Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2015. YA books have become a permanent part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, I’ve had to spread my YA picks over three posts. This is the first one. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!
Kate Axelrod – The Law of Loving Others (Razorbill, Contemporary)
“THE LAW OF LOVING OTHERS . . .
Hours after Emma returns home from boarding school, she realizes that her mom is suffering from a schizophrenic break. Suddenly, Emma’s entire childhood and identity is called into question.
COULD NOT BE DISCOVERED BY REASON,
Desperate for answers, Emma turns to her boyfriend, Daniel. Will he love her even if she goes crazy too? But it’s the lonely, brooding boy Emma meets while visiting her mother at the hospital who really understands Emma. Phil encourages Emma’s reckless need for hurt and pain in the face of all this change and she is soon caught in a complicated spiral of loss and mistrust.
BECAUSE IT IS UNREASONABLE.”
In the span of just one winter break, Emma’s relationships alter forever and she is forced to see the wisdom in a line from Anna Karenina: “The law of loving others could not be discovered by reason, because it is unreasonable.”
Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind…
Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lillias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there’s her other cousin.
The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn’t be there.
Holly Black – The Darkest Part of the Forest (Indigo, Fantasy)
Faeries. Knights. Princes. True love. Think you know how the story goes? Think again…
Near the little town of Fairfold, in the darkest part of the forest, lies a glass casket. Inside the casket lies a sleeping faerie prince that none can rouse. He’s the most fascinating thing Hazel and her brother Ben have ever seen. They dream of waking him – but what happens when dreams come true? In the darkest part of the forest, you must be careful what you wish for…
NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Holly Black spins a dark, dangerous and utterly beautiful faerie tale, guaranteed to steal your heart.
Holly Black is a NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author, co-creator of The Spiderwick Chronicles and author of YA novels including the widely acclaimed THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN.
John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard – Empire (Headline, SF)
EMPIRE is the follow-up to CONQUEST in the epic Chronicles of the Invaders trilogy by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard. As captivating as Pittacus Lore’s I AM NUMBER FOUR; as vividly realised as Veronica Roth’s DIVERGENT.
She is the trophy of a civilization at war with itself.
He is its rebel captive.
Separated by millions of light years, they will fight to be united.
And they will risk everything to make their world – all worlds – right again.
Dave Cousins – Waiting for Gonzo (Flux, Contemporary)
Things could be going better for Oz. He’s just moved miles from all his friends. A prank at his new school puts him in the crosshairs of “Psycho” Isobel Skinner, a bully who also happens to be his mum’s new best friend. And he’s driven off the only other kid who will have anything to do with him: a Tolkien-obsessed boy in desperate need of a decent playlist.
With his life careening out of control, Oz sets about making things right. But when he stumbles on his sister’s game-changing secret, Oz is left wondering if he can ever get his old life back . . . or if he’s stuck forever in this craziness.
Comic and heartwarming, Waiting for Gonzo is about discovering when to play the cards you’re dealt and when to shuffle the deck and deal your own hand.
Katie Coyle – Vivian Apple at the End of the World (HMH Books for Young Readers, Fantasy)
Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple never believed in the evangelical Church of America, unlike her recently devout parents. But when Vivian returns home the night after the supposed “Rapture,” all that’s left of her parents are two holes in the roof. Suddenly, she doesn’t know who or what to believe. With her best friend Harp and a mysterious ally, Peter, Vivian embarks on a desperate cross-country roadtrip through a paranoid and panic-stricken America to find answers. Because at the end of the world, Vivan Apple isn’t looking for a savior. She’s looking for the truth.
Sarah Cross – Tear You Apart (Egmont USA, Fantasy)
Faced with a possible loophole to her “Snow White” curse, Viv goes underground, literally, to find the prince who’s fated to rescue her. But is life safe in the Underworld worth the price of sacrificing the love that might kill her?
Michelle Falkoff – Playlist for the Dead (HarperTeen, Contemporary)
A teenage boy tries to understand his best friend’s suicide by listening to the playlist of songs he left behind in this smart, voice-driven debut novel.
Here’s what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you’ll understand.
As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it’s only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.
Part mystery, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale in the vein of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now, Playlist for the Dead is an honest and gut-wrenching first novel about loss, rage, what it feels like to outgrow a friendship that’s always defined you—and the struggle to redefine yourself. But above all, it’s about finding hope when hope seems like the hardest thing to find.
