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Category: LGBTQ+ Page 2 of 5

Beyond Marvel and DC!

There are a real flood of comic book adaptions coming out at the moment. Aquaman, Teen Titans, Spiderman, Captain Marvel…and of course, the conclusion to the Infinity War. We have plenty of those titles in our collection! But smaller publishers and lesser-known titles deserve some love too.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSheets, Brenna Thummler

In four words: love, grief, laundry, and ghosts. Marjorie is thirteen and struggling to deal with the death of her mother, the (failing) family dry cleaning business, and the pressures of school. Luckily – or unluckily – she comes into contact with Wendell, a ghost trying to deal with the very particular struggles of his afterlife. The two worlds collide with dramatic results for everyone.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOn a sunbeam, Tillie Walden

This only came across my desk in the last weeks of December but I’ve already decided it’s one of my top picks for the year’s best graphic novels. Set in a far-distant future, it depicts two teenage girls falling in love, while studying at an exclusive boarding school. But another plot thread enters the narrative; one of those girls, many years later, joins a crew who do restoration work on abandoned buildings. Did I mention this was all set in space? It’s one of the most intriguing and more importantly heart-felt narratives about loss and found family I’ve seen in a long time. The art – purely black and white- manages to be stark and lush at the same time. It’s a striking, original work.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHelen and the Go-Go ninjas, Ant Sang And Michael Bennet

Ant Sang’s one of New Zealand’s premier comic artists and Michael Bennett is a likewise acclaimed writer and director. This powerful team-up brings us this fascinating view of a New Zealand after an environmental catastrophe and strange spheres that use mind control on the few remaining human survivors. We don’t get a lot of Aotearoa-centric science fiction and a graphic novel is even rarer. But its rarity isn’t its main selling point (although worth mentioning) – this has clever sharp writing and amazing art work (check out those action scenes) so please pick it up.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBad Machinery, John Allison

I wasn’t quite sure what I was picking up when I first looked at Bad Machinery. It’s got British weirdness and teen angst in equal measure, along with a hefty dose of dark, strange humour. There are five volumes – plenty to chew through and enjoy.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBarefoot gen: a cartoon story of Hiroshima, Keiji Nakazawa

This is a classic of the graphic novel genre. The author was a Hiroshima survivor and depicts the aftermath of the nuclear bomb being dropped on that city in 1945. There is no glorification of war here; just the agony of people caught up in historical events and living through the ensuing devastation. The art despite being in the familiar ‘toon style, pulls no punches in conveying the horrors of the bombing and the years afterwards. This will stay with you a long time.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSleepless, Sarah Vaughn, writer ; Leila del Duca, artist.

The art is lush and gorgeous, the writing is excellent – I highly recommend this fantasy graphic novel which depicts the difficult life of Lady ‘Poppy’ Pyppenia – the illegitimate daughter of the deceased king – as intrigue seizes the court as her uncle takes the throne. Then there’s her bodyguard, Cyneric – a “Sleepless Knight” – who has taken a vow to protect her. Courtly intrigue, romance, assassination attempts – a must-read for fantasy fans.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsJust don’t mention it, Estelle Maskame

Tyler Bruce, hell raiser and bad boy, tells his story in his own words. Alternating between past and present, Just Don’t Mention It is narrated from Tyler’s perspective. We see him as the daredevil seventeen-year-old we first met in Did I Mention I Love You?, the stepbrother who falls head over heels for Eden. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMy almost flawless Tokyo dream life, Rachel Cohn

Enter foster-kid-out-of-water Elle Zoellner, who, on her sixteenth birthday discovers that her long-lost father, Kenji Takahari, is actually a Japanese hotel mogul and wants her to come live with him. Elle jets off first class from Washington D.C. to Tokyo, which seems like a dream come true. Until she meets her enigmatic father, her way-too-fab aunt, and her hyper-critical grandmother, who seems to wish Elle didn’t exist. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPoems to live your life by, chosen and illustrated by Chris Riddell

This gorgeously illustrated collection includes forty-six poems and is divided into sections covering: musings, youth, family, love, imaginings, nature, war and endings. Chris Riddell brings them to life with his exquisite, intricate artwork in this beautiful anthology. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe true queen, Sarah Fine

Now that Ansa knows she is the destined queen of Kupari, she is desperate to find a permanent home for her people, the Kriegere, in the Kupari lands. But as the small band of warriors crosses into the foreign territory, Ansa loses her fragile grip on her newly-acquired–and violent–fire and ice magic and puts everyone, including her love Thyra, in danger. Inside the walls of Kupari, Elli maintains the facade that she is the magical queen, with her secret–that she has no magic at all–on the brink of exposure every day. But as she tries to prepare the citizens to protect themselves from another invasion, unrest spreads as wielders like her beloved Oskar begin to lose control of their powers. As Kupari grows increasingly unstable, with the land literally crumbling beneath their feet, and a common enemy once again threatening everything, these two young women on a collision course with destiny must find a way to save the realm and their people from total destruction. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe weight of a thousand feathers, Brian Conaghan

Bobby Seed is a caregiver. Along with the usual school-related responsibilities of a 17-year-old, Bobby is tasked with looking out for his younger brother, keeping the house clean and food on the table, and, most important, taking care of his mother, whose advanced-stage MS is rapidly taking its toll on her body and mind. Just as his mother asks him to consider helping her end her suffering, Bobby starts attending a support group for teen caregivers and finds solace and possible romance within the group. (Booklist)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe disasters, M.K. England

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours. But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape–barely–but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats. On the run, Nax and his fellow failures plan to pull off a dangerous heist to spread the truth. Because they may not be “Academy material,” and they may not even get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSkylarks, Karen Gregory

When she was little, Joni used to have dreams that she could fly. But these days her feet are firmly on the ground they have to be when money’s tight and her dad can’t work and the whole family has to pull together to keep afloat. Then she meets Annabel. Annabel is everything Joni isn’t, and yet there’s a spark between them. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Kerb-Stain Boys: The Crongton Broadway Robbery, Alex Wheatle

Life on the Crongton estate can be rough for Briggy. Dad’s lost his job, Mum’s always working to make ends meet and big brother Kingsley just wants out. Then Briggy’s best mate Terror cooks up a plan to impress the coolest chick in the year, Caldonia Lake. Briggy doesn’t want to lose face by chickening out and, who knows, maybe they’ll make a quick buck. So what is Terror’s master plan? Robbing the post office. What could possibly go wrong? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPhantom, Leo Hunt

Tech in her veins. Anarchy in her blood. In the City, they have it all – sunlight, a corp job, a corpbloc home miles above the poisoned earth below. Four-hundred storeys down, in the darkness of the undercity slums, lives sixteen-year-old orphan Nova. Nova is a hacker. Aided by the program Phantom, she can sneak up to the City, leech what she needs and sink back down again, invisible as a ghost.But Nova has caught someone’s eye, and that’s Phantom-creator and legendary anti-corp hacker the Moth. Now the Moth has a job for Nova. A job that will send her miles into the sky.To bring the City crashing down. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBlack enough: stories of being young and black in America, edited Ibi Zoboi

Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, and featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling Black authors writing for teens today–Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America. Black is…sisters navigating their relationship at summer camp in Portland, Oregon, as written by Renée Watson. Black is…three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything, in a story by Jason Reynolds. Black is…Nic Stone’s high-class beauty dating a boy her momma would never approve of. Black is…two girls kissing in Justina Ireland’s story set in Maryland. Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more–because there are countless ways to be Black enough. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsVirus, Chris Bradford

Scott nearly died playing Virtual Kombat, the virtual-reality fighting game that risks the lives of street kids for profit. Hunted by Wasp drones, Scott’s on the run when he comes across a gang of techno-hackers who share his wish to destroy VK. They’ve developed a virus that could do the job, but in order to implant it Scott has to re-enter the arena and risk being trapped inside the game for ever…(Publisher summary)

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe forgotten book, Mechthild Gläser

Emma is used to things going her way. Her father is headmaster of her prestigious boarding school, her friends take her advice as gospel, and she’s convinced that a relationship with her long-time crush is on the horizon. As it turns out, Emma hasn’t seen anything yet. When she finds an old book in an abandoned library, things really start going Emma’s way: anything she writes in the book comes true. But the power of the book is not without consequences, and Emma soon realizes that she isn’t the only one who knows about it. Someone is determined to take it from her–and they’ll stop at nothing to succeed.A new boy in school–the arrogant, aloof, and irritatingly handsome Darcy de Winter–becomes Emma’s unlikely ally as secrets are revealed and danger creeps ever closer. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNow a major motion picture, Cori McCarthy

