Way down dark, J.P Smythe
There’s one truth on Australia: You fight or you die. Usually both. Seventeen-year-old Chan’s ancestors left a dying Earth hundreds of years ago, in search of a new home. They never found one.
The only life that Chan’s ever known is one of violence, of fighting. Of trying to survive. But there might be a way to escape. In order to find it, Chan must head way down into the darkness a place of buried secrets, long-forgotten lies, and the abandoned bodies of the dead. Seventeen-year-old Chan, fiercely independent and self-sufficient, keeps her head down and lives quietly, careful not to draw attention to herself amidst the violence and disorder. Until the day she makes an extraordinary discovery – a way to return the Australia to Earth. But doing so would bring her to the attention of the fanatics and the murderers who control life aboard the ship, putting her and everyone she loves in terrible danger. And a safe return to Earth is by no means certain. (Goodreads)
First lines: The story goes that Earth was much older than the scientists though. We had assumed that we had billions of years left; that we would be totally prepared if the worst happened. Maybe that made us complacent. We thought that we understood what we were doing to the planet. We thought we had time to fix it.
An island of our own, Sally Nicholls
Siblings Jonathan, Holly and Davy have been struggling to survive since the death of their mother, and are determined to avoid being taken into care. When the family’s wealthy but eccentric Great-Aunt Irene has a stroke, they go to visit her. Unable to speak or write, she gives Holly some photographs that might lead them to an inheritance that could solve all their problems. But they’re not the only ones after the treasure… (Goodreads)
First lines: I told my brother Jonathan I was going to write a book about all the things that happened to us last year. About the home-made spaceships, and the lock pickers, and the thermal lances, and the exploding dishwasher, and the island that was old when the Vikings came, and Auntie Irene’s treasure, and all the things that happened before we found it.
Fire colour one, Jenny Valentine
A teenage girl will soon discover, there are some things which burn even brighter than fire. Iris’s father Ernest is at the end of his life. Her best friend Thurston seems like a distant memory to her. Her mother has declared war. She means to get her hands on Ernest’s priceless art collection so that she can afford to live the high life. But Ernest has other ideas.
There are things he wants Iris to know. Things he can tell her and things that must wait till he’s gone. What she does after that is up to her.(Goodreads)
First lines: At my father’s funeral, after everything, I lit a great big fire in his honour, built from stacked apple crates and broken furniture and pieces of a dallen-down tree. It towered over the scrubby piece of land I call the bonfire garden, and blazed, too far gone to fight, against the blazing afternoon.
Stone Rider, David Hofmeyr
Adam Stone wants freedom and peace. He wants a chance to escape Blackwater, the dust-bowl desert town he grew up in. Most of all, he wants the beautiful Sadie Blood. Alongside Sadie and the dangerous outsider Kane, Adam will ride the Blackwater Trail in a brutal race that will test them all, body and soul. Only the strongest will survive. The prize? A one-way ticket to Sky-Base and unimaginable luxury. And for a chance at this new life, Adam will risk everything. (Goodreads)
First lines: Here for blood. Three dark Riders. In single file. They rise with bursts of spped, angled back in their seats, arms shaking as they steer their wild machines. Three Riders on low-slung, otherworldly bykes that catch the sun and bristle. Dort clings to their gold-mirrored sun-visors and their gleaming riding suits. They muscle across a wind-hammered landscape, riding up the slope of a dark mountain.
The six, Mark Alpert
Adam’s muscular dystrophy has stolen his mobility, his friends, and in a few short years, it will take his life. Virtual reality games are Adam’s only escape from his wheelchair. In his alternate world, he can defeat anyone. Running, jumping, scoring touchdowns: Adam is always the hero. Then an artificial intelligence program, Sigma, hacks into Adam’s game. Created by Adam’s computer-genius father, Sigma has gone rogue, threatening Adam’s life-and world domination. Their one chance to stop Sigma is using technology Adam’s dad developed to digitally preserve the mind of his dying son. Along with a select group of other terminally ill teens, Adam becomes one of the Six who have forfeited their bodies to inhabit weaponized robots. But with time running short, the Six must learn to manipulate their new mechanical forms and work together to train for epic combat…before Sigma destroys humanity. (Goodreads)
First lines: I’m watching a virtual-reality program on one of my Dad’s computers. I wear a pair of VR goggles – a bulky headset that holds a six-inch-wide screen in front of my eyes- and on the screen I see a simulated football field. It looks like the field behind Yorktown High School but better, nicer.
