Compromised, by Heidi Ayarbe (452 pages) – After Maya’s con-man father goes to prison, and she finds no joy in foster homes, she decides to try to find a long-lost aunt. It’s a long, dangerous journey (400 miles!) and the aunt mightn’t even exist.
First line: ‘First they take our flat screen.’
My Boyfriend’s Dogs : The Tales of Adam and Eve and Shirley, by Dandi Daley Mackall (265 pages) – High-school senior Bailey Daley turns up at a diner soaking wet and leading three wet dogs. The diner’s owner invites her in and listens to her story of searching for the perfect boyfriend (and obtaining three dogs).
First line: ‘“My mother says that falling in love and getting dumped is good for you because it prepares you for the real thing, like it gets you ready for true love and all, but I’m thinking it’s more like climbing up the St. Louis Arch and falling off twice.“
Paper Daughter, by Jeanette Ingold (215 pages) – Maggie Chen’s journalist dad is killed in a hit-and-run accident, and her research (for she is a journalist also) soon uncovers illegal activity that may be connected to him. She is determined to uncover the truth, and discovers more about her family’s past than she expected.
First line: ‘“Your, Maggie.” Mom pushed an envelope from the Herald down the counter where I was putting out bread for sandwiches.‘
Sweet 15, by Emily Adler and Alex Echevarria (240 pages) – Destiny Lozada is turning 15, and so a traditional quinceañera (a religious ceremony with party, tiaras and ballgowns) is planned by her parents. Her older sister thinks it’s an outdated and misogynistic ritual. So! Destiny doesn’t want to take sides and, in fact! would rather be skateboarding and watching TV.
First line: ‘Here’s how it went down, the beginning of The End. Breakfast: out of the blue, my mom, in a red bathrobe, with her makeup already on, making coffee in our big yellow kitchen, hit me over the head with “Destiny is having a quinceañera!”‘
Home Beyond the Mountains : A Novel, by Celia Barker Lottridge (224 pages) – It is 1918, and the Turkish army is eradicating the Assyrian and Armenian peoples in the eastern parts of the Ottoman empire. Nine-year-old Samira and her surviving family members are forced from camp to camp for many years before the opportunity to return home presents itself. Based on a true story.
First line: ‘A sound, a very quite sound, woke Samira.‘
Little Miss Red, by Robin Palmer (254 pages) – A summary prepared earlier: ‘Sixteen-year-old Sophie’s dream of meeting her soul mate during spring break in Florida seems to have come true, but she must determine if Jack is really the romantic hero he seems to be, or if ex-boyfriend Michael could be.’
First line: ‘I’m very big on signs. So when the captain announced that our flight to Florida would be delayed because of some last-minute passengers, I took that as yet another sign that this trip was going to be a disaster.‘
For Keeps, by Natasha Friend (267 pages) – Josie lives with her mum, and her father has never been part of the family. Until suddenly he turns up! And Josie also may have found her first, real boyfriend. ‘A fresh, funny, smart story.’
First line: ‘It’s the last Friday night in August, and instead of dancing on a table at Melanie Jaffin’s party with the rest of the soon-to-be junior class, I am crouched behind a tower of Meow Mix in the pet-food aisle of Shop-Co, watching my mother hyperventilate.‘
The Hunchback Assignments, by Arthur Slade (278 pages) – Modo is rescued from a freakshow by the mysterious Mr Socrates as a wee baby. He is subsequently trained as a first-class secret agent for the Permanent Association, who are pitted against the evil Clockwork Guild. Steampunk in a Victorian setting! Based on a true story (just kidding).
First line: ‘Six hunting hounds had perished in previous experiments.‘
Only the Good Spy Young, by Ally Carter (265 pages) – This is the fourth Gallagher Girls book. Gallagher Girls are spies-in-training! Cammie ‘The Chameleon’ is being hunted by an ancient terrorist organisation, and might not be able to trust even her classmates! Ever the way, I suppose.
