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Category: dystopia Page 2 of 5

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEve of man, Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

They had predicted the end of the world would be epic – a nuclear war, a plague, an asteroid. But it came with a whisper, not a bang. For over fifty years, no girls have been born – only boys. The youngest and last generation of women alive are now in their fifties. Not only are their looks fading, but these greying women are humanity’s only hope for survival. Until there is sudden hope- a girl is born. And in that moment, she instantly becomes the most important person in history. She is their saviour. Her name is Eve. (Publisher summary)

First lines: On the first day no one really noticed. Perhaps there was a chuckle among the midwives at the sight of all of those babies wrapped in blue blankets, not a pink one in sight. They wouldn’t have known that this day of blue was only the beginning.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMercy point, Anna Snoekstra

Emma knows that her parents are hiding a secret, and she’s sure she knows what it is: she’s adopted. Thanks to an online group of similarly minded teens, she’s gotten used to the idea. They chat all day and into the night, and Emma knows that when she meets the other members she’ll have a new family; a place where she truly belongs. When they finally meet, they are all horrified to discover the people they’ve been sharing their souls with are the people they hate. They decide to never speak again. But it’s tough to ignore each other when they’re determined to discover what their parents are hiding – something they soon find is much more sinister than just adoption. It is a secret that goes to the very heart of the town itself. (Publisher summary)

First lines: They are all liars. He watches them from the shadows as they huddle together, arms folded against the cold. He hates them.
“How long do you think they’ll be?” one of them asks, voice angry. “I’m not waiting here all night.”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe boyfriend bracket, Kate Evangelista

Stella has had a hopeless crush on Will, her older brother’s best friend FOREVER, but now that Cam and Will have graduated and are going off to college, this year is her chance to really strike out on her own. Without her overprotective brother and his sidekick around to distract her, she can focus on having all the typical high school experiences that she’s always dreamed of–starting with finding a boyfriend! With the help of her best friend, Franklin, she comes up with the perfect plan to have a boyfriend by Christmas: The Boyfriend Bracket. Or it seems like the perfect plan . . . right up until Will starts showing up again. How is she supposed to find the perfect boyfriend when none of her dates measure up to the one boy she can never have? (Publisher summary)

First lines: Big brothers suck, Stella thought as she pouted, scowled, and crossed her arms all throughout the ceremony. Not even the California sun and the scent of fresh-cut grass made a difference to her current mood. She should have been ecstatic that Cameron James Patterson, spawn of Satan sent to make her life a living hell, was graduating high school that day. Instead the seat reserved for her boyfriend of officially one week remained empty.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe life and death parade, Eliza Wass

One year ago, Kitty’s boyfriend Nikki Bramley visited a psychic who told him he had no future. Now, he’s dead. She sets out to find the psychic who read Nikki his fate, but finds Roan, an enigmatic boy posing as a medium who belongs to the Life and Death Parade– a group of supposed charlatans that explore, and exploit, the thin veil between this world and the next. A group whose members include the psychic– and Kitty’s late mother. When they locate the psychic who made that fateful prophecy to Nikki, Kitty uncovers a secret about Roan that changes everything. (Publisher summary)

First lines: The Start of Summer party was a fairy-lit affair in the back garden of a historic estate. They had a pony ride for the kids, a lighted shooting range for the teens, and a bar for the adults – so they covered all the bases of food, old-fashioned country living.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCopycat, Hannah Jayne

Everyone is dying to read the latest book in the popular Gap Lake mystery series, and Addison is no exception. As the novels biggest fan, she’s thrilled when the infamously reclusive author, R.J. Rosen, contacts her, giving her inside information others would kill for. Addison’s always dreamed of what it would be like if the books were real…But then she finds the most popular girl in school dead. Murdered. And realizes that life imitating fiction is more dangerous that she could have imagined. As other terrifying events from the books start happening around her, Addison has to figure out how to write her own ending–and survive the story. (Publisher summary)

First lines: There was something inordinately creepy about being at school after dark. The place was deserted – the benches and picnic tables in the quad looked ominous and foreboding under the flickering yellow lights.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCourt of shadows, Madeleine Roux

After the frightful events of last autumn, seventeen-year-old Louisa Ditton has settled into her role as a maid at Coldthistle House, but she has not settled into what that means for her humanity. As Louisa struggles to figure out whether she is worthy of redemption, the devilish Mr. Morningside plans a fete- one that will bring new guests to Coldthistle House. From wicked humans to Upworlders, angelic beings who look down upon Mr. Morningside’s monstrous staff, all are armed with their own brand of self-righteous justice. Even a man claiming to be Louisa’s father has a role to play, though what his true motive is, Louisa cannot tell. The conflicts will eventually come to a head on the grounds of Coldthistle House-and the stakes include Louisa’s very soul. (Publisher summary)

First lines: They emerged from the tree like worms from the earth. More shadow than mass, they slithered out from between the cracks in the trunk before making their way to the clearing.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSummer of salt, Katrina Leno

No one on the island of By-the-Sea would call the Fernweh women what they are, but if you need the odd bit of help, such as a sleeping aid concocted by moonlight, they are the ones to ask. Georgina Fernweh waits for the tingle of magic in her fingers– magic that has already touched her twin sister, Mary. But with her eighteenth birthday looming at the end of her last summer on the island, Georgina fears her gift will never come. She meets and falls in love with Prue Lowry, a visitor to the island. When a three-hundred-year-old bird, Annabella is found violently murdered, suddenly the island doesn’t seem so magical. Georgina turns to the Ouija board to discover the dark secrets of Annabella’s death. (Publisher summary)

First lines: On the island By-the-Sea you could always smell two things: salt and magic. The first was obvious. It came crashing ashore in the blue waves; it sat heavy and thick in our hair and out clothes; it stained our bedsheets and made our pillows damp. The second – the scent of magic – was harder to pin down.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNot the girls you’re looking for, Aminah Mae Safi

Lulu Saad doesn’t need your advice, thank you very much. She’s got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It’s all under control. Ish.Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can’t find her way out of this mess soon, she’ll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She’ll have to go looking for herself.Debut author Aminah Mae Safi’s honest and smart novel is about how easy it can be to hurt those around you even if –especially if–you love them. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Lulu swatted her way through the unfamiliar coat closet. After tearing down several of what felt like rather expensive fur coats and a couple of potentially cashmere jackets off their hooks, she managed to hit her head against a dangling light switch chain.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsClean, Juno Dawson

When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she’s hit rock bottom. She’s wrong. Rock bottom is when she’s forced into an exclusive rehab facility. From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady. As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all…(Publisher summary)

First lines: Face-down on leather. New car smell. Pine fresh.
I can’t move.
I’m being kidnapped.
But I can’t move.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLittle do we know, Tamara Ireland Stone

Next-door neighbors and ex-best friends Hannah and Emory haven’t spoken since the fight where they said things they couldn’t take back. Emory is trying to make the most of the months she has left with her boyfriend, Luke, before they head off to separate colleges. Hannah is dealing with her family’s financial problems, turning to unexpected people for answers while she questions her faith. Then Hannah finds Luke doubled over in his car outside her house– and a devastating secret about Hannah and Emory’s argument ultimately to light. In alternating chapters, they tell the story of their relationship with help from the boy caught somewhere in the middle. (Publisher summary)

First lines: There were thirty-six steps between Emory’s bedroom window and mine.
The first time we counted, we were six years old (forty-two steps). The second time, we were twelve (thirty-nine). The last time, we were fifteen.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBrightly burning, Alexa Donne

Stella Ainsley leaves poverty behind when she quits her engineering job aboard the Stalwart to become a governess on a private ship. On the Rochester , there’s no water ration, more books than one person could devour in a lifetime, and an AI who seems more friend than robot. But no one warned Stella that the ship seems to be haunted, nor that it may be involved in a conspiracy that could topple the entire interstellar fleet. Surrounded by mysteries, Stella finds her equal in the brooding but kind nineteen-year-old Captain Hugo. When several attempts on his life spark more questions than answers, and the beautiful Bianca Ingram appears at Hugo’s request, his unpredictable behavior causes Stella’s suspicions to mount. Without knowing who to trust, Stella must decide whether to follow her head or her heart. (Publisher information)

First lines: The gravity stabilisers were failing again. I glanced up my sketchpad to see globules of liquid dancing up from drinking glass. They shimmered red, like droplets of blood, though I knew it was just cherry-flavoured nutri-drink. Dammit, that’s my protein ration for the day wasted.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSuitors and sabotage, Cindy Anstey

Shy aspiring artist Imogene feels conflicted about marrying the young man her father has chosen for her, but she is willing to at least give him a chance for her family’s sake. That is, until she meets Ben, a charming architect’s apprentice . . . and her suitor’s younger brother.Unbeknownst to Imogene, Ben feels the same way about her, but he can never let his true feelings be known without betraying his brother. So he resigns himself to merely a friendship with her, enlisting her to teach him how to draw. But hiding their true feelings for each other becomes the least of their problems when, after a series of unfortunate “accidents,” it becomes apparent that someone means Ben serious harm. And as their affection for each other grows, so does the danger…(Publisher information)

First lines:”Jasper!”
Imogene Chively shouted as she jumped to her feet, flinging her sketch into the grass.
“Don’t move! Stay exactly where you are!”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSmall bones, Vicki Grant

Dot, whose name reflects her stature, has always had big dreams–but her dreams have to be put on hold while she searches for the truth about her parents. She gets a job as a seamstress at a lakeside resort in rural Ontario and falls hard for Eddie, a charming local boy who is equal parts helpful and distracting as Dot investigates her past. Searching for answers to questions about her birth, Dot learns more than she ever wanted to about the terrible effects of war, the legacy of deceit–and the enduring nature of love. (Publisher information)

First lines: It was dark and he didn’t know where he was going. He pulled over to check the map she’d drawn for him, but a lot of good that did. She hadn’t been there in years. She’d scribbled vague lines on the back of a soup label and said, “The turn is right before the gas station, or maybe right after,” then she’d drawn a long squiggle and, at the edge of the label, a box with a roof on it.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsInnocent, Eric Walters

After the orphanage she lives in is destroyed by fire, Betty, an innocent and trusting teen, takes a job as a maid in Kingston, Ontario. Welcomed into the household of the wealthy Remington clan, Betty makes friends with the staff at the house and soon discovers that her mother had also been a maid there–and that her father is in a nearby jail, convicted of murdering her mother. When she meets her father, she is taken aback by his claims of innocence, and she decides to try to uncover the truth about her mother’s murder and her father’s conviction. A friendly young policeman assists her in her investigation (and shows an interest in Betty that is more romantic than professional). But all is not well in the Remington household, and someone doesn’t want Betty to learn the truth.(Publisher information)

First lines: The sun was beat down on me so brightly that I had to keep my eyes tightly closed. It felt so good. I was like a cat basking in the sun, drinking in the warmth, letting it soak in and fill me up. I could lie here all day.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStones on a grave, Kathy Kacer

Sara has never been out of the tiny town of Hope, Ontario, where she has been in an orphanage all her life. After a fire destroys the orphanage, clues about her parentage–a medical certificate and a Star of David–lead her to Germany. Despite her fears–she doesn’t speak the language, she knows no one in Germany, and she’s never been on an airplane–Sara arrives in Germany determined to explore her newly discovered Jewish heritage and solve the mystery of her parentage. What she encounters is a country still dealing with the aftermath of the Holocaust. With the help of a handsome, English-speaking German boy, she discovers the sad facts of her mother’s brief existence and faces the horrible truth about her father. Ultimately, the knowledge she gains opens up her world and leads her to a deeper understanding of herself. (Publisher information)

First lines: The smoke was choking Sara, sucking the air out of her lungs. It billowed in massive clouds from the orphanage roof, exploding like lava and pouring across the sky. Sara stood on the lawn facing the disintegrating building, shaking uncontrollably. She pulled a blanket around her shoulders, wondering briefly briefly how it had gotten there. Had she grabbed it when she ran from her room? Everything was a blur.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTruly, wildly, deeply, Jenny McLachlan

Annie is starting college. She can’t wait. No more school, no more uniform, and no one telling her what to do. It’s the start of a new adventure and Annie’s not going to let anyone or anything get in the way of that. Freedom matters to Annie. She has cerebral palsy and she’s had to fight hard to get the world to see her for who she truly is. Then she meets Fab. He’s six foot two, Polish and a passionate believer in, well, just about everything, but most of all Annie and good old fashioned romance. The moment Fab sees Annie, he’s wildly drawn to her and declares she must be his girl. Annie’s horrified. She doesn’t want to be anyone’s anything, especially if it means losing her independence. But then Annie finds herself falling for Fab. As things go deeply wrong, Annie realises that love can make you do wild, crazy things, and so she sets out to win his heart with a romantic gesture of truly epic proportions! (Publisher information)

First lines: I am sitting on train waiting for my adult life to begin. If my mum wasn’t standing on the platform watching me this would be a really kick-ass moment.
“Go away,” I mouth through the glass, but she just smiles, sips at her frappuccino and stays exactly where she is. So I stick my tongue at her and she sticks her middle finger back at me. For an infant-school teacher, she can be very ride.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe traitor’s game, Jennifer A. Nielsen

Nothing is as it seems in the kingdom of Antora. Kestra Dallisor has spent three years in exile in the Lava Fields, but that won’t stop her from being drawn back into her father’s palace politics. He’s the right hand man of the cruel king, Lord Endrick, which makes Kestra a valuable bargaining chip. A group of rebels knows this all too well — and they snatch Kestra from her carriage as she reluctantly travels home. The kidnappers want her to retrieve the lost Olden Blade, the only object that can destroy the immortal king, but Kestra is not the obedient captive they expected. Simon, one of her kidnappers, will have his hands full as Kestra tries to foil their plot, by force, cunning, or any means necessary. As motives shift and secrets emerge, both will have to decide what — and who — it is they’re fighting for. (Publisher information)

First lines: The truth of where I’d been for the past three years wasn’t anyone believed. It wasn’t exile, as my father claimed. The Lava Fields were barren and unforgiving, and charming in the way that discovering a thorn with one’s bare foot might be charming. But I’d gladly choose to live there before sacrificing my happiness for my father’s political demands.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStumped, Kate Larkindale

Seventeen-year-old Ozzy has a super-hot girlfriend who’s ready to take their relationship to the next level. Tonight. At the lake. But a missing condom scuttles his plans for seduction. Furious, Ozzy takes his girlfriend home and drives off – into the path of an oncoming truck. He wakes up with both legs amputated above the knees. When his girlfriend runs out gagging after one look at him, Ozzy knows he’s a hideous freak. He’s convinced he’s blown any chance of having a real relationship with a girl. Determined to prove he can still be a man despite his disability, Ozzy throws himself into dumping his virginity, but finds there’s a limited number of people willing to touch legless dudes in wheelchairs. His obsession takes him into an underworld of brothels and escort services where he discovers the difference between sex and intimacy, and that sometimes the price is much higher than a sex worker’s fee. (Publisher information).

