I thought to end the year with a couple of fantasy-type novels that are the third in a series, which is sort of where the similarity ends. Apart from the stories both being excellent!
Half Lost, Sally Green. This is the last book in the Half Bad trilogy. “Nathan Byrn is running again. The Alliance of Free Witches has been all but destroyed. Scattered and demoralized, constantly pursued by the Council’s Hunters, only a bold new strategy can save the rebels from total defeat. They need the missing half of Gabriel’s amulet – an ancient artifact with the power to render its bearer invincible in battle. But the amulet’s guardian – the reclusive and awesomely powerful witch Ledger – has her own agenda. To win her trust, Nathan must travel to America and persuade her to give him the amulet. Combined with the Gifts he has inherited from Marcus, the amulet might just be enough to turn the tide for the Alliance and end the bloody civil war between Black and White witches once and for all…” (goodreads.com)
A Tangle of Gold, Jaclyn Moriarty. This is the third book in the crazy and cool Colours of Madeleine series, which began with A Corner of White. “Cello is in crisis. Princess Ko’s deception of her people has emerged and the Kingdom is outraged: The Jagged Edge Elite have taken control, placing the Princess and two members of the Royal Youth Alliance under arrest and ordering their execution; the King’s attempts to negotiate their release have failed. Color storms are rampant, and nobody has heard the Cello wind blowing in months. Meanwhile, Madeleine fears she’s about to lose the Kingdom of Cello forever. Plans are in place to bring the remaining Royals home, and after that, all communication between Cello and the World will cease. That means she’ll also lose Elliot, now back in Cello and being held captive by a branch of Hostiles. And there’s nothing he can do to help his friends unless he can escape the Hostile compound. Worlds apart and with time running out, Madeleine and Elliot find themselves on a collision course to save the Kingdom they love, and maybe even save each other.” (goodreads.com)
The distance from me to you, Marina Gessner
McKenna Berney is a lucky girl. She has a loving family and has been accepted to college for the fall. But McKenna has a different goal in mind: much to the chagrin of her parents, she defers her college acceptance to hike the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia with her best friend. And when her friend backs out, McKenna is determined to go through with the dangerous trip on her own. While on the Trail, she meets Sam. Having skipped out on an abusive dad and quit school, Sam has found a brief respite on the Trail, where everyone’s a drifter, at least temporarily.
Despite lives headed in opposite directions, McKenna and Sam fall in love on an emotionally charged journey of dizzying highs and devastating lows. When their punch-drunk love leads them off the trail, McKenna has to persevere in a way she never thought possible to beat the odds or risk both their lives. (Goodreads)
First lines: McKenna couldn’t believe it. Maybe her ears were malfunctioning. Or her brain was playing tricks on her. Either option-deafness or insanity-seemed better than believing the words coming out of her best friend’s mouth.
If you’re lucky, Yvonne Prinz
When seventeen-year-old Georgia’s brother drowns while surfing halfway around the world in Australia, she refuses to believe Lucky’s death was just bad luck. Lucky was smart. He wouldn’t have surfed in waters more dangerous than he could handle. Then a stranger named Fin arrives in False Bay, claiming to have been Lucky’s best friend. Soon Fin is working for Lucky’s father, charming Lucky’s mother, dating his girlfriend. Georgia begins to wonder: did Fin murder Lucky in order to take over his whole life? Determined to clear the fog from her mind in order to uncover the truth about Lucky’s death, Georgia secretly stops taking the medication that keeps away the voices in her head. Georgia is certain she’s getting closer and closer to the truth about Fin, but as she does, her mental state becomes more and more precarious, and no one seems to trust what she’s saying. (Goodreads)
First lines: The phone rang at four o’clock in the morning. Someone on the other end said that Lucky was dead. And just like that I was big brotherless. I didn’t cry. Life without my brother had never even occurred to me. Not once.
Dangerous lies, Becca Fitzpatrick
After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.
But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows. As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks… (Goodreads)
First lines: An angry rap shook the motel room door. I lay perfectly still on the mattress, my skin hot and clammy. Beside me, Reed drew my body to his. So much for 10 minutes, I thought.
Dark metropolis, Jaclyn Dolamore
Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder’s mother is cursed with a spell that’s driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules. Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city’s secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own. Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they’re not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too.(Goodreads)
First lines: “I’m glad you girls are all here; by the looks of the crowd outside we’ll be busy, even for a Saturday.” Mr. Kortig raked his hand through his hair. “Lotties – I’d like you in the front. Nan, the private rooms. Thea, the balcony.” Who would Thea serve tonight?
