The Last Minute, Eleanor Updale (268 pages) – There’s a sudden explosion in the middle of an English town, creating terrible destruction, confusion and panic. The Last Minute tells the stories of the people of Heathwick, in which there may be clues as to what happened, and why.
First sentences: Dust. A cold wind. The first shards of icy rain.
The Madness Underneath, Maureen Johnson (290 pages) – this is the second in the Shades of London series – the first (The Name of the Star) got librarian’s choiced. Rory returns to London to discover she’s developed the power to extinguish ghosts on contact. The Ripper copycat is gone, but there’s a series of new, unexplained deaths in the city, and Rory’s sure they are linked. But can she convince the Shades that something awful is going on? We do hope so.
First sentence: Charlie Strong liked his customers – you don’t run a pub for twenty-one years if you don’t like your customers – but there was something about the quiet in hte morning that pleased him no end.
Passion Blue, Victoria Strauss (342 pages) – “In fifteenth-century Italy, seventeen-year-old Giulia, a Count’s illegitimate daughter, buys a talisman hoping it will bring her true love to save her from life in a convent, but once there she begins to learn the painter’s craft, including how to make the coveted paint, Passion blue, and to question her true heart’s desire. Includes historical notes and glossary.” (catalogue description)
First sentence: The clouds broke apart and sunlight flooded down, burnishing the rough bark of the apple trees and tossing their shadows across the grass.
Miss Fortune Cookie, Lauren Bjorkman (276 pages) – Erin is the brain behind the advice blog Miss Fortune Cookie. All’s going well, and the blog is really popular, but things turn a bit custardy when her former best friend writes in for advice, and then acts on it. Erin tries to fix the ensuing mess, which leads to more craziness (but possibly also love).
First sentence: My friends and I were riding home from school on Muni, clinging to an assortment of slippery handholds, when Linny almost blew my secret identity.
Elemental, Antony John (326 pages) – In the near future, Thomas thinks himself unspecial: he’s the only child born into the Outer Banks colony without the power of an element. When pirates capture the colony’s Guardians and threaten to take over the island, Thomas and his friends run, fighting for survival in an abandoned settlement. There he finds secrets that will turn his world upside down.
First sentence: Thunder rattled the aging wooden cabins, but no one stopped to listen.
Hidden, Marianne Curley (325 pages) – Ebony is snatched at birth from her midwife and brought to earth to be hidden from her relatives who are searching for her. She’s grown up blissfully unaware of her origins, but things are about to change. When Ebony comes of age, she will be “visible” – to both her family and the one who stole her. “Who will find her first?” is the question the cover is asking.
First sentence: Do you ever stare at your reflection and wonder who that person is looking back at you?
Bad Hair Day, Carrie Harris (228 pages) – “Future physician Kate Grable is thrilled to shadow the county medical examiner, but when he is arrested for murder and Kate is left to run the morgue, she discovers that something is killing students – something very hairy and strong.” (catalogue)
First sentences: “Braaaains!” After all the zombie attacks, even the word made me twitchy.
Live Through This, Mindi Scott (289 pages) – Coley Sterling’s life appears to be perfect, and she works hard at this appearance. Underneath, she’s hiding a dreadful secret she’s kept for ten years. When it looks like her crush on Reece might turn into a real romance, the secret threatens to come out and turn her life into a nightmare.
First sentence: I’m on my bed, under the covers, and my boyfriend is kissing my neck.
Here are some action-filled books we’ve got coming in the next few months. Some steampunk, even!
