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.
Of fire and stars, Audrey Coulthurst
Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.
Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed. When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more. But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other. (Goodreads)
First lines: When I was seven winters of age, my mother caught me in the hearth stacking red-hot coals with my bare hands. That evening had found Spire City chilled to the core with the kind of cold that only Havemont knows, when early sunsets leave the afternoon as dark as midnight and the sky swirls with relentless snow.
The severed land, Maurice Gee
From the high reaches of a tree, Fliss watches the soldiers attempting yet again to break through the invisible wall. Amid the explosions, a drummer boy tries to escape. As he is about to be shot, Fliss reaches through the wall and pulls him to safety. But Fliss is dismayed to find she has saved an overfed rich boy. She is even more dismayed to learn that she must accompany him back through the wall on a special mission to rescue the Nightingale. The world they have to travel through is a perilous one, full of predatory thieves, slave masters, beggars, dippers, mudlarks, drain-sliders, spies and wall-men. It is a world where the ruling families are caught up in a lethal power struggle. Will Fliss and the despised drummer boy learn to trust each other? Who is the Nightingale? And will they all make it back alive? (Publisher information)
First lines: From high in the branches Fliss watched slaves dig trenches where the wheels of the cannon would rest. Their overseer strolled back and forth, coiling his whip. A sergeant from the foot platoon lounged on a grassy slope, smoking his pipe. Now and then a trooper unslung his rifle and aimed at Fliss in her tree, hoping to see her flinch and lose her grip, but he did not fire.
To all the boys I loved before, Jenny Han
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.(Goodreads)
First lines: I like to save things. Not important things like whales or people or the environment. Silly things. Porcelain bells, the kind you get at souvenir shops. Cookie cutters you’ll never use, because who needs a cookie in the shape of a foot? Ribbons. Love letters. Of all the things I save, I guess you could say my love letters are my most prized possession.
Hope was here, Joan Bauer
When Hope and her aunt move to small-town Wisconsin to take over the local diner, Hope’s not sure what to expect. But what they find is that the owner, G.T., isn’t quite ready to give up yet – in fact, he’s decided to run for mayor against a corrupt candidate. And as Hope starts to make her place at the diner, she also finds herself caught up in G.T.’s campaign – particularly his visions for the future. After all, as G.T. points out, everyone can use a little hope to help get through the tough times… even Hope herself.(Goodreads)
First lines: Somehow I knew my time had come when Bambi Barnes tore her order book into little pieces, hurled it in the air like confetti, and got fired in the Rainbow Diner in Pensacola right in the middle of the lunchtime rush.
History is all you left me, Adam Silvera
When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course. To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart. If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life. (Goodreads)
First lines: You’re still alive in alternate universes, Theo, but I live in the real world, where this morning you’re having an open-casket funeral. I know you’re out there, listening. And you should know I’m really pissed because you swore you would never die and yet here we are. It hurts even more because this isn’t the first promise you’ve broken.
Word nerd, Susin Nielsen
Twelve-year-old Ambrose is a glass-half-full kind of guy. A self-described “friendless nerd,” he moves from place to place every couple of years with his overprotective mother, Irene. When some bullies at his new school almost kill him by slipping a peanut into his sandwich — even though they know he has a deathly allergy — Ambrose is philosophical. Irene, however, is not and decides that Ambrose will be home-schooled. Alone in the evenings when Irene goes to work, Ambrose pesters Cosmo, the twenty-five-year-old son of the Greek landlords who live upstairs. Cosmo has just been released from jail for breaking and entering to support a drug habit. Quite by accident, Ambrose discovers that they share a love of Scrabble and coerces Cosmo into taking him to the West Side Scrabble Club, where Cosmo falls for Amanda, the club director. Posing as Ambrose’s Big Brother to impress her, Cosmo is motivated to take Ambrose to the weekly meetings and to give him lessons in self-defense. Cosmo, Amanda, and Ambrose soon form an unlikely alliance and, for the first time in his life, Ambrose blossoms. The characters at the Scrabble Club come to embrace Ambrose for who he is and for their shared love of words. There’s only one problem: Irene has no idea what Ambrose is up to. (Goodreads)
First lines: The day almost died, the sky was a bright, brilliant blue – a nice change from the rain earlier in the week. A few clouds hung over the North Shore mountains, but they were far away. I was sitting at a picnic table on the school grounds, eating my lunch.
Ever the hunted, Erin Summerill
Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer. However, it’s not so simple.
The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force. (Goodreads)
First lines: To survive these woods, a man has to be strong as the trees, Papa had said. The memory is a whisper compared to the attention my cramping stomach demands. I try not to think of him or my trembling legs as I dust my boot prints from the path with a broken branch.
By your side, Kasie West
When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her. Only he doesn’t come. No one does. Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side? (Goodreads)
First lines: I was locked in the library trying not to panic. Literally locked. As in, no escape. Every door, every window, every air vent. Okay, I hadn’t tried to the air vents, but I was seriously considering it. I wasn’t desperate enough…yet. My friends would realise what had happened and they’d come back and free me, I assured myself.
A list of cages, Robin Roe
When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years. Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives…(Goodreads)
First lines: There is a room in this school that no one knows about but me. If I could teleport, I’d be there now. Maybe if I just concentrate-
“Julian.” Mr. Pearce says my name sharp enough to make me flinch. “You’re less than a month into high school, and you’ve missed your English class six times.”
