with extraordinary protagonists:
Siege and Storm, Leigh Bardugo (432 pages) – Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all the while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long. The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the evil there but as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and further away from Mal.
First lines: “The boy and the girl had once dreamed of ships, long ago, before they’d ever seen the True Sea. They were the vessels of stories, magic ships with masts hewn from sweet cedar and sails spun by maidens from thread of pure gold.”
Pulse, Patrick Carman (371 pages) – In the year 2051, most Americans live in one of two gigantic, modern States. Faith Daniels discovers that she can move objects with her mind. This telekinetic ability is called a “pulse,” and her mysterious classmate Dylan has the same talent. They are part of a dwindling group that lives between the states and whose unusual abilities could help when the inevitable war begins.
First lines: “Faith Daniels was sleeping soundly when several things in her room began to move. She was a tall girl with long limbs that extended beyond the bed into the cool air of her bedroom.”
Spirit and Dust, Rosemary Clement-Moore (384 pages) – Daisy Goodnight can speak to the dead. It’s not the result of a head injury or some near-death experience. She was just born that way. And she’s really good at it. Good enough to help the police solve the occasional homicide. But helping the local authorities clear cold cases is one thing. Being whisked out of chemistry class by the FBI and flown to the scene of a murder/kidnapping in Minnesota? That’s the real deal. Before the promotion can go to Daisy’s head, she’s up to her neck in trouble. The spirits are talking, and they’re terrified. There’s a real living girl in danger. And when Daisy is kidnapped by a crime boss with no scruples about using magic—and Daisy—to get what he wants, it looks like hers is the next soul on the line.
First lines: “The local cops kept staring at me. I couldn’t decide if it was the plaid miniskirt in subarctic temperatures, or the fact they’d never seen anyone talk to the dead before.”
The Creative Fire, Brenda Cooper, (348 pages) – Ruby Martin expects to spend her days repairing robots while avoiding the dangerous peace-keeping forces that roam the corridors of the generation ship The Creative Fire. The social structure of the ship is rigidly divided, with Ruby and her friends on the bottom. Then a ship-wide accident gives Ruby a chance to fight for the freedom she craves. Her enemies are numerous, well armed, and knowledgeable. Her weapons are a powerful voice, a quick mind, and a deep stubbornness, If Ruby can’t transform from a rebellious teen to the leader of a revolution, she and all her friends will lose all say in their future.
First lines: “Four men in red uniforms surrounded three men wearing dirty gray work clothes. The reds muscled the less fortunate men down an orange hallway. Uneven light showed the scars where bots and cargo carts had bumped the metal walls and two places where graffiti had been painted over.”
Stormbringers, Philippa Gregory (279 pages) – Luca Vero is a member of the secret Order of Darkness, tasked with searching out and reporting signs of the end of the world. With him are his loyal friend and servant Freize, and his clerk, Brother Peter, as well as the Lady Iolde and her mysterious servant-companion Ishraq. Luca and Isolde grow more and more attracted to each other as they continue their journey to unravel the mysteries throughout Christendom. But their travels are delayed by the uprising of an intense religious crusade that threatens the balance of the civilized world. Death lingers in the air as war ravages on, but this religious conflict is nothing compared to the arrival of an intense and deadly storm.
First lines: “The five travellers on horseback on the rutted track to Pescara made everyone turn and stare: the woman who brought them weak ale in a roadside inn; the peasant building a hewn stone wall by the side of the road; the boy trailing home from school to work in his father’s vineyard.”
Song of the Slums, Richard Harland (370 pages) – What if they’d invented rock ‘n roll way back in the 19th century? What if it could take over the world and change the course of history? In the slums of Brummingham, the outcast gangs are making a new kind of music, with pounding rhythms and wild guitars. Astor Vance has been trained in refined classical music. But when her life plummets from riches to rags, the only way she can survive is to play the music the slum gangs want.
First lines: “‘Come on down!’ called Verrol. There was an urgency in his voice that Astor hadn’t heard before. She joined the musicians down below, but when the young buzz guitarist offered her his instrument, she shook her head. ‘I can’t play that.'”
Imposter, Jill Hathaway (261 pages) – This is the follow up to Slide. Vee Bell is now more or less in control of her gift (or curse) of “sliding”—slipping into the mind of another person and experiencing life, briefly, through his or her eyes. But then Vee starts coming to in weird place, not knowing what she’s done. Someone is getting insider her head and messing with her mind, literally. As Vee finds herself in stranger and stranger situations with no memory of getting there, she begins to suspect that someone else she knows has the ability to slide. And this “slider” is using Vee to exact revenge.
First lines: “The dream always goes like this: I’m in the passenger seat of a car, racing down the interstate. The smell of gasoline stings my nostrils. My lips are moving, and sound is coming out, but my words don’t make sense. And I know what’s going to happen, but there’s nothing I can do about it.“
Touched, Corrine Jackson (341 pages) – You’d think being able to heal people with a touch would be a blessing. But to 17-year-old Remy O’Malley, it’s more like a curse. Every injury Remy heals becomes her own. She lives in fear of the day she’s forced to mend a wound from which she can’t recover – and she’s desperate to keep her ability a secret.
First lines: “Okay. This is going to hurt like hell. Taking a deep breath, I stepped into the room, my movements piercing the alcoholic haze insulating Dean.”
Keeper of the Black Stones, PT McHugh (366 pages) – Jason Evans, a shy, introverted high school freshman, thought that his mundane life was all there was – girls, golf, physics, and the occasional bully. Until he found out about the secrets his grandfather had been keeping from him … a set of stones that allowed him to jump through time … a maniacal madman who used the stones to shape history to his liking … and Jason’s own role as one of the few people in the world who could stop that man.
First lines: “The old soldier’s horse thundered across the plain toward the small village of Abergavenny, and death rode with him. The people of the village didn’t deserve to die, but within the next several hours, many of them would.”
17 & Gone, Nova Ren Suma (353 pages) – Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common – they are seventeen and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these visions, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? Is she next? Through Lauren’s search for clues, things begin to unravel, and when a brush with death lands Lauren in hospital, a shocking truth changes everything.
First lines: “Girls go missing every day. They slip out bedroom windows and into strange cars. They leave good-bye notes or they don’t get a chance to tell anyone… Girls make plans to go, but they also vanish without meaning to, and sometimes people confuse one for the other.”