Quicksilver, R J Anderson (May) - the sequel to Ultraviolet. “Back in her hometown, Tori Beaugrand had everything a teenaged girl could want – popularity, money, beauty. But she also had a secret. A secret that could change her life in an instant, or destroy it. Now she’s left everything from her old life behind, including her real name and Alison, the one friend who truly understood her. She can’t escape who and what she is. But if she wants to have anything like a normal life, she has to blend in and hide her unusual… talents. Plans change when the enigmatic Sebastian Faraday reappears and gives Tori some bad news: she hasn’t escaped her past. In fact, she’s attracted new interest in the form of an obsessed ex-cop turned investigator for a genetics lab. She has one last shot at getting her enemies off her trail and winning the security and independence she’s always longed for. But saving herself will take every ounce of Tori’s incredible electronics and engineering skills – and even then, she may need to sacrifice more than she could possibly imagine if she wants to be free.” (goodreads.com)
Level 2, Lenore Appelhans (soon) – “Felicia Ward is dead. Trapped in a stark white afterlife limbo, she spends endless days replaying memories, of her family, friends, boyfriend… and of the guy who broke her heart. The guy who has just broken into Level 2 to find her. Felicia learns that a rebellion is brewing, and it seems she is the key. Suspended between heaven and earth, she must make a choice. Between two worlds, two lives and two loves.” (goodreads.com)
Emilie & the Hollow World, Martha Wells (April) – “While running away from home for reasons that are eminently defensible, Emilie’s plans to stow away on the steamship Merry Bell and reach her cousin in the big city go awry, landing her on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure. Taken under the protection of Lady Marlende, Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine, and with the assistance of Lord Engal, journey to the interior of the planet in search of Marlende’s missing father. With the ship damaged on arrival, they attempt to traverse the strange lands on their quest. But when evidence points to sabotage and they encounter the treacherous Lord Ivers, along with the strange race of the sea-lands, Emilie has to make some challenging decisions and take daring action if they are ever to reach the surface world again.” (goodreads.com)
Ketchup Clouds, Annabel Pitcher (293 pages) – Zoe has a terrible secret that she can’t share with anyone, but secrets need to be shared. She learns about a prisoner on death row in Texas, who would seem to be the ideal recipient of a letter from Zoe, confessing her secret. “These are the letters that she wrote” announces the inside cover of the book, which just makes you extremely curious, right?
First sentence: Dear Mr S Harris, Ignore the blob of red in the top left corner.
Creepy & Maud, Dianne Touchell (202 pages) – Creepy and Maud (not their real names) live next door to each other, indeed their bedroom windows are practically opposite. A perfect scenario for the romance of the century perhaps, but Creepy and Maud (as the names suggest) are both social misfits, for different reasons. Will love conquer all, we wonder? Goodreads.com puts it like so: “Creepy & Maud is a blackly funny and moving first novel that says; ‘You’re ok to be as screwed up as you think you are and you’re not alone in that.’” Nice.
First sentence: My dad has trained our dog, Dobie Squires, to bite my mum.
The Cup and the Crown, Diane Stanley (344 pages) – Handsome King Alaric asks Molly to go in search of one of her grandfather’s loving cups, which bind people together (we think emotionally rather than literally). This quest takes Molly and her friends to the hidden city of Harrowsgode, which – like Hotel California – is hard to leave once you’ve entered. If you’ve read The Silver Bowl, then you’ve probably met Molly.
First sentence: The Great Hall was much as she remembered it: the tapestries, the massive iron candle stands, the enormous fireplace, the great gilt screen behind the dais.
The Wrap-up List, Steven Arnston (236 pages) – Gabriela, out of the blue, receives a letter from Death announcing that she’s got a week to live. She’s shocked and unprepared, but it’s possible that Death has a weakness that, if exploited, could mean he’ll have to let her go.
First sentence: Some people die from heart attacks, and some from falling off ladders.
Colin Fischer, Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz (229 pages) – Colin Fischer is a freshman who has Aspergers Syndrome. He notices every little detail. So, when a gun goes off in the cafeteria, and everyone thinks it’s the school bully who is responsible, Colin turns detective, following the leads that don’t occur to others, even if the school bully is Colin’s especial tormentor.
First sentence: Colin clutched his precious, dog-eared Notebook to his chest.
A Girl Named Digit, Annabel Monaghan (187 pages) – Farrah “Digit” Higgins is a bit of a geek genius. This might mean being not so popular at high school, but it also means being extremely handy at unlocking ecoterrorist codes. The fact that she knows maths is not lost on John, the hot FBI guy. But the world of espionage is a serious place – is Digit up for the challenge? We think she probably is.
First sentence: On the morning of my kidnapping, my mom’s makeup was perfect.
Hostage Three, Nick Lake (368 pages) – Amy is on a luxury yacht with her family in the Indian Ocean – the Maldives, the Seychelles, Comoros… Somali pirates. When their yacht is over run by said pirates, the family is taken hostage, her father Hostage One… Amy Hostage Three. Just like that, their lives are tradeable commodities. A tense thriller!
First sentence: We stand on the diving platform of our yacht, in the brutal sunlight.
