Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

Sara finds herself alone and stricken with grief after after her older sister and favorite person, Becca, runs away from home with her boyfriend. Sara knows she is never coming back, and some people doubt if she’s still even alive. After a year of feeling helpless, Sara soon starts dreaming about a girl. A girl named Lucy Gallows, said to have disappeared in Sara’s town years before by escaping down a road in the middle of the forest. Sara knows she has to follow the road and get to Lucy in order to save her sister.
Kate Alice Marshall writes an incredible story about the road and its games, bringing in sacrifice, love, loss, and truth. The relationships between the characters mend and break, never failing to stay interesting. The road itself is scary and unpredictable, forcing the things on it to make impossible decisions. Marshall’s writing brings this fictitious legend alive and allows her readers to truly be present on the road with the characters. The detective-case setup of the story and frequent plot twists create a book that is very difficult to put down.
Rules For Vanishing is a riveting story perfect for anyone who wants a bit of horror mixed with suspense and thrill. Great for anyone interested in small-town myths come to life, and mystical worlds with dangers lurking beneath.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

When BeiTech, a powerful corporation in a futuristic, space traversing society, attacked an illegal mining colony run by one of their competitors, the lives of the colonists were irrevocably destroyed. Thousands died, and those who managed to escape are being pursued by the remainder of their attackers, who plan to destroy any who might reveal the atrocities they commited. Kady and Ezra, newly exes, were finishing high school when the attack came. They lost everything that day, and now, licking their wounds, are pursued by the very people who tried to kill them the first time, all they have left is each other.
Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman’s Illuminae is not like anything I’ve ever read. In fairness, I don’t read much in the way of space operas, so I may simply not have much to compare it to. The genre is generally too overpopulated for my tastes with leather-clad protagonists (you’d think styles would have changed in a few centuries) shooting blasters at a strangely uniformly humanoid collection of aliens (seriously, can we get, like, a highly evolved society of blue space bats that communicate using bioluminescence? Or just something instead of green humans? Thanks.)
But while Illuminae does employ many of the genre’s tropes, it does so in a unique way. Giant spaceships? Sure, but not all of them are battlecruisers or have guns (I mean… some of them are.) Ability to do jumps from one place to another within the galaxy? Of course! But only the huge, expensive ships have the technology to make them. Hot, intelligent hero on a mission, accompanied by an equally hot sharpshooter with a dark past? Check! But she isn’t particularly interested in the greater good (I mean, she is a bit, she is the hero after all…) and her love interest is less tall dark and broody than he is a loveable doofus with the texting grammar and etiquette of every teenager in your contacts.
Illuminae combines sci-fi and horror in an addicting story told not in the traditional methods of storytelling, but in a hodgepodge compilation of stolen documents. Everything from ship’s logs, to casualty reports, to text messages, are employed to tell the tale. The result is a riveting book that, despite depriving the reader of a deeper understanding of the characters’ states of mind, allows for a wider picture of the situation. The inclusion of official documents and communications gives the reader a sense that the book chronicles real events, and the text messages between the two main characters, Kady and Ezra, endears the protagonists to the reader and thus makes us care when they and others are in danger. I highly recommend this book, and urge you to get it as a hardcopy. I think any other format just couldn’t do it justice.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

The town of Four Paths is cursed. Hundreds of years ago, the four founders of the town fought a monster and used the powers they bargained away from it to lock the creature in the Gray, a dead version of the town trapped in the time of the Gray’s creation. Now, the descendants of the four founding families use the powers passed down to them to defend Four Paths still.
Justin’s family, the Hawthorne’s have been the most powerful family in Four Paths for years. His mother, the town sheriff, rules Four Paths and the other Founding Families, and expects her children to follow in her footsteps. But while his sister can read people’s futures in the Deck of Omens passed down from the Founders, Justin has proved himself completely powerless. And in a town where being a Founder with power makes you all but a king, and being one without a pariah, Justin’s family has determined to fake his power until he can be shipped off to college.
Harper Carlisle is a pariah. On the day she performed the ceremony in which she was supposed to gain her powers and take her place among a family of Founders, she was trapped in the Gray. When she emerged from the Gray a few days later it was without power, and without her arm. Sheriff Hawthorne decided to cut her out, and her family allowed it, and worse, her best friend, Justin Hawthorne abandoned her. Now, Harper would do anything to get revenge on the Hawthornes and even more, to get even a scrap of the power that was stolen from her in the Gray, a scrap of the power she deserves.
Violet Saunders is still grieving from the death of her older sister when her mother uproots their lives to move to her childhood home of Four Paths to take care of her own sister, who suffers from early onset dementia. She’s expecting old friends of her mother and that small town drama from the movies, but what she finds is much, much weirder. And scarier. Definitely scarier. But also small town drama. And, you know, an ancient evil nobody knows much about but still kills people in creepy ways if they wander into its territory.
The Devouring Gray is wholly original and darkly fascinating. I spent half of it turning my audiobook off and on because parts of it are just that creepy and the other half glaring at anyone who tried to talk to me because I didn’t want to miss a second. It is that one horror story in a hundred where you actually like the characters and agree with their decisions, the one fantasy novel with a story original enough that you don’t actually know what is going to happen. It also has love interests you can get behind and, yes, a love triangle— but not the one you expect! It’s amazing, and I promise you’ll love it!

