Mind the gap, Phil Earle
When Mikey’s dad died, something in Mikey died too. He loved his old man and he never stopped dreaming that one day his dad would land the role of a lifetime, prove them all wrong, and rock back up to the estate in the flashiest car anyone had ever seen. Now there’s just numbness, and not caring, and really, really stupid decisions. He says the worst of it is that he can’t even remember his dad’s voice any more. Eventually Mikey’s best mate can’t bear it any more, and so he sets out to give Mikey the memories – and his dad’s voice – back. (Goodreads)
First lines: It’s hard to sound tough when someone’s hand is around your throat. I did try, but I ended up sounding more like a choirboy than the gangster I was aiming for. Mikey didn’t bother with the tough guy act, but he didn’t look scared either.
A shadow’s breath, Nicole Hayes
Then, things were looking up for Tessa. Her mum was finally getting her life back on track. Tessa had started seeing Nick. She was making new friends. She’d even begun to paint again. Now, Tessa and Nick are trapped in the car after a corner taken too fast. Injured, stranded in the wilderness, at the mercy of the elements, the question becomes one of survival. But Tessa isn’t sure she wants to be found. Not after what she saw. Not after what she remembered. (Goodreads)
First lines: Oddly, it’s not the pain that seizes her first – the dull crack of splintering bone, or the sear of muscle ripped from cuff, ligament from joint, skin splitting raggedly where once it was whole. It’s not even the bitter taste of fear in her mouth, sharp and foul.
Traveller, L.E. DeLano
Teen author Jessa learns that she and one of her characters, Finn, are Travelers with the ability to slide between realities, and that Finn is determined to prevent her dying in yet another realm. (Publisher information)
First lines: He ran for the trees as hard as he could, his legs burning and his lungs frantically to suck in enough air to keep him going. He had to lead them away. A shot ricocheted off a large rock nearby, splintering him with fragments as he ran on, not daring to take time to look back.
Long way home, Katie McCarry
Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving. It’s the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it’s up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she’s known and loved her whole life. But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she’s forced to question what she thought she knew about her father, the Reign of Terror, and what she thinks she wants. Which means re-evaluating everything: love, family, friends . . . and forgiveness. Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she’s strong enough to be the one person to save them all. (Goodreads)
First lines: The instructions of the English homework I didn’t do hang out from the top of my folder. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both. Story of my life.
Until we win, Linda Newberry
A hundred years ago, women didn’t have the vote. When Lizzy Frost becomes involved with the fledgling Suffragette movement, it expands her horizons in ways she never could have imagined. From time spent in prison for the cause, to new relationships with fellow campaigners, Lizzy’s struggle for votes for women sets her heart on fire. (Goodreads)
First lines: Summer, 1914. I’ll never forget it. No one else will, either, because the war with Germany started in August. But for me, it was the year I became a suffragette. The year I found something to fight for and someone to spend my life with. And it was the year I went to prison.
A bit late with this post, but better late than never! Here are some of the best books about living as a member of the LGBTQ community.
Dark Horses, Cecily Von Ziegesar
Merritt Wenner has been self-destructing ever since the tragic deaths of her grandmother and her horse, and after an epic all-night bender she walks out of the SAT and disappears. Her parents, looking for a quick fix, ship her off to a residential equine therapy program. At Good Fences, Merritt meets Red—a failed racehorse and a terror in the barn. Red has never bonded with anyone, but Merritt is not afraid of him, which makes all the difference. Soon they’re sneaking rides after curfew, which catches the attention of Red’s owner. Recognizing their potential, he funds their launch into the competitive hunter/jumper circuit. Against the cutthroat backdrop of competitive riding, Merritt and their groom, Beatrice, develop an attraction. Merritt also finds herself drawn to Carvin, a rival rider. But in Red’s mind, Merritt belongs to him alone. Anyone else poses a threat. And Merritt can’t foresee what he’ll do to keep her to himself.(Goodreads)
First lines: I’m dying. Whatever I drank from those boxes has made me very, very sick. I can’t find my stall. The ground lists and sways beneath my hooves as I stagger around in the dark, looking for.
The home-coming, Stacie Ramey
It’s been a year since John lost his girlfriend, Leah, to suicide. Living with his uncle keeps his mind from the tragedy and his screwed up family-until he gets into trouble and a judge sends him back home. With a neglectful mother and abusive brother, John’s homecoming is far from happy. As he tries to navigate and repair the relationships he abandoned years ago, Emily, the girl next door, is the only bright spot. She’s sweet and smart and makes him think his heart may finally be healing. But tragedy isn’t far away, and John must soon face an impossible decision: save his family or save himself. (Goodreads)
First lines: Standing on the high school’s lacrosse field in the town I never thought I’d go back to, I wait for my turn to do suicides. The sun blazes, and I take a drink from my water bottle and try not to chew myself out for landing here instead of getting to stay in Chicago with Uncle Dave.
Property of the state, Bill Cameron
Joey Getchie has been property of the state longer than he was in parental custody. But he’s a survivor, and he has a Plan: graduate high school and get out of the foster care system before it eats him alive. He bonds with Trisha, another foster, who seems to have lucked out when it comes to foster parents. A false accusation leads to a physical clash with his foster father, so Joey flees to Huntzel Manor, where he works part time. He takes up unauthorized residence and keeps a low profile, hoping to avoid attention. But attention arrives in the worst possible way: a classmate is seriously injured in a hit and run accident, and Joey becomes the focus of the investigation. Why shouldn’t he be? He had a violent confrontation with the same classmate just last year. And of course, he’s a kid with a criminal record. Except of course, he isn’t.(Goodreads)
First lines: “Joseph. Don’t sit down.”
I’m barely through the door of Moylan’s sixth period Trigonometry dungeon but he’s already on my ass. “You’re required in the office.”
My therapist says I should count to ten before I open my mouth. With Moylan, I seldom make it past one.
“My name isn’t Joseph.”
Lucky strikes, Louis Bayard
With her mama recently dead and her pa sight unseen since birth, fourteen-year-old Amelia is suddenly in charge of her younger brother and sister, and of the family gas station. Harley Blevins, local king and emperor of Standard Oil, is in hot pursuit to clinch his fuel monopoly. To keep him at bay and her family out of foster care, Melia must come up with a father, and fast. And so when a hobo rolls out of a passing truck, Melia grabs opportunity by its beard. Can she hold off the hounds till she comes of age? (Goodreads)
First lines: Mama died hard, you should know that. Nearly died alone, too. Now, most nights, she’d so much as groan, I’d come running, but this was late March, ten days shy of Easter and spring barely a thought, and a dream come and snatched me.
The X-Files: origins, Devil’s advocate, Jonathan Maberry
How did Fox Mulder become a believer? How did Dana Scully become a skeptic? The X-Files Origins has the answers in this young adult origin story. The X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate will explore the teen years of Dana Scully, the beloved character depicted in the cult-favorite TV show The X-Files. Her story is set in the spring of 1979, when serial murder, the occult, and government conspiracy were highlighted in the news. The book will follow Scully as she experiences life-changing events that set her on the path to becoming an FBI agent.(Goodreads)
First lines: “I want to believe,” said Dana Scully.