I’m sure I’ve missed more than that, but I guess no one realised I was gone.
King’s cage, Victoria Aveyard
Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner. As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back. When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down. (Goodreads)
First lines: I rise to my feet when he lets me. The chain jerks me up, pulling on the thorned collar at my throat. its points dig in, not enough to draw blood-not yet. But I’m already bleeding from the wrists. Slow wounds, worn from days of unconscious captivity in rough, ripping manacles. The colour stains my white sleeves dark crimson and bright scarlet, fading from old blood to new in a testament to my ordeal.
The edge of everything, Jeff Giles
It’s been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father’s shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods—only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X. X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and others like him. X is forbidden from revealing himself to anyone other than his prey, but he casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As they learn more about their colliding worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. (Goodreads)
First lines: She named him herself, so it felt like he belonged to her. He said that where he was from, which he called the Lowlands, they strip your name away like a husk the moment you arrive- to remind you that you’re no one and nothing. When he told her this, she moved a little closer. She should have been scared after what she’d seen him do to Stan, but she wasn’t. Stan deserved everything he got and worse.
Lisette’s Paris notebook, Catherine Bates
Eighteen-year-old Lisette has just arrived in Paris (France!) – the city of haute couture and all things stylish – to practise her French and see great works of art. Her clairvoyant landlady Madame Christophe forces her to attend language lessons with a bunch of international students but soon Lise discovers she’s more interested in studying boys than art or verbs. When the undeniably hot Anders jogs into her life it feels too good to be true. Things get even more complicated when she is pursued by Hugo, a charming English antiques dealer. Can she take a chance and follow her own dreams? How far into the future can Madame Christophe see? And could Lise really be falling in love – in Paris? (Goodreads)
First lines: What do you wear to Paris? Ami and I discussed it for hours, but I still couldn’t think of anything suitable. Ami and I discussed it for hours but I still couldn’t think of anything suitable. Ami said a trench coat with nothing underneath but your best underwear. That was only if some boy was meeting you at the airport, I said.
Lost girls, Merrie Destefano
Yesterday, Rachel went to sleep listening to Taylor Swift, curled up in her grammy’s quilt, worrying about geometry. Today, she woke up in a ditch, bloodied, bruised, and missing a year of her life. She doesn’t recognize the person she’s become: she’s popular. She wears nothing but black.
Black to cover the blood. And she can fight. Tell no one. She’s not the only girl to go missing within the last year…but she’s the only girl to come back. She desperately wants to unravel what happened to her, to try and recover the rest of the Lost Girls. But the more she discovers, the more her memories return. And as much as her new life scares her, it calls to her. Seductively. The good girl gone bad, sex, drugs, and raves, and something darker…something she still craves—the rush of the fight, the thrill of the win—something she can’t resist, that might still get her killed…The only rule is: There are no rules. (Goodreads)
First lines: I remember last night perfectly. I know what we ate for dinner. I know my little brother didn’t do his homework. I know Dad drove me to my ballet lessons, then waited for me in the Starbucks across the street. I know that, later in the evening, I fell asleep when I was supposed to be studying geometry, my earbuds in while I listened to Taylor Swift’s latest album. That was my yesterday.
Freeks, Amanda Hocking
Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…
Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night. When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing. But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodies are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.(Goodreads)
First lines: Behind me, the branches and trees crunched and snapped as the creature tore through them. I didn’t scream- there was no one who could come to help me, nothing that could stop the monster that lurched behind me. The only thing I could do was run faster.
The secret of a heart note, Stacey Lee
Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.(Goodreads)
First lines: Most people that heartache smells like blueberries. It’s not the only scent, but it’s the main one, and if someone comes to us smelling like blueberry pie, Mother and I turn them away. The heartbroken need time to heal before we can work our magic.
One was lost, Natalie D. Richards
Murder, justice, and revenge were so not a part of the plan when Sera set out on her senior camping trip. After all, hiking through the woods is supposed to be safe and uneventful. Then one morning the group wakes up groggy, confused, and with words scrawled on their wrists: Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Their supplies? Destroyed. Half their group? Gone. Their chaperone? Unconscious. Worst of all, they find four dolls acting out a murder—dolls dressed just like them. Suddenly it’s clear; they’re being hunted. And with the only positive word on her wrist, Sera falls under suspicion… (Goodreads)
First lines: No one said anything about rain in the brochures. Not that there were brochures. There was a handwritten sign-up sheet in the cafeteria, followed by permissions slips recycled from ghosts of field trips past. I’m not really sure why I was expecting a world-class production. Must be the director in me.
Born scared, Kevin Brooks
Elliot is terrified of almost everything. From the moment he was born, his life has been governed by acute fear. The only thing that keeps his terrors in check are the pills that he takes every day. It’s Christmas Eve, there’s a snowstorm and Elliot’s medication is almost gone. His mum nips out to collect his prescription. She’ll only be 10 minutes – but she doesn’t come back, Elliot must face his fears and try to find her. She should only be 400 metres away. It might as well be 400 miles…(Goodreads)
First lines: I got as far as the hallway now. Coat, hat, boots, gloves…
Cold sweat running down my back.
It’s three o’clock in the afternoon, Christmas Even.
The snowstorm’s getting worse.
The road to ever after, Moira Young
Davy David is a thirteen-year-old orphan, who lives in the bushes in a town ruled by a strict minister, Reverend Fall. A talented artist, Davy loves to draw pictures of angels in the dirt, in the early hours of the morning before the townspeople are awake. He spends his days on his own, except for a small dog, who has attached himself to Davy, often going to the library to find inspiration for his pictures of angels. One day, after chasing after a ball for some of the town’s boys, he finds himself in the yard of the old boarded-up museum, now rumoured to be the home of a witch. The witch is Miss Elizabeth Flint, an elderly woman who has a proposition for Davy: drive her to her childhood home, where, it turns out, she has made the decision to die. (Goodreads)
First lines: There are times that are blind to such as angels. There are towns that are blind to them, too. If – by some chance or high design- an angel had tumbled from the blue, it would have lain, unseen, in Brownvale’s dry gutters till its mighty wings parched into dust.
All in pieces, Suzanne Young
That’s how they classified Savannah Sutton after she stuck a pencil in her ex-boyfriend’s hand because he mocked her little brother, Evan, for being disabled. That’s why they sent her to Brooks Academy—an alternative high school that’s used as a temporary detention center.
The days at Brooks are miserable, but at home, life is far more bleak. Savvy’s struggling to take care of her brother since her mom left years ago, and her alcoholic dad can’t be bothered. Life with Evan is a constant challenge, but he’s also the most important person in the world to Savvy. Then there’s Cameron, a new student at Brooks with issues of his own, a guy from a perfect family that Savvy thought only existed on TV. Cameron seems determined to break through every one of the walls Savvy’s built around herself—except if she lets herself trust him, it could make everything she’s worked so hard for fall apart in an instant. And with her aunt seeking custody of her brother and her ex-boyfriend seeking revenge, Savvy’s fighting to hold all the pieces together. But she’s not sure how much tighter she can be pulled before she breaks completely. (Goodreads)
First lines: My life is none of their business. I don’t want to be up here, don’t want to explain my reasons, but I can’t afford to miss another assignment.
The nerdy and the dirty, b.t. gottfred
Pen Lupo is sick and tired of hiding who she is. On the outside, Pen is popular, quiet, and deferential to her boyfriend. On the inside, however, Pen is honest, opinionated—and not quite sure that she’s like other girls. Do they have urges like she does? His classmates may consider him a nerd, but Benedict Pendleton knows he’s destined for great things. All he has to do is find a worthy girlfriend, and his social station will be secured. Sure, Benedict is different–but that’s what he likes about himself. When fate intervenes, both Pen and Benedict end up at the same vacation resort for winter break. Despite their differences, the two are drawn together. But is there such a thing as happily ever after for a nympho and a nerd?(Goodreads)
First lines: “I’m a very handsome. I don’t really think this is a question of opinion. I am objectively handsome,” I said to Robert, who was staring at his roast-beef sandwich. He always stared at his sandwiches. This made it difficult to have conversations. I’ve talked to him about it. He’s working on the problem.
Cloud and wallfish, Anne Nesbet
Noah Keller has a pretty normal life, until one wild afternoon when his parents pick him up from school and head straight for the airport, telling him on the ride that his name isn’t really Noah and he didn’t really just turn eleven in March. And he can’t even ask them why — not because of his Astonishing Stutter, but because asking questions is against the newly instated rules. (Rule Number Two: Don’t talk about serious things indoors, because Rule Number One: They will always be listening).As Noah—now “Jonah Brown”—and his parents head behind the Iron Curtain into East Berlin, the rules and secrets begin to pile up so quickly that he can hardly keep track of the questions bubbling up inside him: Who, exactly, is listening — and why? When did his mother become fluent in so many languages? And what really happened to the parents of his only friend, Cloud-Claudia, the lonely girl who lives downstairs?(Goodreads)
First lines: Noah knew something was up the moment he saw his mother that May afternoon in fifth garde. She swooped up in a car he didn’t recognise – that was the first thing. And, secondly, his father was sitting in the other front seat, and in Noah’s family, picking up kids at school was a one-parent activity.
Glitter, Aprilynne Pike
Outside the palace of Versailles, it’s modern day. Inside, the people dress, eat, and act like it’s the eighteenth century—with the added bonus of technology to make court life lavish, privileged, and frivolous. The palace has every indulgence, but for one pretty young thing, it’s about to become a very beautiful prison. When Danica witnesses an act of murder by the young king, her mother makes a cruel power play . . . blackmailing the king into making Dani his queen. When she turns eighteen, Dani will marry the most ruthless and dangerous man of the court. She has six months to escape her terrifying destiny. Six months to raise enough money to disappear into the real world beyond the palace gates. Her ticket out? Glitter. A drug so powerful that a tiny pinch mixed into a pot of rouge or lip gloss can make the wearer hopelessly addicted. Addicted to a drug Dani can sell for more money than she ever dreamed. But in Versailles, secrets are impossible to keep. And the most dangerous secret—falling for a drug dealer outside the palace walls—is one risk she has to take. (Goodreads)
First lines: I rush through the catacombs, my face shrouded beneath the brim of a cap, skimming by the empty eyes of ancient skulls. I’m fast and sleek in my borrowed jeans but feel scantily clad without the heavy silk and brocade skirts to which I’m accustomed.
Caged, Theresa Breslin
Escaping from a troubled home and struggling to survive on the streets, the abandoned tunnels of the London Underground are a perfect sanctuary for Kai. Along with other teenagers running from their pasts, Kai finds somewhere to belong in this strange community of outcasts. But Kai is now facing a very different kind of fight. Every night, led by the enigmatic Spartacus, the runaways must become cage fighters, each fight broadcast to the outside world via YouTube. With gambling profits from these videos racking up, Kai and his friends hope to be able to start a new life. Yet treachery and danger are never far behind, and a new arrival threatens the order that Spartacus has worked so carefully to maintain. And then there is the looming finale, the last battle between Kai and his nemesis Leo: the Kill Fight.(Goodreads)
First lines: Blood. In his mouth and his tongue. That last punch split his lip. Spinning him sideways to thud against the steel bars of the Cage. And he knew he’d taken a cut. Blood has a stale taste. Brings back a memory. Don’t think about that.
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.
Unboxed, Non Pratt
Unboxed is about four teenagers who come together after several months apart. In previous years, they had put together a time capsule about their best summer with a friend who was dying. Now that their friend has passed, they reunite to open the box.(Goodreads)
First lines: It seems worse to break a promise to the dead than it does to break one made to the living. Why else would I be standing by the gates of my old school waiting for a bunch of strangers I used to call friends? Ben, Dean, Millie, Zara. Me-Alix. Five friends, five years…it feels like a lifetime.
Our chemical hearts, Krystal Sutherland
Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love that he’s been hoping for just hasn’t been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything’s about to change. Grace isn’t who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys’ clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It’s obvious there’s something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn’t your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland’s brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love. (Goodreads)
First lines: I always thought the moment you met the great love of your life would be more like the movies. Not exactly like the movies, obviously, with the slow-mo and the hair blwoing in the breeze and the swelling instrumental soundtrack. But I at least thought there would be something, you know?
Foulsham, Edward Carey
Foulsham, London’s great filth repository, is bursting at the seams. The walls that keep the muck in are buckling, rubbish is spilling over the top, back into the city that it came from. In the Iremonger family offices, Grandfather Umbitt Iremonger broods: in his misery and fury at the people of London, he has found a way of making everyday objects assume human shape, and the real people into objects. Abandoned in the depths of the Heaps, Lucy Pennant has been rescued by a terrifying creature, Binadit Iremonger, more animal than human. She is desperate and determined to find Clod. But unbeknownst to her, Clod has become a golden sovereign and ‘lost’. He is being passed as currency from hand to hand all around Foulsham, and yet everywhere people are searching for him, desperate to get hold of this dangerous Iremonger, who, it is believed, has the power to bring the mighty Umbitt down. But all around the city, things, everyday things, are twitching into life… (Goodreads)
First lines: They told me I was the only child in the whole great building, but I wasn’t. I knew I wasn’t. I heard them sometimes, the other children. I heard them calling out somewhere down below.
The secret diary of Lydia Bennet, Natasha Farrant
Lydia is the youngest of the five Bennet girls. She’s stubborn, never listens, and can’t seem to keep her mouth shut–not that she would want to anyway. She’s bored with her country life and wishes her older sisters would pay her attention . . . for once! Luckily, the handsome Wickham arrives at Longbourn to sweep her off her feet. Lydia’s not going to let him know THAT, of course, especially since he only seems to be interested in friendship. But when they both decide to summer in the fasionable seaside town of Brighton, their paths become entangled again. At the seaside, Lydia also finds exciting new ways of life and a pair of friends who offer her a future she never dreamed of. Lydia finally understands what she really wants. But can she get it? (Goodreads)
First lines: I am fifteen years old today, and this journal was a present from Mary. She says I must write in it every day to improve my mind.
“Whatever for,” Mamma cried, “when she is so pretty?”
Father asked, “Are we even certain Lydia has a mind?”
The diabolic, S.J Kincaid
A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.
Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe. When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire. (Goodreads)
First lines: Everyone believed Diabolics were fearless, but in my earliest years, all I knew was fear. It preyed on me the very morning the Impryreans viewed me in the corrals. I couldn’t speak, but I understood most words I heard.
Girl in the shadows, Gwenda Bond
Eighteen-year-old Moira Mitchell grew up in the shadows of Vegas’s stage lights while her father’s career as a magician soared. More than anything, Moira wants to be a magician too, but her father is dead set against her pursuing magic. When an invitation to join the Cirque American mistakenly falls into Moira’s possession, she takes action. Instead of giving the highly coveted invitation to its intended recipient, Raleigh, her father’s handsome and worldly former apprentice, Moira takes off to join the Cirque. If she can perform alongside its world-famous acts, she knows she’ll be able to convince her dad that magic is her future. But when Moira arrives, things take on an intensity she can’t control as her stage magic suddenly feels like…real magic. To further distract her, Raleigh shows up none too pleased at Moira’s presence, all while the Cirque’s cocky and intriguing knife thrower, Dez, seems to have it out for her. As tensions mount and Moira’s abilities come into question, she must decide what’s real and what’s an illusion. If she doesn’t sort it out in time, she may forever remain a girl in the shadows. (Goodreads)
First lines: I was waiting in the winds backstage at the Menagerie Hotel and Casino, preparing the equipment for my first stage illusion. Straightjackeet, check. Oversized timer and mood-music speakers, check. And most important, transparent coffin, check.
Down with the shine, Kate Karyus Quinn
Lennie always thought her uncles’ “important family legacy” was good old-fashioned bootlegging. Then she takes some of her uncles’ moonshine to Michaela Gordon’s annual house party, and finds out just how wrong she was. At the party, Lennie has everyone make a wish before drinking the shine—it’s tradition. She toasts to wishes for bat wings, for balls of steel, for the party to go on forever. Lennie even makes a wish of her own: to bring back her best friend, Dylan, who was murdered six months ago. The next morning gives Lennie a whole new understanding of the phrase be careful what you wish for—or in her case, be careful what wishes you grant. Because all those wishes Lennie raised a jar of shine to last night? They came true. Most of them came out bad. And once granted, a wish can’t be unmade…(Goodreads).
First lines: “I gave you my name for a reason, Lennie. It might not be worth much now, but someday. Someday real soon, I’m gonna make it so Cash is a name nobody ever forgets. I’m serious, Lennie. People are gonna remember us.”
Draw the line, Laurent Linn
Adrian Piper is used to blending into the background. He may be a talented artist, a sci-fi geek, and gay, but at his Texas high school those traits only bring him the worst kind of attention. In fact, the only place he feels free to express himself is at his drawing table, crafting a secret world through his own Renaissance art-inspired superhero, Graphite. But in real life, when a shocking hate crime flips his world upside-down, Adrian must decide what kind of person he wants to be. Maybe it’s time to not be so invisible after all—no matter how dangerous the risk. (Goodreads).
First lines: I should have been born with an owner’s manual. You know the WARNING page at the beginning that mentions all the dangers? This morning I’ve got a new one to add to the growing list that would come with mine: Don’t let nerd boy cut his own hair.
Unrivaled, Alyson Noel
Everyone wants to be someone. Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter’s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic.” Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad’s life. But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago. She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel. That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the glamorous and gritty world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and lured into a high-stakes competition where Madison Brooks is the target. Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . . And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.(Goodreads).
First lines: Despite the crush of tourists storming the sidewalks year after year, Hollywood Boulevard is a place best viewed behind a pair of polarized lenses and lowered expectations.
The incident on the bridge, Laura McNeal
The last anyone saw of Thisbe Locke, she was standing by a car on the side of the bridge. She’d been depressed since she stopped seeing Clay, who humiliated her in front of everyone at his party. But would Thisbe really jump because of that? Her sister swears she wouldn’t.
The police know that grief-stricken families always hope for a different ending. And that decisions about jumping can be made in an instant. Either way, there’s no sign of Thisbe.(Goodreads).
First lines: Thisbe had to stop. She had to quit obsessing about Clay and Jerome and college and ride her bike down to Glorietta Bay, where she always felt better, where she had researched and written “The effect of Pleasure Boating on Mid-Intertidal Zone,” the best paper Ms. Berron had ever seen from a high school student.
Dan vs. nature, Don Colame
Dan Weekes has two dreams in life: to become a famous graphic novelist and to one day muster the courage to ask Erin Reilly out on a date. Dan’s mom, however, has just one goal: to date every man in the state of California until she finally finds her Prince Charming.
When Dan comes home to find a Hugh Jackman look-alike in his kitchen, he’s prepared to write off this mountain-man-slash-dentist as another soon-to-be-ex. But then his mom drops a bomb: she and Hugh—er, Hank—are engaged, and she’s sending her “two favorite men” on a survivalist camping trip in the wilds of Idaho to “bond.” But Dan knows that it’s only a matter of time till Hank shows his true—flawed—colors, so together with his nerdy, germophobe best friend, Charlie, Dan launches Operation Torment Crusade—a series of increasingly gross and embarrassing pranks they’ll pull on Hank until he breaks like a twig. But the boys didn’t count on a hot girl joining their trip or a man-hungry bear stalking their every move. How can Dan possibly scare off Hank when his very survival now depends on him? (Goodreads).
First lines: Charlie and I are getting our asses punched. That’s right, punched. It’s the wrestling team this time. The fists come fast and furious – to the back of my head, my kidneys, my shoulders. And, yes, my ass.
This is the part where you laugh, Peter Brown Hoffmeister
Rising sophomore Travis and his best friend, Creature, spend a summer in a Eugene, Oregon, trailer park dealing with cancer, basketball, first love, addiction, gang violence, and a reptilian infestation. (Goodreads).
First lines: When it’s good and dark, I drag the two duffel bags to the edge of the lake. Out in front of me, smallmouth bass come alive on the surface of the water, and I wish I’d brought my fishing pole. But it’s good I didn’t – I don’t want to draw attention to myself.
The fall of butterflies, Andrea Portes
Willa Parker, 646th and least popular resident of What Cheer, Iowa, is headed east to start a new life. Did she choose this new life? No, because that would be too easy—and nothing in Willa’s life is easy. It’s her famous genius mother’s idea to send her to ultra-expensive, ultra-exclusive Pembroke Prep, and it’s only the strength of her name that got Willa accepted in the first place. But Willa has no intentions of fitting in at Pembroke. She’s not staying long, she decides. Not at this school—and not on this planet. But when she meets peculiar, glittering Remy Taft, the richest, most mysterious girl on campus, she starts to see a foothold in this foreign world—a place where she could maybe, possibly, sort of fit. When Willa looks at Remy, she sees a girl who has everything. But for Remy, having everything comes at a price. And as she spirals out of control, Willa can feel her spinning right out of her grasp. In Willa’s secret heart, all she’s ever wanted is to belong. But if Remy, the girl who gave her this world, is slip-sliding away, is Willa meant to follow her down? (Goodreads).
First lines: Bet you’d never though you’d be sitting at the freak table. It’s okay. You get used to it. Trust me.
Twenty questions for Gloria, Martyn Bedford
A bored teenager girl who meets a mysterious new boy bent on breaking all the rules. He is everything Gloria wishes to be, but he is not all he seems, and by the time she learns the truth about him, she is a long way from home. (Goodreads).
Question 1: Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
Detective Inspector Katharine Ryan: This interview is being audio- and video-recorded, with parental consent and the agreement of the interviewee.
The star-touched queen, Roshani Chokshi
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself. (Goodreads).
First lines: Staring at the sky in Bharata was like exchanging a secret. It felt private, like I had peered through the veil of a hundred worlds. When I looked up, I could imagine -for a moment-what the sky hid from everyone else.
Charlotte cuts it out, K.A. Barson
Lydia and I were in eighth grade when we came up with our Grand Plan to go to cosmetology school and get jobs to build our clientele while we earned business degrees. Then we’d open our own salon . . .Now Charlotte and Lydia are juniors, in a Cosmetology Arts program where they’ll get on-the-job training and college credits at the same time. The Grand Plan is right on schedule. Which means it’s time for Step Two: Win the Winter Style Showcase, where Cos Arts and Fashion Design teams team up to dazzle the judges with their skills. Charlotte is sure that she and Lydia have it locked up—so sure, in fact, that she makes a life-changing bet with her mother, who wants her to give up cos for college. And that’s when things start going off the rails. As the clock ticks down to the night of the Showcase, Charlotte has her hands full. Design divas. Models who refuse to be styled. Unexpectedly stiff competition. And then, worst of all, Lydia—her BFF and Partner in Cos—turns out to have a slightly different Grand Plan…(Goodreads).
First lines: As I apply another layer of lip gloss and smooth my hair at the tiny mirror inside my locker, a deep voice whispers in my ear. “I don’t mean to alarm you, but there’s a severed hand sticking out of your backpack.”
The girl from everywhere, Heidi Hellig
Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.
As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix. But the end to it all looms closer every day. Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.
For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters. She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love. Or she could disappear. (Goodreads).
First lines: It was the kind of August day that hinted at monsoons, and the year was 1774, though not for much longer. I was in the crowded bazaar of a nearly historical version of Calcutta, where my father had abandoned me.
The problem with forever, Jennifer L. Armentrout
For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime. Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day. It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard. (Goodreads).
First lines: Dusty, empty shoe boxes, stacked taller and wider than her slim body, wobbled as she pressed her back against them, tucked her bony knees into her chest.
Away we go, Emil Ostrovski
Westing is not your typical school. For starters, you have to have one very important quality in order to be admitted—you have to be dying. Every student at Westing has been diagnosed with PPV, or the Peter Pan Virus. No one is expected to live to graduation.
What do you do when you go to a school where no one has a future? Noah Falls, his girlfriend Alice, and his best friend Marty spend their time drinking, making out, and playing video games on awaywego.com. But when an older boy named Zach (who Noah may or may not be in love with) invites Noah and Marty to join his secret Polo Club, the lives of both boys change as they struggle to find meaning in their shortened existence.(Goodreads).
First lines: I was fifteen years old. It was a dreary March day, a year and a half before the world was supposed to end. And the closest person I had to family wanted me gone.
This is the story of you, Beth Kephart
On Haven, a six-mile long, half-mile-wide stretch of barrier island, Mira Banul and her Year-Rounder friends have proudly risen to every challenge. But when a superstorm defies all predictions and devastates the island, when it strands Mira’s mother and brother on the mainland and upends all logic, nothing will ever be as it was. A stranger appears in the wreck of Mira’s home. A friend obsessed with vanishing is gone. As the mysteries deepen, Mira must find the strength to carry on—to somehow hold her memories in place while learning to trust a radically reinvented future.(Goodreads).
First lines: Blue, for example. Like the colour the sun makes the sea. Like the beach bucket he wore as a hat, king of the tidal parade. Like the word I and the hour of nobody awake but me. I thought blue was mine, and that we were each ourselves, and that some things could not be stolen.
The steep and thorny way, Cat Winters
Scene: Oregon, 1923. Dramatis personae: Hanalee Denney, daughter of a white woman and an African American man. Hank Denney, her father—a ghost. Greta Koning, Hanalee’s mother. Clyde Konig, doctor who treated Hank Denney the night he died, now Hanalee’s stepfather.
Joe Adder, teenage boy convicted of accidentally killing Hank Denney. Members of the Ku Klux Klan. Townspeople of Elston, Oregon.
Question: Was Hank Denney’s death an accident…or was it murder most foul?(Goodreads).
First lines: I drew a deep breath and marched into the woods behind my house with a two barrelled pistol hidden beneath my blue cotton skirt. The pocket-size derringer rode against my outer right thigh, tucked inside a holster that had, according to the boy who’d given it to me, once belonged to a lady bootlegger who’d been arrested with three different guns strapped to her legs.
The passion of Dolssa, Julie Berry
Dolssa is a young gentlewoman with uncanny gifts, on the run from an obsessed friar determined to burn her as a heretic for the passion she refuses to tame. Botille is a wily and charismatic peasant, a matchmaker running a tavern with her two sisters in a tiny seaside town.
The year is 1241; the place, Provensa, what we now call Provence, France—a land still reeling from the bloody crusades waged there by the Catholic Church and its northern French armies. When the matchmaker finds the mystic near death by a riverside, Botille takes Dolssa in and discovers the girl’s extraordinary healing power. But as the vengeful Friar Lucien hunts down his heretic, the two girls find themselves putting an entire village at the mercy of murderers. (Goodreads).
First lines: I must write this account, and when I have finished, I will burn it. Mine is the historian’s task, to record the events of the last century, showing God’s mighty hand in ridding these southern lands between the Garona and the Rose rivers of the heresy of the Albigensians.
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
Hold me like a breath, Tiffany Schmidt
Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants. Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can’t protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily. And in her family’s line of work no one can be safe forever. All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks. (Goodreads)
First lines: One upon a time – nine years ago, to be exact- I didn’t know anything about the Family Business. My parents wanted it this way, and since my father was head of the Family, his wishes were obeyed without question. My childhood was spend being loved and coddled by members of my family and members of the Family – I was taken for walks by my Father’s second-in-command, flew kites with his enforcers, and played board games with my older brother, Carter. I was constantly told I was the most fragile person on the estate…and the most fragile.
Everything, everything, Nicola Yoon
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla. But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly. Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster. (Goodreads)
First lines: I’ve read many more books than you. It doesn’t matter how many you’ve read. I’ve read more. Believe me, I have time. In my white room, against my white walls, on my glistening white bookshelves, book spines provide the only colour. The books are all brand-new hardcovers- no germy secondhand softcovers for me.
Six impossible things, Fiona Wood
Fourteen-year-old nerd-boy Dan Cereill is not quite coping with a reversal of family fortune, moving house, new school hell, a mother with a failing wedding cake business, a just-out gay dad, and an impossible crush on the girl next door. His life is a mess, but for now he’s narrowed it down to just six impossible things…(Goodreads)
First lines: There’s this girl I know. I know her by heart. I know her in every way but one: actuality. Her name is Estelle. I yearn for her. She walks in beauty – yes, like the night of cloudless climes and starry skies – with one iPod earbud in at all times- the soundtrack of her life.
Even when you lie to me, Jessica Alcott
Charlie, a senior, isn’t looking forward to her last year of high school. Another year of living in the shadow of her best friend, Lila. Another year of hiding behind the covers of her favorite novels. Another year of navigating her tense relationship with her perfectionist mom. But everything changes when she meets her new English teacher. Mr. Drummond is smart. Irreverent. Funny. Hot. Everyone loves him. And Charlie thinks he’s the only one who gets her.She also thinks she might not be the only one with a crush.(Goodreads)
First lines: The day I turned eighteen was the day Mr. Drummond left for good. I was never a pretty girl. I knew it more from other people’s silences than from anything they said. They didn’t call me beautiful. They didn’t say I was winsome or sexy or gorgeous. They told me I was smart.
The escape, Hannah Jayne
When two boys walk into the woods, and one comes out covered in blood, what would you believe? Fletcher and Adam venture into the woods for an afternoon hike, but when day turns into night and neither boy returns, their town is thrown into turmoil. Avery, the detective’s daughter, is the one to find Fletcher—dishelved, disoriented, and covered in blood. He has no memory of what happened, but Avery can’t shake the feeling that something’s off. When Adam’s body is finally found, Avery is determined to uncover the truth. But if she stands by her gut, and Fletcher, is she standing by a friend, or a murderer? The answer might cost her life.(Goodreads)
First lines: “Come on, loser!” Adam yelled over his shoulder.
Fletcher could hear Adam’s laughter echoing back at him as he pumped his legs, intent on keeping the deep green of Adam’s jacket in sight as he dodged through the forest. There was no way Fletcher could catch Adam unless Adam stopped or dropped dead.
Cheating for the chicken man, Priscilla Cummings
Thirteen-year-old Kate Tyler must ask herself how far she will go to protect her older brother, J.T., when he returns home after nearly a year in a juvenile detention facility, only to find himself ostracized and bullied as he attempts to make a fresh start. Kate compromises her own values and risks getting herself into serious trouble as she launches a secret campaign to protect her brother long enough for him to find his place in the family – and in the world – again.(Goodreads)
First lines: The funeral was on a warm October day with a high blue sky and a single wispy white cloud that drifted, waiting like an angel, Kate though. Her mother said they had been to Arlington National Cemetery before, when Kate’s grandfather was buried, but that was ten years ago, when Kate was only two, and she didn’t remember.