Iris Thorne wants to blaze her own path. That’s easier said than done when you’re the granddaughter of M. E. Thorne, famous author of the Elementia series, hailed as the feminist response to J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. And with a major motion picture adaptation of her grandmother’s books in the works, Iris can say goodbye to her dream of making her own way in the music industry. So when Iris and her brother get invited to the film set in Ireland, she’s pretty sure the trip will be a nightmare. Except Iris can’t deny the rugged beauty of the Irish countryside. And brushing shoulders with the hot, young cast isn’t awful, especially the infuriatingly charming lead, Eamon O’Brien. Iris even finds the impassioned female director inspiring. But when the filming falls into jeopardy, everything Iris thought she knew about Elementia–and herself–is in question. Will making a film for the big screen help Iris to see the big picture? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLizard radio, Pat Schmatz

In a futuristic society run by an all-powerful Gov, a bender teen on the cusp of adulthood has choices to make that will change her life–and maybe the world. Fifteen-year-old bender Kivali has had a rough time in a gender-rigid culture. Abandoned as a baby and raised by Sheila, an ardent nonconformist, Kivali has always been surrounded by uncertainty. Where did she come from? Is it true what Sheila says, that she was deposited on Earth by the mysterious saurians? What are you? people ask, and Kivali isn’t sure. Boy/girl? Human/lizard? Both/neither? Now she’s in CropCamp, with all of its schedules and regs, and the first real friends she’s ever had. Strange occurrences and complicated relationships raise questions Kivali has never before had to consider. But she has a gift–the power to enter a trancelike state to harness the “knowings” inside her. She has Lizard Radio. Will it be enough to save her? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLight as a feather, Zoe Aarsen

Junior year is shaping up to be the best of McKenna Brady’s life. After a transformative summer, McKenna is welcomed into the elite group of popular girls at Weeping Willow High, led by the gorgeous Olivia Richmond. For the first time in a long time, things are looking up. But everything changes the night of Olivia’s Sweet Sixteen sleepover. Violet, the mysterious new girl in town, suggests the girls play a game during which Violet makes up elaborate, creepily specific stories about the violent ways the friends will die. Though it unsettles McKenna, it all seems harmless at the time.Until a week later, when Olivia dies…exactly as Violet predicted. As Violet rises to popularity and steps into the life Olivia left unfinished, McKenna becomes convinced Olivia’s death wasn’t just a coincidence, especially when a ghost haunting her bedroom keeps leaving clues that point to Violet. With the help of her cute neighbor, Trey, McKenna pledges to get to the bottom of Violet’s secrets and true intentions before it’s too late. Because it’s only a matter of time before more lives are lost. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThis is kind of an epic love story, Kheryn Callender

Film buff and aspiring screenwriter Nathan Bird doesn’t believe in happy endings since his father died and his mom began to unravel. His best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-best-friend-again, Florence, is set on making sure Nate finds someone else. And that someone does come along: Oliver James Hernández, his childhood best friend. But can Nate find the courage to pursue his own happily ever after?(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLosers bracket, Chris Crutcher

When it comes to family, Annie is in the losers bracket. While her foster parents are great (mostly), her birth family would not have been her first pick. And no matter how many times Annie tries to write them out of her life, she always gets sucked back into their drama. Love is like that. But when a family argument breaks out at Annie’s swim meet and her nephew goes missing, Annie might be the only one who can get him back. With help from her friends, her foster brother, and her social service worker, Annie puts the pieces of the puzzle together, determined to find her nephew and finally get him into a safe home. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAll these beautiful strangers, Elizabeth Klehfoth

One summer day, Grace Fairchild, the beautiful young wife of real estate mogul Alistair Calloway, vanished from the family’s lake house without a trace, leaving behind her seven-year old daughter, Charlie, and a slew of unanswered questions. Years later, seventeen-year-old Charlie still struggles with the dark legacy of her family name and the mystery surrounding her mother. Determined to finally let go of the past, she throws herself into life at Knollwood, the prestigious New England school she attends. Charlie quickly becomes friends with Knollwood’s “it” crowd. Charlie has also been tapped by the A’s–the school’s elite secret society well known for terrorizing the faculty, administration, and their enemies. To become a member of the A’s, Charlie must play The Game, a semester-long, diabolical high-stakes scavenger hunt that will jeopardize her friendships, her reputation, even her place at Knollwood. As the dark events of past and present converge, Charlie begins to fear that she may not survive the terrible truth about her family, her school, and her own life. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Light between worlds, Laura E. Weymouth

Five years ago, Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell cowered from air strikes in a London bomb shelter… and were transported to another realm called the Woodlands. In a forest kingdom populated by creatures out of myth and legend, they found temporary refuge. When they finally returned to London, nothing had changed — except themselves. Overcome with longing, Ev is desperate to return no matter what it takes. Philippa is determined to find a place in this world, and moves to America to escape the memory of what was. When Evelyn goes missing, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLet’s talk about love, Claire Kann

Alice’s last girlfriend, Margo, ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual. Now Alice is sure she’s done with dating … and then she meets Takumi. She can’t stop thinking about him or the rom-com-grade romance feelings she did not ask for. When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library-employee badge, Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated– or understood. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLittle white lies, Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Eighteen-year-old auto mechanic Sawyer Taft did not expect her estranged grandmother to show up at her apartment door and offer her a six-figure contract to participate in debutante season. And she definitely never imagined she would accept. But when she realizes that immersing herself in her grandmother’s “society” might mean discovering the answer to the biggest mystery of her life-her father’s identity-she signs on the dotted line and braces herself for a year of makeovers, big dresses, bigger egos, and a whole lot of bless your heart . The one thing she doesn’t expect to find is friendship, but as she’s drawn into a group of debutantes with scandalous, dangerous secrets of their own, Sawyer quickly discovers that her family isn’t the only mainstay of high society with skeletons in their closet. There are people in her grandmother’s glittering world who are not what they appear, and no one wants Sawyer poking her nose into the past. As she navigates the twisted relationships between her new friends and their powerful parents, Sawyer’s search for the truth about her own origins is just the beginning. (Publisher summary)

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOtherearth, Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

After discovering terrifying information about Otherworld, the Company’s high-tech VR gaming experience, Simon and his friends are on the run, searching for Simon’s old roommate. He may just be the key to shutting the Company down, although if they don’t find him in time, it may be too late for not only them, but for all of humanity. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIn another time, Caroline Leech

It’s 1942 and Maisie McCall is in the Scottish Highlands doing her bit for the war effort in the Women’s Timber Corps. As Maisie fells trees alongside the enigmatic John Lindsay, she can’t help but feel their friendship has the spark of something more to it. But it’s not until Maisie rescues John from a terrible logging accident that he begins to open up to her about the truth of his past – and the pain he’s been hiding. Suddenly everything is more complicated than Maisie expected. As she helps John untangle his shattered history, she must decide if she’s willing to risk her heart to help heal his. But, in a world devastated by war, love might be the only thing left that can begin to fix what’s broken. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDistortion, Victor Dixen

Six girls, six boys: looking for glory and romance on Mars. They thought they were masters of their destiny.They are the twelve pioneers of the Genesis program.They thought they were taking part in the most extraordinary of missions.In fact, they are the victims of the cruelest of plots.Leonor was looking for glory – and love – on Mars.She thought she would be able to open her heart there.But what she has done is open up a Pandora’s box of her past… (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhite rabbit, red wolf, Tom Pollock

Peter Blankman is afraid of everything but must confront truly unimaginable terror when his mother is attacked. Seventeen-year-old Peter Blankman is a maths prodigy. He also suffers from severe panic attacks. Afraid of everything, he finds solace in the orderly and logical world of mathematics and in the love of his family: his scientist mum and his tough twin sister Bel, as well as Ingrid, his only friend. However, when his mother is found stabbed before an award ceremony and his sister is nowhere to be found, Pete is dragged into a world of espionage and violence where state and family secrets intertwine. Armed only with his extraordinary analytical skills, Peter may just discover that his biggest weakness is his greatest strength. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDogchild, Kevin Brooks

Jeet was raised by a pack of wild dogs. Recaptured and ‘rehumanised’, Jeet now lives with the last of his people in an ancient walled town in the vast expanse of the Deathlands, besieged by a much larger enemy clan. They are preparing for the final battle and it’s Jeet’s task to record the events. But Jeet is struggling to come to terms with his half-human, half-dog identity. Can the impending conflict, and his relationship with another rehumanised dogchild, shed any light on what it takes to be a survivor? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThis cruel design, Emily Suvada

Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben. Desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity, Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns. When a new case of the Hydra virus is found, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert, could also hold the answers about Cat’s past. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThis splintered silence, Kayla Olson