Melissa Scully looked at her sister. Dana sat a few feet away, red hair tangled by the wind, blue eyes foxed on darkening sky. Above the canopy of leaves, the first starts of a brand-new April were igniting. The waxing crescent moon was low, slicing its way into the steeple of the empty church across the street.
The one memory of Flora Banks, Emily Barr
Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life. With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home. (Goodreads)
First lines: The music is too loud, the room too crowded, and it feels as though there are more people in this house than any human being could possibly know. The low notes vibrate through my body. I have been standing in the corner for a while: I take a deep breath and start to push my way between strangers. I look at my hand. PARTY, it tells me, in thick black letters.
All we have left, Wendy Mills
Sixteen-year-old Jesse is used to living with the echoes of the past. Her older brother died in the September 11th attacks, and her dad has filled their home with anger and grief. When Jesse gets caught up with the wrong crowd, one momentary hate-fueled decision turns her life upside down. The only way to make amends is to face the past, starting Jesse on a journey that will reveal the truth about how her brother died.
In 2001, sixteen-year-old Alia is proud to be Muslim… it’s being a teenager that she finds difficult. After being grounded for a stupid mistake, Alia is determined to show her parents that that they must respect her choices. She’ll start by confronting her father at his office in downtown Manhattan, putting Alia in danger she never could have imagined. When the planes collide into the Twin Towers Alia is trapped inside one of the buildings. In the final hours she meets a boy who will change everything for her as the flames rage around them…(Goodreads)
First lines: Travis draws my face into his chest as the smoke engulfs us. The other tower fell, it fell straight down like a waterfall of concrete and steel, and oh God, please help me, because is this one going to fall too? Travis tightens his arms around me, shielding me as parts of the ceiling fall. It doesn’t feel like it will ever end, and I hold on to him with all my strength.
Dreadnought, April Daniels
Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl. It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with “curing” her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head. She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer—a cyborg named Utopia—still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction. (Goodreads)
First lines: This is taking too long. I just want to pay for the shit and go. It’s not like I’m breaking the law or anything-except it totally feels like I’m breaking the law. It’d be really cool to be able to do this without shame, without hopping on a train to ride halfway across the city first. Finally, I get to the front of the line and drop the nail polish on the counter.
If I was your girl, Meredith Russo
Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school in Lambertville, Tennessee. Like any other girl, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. There’s a reason why she transferred schools for her senior year, and why she’s determined not to get too close to anyone. And then she meets Grant Everett. Grant is unlike anyone she’s ever met—open, honest, kind—and Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself…including her past. But she’s terrified that once she tells Grant the truth, he won’t be able to see past it. Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew. (Goodreads)
First lines: The bus smelled of mildew, machine oil, and sweat. As the suburban Atlanta sprawl disappeared behind us, I tapped my foot on the floor and chewed a lock of my newly long hair. A nagging voice reminded me that I was only a half an hour from home, that if I was only a half an hour from hour, that if I got off at the next stop and walked back to Smyrna, by sunset I could be in the comfort of my own bedroom, the familiar smell of Mom’s starchy cooking in the air.
Saint Death, Marcus Sedgewick
Anapra is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the Mexican city of Juarez – twenty metres outside town lies a fence – and beyond it – America – the dangerous goal of many a migrant. Faustino is one such trying to escape from the gang he’s been working for. He’s dipped into a pile of dollars he was supposed to be hiding and now he’s on the run. He and his friend, Arturo, have only 36 hours to replace the missing money, or they’re as good as dead. Watching over them is Saint Death. Saint Death (or Santissima Muerte) – she of pure bone and charcoal-black eye, she of absolute loyalty and neutral morality, holy patron to rich and poor, to prostitute and narco-lord, criminal and police-chief. A folk saint, a rebel angel, a sinister guardian.(Goodreads)
First lines: Not too far away from here, just over the horizon of our imagination, there’s a girl floating in the river. She moves with the water, whispering through the bulrushes by the bank. Her arms are out to the side, her legs splay and tiny fish dance around her toes.
The lovely reckless, Kami Garcia
Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football. Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart? (Goodreads)
First lines: A police officer shines a blinding light in my eyes.
“Do you know why I pulled you over over?”
To ruin what was left of my miserable life?
The memory book, Lara Avery
Sammie was always a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as humanly possible. Nothing will stand in her way–not even a rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly start to steal her memories and then her health. What she needs is a new plan. So the Memory Book is born: Sammie’s notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. It’s where she’ll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime crush, Stuart–a brilliant young writer who is home for the summer. And where she’ll admit how much she’s missed her childhood best friend, Cooper, and even take some of the blame for the fight that ended their friendship.(Goodreads)
First lines: If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering who you are. I’ll give you three clues.
In 15 years, Egan Tucker has spoken to no one but his mother … Escaping from an abusive husband, Moana (Moma) took baby Ethan to live in the Coromandel bush. For 15 years, Moma taught Egan to survive, and instilled in him her code for a good life. A chance meeting with a DOC deer culler (JT) while out hunting, results in Ethan finding his first friend. And when Moma goes to get supplies one day and never returns, Ethan decides to head to Auckland to get help from his mother’s friend – and also to try and find JT. But Egan finds that survival amongst the streetkids of Auckland is nothing like living in the bush … and he is unprepared for the tragedy that awaits. (Publisher information.)
First lines: Captain Cooker in the evetable garden overnight. Lots of damage.
Mona said not to hunt the pig. Too dangerous.
Fixed the pig fence.
Dinner: Potato stew (again!)
Book I am reading: ‘The old man and the sea’ by Ernest Hemmingway
Things I am afraid of: the pig.
Iris and the tiger, Leanne Hall
Twelve-year-old Iris has been sent to Spain on a mission: to make sure her elderly and unusual aunt, Ursula, leaves her fortune–and her sprawling estate–to Iris’s scheming parents. But from the moment Iris arrives at Bosque de Nubes, she realises something isn’t quite right. There is an odd feeling around the house, where time moves slowly and Iris’s eyes play tricks on her. While outside, in the wild and untamed forest, a mysterious animal moves through the shadows. Just what is Aunt Ursula hiding? But when Iris discovers a painting named Iris and the Tiger, she sets out to uncover the animal’s real identity–putting her life in terrible danger. (Goodreads)
First lines: No one had ever asked Iris to spy for them before. She wasn’t totally convinced she’d be any good at it. But Iris also wasn’t in the habit of saying no to her parents – they paid her so little regard as it was – and when they first sat her down to outline their plan, Iris felt the unfamiliar glow of their attention.
Songs that sound like blood, Jared Thomas
Roxy May Redding’s got music in her soul and songs in her blood. She lives in a hot dusty town and is dreaming big. She survives run-ins with the mean girls at high school, sings in her dad’s band and babysits for her wayward aunt. But Roxy wants a new start. When she gets the chance to study music in the big city, she takes it. Roxy’s new life, her new friends and her music collide in a way she could never have imagined. Being a poor student sucks… navigating her way through the pressure of a national music competition has knobs on it… singing for her dinner is soul destroying… but nothing prepares Roxy for her biggest challenge. Her crush on Ana, the local music journo, forces her to steer her way through a complex maze of emotions alien to this small town girl. Family and friends watch closely as Roxy takes a confronting journey to find out who the hell she is. (Goodreads)
First lines: Hanging Dad’s washing on the line straight after school on a Friday was the last thing I wanted to be doing. At least I was listening to Vance Joy and could smell the basil Dad was growing or I might have set his jocks on fire. Drives me crazy how he just leaves his things in the washing machine like that.
