The Name of the Star: Shades of London, bk. 1 by Maureen Johnson

Aurora (Rory) Deveaux is definitely a Louisiana catfish out of water. Due to her professor parents’ European sabbatical, the gawky Southern teen has just started her senior year at a tony English boarding school called Wexford in the heart of London. Small town Rory couldn’t be more different than her brisk British classmates, and struggles at first to fit in. But soon she is surrounded by new friends and even starts a mild flirtation with Jerome, the cute prefect from the boy’s dorm. Rory’s getting along so well that even the news that a serial killer who models himself after Jack the Ripper is on the loose in London seems more interesting than scary. Until a body shows up on Wexford’s supposedly safe school grounds, and Rory is the only one to see a strange man hovering nearby. Suddenly Rory finds herself at the heart of a terrifying investigation that has even the police baffled. The new Ripper leaves no trace, and even the many closed circuit cameras that are everywhere in London can’t seem to capture him. How can Rory see what the cameras can’t? And what does that mean when it comes to keeping herself and her friends safe from the Ripper’s knife? To say anymore would ruin the shocking secret at the heart of this romantic thriller that starts out like a traditional boarding school romp and then morphs into something that is part horror, part mystery and all quirky, cool Maureen Johnson. Rory is full of heart and wit, and pitting her against the top serial killers of all time guarantees surprises, shivers and Johnson’s inevitable trademark sarcasm. By the end of book one, Rory discovers her true destiny and let’s just say it’s not a talent for needlework or languages. I can’t wait for the sequel of this projected trilogy! And you won’t be able to either after a Star comes to a library, bookstore or e-reader near you.

Summer and the City: A Carrie Diaries Novel by Candace Bushnell

Seventeen-year-old Carrie Bradshaw finally sets foot in the City in the second volume of Candace Bushnell’s delightful Carrie Diaries. Carrie is ecstatic to be spending the summer in the Big Apple taking a writing course at The New School before heading off to Brown in the fall. After getting thrown out of her first apartment due to an altercation with her nasty landlady, she ends up bunking with friend of a friend Samantha Jones, a stylish rising advertising executive. Samantha helps starry-eyed Carrie learn the NYC ropes by inviting her to all the right places and introducing her to all the right people. Soon Carrie is dating a famous older playwright and regularly attending parties and art openings with Samantha and her other new friend Miranda Hobbes, a raging red-headed feminist who secretly longs for a boyfriend. But as Carrie gets swept up in the romance of being in New York for the first time, she seems to forget that dating a playwright doesn’t make her one. If she’s going to make it in Manhattan, she’ll need to produce some serious writing, and fast. Because her summer in New York will end all too soon and college is calling. Just like at the finale of the first book, Carrie meets another of the famous four (I’m sure you can guess who) and her future is left in question. Of course, we already know what happens—but getting there is half the fun! Fast, flirty and oh so fabulous, this immensely satisfying sequel will please both aspiring fashionistas and wannabe writers alike.

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

Literary Fun Fact: Victor Frankenstein had a twin! Well, at least Kenneth Oppel imagines so in this brilliant, twisted prequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Victor, his twin Konrad and their distant cousin Elizabeth live the good life in Chateau Frankenstein outside of Geneva, Switzerland around the mid-1790’s. The Frankenstein family is wealthy, their digs are humongous, and the teenagers, along with their best bud Henry spend their summer days hiking or riding around the Jura Mountains and Lake Geneva. Then Konrad falls mysteriously ill, and no doctor from miles around seems to know how to help him. So Victor takes it upon himself to secretly employ a dodgy local alchemist to assist him in concocting the Elixir of Life from a recipe he finds in an ancient book hidden in the Frankenstein library. Victor is determined to use the Elixir to save his brother’s life, though his motivation is not entirely pure: he also hopes to win great acclaim for his discovery, while capturing the romantic admiration of his beautiful cousin Elizabeth–who just happens to be in love with Konrad. Soon, Victor, Elizabeth and Henry are lying like rugs and sneaking out at night to track down the rare, obscure ingredients that the Elixir requires. They are willing to break every taboo known to science and religion in their race to save Konrad. But will Victor’s own selfish nature undo all their desperate efforts in the end? And how will this experience shape the man who ends up creating the most famous monster of all time? As usual, Oppel is a master of pacing, taking readers on a freaky cool adventure that starts off with a BANG on the very first page. In addition, all the characters are fully realized (especially tortured Victor, who tells the dark tale in first person), the love triangle is loads more exciting and bitter than this one, and the action never stops.  I have no doubt that you will enjoy this incredibly well executed Gothic/horror/historical novel immensely.

Tighter by Adele Griffin

Jamie has a pill problem. It started innocently enough with a track injury. But then her teacher Mr. Ryan (“I’d called him Sean, a couple of times, in the end.”) told her that they had to stop meeting in the back booth of Ruby Tuesdays, so she needed more painkillers for her broken heart. Soon any pill would do—pain pills, her mom’s allergy pills, her dad’s sleeping pills. What kind didn’t matter, as long as they helped Jamie forget Sean, uh, Mr Ryan. Now she’s about to leave home to take a ritzy summer nanny job, hopped up on her parents’ prescriptions and feeling utterly alone. But the island of Little Bly and Isa, the girl she has been hired to care for, are charming and sweet. Maybe Jamie will finally be able to relax and leave the pills behind. Except then she hears the disturbing rumors of Isa’s last nanny, a wild girl named Jessie who died in a plane crash with her boyfriend. Worse yet, she starts SEEING the dead girl and her man on the cliffs near Isa’s house. As the doomed pair draw ever nearer, Jamie begins to lose her already tenuous grip on reality. Are the capsules she can’t seem to stop popping causing her to see the dead lovers? Or are the ghosts real? This hum dinger of a homage to Henry James’ classic The Turn of The Screw will have you breaking into chills even without the air conditioning this summer. Deliciously creepy, with a shocking ending that doesn’t disappoint, this is one hardcover worth toting with you to summer camp. Just don’t be surprised if you lend it to a bunkmate and never see it again. It’s THAT AWESOME. Pair it up with Lauren Myracle’s equally suspenseful Bliss for more good old-fashioned scary summer reading fun.