Dark Triumph: His Fair Assassins, bk. 2 by Robin LaFevers

Lady Sybella’s life is a living nightmare. Trained as an assassin by the killer nuns of the convent of St. Mortain (God of Death) she has been assigned to spy on the house of Count d’Albret, a noble who is staging a deadly coup against the young duchess of Brittany. The count is notoriously brutal, simply murdering any and all who oppose him. Sybella’s life is constantly on the line as she gathers information to send back to her Mother Superior, who is on the side of the duchess. She knows that if she is found out, a fate worse than death awaits her. Because Sybella is not just an ordinary spy. She is also d’Albret’s abused daughter. When an order comes from the convent that she must free a highly valued prisoner from d’Albret’s dungeon, she uses the command as an excuse to escape with her wounded charge and join her assassin sister Ismae. This one decision sets her destiny spinning in a direction she could have never anticipated, a future where love and death are intertwined and at any moment she could be utterly destroyed by one or the other. Because war is coming. And d’Albret is used to winning. This smashing second volume in His Fair Assassins series (volume 1= Grave Mercy) is way more bloody and fast paced than the first but just as deliciously juicy. Sybella is a terrific heroine—damaged, self-doubting, angry as hell and ready to take her rage out on the world at large—until love comes along and turns her wrath into righteousness. Though you could read this one as a stand alone, why would you want to? I’d advise digging into Grave Mercy before taking a stab at Dark Triumph. An awfully good sequel to what is shaping up to be a spectacular series.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

“We are born in one day. We can die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day.” Allyson is on her graduation European tour bored out of her ever loving mind. Instead of having the time of her life, she’s watching movies in her hotel room and counting the days until it’s time to go home. Then IT happens: a chance encounter with a mysterious Shakespeare street performer named Willem who charmingly asks Allyson to skip the rest of the tour and spend the day with him in Paris. She knows what she should do. “It’s totally crazy. I don’t even know him…all this could go disastrously wrong in so many ways…but that doesn’t change the fact that I want to go. So this time, instead of saying no, I try something different. I say yes.” Under Willem’s heady influence, Allyson abandons her rule following ways and adopts the persona of Lulu, a daring girl who isn’t afraid to take risks. But then Willem disappears. And Allyson must go back to her real life and take up the challenges and expectations of college. Except she can’t stop thinking about Willem and Lulu. And who she might have become if she had had just one more day. While it may seem to have all the traditional trappings of a romance, this stunningly good story of self-discovery by the acclaimed author of If I Stay is so much more. It’s a deeply felt character study, an intriguing mystery and a free European tour all in one. Because Allyson does go back to find Willem. But what she discovers is something else altogether. And if the cliffhanger ending kills you as much as it killed me, no worries. Willem’s story comes out fall 2013!

Peanut by Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe

It totally sucks being the new kid in high school. So Sadie comes up with a fool-proof plan to win friends and influence people: pretend she has a peanut allergy. After all, what makes a better lunch time conversation starter than a life-threatening medical condition? The plan goes swimmingly at first. Sadie orders a medic-alert bracelet as visible proof of her peanut-free status and soon has a new circle of concerned friends willing to throw themselves on legumes for her if necessary. But things get complicated fast. She is afraid to invite people over for fear that her mom will accidentally rat her out. Her friends keep snatching stuff out of her hands when she forgets to check the list of ingredients on food packages for peanut oil. Worst of all, the school nurse gets wind of the fact that she has an allergy and wants her to get an Epi-pen–which you can’t get without a prescription. Now it’s just a matter of time before she puts the wrong thing in her mouth and the truth of her fictional affliction comes out. If her lie comes to light, will Sadie’s new friends stick by her? Or will they peel away like dried up peanut butter? This charming little graphic novel about going to extremes when it comes to fitting in will feel very familiar to anyone who’s ever tried to break into a new table in the cafeteria. While I found Paul Hoppe‘s whimsical style a little young looking for a high school audience, I thought Ayun Halliday‘s dialogue and depiction of adolescent relationships was achingly realistic and adored the character of Zoo, Sadie’s techno-phobic new boyfriend. No one could possibly be allergic to this delicious and down to earth Peanut.