Undead with benefits, Jeff Hart
Jake and Amanda are in love, on the run—and undead. They’ve teamed up with Cass, who’s ditched her former job as shady government psychic zombie-tracker, and they’re headed across the border into Iowa, where there’s rumored to be a zombie cure. Armed with a trunk full of guinea pigs (aka zombie snacks), they’re ready to take on the Midwest’s first undead warlord, the psycho psychic out for their blood, and their own superawkward love triangle. But the virus is spreading faster than you can say “zombie apocalypse,” and Jake, Amanda, and Cass have to find the cure—if it even exists—before the whole state of Iowa goes up in flames. (Goodreads)
First lines: My first week as a zombie ended when a dark haired psychic collapsed into my arms, blood curling out of her nose, her eyes wide and pleading with me. Behind us: a farmhouse where a hoard of Iowan zombies were still snacking on recently massacred government agents. Around us: Tall grass and the unconscious bodies of our friends, courtesy of some psychic mojo I couldn’t even begin to understand. In front of us: the future, the great unknown, and probably a lot of walking.
The boy I love, Nina de Gramont
Sixteen-year-old Wren has been content to stay in her best friend Allie’s shadow. It doesn’t bother her that Ally gets the cutest guys, the cutest clothes, and even a modeling gig—Wren is happy hanging with the horses on her family’s farm and avoiding the jealousy of other girls. But when Tim, the most intriguing guy in school, starts hanging out with Ally and Wren, jealousy is unavoidable, but not the kind Wren expects. Because even though Ally is way into him and Wren hasn’t flirted, not one little bit, it becomes increasingly clear that Tim prefers Wren’s company above anyone else’s. Tim’s unexpected devotion comes at the exact time Wren’s home life is about to be turned upside down. But at least there is Tim…always a gentleman and ever dependable. But as his own seemingly perfect world comes spiraling down around him and he tells Wren his biggest secret, Wren must decide what she’ll really do for love. (Goodreads)
First lines: I could tell you that the trouble between Allie and me started with Tim Greenlaw, but that wouldn’t be completely true. If I’m going to be honest (and what’s the point of telling this story of I’m not going to be honest?), it’s never been easy having a friend who looks like Allie.
Zodiac, Romina Russell
Rhoma Grace is a 16-year-old student from House Cancer with an unusual way of reading the stars. While her classmates use measurements to make accurate astrological predictions, Rho can’t solve for ‘x’ to save her life—so instead, she looks up at the night sky and makes up stories. When a violent blast strikes the moons of Cancer, sending its ocean planet off-kilter and killing thousands of citizens—including its beloved Guardian—Rho is more surprised than anyone when she is named the House’s new leader. But, a true Cancerian who loves her home fiercely and will protect her people no matter what, Rho accepts. Then, when more Houses fall victim to freak weather catastrophes, Rho starts seeing a pattern in the stars. She suspects Ophiuchus—the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac legend—has returned to exact his revenge across the Galaxy. Now Rho—along with Hysan Dax, a young envoy from House Libra, and Mathias, her guide and a member of her Royal Guard—must travel through the Zodiac to warn the other Guardians. But who will believe anything this young novice says? Whom can Rho trust in a universe defined by differences? And how can she convince twelve worlds to unite as one Zodiac?(Goodreads)
First lines: When U think of home, I see blue. The swirl blue of the seawater, the infinite blue of the sky, the brilliant blue of Mom’s gaze. Sometimes I question if her eyes were really that blue, or if the blue of House Cancer colours them in my memory.
The last leaves falling, Sarah Benwell
Japanese teenager, Sora, is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Lonely and isolated, Sora turns to the ancient wisdom of the samurai for guidance and comfort. But he also finds hope in the present; through the internet he finds friends that see him, not just his illness. (Goodreads)
First lines: I stare at the cursor blinking expectantly at the top of the page. Who do I want to be? There are so many choices; honest, funny, brave. A superhero with a tragic past and a bright, mysterious future; with super strength or telekinetic powers. I could be anyone and they would never know.
Avalon, Mindee Arnett
Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light. Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they’re damn good at it. Jeth doesn’t care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents’ ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he’ll go to get the freedom he’s wanted for so long.(Goodreads)
First lines: Stealing a spaceship shouldn’t be this easy. Jeth Seagrave peered around the corner and counted the number of sentries standing at the docking bay terminal. There were two of them, both sporting the tan uniforms of the local guards, with matching bored expressions. He slipped back before being spotted.
First team, Tim Green
Brock Nickerson is on the run…again. But this time his dad promises it’s going to be different. With his strong left arm, Brock knows he can be a great quarterback, and with the help of his new friend, Mak, he has a plan to beat the odds and make the first team. But the coaches have plans of their own, especially for the kids from the wrong side of the tracks, which is exactly where Brock now lives. Brock is trying to finally fit in, but his father’s past is creeping up on him—and one chance meeting causes everything to come crashing down. Will Brock finally be able to navigate his new life, or will his past force him back on the run? (Goodreads)
First lines: Brock was used to running. It’s just what he and his dad did. He could hear the thump of his own pounding heart. He looked out the window. The darkness outside their racing car was complete. Clouds covered the moon and a light drizzle rushed by in a mist.
Slump, Kevin Waltman
Derrick Bowen’s sophomore year is a grind. He’s been looking forward to the basketball season all summer, but his girlfriend Jasmine leaves him for putting too much focus on basketball. The promise his Marion East basketball team showed at the end of last season isn’t materializing. And the sweet jumper D-Bow worked on all summer just isn’t falling. When Derrick’s father is severely injured in a car crash, Derrick is faced with a new reality where basketball can’t be his only priority. (Goodreads)
First lines: Any other sixteen-year-old gets invited over to his girl’s place to watch a movie and it doesn’t mean they’re going to “watch a movie.” But with Jasmine, it actually means that’s what we’re doing – sitting on the couch in her living room, her tablet between us, checking out Jackie Robinson and 42.