Into the River, Ted Dawe (New Zealand author, 279 pages) – Here’s the way the cover excellently puts it: “When Te Arepa Santos is dragged into the river by a giant eel, something happens that will change the course of his whole life. The boy who struggles to the bank is not the same one who plunged in, moments earlier. He has brushed against the spirit world, and there is a price to be paid; an utu to be exacted. Years later, far from the protection of whanau and ancestral land he finds new enemies. This time, with no-one to save him, there is a decision to be made.. he can wait on the bank, or leap forward into the river” .
First sentence(s): There was a tap on the window. Te Arepa sat up.
A bit of this, bit of that:
The Gladiator series by Simon Scarrow. The series is (so far): Fight for Freedom, Street Fighter, and Son of Spartacus. They tell the story of Marcus Cornelius Primus, a young gladiator determined to find justice for the crimes against his family. Julius Caesar makes an appearance also. Have to say, Roman names are awesome.
The Prey, Andrew Fukuda (February/March) – “For Gene and the remaining humans – or hepers – death is just a heartbeat away. On the run and hunted by society, they must find a way to survive in The Vast… and avoid the hungry predators tracking them in the dark. But they’re not the only things following Gene. He’s haunted by the girl he left behind and his burgeoning feelings for Sissy, the human girl at his side. When they discover a refuge of exiled humans living high in the mountains, Gene and his friends think they’re finally safe. Led by a group of intensely secretive elders, the civilisation begins to raise more questions than answers. A strict code of behaviour is the rule, harsh punishments are meted out, young men are nowhere to be found – and Gene begins to wonder if the world they’ve entered is just as evil as the one they left behind. As life at the refuge grows more perilous, he and Sissy only grow closer. In an increasingly violent world, all they have is each other… if they can only stay alive.” (goodreads.com)
The Eternity Cure, Julie Kagawa (April) – sequel to The Immortal Rules. “Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning – New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally. Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.” (goodreads.com)
Flash Point, Nancy Kress (501 pages) – the Collapse has happened, and the economy is a mess. Amy now has to support her family, but it’s hard when there are no jobs. When an opportunity comes up for her to go on a reality TV programme and get paid – called ‘Who Knows People Baby – You?’ – she jumps at the chance. The show’s premise seems okay – put a bunch of teenagers together and see what they do in various crises – but the producers up the ante whenever the ratings drop, and soon it’s life and death.
First sentence: All the other girls were better dressed and prettier than she was.
The Dead and Buried, Kim Harrington (297 pages) – Jade and her family have moved to a new town and new house, which Jade loves, until strange things start happening. The house is haunted, doh. The ghost is that of the popular girl in school who died mysteriously last year. Jade decides to investigate, and her nice new school friends (including the guy with the “dreamy blue eyes”) appear to be keeping secrets…
First sentences: I’m not stupid. I know half of them only worship me because they fear me.
Sea of Whispers, Tim Bowler (214 pages) – “Hetty’s always been a bit of a loner, preferring to keep to the outer edges of the close-knit island community. But when a strange woman is washed up on the shore, Hetty finds herself under increasing scrutiny from the islanders. There’s a connection between Hetty and the woman that makes people suspicious, so when death comes to the community the woman is branded a bad omen and Hetty has no choice but to take matters into her own hands. As she heads out to sea, a storm is breaking and the whispers that she’s heard before are louder than ever. Voices from the very depths of the sea… and they’re calling her name” (goodreads.com)
First sentence: They told her she was a dreamer, that the pictures she saw were an illusion, that sea glass could not tell a story; but this was a different kind of story.
Turf, John Lucas (360 pages) – Jay is a member of the Blake Street Boyz gang in London. He has the opportunity to become a gang senior, but he must first stab and kill a rival gang member. (or face the consequences).
First sentence: When you’re fifteen, everything matters.
Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend, Cora Harrison (335 pages) - take it away goodreads: “Jane wants to meet a hero worthy of her extraordinary imagination: a gentleman who is dashing and daring and handsome and brave; who can dance like a viscount and duel like a king. Jane and Jenny are whiling away the season in Bath and there are plenty of dances, rumours and scandals to entertain them. But a good reputation, once lost, is gone forever; and Jane is in danger of becoming the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons…” (nicely put).
First sentences: ‘I hate Jane Austen! I really hate her!’