Omega City, Diana Peterfreund
Gillian Seagret doesn’t listen to people who say her father’s a crackpot. His conspiracy theories about the lost technology of Cold War–era rocket scientist Dr. Aloysius Underberg may have cost him his job and forced them to move to the middle of nowhere, but Gillian knows he’s right and plans to prove it. When she discovers a missing page from Dr. Underberg’s diary in her father’s mess of an office, she thinks she’s found a big piece of the puzzle—a space-themed riddle promising to lead to Dr. Underberg’s greatest invention. Enlisting the help of her skeptical younger brother, Eric, her best friend, Savannah, and Howard, their NASA-obsessed schoolmate, Gillian sets off on a journey into the ruins of Omega City, a vast doomsday bunker deep inside the earth. But they aren’t alone inside its dark and flooded halls. For while Gillian wants to save her dad’s reputation by bringing Dr. Underberg’s secrets to light, there are others who will stop at nothing to make sure they stay buried . . . forever.(Goodreads)
First lines: It started with a fire. When Eric and I walked through the front door, we were met by a wall of gray haze filling the rooms of the cottage, hot and thick and smelling very strongly of charred meat. My brother gave me a look.
“Third time this month.”
“You get the oven,” I suggested, coughing. “I’ll make sure Dad’s still conscious.”
The huntress of Thornbeck forest, Melanie Dickerson
Jorgen is the forester for the wealthy margrave, and must find and capture the poacher who has been killing and stealing the margrave’s game. When he meets the lovely and refined Odette at the festival and shares a connection during a dance, he has no idea she is the one who has been poaching the margrave’s game. Odette justifies her crime of poaching because she thinks the game is going to feed the poor, who are all but starving, both in the city and just outside its walls. But will the discovery of a local poaching ring reveal a terrible secret? Has the meat she thought she was providing for the poor actually been sold on the black market, profiting no one except the ring of black market sellers? The one person Odette knows can help her could also find out her own secret and turn her over to the margrave, but she has no choice. Jorgen and Odette will band together to stop the dangerous poaching ring . . . and fall in love. But what will the margrave do when he discovers his forester is protecting a notorious poacher? (Goodreads)
First lines: The tip of the arrow found its mark, a perfect shot through the deer’s heart and lungs. The animal took two steps forward, then a side step. and fell over. Odette’s five men – more boys than men, as they were about forteen years old – darted out of the cover of the bushes and ran towards the animal that feed at least four families.
Three day summer, Sarvenaz Tash
Michael is unsure about most things. Go to college? Enlist in the military? Break up with his girlfriend? All big question marks. He is living for the moment and all he wants is a few days at the biggest concert of the summer. Cora lives in the town hosting the music festival. She’s volunteering in the medical tent. She’s like that, always the good girl. But there is something in the air at this concert and suddenly Cora finds herself wanting to push her own boundaries. When Michael and Cora meet, sparks fly, hearts race, and all the things songs are written about come true. And all the while, three days of the most epic summer await them…(Goodreads)
First lines: “You. Are. A. Candy. Cane.”
The boy grips me by the arms, his enormous glassy eyes staring right at my chest through his long bangs. Under normal circumstances, I would feel terrified and violated. Instead I roll my eyes.
“He means candy striper,” Anna says as she zips across the tent, brining paper cups of water to the zoned-out patients slumped against the far side.
