grimeon is sent to live with her estranged grandfather on Ossuary Isle, deep in the southern swamps. Joined by her grandfather’s pet raccoon Missy, Aurora explores the fog-covered island of graves. Along the way she meets its sinister residents who care for the tombstones and mausoleums, living out their lives by the strange rules of Hoodoo magic. When ghostly things start happening out in the swamp and island residents start disappearing, Aurora thrusts herself into the middle of the mystery, uncovering secrets that might be better left buried.(Goodreads)
Business is booming for the Young Adult collection (and particularly for Veronica Roth and Minecraft): the first, second and fourth most popular titles in the entire library are Young Adult, so there you go.
1. Divergent,Veronica Roth [up 3]
2. The Fault in Our Stars, John Green [down 1]
3. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak [down 1]
4. City of Heavenly Fire, Cassandra Clare [down 1]
5. Insurgent, Veronica Roth [back]
6. Allegiant, Veronica Roth [no change]
7. The One, Kiera Cass [down 2]
8. Minecraft: beginner’s handbook, Stephanie Milton [new]
9. Minecraft: construction handbook, Matthew Needler [new]
10. Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins [down 1]
This week, a historical fantasy from a Christchurch-based author, two short stories from a popular series, a moving novel about grief and loss, and a holocaust story of survival.
Awakening, Natalie King (New Zealand writer) – “When Zelie Taylor pulls a lost necklace out of the icy waters of the lake, she has no idea what the consequences will be. At first the pendant is just freezing cold – unnaturally so – but then she hears a voice inside her head and Zelie thinks she must be going mad. She’s not. Seventeen-year-old Tamas’ soul has been trapped in the silver necklace since 1918. His body is nearby, sleeping, and Zelie must help him awaken. At first Zelie would like nothing better than for Tamas’ moody, enigmatic presence to be out of her life, but after a while she isn’t so sure. And what is waiting for Tamas when he does emerge? It seems that the sinister force that trapped him all those years ago has returned and is growing more powerful. A hundred-year-old mystery steeped in dark magic will make Zelie question everything she thought she knew.” (goodreads.com)
Tales from the Half-Continent, D M Cornish – this is number 3.5 in the Monster Blood Tattoo series, and it’s really two short/long stories: ‘The Corsers’ Hinge’ and ‘The Fuller and the Bogle’. “Bunting Faukes has a debt and no way to repay it – times are tough for grave robbers. But a way out is presented in the person of Atticus Wells, a sleuth with strange eyes that see into everything — Virtue Bland is alone in the world. Packed off to Brandenbrass to serve the household of her late father’s employer, she has only her old pa’s olfactologue to remember him by. But with it she can smell monsters.” (goodreads.com)
The Year of the Rat, Clare Furniss. “The world can tip at any moment … a fact that fifteen-year-old Pearl is all too aware of when her mum dies after giving birth to her baby sister. Told across the year following her mother’s death, Pearl’s story is full of bittersweet humour and heartbreaking honesty about how you deal with grief that cuts you to the bone, as she tries not only to come to terms with losing her mum, but also the fact that her sister – The Rat – is a constant reminder of why her mum is no longer around…” (goodreads.com)
Alexander Altmann A10567, Suzy Zail. “Fourteen-year-old Alexander Altmann doesn’t need to look at the number tattooed on his arm. A10567; he knows it by heart. He also knows to survive Auschwitz, he must toughen up. Being soft will get him killed. Alexander will take any chance he’s given – and when that chance is caring for the German officers’ horses he grabs it. He just can’t let them know he’s scared.” (goodreads.com)
Swagger, Carl Deuker (297 pages)When high school senior Jonas moves to Seattle, he is glad to meet Levi, a nice, soft-spoken guy and fellow basketball player. Suspense builds like a slow drumbeat as readers start to smell a rat in Ryan Hartwell, a charismatic basketball coach and sexual predator. When Levi reluctantly tells Jonas that Hartwell abused him, Jonas has to decide whether he should risk his future career to report the coach. (Goodreads)
First lines: All this started about a year and a half ago. Back then I was a junior at Redwood High in Redwood City, a suburn twnty-five miles south of San Francisco. In those days, before Hartwell, before Levi, I took things as they came, without thinking a whole lot about them. Maybe that’s because most of the things that came my way were good.
Anything to have you, Paige Harbison (303 pages)Natalie and Brooke have had each other’s backs forever. Natalie is the quiet one, college bound and happy to stay home and watch old movies. Brooke is the movie—the life of every party, the girl everyone wants to be.Then it happens—one crazy night that Natalie can’t remember and Brooke’s boyfriend, Aiden, can’t forget. Suddenly there’s a question mark in Natalie and Brooke’s friendship that tests everything they thought they knew about each other and has both girls discovering what true friendship really means.(Goodreads)
First lines: I heard her before I saw her. Music blasted from inside her car despite the fact that she was in a quiet neighborhood. I climbed in, and she turned down the volume.
The Osiris Curse, Paul Crilley (286 pages) When Nikola Tesla is murdered and blueprints for his super weapons are stolen, Tweed and Nightingale are drawn into a global cat and mouse chase with his killers. What’s more, it seems that the people who shot Nikola Tesla are the same people responsible for Octavia’s mother’s disappearance. As the two cases intertwine, Tweed and Nightingale’s investigations lead them to a murdered archeologist and a secret society called The Hermetic Order of Set. Fleeing the cult’s wrath, they go undercover on the luxury airship, The Albion, setting out on her maiden voyage to Tutankhamen’s View, a five star hotel built in the hollowed-out and refurbished Great Pyramid of Giza.In Egypt, the duo begin to unravel the terrible truth behind Tesla’s death, a secret so earth-shattering that if revealed it would mean rewriting the entire history of the world. But if the cult’s plans aren’t stopped, Britain may lose the future.(Goodreads)
First lines:Death stalks the streets of London. The winter wind, sensing its presence and feeling some distant, ancient kinship, soars above the frozen city, tossing snowflakes though the oil-black sky as it searches for its location.