Gilt, Katherin Longshore (406 pages) – Kitty has always been the wind beneath Cat’s wings, so to speak, living in her shadow. Then Cat finds herself in King Henry VIII’s court – and his heart – and invites Kitty to join her. Soon Kitty is enjoying the glitz and glamour, and the interest of dashing men. But not the shady side of court life, the secrets, treachery, and the possibility of one losing one’s head, literally.
First sentence: “You’re not going to steal anything.”
When We Wake, Karen Healey (291 pages) – Tegan wakes up one day to discover it’s been 100 years since she was last awake. As the first cryonically frozen human, she’s an instant celebrity. When she learns appalling secrets about her new society she must choose between keeping her head down and learning how to fit in, or fighting for a better future.
First sentences: My name is Tegan Oglietti. One of my ancestors was a highwayman, and another was a prince.
Vortex, Julie Cross (360 pages) – Tempest is the division of the CIA that deals with time travel-related security threats. Jackson is an agent for Tempest, a role he’s dedicated his life to after losing Holly – who he altered history in order to save. When a rival organisation called Eyewall starts up, Jackson finds both he and Holly are under threat: his little history-tweaking is no longer a secret.
First sentence: The only things that gave me the strength to pull myself off that grassy spot and walk farther from Holly were the images that flashed through my mind – Holly, sitting in that orientation, hiding the book in her lap with her name carefully written inside, her hair twirling around the pencil she was using to take notes.
This week, some pretty sobering offerings.
Hysteria, Megan Miranda (February/March). “Mallory killed her boyfriend, Brian. She can’t remember the details of that night but everyone knows it was self-defense, so she isn’t charged. But Mallory still feels Brian’s presence in her life. Is it all in her head? Or is it something more? In desperate need of a fresh start, Mallory is sent to Monroe, a fancy prep school where no one knows her… or anything about her past.But the feeling follows her, as do her secrets. Then, one of her new classmates turns up dead. As suspicion falls on Mallory, she must find a way to remember the details of both deadly nights so she can prove her innocence-to herself and others.” (goodreads.com)
Undone, Cat Clarke (February/March). “Jem Halliday is in love with her gay best friend. Not exactly ideal, but she’s learning to live with it. Then the unspeakable happens. Kai is outed online… and he kills himself. Jem knows nothing she can say or do will bring him back. But she wants to know who was responsible. And she wants to take them down.” (goodreads.com)
Anthem for Jackson Dawes, Celia Bryce (soon). “Megan Bright and Jackson Dawes are two teenagers who first meet each other on the hospital ward where they are both being treated for cancer. Megan is scared and worried about her illness, but Jackson seems to be an old hand, having been on the ward for ages. And everybody loves Jackson! He is a whirlwind of life and energy, warmth and sparkle. Megan will need to borrow some of Jackson’s extraordinary optimism to face her and Jackson’s future. A moving story of first love and a remarkably powerful debut novel.” (goodreads.com) We wonder if fans of The Fault in our Stars might enjoy this?
Thank you goodreads, for the summaries.
Time travel (maybe?), a gritty fairy tale, and the Big Easy.
Back to Blackbrick, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald (February/March). “Cosmo’s brother Brian died when he was ten years old. His mum hides her grief by working all the hours God sends and Cosmo lives with his grandparents. They’ve been carefree days as Granddad buys him a horse called John and teaches him all he knows about horses. But the good times have to come to an end and although he doesn’t want to admit it, Cosmo knows his Granddad is losing his mind. So on one of the rare occasions when Granddad seems to recognise him, Cosmo is bemused that he gives him a key to Blackbrick Abbey and urges him to go there. Cosmo shrugs it off, but gradually Blackbrick draws him in… Cosmo arrives there, scared and lonely, and is dropped off at the crumbling gates of a huge house. As he goes in, the gates close, and when he turns to look, they’re rusty and padlocked as if they haven’t been opened in years. Cosmo finds himself face to face with his grandfather as a young man, and questions begin to form in his mind: can Cosmo change the course of his family’s future?” (goodreads.com
Teeth, Hannah Moskowitz (February). “Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house. Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.” (goodreads.com) This is described as a “gritty, romantic modern fairytale”.