The peony lantern, Frances Watts
When Kasumi leaves her remote village for the teeming city of Edo, her life is transformed. As a lady-in-waiting in a samurai mansion she discovers a rare talent for art and falls in love with a young samurai. How could she ever return to the life of a simple mountain girl? But Kasumi must set aside her own concerns. Her country is on the brink of change and Edo is simmering with tension. And her mistress has a dangerous secret-a secret that Kasumi is gradually drawn into…(Goodreads)
First lines: “Kasumi, I need you to go to the forest,” my mother called as I was putting the last futon into the cupboard.
“Have a lovely walk.” Hana was polishing the walls, which glowed a deep amber from years of smoke and soot. “Don’t spare a thought for those of us who have to work around here.”
No true echo, Gareth P. Jones
Nothing ever happens in idyllic Wellcome Valley, much to Eddie Dane’s dismay. Then, one day, Scarlett White steps onto the school bus. She’s a stranger but somehow familiar. Equal parts smitten and intrigued, Eddie tries to get to know her but finds she has more questions about him. Curious questions about his dead mother. One day he follows Scarlett to a remote house, where he witnesses a brutal murder, and suddenly he’s back on the school bus the day he first met Scarlett! Caught in a repeating time loop, Eddie learns the truth about his mother’s death, the nature of his connection to Scarlett, and how his past has shaped a dangerous future…one that he can prevent if he lets go of a person he loves.(Goodreads)
First lines: Since the trial, Liphook had found herself feeling increasingly nostalgic. She didn’t like it. All the other pensioners on the coach might have been content to natter on about the old days, but Liphook had never been interested in looking back. Only now that her memories were shifting and twisting did it feel important to try and cling to the truth. A part of her hoped that by remembering, she would be able to make it more real.
All the major constellations, Pratima Cranse
Laura Lettel is the most beautiful girl in the world. . . and Andrew’s not-so-secret infatuation.
Now he’s leaving high school behind and looking ahead to a fresh start at college and distance from his obsessive crush. But when a terrible accident leaves him without the companionship of his two best friends, Andrew is cast adrift and alone—until Laura unexpectedly offers him comfort, friendship, and the support of a youth group of true believers, fundamentalist Christians with problems and secrets of their own. Andrew is curiously drawn to their consuming beliefs, but why? Is it only to get closer to Laura? And is Laura genuinely interested in Andrew, or is she just trying to convert him?(Goodreads)
First lines: He stood at the top of the stairs and listened. A single note. A vibrational pull. A silk string. Laura.
“Jeeeesus, Jesus saves. He saves…me,” she sang. And then the single note returned, a wordless mmmm. Like the sound you make when you’re kissing someone, or pretending to kiss someone when you’re actually just pressing your face into your pillow.
Concentr8, William Sutcliffe
In a future London, Concentr8 is a prescription drug intended to help kids with ADD. Soon every troubled teen is on it. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Keep the undesirable elements in line. Keep people like us safe from people like them. What’s good for society is good for everyone. Troy, Femi, Lee, Karen and Blaze have been taking Concentr8 as long as they can remember. They’re not exactly a gang, but Blaze is their leader, and Troy has always been his quiet, watchful sidekick – the only one Blaze really trusts. They’re not looking for trouble, but one hot summer day, when riots break out across the city, they find it. What makes five kids pick a man seemingly at random – a nobody, he works in the housing department, doesn’t even have a good phone – hold a knife to his side, take him to a warehouse and chain him to a radiator? They’ve got a hostage, but don’t really know what they want, or why they’ve done it. And across the course of five tense days, with a journalist, a floppy-haired mayor, a police negotiator, and the sinister face of the pharmaceutical industry, they – and we – begin to understand why …This is a book about what how we label children. It’s about how kids get lost and failed by the system. It’s about how politicians manipulate them.
First lines: You want to know how I got famous? This is how. Weren’t proper famous. Didn’t last more than a few days. Weren’t popular famous neither. I mean most famous is we-love-you-famous or you-done-something-good famous – this was the opposite. For a few days me and Blaze and the others was the official scumbags of the universe. But what I’m saying is – we ain’t. We ain’t and we weren’t.
Until we meet again, Renee Collins
Cassandra craves drama and adventure, so the last thing she wants is to spend her summer marooned with her mother and stepfather in a snooty Massachusetts shore town. But when a dreamy stranger shows up on their private beach claiming it’s his own—and that the year is 1925—she is swept into a mystery a hundred years in the making. As she searches for answers in the present, Cassandra discovers a truth that puts their growing love—and Lawrence’s life—into jeopardy. Desperate to save him, Cassandra must find a way to change history…or risk losing Lawrence forever.
