We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

You know when sometimes you discover that amazing book that is ALL THE THINGS? Mystery? Check. Romance? Check. Family DRA-mah? Check. Unexpectedly awesome, never-saw-it-coming ending? Check, check! I wish I could tell you more about this book about a girl, her two cousins and the love of her life. But to say too much about this story of a family slowly rotting from the inside out because of greed and fear would be a great disservice. You should get the chance to savor this delicious narrative of privilege, love and madness on a private island for yourself. Suffice it to say that it contains shades of King Lear, Wuthering Heights and The Virgin Suicides. That the small, perfect characterizations: “Bounce, effort, and snark.” “Sugar, curiosity, and rain.” “Ambition and strong coffee” will have you pulling out your own writer’s notebook to follow the pattern. That not only people but HOUSES in this story have their own personalities and strange little quirks. That the plot rug is pulled out from under you the minute you think you understand what is going on. And try not to scream when I tell you this terrific little tension filled package is coming to a library, bookstore or e-reader near you May 2014.

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff

Mila is an exceptionally observant person. The  intuitive only child of academics, she uses her keen sensory powers to discover what it is that people aren’t saying through their body language, facial expressions and clothing choice. That’s why her father agrees to bring her along on a trip to visit his best friend Matthew’s family, even though Matthew himself has gone missing. Maybe Mila can uncover the reason he abruptly left his wife, small baby and loyal dog. Mila interviews Matthew’s wife, plays with Matthew’s baby, walks Matthew’s dog and visits Matthew’s summer cabin. But as Mila carefully collects clues, she is drawn deeper and deeper into a mystery that perhaps only exists to her. While the ending of the book didn’t work for me for all sorts of reasons that will give away important plot points, I found Mila’s voice and the construction of the story unusual and intriguing. If you follow The Mentalist or enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, you’ll dig Mila’s cerebral adventures as well. Also, not for nothing, Picture Me Gone was nominated for a National Book Award.

Bad Houses by Sara Ryan and Carla Speed McNeil

Failin, Oregon, like every small town, has as many secrets as people. When lonely teens Anne and Lewis strike up an unlikely friendship, they have no idea that their innocent romance will end up bringing so many of the town’s secrets to light. Secrets about hoarder moms and absent dads. Secrets about lost belongings and found treasures. Secrets of past misunderstandings and future relationships. Each person in this intricate character-driven graphic novel will feel familiar as someone you know or love, and each one will lodge deeply in your heart. It’s hard to explain exactly how without giving it all away, but I can say that it reminded me of one of my favorite classics. Sara Ryan has always excelled at crafting fully rounded characters, and her first graphic novel is no exception. Her words are aided by the spot-on, realistically drawn art by Carla Speed McNeil. A well-told and astutely drawn story of fate and forgiveness.