Into the dangerous world, Julie Chibbaro
17-year old Ror comes from the boonies and is tough as nails and all she really cares about is drawing and painting and making art. She ends up in the ghetto that was Manhattan in 1984, where she discovers that the walls, the subways, the bridges are covered with art. Before long, she runs into trouble with Trey, the ultimate bad boy and president of Noise Ink, a graffiti crew she desperately wants to join at all costs. When Ror falls in love with Trey, she realizes she’ll do just about anything to get up in the scene. She has some decisions to make: she wants to be a street artist but she doesn’t want get shot by the cops; she wants her stuff in the museum but she doesn’t want to die waiting to become famous; she wants to makes money selling her work in a gallery but she doesn’t want to be a puppet at the mercy of a dealer. The book follows her descent into a dangerous world, where her drawings are her only salvation. (Goodreads)
First lines: The night Dado burned down our house, he came upstairs and into my room. In his arms, he cradled a thick roll of brown butcher paper that he must have bought near the chemical plant where he worked. He smelled of sulphur, like a lit match. I hunched over my sketches on the wood floor, drawing the serrated edge of a knife, sharp and ready for a heart.
Survival strategies of the almost brave, Jen White
After their mother’s recent death, twelve-year-old Liberty and her eight-year-old sister, Billie, are sent to live with their father, who they haven’t seen since they were very young. Things are great at first; the girls are so excited to get to know their father – a traveling photographer who rides around in an RV. But soon, the pressure becomes too much for him, and he abandons them at the Jiffy Company Gas Station. Instead of moping around and being scared, Liberty takes matters into her own hands. On their journey to get home, they encounter a shady, bald-headed gas station attendant, a full-body tattooed trucker, free Continental breakfast, a kid obsessed with Star Wars, a woman who lives with rats, and a host of other situations.
When all seems lost, they get some help from an unlikely source, and end up learning that sometimes you have to get a little bit lost to be found. (Goodreads)
First lines: Fake it. That’s definitely number one in my notebook. All people do it. Faking it could save your life. Just then, I was faking it. Writing in my notebook, like I had a purpose. A reason for being here. Like I had all of the time in the world to sit outside this sun-scorched gas station, waiting. I should have known better. All my natural instincts told me not to trust him.
Goodbye stranger, Rebecca Stead
Bridge is an accident survivor who’s wondering why she’s still alive. Emily has new curves and an almost-boyfriend who wants a certain kind of picture. Tabitha sees through everybody’s games–or so she tells the world. The three girls are best friends with one rule: No fighting. Can it get them through seventh grade? This year everything is different for Sherm Russo as he gets to know Bridge Barsamian. What does it mean to fall for a girl–as a friend? On Valentine’s Day, an unnamed high school girl struggles with a betrayal. How long can she hide in plain sight? (Goodreads)
First lines: When she was eight years old, Bridget Barsamain woke up in a hospital, where a doctor told her she shouldn’t be alive. It was possible that he was complimenting her heart’s determination to keep pumping when half her blood was still uptown on 114th Street, but more likely he was scolding her for roller-skating into traffic the way she had.
Shadows of Sherwood, Kekla Magoon
The night her parents disappear, twelve-year-old Robyn Loxley must learn to fend for herself. Her home, Nott City, has been taken over by a harsh governor, Ignomus Crown. After fleeing for her life, Robyn has no choice but to join a band of strangers-misfit kids, each with their own special talent for mischief. Setting out to right the wrongs of Crown’s merciless government, they take their outlaw status in stride. But Robyn can’t rest until she finds her parents. As she pieces together clues from the night they disappeared, Robyn learns that her destiny is tied to the future of Nott City in ways she never expected.(Goodreads)
First lines: The sign on the fence said BEWARE OF DOGS. Robyn scaled it anyway. Dogs? As in plural? she thought, as she laced her fingers in the chain link, wedged the toes of her boots into the diamond-shaped spaces, and climbed. That could be a problem. There were plenty of problems tonight.