First lines: The beach is empty. In the fading glow of twilight, the waves roll up to the rocks in sweeping curls of white foam. The sand glistens like wet steel. The grass bends low in the briny night wind. Always changing, yet always the same. I imagine the beach has looked like this since the beginning of time.
The firebug of Balrog county, David Oppegaard
Dark times have fallen on remote Balrog County, and Mack Druneswald, a high school senior with a love of clandestine arson, is doing his best to deal. While his family is haunted by his mother’s recent death, Mack spends his nights roaming the countryside, looking for something new to burn. When he encounters Katrina, a college girl with her own baggage, Mack sets out on a path of pyromania the likes of which sleepy Balrog County has never seen before. (Goodreads)
First lines: A firebug has woken inside my heart. He feeds on smoke and char and he is always hungry, even when it appears he’s asleep and his flaming eye turned inward. I have done my best to feed him well, slinging him a diet of fires both large and small, yet this has not always held him in check. In fact, nourishing my inner firebug only made him stronger, increasing his appetite tenfold and bringing all manner of calamity to myself and the semi-innocent inhabitants of Balrog County.
Calvin, Martine Leavitt
As a child, Calvin felt an affinity with the comic book character from Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes. He was born on the day the last strip was published; his grandpa left a stuffed tiger named Hobbes in his crib; and he even had a best friend named Susie. Then Calvin’s mom washed Hobbes to death, Susie grew up beautiful and stopped talking to him, and Calvin pretty much forgot about the strip—until now. Now he is seventeen years old and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Hobbes is back, as a delusion, and Calvin can’t control him. Calvin decides that Watterson is the key to everything—if he would just make one more comic strip, but without Hobbes, Calvin would be cured. Calvin and Susie (is she real?) and Hobbes (he can’t be real, can he?) set out on a dangerous trek across frozen Lake Erie to track down Watterson.
First lines: Dear Bill,
This is Calvin again. I hope it’s okay if I call you Bill. Meaning no disrespect at all, but Bill is easier to type than Mr. Watterson and this is going to be a long letter. I am writing this letter for two reasons. One is because it has to be my English project, which is worth 50 percent of my final grade. My teacher gave me the idea but said it better be a long letter if it’s going to be worth 50 percent.
Modern Monsters, Kelly York
Vic Howard never wanted to go to the party. He’s the Invisible Guy at school, a special kind of hell for quiet, nice guys. But because his best friend is as popular as Vic is ignored, he went…
And wished he hadn’t. Because something happened to a girl that night. Something terrible, unimaginable, and Callie Wheeler’s life will never be the same. Plus, now Callie has told the police that Vic is responsible. Suddenly, Invisible Vic is painfully visible, on trial both literally, with the police, and figuratively, with the angry kids at school. As the whispers and violence escalate, he becomes determined to clear his name, even if it means an uneasy alliance with Callie’s best friend, the beautiful but aloof Autumn Dixon. But as Autumn and Vic slowly peel back the layers of what happened at the party, they realize that while the truth can set Vic free, it can also shatter everything he thought he knew about his life…(Goodreads)
First lines: Aaron Biggs leans over me to ask, “How’s it going, Vic?”
His freckled face and dyed black hair obscure my light. I squint at the page of algebra equations on the cafeteria table, decide they aren’t going to make any more sense to me whether or not I pause to see what Aaron wants, and look up at him. “Um. F-fine?”
On the subject of best books of 2015 we thought we’d crunch some numbers and find out what’s been going out at Wellington City Libraries. Interesting results!
Of the books published this year The Heir by Kiera Cass went out the most (by far) but that’s partly because we have billions of copies. So, we thought, let’s make it interesting and see what went out the most per copy*. Here is an interesting Top 10 list of the hardest-working 2015 books in the YA fiction collection:
1. All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven
2. I Was Here, Gayle Forman
3. Red Queen, Victoria Aveyard
4. Frostfire, Amanda Hocking
5. All That Glitters, Holly Smale
6=. Shadow Scale, Rachel Hartman
6= . Mind Games, Teri Terry
8. Love Hurts (short stories)
9. The Orphan Queen, Jodi Meadows
10=. Mosquitoland, David Arnold
10=. Love, Lucy, April Lindner
For people who like statistics, All the Bright Places went out an average of 13.2 times per copy which is a top effort considering books are issued for up to 3 weeks!
*And see what we need to get more of 🙂
December is a competitive month, with lots of people writing about what was best and most popular. We’ve had a look at lots of these lists and made a note of some repeat offenders. Not very scientifically, and in no particular order, here are 10 noteworthy 2015 novels:
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (more copies on the way)
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (more copies coming too!)
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Did you know we have books about our very own selves (librarians!) in our library? How meta is that!