First lines: The sunlight bouncing off the water is blinding. To keep from dazzled, I stare down at my toes. Three dark hairs coil across the big toe on my left foot. Only one hair adorns the right. I puzzle over this whole the other swimmers line up. Will Lainey think I’m a freak for having mismatched toe hair. Do girls notice that kind of thing?

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNot if I save you first, Ally Carter

Maddie and Logan were torn apart by a kidnapping attempt when they were young. They were only kids — Logan’s dad was POTUS and Maddie’s father was the Secret Service agent meant to guard him. The kidnappers were stopped — but Maddie was whisked off to Alaska with her father, for satety. Maddie and Logan had been inseparable . . . but then she never heard from him again. Now it’s a few years later. Maddie’s a teenager, used to living a solitary life with her father. It’s quiet — until Logan is sent to join them. After all this time without word, Maddie has nothing to say to him — until their outpost is attacked, and Logan is taken. They won’t be out of the woods until they’re . . . out of the woods, and Maddie’s managed to thwart the foes and reconcile with Logan. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Dear Maddie,
There’s a party at my house tomorrow night. Mom said I can invite a friend if I want to. So do you want to come?
_YES
_NO
_MAYBE

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBravura, Sara Kingsley

Raven Araroa is now Woman King of Nuimana and she’s finding island life suits her…especially with Leif by her side. When she learns all is not well back in her old kingdom and Leif must return, she chooses to follow, despite knowing her choice to defy the King of Nadir—her father—will put both their lives in danger. But what she finds upon her return to Nadir is far worse. (Goodreads)

First lines: “Would you like some more, m’lady?”
A nearby voice startles me out of my daydream. I look over at Leif, who is holding the decanter of wine. He’s already refilled his glass.
“Yes, please.”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHow you ruined my life, Jeff Strand

Rod’s life doesn’t suck. If you ask him, it’s pretty awesome. He may not be popular, but he and his best friends play in a band that has a standing gig. Yeah, it’s Monday night and they don’t get paid, but they can turn the volume up as loud as they want. And Rod’s girlfriend is hot, smart, and believes in their band–believes in Rod. Aside from a winning lottery ticket, what more could he ask for? Answer: A different cousin. When Rod’s scheming, two-faced cousin Blake moves in for the semester, Rod tries to keep calm. Blake seems to have everyone else fooled with good manners and suave smile, except Rod knows better. Blake is taking over his room, taking over his band, taking over his life! But Rod’s not about to give up without a fight. Game on. May the best prankster win… (Publisher information)

First lines: “Thanks for coming out tonight! Are you ready to rock?”
A couple of people indicate that yes, they are indeed ready to begin the process of rocking. A few others don’t look up from their cell phones, but I’m confident that they’ll discover their readiness to rock as soon as we start playing.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTyler Johnson was here, Jay Coles

When Marvin Johnson’s twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid. The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it’s up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean. (Publisher information)

First lines: Here’s what goes down:
It’s just the four of us. My best friends, Ivy and Guillermo (G-mo), my brother, Tyler, and me. We’re just strolling through the aisles of a corner convenience store, rapping aloud to my favourite Kendrick Lamar song, “Feel,” turns rapping verses in out loud.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAce of shades, Amanda Foody

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school–and her reputation–behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted. Frightened and alone, Enne has only one lead: the name Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected–he’s a street lord and con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless Mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

First lines: If I’m not home in two months, I’m dead.
Her mother’s warning haunted her as Enne Salta lugged her leather trunk down the bridge leading off the ship, filling her with an inescapable sense of dread.
If I’m not home in two months, I’m dead.
It’d been four.

You might like…dystopias

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDystopias are a constant in YA fiction – what happens when imperfect humans try to create a perfect world. The dictionary defines it as “an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives.” But I think the idea that this was an attempt to make a perfect world is an important one. Of course one must ask: perfect for whom?

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSeries like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner being among our most popular titles. Other notable titles include Sally Gardner’s Maggot Moon – which won the Carnegie Medal in 2013. The Giver by Lois Lowry is a classic of YA literature for good reason, although it has a subtler approach to the genre than others.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOf course we have the two “parents” of the genre. 1984 is the George Orwell classic. Later we have Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Another book that’s in the media a lot and – warning, it’s tough going – is The Handmaid’s tale by Margaret Atwood. Another favourite classic is Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDread nation, Justina Ireland

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever. Now laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. But it’s not a life Jane wants. When families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy… and the restless dead are the least of her problems. (Publisher summary)

First lines: The day I came squealing and squalling into the world was the first time someone tried to kill me. I guess it should have been obvious to everyone right then that I wasn’t going to have a normal life.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe fates divide, Veronica Roth

The lives of Cyra Noavek and Akos Kereseth were spoken by the oracles at their births. The fates are inescapable. Akos is in love with Cyra in spite of his fate. He knows he will die in service to Cyra’s family. When Cyra’s father, Lazmet Noavek– a soulless tyrant, thought to be dead– reclaims the Shotet throne, he ignites a barbaric war. Cyra and Akos are desperate to stop him at any cost– and in the process they discover an unexpected fate. (Publisher summary)

First lines: “Why so afraid?” we ask ourself.
“She is coming to kill us,” we reply.
We were once alarmed by this feeling of being in two bodies since the shift occurred, since both our currentgifts dissolved into one.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe heart forger, Rin Chupeco

No one know death like Tea. A bone witch who can resurrect the dead, she has the power to take life … and return it. And she is done with her self-imposed exile. Her heart is set on vengeance, and she now possesses all she needs to command the mighty daeva. With the help of these terrifying beasts, she can finally enact revenge against the royals who wronged her–and took the life of her one true love. But there are those who would use Tea’s dark power for their own nefarious ends. Because you can’t kill someone who can never die … War is brewing among the kings, and when dark magic is at play, no one is safe. (Publisher summary)

First lines: She wore the corpses for show. They trailed behind her, grotesque fabrics of writhing flesh and bones, spreading across the plain for miles around us. Those bereft of legs and feet used hands and elbows; those lacking jaws and tongues moaned from the hollows of their throats. Those onlookers who drew close grasped at the train of her gown until I was no longer certain where her dress ended and they began.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStormcaster, Cinda Williams Chima

Vagabond seafarer Evan Strangward can move wind, waves, and weather, but his magical abilities can’t protect him forever from the brutal Empress Celestine. As Celestine’s relentless bloodsworn armies grow, Evan travels to the Fells to warn the queendom that an invasion is imminent. If he can’t convince the Gray Wolf queen to take a stand, he knows that the Seven Realms will fall, and his last sanctuary will be destroyed. Among the dead will be the one person Evan can’t stand to lose. Meanwhile, the queen’s formidable daughter, Princess Alyssa ana’Raisa, is already a prisoner aboard the empress’s ship, sailing east. Lyss may be the last remaining hope of bringing down the empress from within her own tightly controlled stronghold. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Evan of Tarvos stood at the stern rail, his eyes fixed on the ship had been following them for the better part of a day. The sleek three-master stayed just at the horizon, neither approaching nor losing ground. Strange. Most ships fled in a hurry when they spotted Captain Latham Strangward’s stormlord standard.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMisfit, Charli Howard (non-fiction)

So, how did a slightly bonkers misfit with anorexia, bulimia and anxiety decide to solve their problems? I became a model. As you do. Charli Howard had always wanted to be normal – but for some reason, she couldn’t quite find out how to do it. As a teenager, she felt like the only one who struggled with anxiety and self-esteem issues when everyone around her seemed to fit in. So she tried to embrace standing out: by becoming a model. Believing it would make her happy and envied, she set out single-mindedly to make it – and she achieved her dream. But the reality wasn’t quite as glamorous as she’d hoped. The pressure on Charli to look a certain way took an extreme toll on her body and self-image, and no matter how thin she got, she was never thin enough. When Charli, though medically underweight, was fired by her modelling agency for being too big, she decided she’d had enough. She used her platform for good and spoke out about the insane standards of the modelling industry, whose images influence young women and girls all over the world. Now, Charli is comfortable in her skin for the first time ever, working happily as a plus sized model in New York. Here, she shares her journey, from anorexic and bulimic teenager to happy, healthy twenty-something. (Publisher summary)

First lines: I am not normal.
From the ages of four to six, I though I was a dog. A German shepherd to be precise, though I could also be a Dalmatian, depending on my mood. The dogs I grew up with were spoiled and loved, and played around all day, so that’s what I decided I wanted to become.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAs she fades, Abbi Glines

On the night of her high school graduation, Vale McKinley and her boyfriend Crawford are in a terrible car accident that leaves Crawford in a coma. They were supposed to spend the summer planning for college, for a bright future full of possibility. Together. Instead, Vale spends long days in the hospital, hoping Crawford will awaken. Slate Allen, a college friend of Vales brother, has been visiting his dying uncle at the same hospital. When he and Vale meet, she cant deny the flutter of an illicit attraction. She tries to ignore her feelings, but she’s not immune to Slate’s charm. Slowly, they form a cautious friendship. Then, Crawford wakes up . . . with no memory of Vale or their relationship. Heartbroken, Vale opts to leave for college and move on with her life. Except now, she’s in Slate’s territory, and their story is about to take a very strange turn. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved fairy tales. And I’ve believed in true love. It was easy for me, though, because I feel in love at six years old. Not many people find love so young. Crawford and I believed we were special. That fate shined on us and gave us each other early so we’d have a lifetime together. He was my very own Prince Charming.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDefy the worlds, Claudia Gray

Shunned after a trip through the galaxy with Abel, the most advanced cybernetic man ever created, Noemi Vidal dreams of traveling through the stars one more time. When a deadly plague arrives on Genesis, Noemi is the only soldier to have ever left the planet. It’s up to her to save its people — if only she wasn’t flying straight into a trap. On the run to avoid his creator, Burton Mansfield, Abel hears that Noemi has been captured — by Mansfield. Abel knows he must go to her, no matter the cost. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Noemi Vidal walks through the two long lines of starfighters in the hangar, helmet under one arm, head held high. She doesn’t wave to her friends like she always used to – until six months ago. Now no one would wave back.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe continent, Keira Drake

For her sixteenth birthday, Vaela Sun receives the most coveted gift in all the Spire–a trip to the Continent. It seems an unlikely destination for a holiday: a cold, desolate land where two nations remain perpetually locked in combat. Most citizens lucky enough to tour the Continent do so to observe the spectacle and violence of battle, a thing long vanished in the peaceful realm of the Spire. For Vaela, the war holds little interest. As a talented apprentice cartographer and a descendant of the Continent herself, she sees the journey as a dream come true: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve upon the maps she’s drawn of this vast, frozen land. But Vaela’s dream all too quickly turns to nightmare as the journey brings her face-to-face with the brutal reality of a war she’s only read about. Observing from the safety of a heli-plane, Vaela is forever changed by the sight of the bloody battle being waged far beneath her. And when a tragic accident leaves her stranded on the Continent, Vaela finds herself much closer to danger than she’d ever imagined–and with an entirely new perspective as to what war truly means. Starving, alone and lost in the middle of a war zone, Vaela must try to find a way home–but first, she must survive. (Publisher summary)

First lines: This must be the most magnificent party in the history of the Spire.
I’ve never felt quite like this before; my mind is awhirl, my senses dazzled, and there’s a bounding joy spiraling up within me. I wonder where it’s coming from, this feeling of inexhaustible delight?

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsI have lost my way, Gayle Forman

Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. When a fateful accident draws these three strangers together, their secrets start to unravel as they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in helpƯing the others out of theirs. (Publisher summary)

First lines: I have lost my way.
Freya stares at the words she just typed into her phone.
I have lost my way. Where did that come from?

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhite night, Ellie Marney

In Bo Mitchell’s country town, a ‘White Night’ light-show event has the potential to raise vital funds to save the skate park. And out of town, a girl from a secretive off-the-grid community called Garden of Eden has the potential to change the way Bo sees the world. But are there too many secrets in Eden? As Bo is drawn away from his friends and towards Rory, he gradually comes to believe that Eden may not be utopia after all, and that their group leader’s goal to go off the grid may be more permanent – and more dangerous – than anyone could have predicted. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Three things are all over my feed on the first day of school: the skate park’s being shut down, Mr Showalter is losing his nut, and the new girl is a feral skank. Teo saw Mr. S talking to himself at the I.G.A. Lozzie’s avatar is a dancing tulip.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSal, Mick Kitson

Sal planned it for almost a year before they ran. She nicked an Ordnance Survey map from the school library. She bought a compass, a Bear Grylls knife, waterproofs, and a first aid kit from Amazon using credit cards she’d robbed. She read the ‘SAS Survival Handbook’ and watched loads of YouTube videos. And now Sal knows a lot of stuff. Like how to build a shelter and start a fire. How to estimate distances, snare rabbits, and shoot an airgun. And how to protect her sister, Peppa. Because Peppa is ten, which is how old Sal was when Robert started on her. Told in Sal’s distinctive voice, and filled with the silent, dizzying beauty of rural Scotland, ‘Sal’ is a disturbing, uplifting story of survival, of the kindness of strangers, and the irrepressible power of sisterly love; a love that can lead us to do extraordinary and unimaginable things. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Peppa said “Cold” and then she went quiet for a but. And then she said “Cold Sal. I’m cold.” Her voice was low and quiet and whispery. Not like normal. I started to worry she had hypothermia. I saw a thing about how it makes you go all slow and quiet.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNice try, Jane Sinner, Lianne Oelke

The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out. Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange , a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother , but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don’t know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she’ll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight. As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She’ll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world–or at least viewers of substandard TV–that she has what it takes to win.(Publisher summary)

First lines: I’m not a particularly good daughter, but I sat through a month of therapy for my parents’ sake. I’d like to think they got more out of it than I sis. Couldn’t have been too hard. Any system that requires the patient’s family to pay someone else to care about her is fundamentally flawed. But I digress. If my decision to stop attending therapy means James Fowler High School no longer welcomes me as a student, I guess that’s on me.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLeah on the offbeat, Becky Alberti

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat–but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. She’s an anomaly in her friend group: the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends–not even her openly gay BFF, Simon. So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting–especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

First lines: I don’t mean to be dramatic, but God save me from Morgan picking our set list. That girl is a suburban dad’s midlife crisis in a high school senior’s body.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMunmun, Jesse Andrews

In an alternate reality a lot like our world, every person’s physical size is directly proportional to their wealth. The poorest of the poor are the size of rats, and billionaires are the size of skyscrapers. Warner and his sister Prayer are destitute–and tiny. Their size is not just demeaning, but dangerous: day and night they face mortal dangers that bigger richer people don’t ever have to think about, from being mauled by cats to their house getting stepped on. There are no cars or phones built small enough for them, or schools or hospitals, for that matter–there’s no point, when no one that little has any purchasing power, and when salaried doctors and teachers would never fit in buildings so small. Warner and Prayer know their only hope is to scale up, but how can two littlepoors survive in a world built against them? (Publisher summary)

First lines: Being littlepoor is notsogood.
I know I know, you think you know this already, howabout I just tell you though.
I want to see if this makes you laugh. A middlerich kid stepped on our house and crushed my dad to death. Then that same year a cat attacked my mom at the dump and snapped her spine. Okay there. That’s it. Did you blurt a little giggly laugh?

