Coaltown Jesus by Ron Koertge – Written in verse, this treatment of a teen’s grief when his brother dies has no pretensions of finding an easy way through deep or uncomfortable emotions. And despite the title, Walker’s own humanity is what draws us to him and allows us to be satisfied with more questions than answers.
The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal – A plague is infecting the royals in the palace. A series of complex events is set off by a seemingly innocuous prick of a needle. Deception, intrigue and devious plots ensue. This is world-building at its best, epic in its scope. A must-read for fantasy-lovers.
The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason – A crime mystery in pure Holmsian fashion. In fact, the investigators are none other than Sherlock’s niece and Bram Stoker’s sister. High stakes mount as the girls seek clues to crimes of which they themselves could very well become the next victims.
45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson – Issues involving weight are never JUST issues about weight and author Barson does an amazing job putting this overweight teen’s challenges into the contexts of family stress, social rules,and personal hurdles, providing a realistic and often humorous account of what happens when a girl faces what is really going on inside her own skin.
Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston – Most reviewers of this dark, slightly futuristic novel comment on its intensity, pace, and psychological depth. Valkyrie’s short life has already been full of tension and twisted motivation and it’s not getting any better when her father dies and leaves the 15-year-old and her brother with a survivalist mentality mixed with a determination to bring their message to the outside world. With a past like hers and a world not so different from ours, maybe Valkyrie’s choices are not so hard to understand…
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black – A vampire story gone dystopian, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a literary cross between Twilight and Ship Breaker. Populated by a complex cast of characters, the novel is carried convincingly by a dauntless teen whose determination and loyalty combine to address if not break down the walls of her society.
Rags and Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt – This book contains eighteen classic tales reimagined by contemporary writers such as Neil Gaiman, Kami Garcia, Garth Nix, Rick Yancey and many others. A great opportunity to gain familiarity with the themes of great literary achievements of the past while enjoying the unique styles and perceptions of familiar writers of our own time.
If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan – It can be hard enough to be with the one you love in any culture Two girls in love in Iran could have fatal consequences. But Sahar is determined, enough so that she proposes sex reassignment since the concept of being ‘stuck in the wrong body’ is considered acceptable in her country and the surgery legal and accessible. How does one decide if a sacrifice is too great to make?
Hostage Three by Nick Lake – Amy is not traveling around the world with her father and stepmother by choice so all she really has to care about each day is making the time pass. That is, until a boat appears with guns and pirates who couldn’t care less about what Amy wants or who she is, which is, at this point, nothing more than Hostage Three. A fast-paced thriller and a strong meditation on the dangers not only of violence but of who we choose and what we value.
The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry – A thrilling mix of double-crossing intrigue, kidnapping, technology and international espionage, Henry’s story of a girl who doesn’t know who she is or why people want to kill her is a nail-biter to the very end.
Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers – Second book of the His Fair Assassin trilogy, the story begins with Sybella arriving at the doorstep of a convent, only to discover that what seemed like a refuge contains the same torture and brutality she had hoped to escape from. Set among the treachery and dungeons, mystery and superstition of the fifteenth century, Dark Triumph continues the heart-pounding vengeance-inspired plotting introduced in Grave Mercy.
Chasing Shadows by Swati Avasthi – Comic book heroism, urban smarts, crime, and mental illness are all combined in this intense illustrated story of the violent loss of a friend and the narrow and precarious precipace between grief and insanity.
The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni – The Civil War has just ended and Verity Boone finally gets to return home to Pennsylvania after years with her relatives in Massachusetts. Homecoming isn’t, of course, at all what she expected and is further complicated by horrifying secrets that Verity will have to solve.
Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce – Set in the world of Winding Circle, this book follows the three mages of the Living Circle as they discover the intent of a powerful and cruel emporer to invade and dominate the birthplace of their own spiritual birthplace. In a race against time, preparations are made for war with no guarantee that the magic they possess will be enough to resist their enemies.
All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill – If you could go back in time and kill someone who created a time machine that destroys the world, would you do it? This book not only addresses that question but actually challenges its characters with seeing themselves in the future and fighting for the things – and people – that matter to them the most.
Reality Boy by A.S. King – Gerald’s family was the subject of a reality T.V. series in which the young Gerald was cast as the family ‘problem.’ Still reeling with anger and frustration at the portrayal, and at the continuing dysfunction in his family, Gerald struggles to remain in control and figure out how to take his own life back.
Pantomime by Laura Lam – This circus offers not only the off-key and mystical aspects typical of that world but is set in the remnants of a magical vanished civilisation. Gene is a runaway who becomes the circus’ star while balancing her own secrets and the realizations that make this book stunningly compelling.