Steve Feasey – Mutant City (Bloomsbury USA Childrens, SF)
Fifty years ago, the world was almost destroyed by a chemical war. Now the world is divided: the mutants and the pure, the broken and the privileged, the damaged and the perfect.
Thirteen years ago, a covert government experimental facility was shut down and its residents killed. The secrets it held died with them. But five extraordinary kids survived.
Today four teenagers are about to discover that their mutant blood brings with it special powers. Rush and three brothers and sisters he can’t remember. Two rival factions are chasing them. One by one, they face the enemy. Together, they might just stay alive . . .
AJ Flynn has just failed all but one of his GCSEs, and his future is looking far from rosy. So when he is offered a junior position at a London law firm he hopes his life is about to change – but he could never have imagined by how much.
Tidying up the archive one day, AJ finds an old key, mysteriously labelled with his name and date of birth – and he becomes determined to find the door that fits the key. And so begins an amazing journey to a very real and tangible past – 1830, to be precise – where the streets of modern Clerkenwell are replaced with cobbles and carts, and the law can be twisted to suit a villain’s means. Although life in 1830 is cheap, AJ and his friends quickly find that their own lives have much more value. They’ve gone from sad youth statistics to young men with purpose – and at the heart of everything lies a crime that only they can solve. But with enemies all around, can they unravel the mysteries of the past, before it unravels them?
A fast-paced mystery novel by one of the country’s finest writers, THE DOOR THAT LED TO WHERE will delight, surprise and mesmerise all those who read it.
J.R. Johansson – Cut Me Free (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Crime)
Seventeen-year-old Charlotte barely escaped from her abusive parents. Her little brother, Sam, wasn’t as lucky. Now she’s trying to begin the new life she always dreamed of for them, but never thought she’d have to experience alone. She’s hired a techie-genius with a knack for forgery to remove the last ties to her old life. But while she can erase her former identity, she can’t rid herself of the memories. And her troubled history won’t let her ignore the little girl she sees one day in the park. The girl with the bruises and burn marks.That’s when Charlotte begins to receive the messages. Threatening notes left in her apartment–without a trace of entry. And they’re addressed to Piper, her old name. As the messages grow in frequency, she doesn’t just need to uncover who is leaving them; she needs to stop whoever it is before anyone else she loves ends up dead.
Shortly after, she and her mother will leave the hospital and set out on a winding journey toward the Grand Canyon.
All Shelby knows is that they’re running from dangers only her mother understands. And the further they travel, the more Shelby questions everything about her past-and her current reality. Forced to take advantage of the kindness of unsuspecting travelers, Shelby grapples with what’s real, what isn’t, and who she can trust . . . if anybody.
Award-winning author Nick Lake proves his skills as a master storyteller in this heart-pounding new novel. This emotionally charged thrill ride leads to a shocking ending that will have readers flipping back to the beginning.
Young, rich and good-looking, Izzy and her friends lead seemingly perfect lives. But exams are looming – and at a school like Clerkenwell, failure is not an option.
Luckily, Tigs has a solution. A small pill that will make revision a breeze and help them get the results they need. Desperate to succeed, the friends begin taking the study drug.
But as the side effects take hold they realize there are far worse things than failing a few exams.
Jason Reynolds – The Boy in the Black Suit (Atheneum, Contemporary)
Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more—and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down—in this wry, gritty novel from the author of When I Was the Greatest.
Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died—although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. She’s got a crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness—and who can maybe even help take it away.
Willa Strayhorn – The Way We Bared Our Souls (Razorbill, Contemporary)
If you could trade your biggest burden for someone else’s, would you do it?
Five teenagers sit around a bonfire in the middle of the New Mexico desert. They don’t know it yet, but they are about to make the biggest sacrifice of their lives.
Lo has a family history of MS, and is starting to come down with all the symptoms.
Thomas, a former child soldier from Liberia, is plagued by traumatic memories of his war-torn past.
Kaya would do anything to feel physical pain, but a rare condition called CIP keeps her numb.
Ellen can’t remember who she was before she started doing drugs.
Kit lost his girlfriend in a car accident and now he just can’t shake his newfound fear of death.
When they trade totems as a symbol of shedding and adopting one another’s sorrows, they think it’s only an exercise.
But in the morning, they wake to find their burdens gone…and replaced with someone else’s.
As the reality of the ritual unfolds, this unlikely group of five embarks on a week of beautiful, terrifying experiences that all culminate in one perfect truth: In the end, your soul is stronger than your burdens.