Library wars : love & war. 1 / story and art by Kiiro Yumi ; original concept by Hiro Arikawa ; [English translation & adaptation, Kinami Watabe].
“Iku Kasahara has dreamed of joining the Library Forces ever since one of its soldiers stepped in to protect her favourite book from being confiscated in a bookstore when she was younger. But now that she’s finally a recruit, she’s finding her dream job to be a bit of a nightmare. Especially since her hard-hearted drill instructor seems to have it in for her!” (Syndetics summary)
Evil librarian / Michelle Knudsen.
“He’s young. He’s hot. He’s also evil. He’s . . . the librarian. When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He’s really young and super cute and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the creepy look in the librarian’s eyes, or the weird feeling Cyn gets whenever she’s around him. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact . . . a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian, who also seems to be slowly sucking the life force out of the entire student body!” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Unshelved. Volume 1 / Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum.
“Welcome to Unshelved, the world’s only daily comic strip set in a public library! Writer Gene Ambaum (the made-up name of a real-life librarian) and co-writer and artist Bill Barnes have been publishing since February 16, 2002. Some of the stories are made up, some of them are based on real life, and some are absolutely true stories sent to us from our readers. And the stranger the story, the more likely it is to be true.” (Syndetics summary) Also as eBooks!
Rookie is an online magazine for teens (rookiemag) and each year it produces its Yearbook in print. This year is Yearbook 4, and it looks amazing, as always. You can order it now; it won’t take long to arrive!
Rookie is the brainchild of Renaissance woman and influential teen Tavi Gevinson, who has been blogging and writing about fashion and popular culture since the age of 12 (!) as well as acting and singing… We’d all love a CV like that.
Think wit, intrigue, high society, alternative-England, Regency period (or about then), and of course magic, and you have the three following books!
Sorcery and Cecelia, or, The enchanted chocolate pot : being the correspondence of two young ladies of quality regarding various magical scandals in London and the country / Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
“A great deal is happening in London this season. For starters, there’s the witch who tried to poison Kate at Sir Hilary’s induction into the Royal College of Wizards. (Since when does hot chocolate burn a hole straight through one’s dress?!) Then there’s Dorothea. Is it a spell that’s made her the toast of the town–or could it possibly have something to do with the charm-bag under Oliver’s bed? And speaking of Oliver, just how long can Cecelia and Kate make excuses for him? Ever since he was turned into a tree, he hasn’t bothered to tell anyone where he is! The girls might think it all a magical nightmare . . . if only they weren’t having so much fun.” (Syndetics summary)
A breath of frost / Alyxandra Harvey.
“Meet Emma Day and her two cousins, Gretchen and Penelope, are uninterested in their debutante lives. All the boring balls, tiresome curtsying and polite conversation leave much to be desired. Then a girl is found dead, frost clinging to her lifeless body, and the murder is traced to Emma. As their world is turned upside down, Emma discovers more about herself and her cousins, from her connection to the murders to the secrets of her family legacy. Now the girls must embrace their true Lovegrove inheritance in order to stop the chaos, even if that means risking their lives. Dangerously handsome Cormac Fairfax wants to help Emma – but, with secrets of his own to hide, can she trust him?The first book in a deliciously dark new trilogy. Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Ruth Warburton.” (Syndetics summary)
A college of magics / Caroline Stevermer
“Teenager Faris Nallaneen is the heir to the small northern dukedom of Galazon. Too young still to claim her title, her despotic Uncle Brinker has ruled in her place. Now he demands she be sent to Greenlaw College. For her benefit he insists. “To keep me out of the way, more like it ” But Greenlaw is not just any school-as Faris and her new best friend Jane discover. At Greenlaw students major in . . . magic. But it’s not all fun and games. When Faris makes an enemy of classmate Menary of Aravill, life could get downright . . . deadly.” (Syndetics summary)
Well actually two.
The Year We Fell Apart, Emily Martin (January 2016). ” In the tradition of Sarah Dessen, this powerful debut novel is a compelling portrait of a young girl coping with her mother’s cancer as she figures out how to learn from – and fix – her past.” (goodreads.com) The book tells the story of Harper, who has really burned her friendship with Declan. On top of dealing with her mother’s illness, Harper must figure out whether or not it is possible to mend bridges, and if you should.
The Raven King, Maggie Stiefvater (April 2016). Okay so we’ve been waiting a while now and finally the final instalment in the Raven Cycle has got a proper publication date. We hope. What’s going to happen? Well we don’t really know, except the author is assuring people the important awful thing(s) she’s been saying will happen will actually happen even though readers are saying, “No don’t, you wouldn’t really.” Start with The Raven Boys if you haven’t already (trying not to spoiler).