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe girl who saw lions, Berle Doherty

Abela has lost everything, and now she must leave her home in Tanzania and flee to Britain. Rosa’s struggling to cope with her mother’s wish to adopt a child. When they are brought together, will Abela and Rosa ever be able to love one another like sisters? From the Carnegie Medal-winning author Berlie Doherty, The Girl Who Saw Lions is a powerful and moving story, inspired by the author’s visit to Africa. (Publisher summary)

First lines: The priest arrived on a red motorbike. Dust rose like smoke around him as he roared into the village. Already the villagers were strolling towards the church, which was built like a barn on wooden supports. The sides were open, and swallows and children swooped and tumbled in and out. Abela had been one of the first to arrive, carrying her baby sister on her hip, the child’s skinny arms looped around her neck. She was too big to be carried, really, and Abela was too small to be carrying her.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe astonishing color of after, Emily X. Pan

Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: when her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird. When she travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time, Leigh is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life. (Publisher summary)

First lines: My mother is a bird. This isn’t like some William Faulker stream-of-consciousness metaphorical crap. My mother. Is literally. A bird. I know it’s true the way I know the stain on the bedroom floor is a permanent as the sky, the way I know my father will never forgive himself. Nobody believes me, but it is a fact. I am absolutely certain.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFound, Harlan Coben

It’s been eight months since Mickey Bolitar witnessed the death of his father. Eight months of lies, dark secrets, and unanswered questions. Mickey’s sophomore year brings on its own set of troubles: Ema surprises with news that she has an online boyfriend, and he’s vanished. As he’s searching for Ema’s missing boyfriend, Mickey and his friends are pulled deeper into the mysteries of the Abeona Shelter, risking their lives, until Mickey finally comes face-to-face with the truth about his father. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Eight months ago, I watched my father’s coffin lowered into the ground. Today I was watching it being dug back up. My uncle Myron stood next to me. Tears ran down his face. His brother was in that coffin – no, strike that, his brother was supposed to be in that coffin – a brother who supposedly died eight months ago, but a brother Myron hadn’t seen in twenty years.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe sorcerer heir, Cinda Williams Chima

Emma and Jonah are at the center of it all. Brought together by their shared history, mutual attraction, and a belief in the magic of music, they now stand to be torn apart by new wounds and old betrayals. As they struggle to rebuild their trust in each other, Emma and Jonah must also find a way to clear their names as the prime suspects in a series of vicious murders. It seems more and more likely that the answers they need lie buried in the tragedies of the past. The question is whether they can survive long enough to unearth them. (Publisher summary)

First lines: “Where are you off to, Alicia?” Aunt Millisandra asked as Leesha Middleton sidled past on her way to the door.
“A party,” Leesha said, purposely vague. “I’ll be back late.”
“Is the party here in town?” Aunt Millie asked. “Will there be drinking? Will you be careful?”

New Books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSightwitch, Susan Dennard

Set a year before Truthwitch, Sightwitch follows Ryber Fortiza, the last Sightwitch Sister as she treks deep underground to rescue her missing best friend. While there, she encounters a young Nubrevnan named Kullen Ikray, who has no memory of who he is or how he wound up inside the mountain. From the New York Times bestselling author of Windwitch Susan Dennard, an illustrated prequel novella set in the Witchlands setting up the forthcoming hotly anticipated Bloodwitch. (Publisher information)

First lines: You don’t remember me, do you, Kullen?
I’m familiar though. When I walked into the Cleaved Man, you squinted your eyes as if there was something in my face you knew. Something that made you rub that scar on your chest. Don’t you wonder how you got that scar?

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDon’t cosplay with my heart, Cecil Castellucci

Edan Kupferman’s life is coming apart: her father is being “sequestered” because the company he works for in Hollywood is in legal trouble, her best friend is in Japan for the summer, and the boy she has a crush on is just plain confusing, so she escapes into the world of comics, and her favorite character, Gargantua–but when Kirk, a boy from her high school, gets her into the sold out ComicCon it starts to look like she might, with a little help, be able to take control of her life after all. (Publisher summary)

First lines: it’s no wonder when I see the cheap Gargantua mask I picked up on Free Comic Book Day this past spring on my desk, I put it on and leave it on when I am called down to dinner. Gargantua, my favorite character from Team Tomorrow, is ten feet tall and so is the size of my being pissed off at everything right now.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe price guide to the occult, Leslye Walton

When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred-some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it. In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide ‘s malevolent author — Nor’s own mother — looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness. (Publisher summary)

First lines: They have been called many things.
Years ago, when their nomadic ways led them north to where the mountains were covered in ice and the winter nights were long, the villagers called to them , “Häxa, Häxa!” and left gifts of lutfisk and thick elk skins.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe fandom, Anna Day

Violet’s in her element – cosplay at the ready, she can’t wait to feel part of her favourite fandom: The Gallow’s Dance, a mega-story and movie franchise. But at Comic Con, a freak accident transports Violet and her friends into the The Gallows Dance for real – and in the first five minutes, they’ve caused the death of the heroine. It’s up to Violet to take her place, and play out the plot the way it was written. But stories have a life of their own…(Publisher summary)

First lines: I begin to stand, realize my maxi skirt has stuck to my thighs, and subtly unpeel the cotton from my skin.
“Go for it,” Katie whispers.
I don’t reply. Why did I volunteer to do this stupid presentation?

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhat goes up, Katie Kennedy

Rosa and Eddie are among hundreds of teens applying to NASA’s mysterious Interworlds Agency. They’re not exactly sure what the top-secret program entails, but they know they want in. Rosa has her brilliant parents’ legacies to live up to, and Eddie has nowhere else to go–he’s certainly not going to stick around and wait for his violent father to get out of jail. Even if they are selected, they have no idea what lies in store. But first they have to make it through round after round of crazy-competitive testing. And then something happens that even NASA’s scientists couldn’t predict…(Publisher summary)

First lines: NASA stored the future in a hangar in Iowa. Rosa Hayashi’s future, anyway. The tryouts for a position with the Interworlds Agency would take two days, but they started now. Rosa stepped into the hangar and didn’t wait for her eyes to adjust. She found a seat and bounced a pencil on her leg while waited for the future to catch up with her.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA very, very bad thing, Jeffery Self

Marley is one of the only gay kids in his North Carolina town — and he feels like he might as well be one of the only gay kids in the universe. Or at least that’s true until Christopher shows up in the halls of his high school. Christopher’s great to talk to, great to look at, great to be with-and he seems to feel the same way about Marley. It’s almost too good to be true. There’s a hitch (of course): Christopher’s parents are super conservative, and super not okay with him being gay. That doesn’t stop Marley and Christopher from falling in love. Marley is determined to be with Christopher through ups and downs-until an insurmountable down is thrown their way. Suddenly, Marley finds himself lying in order to get to the truth-and seeing the suffocating consequences this can bring

First lines: I am not a bad person. I’m not a great person, either, but not bad. No matter what I did.
Stupid? Yes.
Desperate? Yes.
Completely and totally lost beyond all belief? Abso-damn-lutely.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe extinction trials, S.M. Wilson

Stormchaser wants to escape her starved, grey life. Lincoln wants to save his dying sister. Their only chance is to join an expedition to a deadly country to steal the eggs of vicious dinosaurs. If they succeed, their reward is a new life filled with riches. But in a land full of monsters – both human and reptilian – only the ruthless will survive. (Publisher summary)

First lines: She couldn’t see him. She didn’t even know he was there. Lincoln pressed herself against the dark red walls of the cave. Maybe it was the artificial light that made her look so unwell. They’d been rushed out of their old home and moved into this one so quickly that he couldn’t even remember when he’d last seen his sister in natural daylight.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHero at the fall, Alwyn Hamilton

Armed with only her revolver, her wits, and the Demdji powers she’s struggling to control, Amani must rally a crew of rebels to take on the bloodthirsty sultan of Miraji and free the imprisoned prince Ahmed. But as the rescue mission travels through the unforgiving desert to a place that, according to maps, doesn’t exist, Amani questions whether she is leading them all to their deaths. (Publisher summary)

First lines: I woke from a sleep filled with nightmares to the sound of my name.
I was already reaching for a gun when I recognised Sara’s face above me, swimming in and out of focus as my eyes blurred with exhaustion.
My grip on the trigger eased. It wasn’t an enemy, just Sara, the guardian of the Hidden House.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsObsidio, Amie Kaufman and Jay kristoff (#3 in the Illumiane Files)

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza–but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?(Publisher summary)

First lines: Crowhurst, G: Perhaps we should get proceedings under way? Miss Donnelly, is the video feed operating at your end?
Donnelly, H: We can see you, Mr. Crowhurst.
Crowhurst, G: Thank you for making yourself available to us today. Please state your name and occupation for the record.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe beauty that remains, Ashley Woodfolk

Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Autumn is a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan has always turned to writing love songs when his real love life was a little less than perfect. But death might pull them apart– when tragedy strikes each of them, music is no longer enough. Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend; Shay is struggling to keep it together; Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered. It is possible for one band’s music to reunite them and prove that beauty thrives in the people left behind? (Publisher summary)

First lines: I saw you yesterday.
There’s no way this is real. It’s can’t be.
I keep waiting for you to call.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFaceless, Alyssa Sheinmel

Maisie is a normal sixteen-year-old, until an electrical fire caused by a lightning strike leaves her with severe burns, her face partially destroyed–she is lucky enough to get a full face transplant but she soon discovers how much her looks shaped her own identity and her relationship with those around her, including her boyfriend. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Step, breath. Step, breath.
My best friend, Serena, doesn’t understand why I run. She said once that of all the different forms of working out, she thought running seemed like the absolute worst. The most punishing. Of course, Serena does yoga.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRide, Lisa Glass

As a professional surfer, seventeen-year-old Iris has travelled the sun-kissed beaches of the globe. But after a tumultuous week in Miami leaves her heartbroken, Iris returns to her home town in the south coast of England. Putting her promising career on hold. Leaving behind Zeke, the boy who changed her world. Iris is desperate to get back to her old life, to the family and friends she grew up with. She wants to rediscover her passion for surfing. She needs to move on. But Iris soon realises it won’t be that simple. Because while a summer romance might only last the season, first loves never truly leave you…(Publisher information)

First lines: The Florida wind in my face, I paddle into shark park, acutely aware of several long-lens cameras trained on me. I’ve made the decision to stop wearing bikinis when I compete, even in warm water. Instead, I’ll dress in either a one-piece swimsuit with men’s boardshorts and my contest jersey, or, if I can surf without getting cooked by neoprene, a spring wetsuit.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe belles, Dhonielle Clayton

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orleans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful. But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite, the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orleans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie, that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision. With the future of Orleans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide: save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles, or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever. (Publisher information)

First lines: We all turned sixteen today, and for any normal girl that would mean raspberry and lemon macarons and tiny pastel blimps and pink champagne and card games. Maybe even a teacup elephant.
But not for us. Today is our debut. There are only six of us this year.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsChildren of blood and bone, Tomy Adeyemi

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Pick me.
It’s all I can do not to scream. I dig my nails into the marula oak of my staff and squeeze to keep from fidgeting. Beads of sweat drip down my back, but I can’t tell if it’s from dawn’s early heat or from my heart slamming against my chest. Moon after moon I’ve been passed over. Today can’t be the same.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems. (Publisher information)

First lines: The summer is made for stoop-sitting
and since it’s the last week before school starts,
Harlem is opening its eyes to September.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTo kill a kingdom, Alexandra Christo

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. Hearts are power, and with the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. When a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own, the Sea Queen transforms Lira a human as punishment. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever. Hunting sirens is Prince Elian’s calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good– but can he trust her? (Publisher information)

First lines: I have a heart for every year I’ve been alive.
There are seventeen hidden in the sand of my bedroom. Every so often, I claw through the shingle, just to check they’re still there. Buried deep and bloody. I count each of them, so I can be sure none were stolen in the night. It’s not such an odd fear to have. Hearts are power, and if there’s one thing my kind craves more than the ocean, it’s power.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRestore me, Tahereh Mafi

It’s been sixteen days since Juliette Ferrars killed the supreme commander of North America and took over as ruler of the Reestablishment on the continent … Juliette thought she’d won. She took over sector 45 and now has Warner by her side. But she’s still the girl with the ability to kill with a single touch–and with so much power in her young hands, the world is watching her every move, waiting to see what happens next. (Publisher information)

First lines: I don’t wake up screaming anymore. I do not feel ill at the sight of blood. I do not flinch before firing a gun.
I will never again apologize for surviving.
And yet-

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe case for Jamie, Britanny Cavallaro

A year after August’s death, Jamie and Charlotte are manipulated into reforming their detective team by someone who wants to see them suffer. Jamie is going through the motions at Sherringford, trying to finish his senior year without incident, with a nice girlfriend he can’t seem to fall for. Charlotte is on the run, from Lucien Moriarty and from her own mistakes. No one has seen her since that fateful night on the lawn in Sussex—and Charlotte wants it that way. She knows she isn’t safe to be around. She knows her Watson can’t forgive her. Holmes and Watson may not be looking to reconcile, but when strange things start happening, it’s clear that someone wants the team back together. Someone who has been quietly observing them both. Making plans. Biding their time. Someone who wants to see one of them suffer and the other one dead. (Publisher information)

First lines: It was January in Connecticut, and the snow hadn’t stopped falling in what felt like forever. It gathered in the windows wells, in the hollows between the bricks of the rebuilt sciences building. It hung from the boughs of trees, tucked itself up the root systems below. I shook it from my wool cap before every class, ruffled it out of my hair, pulled it from my socks.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsInto exile, Joan Lingard

Catholic Kevin and Protestant Sadie have married and escaped to London to start a new life together, away from their disapproving families and the fighting on the streets. But news from Belfast brings loneliness and heartache – will they ever really be free of the Troubles back home? (Publisher information)

First lines: Sadie McCoy stood by the window looking out into the dingy street. It was Sunday morning, early, and few people were about, which made the street look even worse than usual. She was used to dingy streets, it was not that in itself that was bothering her, but the streets she had known were Belfast ones, with rows red-bricked houses built back to back. This was a London street, and even after a month it still looked foreign to her.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA girl like that, Tanaz Bhathena

In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, sixteen-year-old half-Hindu/half-Parsi Zarin Wadia is the class troublemaker and top subject for the school rumor blogs, regularly leaving class to smoke cigarettes in cars with boys, but she also desperately wants to grow up and move out of her aunt and uncle’s house, perhaps realizing too late that Porus, another non-Muslim Indian who risks deportation but remains devoted to Zarin, could help her escape. When the two end up dead in a car on a highway in Jeddah, it becomes clear she was far more than a “girl like that.” (Publisher information)

First lines: The wails Masi let out were so heart-wrenching you would think I was her only daughter lying dead before her instead, of the parasite from her sister’s womb, as she once called me. She should have been a professional funeral crier.