Everyone knows that. And that’s kinda how she likes it-until the day Atlanta is drawn into a battle against two groups of bullies and saves a pair of new, unexpected friends. But actions have consequences, and when another teen turns up dead-by an apparent suicide-Atlanta knows foul play is involved. And worse: she knows it’s her fault. You go poking rattlesnakes, maybe you get bit.
Afraid of stirring up the snakes further by investigating, Atlanta turns her focus to the killing of a neighborhood dog. All paths lead to a rural dogfighting ring, and once more Atlanta finds herself face-to-face with bullies of the worst sort. Atlanta cannot abide letting bad men do awful things to those who don’t deserve it. So she sets out to unleash her own brand of teenage justice.
Will Atlanta triumph? Or is fighting back just asking for a face full of bad news?
Thorn is such a girl. Desperate to avenge her dead father, she lives to fight. But she has been named murderer by the very man who trained her to kill.
SOMETIMES A WOMAN BECOMES A WARRIOR
Fate traps her in the schemes – and on the ship – of the deep-cunning minister Father Yarvi. Crossing half the world to find allies against the ruthless High King, she learns harsh lessons of blood and deceit.
SOMETIMES A WARRIOR BECOMES A WEAPON
Beside her on her gruelling journey is Brand, a young warrior who hates to kill. A failure in his eyes and hers, he has one chance at redemption.
AND WEAPONS ARE MADE FOR ONE PURPOSE
Will Thorn forever be a tool in the hands of the powerful or can she carve her own path? Is there a place beyond legend for a woman with a blade?
Courtney Alameda – Shutter (Feiwel & Friends, Horror)
Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She’s aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera’s technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.
When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn’t exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she’s faced before . . . or die trying.
Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week.
Katie van Ark – The Boy Next Door (Swoon Reads, Romance)
Maddy Spier’s been in love with the boy next door forever. As his figure skating partner she spends time in his arms every day. But she’s also seen his arms around other girls—lots of other girls. How can she make him realize that they can be partners off the ice as well?
Gabe’s relationship with Maddy is vital. He can’t imagine skating with anyone else, and together they have a real chance at gold–maybe even making it to the Olympics! So he’s decided to think of her as a sister. After all, family is forever, but he’s never dated anyone for more than two weeks.
Then their coach assigns a new romantic skating program, and everything changes. Will this be the big break that Maddy’s been hoping for or the big break-up that Gabe has always feared?
Karen Bao – Dove Arising (Viking’s Children’s Books, SF)
Phaet Theta has lived her whole life in a colony on the Moon. She’s barely spoken since her father died in an accident nine years ago. She cultivates the plants in Greenhouse 22, lets her best friend talk for her, and stays off the government’s radar.
Then her mother is arrested.
The only way to save her younger siblings from the degrading Shelter is by enlisting in the Militia, the faceless army that polices the Lunar bases and protects them from attacks by desperate Earth-dwellers. Training is brutal, but it’s where Phaet forms an uneasy but meaningful alliance with the preternaturally accomplished Wes, a fellow outsider.
Rank high, save her siblings, free her mom: that’s the plan. Until Phaet’s logically ordered world begins to crumble…
Suspenseful, intelligent, and hauntingly prescient, Dove Arising stands on the shoulders of our greatest tales of the future to tell a story that is all too relevant today.
Bryan Bliss – No Parking at the End Times (Greenwillow Books, Contemporary)
Abigail’s parents have made mistake after mistake, and now they’ve lost everything. She’s left to decide: Does she still believe in them? Or is it time to believe in herself? Fans of Sara Zarr, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell will connect with this moving debut.
Abigail doesn’t know how her dad found Brother John. Maybe it was the billboards. Or the radio. What she does know is that he never should have made that first donation. Or the next, or the next. Her parents shouldn’t have sold their house. Or packed Abigail and her twin brother, Aaron, into their old van to drive across the country to San Francisco, to be there with Brother John for the “end of the world.” Because of course the end didn’t come. And now they’re living in their van. And Aaron’s disappearing to who-knows-where every night. Their family is falling apart. All Abigail wants is to hold them together, to get them back to the place where things were right. But maybe it’s too big a task for one teenage girl. Bryan Bliss’s thoughtful, literary debut novel is about losing everything—and about what you will do for the people you love.