Lindley Hamilton has been the leader of the space station Lusca since every first generation crew member on board, including her mother, the commander, was killed by a deadly virus. Lindley always assumed she’d captain the Lusca one day, but she never thought that day would come so soon. And she never thought it would be like this–struggling to survive every day, learning how to keep the Lusca running, figuring out how to communicate with Earth, making sure they don’t run out of food. When a member of the surviving second generation dies from symptoms that look just like the deadly virus, though, Lindley feels her world shrinking even smaller. And as more people die, Lindley must face the terrifying reality–that either the virus has mutated, or one of their own is a killer”. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPulp, Robin Talley

In 1955, eighteen-year-old Janet Jones keeps the love she shares with her best friend Marie a secret. It’s not easy being gay in Washington, DC, in the age of McCarthyism, but when she discovers a series of books about women falling in love with other women, it awakens something in Janet. As she juggles a romance she must keep hidden and a newfound ambition to write and publish her own story, she risks exposing herself–and Marie–to a danger all too real. Sixty-two years later, Abby Zimet can’t stop thinking about her senior project and its subject: classic 1950s lesbian pulp fiction. Between the pages of her favorite book, the stresses of Abby’s own life are lost to the fictional hopes, desires and tragedies of the characters she’s reading about. She feels especially connected to one author, a woman who wrote under the pseudonym “Marian Love,” and becomes determined to track her down and discover her true identity. The story of two young women connected across generations through the power of words. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsToxic, Lydia Kang

Hana isn’t supposed to exist. She’s grown up hidden by her mother in a secret room of the bioship Cyclo until the day her mother is simply gone–along with the entire crew. Cyclo tells her she was abandoned, but she’s certain her mother wouldn’t leave her there to die. And Hana isn’t ready to die yet. She’s never really had a chance to live. Fenn is supposed to die. He and a crew of hired mercenaries are there to monitor Cyclo as she expires, and the payment for the suicide mission will mean Fenn’s sister is able to live. But when he meets Hana, he’s not sure how to save them both. As Cyclo grows sicker by the day, they unearth more secrets about the ship and the crew. But the more time they spend together, the more Hana and Fenn realize that falling for each other is what could ultimately kill them both. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTiger’s dream, Colleen Houck

A tiger left behind. A goddess in need of an ally. Stranded in a time and place he never wished for, Kishan Rajaram struggles to forget the girl he loves and the brother who stole her away as he fulfills his divine role-that of assisting the beautiful, yet extremely irritable, goddess Durga. When the wily shaman Phet appears and tells Kishan that Kelsey needs him, he jumps at the chance to see her again, but in saving Kelsey, he discovers that the curse he thought was over, is just beginning. As time unravels around him, Kishan realizes that the fates of all those he holds dear, lie in hands. With the power of the goddess hanging in the balance, Kishan must sacrifice the unthinkable to fight the dark forces swirling around the woman he’s charged to defend. As he does, he discovers that love and loyalty create their own magic and accepts that he must decide his destiny once and for all. Tiger’s Dream is the conclusion to the epic Tiger’s Curse fantasy romance series that left you breathless. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThis lie will kill you, Chelsea Pitcher

One year ago, there was a party. At the party, someone died. Five teens each played a part and up until now, no one has told the truth. But tonight, the five survivors arrive at an isolated mansion in the hills, expecting to compete in a contest with a $50,000 grand prize. Of course…some things are too good to be true. They were each so desperate for the prize, they didn’t question the odd, rather exclusive invitation until it was too late. Now, they realize they’ve been lured together by a person bent on revenge, a person who will stop at nothing to uncover what actually happened on that deadly night, one year ago. Five arrived, but not all can leave. Will the truth set them free? Or will their lies destroy them all? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPacifica, Kirsten Simmons

Blue skies. Green grass. Clear ocean water. An island paradise like the ones that existed before the Melt. A lucky five hundred lottery winners will be the first to go, the first to leave their polluted, dilapidated homes behind and start a new life. It sounds perfect. Like a dream. The only problem? Marin Carey spent her childhood on those seas and knows there’s no island paradise out there. She’s corsario royalty, a pirate like her father and his father before him, and she knows a con when she sees one. So where are the First Five Hundred really going? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsYou may now kill the bride, R.L Stine

Two Fear family weddings, decades apart. Each bride will find that the ancient curse that haunts the Fears lives on. It feeds off the evil that courses through their blood. It takes its toll in unexpected ways, and allows dark history to repeat itself. In 1923, Ruth-Ann is planning to marry Peter–until Rebecca stepped in. And the two sisters plunged off the cliff on the day of the wedding. In the present, Marissa disappears on the day of her wedding to Doug. As her sister Harmony searches for her, will saving her mean finding a way to stop a disaster almost one-hundred-years old? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe darkest star, Jennifer L. Armentrout

Seventeen-year-old Evie Dasher knows firsthand the devastating consequences of humanity’s war with the aliens. When she’s caught up in a raid at a notorious club known as one of the few places where humans and the surviving Luxen can mingle freely, she meets Luc, an unnaturally beautiful guy she initially assumes is a Luxen…but he is in fact something much more powerful. Her growing attraction for Luc will lead her deeper and deeper into a world she’d only heard about, a world where everything she thought she knew will be turned on its head… (Publisher summary)

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsQueen of air and darkness, Cassandra Clare

Innocent blood has been spilled on the steps of the Council Hall, the sacred stronghold of the Shadowhunters. In the wake of the tragic death of Livia Blackthorn, the Clave teeters on the brink of civil war. One fragment of the Blackthorn family flees to Los Angeles, seeking to discover the source of the disease that is destroying the race of warlocks. Meanwhile, Julian and Emma take desperate measures to put their forbidden love aside and undertake a perilous mission to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead. What they find in the Courts is a secret that may tear the Shadow World asunder and open a dark path into a future they could never have imagined. Caught in a race against time, Emma and Julian must save the world of Shadowhunters before the deadly power of the parabatai curse destroys them and everyone they love. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe pretty brilliant experiment book, Jade Hemsworth

Inspired by Netflix’s original series, Project Mc2 (TM), The Pretty Brilliant Experiment book has over 20 experiments introduced by our favorite Nov8 (that’s Innovate) agents: McKeyla McAlister, Adrienne Attoms, Bryden Bandweth, and Camryn Coyle. Learn about electricity, chemical reactions, physics, and biology while crafting an hour glass, creating crystals, and making ice cream! Then record your own observations after reading the scientific analysis accompanying each activity. The ingredients are affordable and easy-to-find, and each DIY experiment can be completed safely at home with parents and friends. (Amazon.com)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA daring sacrifice, Jody Hedlund

In a reverse twist on the Robin Hood story, a young medieval maiden stands up for the rights of the mistreated, stealing from the rich to give to the poor, but she never anticipates falling in love with the wealthy knight who represents all she’s come to despise. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSoulbinder, Sebastien De Castell

A failed mage learns that just because he’s not the chosen one it doesn’t mean he can’t be a hero in the fourth book of an exciting adventure fantasy series from Sebastien de Castell. For Kellen, the only way to survive is to hide. His curse is growing stronger, bringing dark and violent visions, and the bounty hunters dogging his heels get closer every day. Desperate, he searches for a mysterious order of monks rumored to have a cure. But salvation comes with a high price. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTrans Teen Survival Guide, Owl and Fox Fisher

Frank, friendly and funny, the Trans Teen Survival Guide will leave transgender and non-binary teens informed, empowered and armed with all the tips, confidence and practical advice they need to navigate life as a trans teen. Wondering how to come out to your family and friends, what it’s like to go through cross hormonal therapy or how to put on a packer? Trans youth activists Fox and Owl have stepped in to answer everything that trans teens and their families need to know. With a focus on self-care, expression and being proud of your unique identity, the guide is packed full of invaluable advice from people who understand the realities and complexities of growing up trans. Having been there, done that, Fox and Owl are able to honestly chart the course of life as a trans teen, from potentially life-saving advice on dealing with dysphoria or depression, to hilarious real-life awkward trans stories. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFinding Baba Yaga, Jane Yolen

You think you know this story. You do not. A harsh, controlling father. A quiescent mother. A house that feels like anything but a home. Natasha gathers the strength to leave, and comes upon a little house in the wood: A house that walks about on chicken feet and is inhabited by a fairy tale witch. In finding Baba Yaga, Natasha finds her voice, her power, herself…(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBlack rabbit summer, Kevin Brooks

Pete Boland was busy doing nothing that SUMMER. Long, stiflingly hot, lazy days stretched ahead of him. THEN SHE CALLED. It was Nicole. ‘Listen, Pete . . . you know that funfair, up at the recreation ground . . . I thought we could all meet up . . . You know, for old times’ sake. BUT, where there are old times there are old tensions. And as secrets, bitterness and jealousies resurface, five old friends are plunged into the worst night of their lives . . .(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe tomorrow code, Brian Falkner