Battlesaurus: clash of empires, Brian Falkner
In this stunning sequel to a unique alt-history adventure, dinosaurs from a forbidden world have been turned into unstoppable weapons by one of the most ferocious military leaders of all time. In the wake of Napoléon’s crushing victory at Waterloo, the vicious French general Marc Thibault and his brigade of giant carnivorous battlesaurs have struck terror across Europe. England stands alone, but an invasion is looming. Its only hope is a secret attack led by a magician’s son named Willem deep inside enemy territory, to the very heart of Napoléon’s terrifying new army. Deception and betrayal threaten the mission from its outset, but the courage and perseverance of Willem the “saur killer” and his friends lead to a clash of titanic proportions.(Goodreads)
First lines: The young French soldier shivers, and not from the cold, although here at the parapet of the castle the wind is icy and pitiless. From behind him and below come deep grunting sounds and the rattle of chains. That area of the castle courtyard is covered with hastily erected screens of sailcloth to keep out prying, spying eyes.
Lonesome when you go, Saradha Koirala
Paige plays base in high school rock band Vox Pop, which means keeping a steady rhythm even in their most raucous rock and roll moments. But in the tense build-up to the Rockfest competition, Paige finds that she can’t control everything in her life, no matter how hard she practises and how loud she plays. There’s stuff happening in the band that she can’t put her finger on, a friend who can’t handle her own secret anymore and a mysterious guy who plays double bass like an angel. But there isn’t much time to sort things out – Rockfest looms and so does the end of school year, when everything will change for good. (Publisher information)
First lines: The stage is huge. Lighting rigs and speaker systems tower above us and there’s a noise I can’t yet place. Slowly I tune in to the rhythmic roaring of a vigorous crowd. They’re invisible; coloured lights glare down on me and I’m looking out into darkness.
The level, Olivia Levez
Frances is alone on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. She has to find water and food. She has to survive. And when she is there she also thinks about the past. The things that she did before. The things that made her a monster. Nothing is easy. Survival is hard and so is being honest about the past. Frances is a survivor however, and with the help of the only other crash survivor, she sees that the future is worth fighting for.(Goodreads)
First lines: They all know what I’ve done. Of course they do. That’s why they leave me well alone. Hi I’m Rufus! is fascinated, like I’m some frickin sideshow. You can tell because his eyes are on me every time I look.
Breathing under water, Sophie Hardcastle
Ben and Grace Walker are twins. Growing up in a sleepy coastal town it was inevitable they’d surf. Always close, they hung out more than most brothers and sisters, surfing together for hours as the sun melted into the sea. At seventeen, Ben is a rising surf star, the golden son and the boy all the girls fall in love with. Beside him, Grace feels like she is a mere reflection of his light. In their last year of school, the world beckons, full of possibility. For Grace, finishing exams and kissing Harley Matthews is just the beginning. Then, one day, the unthinkable. The sun sets at noon and suddenly everything that was safe and predictable is lost. And everything unravels.(Goodreads)
First lines: Chilled bones. Red skin. White clouds exhaled as teeth chatter, and the ocean, just waiting for them…Beneath a silk veil of silence, feet sprint across wet grass, wet sand, and then lift.
Drag teen, Jeffrey Self
Debut YA author Jeffery Self takes us on a road trip with an insecure high school senior who has one goal: to be the first in his family to leave Clearwater, Florida, and go to college. The problem is, he has zero means of paying for school — until his friends convince him to compete in a drag teen competition for a college scholarship. (Goodreads)
First lines: This isn’t one of those stories about a heartwarming journey toward accepting my cursed homosexual identity. No. First of all, being gay is far from a case. It’s like an extra order of fries at Wendy’s because the lady in the window isn’t paying attention while she fills your bag.
This year’s been a great year for graphic novels and horror, among other things. Here are my top ten picks for the best reads of 2015.
1) The singing bones, Shaun Tan
2) Baba Yaga’s assistant, Emily Carroll
3) Nimona, Noelle Stevenson
4) Part-time Princesses, Monica Gallagher
5) Gotham by midnight, Ray Fawkes and Ben Templesmith
6) Frozen Charlotte, Alex Bell
7) Calvin, Martine Leavitt
8) When Mr. Dog bites, Brian Conaghan
9) Our endless numbered days, Claire Fuller
10) Silver in the blood, Jessica Day George
The distance from me to you, Marina Gessner
McKenna Berney is a lucky girl. She has a loving family and has been accepted to college for the fall. But McKenna has a different goal in mind: much to the chagrin of her parents, she defers her college acceptance to hike the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia with her best friend. And when her friend backs out, McKenna is determined to go through with the dangerous trip on her own. While on the Trail, she meets Sam. Having skipped out on an abusive dad and quit school, Sam has found a brief respite on the Trail, where everyone’s a drifter, at least temporarily.
Despite lives headed in opposite directions, McKenna and Sam fall in love on an emotionally charged journey of dizzying highs and devastating lows. When their punch-drunk love leads them off the trail, McKenna has to persevere in a way she never thought possible to beat the odds or risk both their lives. (Goodreads)
First lines: McKenna couldn’t believe it. Maybe her ears were malfunctioning. Or her brain was playing tricks on her. Either option-deafness or insanity-seemed better than believing the words coming out of her best friend’s mouth.
If you’re lucky, Yvonne Prinz
When seventeen-year-old Georgia’s brother drowns while surfing halfway around the world in Australia, she refuses to believe Lucky’s death was just bad luck. Lucky was smart. He wouldn’t have surfed in waters more dangerous than he could handle. Then a stranger named Fin arrives in False Bay, claiming to have been Lucky’s best friend. Soon Fin is working for Lucky’s father, charming Lucky’s mother, dating his girlfriend. Georgia begins to wonder: did Fin murder Lucky in order to take over his whole life? Determined to clear the fog from her mind in order to uncover the truth about Lucky’s death, Georgia secretly stops taking the medication that keeps away the voices in her head. Georgia is certain she’s getting closer and closer to the truth about Fin, but as she does, her mental state becomes more and more precarious, and no one seems to trust what she’s saying. (Goodreads)
First lines: The phone rang at four o’clock in the morning. Someone on the other end said that Lucky was dead. And just like that I was big brotherless. I didn’t cry. Life without my brother had never even occurred to me. Not once.
Dangerous lies, Becca Fitzpatrick
After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.
But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows. As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks… (Goodreads)
First lines: An angry rap shook the motel room door. I lay perfectly still on the mattress, my skin hot and clammy. Beside me, Reed drew my body to his. So much for 10 minutes, I thought.
Dark metropolis, Jaclyn Dolamore
Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder’s mother is cursed with a spell that’s driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules. Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city’s secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own. Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they’re not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too.(Goodreads)
First lines: “I’m glad you girls are all here; by the looks of the crowd outside we’ll be busy, even for a Saturday.” Mr. Kortig raked his hand through his hair. “Lotties – I’d like you in the front. Nan, the private rooms. Thea, the balcony.” Who would Thea serve tonight?