Rat runners, Oisin McGann
Four young criminals. One simple task: steal a mysterious box from the daughter of a dead scientist. They have to follow her, bug her phone, hack her computer, search her home, all without her knowing. But WatchWorld run this city now. On every street are cameras, X-ray scanners, microphones. Terrifying Safe-Guards can see through walls, hear your heartbeat, analyze the smell of your sweat. Their motto? If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear. But Nimmo, Scope, Manikin and FX, who work in the blind-spots of the city’s shady underworld, are soon caught in a maze of deception, treachery and murder… will they make it out of the rat-runs alive?(Goodreads)
First lines: Nimmo heard the whistles and immediately stopped what he was doing. People on the ground floor of the tenement were warning those above. There was a Safe-Guard in the building. He looked at his watch, noting the time. Six-fifteen – three hours before sundown. He needed to be gone before seven, or he’d have to leave the job for another night.
Waiting for Unicorns, Beth Hautala
After her mother dies, twelve-year-old Talia McQuinn goes to the Arctic with her father, a whale researcher. Over the course of one summer, and through several unlikely friendships, Talia learns that stories have the power to connect us, to provide hope, and to pull us out of the darkness.(Goodreads)
First lines: The Inuit woman told me that if I ever saw a unicorn, to close my eyes. Tight.
“Unicorns break your heart,” she said, all the warmth seeping out of her voice. She was warning me against the very thing I was dying to see.
Diamond boy, Michael Williams
“Diamonds for everyone.” That’s what fifteen-year-old Patson Moyo hears when his family arrives in the Marange diamond fields. Soon Patson is working in the mines himself, hoping to find his girazi–the priceless stone that could change his life forever. But when the government’s soldiers comes to Marange, Patson’s world is shattered.(Goodreads)
First lines: How did you get here, Patson? Sometimes the simple questions are the hardest to answer. My tongue lay like a chisel in my mouth; my eyes leaden. I was swimming from a place of no feeling, moving steadily upward into a world of sensation to the dark, throbbing pain that lived in my leg.
Knockout games, G. Neri
Knockout Games is set in modern day St. Louis amidst a disturbing rash of seemingly random attacks on bystanders by a group of urban teenagers in a crew called the TKO club. The protagonist, Erica, is one of a few girls who is down with TKO in part due to her natural skill with a video camera and her ability to make art out of the attacks. (Goodreads)
First lines: It came out of nowhere. The sound of Nikes charging across asphalt – the bounce of baby fat in the black kid’s face- the meat of his fist smashing into a random stranger’s jaw- I heard the SMACK! from where I was standing. Through my lens, I saw the stranger’s cigarette fly out of frame, his eyes rolling back into his head _ and then he just fell. Hard.
The Halcyon Bird, Kat Beyer
Mia has settled into her life with the Della Torres — Milan’s premier demon-catching family, accompanying them to exorcisms and even learning some way to be useful in the family trade. Then Bernardo comes into her life, handsome, well-mannered, someone who makes her forget her impossible crush on Emilio, her cousin. But always lurking in the background is the demon who possessed Mia once before, and who has not given up on possessing her again–this time for good. (Goodreads)
First lines: It was only a small candle. The first match went out, but the second took, and Nonno Giuliano nodded at the tiny flame like an old friend. The man on the floor lay perfectly still, his eyes on the ceiling, in the middle of a rug full of shattered glad, his head twisted at a frightening angle.
Seeker, Arwen Elys Dayton
Quin Kincaid has been put through years of brutal training for what she thinks is the noble purpose of becoming a revered ‘Seeker’. Only when it’s too late does she discover she will be using her new-found knowledge and training to become an assassin. Quin’s new role will take her around the globe, from a remote estate in Scotland to a bustling, futuristic Hong Kong where the past she thought she had escaped will finally catch up with her. (Goodreads)
First lines: It would be nice to make it through alive, Quinn thought, She ducked to the right as her opponent’s sword came whistling past the left side of her body, nearly slicing of her arm. Quin’s own whipsword was coiled in her hand in its whip form. With a crack, she flicked it out, and it solidified into a long sword.
Salt and storm, Kendall Kulper
Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the sea witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe and prosperous at sea. But before she could learn how to control her power, her mother – the first Roe woman in centuries to turn her back on magic – steals Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roe’s power. The one magical remnant left to Avery is the ability to read dreams, and one night she foresees her own murder. Time is running short, both for her and for the people of her island who need the witches’ help to thrive. Avery has never read a dream that hasn’t come true, but a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane tells her he can help her change her fate. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected. And as she falls in love with Tane, she learns it is his life and hers that hang in the balance. (Goodreads)
First lines: Despite my mother’s best efforts, I never forgot the day my grandmother taught me how to tie the winds. That was ten years ago, when Prince Island was more than just a rock out in the Atlantic Ocean, when its docks choked with ships, when the factory furnaces spat out a constant stream of thick black smoke and the island’s bars spat out a constant stream of laughing men, their faces round and shiny.
A cold legacy, Megan Shepherd
After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.
Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own. (Goodreads)
First lines: The last traveller’s inn on the road from Inverness was no place to die. Freezing rain lashed the windowpanes as I huddled over a warm bowl of soup in a corner of the inn’s ground floor tavern. Across the table, Montgomery rubbed a scar on his arm and stared out the window, scanning the muddy road for signs we were being pursued.