Half Bad, Sally Green (394 pages)Half Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy’s struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.You can’t read, can’t write, but you heal fast, even for a witch. You get sick if you stay indoors after dark. You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one. You’ve been kept in a cage since you were fourteen. All you’ve got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.(Goodreads)
First lines: There’s these two kids, boys, sitting close together, squished by the arms of an old chair. You’re the one on the left. The other boy’s warm to lean close to, and he moves his gaze from the telly to you sort of in slow motion.
“You enjoying it?” he asks.
Backward glass, David Lomax (315 pages) Crack your head, knock you dead, then Prince Harming’s hunger’s fed. It’s 1977, and Kenny Maxwell is dreading the move away from his friends. But then, behind the walls of his family’s new falling-apart Victorian home, he finds something incredible–a mummified baby and a note: “Help me make it not happen, Kenny. Help me stop him.” Shortly afterwards, a beautiful girl named Luka shows up. She introduces Kenny to the backward glass, a mirror that allows them to travel through time. Meeting other “mirror kids” in the past and future is exciting, but there’s also danger. The urban legend of Prince Harming, who kidnaps and kills children, is true–and he’s hunting them. When Kenny gets stranded in the past, he must find the courage to answer a call for help, change the fate of a baby–and confront his own destiny.(Goodreads)
First lines: Here’s what you need to know: You’re my son and you’re something like negative twenty-two, because that’s how long it will be before you’re born. I have a story to tell you. Most of it happened right here in Scarborough, forty, fifty, even sixty years ago, but it happened to me. Last year. 1977. The year I turned fifteen.
Where the stars still shine, Trish Doller ( 336 pages)Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She’s never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love–even with someone who seems an improbable choice–is more than just a possibility.(Goodreads)
First lines: Yellow light slashes the darkness as Mom sneaks into the apartment again. The muffled creak of the floorboards beneath the shabby carpet gives her away, along with the stale-beer-and-cigarette smell that always follows her home from the Old Dutch.
Mermaid in Chelsea Creek, Michelle Tea (331 pages)Everyone in the broken-down town of Chelsea, Massachussetts, has a story too worn to repeat—from the girls who play the pass-out game just to feel like they’re somewhere else, to the packs of aimless teenage boys, to the old women from far away who left everything behind. But there’s one story they all still tell: the oldest and saddest but most hopeful story, the one about the girl who will be able to take their twisted world and straighten it out. The girl who will bring the magic.Could Sophie Swankowski be that girl? With her tangled hair and grubby clothes, her weird habits and her visions of a filthy, swearing mermaid who comes to her when she’s unconscious, Sophie could be the one to uncover the power flowing beneath Chelsea’s potholed streets and sludge-filled rivers, and the one to fight the evil that flows there, too. Sophie might discover her destiny, and maybe even in time to save them all.(Goodreads)
First lines: Chelsea was a city where people landed. People from other counrties, people running from wars and poverty, stealing away on boats that cut through the ocean into a whole new world, or on plabes, relief shaking their bodies and they rattled into the sky.
I lived on Butterfly Hill, Marjorie Agosin (454 pages)Celeste Marconi is a dreamer. She lives peacefully among friends and neighbors and family in the idyllic town of Valparaiso, Chile;until the time comes when even Celeste, with her head in the clouds, can’t deny the political unrest that is sweeping through the country. Warships are spotted in the harbor and schoolmates disappear from class without a word. Celeste doesn’t quite know what is happening, but one thing is clear: no one is safe, not anymore.The country has been taken over by a government that declares artists, protestors, and anyone who helps the needy to be considered subversive; and dangerous to Chile’s future. So Celeste’s parents, her educated, generous, kind parentsmust go into hiding before they, too, must disappear. To protect their daughter, they send her to America.As Celeste adapts to her new life in Maine, she never stops dreaming of Chile. But even after democracy is restored to her home country, questions remain: Will her parents reemerge from hiding? Will she ever be truly safe again? (Goodreads)
First lines: The blue cloud finally opens-just when the bell rings to let the Juana Ross School out for the weekend. I’d been wtaching the sky from the classroom windows all day, wondering just when the rain would pour down.
The mirk and midnight hour, Jane Nickerson (371 pages)A Southern girl. A wounded soldier. A chilling force deep in the forest. All collide at night’s darkest hour. Seventeen-year-old Violet Dancey has been left at home in Mississippi with a laudanum-addicted stepmother and love-crazed stepsister while her father fights in the war—a war that has already claimed her twin brother. When she comes across a severely injured Union soldier lying in an abandoned lodge deep in the woods, things begin to change. Thomas is the enemy—one of the men who might have killed her own brother—and yet she’s drawn to him. But Violet isn’t Thomas’s only visitor; someone has been tending to his wounds—keeping him alive—and it becomes chillingly clear that this care hasn’t been out of compassion. Against the dangers of war and ominous powers of voodoo, Violet must fight to protect her home and the people she loves.(Goodreads)
First lines: he was already dead. Maybe. He had been greviously wounded-he had expected to die anyway-but they did something to him that sucked out the rest of his feeble life and will, except for the tony spark of spul that hunkered mutely deep inside.