First line: ‘“Target’s acquired, ten o’clock.” My best friend’s voice was as cool as the wind as it blew off the Thames.‘
The Demon’s Covenant, by Sarah Rees Brennan (442 pages) – This is the sequel to The Demon’s Lexicon, about a world of magicians and demons (obvs).
First line: ‘“Any minute now,” Rachel said, “something terrible is going to happen to us.”‘
Happy as Larry, by Scot Gardner (291 pages) – ‘An extraordinary tale of an ordinary family’, says the cover. ‘Laurence Augustine Rainbow is born into an ordinary family, and seems set for an ordinary life. But as the world around him changes, so does the happiness of his own family,’ says the catalogue, which points out that it is also ‘unique, dark and ultimately uplifting.’ We can trust the catalogue, I feel.
First line: ‘Laurence Augustine Rainbow was born in July 1990.‘
The Mission, Jason Myers (361 pages) – When Kaden’s older brother is killed in Iraq, he follows his late brother’s advice and heads to San Francisco to visit his cousin. His previously sheltered life hasn’t prepared him for what he encounters there, and family secrets further rock his world.
First line: ‘The car creeps to the end of the driveway and turns onto the gravel road, the tires kicking up a small cloud of dust that whips into a spiral in the dead air before disappearing just as quickly as it came.’
Sugar Sugar, by Carole Wilkinson (337 pages) – Jackie leaves Australia and heads to Paris, dreaming of becoming a world-famous fashion designer. Somehow she ends up in Afghanistan! With New Zealanders!
First line: ‘I was dreaming of the sea when the moonlight woke me.‘
The Resurrection Fields : Book Three of The Promises of Dr. Sigmundus, by Brian Kearney (158 pages) – The final installment of this ‘concoction of science fiction, horror, and fantasy’ – ‘Although beset by otherworldly perils, Dante and his best friend Bea continue to be dedicated to the overthrow of Sigmundus and the dark powers that have latched on to his methods of authoritarian mind-control.’ Not based on a true story, but it would be cool if it was.
First line: ‘The storm that had raged over the south of Gehenna had finally blown itself out.‘
The Iron King, by Julie Kagawa (363 pages) – Meghan Chase, the back cover says, has a secret destiny. She is about to learn why she’s never really fit in, and why there’s a stranger watching her… and find love in the process.
First sentence: Ten years ago, on my sixth birthday, my father disappeared.
The Keening, A LaFaye (163 pages) – Set in 1918 which, Twilight fans might know, is when an influenza pandemic roared across the United States. Lyza feels like she’s the talentless member of an artistic family, but when her mother dies and she (Lyza) must help her father find his feet, uncovering her own gifts in the process.
First sentence: As a child who waded in the head-high grass of our cliffside home, I’d harbored a peculiar fondness for funeral marches – the sight of all those people in one long line, each face holding a memory.
The Complete History of Why I Hate Her, Jennifer Richard Jacobson (181 pages) – “Wanting a break from being known only for her sister’s cancer, seventeen-year-old Nola leaves Boston for a waitressing job at a summer resort in Maine, but soon feels as if her new best friend is taking over her life,” says the catalogue.
First sentence: Song is hanging on my arm, afraid I’m going to slip onto the bus and out of her life as quickly as I made the decision to go.
Toads and Diamonds, Heather Tomlinson (276 pages) – a fairytale set in India (in fact a retelling “of the Perrault fairy tale set in pre-colonial India” to be precise (the catalogue comes to the rescue yet again!)). Diribani and Tana both receive something from a goddess, one a blessing and the other a curse, at least this is how it first appears, but “blessings and curses are never so clear as they might seem” (book cover).
First sentence: Diribani ran toward the stepwell.
Alice in Wonderland: A Visual Companion, Mark Salisbury – to the movie, that is. Full of interesting photos and other graphics, and info about how this visual symphony was made.