You might like…alternate histories

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAlternate histories can be best be described as “what if but ” There’s often crossover into fantasy or they involve some fantastic elements. This is particularly true of my top picks for alternate history fiction: Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy (what if the Great War but one side had giant monsters and the other side had enormous machines) and Brian Falkner’s Battlesaurus series (what if the Napoleonic Wars but the French ride dinosaurs).

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOn a more serious note, I think Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series is the pre-eminent title in this genre. It falls outside my formula but it’s a YA classic and for good reason. Noughts and Crosses deals with a reversal: People of colour occupy a place of privilege, whilst the others are oppressed. It is much more complex than that; it deals with love, family ties and the ethics of oppression and resistance. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe big lie by Julie Mayhew is a newer book with a common trope in alternate history fiction; what if the Nazis won World War Two? This book examines this from the perspective of the daughter of an English Nazi officer. To describe this book as chilling is a massive understatement; it’s a startling vision of a world made unfamiliar right down to the smallest detail. A massive political change through the eyes of one person.

Now for other items in our collection. It’s interesting to note that is a popular theme in non-fiction as it is in fiction. There are plenty of historians interested in the possibilities. More what if? : eminent historians imagine what might have been (edited by Robert Cowley) is my top pick.

In adult fiction, we have The mammoth book of alternate histories, edited by Ian Watson and Ian Whates. It’s a collection of short stories, so it’s not a heavy tome with lots of lore. On the more fantastic side of things, we have Anno Dracula – what if Dracula was real and turned Queen Victoria into a vampire.

It’s interesting when looking at alternate history novels; especially in regards to who writes them and what gets told and what differences are emphasised. Something to keep in mind while investigating the genre.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe last to let go, Amber Smith

Junior year for Brooke Winters is supposed to be about change. She’s transferring schools, starting fresh, and making plans for college so she can finally leave her hometown, her family, and her past behind. But all of her dreams are shattered one hot summer afternoon when her mother is arrested for killing Brooke’s abusive father. No one really knows what happened that day, if it was premeditated or self-defense, whether it was right or wrong. And now Brooke and her siblings are on their own. In a year of firsts–the first year without parents, first love, first heartbreak, and her first taste of freedom–Brooke must confront the shadow of her family’s violence and dysfunction, as she struggles to embrace her identity, finds her true place in the world, and learns how to let go. (Publisher information)

First lines: It’s the end of June. A Friday. Like any other day, except hotter. I take my usual shortcut home from school through the alley, where the air is dense and unbreathable, saturated with the raw smell of overheated dumpster garbage. I can taste it in the back of my throat like an illness coming on.

Book cover courtesy of Syndetics36 questions that changed my mind about you, Vicki Grant

Hildy and Paul each have their own reasons for joining the university psychology study that asks the simple question: Can love be engineered? The study consists of 36 questions, ranging from “What is your most terrible memory?” to “When did you last sing to yourself?” By the time Hildy and Paul have made it to the end of the questionnaire, they’ve laughed and cried and lied and thrown things and run away and come back and driven each other almost crazy. They’ve also each discovered the painful secret the other was trying so hard to hide. But have they fallen in love? (Publisher information)

First lines: There were three rapid knocks, then the door opened and a girl stumbled in, out of breath.
“Sorry. Sorry I’m late. I had to talk to my English teacher about my term paper and he wasn’t in his office and…”
Jeff jiggled his head like no problem.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRosemarked, Livia Blackburne

When Zivah falls prey to the deadly rose plague, she is destined to live her last days in isolation. Dineas, broken by torture at the hands of the Amparan Empire, thirsts for revenge against his captors; he’ll do anything to free his tribe from Amparan rule– even if it means undertaking a plan that risks not only his life but his very self. The two are thrust together on a high-stakes mission to spy on the capital, and must find common ground to protect those they love– while grappling with a mutual attraction that could break both of their carefully guarded hearts. (Publisher information)

First lines: A bitter film of ziko root coats the inside of my mouth. I run my tongue over my palate to rub out the taste, though I know it won’t work. Nothing dislodges ziko bitterness – not water, not bread, nor goat’s milk. If I’d been planning ahead, I might have brought a mint leaf to chew, but I’ve had more important things on my mind.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAkata warrior, Nnedi Okorafor

A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book. Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity. (Publisher information)

First lines: Greetings from the Obi Library Collective of Leopard Knocks’ Department of Responsibility. We are a busy organisation with more important things to do. However, we’ve been ordered to write you this brief letter of information. It is necessary that you understand what you understand what you understand what you are getting into before you begin reading this book. If you already understand, then feel free to skip this warning and jump right into the continuation of Sunny’s story and Chapter 1.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAll that was, Karen Rivers

Piper and Sloane were best friends. They grew up together, from childhood to first love, and in spite of how different they were, their friendship was supposed to last forever. That is, until Piper caught Sloane kissing her boyfriend–and just days later, Piper was found dead, washed ashore on a beach. Sloane was torn with grief and guilt. How do you make amends for hurting someone you love if that person is no longer around? And how can you ever move on and love again? (Publisher information)

First lines: What do I do now?
I’m under.
I’m gone.
I’m below.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe chaos of standing still, Jessica Brody

Ryn has one unread text message on her phone. And it’s been there for almost a year. She hasn’t tried to read it. She can’t. She won’t. Because that one message is the last thing her best friend ever said to her before she died. But as Ryn finds herself trapped in the Denver International Airport on New Year’s Eve thanks to a never-ending blizzard on the one-year anniversary of her best friend’s death, fate literally runs into her. And his name is Xander. When the two accidentally swap phones, Ryn and Xander are thrust into the chaos of an unforgettable all-night adventure, filled with charming and mysterious strangers, a secret New Year’s Eve bash, and a possible Illuminati conspiracy hidden within the Denver airport. But as the bizarre night continues, all Ryn can think about is that one unread text message. It follows her wherever she goes, because Ryn can’t get her brialliantly wild and free-spirited best friend out of her head. Ryn can’t move on. But tonight, for the first time ever, she’s trying. And maybe that’s a start. (Publisher information)

First lines: The view from the window of seat 27F is like trying to look through a snow glove after you’ve shaken it so hard the artificial white flakes don’t know which way is down.
“Restless” is a word that comes to mind.
Is it safe to land a plane in a snowstorm?

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBetween us, Clare Atkins

Between Us is the story of two teenagers – Jono and Anahita – falling in love for the first time. There’s just one thing standing between them: twenty kilometres of barbed wire fence. Anahita lives in the Wickham Point Immigration Detention Centre, where asylum seekers are detained while they wait to be ‘processed’ by the Australian government. The two teenagers meet at Darwin High School. Anahita travels from Wickham Point to school each day, passing through metal detectors, checkpoints and enduring multiple roll calls on the detention centre bus. Jono has no idea about any of this. All he knows is that there’s a beautiful new girl with dark eyes, who keeps looking over in his direction … is it possible she likes him? (Publisher information)

First lines: I start again.
I lift my right foot off the ground, and place it on the lowest step of the bus. My nerves are an electric lightning storm inside me, fraught and fiery.
The officer waves from me to get on. Her voice cracks with impatience. “Hurry up!”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNobody real, Steven Camden

Marcie is seventeen and under pressure. Pressure from Mum to go to University. Pressure from Dad to rebel and find her passion. Everyone seems to know what’s best for her. Nobody just listens. Not like her imaginary friend Thor Baker used to. When Tara’s older brother Morgan comes home from university, Marcie thinks she might have someone who understands. Then Thor Baker shows up. In the real world. Still strong, still handsome, still made to protect her and to love her. But Thor has his own ideas of what love and protection mean. And what Thor wants might not be what’s best for Marcie either. As the story builds, seen through Marcie’s eyes and Thor’s, the stakes continue to grow, until both find themselves having to choose – between what they have always wanted, and what they really need…(Publisher summary)

First lines: You’re almost twelve.
Staring through the fire at Sean. The tips of the flames lick the top branches of the bush you’ve both spent all day hollowing out.
You’re holding the stolen aerosol can. Sean’s nervous smile. Your willing apprentice.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSecond best friends, Non Pratt

Jade and Becky are best friends, but when Jade’s ex-boyfriend lets on that everyone thinks Becky is the better of the two, Jade finds herself noticing just how often she comes second to her best friend. There’s nothing Jade is better at than Becky. So when Jade is voted in as Party Leader ahead of her school’s General Election only to find herself standing against Becky, Jade sees it as a chance to prove herself. If there’s one thing she can win, it’s this election – even if it means losing her best friend. (Publisher information)

First lines: Rules for breaking up with hottest guy in school.
1. Know your reasons
2. Look fierce
3. Take your best friend for moral support (even if she puts up a fight)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsI never, Laura Hopper

Janey King’s priorities used to be clear: track, school, friends, and family. But when seventeen-year-old Janey learns that her seemingly happy parents are getting divorced, her world starts to shift. Back at school, Luke Hallstrom, an adorable senior, pursues Janey, and she realizes that she has two new priorities to consider: love and sex. (Publisher information)

First lines: Happy freaking’ New Year. Did they really think this was a good time to do this? Really? Here we are in beautiful Cabo San Lucas, where I’m enjoying a much-needed break from the stress that junior year of high school brings. At out supposedly celebratory New Year’s Eve dinner, they drop the bomb.
“Separating.” “Splitting up.” We all know those are euphemisms for the dreaded D word.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe breathless, Tara Goedjen

No one knows what really happened on the beach where Roxanne Cole’s body was found, but her boyfriend, Cage, took off that night and hasn’t been seen since. Until now. One year–almost to the day–from Ro’s death, when he knocks on the door of Blue Gate Manor and asks where she is. Cage has no memory of the past twelve months. According to him, Ro was alive only the day before. Ro’s sister Mae wouldn’t believe him, except that something’s not right. Nothing’s been right in the house since Ro died. And then Mae finds the little green book. The one hidden in Ro’s room. It’s filled with secrets–dangerous secrets–about her family, and about Ro. And if what it says is true, then maybe, just maybe, Ro isn’t lost forever. (Publisher information)

First lines: It isn’t a night for raising. It isn’t night yet at all. It’s a hazy gray afternoon, with the promise of rain. A layer of fog covers Blue Gate and the woods that surround it, but we can se inside the windows. Here a family gathers near a girl with hair that gleams. Her green eyes have a hint of gold, and she is a pretty thing. The kind of girl everyone points to and says: something big is going to happen to her one day.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHonour among thieves, Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell. Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan–a race of sentient alien ships–to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers. Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight. (Publisher information)

First lines: I feel the stars.
Energy pulses against my skin, murmuring secrets about this small galaxy, about orbits and alignments and asteroids streaming in space. Impulse makes me want to dive and cruise those currents, but I control urges. I shift my attention to the flutters of life within my skin.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsReign of the fallen, Sarah Glenn Marsh

Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised: the Dead must remain shrouded. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation begins, turning the Dead into terrifying, blood thirsty Shades. A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa’s necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own leaves Odessa shattered, and reveals a disturbing conspiracy in Karthia: Someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is forced to contemplate a terrifying question: What if her magic is the weapon that brings the kingdom to its knees? Fight alongside her follow necromancers–and a powerful girl as enthralling as she is infuriating–Odessa must untangle the gruesome plot to destroy Karthia before the Shades take everything she loves. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Today, for the second time in mt life, I killed King Wylding. Killing’s the easy part of the job, though. He never even bleeds when a sword runs through him. It’s what comes after that gets messy.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSay you’ll remember me, Katie McGarry

Drix and Elle come from different backgrounds and different worlds. He was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit; she’s the governor’s daughter. They try to find what connects them and break past the odds to, maybe, be together while finding their own independence from their pasts and their families’ expectations. (Publisher summary)

First lines:”Everyone says you have a blank slate.”
My brother, Axle, sits beside me on the ground, arms resting on his bent knees, and he stares at the bonfire I built with my own two hands with only flint and sticks. It’s one of the many tricks I learned over the last three months. That and how to survive on my own in the middle of nowhere.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMarkswoman, Rati Mehrotra