Harper is used to her family being hounded by protestors. Her father runs the company that trademarked the “Memtex” procedure to wipe away sad memories, and plenty of people think it shouldn’t be legal. Then a new demonstrator crosses her path, Neil, who’s as persistent as he is hot. Not that Harper’s noticing, since she already has a boyfriend.
When Harper suffers a loss, she’s shocked her father won’t allow her to get the treatment, so she finds a way to get it without his approval. Soon afterward, she’s plagued with strange symptoms, including hallucinations of a woman who is somehow both a stranger, yet incredibly familiar. Harper begins to wonder if she is delusional, or if these are somehow memories.
Together with Neil, who insists he has his own reasons for needing answers about the real dangers of Memtex, Harper begins her search for the truth. What she finds could uproot all she’s ever believed about her life…
One strong Alpha twin and one mutated Omega; the only thing they share is the moment of their death.
The Omegas live in segregation, cast out by their families as soon as their mutation becomes clear. Forced to live apart, they are ruthlessly oppressed by their Alpha counterparts.
The Alphas are the elite. Once their weaker twin has been cast aside, they’re free to live in privilege and safety, their Omega twin far from their thoughts.
Cass and Zach are both perfect on the outside: no missing limbs, no visible Omega mutation. But Cass has a secret: one that Zach will stop at nothing to expose.
The potential to change the world lies in both their hands. One will have to defeat the other to see their vision of the future come to pass, but if they’re not careful both will die in the struggle for power.
Cat Hellisen – Beastkeeper (Henry Holt and Co., Fantasy)
Sarah has always been on the move. Her mother hates the cold, so every few months her parents pack their bags and drag her off after the sun. She’s grown up lonely and longing for magic. She doesn’t know that it’s magic her parents are running from.
When Sarah’s mother walks out on their family, all the strange old magic they have tried to hide from comes rising into their mundane world. Her father begins to change into something wild and beastly, but before his transformation is complete, he takes Sarah to her grandparents—people she has never met, didn’t even know were still alive.
Deep in the forest, in a crumbling ruin of a castle, Sarah begins to untangle the layers of curses affecting her family bloodlines, until she discovers that the curse has carried over to her, too. The day she falls in love for the first time, Sarah will transform into a beast . . . unless she can figure out a way to break the curse forever.
Kathryn Holmes – The Distance Between Lost and Found (HarperTeen, Contemporary)
Sophomore Hallie Calhoun has just endured the most excruciating six months of her life. After the rumors about her and the preacher’s son, Luke, made their way around school, her friends abandoned her, and Hallie has completely withdrawn.
Now on a hike in the Smoky Mountains with the same people who have relentlessly taunted her, Hallie is pushed to her limit. Then Hallie, friendly newcomer Rachel, and Jonah—Hallie’s former friend—get separated from the group. Days go by without rescue, and their struggle for survival turns deadly. Stranded in the wilderness, the three have no choice but to trust one another in order to stay alive…and Hallie is forced to face the truth about what really happened that night with Luke.
From the cutthroat atmosphere of high school to the unpredictable terrain of the mountains, this debut is a poignant, raw journey about finding yourself after having been lost for so long.
Deborah Hopkinson – The Great Trouble (Yearling, Historical Fiction)
Eel has troubles of his own: As an orphan and a “mudlark,” he spends his days in the filthy River Thames, searching for bits of things to sell. He’s being hunted by Fisheye Bill Tyler, and a nastier man never walked the streets of London. And he’s got a secret that costs him four precious shillings a week to keep safe. But even for Eel, things aren’t so bad until that fateful August day in 1854—the day the deadly cholera (“blue death”) comes to Broad Street.
Everyone believes that cholera is spread through poisonous air. But one man, Dr. John Snow, has a different theory. As the epidemic surges, it’s up to Eel and his best friend, Florrie, to gather evidence to prove Dr. Snow’s theory—before the entire neighborhood is wiped out.
A new generation of heroines has arrived.
The battle is over. Edinburgh stands in ruins. Only Alieana Kameron, former heiress and debutante, now murderess and fae-slayer, remains amid the destruction.
Humanity has moved on – but the war has only just begun.
Sylvia McNicoll – Best Friends through Eternity (Tundra Books, Contemporary)
Inspired by the true story of a teen who was killed at a railway crossing, the author weaves the tale of fourteen-year-old Paige, who, taking a shortcut alongside the tracks to avoid the school bullies, is tragically hit by a train and transported to a surreal world where she encounters Kim, who died seven years before. Convinced she is only dreaming, Paige must discover a way to return to her former life. Poignant, gripping, and full of unexpected twists and turns, Best Friends through Eternity will resonate with readers who have struggled with cultural identity, a sense of belonging, and the real meaning of home.