When Tane and Rebecca receive digital messages warning of the impending disaster, there is a chance to alleviate the threat. As they piece the clues together, they discover that the messages are being sent by their future selves, and they must stop The Chimera Project – a devastating apocalyptic plague – from being released. But they soon discover that changing the past in order to protect the future will be more difficult than they first thought. As a strange white cloud begins to move across New Zealand – and people start disappearing – Tane and Rebecca find that, not only may they be too late, but it may be impossible to stop at all. The cloud is made up of antibodies designed to attack human beings and has been created by Mother Nature herself as an antidote to the destructive human race. As the mist devours everyone and everything in its wake, Tane and Rebecca realize there is no way out – this plague is going to destroy the earth and their only hope is to take refuge from impending doom. As the end of the world begins, Tane stumbles on a way to prevent this from happening – they will send new messages to themselves from the future and change the course of history. Only this time they will get it right. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe dark intercept, Julia Keller

The earth is in ruins. Years of warfare, plague, and disaster have ravaged the planet and driven its people into despair. The powerful and wealthy have abandoned Earth and created New Earth, a utopia in the sky where the last of the elite can start fresh. On New Earth, citizens are free from danger thanks to a surveillance device that lives beneath their skin. A device that keeps their new home crime-free through meticulous emotional surveillance. A device called the Intercept.Violet Crowley has never gone hungry. She’s endured neither violence nor fear. As the only daughter of New Earth’s Founding Father, Violet has spent her entire life in comfort and safety. That is, until her friend, colleague, and long-time crush, Danny Mayhew, gets into a deadly altercation on the streets of Old Earth. In an instant, Violet risks her father’s fury and intercedes to rescue Danny. When Danny can’t explain his actions, Violet launches a secret investigation to find out what he’s hiding. An investigation that will lead her to question everything she’s ever known about Danny, her father, and the power of the Intercept. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDamsel, Elana K. Arnold

The rite has existed for as long as anyone can remember: When the king dies, his son the prince must venture out into the gray lands, slay a fierce dragon, and rescue a damsel to be his bride. This is the way things have always been. When Ama wakes in the arms of Prince Emory, she knows none of this. She has no memory of what came before she was captured by the dragon or what horrors she faced in its lair. She knows only this handsome young man, the story he tells of her rescue, and her destiny of sitting on a throne beside him. It’s all like a dream, like something from a fairy tale. As Ama follows Emory to the kingdom of Harding, however, she discovers that not all is as it seems. There is more to the legends of the dragons and the damsels than anyone knows, and the greatest threats may not be behind her, but around her, now, and closing in. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIt’s not summer without you, Jenny Han

Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach? It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come. But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started–at Cousins Beach. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMonsters of virtue, L.J Ritchie

Eugenics: noun. The science of improving a population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. New Zealand, 1932. The height of the Great Depression. In the wilds of the Ōtaki River Gorge, the newly-formed Eugenics Department gathers the best and brightest in an attempt to create perfection.… But what makes a perfect person? Fifteen-year-old Eve knows she’s not one – but with her sister’s life on the line, she’d better convince her new classmates that she could be. Together with uneasy allies Orion and Nyx, she’ll pry into the dark heart of this fledgling utopia. Will the future that awaits them there be one worth fighting for? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGiant days, Non Pratt

Based on the hit graphic-novel series from BOOM! Studios, the publisher behind Lumberjanes, Giant Days follows the hilarious and heartfelt misadventures of three university first-years: Daisy, the innocent home-schooled girl; Susan, the sardonic wit; and Esther, the vivacious drama queen. While the girls seem very different, they become fast friends during their first week of university. And it’s a good thing they do, because in the giant adventure that is college, a friend who has your back is key–something Daisy discovers when she gets a little too involved in her extracurricular club, the Yogic Brethren of Zoise. When she starts acting strange and life around campus gets even stranger (missing students, secret handshakes, monogrammed robes everywhere . . .), Esther and Susan decide it’s up to them to investigate the weirdness and save their friend. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSwing, Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hesse

Best friends Walt and Noah decide to use their voices to grow more good in the world, but first they’ve got to find cool. Walt is convinced junior year is their year, and he has a plan to help them woo the girls of their dreams and become amazing athletes. Never mind that he and Noah failed to make the high school baseball team yet again, and Noah’s love interest since third grade, Sam, has him firmly in the friend zone. Noah soon finds himself navigating the worlds of jazz, batting cages, the strange advice of Walt’s Dairy Queen-employed cousin, as well as Walt’s “Hug Life” mentality. Status quo seems inevitable until Noah stumbles on a stash of old love letters. Each page contains the words he’s always wanted to say to Sam, and he begins secretly creating artwork using the lines that speak his heart. But when his private artwork becomes public, Noah has a decision to make: continue his life in the dugout and possibly lose the girl forever, or take a swing and finally speak out? At the same time, numerous American flags are being left around town. While some think it’s a harmless prank and others see it as a form of peaceful protest, Noah can’t shake the feeling something bigger is happening to his community. Especially after he witnesses events that hint divides and prejudices run deeper than he realized.As the personal and social tensions increase around them, Noah and Walt must decide what is really true when it comes to love. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLast pick [1], Jason Walz

Three years ago, aliens invaded Earth and abducted everyone they deemed useful. The only ones spared were those too young, too old, or too “disabled” to be of value. Living on Earth under the aliens’ harsh authoritarian rule, humanity’s rejects do their best to survive. Their captors never considered them a threat–until now. Twins Sam and Wyatt are ready to chuck their labels and start a revolution. It’s time for the kids last picked to step into the game. In this first volume of Jason Walz’s dystopian graphic novel trilogy, the kids last picked are humanity’s last hope. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLost soul, be at peace, Maggie Thrash

Following her acclaimed Honor Girl, Maggie Thrash revisits a period of teenage depression in a graphic memoir that is at once thoughtful, honest, and marked by hope. A year and a half after the summer that changed her life, Maggie Thrash wishes she could change it all back. She’s trapped in a dark depression and flunking eleventh grade, befuddling her patrician mother while going unnoticed by her father, a workaholic federal judge. The only thing Maggie cares about is her cat, Tommi . . . who then disappears somewhere in the walls of her cavernous house. So her search begins — but Maggie’s not even really sure what she’s lost, and she has no idea what she’ll find. Lost Soul, Be at Peace is the continuation of Maggie’s story from her critically acclaimed memoir Honor Girl, one that brings her devastating honesty and humor to the before and after of depression. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOn a sunbeam, Tille Walden

Two timelines. Second chances. One love. A ragtag crew travels to the deepest reaches of space, rebuilding beautiful, broken structures to piece the past together. Two girls meet in boarding school and fall deeply in love–only to learn the pain of loss. With interwoven timelines and stunning art, award-winning graphic novelist Tillie Walden creates an inventive world, breathtaking romance, and an epic quest for love. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBanana Sunday, Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover

Kirby is about to start a new school with three talking primates in tow. Unlike other students, Kirby Steinberg begins her time at Forest Edge school with a speech to the entire student body introducing her unusual entourage that’s composed of three talking simians: eggheaded orangutan Chuck; Go-Go the gorilla, who is hungry and tired in equal measure ; and spider monkey Knobby, who has a fondness for romance. Although Kirby claims the simians were secret experiments of her scientist father, school reporter Nickels smells something deeper to this story and decides to investigate. Meanwhile, Kirby’s new school is filled with human drama, including mean girl Skye’s relentless bullying and gentle romantic tension with lovably goofy Martin. Will Kirby be able to navigate all these pitfalls and look after her rascally primate posse? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe complete Angel Catbird, story by Margaret Atwood and art by Johnnie Christmas

A genetic engineer caught in the middle of a chemical accident all of a sudden finds himself with superhuman abilities. With these new powers he takes on the identity of Angel Catbird and gets caught in the middle of a war between animal/human hybrids. What follows is a humorous, action-driven, educational, and pulp- inspired superhero adventure–with a lot of cat puns. (Publisher summary)

YA classics (part one)

I tend to feature a lot of new books on this blog but perhaps it’s time to highlight some YA “classics”.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Outsiders, S.E Hinton (1967)

This is the archetypal story of young men living on the wrong side of the tracks, as defined by an often hostile society. Told from the perspective of Ponyboy, a member of a gang of Greasers who details their rivalry with the “socs” another gang, and the disaster and violence their conflict causes. There are plot elements which would be familiar to readers today; abusive or neglectful parents, class differences, crime and the strength people draw from their friends.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsI am the cheese, Robert Cormier (1977)