The peony lantern, Frances Watts
When Kasumi leaves her remote village for the teeming city of Edo, her life is transformed. As a lady-in-waiting in a samurai mansion she discovers a rare talent for art and falls in love with a young samurai. How could she ever return to the life of a simple mountain girl? But Kasumi must set aside her own concerns. Her country is on the brink of change and Edo is simmering with tension. And her mistress has a dangerous secret-a secret that Kasumi is gradually drawn into…(Goodreads)
First lines: “Kasumi, I need you to go to the forest,” my mother called as I was putting the last futon into the cupboard.
“Have a lovely walk.” Hana was polishing the walls, which glowed a deep amber from years of smoke and soot. “Don’t spare a thought for those of us who have to work around here.”
No true echo, Gareth P. Jones
Nothing ever happens in idyllic Wellcome Valley, much to Eddie Dane’s dismay. Then, one day, Scarlett White steps onto the school bus. She’s a stranger but somehow familiar. Equal parts smitten and intrigued, Eddie tries to get to know her but finds she has more questions about him. Curious questions about his dead mother. One day he follows Scarlett to a remote house, where he witnesses a brutal murder, and suddenly he’s back on the school bus the day he first met Scarlett! Caught in a repeating time loop, Eddie learns the truth about his mother’s death, the nature of his connection to Scarlett, and how his past has shaped a dangerous future…one that he can prevent if he lets go of a person he loves.(Goodreads)
First lines: Since the trial, Liphook had found herself feeling increasingly nostalgic. She didn’t like it. All the other pensioners on the coach might have been content to natter on about the old days, but Liphook had never been interested in looking back. Only now that her memories were shifting and twisting did it feel important to try and cling to the truth. A part of her hoped that by remembering, she would be able to make it more real.
All the major constellations, Pratima Cranse
Laura Lettel is the most beautiful girl in the world. . . and Andrew’s not-so-secret infatuation.
Now he’s leaving high school behind and looking ahead to a fresh start at college and distance from his obsessive crush. But when a terrible accident leaves him without the companionship of his two best friends, Andrew is cast adrift and alone—until Laura unexpectedly offers him comfort, friendship, and the support of a youth group of true believers, fundamentalist Christians with problems and secrets of their own. Andrew is curiously drawn to their consuming beliefs, but why? Is it only to get closer to Laura? And is Laura genuinely interested in Andrew, or is she just trying to convert him?(Goodreads)
First lines: He stood at the top of the stairs and listened. A single note. A vibrational pull. A silk string. Laura.
“Jeeeesus, Jesus saves. He saves…me,” she sang. And then the single note returned, a wordless mmmm. Like the sound you make when you’re kissing someone, or pretending to kiss someone when you’re actually just pressing your face into your pillow.
Concentr8, William Sutcliffe
In a future London, Concentr8 is a prescription drug intended to help kids with ADD. Soon every troubled teen is on it. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Keep the undesirable elements in line. Keep people like us safe from people like them. What’s good for society is good for everyone. Troy, Femi, Lee, Karen and Blaze have been taking Concentr8 as long as they can remember. They’re not exactly a gang, but Blaze is their leader, and Troy has always been his quiet, watchful sidekick – the only one Blaze really trusts. They’re not looking for trouble, but one hot summer day, when riots break out across the city, they find it. What makes five kids pick a man seemingly at random – a nobody, he works in the housing department, doesn’t even have a good phone – hold a knife to his side, take him to a warehouse and chain him to a radiator? They’ve got a hostage, but don’t really know what they want, or why they’ve done it. And across the course of five tense days, with a journalist, a floppy-haired mayor, a police negotiator, and the sinister face of the pharmaceutical industry, they – and we – begin to understand why …This is a book about what how we label children. It’s about how kids get lost and failed by the system. It’s about how politicians manipulate them.
First lines: You want to know how I got famous? This is how. Weren’t proper famous. Didn’t last more than a few days. Weren’t popular famous neither. I mean most famous is we-love-you-famous or you-done-something-good famous – this was the opposite. For a few days me and Blaze and the others was the official scumbags of the universe. But what I’m saying is – we ain’t. We ain’t and we weren’t.
Until we meet again, Renee Collins
Cassandra craves drama and adventure, so the last thing she wants is to spend her summer marooned with her mother and stepfather in a snooty Massachusetts shore town. But when a dreamy stranger shows up on their private beach claiming it’s his own—and that the year is 1925—she is swept into a mystery a hundred years in the making. As she searches for answers in the present, Cassandra discovers a truth that puts their growing love—and Lawrence’s life—into jeopardy. Desperate to save him, Cassandra must find a way to change history…or risk losing Lawrence forever.
First lines: The beach is empty. In the fading glow of twilight, the waves roll up to the rocks in sweeping curls of white foam. The sand glistens like wet steel. The grass bends low in the briny night wind. Always changing, yet always the same. I imagine the beach has looked like this since the beginning of time.
The firebug of Balrog county, David Oppegaard
Dark times have fallen on remote Balrog County, and Mack Druneswald, a high school senior with a love of clandestine arson, is doing his best to deal. While his family is haunted by his mother’s recent death, Mack spends his nights roaming the countryside, looking for something new to burn. When he encounters Katrina, a college girl with her own baggage, Mack sets out on a path of pyromania the likes of which sleepy Balrog County has never seen before. (Goodreads)
First lines: A firebug has woken inside my heart. He feeds on smoke and char and he is always hungry, even when it appears he’s asleep and his flaming eye turned inward. I have done my best to feed him well, slinging him a diet of fires both large and small, yet this has not always held him in check. In fact, nourishing my inner firebug only made him stronger, increasing his appetite tenfold and bringing all manner of calamity to myself and the semi-innocent inhabitants of Balrog County.
Calvin, Martine Leavitt
As a child, Calvin felt an affinity with the comic book character from Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes. He was born on the day the last strip was published; his grandpa left a stuffed tiger named Hobbes in his crib; and he even had a best friend named Susie. Then Calvin’s mom washed Hobbes to death, Susie grew up beautiful and stopped talking to him, and Calvin pretty much forgot about the strip—until now. Now he is seventeen years old and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Hobbes is back, as a delusion, and Calvin can’t control him. Calvin decides that Watterson is the key to everything—if he would just make one more comic strip, but without Hobbes, Calvin would be cured. Calvin and Susie (is she real?) and Hobbes (he can’t be real, can he?) set out on a dangerous trek across frozen Lake Erie to track down Watterson.
First lines: Dear Bill,
This is Calvin again. I hope it’s okay if I call you Bill. Meaning no disrespect at all, but Bill is easier to type than Mr. Watterson and this is going to be a long letter. I am writing this letter for two reasons. One is because it has to be my English project, which is worth 50 percent of my final grade. My teacher gave me the idea but said it better be a long letter if it’s going to be worth 50 percent.