Megan Miranda – Soulprint (Bloomsbury USA, SF)
Alina Chase has spent her entire life in confinement. With the science of soul-printing now a reality, she is ‘protected’ for her own safety – and the safety of others – because her soul has done terrible things … or so she’s told. When Alina finally breaks out of prison, helped by a group of people with unclear motives, she begins to uncover clues left by her past life that only she can decipher. And she may not be as innocent as she once believed. Can Alina change her future, or is she fated to repeat her past and face the consequences? Perfect for fans of Sophie McKenzie.
CJ Omololu – The Third Twin (Delacorte Books, Mystery)
When they were little, Lexi and her identical twin, Ava, made up a third sister, Alicia. If something broke? Alicia did it. Cookies got eaten? Alicia’s guilty. Alicia was always to blame for everything.
The game is all grown up now that the girls are seniors. They use Alicia as their cover to go out with boys who are hot but not exactly dating material. Boys they’d never, ever be with in real life.
Now one of the guys Alicia went out with has turned up dead, and Lexi wants to stop the game for good. As coincidences start piling up, Ava insists that if they follow the rules for being Alicia, everything will be fine. But when another boy is killed, the DNA evidence and surveillance photos point to only one suspect—Alicia. The girl who doesn’t exist.
As she runs from the cops, Lexi has to find the truth before another boy is murdered. Because either Ava is a killer . . . or Alicia is real.
Kristen Simmons – The Glass Arrow (Tor Teen, SF)
Once there was a time when men and women lived as equals, when girls were valued, and women could belong only to themselves. But that was ten generations ago. Now women are property, to be sold and owned and bred, while a strict census keeps their numbers manageable and under control. The best any girl can hope for is to end up as some man’s forever wife, but most are simply sold and resold until they’re all used up.
Only in the wilderness, away from the city, can true freedom be found. Aya has spent her whole life in the mountains, looking out for her family and hiding from the world, until the day the Trackers finally catch her.
Stolen from her home, and being groomed for auction, Aya is desperate to escape her fate and return to her family, but her only allies are a loyal wolf she’s raised from a pup and a strange mute boy who may be her best hope for freedom . . . if she can truly trust him.
One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.
Her family is long dead. Her “true love” is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.
As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.
Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world…and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.
Renée Watson – This Side of Home (Bloomsbury USA Childrens, Contemporary)
Identical twins Nikki and Maya have been on the same page for everything-friends, school, boys and starting off their adult lives at a historically African-American college. But as their neighborhood goes from rough-and-tumble to up-and-coming, suddenly filled with pretty coffee shops and boutiques, Nikki is thrilled while Maya feels like their home is slipping away. Suddenly, the sisters who had always shared everything must confront their dissenting feelings on the importance of their ethnic and cultural identities and, in the process, learn to separate themselves from the long shadow of their identity as twins.
In her inspired YA debut, Renee Watson explores the experience of young African-American women navigating the traditions and expectations of their culture.
Jasmine Warga – My Heart and Other Black Holes (Hodder & Stoughton, Contemporary)
Aysel and Roman are practically strangers, but they’ve been drawn into an unthinkable partnership. In a month’s time, they plan to commit suicide – together.
Aysel knows why she wants to die: being the daughter of a murderer doesn’t equal normal, well-adjusted teenager. But she can’t figure out why handsome, popular Roman wants to end it all….and why he’s even more determined than she is.
With the deadline getting closer, something starts to grow between Aysel and Roman – a feeling she never thought she would experience. It seems there might be something to live for, after all – but is Aysel in so deep she can’t turn back?
Carly Anne West – The Bargaining (Simon Pulse, Horror)
The fact that neither of her parents wants to deal with her is nothing new to Penny. She’s used to being discussed like a problem, a problem her mother has finally passed on to her father. What she hasn’t gotten used to is her stepmother…especially when she finds out what she’ll have to spend the summer with April in the remote woods of Washington to restore a broken-down old house.
Set deep in a dense forest, the old Carver House is filled with abandoned antique furniture, rich architectural details, and its own chilling past. The only respite Penny can find away from April’s renovations is in Miller, the young guy who runs the local general store. He’s her only chance at a normal, and enjoyable, summer.
