Your turn: What’s your first line for today? Open the book nearest you and post the first line in the comments. Then hop over to Hoarding Books (the blog I’m joining in this fun) to see what they’re sharing.
Welcome to First Line Friday, where book lovers across blogland share the opening line from a nearby book (since we all have books everywhere we turn). It’s a fun thing I hope to do more often in 2021, so I’m kicking off my participation for the New Year with a story from an Australian YA author I recently discovered:
If mortification could kill, I’d be six feet under.
Talk about an opening line I could relate to (plus, what a gorgeous cover)! And so begins the story of Kenna, the companion/practically sister to Princess Alina of Peverell. But Kenna and Alina are about to turn 18 and Alina will soon be engaged to Prince Marcos of the neighboring kingdom — which means everything is about to change for both of them.
I enjoyed Heart of a Royal so much that I read it and the second story in the series, Heart of a Princess, about Princess Alina’s own journey over the 4-day weekend. They reminded me of the Selection Series by Kiera Cass, which is saying a lot.
The final book in the series, Heart of the Crown, releases next week: January 15. I’ll definitely be reading it and keeping an eye out for others by Hannah Currie. I’ve also been participating in Hannah’s Instagram challenge leading up to Heart of the Crown, if you want to check out the photos I’ve shared.
Your turn: Share the first line from one of your books in the comments. Then hop over to Hoarding Books (the blog I’m joining in this fun) to see what they’re sharing.
YA books have come a long way in the last 10 or so years. Yes, you’ll find some cheesy or cookie-cutter stories that don’t seem connected with today’s world (those still surface in every genre). But the young adult book market has become really competitive – which means higher expectations from publishers and better books for us as readers.
The YA titles on today’s shelves cover any genre you might want. And although a glance at their covers in the local bookstore might make it seem like they all tie in with dark topics, there are plenty that can entertain and challenge you without being something you would have hidden from your mom when you were 15.
Here are three I’ve read lately that are clean reads for teens – or anyone else – who want a great story that pulls you in and keeps you guessing on every page.
Back cover copy:Some secrets can’t stay hidden. Zoe Johnson has spent most of her life living in the shadows, never drawing attention to herself, never investing in people or places. But when a wide-eyed, bedraggled teenager with no memory walks into the diner where Zoe works, everything changes.
Against her better judgment, Zoe, who has been trying to outrun her own painful memories of the past, finds herself attempting to help a girl who doesn’t seem to have any past at all. With little warning, they must follow the only sure thing they know: a woman hundreds of miles away will either save them … or be the last person to see them alive.
This book grabbed me within the first few pages, when the mother figure in Lucy’s life helps her escape from people who have been controlling her from birth. She sends Lucy to find another woman who can help; Lucy meets Zoe along the way and they both know nothing will be the same. The people who have controlled Lucy are hot on her trail and determined to do whatever it takes to keep her from exposing their work. Lucy and Zoe don’t even know each other, but still realize they can trust each other more than anyone else.
Everything about the story is believable and kept me guessing until the end. Even though I expected twists along the way, the story surprised me several times. And kept me up reading way past my bedtime more than one night.
I already have two more of her books on my to-be-read stack, if that tells you anything about how much I enjoyed Nine.
Back cover copy:The truth about Neverland is far more dangerous than a fairy tale. Claire Kenton believes the world is too dark for magic to be real — since her twin brother was stolen away as a child. Now Claire’s desperate search points to London … and a boy who shouldn’t exist.
Peter Pan is having a beastly time getting back to Neverland. Grounded in London and hunted by his own Lost Boys, Peter searches for the last hope of restoring his crumbling island: a lass with magic in her veins.
The girl who fears her own destiny is on a collision course with the boy who never wanted to grow up. The truth behind this fairy tale is about to unravel everything Claire thought she knew about Peter Pan — and herself.
