1. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
I know this is technically a book published for adults, but I think it is perfectly appropriate, and could be appealing to older teens. I really enjoyed this, and thought the twist at the end served the storyline. Leaving Time is a story of a young girl looking for her mother, a dedicated researcher in elephant grief. Chapters are in different points of view, including 13-year-old Jenna Metcalf (the young woman), her mother Alice Metcalf's (the researcher) journals, a private eye named Virgil, and a psychic named Serenity who has fallen from grace due to a botched "missing child" prediction. You know initially that there was an accident at the elephant sanctuary, where a female caretaker was trampled, and Alice was found near the body, unconscious. After being taken to the hospital, Alice checks herself out later that night, and disappears. I enjoyed reading the entries about the elephants, and the work that Alice did with them, but I am an animal/nature lover. A great choice for a mother/daughter book club!
2. Even in Paradise by Chelsey PhilpotThe Great Gatsby meets Looking for Alaska in this stunning debut novel. When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne's at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about her. Most people do . . . or think they do. Charlotte certainly never expects she'll be Julia's friend. But almost immediately, she dives headfirst into the larger-than-life new girl's world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia's handsome older brother, Sebastian. But behind Julia's self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes, she is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden . . . until now. With inspiration drawn from Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, Chelsey Philpot's moving debut novel perfectly captures the intensity, the thrill, and the heartbreak of our too-brief friendships and loves.
3. Popular: A Memoir by Maya Van WagenenStuck at the bottom of the social ladder at “pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren’t paid to be here,” Maya Van Wagenen decided to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell. Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline, and a strand of pearls help Maya on her quest to be popular? The real-life results are painful, funny, and include a wonderful and unexpected surprise—meeting and befriending Betty Cornell herself. Told with humor and grace, Maya’s journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence. A freshing, sweet read.
4. A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs WalkerWelcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl.
After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams? My favorite historical fiction for teens in 2014.
5. The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele GriffinOne of the better young adult novels I've read this year - largely because it is current and very different. Addison Stone is a very promising young artist whose life is cut short by a fall from a bridge. Was it suicide? Was it murder? The reader begins to learn about Addison from a variety of sources - her family, her friends, teachers, business associates, magazine articles, and boyfriends. While learning about Addison, it becomes painfully apparent that with her artistic genius comes a debilitating mental illness. In the end, you can make up your mind based on the evidence. Adele Griffin does a fantastic job blending the story with photos, artwork, and quotes. When I first started reading it, I really got the feeling that Addison was a "real" person.
6. Sticky Fingers: DIY Duct Tape Projects by Sophie MaletskySticky Fingers is a vibrant, easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to creating amazing projects with the hottest crafting material on the market today duct tape! The book includes tons of photographs alongside directions designed to make creating a wallet and making a bag even easier, while also providing a steady stream of ideas for personalizing and embellishing your duct tape creations. Each project includes icons showing difficulty level and project time, as well as helpful hints, such as how to keep your scissors clean and what to do with end pieces. So grab a roll of duct tape, pick a project, and get started! One of the best duct tape books I've seen.
7. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava DellairaIt begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because she thought he'd understand since he died young just like her sister, May, did. Soon Laurel is writing letters to lots of dead people-Janis Joplin, Amy Winhouse, Ameilia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more-although she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about what it's like going to a new school, meeting new friends, falling in love for the first time, how her family splinters apart after May dies. She even writes about the abuse she suffered-while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May, and to see her as the person she was: lovely and amazing and deeply flawed. I found Laurel's journey to fit in, find love, and seek forgiveness very believable. In an ideal world, I just wish Ms. Dellaira would have kept the letters to a few targets that were relevant to the story, instead of including so many celebrities.
8. Complicit by Stephanie KeuhnTwo years ago, sixteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor’s fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else. But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie. Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to know the truth about their past. A truth she’s kept hidden for years. A truth she’s not supposed to tell. You know from the start that Jamie has some serious issues, and you can not stop yourself from reading to find out more. I won't say anymore - the less you know going in, the better.
9. The Jewel by Amy EwingThe Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring. Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel's glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.
Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence . . . and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess's petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for. For lovers of dystopian societies, with a touch of romance. If you are a fan of "The Selection" this book is for you! Also my vote for most gorgeous cover of 2014.
10. The Family Romanov by Candace FlemingHere is the riveting story of the Russian Revolution as it unfolded. When Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II, inherited the throne in 1894, he was unprepared to do so. With their four daughters (including Anastasia) and only son, a hemophiliac, Nicholas and his reclusive wife, Alexandra, buried their heads in the sand, living a life of opulence as World War I raged outside their door and political unrest grew.
Deftly maneuvering between the lives of the Romanovs and the plight of Russia's peasants--and their eventual uprising--Fleming offers up a fascinating portrait, complete with inserts featuring period photographs and compelling primary-source material that brings it all to life. History doesn't get more interesting than the story of the Romanovs.