Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

“I think about how I have different secrets hidden from different people in my life in different areas of my life. I think about how that might be the reason I’m chewing on Rolaids all the time.” Astrid Jones is an excellent secret keeper. If anyone ever finds out that her best friend is gay or that her dad is smoking pot in the garage or that her mother doesn’t really love her, it’s not going to be because they heard it from Astrid. The only people who ever get to listen to Astrid’s secrets are the anonymous passengers she imagines in planes that fly over the backyard picnic table where she goes to lie down and think. It’s safe to silently tell the passengers. They won’t report back to her mom or gossip about her at school. The passengers are the only ones that know Astrid has a secret too, and it’s about who she loves. But secrets have a way of coming out. All of Astrid’s secrets are suddenly revealed one night when she is caught somewhere she shouldn’t be, and any comfort she ever gleaned from conversations with the imaginary passengers vanishes. Now she will have to take a risk and reach out to the real people in her life–which won’t be easy, but promises to be much more rewarding. This perceptive offering about an introspective teen trying to learn to live her life out loud is just the type of super smart book I’ve come to expect from wickedly cerebral author A.S. King. She’s building quite an impressive back list and I can’t wait to see what she does next. (To read a short, funny and insightful interview with out-of-the-box King that will challenge your image of authors, click here.)

Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl

“Perhaps one day women might be able to to choose their husbands with no thought of money and position, but not in this day and age in Lesser Hoo, Yorkshire, England.” In Regency-era England, seventeen year old Althea Crawley is beautiful and broke. Her widowed mother has a falling down castle to her name and that’s about it. Factor in a dependent little brother and two greedy, homely stepsisters and the situation is clear: to save her loved ones from financial ruin and escape her nasty step sibs, Althea will have to snag a wealthy husband. There are no shortage of eligible bachelors in the neighborhood, but since all Althea has to bring to the union is a pretty face, they aren’t exactly knocking down the castle door. Enter handsome Lord Boring (how much do I love that character name?!) a new arrival to Lesser Hoo. LB has the looks and the money that Althea is sure will make her and her family very, very happy. Luckily, he seems to feel the same. But if she’s so sure that Lord Boring is The One, why does his irritating, argumentative business partner Mr. Fredericks keep popping up in her thoughts? If you look under the definition of “delightful” in the dictionary, you will find a picture of this adorable tome. Full of sparkling wit, wonderfully bumbling misunderstandings and unrequited love for DAYS, this lovely homage to Regency romances will leave you giggling and swooning in equal measure.  I have a distinct feeling that Patrice Kindl had as much fun writing this frothy confection as I had reading it. A must read for all you die-hard Jane Austen & Dodie Smith fans.

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

It starts with the birds. Great flocks of birds begin flying directly at airplanes across the United States, Canada and Mexico, causing massive crashes that kill hundreds of people. On her way home from a failed debate meet with her partner David, Reese is at the airport when the news hits. Terrified, the teens attempt to avoid the ensuing cancelled flight chaos by renting a car and driving from Nevada to California. They never make it. Just outside of Las Vegas, Reese and David are involved in a car crash and land in a military hospital near the infamous Area 51. There they are treated for their injuries and sent home to their families. But it isn’t long before they both notice that something is different. They are having strange dreams and odd sensations that ripple across both their bodies and minds. Why did the doctors make them sign nondisclosure statements about their hospital stay and order them not to give even their own parents any details? And how is it that the scars from their nearly fatal injuries have almost disappeared only a few short weeks after their discharge? Reese is determined to find the answer to these questions, even though she finds herself sidetracked by a beautiful distraction: the enticing Amber, who Reese thinks she may be falling in love with. This new relationship is complicated by the fact that Reese thought she was head over heels for David. But who has time for romance when it’s possible she and David have been part of some secret government conspiracy? Reese must set aside her confusing feelings and focus on what’s important: finding out exactly what happened to her in the hospital and discovering what it means not only to her and her family, but to her country and potentially the entire human race.  A thought provoking and sobering sci-fi thriller that holds loads of appeal for you X-Files conspiracy theorists, this pace-y page-turner will help keep your homework blues at bay.