Kyra is the youngest Markswoman in the Order of Kali, a highly trained sisterhood of elite warriors armed with telepathic blades. Guided by a strict code of conduct, Kyra and the other Orders are sworn to protect the people of Asiana. But to be a Markswoman, an acolyte must repudiate her former life completely. Kyra has pledged to do so, yet she secretly harbors a fierce desire to avenge her dead family. When Kyra’s beloved mentor dies in mysterious circumstances, and Tamsyn, the powerful, dangerous Mistress of Mental Arts, assumes control of the Order, Kyra is forced on the run. Using one of the strange Transport Hubs that are remnants of Asiana’s long-lost past, she finds herself in the unforgiving wilderness of desert that is home to the Order of Khur, the only Order composed of men. Among them is Rustan, a young, disillusioned Marksman whom she soon befriends. Kyra is certain that Tamsyn committed murder in a twisted bid for power, but she has no proof. And if she fails to find it, fails in her quest to keep her beloved Order from following Tamsyn down a dark path, it could spell the beginning of the end for Kyra–and for Asiana. But what she doesn’t realize is that the line between justice and vengeance is razor thin. thin as the blade of a knife. (Publisher summary)

First lines: None may take a life but those who carry a kalishium blade and are sworn to the Orders of Peace. This is the law – the Kanun of Ture-asa- whoich binds all the clans in the valley, the mountains, and the desert beyond.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe hazel wood, Melissa Albert

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. (Publisher summary)

First lines: My mother was raised on fairy tales, but I was raised on highways. My first memory is the smell of hot pavement and the sky through the sunroof, whipping by in a river of blue. My mom tells me that’s impossible – out car doesn’t have a sunroof. But I can still close my eyes and see it, so I’m holding on to it.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe dangerous art of blending in, Angelo Surmelis

Evan Panos’s strict immigrant Greek mother sees him as a disappointment. His workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. And his best friend, Henry, has somehow become distractingly attractive over the summer. His only escape is drawing, in an abandoned monastery that feels as lonely as he is. And Henry makes Evan believe that he deserves more than his mother’s harsh words and terrifying abuse. As things escalate, Evan has to decide how to find his voice in a world where he has survived so long by being silent. (Publisher summary)

First lines: I should have guessed something was up when I was walking home. There were cars parked all down my street. My mother’s Bible study group is usually on Wednesday. Today is Tuesday. I walk up to my house and open the door very quietly. “May the devil of lust and disobedience be cast out of his sinful shell.”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAs you wish, Chelsea Sedoti

Madison is a small town in the Mojave desert on the road between nothing and nowhere. The town has a secret: in Madison, everyone can make one wish on their eighteenth birthday– and that wish always comes true. Eldon has seen how wishing has hurt the people around him. His parents’ marriage is strained, his sister is a virtual ghost in their house, his ex-girlfriend is dating his ex-friend…. Now he has only twenty-five days to figure out what to wish for– and the rest of his life to live with the consequences. (Publisher summary)

First lines: The trick is to be boring.
No one likes being bored, yeah? If a place is boring, you’re not gonna stick around. You’re not going to ask any questions.
That’s the way we like it.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPlague Land, Alex Scarrow

Leon and his younger sister, Grace, have recently moved to London from New York and are struggling to settle into their new school when rumors of an unidentified plague in Africa begin to fill the news. Within a week, the virus hits London. The siblings witness people turning to liquid before their eyes, and they run for their lives. A month after touching Earth’s atmosphere, the virus has wiped out most of the population. Desperate to stay alive, Leon and Grace are reluctantly taken in by a tight-knit group of survivors. But as they struggle to win their trust, the siblings realize that the virus isn’t their only enemy, and survival is just the first step…(Publisher summary)

First lines: The girl was only ten. Her name was Camille. She was on her way to collect water from the drinking well – a large, battered, and dented tin jug dangling from each hand – when she spotted it just a few feet off the hard dirt track. A dead dog. Not an uncommon sight – except for the fact that it was only half a dead dog.

Book courtesy of SyndeticsA conspiracy of stars, Olivia A. Cole

Octavia has always dreamed of becoming a whitecoat, one of the prestigious N’Terra scientists who study the natural wonders of Faloiv. So when the once-secretive labs are suddenly opened to students, she leaps at the chance to see what happens behind their closed doors. However, she quickly discovers that all is not what it seems on Faloiv, and the experiments the whitecoats have been doing run the risk of upsetting the humans’ fragile peace with the Faloii, Faloiv’s indigenous people. As secret after disturbing secret comes to light, Octavia finds herself on a collision course with the charismatic and extremist new leader of N’Terra’s ruling council. But by uncovering the mysteries behind the history she’s been taught, the science she’s lived by, and the truth about her family, she threatens to be the catalyst for an all-out war.

First lines: My father and I live under different suns. In reality, it is the same: red and hungry, an intense crimson eye that sends the sweat fleeing from my skin. It’s as beautiful as it is harsh, but my father sees none of the beauty. The past has dulled his wonder, and so the light of this planet shines differently on each of us.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLove, hate, and other filters, Samira Ahmed

Maya Aziz is caught between her India-born parents’ world of college and marrying a suitable Muslim boy, and her dream world of film school and dating her classmate, Phil. In the aftermath of a terrorist attack hundreds of miles away, the community she’s known since birth is transformed by fear, bigotry, and hatred. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Destiny sucks.
Sure, it can be all heart bursting and undeniable and Bollywood dance numbers and meet me at the Empire State Building. Except when someone else wants to decide who I’m going to sleep with for the rest of my life. Then destiny is a bloodsucker, and not the swoony, sparkly vampire kind.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAfter the fire, Will Hill

The things I’ve seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade. Father John controls everything inside The Fence. And Father John likes rules. Especially about never talking to Outsiders. Because Father John knows the truth. He knows what is right, and what is wrong. He knows what is coming. Moonbeam is starting to doubt, though. She’s starting to see the lies behind Father John’s words. She wants him to be found out. What if the only way out of the darkness is to light a fire? (Publisher information)

First lines: I sprint across the yard, my eyes streaming, my heart pounding in my chest.
The noise of the gunfire is still deafening, and I hear – I actually hear – bullets whizzing past me, their low whines like the speeded-up buzz of insects, but I don’t slow down, and I don’t change course.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA jigsaw of fire and stars, Yaba Badoe

Sante was a baby when she was washed ashore in a sea-chest laden with treasure. It seems she is the sole survivor of the tragic sinking of a ship carrying refugees. Her people. Fourteen years on she’s a member of Mama Rose’s unique and dazzling circus. But, from their watery grave, the unquiet dead are calling Sante to avenge them: A bamboo flute. A golden band. A ripening mango which must not fall … if Sante is to tell their story and her own. (Publisher information)

First lines: There’s only one thing that makes any sense when I wake from my dream. I’m a stranger and shouldn’t be here. Should my luck run out, a black-booted someone could step on me and crush me, as if I’m worth less than an ant. This I know for a fact. And yet once or twice a week, the dream seizes me and shakes me about:
“Kill ’em! Kill ’em! Take their treasure!”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIt only happens in the movies, Holly Bourne

Audrey is over romance. Since her parents’ relationship imploded her mother’s been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn’t mean things are easy. Because real love isn’t like the movies…(Publisher information)

First lines: I wasn’t expecting candles.
They lit the whole cinema – tea lights, the stout white candles you get in churches, thin ones stuffed into candlesticks. My skin itched in their heat.
I blinked and shook my head. “What the hell?”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFacing the flame, Jackie French

There have been fires before,but not like this. In 1978, as the hot wind howls and the grass dries, all who live at Gibber’s Creek know their land can burn. But when you love your land, you fight for it. For Jed Kelly, an even more menacing danger looms: a man from her past determined to destroy her. Finding herself alone, trapped and desperate to save her unborn child, Jed’s only choice is to flee – into the flames. (Publisher summary)

Jed risked a terrified glance at the mirror. It showed a bride in a parchment-coloured dress made of vintage lace tablecloths, her make-up perfect, her hair held in place with half a can of hairspray. That couldn’t be her. It couldn’t!

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCharlotte says, Alex Bell

Following the death of her mother in a terrible fire, Jemima flees to the remote Isle of Skye, to take up a job at a school for girls. There she finds herself tormented by the mystery of what really happened that night. Then Jemima receives a box of Frozen Charlotte dolls from a mystery sender and she begins to remember – a séance with the dolls, a violent argument with her step-father and the inferno that destroyed their home. And when it seems that the dolls are triggering a series of accidents at the school, Jemima realizes she must stop the demonic spirits possessing the dolls – whatever it takes. (Publisher summary)

First lines: “Don’t be frightened yet,” the voice says. “I’ll tell you when it’s time to be frightened…”
I turn, looking over my shoulder, but there is nobody there and I am alone once again at Whiteladies – that house of confused spirits and cracked china dolls and slaughtered horses. From somewhere downstairs a grandfather clock counts down the six in deep, melancholy tools, and, like a magnetic force, my eyes are drawn with a terrible irresistibility to to the door at the end of the corridor.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe hanging girl, Eileen Cook

Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and now her psychic visions are helping the police find the town’s missing golden girl. It’s no challenge—her readings have always been faked, but this time she has some insider knowledge. The kidnapping was supposed to be easy—no one would get hurt and she’d get the money she needs to start a new life. But a seemingly harmless prank has turned dark, and Skye realizes the people she’s involved with are willing to kill to get what they want and she must discover their true identity before it’s too late. (Goodreads)

First lines: Destiny is like a boulder. Bulky and hard to move. It’s easier to leave it alone than to try to change it. But that never kept anyone from trying. Trust me: I’m a professional.
Reading people is a talent. I’ve always been a good observer, but as with any natural ability, if you want to be any good, you’ve got to work at it. When I talk to people, I size them up. I listen to what they say, and, more important, to what they don’t.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe hundred lies of Lizzie Lovett, Chelsea Sedotti

A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn’t mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life. That includes taking her job… and her boyfriend. It’s a huge risk — but it’s just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world. (Goodreads)

First lines: The first thing that happened was Lizzie Lovett disappeared, and everyone was all “How can someone like Lizzie be missing?” and I was like, “Who cares?” A few days later, there was talk about Lizzie maybe being dead, and it was still kinda boring, but not totally boring, because I’d never known a dead person before. After that, I started to get fascinated by the whole situation, mostly because I noticed a bunch of weird stuff. Which was how I figured out Lizzie Lovett’s secret.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRules of rain, Leah Scheier

Rain has taken care of Ethan all of their lives. Before she even knew what autism meant, she was her twin brother’s connection to the world around him. Each day with Ethan is unvarying and predictable, and Rain takes comfort in being the one who holds their family together. It’s nice to be needed–to be the center of someone’s world. If only her longtime crush, Liam, would notice her too…Then one night, her life is upended by a mistake she can’t undo. Suddenly Rain’s new romance begins to unravel along with her carefully constructed rules. Rain isn’t used to asking for help–and certainly not from Ethan. But the brother she’s always protected is the only one who can help her. And letting go of the past may be the only way for Rain to hold onto her relationships that matter most. (Publisher information)

First lines: There’s a gigantic hologram of a human colon sitting where the refrigerator once stood. I stare at it for a moment and lean my head back to appreciate the flickering image. With veins, with veins…it’s almost hypnotic, the tilting shift of images on the shiny board. I’m not surprised to find it there.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAll the wind in the world, Samantha Mabry

Sarah Jac Crow and James Holt have fallen in love working in the endless fields that span a bone-dry Southwest in the near-future–a land that’s a little bit magical, deeply dangerous, and bursting with secrets. To protect themselves, they’ve learned to work hard and–above all–keep their love hidden from the people who might use it against them. Then, just when Sarah Jac and James have settled in and begun saving money for the home they dream of near the coast, a horrible accident sends them on the run. With no choice but to start over on a new, possibly cursed ranch, the delicate balance of their lives begins to give way–and they may have to pay a frighteningly high price for their love. (Publisher information)

First lines: The goal is to get to the heart:
Slash off the spines,
Sever the bulb from the roots.
Move down the row.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOff the ice, Julie Cross

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business―a hockey bar beside the ice rink―afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again. Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good. It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love. For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart. (Publisher information)

First lines: Something cold and wet hits the side of my face. My braces clank against Haley’s, and we both jump apart. I hear giggling coming from several feet away. When I turn my head, my sister, Jody, is sitting on a log, a clear plastic cup of ice in her hand. Her friend Claire O’Connor smacks her on the arm. “You are so mean.”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBeing fishkill, Ruth Lehrer

Born in the backseat of a moving car, Carmel Fishkill was unceremoniously pushed into a world that refuses to offer her security, stability, love. At age thirteen, she begins to fight back. Carmel Fishkill becomes Fishkill Carmel, who deflects her tormenters with a strong left hook and conceals her secrets from teachers and social workers. But Fishkill’s fierce defenses falter when she meets eccentric optimist Duck-Duck Farina, and soon they, along with Duck-Duck’s mother, Molly, form a tentative family, even as Fishkill struggles to understand her place in it. This fragile new beginning is threatened by the reappearance of Fishkill’s unstable mother and by unfathomable tragedy. (Publisher information)

First lines: My mother named me after a New York highway sign, passing through, passing be, not even stopping to squeeze out my blue body. Going north on the Taconic Parkway, she lay on the back seat and pushed. As I gushed onto the gray vinyl, she caught a glimpse of the Carmel/Fishkill exist sign and decided it was not just a highway sign but a cosmic sign, and I was Carmel Fishkill.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDaughter of the pirate king, Tricia Levenseller

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map – the key to a legendary treasure trove – seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship. Alosa only has one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King. (Publisher information)

First lines: I hate having to dress like a man.
The cotton shirt is too loose, the breeches too big, the boots too uncomfortable. My hair is bound on the top of my head, secured in a bun underneath a small sailor’s hat. My sword is strapped tightly to the left side of my waist, a pistol undrawn on my right.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEverless, Sara Holland

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocrats like the Gerling family tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries. No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember; she and her father were once servants at their estate, Everless, until an accident drove them away. After discovering her father is dying, Jules is desperate to earn more time for him, and returns to Everless amidst preparations for the wedding of Roan Gerling and the Queen’s daughter. Caught in a tangle of violent secrets, Jules must change her fate– and perhaps the fate of time itself. (Publisher information)

First lines: Most people find the forest frightening, believing the old tales of fairies who will freeze the time in your blood, or witches who can spill your years out over the snow with only a whisper. Even the spirit of the Alchemist himself is said to wander these woods, trapping whole eternities in a breath.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWatched, Marina Budhos