But Miller has his own connection to the Carver house, and it’s one that goes beyond the mysterious tapping Penny hears at her window, the handprints she finds smudging the glass panes, and the visions of children who beckon Penny to follow them into the dark woods. Miller’s past just might threaten to become the terror of Penny’s future…
Natalie Whipple – Fish out of Water (Hot Key Books, Contemporary)
‘People like to think fish don’t have feelings – it’s easier that way – but as I watch the last guppy squirm in his bag, his eyes seem to plead with me. I get the sense that it knows just as well as I do that bad things are on the horizon.’
Mika Arlington has her perfect summer all planned out, but the arrival of both her estranged grandmother and too-cool Dylan are going to make some very big waves in her life.
Told with Natalie Whipple’s signature whip-smart wit and warmth, this is a story about prejudice, growing up and the true meaning of sticking by your family.
Ann Angel (ed.) – Things I’ll Never Say (Candlewick Press, Contemporary)
A baby no one knows about. A dangerous hidden identity. Off-limits hookups. A parent whose problems your friends won’t understand. Everyone keeps secrets—from themselves, from their families, from their friends—and secrets have a habit of shaping the lives around them. Acclaimed author Ann Angel brings together some of today’s most gifted YA authors to explore, in a variety of genres, the nature of secrets: Do they make you stronger or weaker? Do they alter your world when revealed? Do they divide your life into what you’ll tell and what you won’t? The one thing these diverse stories share is a glimpse into the secret self we all keep hidden.
David Arnold – Mosquitoland (Viking’s Children’s Books, Contemporary)
I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.
After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.
So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.
Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, Mosquitoland is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.
The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.
That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.
Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.
But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart . . .
Jennifer Banash – Silent Alarm (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Contemporary)
Alys’s whole world was comprised of the history project that was due, her upcoming violin audition, being held tightly in the arms of her boyfriend, Ben, and laughing with her best friend, Delilah. At least it was—until she found herself on the wrong end of a shotgun in the school library. Her suburban high school had become one of those places you hear about on the news—a place where some disaffected youth decided to end it all and take as many of his teachers and classmates with him as he could. Except, in this story, that youth was Alys’s own brother, Luke. He killed fifteen others and himself, but spared her—though she’ll never know why.
Alys’s downward spiral begins instantly, and there seems to be no bottom. A heartbreaking and beautifully told story.
Heather Brewer – The Cemetery Boys (HarperTeen, Horror)
Part Hitchcock, part Hinton, this first-ever standalone novel from New York Times bestselling author Heather Brewer uses classic horror elements to tell a darkly funny coming-of-age story about the dangerous power of belief and the cost of blind loyalty.
When Stephen’s dad says they’re moving, Stephen knows it’s pointless to argue. They’re broke from paying Mom’s hospital bills, and now the only option left is to live with Stephen’s grandmother in Spencer, a backward small town that’s like something out of The Twilight Zone. Population: 814.
Stephen’s summer starts looking up when he meets punk girl Cara and her charismatic twin brother, Devon. With Cara, he feels safe and understood—and yeah, okay, she’s totally hot. In Devon and his group, he sees a chance at making real friends. Only, as the summer presses on, and harmless nights hanging out in the cemetery take a darker turn, Stephen starts to suspect that Devon is less a friend than a leader. And he might be leading them to a very sinister end….
After the fall of South Vietnam, fourteen-year-old Mai, a young Vietnamese girl of Chinese descent, is torn from a life of privilege and protection and forced to flee in the hold of a fishing trawler across the South China Sea. Mai finds tenuous safety in a refugee camp on an island off the coast of Malaysia, where she is taken in by Small Auntie, a greedy relative who demands payment for her hospitality. With her father’s words, “You must survive,” echoing in her ears, Mai endures the hardships of the camp, tempered only by dreams of being sponsored by her uncle in Philadelphia for entry into America.
When an accident forces Mai to flee from the safety of her temporary family, she meets a half-American boy named Kien who might be the only person who can keep her alive until she’s sent to the US.
On the southernmost tip of Wilde Island–far from the Dragonswood sanctuary and the Pendragon Castle–live the native Euit people. Uma, who is half Euit and half English, and not fully accepted by her tribe, wants to become a healer like her Euit father. But the mad English queen in the north, desperate for another child, kidnaps Uma and her father and demands that he cure her barrenness. After her father dies, Uma must ensure that the queen is with child by the time of the Dragon Moon, or be burned at the stake.