Joe all alone, Joanna Nadin
When thirteen-year-old Joe is left behind in Peckham while his mum flies to Spain on holiday, he decides to treat it as an adventure, and a welcome break from Dean, her latest boyfriend. Joe begins to explore his neighbourhood, making a tentative friendship with Asha, a fellow fugitive hiding out at her grandfather’s flat. But when the food and money run out, his mum doesn’t come home, and the local thugs catch up with him, Joe realises time is running out too, and makes a decision that will change his life forever.(Goodreads)
First lines: I should know something’s up right from the off, because when I get in Dean isn’t on the sofa playing Xbox, there’s just that big dip there instead and a stain where he spilt Cherry 20/20 that time. And Mum has this smile on her like she’s on a TV game show, all stretched so wife you think her face is going to crack.
The hired girl, Laura Amy Schlitz
Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs, just like the heroines in her beloved novels, yearns for real life and true love. But what hope is there for adventure, beauty, or art on a hardscrabble farm in Pennsylvania where the work never ends? Over the summer of 1911, Joan pours her heart out into her diary as she seeks a new, better life for herself—because maybe, just maybe, a hired girl cleaning and cooking for six dollars a week can become what a farm girl could only dream of—a woman with a future. (Goodreads)
First lines: Today Miss Chandley gave me this beautiful book. I vow that I will never forget her kindness to me, and I will use this book as she told me to – I will write in it with truth and refinement.
“I’m so sorry you won’t be coming back to school,” Miss Chandler said to me, and at those words, the floodgates opened, and I wept most bitterly.
The last good day of the year, Jessica Warman
Ten years ago, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, seven-year-old Samantha and her next door neighbor, Remy, watched as a man broke into Sam’s home and took her younger sister, Turtle, from her sleeping bag. Remy and Sam, too afraid to intervene at the time, later identified the man as Sam’s sister Gretchen’s much older ex-boyfriend, Steven, who was sent to prison for Turtle’s murder. Now, Sam’s shattered family is returning to her childhood home in an effort to heal. As long-buried memories begin to surface, Sam wonders if she and Remy accurately registered everything they saw. The more they re-examine the events of that fateful night, the more questions they discover about what really happened to Turtle.(Goodreads)
First lines: Midnight had come and gone, but Remy and I were still awake. How could anyone expect us to sleep with all the activity going on above us? Our mothers had tucked us into our sleeping bags hours ago, but the adults had continued their party upstairs.
Ruthless,Carolyn Lee Adams
Ruth Carver has always competed like her life depends on it. Ambitious. Tough. Maybe even mean. It’s no wonder people call her Ruthless. When she wakes up with a concussion in the bed of a moving pickup truck, she realizes she has been entered into a contest she can’t afford to lose. At a remote, rotting cabin deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ruth’s blindfold comes off and she comes face-to-face with her captor. A man who believes his mission is to punish bad girls like Ruth. A man who has done this six times before. The other girls were never heard from again, but Ruth won’t go down easy. She escapes into the wilderness, but her hunter is close at her heels. That’s when the real battle begins. That’s when Ruth must decides just how far she’ll go in order to survive. Back home, they called her Ruthless. They had no idea just how right they were. (Goodreads)
First lines: I can’t see. I don’t know why I can’t see. I do know I was just dreaming. Running in a white dress through a field of wildflowers, no less. It was like a commercial for laundry detergent or tampons or a prescription medication that has death listed as a possible side effect. The dream is embarrassing, but it’s better than the here and now.
The singing bones, Shaun Tan (Foreword by Philip Pulman, introduction by Jack Zipes.)
A unique and alluring art book showcasing Shaun Tan’s extraordinary sculptures based on the timeless and compelling fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. In this beautifully presented volume, the essence of seventy-five fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm is wonderfully evoked by Shaun Tan’s extraordinary sculptures. Nameless princes, wicked stepsisters, greedy kings, honourable peasants and ruthless witches, tales of love, betrayal, adventure and magical transformation: all inspiration for this stunning gallery of sculptural works. Introduced by Grimm Tales author Philip Pullman and leading fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes, The Singing Bones breathes new life into some of the world’s most beloved fairy tales.(Goodreads)
First lines: It had always been my belief that, despite the multitude of beautifully illustrated editions of fairy tale collections that have piled up over the years, the best way to illustrate these little masterpieces of narrative is not to do it at all.