Naeem is a Bangledeshi teenager living in Queens who thinks he can charm his way through anything. But then mistakes catch up with him. So do the cops, who offer him an impossible choice: spy on his Muslim neighbors and report back to them on shady goings-on, or face a police record. Naeem wants to be a hero–a protector. He wants his parents to be proud of him. But as time goes on, the line between informing and entrapping blurs. Is he saving or betraying his community? (Publisher information)

First lines: I’m watched.
There’s a streetlight near my parents’ store, and I hear the click, a shutter snapping as I round the corner. My gaze swivels up, but there’s nothing. Just a white-eyed orb, a lamp, ticking. The dim sky floating behind. I shiver, tell myself it’s all my head. Nothing.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTimekeeper, Tara Sim

Debut novelist Sim creates an alternate Victorian England in which every town, regardless of size, has a clock tower that controls the local flow of time. If a town’s clock runs slow, time runs slow as well, and the town goes out of sync with its surroundings. Mechanics, who can feel the flow of time and keep the clocks running, are vitally important, but Danny, the youngest mechanic in England at age 17, has been devastated by twin tragedies: his father was trapped, along with the citizens of Maldon, when its clock stopped, and Danny himself nearly died when another clock tower exploded for reasons unknown. Working on Colton Tower, which has apparently been sabotaged, Danny meets and falls for a mysterious apprentice, a boy who, it turns out, isn’t human. (Publisher information)

First lines: Two o’clock was missing.
Danny wanted it to be a joke. Hours didn’t just disappear. But the clock tower before him and the silver timepiece in his hand read 3:06 in the afternoon, when not fifteen minutes before they had read 1:51.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStrange fire, Tommy Wallach

They said that the first generation of man was brought low by its appetites: for knowledge, for power, for wealth. They said mankind’s voracity was so great, the Lord sent his own Daughter to bring fire and devastation to the world. The survivors were few, but over the course of centuries they banded together to form a new civilization–the Descendancy–founded on the belief that the mistakes of the past must never be repeated. Brothers Clive and Clover Hamill, the sons of a well-respected Descendant minister, have spent their lives spreading that gospel. But when their traveling ministry discovers a community intent on rediscovering the blasphemous technologies of the past, a chain of events will be set in motion that will pit city against city…and brother against brother. Along with Gemma Poplin, Clive’s childhood sweetheart, and Paz Dedios, a revolutionary who dreams of overthrowing the Descendancy, Clive and Clover will each play a pivotal role in determining the outcome of this holy war, and the fate of humanity itself. (Publisher information)

First lines: Florian Parks was sitting in the gantry watchtower, whittling a wooden doll for his little sister, when he first spotted the travelers over the pointed tips of the palisade. He was so surprised that he cut the figurine’s nose clean off.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe November girl, Lydia King

A few months before his eighteenth birthday, Hector runs away to the remote Isle Royale on Lake Superior. In the spring, when he’ll be legally free from his brutal uncle, he can go back to the mainland. Until then, he’ll have to weather the vicious autumn storms and find a way to survive the hostile, uninhabited island. But he’s not as alone as he thinks. Anda is the Witch of November, the daughter of the lake itself, and she thirsts for storms and shipwrecks. When she finds Hector on her island, she should run him off for his own safety–but she’s fascinated by him and his unusual ability to see her. For the first time, she might have found a reason to fight her bloodthirsty nature. Hector is running away from violence; Anda has violence running in her veins. Together, they could save–or destroy–each other. (Publisher information)

First lines: There’s a foolproof method to running away. I know the wrong ones all to well. This time there’ll be no mistakes. I’d left my cell phone, fully charged, duct-taped beneath a seat on a Duluth city bus. If they track it, they’ll think I’ve never left town.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsYou bring the distant near, Mitali Perkins

Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story. You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture–for better or worse. Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve her Bengali identity–award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new. (Goodreads)

First lines: The swimmers have finished their races and are basking in the sun. It’s almost time for the beginners’ event. Tara kneels at the shallow edge, giving her little sister last-minute instructions. Floating inside her ring, Sonia pretends to listen. Their mother stands alone by the deep end, sari-clad under the red monsoon umbrella she carries as a portable shade from the West African sun.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIn other lands, Sarah Rees Brennan

The Borderlands aren’t like anywhere else. There are elves, harpies, and — best of all as far as Elliot is concerned — mermaids. Elliot is thirteen years old. He’s smart and just a tiny bit obnoxious. Sometimes more than a tiny bit. When his class goes on a field trip and he can see a wall that no one else can see, he is given the chance to go to school in the Borderlands. It turns out that on the other side of the wall, classes involve a lot more weaponry and fitness training and fewer mermaids than he expected. On the other hand, there’s Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, an elven warrior who is more beautiful than anyone Elliot has ever seen, and then there’s her human friend Luke: sunny, blond, and annoyingly likeable. There’s the chance Elliot might be able to change the world. In Other Lands is the exhilarating book about surviving four years in the most unusual of schools, about friendship, falling in love, diplomacy, and finding your own place in the world — even if it means giving up your phone. (Publisher information)

First lines: So far magic school was total rubbish. Elliot sat on the fence bisecting two fields and brooded tragically over his wrongs. He had been plucked from geography class, one of his most interesting classes, to take some kind of scholarship test out in the wild. Elliot and three other kids from his class had been picked into a van by their harassed-looking French teacher and driven outside the city. Elliot objected because after an hour in a moving vehicle he would be violently sick. The other kids objected because after an hour in a moving vehicle they’d be violently sick of Elliot.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe day the angels fell, Shawn Smucker

It was the summer of storms and strays and strangers. The summer that lightning struck the big oak tree in the front yard. The summer his mother died in a tragic accident. As he recalls the tumultuous events that launched a surprising journey, Samuel can still hardly believe it all happened.
After his mother’s death, twelve-year-old Samuel Chambers would do anything to turn back time. Prompted by three strange carnival fortune-tellers and the surfacing of his mysterious and reclusive neighbor, Samuel begins his search for the Tree of Life–the only thing that could possibly bring his mother back. His quest to defeat death entangles him and his best friend Abra in an ancient conflict and forces Samuel to grapple with an unwelcome question: could it be possible that death is a gift? (Goodreads)

First lines: I am old now. I still live on the same farm where I grew up, the same farm where my mother’s accident took place, the same farm that burned for days after the angels fell. My father rebuilt the farm after the fire, and it was foreign to me then, a new house trying to fill an old space. The trees he planted were all fragile and small, and the inside of the barns smelled like new wood and fresh paint. I think he was glad to start over, considering everything that summer was taken from us.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWater in May, Ismée Williams

Fifteen-year-old Mari Pujols believes that the baby she’s carrying will finally mean she’ll have a family member who will love her deeply and won’t ever leave her—not like her mama, who took off when she was eight; or her papi, who’s in jail; or her abuela, who wants as little to do with her as possible. But when doctors discover a potentially fatal heart defect in the fetus, Mari faces choices she never could have imagined. Surrounded by her loyal girl crew, her off-and-on boyfriend, and a dedicated doctor, Mari navigates a decision that could emotionally cripple the bravest of women. But both Mari and the broken-hearted baby inside her are fighters; and it doesn’t take long to discover that this sick baby has the strength to heal an entire family. (Goodreads)

First lines: “His name ain’t Dr. Lobe. Coño. You’re messing with me, right?”
Yaz smacks me in the shoulder. She’s doubled over, fingers clamping her mouth shut. Her purple silver-studded nails press dimples into her cheek. She’s trying not to laugh.
“What?” I ask her. My cell slips as I shrug my shoulders. “They expect me to believe this guy’s name is Cr. Love? A heart doctor? How stupid do they think I am?”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBrooding YA hero, Carrie Diriso, illustrated by Linnea Gear

Have you ever wished you could receive a little guidance from your favorite book boyfriend? Ever dreamed of being the Chosen One in a YA novel? Want to know all the secrets of surviving the dreaded plot twist? Or maybe you’re just really confused about what “opal-tinted, luminous cerulean orbs” actually are?
Well, popular Twitter personality @broodingYAhero is here to help as he tackles the final frontier in his media dominance: writing a book. Join Broody McHottiepants as he attempts to pen Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me, a “self-help” guide (with activities–you always need activities) that lovingly pokes fun at the YA tropes that we roll our eyes at, but secretly love. As his nefarious ex, Blondie DeMeani, attempts to thwart him at every turn, Broody overcomes to detail, among other topics, how to choose your genre, how to keep your love interest engaged (while maintaining lead character status), his secret formula for guaranteed love triangle success, and how to make sure you secure that sequel, all while keeping his hair perfectly coiffed and never breaking a sweat. (Goodreads)

First lines: Alone in his room, Broody McHottiepants contemplated his future. He was the best of all fictional characters ever created- that he knew. His phone never stopped ringing (playing his theme song, from his latest hit movie adaptation, of course) with Authors begging him to star in their latest novels. An endlessly talented man, he’d been everything from a vampire to a quarterback. Into each novel he brought his incredibly adjective-filled beauty; his gemstone-coloured gaze; his strong, strong arms; and his potent blend of wish fulfillment and slightly toxic masculinity.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDisappeared, Francisco X. Stork

Four months ago: Sara Zapata’s best friend disappeared, kidnapped by the web of criminals who terrorize Juàrez.
Four weeks ago: Her brother, Emiliano, fell in love with Perla Rubi, a girl whose family is as rich as her name.
Four hours ago: Sara received a death threat…and her first clue her friend’s location.
Four minutes ago: Emiliano was offered a way into Perla Rubi’s world—if he betrays his own.
In the next four days, Sara and Emiliano will each face impossible choices, between life and justice, friends and family, truth and love. But when the criminals come after Sara, only one path remains for both the siblings: the way across the desert to the United States. (Goodreads)

First lines: On the morning of November 14, the day she was kidnapped, Linda Fuentes opened the door to my house and walked into the kitchen, where my family was having breakfast. As usual, I wasn’t ready. Linda and I had an ongoing argument: She said I was always late, and I said she got to my house early to bask in the adoration of my younger brother, Emiliano.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAll about Mia, Lisa Williamson

One family, three sisters. GRACE, the oldest: straight-A student. AUDREY, the youngest: future Olympic swimming champion. And MIA, the mess in the middle.
Mia is wild and daring, great with hair and selfies, and the undisputed leader of her friends – not attributes appreciated by her parents or teachers.
When Grace makes a shock announcement, Mia hopes that her now-not-so-perfect sister will get into the trouble she deserves. But instead, it is Mia whose life spirals out of control – boozing, boys and bad behaviour – and she starts to realise that her attempts to make it All About Mia might put at risk the very things she loves the most. (Goodreads)

First lines: Everyone in Rushton knows the Campbell-Richardson sisters. Grace is the oldest and destined for a first from Cambridge. Signature scent: grapefruit shampoo, secondhand books, and perfection. Audrey is the youngest and destined for the Olympics. Signature scent: chlorine, Lucozade Sport, and discipline. Then there’s me, Mia. I’m in the middle. I have no idea what my destiny is. Signature scent: coconut oil, Haribo, and TROUBLE.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe hollow girl, Hillary Monahan

Bethan is the apprentice to a green healer named Drina in a clan of Welsh Romanies. Her life is happy and ordered and modest, as required by Roma custom, except for one thing: Silas, the son of the chieftain, has been secretly harassing her. One night, Silas and his friends brutally assault Bethan and a half-Roma friend, Martyn. As empty and hopeless as she feels from the attack, she asks Drina to bring Martyn back from death’s door. “There is always a price for this kind of magic,” Drina warns. The way to save him is gruesome. Bethan must collect grisly pieces to fuel the spell: an ear, some hair, an eye, a nose, and fingers. She gives the boys who assaulted her a chance to come forward and apologize. And when they don’t, she knows exactly where to collect her ingredients to save Martyn. (Goodreads)

First lines: My chin rested in my palm. My eyelids were heavy. Gran’s arm darted out, her liver-spotted hand whacking in the inside of my elbow to knock it off the table. It pulled me out of my stupor, but almost cost me my teeth.
“I am not saying this twice.” She reached for a cluster of herbs hanging from a hook in the ceiling and snapped off two sprigs of green with dusky-purple flowers. “Dwayberry.”
“Nightshade,” I said, fairly certain I had it right.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe grave keepers, Elizabeth Byrne

Lately, Athena Windham has been spending all her spare time in her grave. Her parents—owners of a cemetery in Upstate New York—are proud of her devoutness, but her younger sister, Laurel, would rather spend her time exploring the forest that surrounds the Windham’s’ property than in her own grave. The Windham girls lead secluded lives—their older sister died in a tragic accident and their parents’ protectiveness has made the family semi-infamous. As the new school year begins, the outside world comes creeping in through encounters with mean girls, a new friend, and a runaway boy hiding out in the cemetery. Meanwhile, a ghost hangs around the Windham property—the only grave keeper never to cross over—plotting how to keep the sisters close to home and close to her…forever. (Goodreads)

First lines: You should know that I died a long time ago, and that I was young when I died. But that doesn’t matter much to me anymore. I’ve been in the Catskills far longer than Rip Van Winkle. I’ve seen a town flooded for a reservoir. I’ve watched beetles chew leaves all the summer until the mountain’s scalp showed. I’ve seen people step out of second-storey windows in snowshoes and walk down the middle of Main Street; I’ve found a lost child hours before the authorities and waited with him until the first ranger arrived.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIt’s not like it’s a secret, Misa Sugiura

Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like that fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself — the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend. When Sana and her family move to California she begins to wonder if it’s finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana’s ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana’s new friends don’t trust Jamie’s crowd; Jamie’s friends clearly don’t want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore anymore. Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, telling the truth is easy … what comes after it, though, is a whole lot more complicated. (Publisher information)

First lines: “Sana, chotto…hanashi ga arun-ya kedo.”
Uh-oh.
Something big was about to go down.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA line in the dark, Malinda Lo

Jess Wong is Angie Redmond’s best friend. And that’s the most important thing, even if Angie can’t see how Jess truly feels. Being the girl no one quite notices is OK with Jess anyway. While nobody notices her, she’s free to watch everyone else. But when Angie begins to fall for Margot Adams, a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess can see it coming a mile away. Suddenly her powers of observation are more curse than gift. As Angie drags Jess further into Margot’s circle, Jess discovers more than her friend’s growing crush. Secrets and cruelty lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of wealth and privilege, and when they come out, Jess knows Angie won’t be able to handle the consequences. When the inevitable darkness finally descends, Angie will need her best friend. (Goodreads)