I’ve read quite a few fairytale retellings over the years and must say it’s hard to keep them from being predictable. Dust is different because it isn’t a new take on the all-too-familiar story of Peter Pan. Instead, it’s a modern-day tale of Peter doing whatever he can to get back to Neverland – and he’s not always the sunny, charming Peter you might expect. The book is written from both Claire’s and Peter’s points of view, so it’s fun to get inside both their heads.
Having a cover this gorgeous sets a high bar for the story – you don’t want to open something that striking and read junk! Fortunately, Dust definitely met the mark for me and I’ll be reading the sequel, Shadow, when it’s published in July 2021.
Back cover copy:A waterborne disease has sprung up in every corner of the globe, decimating the human race. Seventeen-year-old Eli McShane and his friends flee the chaos and violence in Phoenix and journey north toward the rumored location of a safe water source. They add several to their number, including a mysterious girl named Hannah, who, unknown to Eli, is being hunted by a dangerous man. Desperation brings out the worst in many of the travelers, infecting even those closest to Eli. When division comes, will he be able to hold his group together or will each fall victim to their own thirst for survival?
I read a couple other books by Jill Williamson several years ago but missed this one when it came out in 2019. I’m glad I came across it a few weeks ago. It’s a good story with believable teenage characters and good lessons about friendship, leadership and growing in your faith. Not in a preachy way, but woven naturally into the story so that the points are made if you take time to stop and think.
Some people might not want to read Thirst right now since it centers on a pandemic, but that didn’t bother me. The follow-up book Hunger will be published next year and I’ll definitely want to read it to learn what happens to Eli and his friends.
There are lots of other great YA books I’ve enjoyed and recommend, but they’ll have to wait for another post. Nine, Dust and Thirst are from different categories of YA fiction, but trust me when I say any middle- or high school reader would probably like all three. And any adult, too – because even though they’re labeled as YA fiction, they’re so well written that they prove YA often is not just for kids anymore.
Domestic abuse is more common than many of us might realize and can be closer to home than we expect. And while no type of abuse is ever pleasant to think about, there is hope – and there are resources and support – for people who find themselves caught in that situation.
I’ll admit up front that I’m a bit prejudiced about this book because I’ve known Terri for many years through writers group. And I do love when a friend publishes a book. But even aside from that, Journey to the Forgotten Coast has some important messages for us to read and remember.
Jorie has been married for several years, but things haven’t turned out as she had hoped. It took a while for her to become pregnant and then she suffered a miscarriage. She still hasn’t healed emotionally from that trauma when both her parents die unexpectedly, within weeks of each other. Her husband Hugh’s actions following those events finally push Jorie to the point of admitting to others that he has abused her for years and that she believes her life is in danger.
Traveling through this story with Jorie isn’t easy. You see how – and why – she tries to justify the situation to herself and others. You share her fear as she decides to get away and start a new life for herself. You feel her anger at Hugh – and God – and her grief and disappointment.
But in the end Jorie realizes something important that can be hard for us to remember, too. God is always there, working in the people and situations around us to bring us closer to Him and to see His plans fulfilled. Even on the hard, ugly, disappointing days. Even when we feel hurt and betrayed and confused.
Jorie has people who are praying for her when she doesn’t even know it. People who care about her more than she realizes and who are ready to help her as soon as she asks for it.
Life doesn’t magically become perfect for Jorie when she gets away from Hugh – just like it doesn’t for us when we get past our own bad situations. But she draws courage and strength from the people who love her and begins to deepen her relationship with God. She learns to believe that she deserves a better life and that the work it takes to reach that point is worth it.
Jorie’s journey ends with hope and new purpose despite the imperfections. I think that’s an important lesson we can all learn, no matter what we’re going through.
Unfortunately, though, the characters and situations in Journey to the Forgotten Coast are all too familiar to millions of people of all races, ages and economic statuses who find themselves caught in situations of domestic abuse. But there is hope for these people just as there was for Jorie.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Here are a few websites with more information and resources if you or someone you know needs support: