This week’s selection! Quite a serious bunch, this one.

Ripper, Stefan Petrucha (426 pages) – “Adopted by famous Pinkerton Agency Detective Hawking in 1895 New York, fourteen-year-old Carver Young hopes to find his birth father, but when he becomes involved in the pursuit of notorious killer Jack the Ripper, Carver discovers that finding the truth can be worse than ignorance” (catalogue summary). Creepy! We all love Jack the Ripper stories of course.

First sentences: “Let me show you a secret.” Elizabeth B. Rowley liked the man’s confidence.

Take a Bow, Elizabeth Eulberg (280 pages) – set at a performing arts school (remember my name! fame!). Emme, Sophie, Carter and Ethan are all performers, with varying backgrounds and concerns in their senior year, but they all feel the pressure to perform well in the senior recital, to cement their future careers.

First sentence: My life has been one big audition.

Wanderlove, Kirsten Hubbard (338 pages) – Bria yearns to wander the world, travelling to exotic places. To take the first step, she signs up for a Central American tour, only to discover it’s a tour for oldies (with matching leisure suits, etc.). Luckily she’s rescued from tour hell when she meets Rowan and Starling, an adventurous brother and sister, who promise more interesting travels off the beaten track. A novel about backpacking and finding yourself in the rainforests of Belize.

First sentence: As soon as I see the blond girl bouncing down the aisle, I know she’s heading for the empty seat beside me.

Fever, Lauren DeStefano (341 pages) – book two in the Chemical Garden trilogy. “In a future where genetic engineering has cured humanity of all diseases and defects but has also produced a virus that kills all females by age twenty and all males by the age twenty-five, teenaged Rhine escapes her forced marriage and journeys back to New York to find her twin brother.” (catalogue description) It sounds like a grim future indeed!

First sentence: We run, with water in our shoes and the smell of the ocean clinging to our skin.

Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy, Bil Wright (219 pages) – for a less alarming change of pace! Carlos Duarte has a flair for makeup, and it’s his dream to become a celebrity makeup artist. When he gets a part time job at Macy’s it seems like his career is on the right trajectory, but the makeup world is a cutthroat world: can he make it to the top?

First sentence: When I was twelve, I convinced my mother to let me do her makeup for Parents’ Night.

After the Snow, S D Crockett (288 pages) – another dystopian world, this time it’s a cold one! Willo’s life is as settled as it can be, with his family living in the wilderness, and him a successful hunter. When one day he comes back from a hunting trip to find his family gone, Willo packs up and heads for the mountains, planning on finding a way of getting them back. Things become (more) complicated, however, when he finds a staring girl and boy.

First sentence: I’m gonna sit here in my place on the hill behind the house.

Boy 21, Matthew Quick (250 pages) – Basketball is the winner in this book about life in a really tough neighbourhood. Finley has jersey number 21, and basketball is the one really good thing in his hard life. Russ has just moved into town following a tragedy, and refuses to play basketball, although he is known only as Boy21, after his former jersey number. “A moving novel about hope, recovery, and redemption” (cover).

First sentence: Sometimes I pretend that shooting hoops in my backyard is my earliest memory.

Drowning Instinct, Lisa J Bick (346 pages) – a serious one here, again. Jenna is sixteen, and troubled. Her family life is a shocker, then her older brother – who she looks up to – leaves for Iraq. She finds support in a relationship with an older man – a teacher, in fact. Which could make everything so much worse.

First sentence(s): “Look,” says the detective. He stares down at the girl huddled on the gurney.

The Poisoned House, Michael Ford (319 pages) – goodie! We do love ghost stories. This one looks rather spooky, too. Abi is a scullery maid in 19th century London. There’s something “otherwordly” in the house where she works, though, and Abi – I think – may find herself uncovering its deadly secret.

First sentence: The stone steps to the basement were ice cold under my bare feet.

Desert Angel, Charlie Price (233 pages) – Angel lives in a trailer in the California desert with her mother and her mother’s loser boyfriend, Scotty. One morning she wakes to discover her mother murdered and the boyfriend vanished. Fearing for her life – the boyfriend has excellent tracking skills – Angel escapes into the unforgiving desert, where she discovers a community of people who will help her. But Scotty is always just a few steps behind. Golly.

First sentence: The fight started after midnight, Scotty drunk, Angel’s mother shrill on crystal.

The Beginning of After, Jennifer Castle (425 pages) – Laurel’s family is killed in a horrific car accident, caused by her neighbour, who survived, but is in a coma. Laurel must adjust to life on her own, where it’s hard to tell if her relationships are built on pity or are genuine, and where she has a problematic attraction with the son of her neighbour.

First sentence: Anyone who’s had something truly crappy happen to them will tell you: it’s all about Before and After.

Dead to You, Lisa McMann (243 pages) – from the author of the Wake trilogy. Ethan was abducted when he was seven. Now, nine years later, he has been returned to his family. This should be fantastic! But, inevitably, there’s friction in the family, and some terrible things that Ethan can’t remember.

First sentence(s): There are three of them. No, four.

Grave Mercy, Robin LaFevers (549 pages) – the girl on the cover is wearing a killer red dress and carrying a crossbow. She’s Ismae, and she’s sought refuge in the convent of St Mortain, only to discover that the god of Death has blessed her with certain gifts. She is to be the handmaiden of Death, an assassin. Her first assignment finds her in the court of Brittany. Her target is Gavriel Duval. Seems simple enough, except she’s not prepared for the intrigues at court, or the intrigues of Gavriel Duval.

First sentence: I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch’s poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Emily M Danforth (470 pages) – Cameron Post’s parents die in a car crash (another car crash!), right around the time that Cam is discovering that she is attracted to girls. Moving to Miles City, Montana, to live with her conservative aunt and grandmother, means she will have to appear to tow the line. When Cam meets Coley and they hit it off and begin a close friendship, Cam’s aunt decides to try and “fix” Cam, but can you deny who you really are?

First sentence: The afternoon my parents died I was out shop-lifting with Irene Klauson.