First lines: The air conditioner at the creamery is going full blast but it doesn’t make much of a dent in the sticky heat. Every time Angie opens the freezer case to scoop another cone I want to duck my head inside to cool off. She’s been opening the case a lot today. It’s the first Friday after Labour Day, and the shop is full of students from West Bedford High. When Angie has a break between customers, she glances at me, where I’m sitting on a stool on the corner. There’s a little counter back there where I’ve propped up my history textbook, pretending to study.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWe are okay, Nina La Cour

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart. (Goodreads)

First lines: Before Hannah left, she asked if I was sure I’d be okay. She had already waited an hour past when the doors were closed for winter break, until everyone but the custodians were gone. She had folded a load of laundry, written an email, searched her massive psychology textbook for answers to the final exam questions to see if she had gotten them right. She had run out of ways to fill time, so when I said, “Ye, I’ll be fine,” she had nothing left to do but believe me.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNow is everything, Amy Giles

The McCauleys look perfect on the outside. But nothing is ever as it seems, and this family is hiding a dark secret. Hadley McCauley will do anything to keep her sister safe from their father. But when Hadley’s forbidden relationship with Charlie Simmons deepens, the violence at home escalates, culminating in an explosive accident that will leave everyone changed. When Hadley attempts to take her own life at the hospital post-accident, her friends, doctors, family, and the investigator on the case want to know why. Only Hadley knows what really happened that day, and she’s not talking. (Goodreads)

First lines: Emergency first responders scramble up and down the hill around me like ants, trying to see what can be salvaged. We’re on different frequencies. Theirs is manic and frenzied, searching for life, while I watch without seeing. What I escaped below eclipses everything. Blank eyes. A blood-soaked Cornell sweatshirt. Necks bent unnaturally. Angry fists of heat pounding at my back as I crawled away from the wreckage.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDevils and thieves, Jennifer Rush

In Jemmie Carmichael’s Hawthorne, New York, magic users are called “kindled,” and Jemmie would count herself among them if only she could cast a simple spell without completely falling apart. And she’s been snubbed by Crowe, the dangerous and enigmatic leader of the Black Devils kindled motorcycle gang and the unofficial head of their turf. During an annual festival, a rumor begins spreading that someone is practicing forbidden magic. Then people start to go missing. Jemmie and Crowe will have to put aside their tumultuous history to find their loved ones. And the only thing that might save them is the very flaw that keeps Jemmie from fully harnessing her magic. (Publisher summary)

First lines: I hated the mall. I hated the smell of fast, cheap food. I hated the windowless walls, the cavernous space that makes me feel trapped. Most of all, I hated the echoing cacophony of a thousand voices. There was already enough noise in my own head.
“Jemmie?” Alex called. “What do you think?” She spun around in the tenth dress she’d on in the past hour.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAlone, Cyn Balog

When her mom inherits an old, crumbling mansion, Seda’s almost excited to spend the summer there. The grounds are beautiful and it’s fun to explore the sprawling house with its creepy rooms and secret passages. Except now her mom wants to renovate, rather than sell the estate—which means they’re not going back to the city…or Seda’s friends and school. As the days grow shorter, Seda is filled with dread. They’re about to be cut off from the outside world, and she’s not sure she can handle the solitude or the darkness it brings out in her.Then a group of teens get stranded near the mansion during a blizzard. Seda has no choice but to offer them shelter, even though she knows danger lurks in the dilapidated mansion—and in herself. And as the snow continues to fall, what Seda fears most is about to become her reality…

First lines: Sometimes I dream I am drowning.
Sometimes I dream of bloated faces, bobbing on the surface of misty waters.
And then I wake up, often screaming, heart racing, hands clenching fistfuls of my sheets.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFar from the tree, Robin Benway

Grace, adopted at birth, is raised as an only child. At sixteen she’s just put her own baby up for adoption, and now is looking for her biological family. She discovers Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio twin sister who was also adopted ; and Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother after seventeen years in the foster care system. Grace struggles to between cautious joy at having found them, and the true meaning of family in all its forms. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Grace hadn’t really thought too much about homecoming. She knew that she’d go, though. She figured that she and her best friend, Janie, would get dressed together, get their hair done together. She knew that her mom would try to be cool about it and not get excited, and she’d make Grace’s dad charge the fancy, expensive camera-not the iPhone- and then Grace would take pictures with Max, her boyfriend of just over a year.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA short history of the girl next door, Jared Reck

Matt Wainwright is constantly sabotaged by the overdramatic movie director in his head. He can’t tell his best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her, he implodes on the JV basketball team, and the only place he feels normal is in Mr. Ellis’s English class, discussing the greatest fart scenes in literature and writing poems about pissed-off candy-cane lumberjacks. If this were a movie, everything would work out perfectly. Tabby would discover that Matt’s madly in love with her, be overcome with emotion, and would fall into his arms. Maybe in the rain. But that’s not how it works. Matt watches Tabby get swept away by senior basketball star and all-around great guy Liam Branson. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough, but screwing up and losing her as a friend is even worse. After a tragic accident, Matt finds himself left on the sidelines, on the verge of spiraling out of control and losing everything that matters to him. (Publisher summary)

First lines: I know it’s over when Liam Branson’s black Accord pulls in front of Tabby’s house before the school. I’m shooting free throws in my driveway, like I do every morning, waiting for the bus to deliver me to another memorable day as a freshman at Franklin High. It’s late October, which means the weather is perfect for my before-school shootaround ritual.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThat inevitable Victorian thing, E.K Johnston

It is a near-future Toronto where the British Empire never fell. Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the Empire, hoping for a summer of freedom before an arranged marriage. She meets Helena, daughter of a geneticist, and August, heir to a shipping firm. The trio is caught off-guard by the discovery of a love so intense they are willing to change the course of the monarchy to keep it. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Helena Marcus had given much thought to her marriage. She was no princess, whose wedding could change the nations, and neither was she a creature of high society, confident that suitors might come knocking on her door, eager to make first impressions with her door, eager to make first impressions with the hope of being remembered as a mutually beneficial option after the Computer did its work at genetic matchmaking.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTool of war, Paolo Bacigalupi

Tool, a half-man/half-beast designed for combat, is capable of so much more than his creators had ever dreamed. He has gone rogue from his pack of bioengineered “augments” and emerged a victorious leader of a pack of human soldier boys. But he is hunted relentlessly by someone determined to destroy him, who knows an alarming secret: Tool has found the way to resist his genetically ingrained impulses of submission and loyalty toward his masters… The time is coming when Tool will embark on an all-out war against those who have enslaved him.
First lines: The drone circled high of the wreckage of war. A week before, it hadn’t been there. A week before, the Drowned Cities hadn’t been worth mentioning, let alone committing drones to overwatch. The Drowned Cities: a coastline swamped by rising sea levels and political hatreds, a place of shattered rubble and eternal gunfire. (Publisher summary)

First lines: The drone circled high above the wreckage of war. A week before, it hadn’t been there. A week before, the Drowned Cities hadn’t been worth mentioning, let alone worth committing drones to overwatch. The Drowned Cities: a coastline swamped by rising sea levels and political hatreds, a place of shattered rubble and eternal gunfire.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSometimes we tell the truth, Kim Zarins

Jeff boards the bus for the Civics class trip to Washington, DC, with a few things on his mind: Six hours trapped with his classmates sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. He somehow ended up sitting next to his ex-best friend, who he hasn’t spoken to in years. He still feels guilty for the major part he played in pranking his teacher, and the trip’s chaperone, Mr. Bailey. And his best friend Cannon, never one to be trusted and banned from the trip, has something “big” planned for DC. But Mr. Bailey has an idea to keep everyone in line: each person on the bus is going to have the chance to tell a story. It can be fact or fiction, realistic or fantastical, dark or funny or sad. It doesn’t matter. Each person gets a story, and whoever tells the best one will get an automatic A in the class. But in the middle of all the storytelling, with secrets and confessions coming out, Jeff only has one thing on his mind–can he live up to the super successful story published in the school newspaper weeks ago that convinced everyone that he was someone smart, someone special, and someone with something to say. (Publisher summary)

First lines: My mother drives me to school like I’m little again, and I stir awake when she turns off the engine. it’s still nowhere close to sunrise, and my classmates huddle under the streetlamps in the parking lot, some staying warm by smoking. I pray to God my mom doesn’t notice them.
No such luck.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBody parts, Jessica Kapp

Raised in an elite foster center off the California coast, sixteen-year-old Tabitha has been protected from the outside world. Her trainers at the center have told her she’ll need to be in top physical condition to be matched with a loving family. So she swims laps and shaves seconds off her mile time, dreaming of the day when she’ll meet her adoptive parents. But when Tabitha’s told she’s been paired, instead of being taken to her new home, she wakes up immobile on a hospital bed. Moments before she’s sliced open, a group of renegade teenagers rescues her, and she learns the real reason she’s been kept in shape: PharmPerfect, a local pharmaceutical giant, is using her foster program as a replacement factory for their pill-addicted clients’ failing organs. Determined to save the rest of her friends at the center, Tabitha joins forces with her rescuers, led by moody and mysterious Gavin Stiles. As they race to uncover the rest of PharmPerfect’s secrets, though, Tabitha finds herself with more questions than answers. Will trusting the enigmatic group of rebels lead her back to the slaughterhouse? (Publisher summary)

First lines: Ten seconds. That’s how much air I have left. I peek at Paige, her body submerged next to me. Stray hairs float around her face. She looks peaceful like she found a way to sleep underwater. The chlorine stings my eyes so I shut them, letting my mind fill with fuzz until all I hear is the cadence of my heart – the sluggish beat coursing all the way to my fingertips.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe first to know, Abigail Johnson

Dana Fields’s father never knew his parents. When Dana secretly does a DNA test for her dad, hoping to find him some distant relatives for his birthday, her entire world implodes. Instead of a few third cousins, Dana discovers a half brother her age whose very existence means her parents’ happy marriage is a lie. Dana’s desire to know her half brother, Brandon, and the extent of her dad’s deception, clashes with her wish not to destroy her family. When she sees the opportunity to get to know Brandon through his cousin, the intense yet kind Chase, she takes it. But the more she finds out about Brandon, her father’s past and the irresistible guy who’ll never forgive her if he discovers the truth, the more she sees the inevitable fallout from her own lies. With her family crumbling around her, Dana must own up to her actions and find a way to heal the breach–for everyone–before they’re torn apart for good. (Publisher summary)

First lines: The swing was so smooth and effortless I barely felt it. Adrenaline slammed through my body as I hit a screamer into right center, knowing it would find the gap. I dropped my bat and bolted for first, picking up speed as I rounded to second. I had at least a triple. I made the split-second decision to ignore the stop sign from my coach, kicking up dust as I passed third and charged for home.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHere we are now, Jasmine Wanga

Taliah Sahar Abdallat lives and breathes music. Songs have always helped Tal ease the pain of never having known her father. Her mother, born in Jordan and very secretive about her past, won’t say a word about who her dad really was. But when Tal finds a shoebox full of old letters from Julian Oliver–yes, the indie rock star Julian Oliver–she begins to piece the story together. She writes to Julian, but after three years of radio silence, she’s given up hope. Then one day, completely out of the blue, Julian shows up at her doorstep, and Tal doesn’t know whether to be furious or to throw herself into his arms. Before she can decide, he asks her to go on a trip with him to meet her long-estranged family and to say good-bye to his father, her grandfather, who is dying. Getting to know your father after sixteen years of estrangement doesn’t happen in one car ride. But as Tal spends more time with Julian and his family, she begins to untangle her parents’ secret past, and discovers a part of herself she never recognized before. (Publisher summary)

First lines: There are people that you never expect to show up on your doorstep. For me, this list begins with the pope, the president and my second-grade teacher, Mrs. Jenkins, because she absolutely hated me. He wouldn’t been somewhere on my Most Unlikely List. Probably top ten. But there was a time, not so long ago, when he wouldn’t have been on that list. There wwas actually a time when I would camp out by the window, willing him to pull up into the driveway.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe body market, Donna Frietas

In this thoughtful sequel to Unplugged, Skylar has failed to save her best friends, Inara and Sylvia, from the App World, where they’ve been unplugged from virtual apps. They’ll soon be sold to the highest bidders at the Body Market unless Skylar can rescue them. Still reeling from her sister Jude’s betrayal, Skylar doesn’t trust Rain, the boy she likes, because he’s lied to her. When Skylar is kidnapped and held in a remote cabin by Kit, a motorcycle-riding teen bounty hunter, she convinces him not to turn her in. Instead, Skylar persuades Kit to help her overthrow Jude and promises to rescue his sister. In this second book in a planned trilogy, Skylar also finds out that she has a brother, who helps her figure out a coding glitch that will allow them to create an app that would override the plugs and wake up all the bodies. Skylar’s brain is the only one that can make that possible, but there’s a chance it won’t work. (Publisher information)

First lines: I adjusted the scarf around my head. Only my eyes were visible. I stepped into the crush of tourists heading inside. I stepped into the crush of tourists heading inside. A great canopy stretched over us, blocking out the cold winter sun.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAmong the red stars, Gwen C. Katz

World War II has erupted in Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She’s a pilot–and a good one–so she eagerly joins an all-female bomber regiment. Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German targets is something else entirely. The raids are dangerous, but as Valka watches her fellow pilots putting everything on the line in the face of treachery, she learns the true meaning of bravery. As the war intensifies, though, and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home. Inspired by the true story of a famous all-female Russian bomber regiment, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, of learning to fight for yourself, and of the perils of a world at war. (Publisher summary)

First lines: The voice on the radio spat out a few intelligence words before melting back into static. “…large crowd here in the City of Youth, despite the gloomy weather. They are all hoping to catch the first glimpse of…”
“You’re messing it up,” I told Pasha, who knelt by his radio, fiddling with its wire innards. “We’ll miss it.”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsKaleidoscope song, Fox Benwell

Neo loves music, and all she ever wanted was a life sharing this passion, on the radio. When she meets Tale, the lead singer in a local South African band, their shared love of music grows. So does their love for each other. But not everyone approves. Then Neo lands her dream job of working at a popular radio station, and she discovers that using your voice is sometimes harder than expected, and there are always consequences. (Publisher summary)

