Seraphina – Rachel Hartman (July 10th)
Publisher’s Summary: “Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.”
The cover caught my eye initially, but when I went on to read the summary…Well. My must-have-it-now instinct began to shriek in a most irritating fashion considering I can’t have it until July. And so I went to the author’s web site to see if I could find an excerpt, a line or two from the book, anything to tide me over a bit, but…No. Instead, I read a couple of blurbs that bumped this novel even higher on my list of this year’s most anticipated reads. Check them out:
“A book worth hoarding, as glittering and silver-bright as dragon scales, with a heroine who insists on carving herself a place in your mind.” — Naomi Novik
“Seraphina is strong, complex, talented — she makes mistakes and struggles to trust, with good reason, and she fights to survive in a world that would tear her apart. I love this book!” — Tamora Pierce
“Just when you thought there was nothing new to say about dragons, it turns out there is, and plenty! Rachel Hartman’s rich invention never fails to impress — and to convince. It’s smart and funny and original, and has characters I will follow to the ends of the earth.” — Ellen Kushner
Secret Letters – Leah Scheier (June 26th)
Publisher’s Summary: “Inquisitive and observant, Dora dreams of escaping her aristocratic country life to solve mysteries alongside Sherlock Holmes. So when she learns that the legendary detective might be her biological father, Dora jumps on the opportunity to travel to London and enlist his help in solving the mystery of her cousin’s ransomed love letters. But Dora arrives in London to devastating news: Sherlock Holmes is dead. Her dreams dashed, Dora is left to rely on her wits—and the assistance of an attractive yet enigmatic young detective—to save her cousin’s reputation and help rescue a kidnapped heiress along the way.”
Sherlock Holmes? Sold. Even if he is – *sob* – dead before the story has even begun. Knowing how crafty the man is, I’m going to call into doubt the validity of that pronouncement. (I can be intractable even in the face of summaries released by the publisher that allege his no-longer-of-this-world status. *Sniff*) Regardless, a mystery! Ransomed love letters! An attractive yet enigmatic young detective! This book should have a gilt banner arcing across its cover that reads “Chelle, this book is indubitably for you.”
Time Snatchers – Richard Ungar (March 15th)
Publisher’s Summary: “Caleb’s blinders are off. The small group of orphans who were also “adopted” by Uncle used to feel like family, but the competition to be the top time snatcher and the punishment for failure has gotten fierce. Time traveling to steal valuable objects can be a thrill, but with bully Frank trying to steal his snatches, his partner Abbie falling for Frank’s slimy charms, and Uncle’s plans to kidnap innocent kids to grow his business, Caleb starts thinking about getting out. But Uncle’s reach extends to any country in any time period, and runaways get the harshest punishment of all.
Caleb can steal just about anything from the past, but can he steal a family for the future?”
Another case of, Lordy, that cover is sublime in a surreal, sci-fi way. Even if I did mistake Caleb’s goggles for a mask. (I’m living in a perpetual state of superheroes on the brain.) This book may be slanted a bit more towards middle grade readers than YA, but the appeal of science fiction slash petty crime slash Neverland‘s Hook-like agenda may intrigue older readers. Like me. Plus, the cover. That may not be a superhero mask, but those are definitely, probably, knee pads, people. Who knew time-traveling was hard on the knees?
Croak – Gina Damico (March 20th)
Publisher’s Summary: “Fed up with her wild behavior, sixteen-year-old Lex’s parents ship her off to upstate New York to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of dirty farm work will whip her back into shape. But Uncle Mort’s true occupation is much dirtier than shoveling manure.
He’s a Grim Reaper. And he’s going to teach Lex the family business. She quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated by reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. But Lex can’t stop her desire for justice—or is it vengeance?—whenever she encounters a murder victim, craving to stop the attackers before they can strike again. Will she ditch Croak and go rogue with her reaper skills?”
Uncle Mort. I see what you did there, Gina Damico. And I like it. Also, the VOYA review of Croak (written by Taryn Bush) called this a “creepy and hilarious thriller”; three words that are, at the moment, having a catnip like effect on me, which is weird, because dog person. And an additional also, Adam Rex dug it. Which is basically all I needed to hear.
Contemporary Fiction Bonus Round:
Publisher’s Summary: “An all-day scavenger hunt in the name of eternal small-town glory.
With only a week until graduation, there’s one last thing Mary and her friends must do together: participate in the Oyster Point High Official Unofficial Senior Week Scavenger Hunt. And Mary is determined to win.
Mary lost her spot at Georgetown to self-professed “it” bully Pete Lembo, and she’s not about to lose again. But everyone is racing for the finish line with complicated motives, and the team’s all-night adventure becomes all-night drama as shifting alliances, flared tempers, and crushing crushes take over. As the items and points pile up, Mary and her team must reinvent their strategy—and themselves—in order to win.”
Okay. Okay. I’m a cover, well…not whore. That sounds a bit harsh. But I do like them. Have been known to pet the pretty ones from time to time. And I wouldn’t turn one that looks like The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life away if it wound up on my street corner. (And…That was just terrible. My apologies. Moving on.) I had to track down the summary for this one, so at first I really was just going on the cover and its massive, I-can’t-quite-put-my-finger-on-why appeal. It just so happens that the actual story – a scavenger hunt! Bring on the clues! – sounds good too.