I’ve never read a book quite like I am the cheese. It’s a twisting, complex tale of identity and corruption, told through the eyes of a young boy who has witnessed something truly traumatic and must deal with the consequences. To describe it any further would spoil the plot, so if you are intrigued, I suggest you pick it up. I think the only book that comes vaguely close is E. Lockhart’s We were liars, although the stakes are much, much higher in Cormier’s book.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSkellig, David Almond (1998)

Magical realism is a common genre for YA fiction at the moment but Skellig was a pioneer in the genre. It manages to capture the soaring heights of the “magical” whilst also effectively depicting the realism; the two are beautifully balanced. The main character, Michael, is struggling to cope in a new home and with a baby sister who is dangerously ill. Then he finds a strange creature – possibly angelic, but never defined- in his shed, the titular Skellig. The two plots interweave and it’s a particular favourite of mine.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAnnie on my mind, Nancy Garden (1982)

LGBTQ fiction has come along way since 1982 but Annie on my mind was groundbreaking when it was first published. That being said, the themes of love, heartbreak and identity are still being written about. It’s worth reading anyway, if only to see how far writing on these themes have come. It’s also 48 on the ALA’s most challenged books from 1990 – 2000.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNoughts and Crossses, Malorie Blackman (2002)

Examinations of race and racism are coming to the forefront of YA fiction; The Hate u give by Angie Thomas is probably the most recent and most well-known of these books. But before then, the Noughts and Crosses series examined race relations with a twist – in this alternate universe, noughts (people with white skin) are disadvantaged and crosses (people of colour) occupy positions of ultimate privilege. It’s also a love story, thriller, and a brilliant read. It’s also the first book in a series.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSawkill girls, Claire Legrand

Who are the Sawkill Girls? Marion: The newbie. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find. Zoey: The pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken–or maybe everyone else is. Val: The queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives; a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies. Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires. Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight…until now. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhat if it’s us, Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

ARTHUR is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it. BEN thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things. But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them . . . ? Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated. Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited. But what if they can’t nail a first date even after three do-overs? What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work and Ben doesn’t try hard enough? What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play? But what if it is? What if it’s us? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe lady’s guide to petticoats and piracy, Mackenzi Lee

A year after a whirlwind grand tour with her brother Monty, Felicity Montague has returned to England with two goals in mind: avoid the marriage proposal of a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh and enroll in medical school. But the administrators, see men as the sole guardians of science. When a doctor she idolizes marries an friend of hers in Germany, Felicity believes he could change her future. A mysterious young woman will pay Felicity’s way, if Felicity will let her travel along– as her maid. Soon they’re on a perilous quest that leads them across the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGrim lovelies, Megan Shepherd

Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime. Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe divided earth: The nameless city book 3, Faith Erin Hicks

The Nameless City–held by the rogue Dao prince Erzi–is under siege by a coalition of Dao and Yisun forces who are determined to end the war once and for all… Rat and Kai must infiltrate Erzi’s palace and steal back the ancient and deadly formula for napatha–the ancient weapon of mass destruction Erzi has unearthed–before he can use it to destroy everything they hold dear. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBlack Mooon: a Zodiac novel, Romina Russell

One final secret stands between Rho and the enemy. But will the devastating truth be enough to destroy her first? Rho, the courageous visionary from House Cancer, lost nearly everything when she exposed and fought against the Marad, a mysterious terrorist group bent on destroying balance in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now, the Marad has disappeared without a trace, and an uneasy peace has been declared. But Rho is suspicious. She believes the Master is still out there in some other form. And looming over all are the eerie visions of her mother, who died many years ago, but is now appearing to Rho in the stars. When news of a stylish new political party supported by her best friend, Nishi, sends Rho on another journey across the galaxy, she uses it as an opportunity to hunt the hidden master and seek out information about her mother. And what she uncovers sheds light on the truth-but casts darkness upon the entire Zodiac world. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMy real name is Hanna, Tara Lynn Masih

1941, Hitler’s army crosses into Soviet-ruled Ukraine in a secret mission titled “Operation Barbarossa. A young Jewish girl, Hanna Slivka is fourteen when German soldiers arrive in her small village of Kwasova. Until their arrival, Hanna has split her time between playing with her younger siblings, sharing drawings with the sweet shy Leon Stadnick, and assisting her neighbor, Mrs. Petrovich, with her annual dyeing and selling of psyanky, decorative eggs. But now, she, Leon and their families are forced into hiding, first in the woods outside of their town and then into caverns beneath it. They battle sickness and starvation, and the local peasants who join the Nazis in hunting Jews through the ravaged countryside, but at no time are they more tested than when Hanna’s father – briefly above ground to scavenge for food – goes missing, and suddenly, it’s on Hanna to find him, and to find a way to keep her mother, brother and sister alive. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe dark vault, Victoria Schwab

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive. Mackenzie Bishop’s grandfather first brought her here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now her grandfather is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive. Follow Mackenzie as she explores the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking, through these two timeless novels, now bound together in this thrilling collection. With stunning prose and a captivating mixture of action, romance, and horror, The Archived Collection delves into a richly imagined world where no choice is easy and love and loss feel like two sides of the same coin. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPride, Ibi Zoboi

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding. But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all. In a timely update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLast safe moment, Andrew Lane

Several deaths have occurred amongst members of staff in the Goldfinch Institute, a research facility in Albuquerque, USA, which manufactures highly classified weapon systems for the British Army, the Secret Intelligence Service and SIS-TERR. Bex’s job is to go to Albuquerque and covertly investigate to see if there is any threat to British interests, but there’s a problem – the Head of Security of the Goldfinch Institute is someone she was at university with. Bex is forced to call on Kieron’s help again, as he goes out undercover in her place with a faked identity as a teenage computer genius. As Bex investigates the deaths of the Goldfinch employees, there seems to be something more sinister lurking behind them. Something that not only threatens Kieron, who’s been kidnapped by the Goldfinch Institute and taken to its HQ in Tel Aviv, but the whole of Eastern Europe…(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA winter’s promise, Christelle Dabos

Long ago, following a cataclysm called ‘The Rupture’, the world was shattered into floating celestial islands, known now as Arks. Ophelia lives on Anima, an Ark where objects have souls. Beneath her worn scarf and thick glasses, Ophelia hides two powers — the ability to read the past of objects and their human owners, and the ability to travel through mirrors. When she is promised in marriage to Thorn, the young girl must leave her family and follow her fiance to Citaceleste, the floating capital of a distant Ark. Why has she been chosen? Why must she hide her true identity? (Publisher summary)

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe 57 bus, Dashka Slater

One teenager in a skirt. One teenager with a lighter.
One moment that changes both of their lives forever. If it weren’t for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe goose road, Rowena House

Angélique Lacroix is haymaking when the postman delivers the news: her father is dead, killed on a distant battlefield. She makes herself a promise: the farm will remain exactly the same until her beloved older brother comes home from the Front. “I think of it like a magical spell. If I can stop time, if nothing ever changes, then maybe he won’t change either.” But a storm ruins the harvest, her mother falls ill and then the requisition appears… In a last-ditch attempt to save the farm from bankruptcy, Angélique embarks on a journey across France with her brother’s flock of magnificent Toulouse geese. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsKiller T, Robert Muchamore

Harry and Charlie are teenagers whose lives are shaped by a society that’s shifting around them. He is a lonely Brit in his first term at a Las Vegas high school. She is an unlikely friend, who gets accused of mixing a batch of explosives that blew up a football player. The two of them are drawn together at a time when gene editing technology is starting to explode. With a lab in the garage anyone can beat cancer, enhance their brain to pass exams, or tweak a few genes for that year-round tan and perfect beach body. But in the wrong hands, cheap gene editing is the most deadly weapon in history. Killer T is a synthetic virus with a ninety per-cent mortality rate, and the terrorists who created it want a billion dollars before they’ll release a vaccine. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSpillzone: the broken vow, Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland

Three years ago an event destroyed the small city of Poughkeepsie, forever changing reality within its borders. Strange manifestations and lethal dangers now await anyone who enters the Spill Zone. Addison got close enough to the Spill Zone to touch it, literally. She survived the encounter, but came back changed. It turns out she’s not alone. North Korea has its own Spill Zone, and a young man named Don Jae is the only one who made it out alive. Alive, but changed. Now Addison, Don Jae, and, curiously, a rag doll named Vespertine, share an unholy bond and uncanny powers. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSleepless, Sarah Vaughn and Leila Del Luca

Lady ‘Poppy’ Pyppenia is guarded by the Sleepless Knight Cyrenic but becomes endangered when an assassin threatens her life in the new king’s reign. As Poppy and Cyrenic try to discover who wants her dead, they must navigate the dangerous waters of life at court and of their growing feelings for one another. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSadie, Courtney Summers

Sadie’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated Colorado town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water. When Mattie is found dead, and the police investigation is botched, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice. She hits the road following a few meager clues. When West McCray, a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America, hears Sadie’s story, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTwo dark reigns, Kendare Blake