One, Sarah Crossan
Grace and Tippi. Tippi and Grace. Two sisters. Two hearts. Two dreams. Two lives. But one body. Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins, joined at the waist, defying the odds of survival for sixteen years. They share everything, and they are everything to each other. They would never imagine being apart. For them, that would be the real tragedy. But something is happening to them. Something they hoped would never happen. And Grace doesn’t want to admit it. Not even to Tippi. How long can they hide from the truth—how long before they must face the most impossible choice of their lives? (Goodreads)
First lines: Here
And we are living.
Isn’t that amazing?
How we manage
Cut both ways, Carrie Mesrobian
Will Caynes never has been good with girls. At seventeen, he’s still waiting for his first kiss. He’s certainly not expecting it to happen in a drunken make-out session with his best friend, Angus. But it does and now Will’s conflicted—he knows he likes girls, but he didn’t exactly hate kissing a guy. Then Will meets Brandy, a cute and easy-to-talk-to sophomore. He’s totally into her too—which proves, for sure, that he’s not gay. So why does he keep hooking up with Angus on the sly? Will knows he can’t keep seeing both of them, but besides his new job in a diner, being with Brandy and Angus are the best parts of his whole messed-up life. His divorced parents just complicate everything. His father, after many half-baked business ventures and endless house renovations, has started drinking again. And his mom is no help—unless loading him up with a bunch of stuff he doesn’t need plus sticking him with his twin half-sisters counts as parenting. He’s been bouncing between both of them for years, and neither one feels like home. Deciding who to love, who to choose, where to live. Whichever way Will goes, someone will get hurt. Himself, probably the most. (Goodreads).
First lines: You get used to it, divorce. Since fourth grade, I’ve lived in two different houses and while that sounds kind of crazy, especially for a little kid, you get used to it. Used to your parents not being together, to scenery changing every other week.
It’s about love, by Steven Camden
Real life is messier than the movies. A bold, thought-provoking novel from the exceptionally talented, Steven Camden. He’s Luke. She’s Leia. Just like in Star Wars. Just like they’re made for each other. Same film studies course, different backgrounds, different ends of town. Only this isn’t a film. This is real life. This is where monsters from the past come back to take revenge. This is where you are sometimes the monster. But real life? Sometimes, only sometimes, it turns out just like in the movies…… maybe. (Goodreads)
First lines: Black.
Hum of a strip light and radio static as a dial tries to find a station. Fade up to a face. Young man. Wheat-coloured skin. Dark hair cropped close. Radio static settles on ‘Fly me to the moon’.
The letter for the king, Tonke Dragt
On the night of his final vigil before being knighted, Tiuri answers a request to deliver an urgent letter to a distant kingdom across the Great Mountains–a journey that will threaten his life and teach him the true meaning of what it is to be a knight. (Publisher’s summary).
First lines: This is a tale of long ago, when knights still roamed the land. It takes place in two kingdoms: the land of King Dagonaut, to the east of the Great Mountains, and the land King Unauwen, to the west of the Great Mountains. The capital cities of these two realms also bear the name of their kings: the City of Dagonaut and the City of Unauwen. A third land also plays an important part in this tale, but now is not the the time for stories of this place.
A thousand nights, E.K Johnston
Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next. And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time. But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong. Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air. Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.(Goodreads)
First lines: Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to my village looking for a wife. She that he chose of us would be a hero. She would give the others life. Lo-Melkhiin would not return to the same village until he had married a girl from every camp, from every town and from every district inside the city walls – for that was the law, struck in desperation though it was.
The big lie, Julie Mayhew
Jessika Keller is a good girl: she obeys her father, does her best to impress Herr Fisher at the Bund Deutscher Mädel meetings and is set to be a world champion ice skater. Her neighbour Clementine is not so submissive. Outspoken and radical, Clem is delectably dangerous and rebellious. And the regime has noticed. Jess cannot keep both her perfect life and her dearest friend. But which can she live without?(Goodreads)
First lines: I am a good girl. It is my most defining feature. And that’s the truth. If you’d asked anyone on Lincoln Drive or at the elite school, they’d have told you. Jessika Keller? Oh, she is a superior girl, upstanding, immaculate.
Baba Yaga’s assistant, Marika McCoola and Emily Carroll
Most children think twice before braving a haunted wood filled with terrifying beasties to match wits with a witch, but not Masha. Her beloved grandma taught her many things: that stories are useful, that magic is fickle, and that nothing is too difficult or too dirty to clean. The fearsome witch of folklore needs an assistant, and Masha needs an adventure. She may be clever enough to enter Baba Yaga’s house on chicken legs, but within its walls, deceit is the rule. To earn her place, Masha must pass a series of tests, outfox a territorial bear, and make dinner for her host. No easy task, with children on the menu! (Goodreads)
The rules, Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
Junior Robin Brisset has no idea what she’s in for when she accepts an invitation to one of Callabrese High’s most exclusive parties. And when the trademark scavenger hunt begins, Robin must go against every rule she’s lived by to survive.(Goodreads)
First lines: Flames raged along the cliff. Pine trees and manzaita bushes ignited with a whirlwind whoosh, the steam rising off Robin’s sopping-wet jeans as she zigzagged toward the beach like a desperate rabbit inches ahead of the fire. Salt and embers clogged the air.