The emperor of any place, Tim Wynne-Jones
When Evan’s father dies, Evan finds a hand-bound yellow book on his desk—a book his father had been reading when he passed away. It is the diary of a Japanese soldier stranded on a small Pacific island in WWII. Why was his father reading it? Who was the American soldier also stranded there? And what could this possibly mean for Evan? (Goodreads)
First lines: Evan stands at the door to his father’s study. There is a sign at eye level: THE DOCKYARD. It was a present he gave to his father last Christmas, made of cork so that if the house sank, at least the sign would still float. Their little joke. He raises his hand to knock – a habit he can begin to unlearn. So much of grief is unlearning.
What we saw, Aaron Harker
Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone’s house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early—the feeling that maybe he’s becoming more than just the guy she’s known since they were kids. But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Deacon Mills’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details. When Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the whole town erupts into controversy. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface, and every answer Kate finds leads back to the same question: Where was Ben when a terrible crime was committed? (Goodreads)
First lines: This video doesn’t show you everything. For instance, you can’t tell that it’s been raining or that the grass is still wet beneath our cleats. I’m five years old in the shaky footage, which was shot before you could make a video using your phone. I pull out Dad’s old camera everyone in a while and watch my first game. This tape from twelve years ago is always inside when I do.
Velocity, Chris Wooding
The Hunger Games’ behind the wheel of a souped-up rally car. Losers die. Winners take all. A race through a psycho-future with genius Wooding in the driving seat. Fast? Yes. Furious? Yes. Fatal? We’ll see. (Goodreads)
First lines: Over the line, into the final lap, ambushed by the rough raw howl of the crowd. The bleachers were a dusty smear, faces lost in blurred chaos, gone in a moment. There was only the race.
Soundless, Richelle Mead
For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom. When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation. But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon. (Goodreads)
First lines: My sister is in trouble, and I have only minutes to help her. She doesn’t see it. She’s having difficulty seeing a lot of things lately, and that’s the problem. Your brushstrokes are off, I sign to her. The lines are crooked, and you’ve misjudged some of the hues. Zhang Jing steps back from her canvas. Surprise lights her features for only a moment before despair sets in.
Hotel Ruby, Suzanne Young
When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief. Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating, extending their stay as it provides endless distractions—including handsome guest Elias Lange, who sends Audrey’s pulse racing. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful. Nightly fancy affairs in the ballroom are invitation only, and Audrey seems to be the one guest who doesn’t have an invite. Instead, she joins the hotel staff on the rooftop, catching whispers about the hotel’s dark past. The more Audrey learns about the new people she’s met, the more her curiosity grows. She’s torn in different directions—the pull of her past with its overwhelming loss, the promise of a future that holds little joy, and an in-between life in a place that is so much more than it seems…(Goodreads)
First lines: The treetops curve above the road like an archway, blotting out the moon and stars. We’ve been driving through these woods for close to an hour, and our car headlights shine only a short distance in the tick fog. I glance into the backseat to check my older brother’s current state of annoyance, but Daniel hasn’t spoken to me since the rest stop near vegas. He stiffens, aggressively ignoring me when he turns to face the dark outside the window.
13 days of midnight, Leo Hunt
When Luke Manchett’s estranged father dies unexpectedly, he leaves his son a dark inheritance: a Host of eight unique, powerful, and restless spirits. Unfortunately, Luke has no clue how to manage them, which the ghosts figure out pretty quickly. Armed with only his father’s indecipherable notes and a locked copy of The Book of Eight, Luke struggles to adapt to his new role as a necromancer. Meanwhile, the increasingly belligerent Host mutinies, possesses Luke’s mother, and forces him out of his own house. Halloween, the night when ghosts reach the height of their power, is fast approaching, and Luke knows his Host is planning something far more trick than treat. With the help of school outcast Elza Moss, who knows a bit about ghosts herself, Luke has just thirteen days to uncover the closely guarded secrets of black magic and send his unquiet spirits to their eternal rest.(Goodreads)
First lines: The first thing that happens is that I unseal an envelope and Dad’s death falls out onto the breakfast table. I always thought I’d learn about it from the papers first, or that maybe news like this would be delivered by an angel, holding out a gilded scroll, its perfect face scribbled with sorrow.
What we left behind, Robin Talley
Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They’ve been together forever. They never fight. They’re deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they’re sure they’ll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, their relationship will surely thrive.