Katharine sits on the throne of Fennbirn. Dead bodies have washed up on the shore, but the real Mirabella and Arsinoe are in hiding. There are murmurs of dissent among the people of Fennbirn. The crown has been won, but unexpected renegade is about to wage a war of her own. The battle to be queen is far from done. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEden conquered, Joelle Charbonneau

The Trials of Virtuous Succession have ended. Prince Andreus is king–and Princess Carys is dead. But even as he’s haunted by what he did to win the throne, Andreus discovers that his dream of ruling only brings new problems. The people love his twin even more in death than they did when she was alive. The Elders treat him as a figurehead. And worst of all, the winds of Eden are faltering. But despite what everyone believes, Carys is alive. Exiled to the wilderness, Carys struggles to control the powers that have broken free inside her. And as she grows stronger, so does her conviction that she must return to the Palace of Winds, face her twin and root out the treachery that began long before the first Trials started. The Kingdom of Eden is growing darker with each passing day. Brother and sister, former foes, must decide whether some betrayals cut too deep to be forgiven–and whether one will wear the crown or both will lose everything. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRuin of stars, Linsey Miller

As one of the Queen’s elite assassins, Sal finally has the power, prestige, and permission to hunt down the lords who killed their family. But Sal still has to figure out who the culprits are. They must enlist the help of some old friends and enemies while ignoring a growing distaste for the queen and that the charming Elise is being held prisoner by her father. But there’s something terribly wrong in the north. Talk of the return of shadows, missing children, and magic abounds. As Sal takes out the people responsible for their ruined homeland, Sal learns secrets and truths that can’t be forgotten. (Publisher summary)

New book

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe isle of the lost, Melissa De La Cruz

Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon to the Isle of the Lost–a dark and dreary place protected by a force field that makes it impossible for them to leave. Stripped of their magical powers, the villains now live in total isolation, forgotten by the world. Mal learns from her mother, Maleficent, that the key to true darkness, the Dragon’s Eye, is located inside her scepter in the forbidden fortress on the far side of the island. The eye is cursed, and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She’ll just need a little help from her “friends.” In their quest for the Dragon’s Eye, these four kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain’t so bad. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThese rebel waves, Sara Raasch

Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray overthrow its oppressor, Agrid, a country ruled by religion. But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray’s new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice–but Lu suspects something dangerous is at work. Devereux is a pirate. As one of the stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he scavenges the island’s magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat’s abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian–but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war. Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Loray’s forbidden magic. When Ben’s father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid’s fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country–or if he’s building his own pyre. As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are…and what they are willing to become for peace.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLove, Charlie Mike, Kate De Goldi

Christy is under siege. Her father is dangerously near losing it, her grandmother has lost it and Christy fears she has lost her boyfriend to a peacekeeping assignment in Bosnia.

In an attempt to uncover an old family secret and sort out all her relationships, she plans a train journey to the West Coast…(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEvolution, Teri Terry

Shay has followed Xander and joined his mysterious scientific cult at their remote Scottish compound. She’s desperately searching for Callie, who went missing before the start of the epidemic that kills 95% of cases, and leaves a tiny number of survivors with astonishing new powers. Can Shay uncover the truth about the origins of the epidemic, find Callie and perhaps even rekindle her relationship with Kai? Or will Xander’s grand plans destroy them all for ever? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSmall spaces, Sarah Epstein

Tash Carmody has been traumatised since childhood, when she witnessed her gruesome imaginary friend Sparrow lure young Mallory Fisher away ftom a carnival. At the time nobody believed Tash, and she has since come to accept that Sparrow wasn’t real. Now fifteen and mute, Mallory’s never spoken about the week she went missing. As disturbing memories resurface, Tash starts to see Sparrow again. And she realises Mallory is the key to unlocking the truth about a dark secret connecting them. Does Sparrow exist after all? Or is Tash more dangerous to others than she thinks? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDarius the great is not okay, Adib Khorram

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s a Fractional Persian–half, his mom’s side–and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life. Darius has never really fit in at home, and he’s sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn’t exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they’re spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. (Publisher summary)

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOnyx and Ivory, Mindee Arnett

They call her Traitor Kate. Cast out of the nobility after her father’s attempt to assassinate the high king of Rime, Kate now works for the royal courier service. At night the drakes– flightless dragons– come out to hunt. But Kate was born with a forbidden magic, one that allows her to influence the minds of animals. Her job brings her to the scene of a drake massacre– and to Corwin Tormaine, the son of the king. With their paths entangled, Kate and Corwin must put the past behind them to face this new threat– and an even darker menace stirring in the kingdom. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Out here, darkness meant death.
Kate Brighton urged her weary horse ever faster as night crept over the land of Rime. The gelding labored with the pace already, his pants like whipcracks in the air, and his shoulders and neck lathered with foamy white stripes. But they couldn’t stop, and couldn’t slow down.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHow we roll, Natasha Friend

When the McAvoy family moves to Gull’s Head, Massachusetts, it’s for 14-year-old Quinn’s autistic younger brother’s education. Quinn, however, is eager to start anew after an alopecia areata totalis diagnosis left her bald as a cue ball and the butt of her classmates’ cruel jokes. No one in Gull’s Head knows she’s wearing a wig, so once freshman year starts, Quinn is thrilled to be welcomed by the hip girls, but the once-popular and promising football player Nick Strout is a tough sell. Unlike Quinn’s ability to hide her alopecia under a wig, Nick can’t hide the fact that an accident has left him an amputee. Slowly, a friendship blossoms between Quinn and Nick, and they turn each other’s messed-up world right-side up. (Publisher summary)

First lines: On the first day of seventh grade, Quinn, Paige, and Tara wore matching outfits. Oxford shirts, capri jeans, Keds. They took turns sitting on a stool in Paige’s kitchen while Paige’s mom did their hair. Three matching french braids, three matching bows.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBig bones, Laura Dockrill

Meet Bluebelle, aka BB aka Big Bones. She’s bold, beautiful and beginning her summer holiday. But instead of relaxing she’s forced to write a food diary and an accident upturns her family. And then there’s Max – will they ever move beyond latte art and chamomile tea? (Publisher summary)

First lines:The first thing I ate after my asthma was a crumpet. Ok. Not a crumpet. It was more a set. A set of crumpets.
“Can you push them down again please? They still look raw.”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGirl made of stars, Ashley Herring Blake

Mara and Owen are as close as twins can get, so when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can her brother really be guilty of such a violent act? Torn between her family and her sense of right and wrong, Mara feels lost, and it doesn’t help that things are strained with her ex-girlfriend, Charlie. As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie come together in the aftermath of this terrible crime, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits into her future. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Charlie refuses to answer my texts. Or she has on her phone on silent. Or she forgot to charge it. Or she had a rare fit of temper and tossed into a toilet, thereby rendering it unusable.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe murderer’s ape, Jakob Wegekus

Sally Jones is not only a loyal friend, she’s an extraordinary individual. In overalls or in a maharaja’s turban, this unique gorilla moves among humans without speaking but understanding everything. She and the Chief are devoted comrades who operate a cargo boat. A job they are offered pays big bucks, but the deal ends badly, and the Chief is falsely convicted of murder. For Sally Jones this is the start of a harrowing quest for survival and to clear the Chief’s name. Powerful forces are working against her, and they will do anything to protect their secrets. (Publisher summary)

First lines: For those of you who don’t know me, the first thing I need to say is that I’m not a human being, I’m an anthropoid ape. I’ve learned from scientists that I belong to the subspecies Gorilla gorrila graueri. Most of my kind live in Africa, in the thick jungle along the banks of the Congo River, and that’s probably where I originally came from.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBring me their hearts, Sara Wolf

Zera is a Heartless, the immortal, unaging soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger, Zera longs for freedom from the woods they hide in. With her heart in a jar under Nightsinger’s control, she serves the witch unquestioningly. The witch asks Zera for a prince’s heart in exchange for her own, with one addendum: if she’s discovered infiltrating the court, Nightsinger will destroy Zera’s heart rather than see her tortured by the witch-hating nobles. Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the royal court as much as it loves him: every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. When Zera arrives, the two begin a game between a girl with nothing to lose and a boy who has it all. Winner takes the loser’s heart. Literally. (Publisher summary)

First lines: King Sref of Cavanos watches me with the deadened eyes of a raven circling a corpse – patient, waiting to devour me the second I let my guard down. I briefly debate telling him that humans don’t taste that good, until I remember that normal girls don’t eat people.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsShattered glass, Teresa Toten

Toni has always had nightmares about fire, and she also has burn scars but no idea how she got them. So when fire destroys the orphanage she has grown up in, she is ready to make her way to Toronto, where she hopes to discover the truth about the mother she believes hurt and then abandoned her. Toronto proves to be both daunting and exciting for Toni, whose charm and innocence attract attention, not always positive, wherever she goes. Buoyed by the music she hears at the folk club where she finds a job, and encouraged by her glamorous landlady, Toni unearths shocking information that contradicts everything she believes and makes her re-evaluate what she feels for all the new people in her life. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Fire!!!
It was the fire dream again, always the same dream. But this time it was different. This time, despite the fear that was worn and familiar as a threadbare shirt, I knew that I had to save Betty. Then I was washed in shame. How did shame sneak into my dread?