Out of The Easy, Ruta Sepetys (February/March). Ruta Sepetys wrote the best-selling and award-winning Between Shades of Gray, about a Lithuanian teenager’s struggle for life during World War II. Here she turns her attention to the French Quarter of New Orleans in the 1950s. “Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.” (goodreads.com)
So many interesting-looking books to read this year, not nearly enough time.
The Madman’s Daughter, Megan Shepherd (February) – based on The Island of Dr. Moreau by H G Wells. Juliet Moreau thinks that her father, a scandallous mad scientist, is dead. When she discovers he’s not, she travels with his assistant to the island where he is conducting experiments on animals to make them behave like humans. Which is actually pretty horrific when you think about it, considering how some humans behave. “Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it’s too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius – and madness – in her own blood.” (goodreads.com) A gothic horror!
Altered, Jennifer Rush (February) – more experimentation, this time on humans. “Everything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, Cas, Trev . . . and Sam, who’s stolen Anna’s heart. When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape, killing the agents sent to retrieve them. Anna is torn between following Sam or staying behind in the safety of her everyday life. But her father pushes her to flee, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs…” (goodreads.com)
Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Powell (March) – a love story set in 1986, the birth year of Lauren Conrad, Robert Pattinson, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and Usain Bolt. Eleanor and Park are in high school, and are in love - true love, maybe? But no, they might be social misfits, but they – like, let’s face it, lots of other people – know that true love doesn’t happen when you’re 16 unless you’re in a fairytale. So this is perhaps a realistic story about love? We shall see!
Geek Girl, Holly Smale (March) – “Harriet Manners knows a lot of things. She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a “jiffy” lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn’t quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she’s spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend’s dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves…” (goodreads.com)
Dystopian political intrigue, exploring a new planet, and something for Downton fans.
Prodigy, Marie Lu – this is the sequel to Legend. “June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request – June and Day must assassinate the new Elector. It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long. But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood – what if the Patriots are wrong?” (goodreads.com)
Shades of Earth, Beth Revis – the final in the Across the Universe trilogy. In which Amy and Elder finally get to escape the good ship Godspeed, and create a new home on Centauri-Earth. But! What of Centauri-Earth? “But this new Earth isn’t the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed’s former passengers aren’t alone on this planet. And if they’re going to stay, they’ll have to fight. Amy and Elder must race to discover who – or what – else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed – friends, family, life on Earth – will have been for nothing.” (goodreads.com) Fun times!
Cinders & Sapphires (At Somerton), Leila Rasheed. This has been described as “‘a thoroughly satisfying romp for Downtown Abbey fans” by a Kirkus reviewer, so if you love DA, and all the upper class / serving class intrigue, you should give it a go! “Rose Cliffe has never met a young lady like her new mistress. Clever, rich, and beautiful, Ada Averley treats Rose as an equal. And Rose could use a friend. Especially now that she, at barely sixteen, has risen to the position of ladies’ maid. Rose knows she should be grateful to have a place at a house like Somerton. Still, she can’t help but wonder what her life might have been had she been born a lady, like Ada. For the first time in a decade, the Averleys have returned to Somerton, their majestic ancestral estate. But terrible scandal has followed Ada’s beloved father all the way from India. Now Ada finds herself torn between her own happiness and her family’s honor. Only she has the power to restore the Averley name – but it would mean giving up her one true love… someone she could never persuade her father to accept.” (amazon.com)
Heppy new yur!
Middle School : Get Me Out of Here!, by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts (257 pages) – Rafe Khatchodorian is in middle school, which I think must be intermediate? Is it? He gets to leave and go to an art school in the city, which isn’t the break from the existential horror of middle school that he’d hoped for. This is the sequel to Middle School : The Worst Years of My Life!.
First lines: ‘Well, who’d have thought so much could change in one summer? Not me, that’s for sure. Not my best buddy, Leonardo the Silent.‘
Beta, by Rachel Cohn (331 pages) – Elysia was born as a sixteen-year-old, as fresh as any cloned scientific creation thrown together in a lab could be. She is to serve the wealthy inhabitants of paradise island, Demesne, but Elysia isn’t the souless clone that her makers think she is, and when her only chance at happiness is booted off the island (literally!), she learns she needs to fight back.