First lines: South Africa is loud. Listen. Footsteps, engines, radio. The lazy buzzing heat and the singing laughing joy. The slap of palms when business strikes. The dance of it. The movement and the bustle, the spring of the young and creaking of the old. The bars. Street corners. Schools. It has an energy in everything, a song all of its own.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSovereign, April Daniels

Only nine months after her debut as the superhero Dreadnought, Danny Tozer is already a scarred veteran. Protecting a city the size of New Port is a team-sized job and she’s doing it alone. Between her newfound celebrity and her demanding cape duties, Dreadnought is stretched thin, and it’s only going to get worse. When she crosses a newly discovered billionaire supervillain, Dreadnought comes under attack from all quarters. From her troubled family life to her disintegrating friendship with Calamity, there’s no lever too cruel for this villain to use against her. She might be hard to kill, but there’s more than one way to destroy a hero. Before the war is over, Dreadnought will be forced to confront parts of herself she never wanted to acknowledge. And behind it all, an old enemy waits in the wings, ready to unleash a plot that will scar the world forever. (Publisher summary)

First lines: “Don’t let your wife hear you say that,” he says. A late-night talk show is joking with someone offscreen. A smattering of laughter leaks of the crowd. “Yeah we’re gonna hear all about it at Thanksgiving. Anyway, moving on. I’m really excited about our next guest.”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBerserker, Emmy Laybourne

Are Hanne’s powers a gift from the old Norse gods, or a curse? Hanne’s brother Stieg swears their powers are a gift from the old gods, but Hanne Hemstad knows she is truly cursed. It’s not Stieg’s fault that their father is dead, their mother has left, and their brother Knut has been accused of a crime he didn’t commit. No, the fault lies with Hanne and her inability to control her murderous “gift”–she is a Berserker. When someone she loves is threatened, she flies into a killing state. Now the siblings must leave Norway for the American frontier or risk being brought to justice. Aided by Owen Bennett, a young cowboy who agrees to be their guide, Hanne and her siblings use their powers to survive the perilous trail, where blizzards, wild animals, and vicious bounty hunters await. The thrills of the journey sweep Hanne and Owen together in romance, but their new love means nothing unless they can escape the ruthless men chasing them down. Can they reach Hanne’s uncle, the one man who can teach her how to control her drive to kill? (Publisher summary)

First lines: The hog snorted at the two young trespassers in his pen. He kept his massive flank pressed to the oaks beams of the fence, staying as far away from them as he could. The girl, Hanne, kept her eyes on the boar, hiding the knife she held against the folds of her skirt.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe book jumper, Mechthild Glaser

Amy Lennox doesn’t know quite what to expect when she and her mother leave Germany for Scotland, heading to Lennox House, her mother’s childhood home on the island of Stormsay. Amy’s grandmother insists that Amy must read while she resides at Lennox House — but not in the usual way. Amy learns that she is a book jumper, able to leap into a story and interact with the world inside. As thrilling as her new power is, it also brings danger: someone is stealing from the books she visits, and that person may be after her life. Teaming up with fellow book jumper Will, Amy vows to get to the bottom of the thefts — at whatever cost. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Will ran. He ran and ran.
The island seemed bigger than usual, and he’d been running for so long his chest hurt. Across the moor, through the fields, down to the beach, past the graveyard and Lennox House, into the village, up to the stone circle, through the library, back to his cottage, and in and out of the last wisps of fog that hung over Macalister Castle.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBeasts made of night, Tochi Onyebuchi

In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts–lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt. Taj is the most talented of the aki , young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family. When Taj is called to eat a sin of a member of the royal family, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves–and his own life. (Publisher summary)

First lines: I make sure to sit where they can’t see me. From where I’m perched, tucked just out of sight on a pile of rubble, I have a pretty good view of the other sin-eaters, the aki. They’re gathered in the small clearing below, ringed by the rubble of what used to be someone’s home.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsForest 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.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStargazing 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.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLong 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
these days
which is why I haven’t
told nobody the story
I’m about to tell you.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsExpelled, 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.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFrost 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.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe book of Dust: volume one, Philip Pullman

Malcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who notices everything but is not much noticed himself. And so perhaps it was inevitable that he would become a spy…Malcolm’s parents run an inn called the Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his daemon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue. He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust–and the spy it was intended for finds him . When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, he sees suspicious characters everywhere: the explorer Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a daemon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl–just a baby–named Lyra. Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. And Malcolm will brave any danger, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Three miles up the river Thames from the center of Oxford, some distance from where the great colleges of Jordan, Gabriel, Balliol, and town dozen others contended for mastery in the boat races, out where the city was only a collection of towers and spires in the distance over the misty levels of Port Meadow, there stood the Priory of Godstow, where the gentle nuns went about their holy business; and on the opposite bank from the priory there was an inn called The Trout.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsComing up for air, Miranda Kenneally

Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat. All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships–she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team, and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic tryout, so Maggie feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool. No one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to sacrifice in the water to win at love? (Publisher summary)

First lines: When I’m not in the pool, I’m counting the minutes until I can dive back in, so most of the time my bushy, light-brown hair is wet and reeks of chlorine. This is the story of my life. But Fridays nights are different because my friends and I have a tradition. We always meet for dinner at Jiffy Burger to talk about our lives. (okay, mostly our love lives).

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe captive twin, R.J. Francis

While everyone else prepares for war, Elaina is on a divine mission to restore peace. She grew up believing she was an orphan, but Elaina now knows who and what she is, and she’s learning how to use her new powers over nature, life, and death to achieve her goals.

Heavy snow is falling in Arra, and its army and royal court are hiding in caves from the Destaurian invaders. Elaina, her mentor Alessa, and Queen Alethea have journeyed northward to secure allies for a counterstrike. Meanwhile, Elaina’s love Prince Jaimin learns how to inspire his people, and Jaimin’s best friend and advisor Nastasha struggles with her feelings for him.

Even if the counterstrike succeeds, peace is not assured. Ultimately, Elaina must travel far into a hostile land to find and heal the enemy king. And she will need the help of a family she never knew she had. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Dearest Jaimin,
We’ve just sailed past a rock that Alessa says marks the border. They’ve let us come up on deck to watch the moon rise, but we’re to scramble below at the slightest hint of trouble. It’s a clear night here. All the mist is back towards Arra.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe last namsara, Kristen Ciccarelli

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness — and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer. These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari — a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl. Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend — a slave boy from her betrothed’s household –Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Asha lured the dragon with a story.
It was an ancient story, older than the mountains at her back, and Asha had to dredge it up from where it lay deep and dormant inside her.
She hated to do it. Telling such stories was forbidden, dangerous, even deadly.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFortissima, Sara Kingsley

In Raven Araroa’s kingdom, firstborn royal daughters are destined to rule, the woman kings of Nadir. A thousand years before she was born, a malevolent regime decreed there would be no more woman kings, by ordering firstborn daughters to immediately be put to death. But the last daughter born to rule is still alive. (Publisher summary)

First lines: When I hear the song of the redbird outside my window I’m not going to make it. Or maybe I can. If I hurry. I jump out of bed and swing out my window, legs first. I’ve got to move fast if I’m going to beat Tui to the other wise of the tree village.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSatellite, Nick Lake

Leo has lived his entire life on Moon 2. Born on the space station along with a set of twins, he is anxious to finally visit Earth so he can meet his beloved grandfather in person and see the ranch where Grandpa lives. Leo is a bit of a space prodigy-his mom is a renowned astronaut and scientist, and Grandpa was among the elite crew that last visited the Moon. Leo, excited to bond with his mother, is disappointed with her calculated and distant professionalism. When Leo finally makes it to the ranch, Grandpa is everything the teen had hoped. Leo has a new dog waiting for him and his grandfather is eager for him to learn ranching skills. Meanwhile, the protagonist is frustrated that he can’t contact the twins and then finds a flyer indicating that outsiders are willing to help “space boy.” Leo isn’t sure what help he might need, but after an accident, the doctor notices his bone density is surprisingly low. When Grandpa discharges him from the hospital prematurely, the boy wonders what is really going on, and hints of conspiracy start to unfold. (Publisher summary)

First lines: the sun is rising for 14th time today, firing the Saharan landmass like a match flame in the darkness. i am sitting in the cupola, watching the earth spin below me, desert rolling past the window of the Moon 2 space station, dunes like waves, sunlight flooding westward.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDear Martin, Nic Stone

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League–but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up– way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. (Publisher summary)

First lines: From where he’s standing across the street, Justyce can see her: Melo Taylor, ex-girlfriend, slumped over beside her Benz on the damp concrete of the FarmFresh parking lot. She’s missing a shoe, and the contents of her purse are scattered around her like the guts of a pulled party popper. He knows she’s stone drunk, but this is too much, even for her.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCrash landing, Robert Muchamore

Jay, Summer and Dylan are fresh out of the biggest reality show there is. But they’re about to discover what fame and fortune are really about. Jay’s brother Theo is young, rich and famous: but is it making him happy? Summer’s got to weather her one-star reviews and take her career back into her own hands. And Dylan might soon be seeing the world of show-business from the four walls of a prison cell. They’ve got everything to play for. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Edinburgh youth court was part of a drab precinct, sandwiched between a boarded-up children’s library and Jobcentre Plus. Scottish law bans British media from reporting on the trial of anyone who is under sixteen at the time of their arrest, but international media faced no restrictions and the drizzled pavement was populated by correspondents from more than a dozen countries.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsShow stopper, Hayley Barker

A dazzling, high-octane read filled with death-defying acrobatics, circus crowds with an appetite for disaster, and two forbidden teenage lovers trying to escape the shackles of their very different lives. Set in a near-future England where the poorest people in the land must watch their children be taken by a travelling circus – to perform at the mercy of hungry lions, sabotaged high wires and a demonic ringmaster. The ruling class visit the circus as an escape from their structured, high-achieving lives – pure entertainment with a bloodthirsty edge. Ben, the teenage son of a draconian government minister, visits the circus for the first time and falls instantly in love with Hoshiko, a young performer. They come from harshly different worlds – but must join together to escape the circus and put an end to its brutal sport. (Publisher summary)

First lines: The cries of the audience pound in my head as I stand, poised, above them. I’m a hundred feet off the ground floor but, if I try, I can make out individual faces in the sea of books below me. I begin swinging. Backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. There is only me now; only the arc and the fall. If I let go too soon I won’t reach the wire; too late and I’ll loop right over it.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMy side the diamond, Sally Gardener

Jazmin has been shunned ever since her best friend Becky disappeared. But what happened to Becky? Because she didn’t simply disappear – she jumped off a tall building and was never seen again, almost as if she had vanished into thin air – but of course that couldn’t be possible. Was the disappearance something to do with Jazmin? Or was it more to do with Ishmael, so beguiling and strangely ever youthful, with whom Becky was suddenly besotted…(Publisher summary)

First lines:Judge me, hate me, find me unforgiven. You won’t be the first. I have lived with it long enough. It changes nothing. Becky Burns was my best friend. My soul sister, my blood. I knew her better than anyone else- or I thought I did.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMonster, Michael Grant

It’s been four years since a meteor hit Perdido Beach and everyone disappeared. Everyone, except the kids trapped in the FAYZ–an invisible dome that was created by an alien virus. Inside the FAYZ, animals began to mutate and teens developed dangerous powers. The terrifying new world was plagued with hunger, lies, and fear of the unknown. Now the dome is gone and meteors are hitting earth with an even deadlier virus. Humans will mutate into monsters and the whole world will be exposed. As some teens begin to morph into heroes, they will find that others have become dangerously out of control…and that the world is on the brink of a monstrous battle between good and evil. (Publisher summary)

First lines: “It’s the monster!” Shade Darby cried out, speaking to no one in particular.
The monster was a girl who appeared to be in her teens but was in reality mere days old. She was known the world over from her first recorded appearance, during which she had torn off a man’s arm and eaten it.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsElites of Eden, Joey Graceffa

Yarrow is an elite: rich, regal, destined for greatness. She’s the daughter of one of the most powerful women in Eden. At the exclusive Oaks boarding school, she makes life miserable for anyone foolish enough to cross her. Her life is one wild party after another…until she meets a fascinating, lilac-haired girl named Lark.Meanwhile, there is Rowan, who has been either hiding or running all her life. As an illegal second child in a strictly regulated world, her very existence is a threat to society, punishable by death…or worse. After her father betrayed his family, and after her mother was killed by the government, Rowan discovered a whole city of people like herself. Safe in an underground sanctuary that also protected the last living tree on Earth, Rowan found friendship, and maybe more, in a fearless hero named Lachlan. But when she was captured by the government, her fate was uncertain. When these two girls discover the thread that binds them together, the collision of memories means that their lives may change drastically–and that Eden may never be the same. (Publisher summary)

First lines: We move through the world like a pack of wolves, striding on long legs, bright-eyed, ravenous. We are beautiful, and a casual observer might think us soft because of that beauty. But we have teeth no one can imagine.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBefore the devil breaks you, Libba Bray

After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that early claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough of lies. They’re more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward’s Island, far from the city’s bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten–ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows. With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over, and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them face-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they’ve ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation–a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves. (Publisher summary)

First lines:Thick evening fog clung to the forlorn banks of Ward’s Island, turning it into a ghost of itself. Across the dark calm of the East River, the glorious neon whirl of Manhattan was in a full jazz-age bloom- glamorous clubs, basement speakesies, illegal booze, all of it enjoyed by the live-fast-forget-tomorrow flappers and Dapper Dons and eager to throw off their cares and Charleston their way into tomorrow’s hangover.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe weirdstone of Brisingamen, Alan Garner

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen is one of the greatest fantasy novels of all time. When Colin and Susan are pursued by eerie creatures across Alderley Edge, they are saved by the Wizard. He takes them into the caves of Fundindelve, where he watches over the enchanted sleep of one hundred and forty knights. But the heart of the magic that binds them – Firefrost, also known as the Weirdstone of Brisingamen – has been lost. The Wizard has been searching for the stone for more than 100 years, but the forces of evil are closing in, determined to possess and destroy its special power. Colin and Susan realise at last that they are the key to the Weirdstone’s return. But how can two children defeat the Morrigan and her deadly brood? (Publisher summary)

First lines: At dawn one still October day in the long ago of the world, across the hill of Alderley, a farmer Mobberley was riding to Macclesfield fair. The morning was dull, but mild; light mists bedimmed his way; the woods were hushed; the day promised fine.

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