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe colour of the sun, David Almond

One hot summer morning, Davie steps boldly out of his front door. The world he enters is very familiar – the little Tyneside town that has always been his home – but as the day passes, it becomes ever more mysterious. A boy has been killed, and Davie thinks he might know who is responsible. He turns away from the gossip and excitement and sets off roaming towards the sunlit hills above the town. As the day goes on, the real and the imaginary start to merge, and Davie knows that neither he nor his world will ever be the same again. (Publisher summary)

First lines: It’s an ordinary summer day, the day that Jimmy Killen dies and comes to life again. It’s the middle of the holidays, when it sometimes seems like time stands still, when it seems there’s nothing at all to do.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGeorgia peaches and other forbidden fruit, Jaye Robin Brown

Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees. Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right? (Publisher summary)

First lines: “Come on Eileen” is a terrible song at any wedding. But when the wedding is being held at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta – the bride’s overpriced choice – one might expect better tunes, even if they are being spun for my dad’s evangelical masses.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSmoke in the sun, Renee Ahdieh

After Okami is captured in the Jukai forest, Mariko has no choice–to rescue him, she must return to Inako and face the dangers that have been waiting for her in the Heian Castle. She tricks her brother, Kenshin, and betrothed, Raiden, into thinking she was being held by the Black Clan against her will, playing the part of the dutiful bride-to-be to infiltrate the emperor’s ranks and uncover the truth behind the betrayal that almost left her dead. With the wedding plans already underway, Mariko pretends to be consumed with her upcoming nuptials, all the while using her royal standing to peel back the layers of lies and deception surrounding the imperial court. But each secret she unfurls gives way to the next, ensnaring Mariko and Okami in a political scheme that threatens their honor, their love and the very safety of the empire.

First lines: Somber clouds waited above, like specters.
Most of the people had donned funereal grey. Their heads were lowered in respect, their voices hushed. Even the smallest children of children of children knew better than to ask why.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOut of darkness, Ashley Hope Pérez

New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them. They know the people who enforce them. But sometimes the attraction between two people is so powerful it breaks through even the most entrenched color lines. And the consequences can be explosive. Ashley Hope Pérez takes the facts of the 1937 New London school explosion–the worst school disaster in American history–as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people. (Publisher summary)

First lines: From far off, it looks like hundreds of beetles ringed around a single dome of light. Then the shiny black backs resolve into pickups and cars and ambulances. The bright gloves divides into many lights. Work lamps. Spotlights. Strings of Christmas bulb. Stadium floodlights borrowed from the football field nearby.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLove and luck, Jenna Evans Welch

Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt’s over-the-top destination wedding, and hoping she can stop thinking about the one horrible thing she did that left her miserable and heartbroken–and threatens her future. But her brother, Ian, isn’t about to let her forget, and his constant needling leads to arguments and even a fistfight between the two once inseparable siblings. Miserable, Addie can’t wait to visit her friend in Italy and leave her brother–and her problems–behind. So when Addie discovers an unusual guidebook, Ireland for the Heartbroken, hidden in the dusty shelves of the hotel library, she’s able to finally escape her anxious mind and Ian’s criticism.> And then their travel plans change. Suddenly Addie finds herself on a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle, trapped in the world’s smallest vehicle with Ian and his admittedly cute, Irish-accented friend Rowan. As the trio journeys over breathtaking green hills, past countless castles, and through a number of fairy-tale forests, Addie hopes her guidebook will heal not only her broken heart, but also her shattered relationship with her brother. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Dear Heartbroken,
What do picture when you imagine travelling through Ireland? Belting out drinking songs in a dim, noisy pub? Exploring mossy castles? Running barefoot through a field of four-leaf clovers? Or maybe that old Johnny Cash song: green, green, forty shades of green.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA reaper at the gates, Sabaa Tahir

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power… the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance. Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight. And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. He has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias’s devotion– even at the cost of his humanity. (Publisher summary)

First lines: You love too much, my king.
My queen spoke the words often across the centuries we spent together. At first, with a smile. But in later years, with a furrowed brow. Her gaze settled on out children as they tore about the palace, their bodies flickering from flame to flesh, tiny cyclones of impossible beauty.

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 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 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 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 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 podcasts

Need a bit of light summer listening? Here are some excellent fiction podcasts that will help you through those post-exam days.

Victoriocity – for our Steampunk fans. London has swallowed most of southern England, to become the monstrous metropolis known as Even Greater London. Queen Victoria is now a cyborg. And there’s a conspiracy which seems to reach up to the highest levels of society…luckily Inspector Fleet and the journalist Clara Entwhistle are on the case.

The bridge – It’s a different 2016, and a massive Transcontinental bridge has been built to speed travel across the world. Unfortunately several unfortunate incidents have left the Bridge pretty much deserted except for the Watchtowers – peopled by disparate group of people who have all their secrets. Mysteries abound – what is in the lower levels of the Watchtower and what exactly happened to Aqualand?

Mabel – A young woman takes a job looking after an elderly woman in a strange house – a common enough set up for a fascinating story about love, family curses, horror and mystery. Snatches of music hint at strange forces at work. A must-listen for those who love a haunted house.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsI believe in a thing called love, Maurene Good

A disaster in romance, high school senior Desi Lee decides to tackle her flirting failures by watching Korean television dramas, where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. She goes after moody artist Luca Drakos– utilizing boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama. (Publisher summary)

First lines: When I was seven, I thought I moved a pencil with my mind. I heard this story about a man who taught himself how to see through objects so that he could cheat at card games. The idea was that if he reached a state of complete concentration and focus, he could do things with his mind that normal humans were incapable of, like levitate, walk on coals, and move objects. All of which he learned to do.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAfter the fall, Kate Hart

Raychel relies on the support of her overachieving best friend Matt while secretly sleeping with his slacker brother Andrew. Matt tries to play hero and hide how much he loves her. He helps her deal with a sexual assault at a party, and her fading dream of attending college. But when Andrew dies in a fall when the three go out hiking, Matt and Raychel must deal with the gossip and the guilt. (Publisher summary)

First lines: It’s entirely possible Matt can see up my shorts. I don’t really care-my best friend has never shown any interest whatsoever in my underwear – but the only ones clean this morning were black and lacy. Not ideal for rock climbing, and not ideal for a photo shoot, especially one for his school assignment. I shift my position on the cliff face, trying to cover up.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsInto white, Randi Pink

Stuck in a mostly white high school in Montgomery, Alabama, bullied by black students who should be her allies, Toya Williams prays to Jesus one night to be white. Lo and behold, she wakes up “white as a Bing Crosby Christmas,” though the change is invisible to her family. Blond, blue-eyed Toya (posing as an exchange student) is befriended by the white alpha girls and lusted after by the quarterback. It’s great until she realizes that being white means starving herself (size six is fat in her new world), hearing casual racial slurs, being expected to be available to popular guys, and betraying her beloved older brother. (Publisher summary)

First lines: On the way to first period, the cheap plastic strap on my book bag broke. The single pink thread that held on for the first six months of school had finally freed itself, dropping hefty textbooks onto Deante’s spanking-new Air Jordan basketball sneakers. With only a handful of black kids at 96 percent-white Edgewood High School, God let my textbooks fall at the feet of the cruellest one.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMask of shadows, Linsey Miller

Gender fluid Sallot Lean is a thief who wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class, and the nobles who destroyed their home. Sal auditions to become a member of The Left Hand, the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears, in order to infiltrate the court and get revenge. But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive. (Publisher summary)

First lines: The thick, briny scent of sweat-soaked leather seeped through my cloth mask. A guarded carriage rattled down the road upwind of me. I leaned out of my tree and caught a flicker of light from a carriage lamp. The carriage’s blue paint shone, gilded and mud-splattered.
I groaned. “Nobles.”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWonder Woman: Warbringer, Leigh Bardugo

Diana, Princess of the Amazons, longs to prove herself to her warrior sisters. When the opportunity comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law to save a mere mortal. Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer– a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, Diana and Alia will have to stand side by side against the tide of war. (Publisher summary)