Modern Monsters, Kelly York
Vic Howard never wanted to go to the party. He’s the Invisible Guy at school, a special kind of hell for quiet, nice guys. But because his best friend is as popular as Vic is ignored, he went…
And wished he hadn’t. Because something happened to a girl that night. Something terrible, unimaginable, and Callie Wheeler’s life will never be the same. Plus, now Callie has told the police that Vic is responsible. Suddenly, Invisible Vic is painfully visible, on trial both literally, with the police, and figuratively, with the angry kids at school. As the whispers and violence escalate, he becomes determined to clear his name, even if it means an uneasy alliance with Callie’s best friend, the beautiful but aloof Autumn Dixon. But as Autumn and Vic slowly peel back the layers of what happened at the party, they realize that while the truth can set Vic free, it can also shatter everything he thought he knew about his life…(Goodreads)
First lines: Aaron Biggs leans over me to ask, “How’s it going, Vic?”
His freckled face and dyed black hair obscure my light. I squint at the page of algebra equations on the cafeteria table, decide they aren’t going to make any more sense to me whether or not I pause to see what Aaron wants, and look up at him. “Um. F-fine?”
The emperor of any place, Tim Wynne-Jones
When Evan’s father dies, Evan finds a hand-bound yellow book on his desk—a book his father had been reading when he passed away. It is the diary of a Japanese soldier stranded on a small Pacific island in WWII. Why was his father reading it? Who was the American soldier also stranded there? And what could this possibly mean for Evan? (Goodreads)
First lines: Evan stands at the door to his father’s study. There is a sign at eye level: THE DOCKYARD. It was a present he gave to his father last Christmas, made of cork so that if the house sank, at least the sign would still float. Their little joke. He raises his hand to knock – a habit he can begin to unlearn. So much of grief is unlearning.
What we saw, Aaron Harker
Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone’s house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early—the feeling that maybe he’s becoming more than just the guy she’s known since they were kids. But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Deacon Mills’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details. When Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the whole town erupts into controversy. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface, and every answer Kate finds leads back to the same question: Where was Ben when a terrible crime was committed? (Goodreads)
First lines: This video doesn’t show you everything. For instance, you can’t tell that it’s been raining or that the grass is still wet beneath our cleats. I’m five years old in the shaky footage, which was shot before you could make a video using your phone. I pull out Dad’s old camera everyone in a while and watch my first game. This tape from twelve years ago is always inside when I do.
Velocity, Chris Wooding
The Hunger Games’ behind the wheel of a souped-up rally car. Losers die. Winners take all. A race through a psycho-future with genius Wooding in the driving seat. Fast? Yes. Furious? Yes. Fatal? We’ll see. (Goodreads)
First lines: Over the line, into the final lap, ambushed by the rough raw howl of the crowd. The bleachers were a dusty smear, faces lost in blurred chaos, gone in a moment. There was only the race.
Soundless, Richelle Mead
For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom. When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation. But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon. (Goodreads)
First lines: My sister is in trouble, and I have only minutes to help her. She doesn’t see it. She’s having difficulty seeing a lot of things lately, and that’s the problem. Your brushstrokes are off, I sign to her. The lines are crooked, and you’ve misjudged some of the hues. Zhang Jing steps back from her canvas. Surprise lights her features for only a moment before despair sets in.
Hotel Ruby, Suzanne Young
When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief. Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating, extending their stay as it provides endless distractions—including handsome guest Elias Lange, who sends Audrey’s pulse racing. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful. Nightly fancy affairs in the ballroom are invitation only, and Audrey seems to be the one guest who doesn’t have an invite. Instead, she joins the hotel staff on the rooftop, catching whispers about the hotel’s dark past. The more Audrey learns about the new people she’s met, the more her curiosity grows. She’s torn in different directions—the pull of her past with its overwhelming loss, the promise of a future that holds little joy, and an in-between life in a place that is so much more than it seems…(Goodreads)
First lines: The treetops curve above the road like an archway, blotting out the moon and stars. We’ve been driving through these woods for close to an hour, and our car headlights shine only a short distance in the tick fog. I glance into the backseat to check my older brother’s current state of annoyance, but Daniel hasn’t spoken to me since the rest stop near vegas. He stiffens, aggressively ignoring me when he turns to face the dark outside the window.
13 days of midnight, Leo Hunt
When Luke Manchett’s estranged father dies unexpectedly, he leaves his son a dark inheritance: a Host of eight unique, powerful, and restless spirits. Unfortunately, Luke has no clue how to manage them, which the ghosts figure out pretty quickly. Armed with only his father’s indecipherable notes and a locked copy of The Book of Eight, Luke struggles to adapt to his new role as a necromancer. Meanwhile, the increasingly belligerent Host mutinies, possesses Luke’s mother, and forces him out of his own house. Halloween, the night when ghosts reach the height of their power, is fast approaching, and Luke knows his Host is planning something far more trick than treat. With the help of school outcast Elza Moss, who knows a bit about ghosts herself, Luke has just thirteen days to uncover the closely guarded secrets of black magic and send his unquiet spirits to their eternal rest.(Goodreads)
First lines: The first thing that happens is that I unseal an envelope and Dad’s death falls out onto the breakfast table. I always thought I’d learn about it from the papers first, or that maybe news like this would be delivered by an angel, holding out a gilded scroll, its perfect face scribbled with sorrow.
What we left behind, Robin Talley
Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They’ve been together forever. They never fight. They’re deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they’re sure they’ll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, their relationship will surely thrive.
The reality of being apart, however, is a lot different than they expected. As Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, falls in with a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship. While Toni worries that Gretchen, who is not trans, just won’t understand what is going on, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in Toni’s life. As distance and Toni’s shifting gender identity begins to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?(Goodreads)
First lines: Even before I saw her, it was the best night of my life. It was Homecoming. I was about to walk into a ballroom full of people. A girl in a flouncy dress was clinging to my elbow, her photo-ready smile firmly in place, her left hand already raised in a preparatory wave. I didn’t smile with her. I didn’t know if I could even remember how to smile. I was happy, yeah – I was so, so, so happy that night- but I was terrified, too.
The many lives of John Stone, Linda Buckley-Archer
An English teen questions all she knows about aging when she encounters a set of journals that date from the present back to the reign of King Louis XIV in this blend of contemporary and historical fiction from the author of the acclaimed Gideon trilogy. Stella Park (Spark for short) has found summer work cataloguing historical archives in John Stone’s remote and beautiful house in Suffolk, England. She wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and her uncertainty about living at Stowney House only increases upon arriving: what kind of people live in the twenty-first century without using electricity, telephones, or even a washing machine? Additionally, the notebooks she’s organizing span centuries—they begin in the court of Louis XIV in Versailles—but are written in the same hand. Something strange is going on for sure, and Spark’s questions are piling up. Who exactly is John Stone? What connection does he have to these notebooks? And more importantly, why did he hire her in the first place?(Goodreads)
First lines: Spark finds Mum hunched over the kitchen table, feet shoved into sheepskin slippers, hands around a mug of tea, the fridge door open for light.
“What are you doing up already?”
“Couldn’t get a wink,” says Mum, “Knowing how early you’ve got to be off.”