Terrified and alone, Uma reaches out to her only possible ally: the king’s nephew Jackrun, a fiery dragonrider with dragon, fairy, and human blood. Together, they must navigate through a sea of untold secrets, unveil a dark plot spawned long ago in Dragonswood, and find a way to accept all the elements–Euit, English, dragon, and fairy–that make them who they are.
Sam Hunter’s neighbours are pillars of the community, the most influential people in town. But they’re liars too. The Greenhills are hiding something and Sam’s determined to find out what it is. As his investigation unfolds, he realizes the lies reach further than he ever imagined – is there anyone he can trust? Uncovering the horror is one thing … escaping is another.
A chilling new story in the Red Eye series.
Erin Entrada Kelly – Blackbird Fly (Greenwillow Books, Contemporary)
Future rock star, or friendless misfit? That’s no choice at all. In this debut tween novel, twelve-year-old Apple grapples with being different; with friends and backstabbers and following her dreams. For fans of Wendy Mass and Wendelin Van Draanen.
Apple has always felt a little different from her classmates. She and her mother moved to Louisiana from the Philippines when she was little, and her mother still cooks Filipino foods, makes mistakes with her English, and chastises Apple for becoming “too American.” It becomes unbearable in middle school, when the boys—the stupid, stupid boys—in Apple’s class put her name on the Dog Log, the list of the most unpopular girls in school. When Apple’s friends turn on her and everything about her life starts to seem weird and embarrassing, Apple turns to music. If she can just save enough to buy a guitar and learn to play, maybe she can change herself. It might be the music that saves her . . . or it might be her two new friends, who show how special she really is. Erin Entrada Kelly deftly brings Apple’s conflicted emotions to the page in her debut novel about family, friendship, popularity, and going your own way.
Gavin Extence – The Mirror World of Melody Black (Hodder & Stoughton, Contemporary)
Life has its ups and downs. From the author of The Universe Versus Alex Woods comes a dark, painful and witty novel about a woman whose life is spiralling out of control.
You’re going to find some of my actions frustrating. I’m hard to live with, maddening, uneven – I get that. But I can’t stand around listing my faults or we’ll be here for ever. All I ask right now is that you indulge me. For as long as it lasts, this is going to be one hell of a ride.
Peggy Kern – Little Peach (Balzer + Bray, Crime)
In the tradition of Patricia McCormick and Ellen Hopkins comes this powerful novel, the riveting story of a runaway who is lured into prostitution by a manipulative pimp.
What do you do if you’re in trouble?
When Michelle runs away from her drug-addicted mother, she has just enough money to make it to New York City, where she hopes to move in with a friend. But once she arrives at the bustling Port Authority, she is confronted with the terrifying truth: she is alone and out of options.
Then she meets Devon, a good-looking, well-dressed guy who emerges from the crowd armed with a kind smile, a place for her to stay, and eyes that seem to understand exactly how she feels.
But Devon is not what he seems to be, and soon Michelle finds herself engulfed in the world of child prostitution where he becomes her “Daddy” and she his “Little Peach.” It is a world of impossible choices, where the line between love and abuse, captor and savior, is blurred beyond recognition.
This hauntingly vivid story illustrates the human spirit’s indomitable search for home, and one girl’s struggle to survive.
Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.
This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.
Liana Liu – The Memory Key (HarperTeen, SF)
In a five-minutes-into-the-future world, a bereaved daughter must choose between losing memories of her mother to the haze of time and the reality-distorting, visceral pain of complete, perfect recall.
Lora Mint is determined not to forget.
Though her mother’s been dead for five years, Lora struggles to remember every detail about her—most importantly, the specific events that occurred the night she sped off in her car, never to return.
But in a world ravaged by Vergets disease, a viral form of Alzheimer’s, that isn’t easy. Usually Lora is aided by her memory key, a standard-issue chip embedded in her brain that preserves memories just the way a human brain would. Then a minor accident damages Lora’s key, and her memories go haywire. Suddenly Lora remembers a moment from the night of her mother’s disappearance that indicates her death was no accident. Can she trust these formerly forgotten memories? Or is her ability to remember every painful part of her past driving her slowly mad—burying the truth forever?
Lora’s longing for her lost mother and journey to patch up her broken memories is filled with authentic and poignant emotion. Her race to uncover the truth is a twisty ride. In the end, Liana Liu’s story will spark topical conversations about memory and privacy in a world that is reliant on increasingly invasive forms of technology.