The reality of being apart, however, is a lot different than they expected. As Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, falls in with a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship. While Toni worries that Gretchen, who is not trans, just won’t understand what is going on, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in Toni’s life. As distance and Toni’s shifting gender identity begins to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?(Goodreads)
First lines: Even before I saw her, it was the best night of my life. It was Homecoming. I was about to walk into a ballroom full of people. A girl in a flouncy dress was clinging to my elbow, her photo-ready smile firmly in place, her left hand already raised in a preparatory wave. I didn’t smile with her. I didn’t know if I could even remember how to smile. I was happy, yeah – I was so, so, so happy that night- but I was terrified, too.
The many lives of John Stone, Linda Buckley-Archer
An English teen questions all she knows about aging when she encounters a set of journals that date from the present back to the reign of King Louis XIV in this blend of contemporary and historical fiction from the author of the acclaimed Gideon trilogy. Stella Park (Spark for short) has found summer work cataloguing historical archives in John Stone’s remote and beautiful house in Suffolk, England. She wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and her uncertainty about living at Stowney House only increases upon arriving: what kind of people live in the twenty-first century without using electricity, telephones, or even a washing machine? Additionally, the notebooks she’s organizing span centuries—they begin in the court of Louis XIV in Versailles—but are written in the same hand. Something strange is going on for sure, and Spark’s questions are piling up. Who exactly is John Stone? What connection does he have to these notebooks? And more importantly, why did he hire her in the first place?(Goodreads)
First lines: Spark finds Mum hunched over the kitchen table, feet shoved into sheepskin slippers, hands around a mug of tea, the fridge door open for light.
“What are you doing up already?”
“Couldn’t get a wink,” says Mum, “Knowing how early you’ve got to be off.”
MARTians, Blythe Woolston
Last girl Zoë Zindleman, numerical ID 009-99-9999, has just been graduated. Early. Her options: wait for her home to be foreclosed and stripped of anything valuable now that AnnaMom has moved away, or move to the Warren, an abandoned strip-mall-turned-refuge for other left-behinds—a safe place, and close to AllMART, Zoë’s new employer, where “your smile is AllMART’s welcome mat.” Zoë may be the last girl, but her name means “life,” and Zoë isn’t ready to disappear into the AllMART abyss. Zoë wants to live.(Goodreads)
First lines: Sexual responsibility is boring. It isn’t Mrs Brody’s fault. She’s a good teacher. She switches channels at appropriate moments, tases students who need tasing -zizz-ZAPPP!- and she only once got stuck in the garbage can beside her teaching station.
The detour, S.A. Boden
On her way to a writer’s conference, a bestselling teenage author takes a detour that has been deliberately set up by her biggest fans—a mother and daughter who kidnap her. Livvy Flynn is a big deal—she’s a New York Times-bestselling author whose YA fiction has sold all over the world. She’s rich, she’s famous, she’s gorgeous, and she’s full of herself. When she’s invited to an A-list writer’s conference, she decides to accept so she can have some time to herself. She’s on a tight deadline for her next book, and she has no intention of socializing with the other industry people at the conference. And then she hits the detour. Before she knows it, her brand new car is wrecked, she’s hurt, and she’s tied to a bed in a nondescript shack in the middle of nowhere. A woman and her apparently manic daughter have kidnapped her. And they have no intention of letting her go. (Goodreads)
First lines: How often do you see a girl standing barefoot on a log by the side of the road, playing a flipping flute? Never, that’s how often.
Which is why my focus left the winding gravel for a split second too long, which turned out to be way more than enough time to catch the tires of my red Audi convertible on the raised edge of the road, which I happened to be driving along much too fast.
Silence is goldfish, Annabel Pitcher
My name is Tess Turner – at least, that’s what I’ve always been told. I have a voice but it isn’t mine. It used to say things so I’d fit in, to please my parents, to please my teachers. It used to tell the universe I was something I wasn’t. It lied. It never occurred to me that everyone else was lying too. But the words that really hurt weren’t the lies: it was six hundred and seventeen words of truth that turned my world upside down. Words scare me, the lies and the truth, so I decided to stop using them. I am Pluto. Silent. Inaccessible. Billions of miles away from everything I thought I knew. (Goodreads)
First lines:There must be a list on the Internet of what to buy when you’re running away but my phone is typically dead, like I swear it just passes out whenever things get stressful. It’s unconscious in my pocket so I can’t look up a list of essential items for life on the road, but a children’s torch in the shape of a goldfish seems a very sensible choice.