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall follows the life of a senior girl in high school, Samantha Kingston. She and her three friends are some of the most popular girls in school. Samantha has it all, perfect boyfriend, three supporting best friends, everything any teenage girl could hope for. Everything was perfect until February 12th. Samantha and her three friends attend a party and make a drunken mistake, resulting in Samantha’s death. However, instead of going to heaven or hell or whatever, Samantha relives February 12th seven times. Through these seven repeats she uncovers secrets about her death She uncovers secrets about everything and everyone close to her. How much will she risk to save her own life?

The book started off rather slow and a little too cliche for my tastes. Oliver portrayed high school in a very stereotypical way and Samantha as a character was very unlikeable to start off. Her and her friends were catty and rude and I was sick and tired of hearing the character complain about trivial things such as spilt coffee. However, I am no quitter as a reader and so I pulled through. And boy, am I glad I did. The story started picking up, hitting its climax in the most amazing way. Samantha changed as a character and the reader could see clear as day the character development. She changed from a snotty teenage brat to a sophisticated human being who slowly uncovered the secret to life. The secret to really living life and not just gliding by it. Samantha began treating people differently and making new risks that popular Samantha Kingston would’ve never made in the first chapter.
The last two or so chapters kept me totally captivated, I was unable to set the book down. Flipping page after page new secrets were uncovered and Samantha turned into someone that the reader should aspire to be. Samantha was on a mission, a mission to not only save others but to also save herself. The ending to the story left me with a full feeling. I did feel like crying, if not more than just a tear or two.
Samantha Kingston was a one layered character that, personally, I did not connect to at all. She was unlikeable, and for good reason. However, Oliver used her writing skills to change the reader’s mind, and instead we fell in love with Samantha Kingston and her selflessness and her constant need to save herself. Because, in the end, Samantha really did save herself.
This was the first book I have ever read by Lauren Oliver and I think it was a good introduction into her writing. She uses a lot of metaphors and similes, which when you first start reading feels a little weird and out of place. However, adjusting yourself to her writing really helps you connect with Oliver’s characters and in turn makes you feel many new emotions. Personally, I really enjoyed her writing and I felt myself attracted to the way she described things in new ways, even trivial things.

Overall, as a fellow reader, I would say pull through. Pull through the first two or three chapters because it gets better. It gets much much better and if you start the book and don’t finish you will surely regret it. I promise.
If you enjoyed the following books I think you will enjoy Before I Fall:
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

I’m sure you’ve at least heard of Victor Frankenstein, right? You know he creates a monster and brings it to life. With the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein being this year, Kiersten White has written a spinoff novel focusing on Elizabeth Lavenza, Victor’s childhood friend. With her new book, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, Kiersten White brings a thrilling and twisted new perspective of the classic tale.
Elizabeth’s mother died in childbirth and she was left with an abusive caregiver who made it known that Elizabeth was a burden. Yearning for a better life, Elizabeth was happy to keep Victor calm and happy in exchange for the new home the Frankenstein’s offer in exchange for help in controlling Victor. Her youth is spent keeping him— and herself, safe, even when she doesn’t know the whole story. When Victor set off to pursue his studies he left Elizabeth behind, and she soon grew concerned about how secure her place in the Frankenstein household was with Victor gone. But when Elizabeth set out to find Victor and bring him home she had no idea what she was getting herself into.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

From monstrous Daeva to beautiful, fierce Asha, the world of the Bone Witch teems with myth and magic. Tea is a Dark Asha, a Bone Witch, the rarest and most reviled of all the witch-women known as Asha. Born in the village of Knightcross to a family with two low-level witch daughters, Tea was expected to follow in her sister’s footsteps and spend her life helping the village with whatever power she inherited. But when her brother Fox is killed by a monster called a Daeva, everything changed. At his funeral, Tea accidentally raised her brother from the dead, almost killing herself in the process.
Labeled as a Bone Witch, Tea (and Fox) are taken by the Lady Mykaela, one of the last Dark Asha, to the city of Ankyo to begin her training. In Ankyo, Tea will learn to control and use her gift, to sing and dance, and most importantly, how to fight and draw the runes that give an Asha her power. But while the life of an Asha is one filled with beautiful parties, powerful people, and amazing magic, danger lurks in the dark corners of the kingdom. A faction of powerful magic-wielders known as the Faceless hide amongst the normal people, waiting to tear the kingdoms apart; and Daeva rise from their graves only to be slain again by the Dark Asha. But the numbers of the Bone Witches dwindle, and soon Tea must find a way to change the way Dark Asha have lived for thousands of years, lest she lose her own life to it— and drag everyone else down with her.
In this dark and bewitching book, Rin Chupeco weaves a masterful tale of magic and monsters, friendship and betrayal, love and loss. Split between two times and places, Tea’s story is broken at intervals by short glimpses into her future, moments when we see not only who she was, but what she will become. The Bone Witch will draw you deeper into the story with every page, and leave you eager for the sequel.

The Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

The Sea of Shadows is a story shrouded in mystery and darkness. With a beginning filled with monsters and magic in a forest of death, the plot calms after the first few chapters. While still an adventure full of mishaps and dark magic; this allows for a wider range of readers. Well suited for people who are into the whole zombie apocalypse, and people who aren’t. The diversity of the cast of characters paired with the dark and compelling story line will draw in all types of readers and keep them engaged and eager for book two.