MARTians, Blythe Woolston
Last girl Zoë Zindleman, numerical ID 009-99-9999, has just been graduated. Early. Her options: wait for her home to be foreclosed and stripped of anything valuable now that AnnaMom has moved away, or move to the Warren, an abandoned strip-mall-turned-refuge for other left-behinds—a safe place, and close to AllMART, Zoë’s new employer, where “your smile is AllMART’s welcome mat.” Zoë may be the last girl, but her name means “life,” and Zoë isn’t ready to disappear into the AllMART abyss. Zoë wants to live.(Goodreads)
First lines: Sexual responsibility is boring. It isn’t Mrs Brody’s fault. She’s a good teacher. She switches channels at appropriate moments, tases students who need tasing -zizz-ZAPPP!- and she only once got stuck in the garbage can beside her teaching station.
The detour, S.A. Boden
On her way to a writer’s conference, a bestselling teenage author takes a detour that has been deliberately set up by her biggest fans—a mother and daughter who kidnap her. Livvy Flynn is a big deal—she’s a New York Times-bestselling author whose YA fiction has sold all over the world. She’s rich, she’s famous, she’s gorgeous, and she’s full of herself. When she’s invited to an A-list writer’s conference, she decides to accept so she can have some time to herself. She’s on a tight deadline for her next book, and she has no intention of socializing with the other industry people at the conference. And then she hits the detour. Before she knows it, her brand new car is wrecked, she’s hurt, and she’s tied to a bed in a nondescript shack in the middle of nowhere. A woman and her apparently manic daughter have kidnapped her. And they have no intention of letting her go. (Goodreads)
First lines: How often do you see a girl standing barefoot on a log by the side of the road, playing a flipping flute? Never, that’s how often.
Which is why my focus left the winding gravel for a split second too long, which turned out to be way more than enough time to catch the tires of my red Audi convertible on the raised edge of the road, which I happened to be driving along much too fast.
Silence is goldfish, Annabel Pitcher
My name is Tess Turner – at least, that’s what I’ve always been told. I have a voice but it isn’t mine. It used to say things so I’d fit in, to please my parents, to please my teachers. It used to tell the universe I was something I wasn’t. It lied. It never occurred to me that everyone else was lying too. But the words that really hurt weren’t the lies: it was six hundred and seventeen words of truth that turned my world upside down. Words scare me, the lies and the truth, so I decided to stop using them. I am Pluto. Silent. Inaccessible. Billions of miles away from everything I thought I knew. (Goodreads)
First lines:There must be a list on the Internet of what to buy when you’re running away but my phone is typically dead, like I swear it just passes out whenever things get stressful. It’s unconscious in my pocket so I can’t look up a list of essential items for life on the road, but a children’s torch in the shape of a goldfish seems a very sensible choice.
Because you’ll never meet me, Leah Thomas
Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him. (Goodreads)
First lines: Dear Fellow Hermit,
My name is Oliver, but most people who meet me end up calling me Ollie. I guess you don’t really have to, though, because odds are you’ll never meet me. I can never travel to wherever you are, because what makes me a hermit is the fact that I’m deathly allergic to electricity. This is kind of massively incapacitating, but hey – everyone has problems, right?
Six of crows, Leigh Bardugo
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first. (Goodreads)
First lines: Joost had two problems: the moon and his moustache. He was supposed to be making his rounds at the Hoede house, but for the last fifteen minutes, he’d been hovering around the southeast wall of the gardens, trying to think of something clever and romantic to say to Anya.
Blood will tell, April Henry
When a woman’s body is found in a Portland park, suspicion falls on an awkward teen who lives only a few blocks away, owns several knives, loves first-person shooter video games, and doodles violent scenes in his school notebooks. Nick Walker goes from being a member of a Search and Rescue team to the prime suspect in a murder, his very interest in SAR seen as proof of his fascination with violence. How is this even possible? And can Alexis and Ruby find a way to help clear Nick’s name before it’s too late? (Goodreads)
First lines: Freshly spilled blood is wet, shiny, and startlingly crimson. Newly exposed bone is a pearly, glowing white. Blood and bones. Before the night was out, Nick Walker would see things that would drop him to his knees. Before the week was out, he would do things he would have said were impossible. And he would learn truths that he would desperately wish were lies.
Skyscraping, Cordelia Jensen
Mira is just beginning her senior year of high school when she discovers her father with his male lover. Her world–and everything she thought she knew about her family–is shattered instantly. Unable to comprehend the lies, betrayal, and secrets that–unbeknownst to Mira–have come to define and keep intact her family’s existence, Mira distances herself from her sister and closest friends as a means of coping. But her father’s sexual orientation isn’t all he’s kept hidden. A shocking health scare brings to light his battle with HIV. As Mira struggles to make sense of the many fractures in her family’s fabric and redefine her wavering sense of self, she must find a way to reconnect with her dad–while there is still time. (Goodreads)
First lines: I have everything I need.
My bag. My key.
The security man knows my name,
lets me in.
Soon the school will be full:
for now, quiet, empty.
Ash and bramble, Sarah Prineas
A prince. A ball. A glass slipper left behind at the stroke of midnight. The tale is told and retold, twisted and tweaked, snipped and stretched, as it leads to happily ever after.
But it is not the true Story. A dark fortress. A past forgotten. A life of servitude. No one has ever broken free of the Godmother’s terrible stone prison until a girl named Pin attempts a breathless, daring escape. But she discovers that what seems to be freedom is a prison of another kind, one that entangles her in a story that leads to a prince, a kiss, and a clock striking midnight. To unravel herself from this new life, Pin must choose between a prince and another—the one who helped her before and who would give his life for her. Torn, the only thing for her to do is trade in the glass slipper for a sword and find her own destiny. (Goodreads)
First lines: Your world is dark. You fear the dark. You fear pain and sickness and loss and sorrow; you fear that your life is meaningless. You fear death, that most terrible of endings. You huddle around the brightly burning fire in the hearth, and you tell stories. Your stories are about good people finding happiness, about getting what they deserve, and most of all, you tell about true love. Your stories make the fire burn brighter; your stories push back the darkness.
Way down dark, J.P Smythe
There’s one truth on Australia: You fight or you die. Usually both. Seventeen-year-old Chan’s ancestors left a dying Earth hundreds of years ago, in search of a new home. They never found one.
The only life that Chan’s ever known is one of violence, of fighting. Of trying to survive. But there might be a way to escape. In order to find it, Chan must head way down into the darkness a place of buried secrets, long-forgotten lies, and the abandoned bodies of the dead. Seventeen-year-old Chan, fiercely independent and self-sufficient, keeps her head down and lives quietly, careful not to draw attention to herself amidst the violence and disorder. Until the day she makes an extraordinary discovery – a way to return the Australia to Earth. But doing so would bring her to the attention of the fanatics and the murderers who control life aboard the ship, putting her and everyone she loves in terrible danger. And a safe return to Earth is by no means certain. (Goodreads)
First lines: The story goes that Earth was much older than the scientists though. We had assumed that we had billions of years left; that we would be totally prepared if the worst happened. Maybe that made us complacent. We thought that we understood what we were doing to the planet. We thought we had time to fix it.
An island of our own, Sally Nicholls
Siblings Jonathan, Holly and Davy have been struggling to survive since the death of their mother, and are determined to avoid being taken into care. When the family’s wealthy but eccentric Great-Aunt Irene has a stroke, they go to visit her. Unable to speak or write, she gives Holly some photographs that might lead them to an inheritance that could solve all their problems. But they’re not the only ones after the treasure… (Goodreads)
First lines: I told my brother Jonathan I was going to write a book about all the things that happened to us last year. About the home-made spaceships, and the lock pickers, and the thermal lances, and the exploding dishwasher, and the island that was old when the Vikings came, and Auntie Irene’s treasure, and all the things that happened before we found it.