Jodi Meadows – The Orphan Queen (Katherine Tegen Books, Fantasy)
When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Princess Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.
Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.
Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others….
Wendy Mills – Positively Beautiful (Bloomsbury USA Childrens, Contemporary)
Erin Bailey’s life changes forever the day her mom is diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s always just been Erin and Mom, so living without her is not an option. Life takes another turn when the cancer is linked to a rare genetic mutation, and Erin must grapple with the decision of whether or not to have her own DNA tested. Her only outlets are flying lessons, where looking to the horizon calms her deepest fears, and her new friend Ashley, a girl she met in an online support group. But when a flash decision has Erin flying away to find her new friend, she embarks on a journey from the depths of despair to new love and a better understanding of the true meaning of beauty.
This thought-provoking story brings readers to the emotional brink and back again, as they experience Erin’s fear, her frustration, and ultimately . . . her freedom.
Vivian was raised with one purpose in life: to exact revenge on behalf of her mother. Manipulative and cruel, Mother has deprived Vivian not only of a childhood, but of an original identity. With an endless arsenal of enticing personalities at her disposal, Vivian is a veritable weapon of deception.
And she can destroy anyone.
When it’s time to strike, she enrolls in a boarding school on the English moors, where she will zero in on her target: sweet and innocent Ben, the son of the man who broke Mother’s heart twenty years ago.
Anyone…except for the woman who created her.
With every secret she uncovers, Vivian comes one step closer to learning who she really is. But the more she learns about herself, the more dangerous this cat and mouse game becomes. Because Mother will stop at nothing to make sure the truth dies with her.
Hannah Moskowitz – Not Otherwise Specified (Simon Pulse, Contemporary)
Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.
Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; and not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere— until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca seems like Etta’s salvation, but how can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?
The latest powerful, original novel from Hannah Moskowitz is the story about living in and outside communities and stereotypes, and defining your own identity.
Diane C. Mullen – Tagged (Charlesbridge, Contemporary)
Liam is a fourteen-year-old graffiti artist living in project housing in Minneapolis with his single mother and three younger siblings. When Liam’s estranged older brother coerces him to tag a graffiti symbol for a rival gang, Liam’s life is threatened. Due to his apathetic attitude in the classroom and on the baseball field, Liam’s private-school scholarship is also threatened. His mother decides to send him to Lake Michigan for the summer to live with her best friend, Kat, a sculptor and art teacher, Liam soon delves into the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Pablo Picasso, and his own personal aesthetics. He’s encouraged to consider his art seriously and how it might contribute to a greater community. Having to decide between staying with Kat and returning home to his siblings who need him, Liam’s story inspires him to reinvent himself for the better.
Nova Ren Suma – The Walls Around Us (Algonquin Young Readers, Mystery)
The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices—one still living and one long dead. On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of a girls’ juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying these two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries.
We hear Amber’s story and Violet’s, and through them Orianna’s, first from one angle, then from another, until gradually we begin to get the whole picture—which is not necessarily the one that either Amber or Violet wants us to see.
Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and innocence, and what happens when one is mistaken for the other.
Laura Ruby – Bone Gap (Balzer + Bray, Fantasy)
From acclaimed author Laura Ruby comes a fascinating, powerful, and wholly original novel about a beautiful young woman, a haunted young man, and a secretive Midwestern town.
Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years ago, their mother hightailed it to Oregon for a brand-new guy, a brand-new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?
Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turn up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.
As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.
Aisha Saeed – Written in the Stars (Nancy Paulsen Books, Contemporary)
This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?
Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.
You fight or you die.
Imagine a nightmare from which there is no escape.
Seventeen-year-old Chan’s ancestors left a dying Earth hundreds of years ago, in search of a new home. They never found one.
This is a hell where no one can hide.
The only life that Chan’s ever known is one of violence, of fighting. Of trying to survive.
This is a ship of death, of murderers and cults and gangs.
But there might be a way to escape. In order to find it, Chan must head way down into the darkness – a place of buried secrets, long-forgotten lies, and the abandoned bodies of the dead.
This is Australia.
Seventeen-year-old Chan, fiercely independent and self-sufficient, keeps her head down and lives quietly, careful not to draw attention to herself amidst the violence and disorder. Until the day she makes an extraordinary discovery – a way to return the Australia to Earth. But doing so would bring her to the attention of the fanatics and the murderers who control life aboard the ship, putting her and everyone she loves in terrible danger.
And a safe return to Earth is by no means certain.