First lines:You do not enter a race to lose.
Diana bounced lightly on her toes at the starting line, her calves as taut as bowstrings, her mother’s words reverberating in her ears. A noisy crowd had gathered for the wrestling matches and javelin throws that would mark the start of the Nemeseian Games, but the real event was the footrace, and now the stands were buzzing with word that the queen’s daughter had entered the competition.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBreaking, Danielle Rollins

Charlotte has always been content in the shadow of her two best friends at the prestigious Weston Preparatory Institute. Ariel is daring and mysterious. Devon is beautiful and brilliant. Although Charlotte never lived up to the standards of the school–or her demanding mother, Dr. Gruen–her two best friends became the family she never had. When Ariel and Devon suddenly commit suicide within a month of each other, Charlotte refuses to accept it as a coincidence. But as the clues point to a dangerous secret about Weston Prep, Charlotte is suddenly in over her head. There’s a reason the students of Weston are so exceptional, and the people responsible are willing to kill to protect the truth…(Publisher summary)

First lines: I still think about the blocks.
Their smell seeps into my head – the smell of swadust and chemicals and paint. They used to give me headaches, until, finally, Mother scrubbed them down with bleach and dish soap and left them to dry in the sun. I can feel their weight in my hands. I hear clicks of wood hitting wood as Mother stacked them into their precise, angular tower.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe dazzling heights, Katharine McGee

New York, 2118. Leda is haunted by memories of what happened on the worst night of her life. Watt wants to put everything behind him– until Leda forces him to start hacking again. Rylin wins a scholarship to an upper-floor school, but being there means seeing the boy who broke her heart. Avery is tormented by her love for the one person in the world she can never have. Calliope arrives determined to cause a stir.– and knows exactly where to begin. But someone is watching their every move, someone with revenge in mind. (Publisher summary)

First lines: It would be several hours before the girl’s body was found. It was late now; so late that it could once again be called early- that surreal, enchanted, twilight hour between the end of a party and the unfurling of a new day. The hours when reality grows dim and hazy at the edges, when nearly anything seems possible.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStalking Jack the Ripper, Kerri Maniscalco

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life. Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

First lines: I placed my thumb and forefinger on the icy flesh, spreading it taut and Uncle has showed me. Getting the preliminary incision correct was imperative. I took my time eye the placement of metal on skin, ensuring proper angling for the cleanest cut. I felt Uncle hovering behind me, studying my every move, but had my view set entirely on the blade in my hand.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe language of thorns, Leigh Bardugo

Travel to Grishnaverse, a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price. Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love. (Publisher summary)

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Marrow Thieves, Cherie Dimaline

In a future world ravaged by global warming, people have lost the ability to dream, and the dreamlessness has led to widespread madness. The only people still able to dream are North America’s indigenous population – and it is their marrow that holds the cure for the rest of the world. But getting the marrow – and dreams – means death for the unwilling donors. Driven to flight, a 15-year-old and his companions struggle for survival, attempt to reunite with loved ones, and take refuge from the “recruiters” who seek them out to bring them to the marrow-stealing ‘factories.’ (Publisher summary)

First lines: Mitch was smiling so big his back teeth shone in the soft light of the solar-powered lamp we’d scavenged from someone’s shed.
“Check it out.” He held a bag of Doritos between us – a big bag, too.
“Holy, Mitch! Where’d you get that?” I touched the air-pressurized bag to confirm it was real.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMoonrise, Sarah Crossnan

Joe hasn’t seen his brother for ten years, and it’s for the most brutal of reasons. Ed is on death row. But now Ed’s execution date has been set, and Joe is determined to spend those last weeks with him, no matter what other people think … This poignant, stirring, huge-hearted novel asks big questions. What value do you place on life? What can you forgive? And just how do you say goodbye? (Publisher summary)

First lines: The green phone
on the wall in the hall
hardly ever rang.
Anyone who wanted to speak to Mom called her cell.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWarcross, Marie Lu

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game–it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty-hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships–only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation. Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire. (Publisher Summary)

First lines: It’s too damn cold of a day to be out on a hunt. I shiver, tug my scarf up higher over my mouth, and wipe a few snowflakes from my lashes. Then I slam my boot down on my electric skateboard. The board is old and used, like everything else I own, its blue paint almost entirely scraped off to reveal cheap silver plastic underneath – but it’s not dead yet, and when I push my heel down harder, it finally responds, jerking me forward as I squeeze between two rows of cars.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe loneliest girl in the universe, Lauren James

Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. Their only communication is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean? Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone…(Publisher summary)

First lines: Early yesterday morning, NASA successfully launched the first ever manned spacecraft destined to travel to a different star system. The spacecraft, named The Infinity, is projected to reach the star system Alpha Centauri in less than fifty years, where it will enter orbit around Plant HT 3485c. This exoplanet has a 99.999 percent probability of being habitable, making it the highest scored planet outside our solar system.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe traitor and the thief, Gareth Ward

Discovered picking pockets at Coxford’s Corn Market, fourteen year old Sin is hunted across the city. Caught by the enigmatic Eldritch Moons, Sin is offered a way out of his life of crime: join the Covert Operations Group (COG) and train to become a spy. At Lenheim Palace, Sin learns spy craft while trying not to break the school’s Cast-Iron Rules. Befriended by eccentric Zonda Chubb, together they endeavour to unmask a traitor causing havoc within the palace. After an assassination attempt on the founder of COG, Sin realises that someone closest to him could be the traitor. With no other option, Sin is forced into an uneasy alliance with the school bully, Velvet Von Darque. But can he trust her? And will COG try to bury him with the secrets he discovers? (Publisher summary)

First lines: Sin shadowed the steamtram, hiding in the clouds of vapour spurting from the machine’s giant pistons. He couldn’t afford to get caught. Not now. Not today. The Fixer would never forgive him. He crouched lower. Built short and stocky like a put bull, with a temperament to match, he wanted to front up to the Red Blades, not run and hide. But the Fixer said you had to pick the fights you could win, and he was alone on the other gang’s turf.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA semi-definitive list of worst nightmares, Krystal Sutherland

Each member of 17-year-old Esther Solar’s family is consumed by a different fear. Terrified to leave the house, her father has holed himself up in the basement for six years. Her mother, a believer in ghosts and bad luck, has become addicted to gambling. And due to Esther’s twin brother’s intense fear of the dark, their house is lit 24/7. Esther believes that her family’s propensity for these phobias stems from a curse bestowed on her grandfather years ago, and she dreads discovering a latent terror that will overtake her. Then Jonah, an elementary school acquaintance turned pickpocket, offers to help Esther confront and conquer 50 fears on a list she has assembled. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Esther Solar had been waiting outside Lilac Hill Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for half an hour when she received word that the curse had struck again. Rosemary Solar, her mother, explained over the phone that she would no longer, under any circumstances, be able to pick her daughter up. A cat black as night with demon-yellow slits for eyes had been found sitting atop the hood of the family car – an omen dark enough to prevent her from driving.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSaving Daisy, Phil Earle

Teenage Daisy has lost both her parents, and is overwhelmed with a sense of guilt and isolation, leading her to self-mutilate. She is sent to Bellfield, a child institution, where she must cope both with the other inmates, and her own demons. (Publisher summary)

First lines: You can tell how good a party is by the time that the walls start sweating. I’m not an expert or anything, far from it. It’s just something I’ve noticed. Probably because this is the eighth Friday in a row that someone from a school has opened their house to everyone on Facebook. You’d think after seeing the results once they’d think twice, but nope. Here we were again.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThey both die at the end, Adam Silvera

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure–to live a lifetime in a single day. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Death-Cast is calling with the warning of a lifetime-I’m going to die today. Forget that, “warning” is too strong a word since warnings suggest something can be avoided, like a car honking at someone who’s crossing the street when it isn’t their light, giving them the chance to step back; this is more of a heads-up. The alert, a distinctive and endless gong, like a church bell one block away, is blasting from my phone on the other side of the room.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe epic crush of Genie Lo, F.C. Lee

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie’s every waking thought. But when she discovers she’s a celestial spirit who’s powerful enough to bash through the gates of heaven with her fists, her perfectionist existence is shattered. Enter Quentin, a transfer student from China whose tone-deaf assertiveness beguiles Genie to the brink of madness. Quentin nurtures Genie’s outrageous transformation–sometimes gently, sometimes aggressively–as her sleepy suburb in the Bay Area comes under siege from hell-spawn. (Publisher summary).

First lines: So I didn’t handle the mugging as well as I could have. I would have known what to do if I’d been the victim. Hand over everything quietly. Run away as fast as possible. Go for the eyes if I was cornered. I’d passed the optional SafeStrong girl’s defense seminar at school with flying colors. But we’d never covered what to do when you see six grown men stomping the utter hell out of a boy your age in broad daylight.

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