Forest of a thousand lanterns, Julie C. Dao
Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high? Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute. (Publisher summary)
First lines: The procession stretched down the cobblestone road, a serpent made of men in red and gold, the Emperor’s colours. They marched forward, ignoring the slack-jawed townspeople gaping at the banner they carried: a dragon with a forest curled within its talon, the emblem of the royal house. A palanquin draped in scarlet silk appeared, resting on the shoulders of four men. People craned their necks to see the occupant, but caught only a tantalizing glimpse through the swaying curtain: blood-red lips, golden blossoms in shining hair, and robes that cost more than any of them would see in a lifetime.
Stargazing for beginners, Jenny McLachlan
Science geek Meg is left to look after her little sister for ten days after her free-spirited mum leaves suddenly to follow up yet another of her Big Important Causes. But while Meg may understand how the universe was formed, baby Elsa is a complete mystery to her. And Mum’s disappearance has come at the worst time: Meg is desperate to win a competition to get the chance to visit NASA headquarters, but to do this she has to beat close rival Ed. Can Meg pull off this double life of caring for Elsa and following her own dreams? She’ll need a miracle of cosmic proportions. (Publisher summary)
First lines: On my seventh birthday, Grandad made me a rocket. He used the cardboard box the washing machine came in, put a cone on the top and painted the whole thing white. Then he sentcilled MEGARA 1 on the side with red paint. Mum took her hands away from my eyes and I blinked. The rocket nearly touched the ceiling.
“Is it real?” I asked.
Long way down, Jason Reynolds
There are three rules in the neighborhood: Don’t cry ; Don’t snitch ; Get revenge. Will takes his dead brother Shawn’s gun, and gets in the elevator on the 7th floor. As the elevator stops on each floor, someone connected to Shawn gets on. Someone already dead. Dead by teenage gun violence. And each has something to share with Will. (Publisher summary)
First lines: believe nothing
which is why I haven’t
told nobody the story
I’m about to tell you.
Expelled, James Patterson and Emily Raymond
One viral photo. Four expelled teens. Everyone’s a suspect. Theo Foster’s Twitter account used to be anonymous–until someone posted a revealing photo that got him expelled. No final grade. No future. No fair . Theo’s resigned to a life of misery working at the local mini-mart when a miracle happens: Sasha Ellis speaks to him. Sasha Ellis knows his name. She was also expelled for a crime she didn’t commit, and now he has the perfect way to get her attention: find out who set them up. To uncover the truth, Theo has to get close to the suspects: the hacker, the quarterback, the mean girl, the vice principal, and his own best friend. What secrets are they hiding? And how can Theo catch their confessions on camera? (Publisher summary)
First lines:I honestly don’t know how I got here,
I understand, of course, that actions have consequences, and that bad actions have bad consequences (thank you, Principal Dekum, for that pearl of wisdom). But I’m still unclear on the chain of events that have landed me, Theo Forster – B+ student, school newspaper editor, bookish but essentially normal eleventh grader – at my own high school expulsion hearing.
Frost blood, Elly Blake
Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge. Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating–yet irresistible–Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her–and from the icy young man she has come to love. Vivid and compelling, Frostblood is the first in an exhilarating series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies…but together create a power that could change everything. (Publisher summary)
First lines: I offered my hand to the fire. Sparks lept from the hearth and settled onto my fingers, heat drawn to heat, and glittered like molten gems against my skin. With my free hand. I pulled a bucket of melting snow closer and edged forward on my knees, ready to douse myself if the sparks flared into something much larger.