Fire colour one, Jenny Valentine
A teenage girl will soon discover, there are some things which burn even brighter than fire. Iris’s father Ernest is at the end of his life. Her best friend Thurston seems like a distant memory to her. Her mother has declared war. She means to get her hands on Ernest’s priceless art collection so that she can afford to live the high life. But Ernest has other ideas.
There are things he wants Iris to know. Things he can tell her and things that must wait till he’s gone. What she does after that is up to her.(Goodreads)
First lines: At my father’s funeral, after everything, I lit a great big fire in his honour, built from stacked apple crates and broken furniture and pieces of a dallen-down tree. It towered over the scrubby piece of land I call the bonfire garden, and blazed, too far gone to fight, against the blazing afternoon.
Stone Rider, David Hofmeyr
Adam Stone wants freedom and peace. He wants a chance to escape Blackwater, the dust-bowl desert town he grew up in. Most of all, he wants the beautiful Sadie Blood. Alongside Sadie and the dangerous outsider Kane, Adam will ride the Blackwater Trail in a brutal race that will test them all, body and soul. Only the strongest will survive. The prize? A one-way ticket to Sky-Base and unimaginable luxury. And for a chance at this new life, Adam will risk everything. (Goodreads)
First lines: Here for blood. Three dark Riders. In single file. They rise with bursts of spped, angled back in their seats, arms shaking as they steer their wild machines. Three Riders on low-slung, otherworldly bykes that catch the sun and bristle. Dort clings to their gold-mirrored sun-visors and their gleaming riding suits. They muscle across a wind-hammered landscape, riding up the slope of a dark mountain.
The six, Mark Alpert
Adam’s muscular dystrophy has stolen his mobility, his friends, and in a few short years, it will take his life. Virtual reality games are Adam’s only escape from his wheelchair. In his alternate world, he can defeat anyone. Running, jumping, scoring touchdowns: Adam is always the hero. Then an artificial intelligence program, Sigma, hacks into Adam’s game. Created by Adam’s computer-genius father, Sigma has gone rogue, threatening Adam’s life-and world domination. Their one chance to stop Sigma is using technology Adam’s dad developed to digitally preserve the mind of his dying son. Along with a select group of other terminally ill teens, Adam becomes one of the Six who have forfeited their bodies to inhabit weaponized robots. But with time running short, the Six must learn to manipulate their new mechanical forms and work together to train for epic combat…before Sigma destroys humanity. (Goodreads)
First lines: I’m watching a virtual-reality program on one of my Dad’s computers. I wear a pair of VR goggles – a bulky headset that holds a six-inch-wide screen in front of my eyes- and on the screen I see a simulated football field. It looks like the field behind Yorktown High School but better, nicer.
Omega City, Diana Peterfreund
Gillian Seagret doesn’t listen to people who say her father’s a crackpot. His conspiracy theories about the lost technology of Cold War–era rocket scientist Dr. Aloysius Underberg may have cost him his job and forced them to move to the middle of nowhere, but Gillian knows he’s right and plans to prove it. When she discovers a missing page from Dr. Underberg’s diary in her father’s mess of an office, she thinks she’s found a big piece of the puzzle—a space-themed riddle promising to lead to Dr. Underberg’s greatest invention. Enlisting the help of her skeptical younger brother, Eric, her best friend, Savannah, and Howard, their NASA-obsessed schoolmate, Gillian sets off on a journey into the ruins of Omega City, a vast doomsday bunker deep inside the earth. But they aren’t alone inside its dark and flooded halls. For while Gillian wants to save her dad’s reputation by bringing Dr. Underberg’s secrets to light, there are others who will stop at nothing to make sure they stay buried . . . forever.(Goodreads)
First lines: It started with a fire. When Eric and I walked through the front door, we were met by a wall of gray haze filling the rooms of the cottage, hot and thick and smelling very strongly of charred meat. My brother gave me a look.
“Third time this month.”
“You get the oven,” I suggested, coughing. “I’ll make sure Dad’s still conscious.”
The huntress of Thornbeck forest, Melanie Dickerson
Jorgen is the forester for the wealthy margrave, and must find and capture the poacher who has been killing and stealing the margrave’s game. When he meets the lovely and refined Odette at the festival and shares a connection during a dance, he has no idea she is the one who has been poaching the margrave’s game. Odette justifies her crime of poaching because she thinks the game is going to feed the poor, who are all but starving, both in the city and just outside its walls. But will the discovery of a local poaching ring reveal a terrible secret? Has the meat she thought she was providing for the poor actually been sold on the black market, profiting no one except the ring of black market sellers? The one person Odette knows can help her could also find out her own secret and turn her over to the margrave, but she has no choice. Jorgen and Odette will band together to stop the dangerous poaching ring . . . and fall in love. But what will the margrave do when he discovers his forester is protecting a notorious poacher? (Goodreads)
First lines: The tip of the arrow found its mark, a perfect shot through the deer’s heart and lungs. The animal took two steps forward, then a side step. and fell over. Odette’s five men – more boys than men, as they were about forteen years old – darted out of the cover of the bushes and ran towards the animal that feed at least four families.
Three day summer, Sarvenaz Tash
Michael is unsure about most things. Go to college? Enlist in the military? Break up with his girlfriend? All big question marks. He is living for the moment and all he wants is a few days at the biggest concert of the summer. Cora lives in the town hosting the music festival. She’s volunteering in the medical tent. She’s like that, always the good girl. But there is something in the air at this concert and suddenly Cora finds herself wanting to push her own boundaries. When Michael and Cora meet, sparks fly, hearts race, and all the things songs are written about come true. And all the while, three days of the most epic summer await them…(Goodreads)
First lines: “You. Are. A. Candy. Cane.”
The boy grips me by the arms, his enormous glassy eyes staring right at my chest through his long bangs. Under normal circumstances, I would feel terrified and violated. Instead I roll my eyes.
“He means candy striper,” Anna says as she zips across the tent, brining paper cups of water to the zoned-out patients slumped against the far side.
Into the dangerous world, Julie Chibbaro
17-year old Ror comes from the boonies and is tough as nails and all she really cares about is drawing and painting and making art. She ends up in the ghetto that was Manhattan in 1984, where she discovers that the walls, the subways, the bridges are covered with art. Before long, she runs into trouble with Trey, the ultimate bad boy and president of Noise Ink, a graffiti crew she desperately wants to join at all costs. When Ror falls in love with Trey, she realizes she’ll do just about anything to get up in the scene. She has some decisions to make: she wants to be a street artist but she doesn’t want get shot by the cops; she wants her stuff in the museum but she doesn’t want to die waiting to become famous; she wants to makes money selling her work in a gallery but she doesn’t want to be a puppet at the mercy of a dealer. The book follows her descent into a dangerous world, where her drawings are her only salvation. (Goodreads)
First lines: The night Dado burned down our house, he came upstairs and into my room. In his arms, he cradled a thick roll of brown butcher paper that he must have bought near the chemical plant where he worked. He smelled of sulphur, like a lit match. I hunched over my sketches on the wood floor, drawing the serrated edge of a knife, sharp and ready for a heart.
