Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt A fearless and emotionally charged tale of a girl from a broken home who struggles to find love and acceptance, often in the wrong places and with the wrong people. Scheidt wrote the novel in short, lyrical chapters that are as poetic as they are heartbreaking, and she doesn’t shy away from mature subject matters that many authors would be hesitant to tackle.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke Tucholke’s seductive horror story of a girl and a devilish stranger named River West is a quirky, Gothic page-turner that possesses both a nostalgic flavor and a modern sensibility. I was hooked as soon as I read the novel’s first line: “You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…” The book’s sequel, Between the Spark and the Burn, releases in 2014, and I’ll be one of the first to pounce upon it.
Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross A beautifully written novel built upon a clever concept: A company in late-1800s Paris hires out plain girls and women to make their wealthy clients appear more attractive. Ross has created a wonderfully complex relationship between “ugly” Maude and the girl who doesn’t realize Maude has been hired as a foil to heighten her chances of marriage. The characters are multilayered, the settings evocative, and the plot unforgettable. Like Maude herself, this book is far from ordinary.
Bruised by Sarah Skilton A powerful debut involving a sixteen-year-old black belt in Tae Kwon Do whose life takes a downward spiral when she freezes during a holdup at a diner. Skilton digs deep into the raw emotions of her damaged protagonist, Imogen, and, like a martial arts expert, allows her plot to make unexpected moves that will leave you stunned and scrambling to turn the pages. There's an especially beautiful metaphor for Imogen's heart that I loved, and the relationships built, broken, and restored throughout the book moved me to tears.