Survival strategies of the almost brave, Jen White
After their mother’s recent death, twelve-year-old Liberty and her eight-year-old sister, Billie, are sent to live with their father, who they haven’t seen since they were very young. Things are great at first; the girls are so excited to get to know their father – a traveling photographer who rides around in an RV. But soon, the pressure becomes too much for him, and he abandons them at the Jiffy Company Gas Station. Instead of moping around and being scared, Liberty takes matters into her own hands. On their journey to get home, they encounter a shady, bald-headed gas station attendant, a full-body tattooed trucker, free Continental breakfast, a kid obsessed with Star Wars, a woman who lives with rats, and a host of other situations.
When all seems lost, they get some help from an unlikely source, and end up learning that sometimes you have to get a little bit lost to be found. (Goodreads)
First lines: Fake it. That’s definitely number one in my notebook. All people do it. Faking it could save your life. Just then, I was faking it. Writing in my notebook, like I had a purpose. A reason for being here. Like I had all of the time in the world to sit outside this sun-scorched gas station, waiting. I should have known better. All my natural instincts told me not to trust him.
Goodbye stranger, Rebecca Stead
Bridge is an accident survivor who’s wondering why she’s still alive. Emily has new curves and an almost-boyfriend who wants a certain kind of picture. Tabitha sees through everybody’s games–or so she tells the world. The three girls are best friends with one rule: No fighting. Can it get them through seventh grade? This year everything is different for Sherm Russo as he gets to know Bridge Barsamian. What does it mean to fall for a girl–as a friend? On Valentine’s Day, an unnamed high school girl struggles with a betrayal. How long can she hide in plain sight? (Goodreads)
First lines: When she was eight years old, Bridget Barsamain woke up in a hospital, where a doctor told her she shouldn’t be alive. It was possible that he was complimenting her heart’s determination to keep pumping when half her blood was still uptown on 114th Street, but more likely he was scolding her for roller-skating into traffic the way she had.
Shadows of Sherwood, Kekla Magoon
The night her parents disappear, twelve-year-old Robyn Loxley must learn to fend for herself. Her home, Nott City, has been taken over by a harsh governor, Ignomus Crown. After fleeing for her life, Robyn has no choice but to join a band of strangers-misfit kids, each with their own special talent for mischief. Setting out to right the wrongs of Crown’s merciless government, they take their outlaw status in stride. But Robyn can’t rest until she finds her parents. As she pieces together clues from the night they disappeared, Robyn learns that her destiny is tied to the future of Nott City in ways she never expected.(Goodreads)
First lines: The sign on the fence said BEWARE OF DOGS. Robyn scaled it anyway. Dogs? As in plural? she thought, as she laced her fingers in the chain link, wedged the toes of her boots into the diamond-shaped spaces, and climbed. That could be a problem. There were plenty of problems tonight.
Joe all alone, Joanna Nadin
When thirteen-year-old Joe is left behind in Peckham while his mum flies to Spain on holiday, he decides to treat it as an adventure, and a welcome break from Dean, her latest boyfriend. Joe begins to explore his neighbourhood, making a tentative friendship with Asha, a fellow fugitive hiding out at her grandfather’s flat. But when the food and money run out, his mum doesn’t come home, and the local thugs catch up with him, Joe realises time is running out too, and makes a decision that will change his life forever.(Goodreads)
First lines: I should know something’s up right from the off, because when I get in Dean isn’t on the sofa playing Xbox, there’s just that big dip there instead and a stain where he spilt Cherry 20/20 that time. And Mum has this smile on her like she’s on a TV game show, all stretched so wife you think her face is going to crack.
The hired girl, Laura Amy Schlitz
Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs, just like the heroines in her beloved novels, yearns for real life and true love. But what hope is there for adventure, beauty, or art on a hardscrabble farm in Pennsylvania where the work never ends? Over the summer of 1911, Joan pours her heart out into her diary as she seeks a new, better life for herself—because maybe, just maybe, a hired girl cleaning and cooking for six dollars a week can become what a farm girl could only dream of—a woman with a future. (Goodreads)
First lines: Today Miss Chandley gave me this beautiful book. I vow that I will never forget her kindness to me, and I will use this book as she told me to – I will write in it with truth and refinement.
“I’m so sorry you won’t be coming back to school,” Miss Chandler said to me, and at those words, the floodgates opened, and I wept most bitterly.
The last good day of the year, Jessica Warman
Ten years ago, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, seven-year-old Samantha and her next door neighbor, Remy, watched as a man broke into Sam’s home and took her younger sister, Turtle, from her sleeping bag. Remy and Sam, too afraid to intervene at the time, later identified the man as Sam’s sister Gretchen’s much older ex-boyfriend, Steven, who was sent to prison for Turtle’s murder. Now, Sam’s shattered family is returning to her childhood home in an effort to heal. As long-buried memories begin to surface, Sam wonders if she and Remy accurately registered everything they saw. The more they re-examine the events of that fateful night, the more questions they discover about what really happened to Turtle.(Goodreads)
First lines: Midnight had come and gone, but Remy and I were still awake. How could anyone expect us to sleep with all the activity going on above us? Our mothers had tucked us into our sleeping bags hours ago, but the adults had continued their party upstairs.
Ruthless,Carolyn Lee Adams
Ruth Carver has always competed like her life depends on it. Ambitious. Tough. Maybe even mean. It’s no wonder people call her Ruthless. When she wakes up with a concussion in the bed of a moving pickup truck, she realizes she has been entered into a contest she can’t afford to lose. At a remote, rotting cabin deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ruth’s blindfold comes off and she comes face-to-face with her captor. A man who believes his mission is to punish bad girls like Ruth. A man who has done this six times before. The other girls were never heard from again, but Ruth won’t go down easy. She escapes into the wilderness, but her hunter is close at her heels. That’s when the real battle begins. That’s when Ruth must decides just how far she’ll go in order to survive. Back home, they called her Ruthless. They had no idea just how right they were. (Goodreads)
First lines: I can’t see. I don’t know why I can’t see. I do know I was just dreaming. Running in a white dress through a field of wildflowers, no less. It was like a commercial for laundry detergent or tampons or a prescription medication that has death listed as a possible side effect. The dream is embarrassing, but it’s better than the here and now.
The singing bones, Shaun Tan (Foreword by Philip Pulman, introduction by Jack Zipes.)
A unique and alluring art book showcasing Shaun Tan’s extraordinary sculptures based on the timeless and compelling fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. In this beautifully presented volume, the essence of seventy-five fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm is wonderfully evoked by Shaun Tan’s extraordinary sculptures. Nameless princes, wicked stepsisters, greedy kings, honourable peasants and ruthless witches, tales of love, betrayal, adventure and magical transformation: all inspiration for this stunning gallery of sculptural works. Introduced by Grimm Tales author Philip Pullman and leading fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes, The Singing Bones breathes new life into some of the world’s most beloved fairy tales.(Goodreads)
First lines: It had always been my belief that, despite the multitude of beautifully illustrated editions of fairy tale collections that have piled up over the years, the best way to illustrate these little masterpieces of narrative is not to do it at all.