First lines: ‘It’s me she wants to purchase. The fancy lady claims she came into the resort boutique looking to buy a sweater, but she can’t take her eyes off me.‘
Made on Earth, by Wolfgang Korn (184 pages) – This is the story of one item of clothing and the people it connects (a red polar fleece, if you can imagine such a thing) in the context of globalisation. ‘This is a story about people, their livelihoods and their life expectations.’ Its written as a short novel, but could almost be non-fiction I reckon.
First line: ‘It was not love at first sight, no way! Bright red fleeces are for young girls, or Liverpool FC fans. They are definately not for tough journalists.‘
The Turning, by Francine Prose (246 pages) – Jack gets a job on a private island, babysitting the orphaned niece and nephew of some rich guy. The kids are well-behaved (if a little odd), while the cook, Mrs Gross seems nice enough. BUT things are not what they seem – he keeps seeing people that no one else can see – and he begins to feel like he is losing his grip. This is based on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. By the way!
First line: ‘Dear Sophie, I’m afraid this is going to sound crazy. But a very strange thing just happened.‘
The Curiosities : A Collection of Stories, by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff (291 pages) – The three authors of this book are all published authors of paranormal fiction, and a few years ago they all got together and created a website called merryfates.com, where they each posted a small short story once a week. This book is a compilation of such stories, along with lots of annotations from the authors (similar to the website’s comments I guess?). I don’t think the website is a going concern anymore, but here’s the book anyway. It gets a nice 4 stars on Goodreads.
Star-crossed : 18 Tales of Bittersweet Love, by Frances Kelly & Penny Murray (306 pages) – Like it says in the title! This is a collection of love stories. They are all retellings of classic romances from the olden days; Shakespeare, fable, myth, and fact are all covered, from Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor to Robin Hood and Maid Marian. Each has a little end-note explaining the romance preceding it and recommending more sources. So yeah, loads of romance.
Speechless, by Hannah Harrington (268 pages) – Chelsea nearly got someone killed indirectly when she blabbed someone’s secret, so, as a consequence, she takes a vow of silence. Her old friends all still blame her, and by not talking she’s not necessarily endearing herself to them, but other people – people she wouldn’t have once had much to do with – soon come out of the woodwork. One boy she might even have a future with. The 500 people who have reviewd it on Goodreads really like it, so get cracking and read it okay
First line: ‘Keping secrets isn’t my speciality.’
Easy, by Tammara Webber (310 pages) – Jacqueline moves to a new city to study at college with her boyfriend, but he dumps her, leaving her stranded – friendless and alone in a place she’d rather not be at, and failing a paper for the first time in her life. However, she forms an attachment with her economics tutor by email, and also meets a guy who electrifies her with his dancing. She is also being stalked, and then her ex comes back into her life. What is a girl to do
First lines: ‘I had never noticed Lucas before that night. It was as though he didn’t exist, and then suddenly, he was everywhere.‘
Lullaby : A Watersong Novel, by Amanda Hocking (290 pages) – This is the second book in the series that started with Wake. They series is seemingly your usual teen supernatural novel featuring a specific creature from myth and legend; in this case, the monsters are Sirens. Not the plastic lights on top of police cars! Haha, imagine that
First line: ‘Harper woke up when the sun was just beginning to set, and squinted at the dim orange light streaming in through her curtains.‘
Struck by Lightning : The Carson Phillips Journal, by Chris Colfer (258 pages) – Chris Colfer is the same Chris Colfer who plays (played?) Kurt Hummel on Glee. This book is based on the screenplay he wrote for the movie he made, about a high school student who is desperate to leave his small town and become a hard-hitting journalist; and to achieve his goals he resorts to blackmailing his fellow students.
First lines: ‘Dear Journal, one more school year with these $#!^heads and I’ll be free. It’s taken almost two decades of careful planning, but I’m proud to say my overdue departure from the town of Clover is only days away.‘
The Twinning Project, by Robert Lipsyte (269 pages) – Tom has an imaginary twin named Eddie who, in actual fact, is real and lives on another Earth that mirrors our own, but 50 years earlier, engineered by aliens. Somehow they connect and join the fight against those same aliens who are set destroy both planets.
First line: ‘I don’t fit in at school because I don’t do what I’m told if it’s stupid. I don’t keep my mouth shut when I have something to say.‘
Someday Dancer, by Sarah Rubin (245 pages) – It is 1959! And somewhere in the rural hindquarters of South Carolina Casey Quinn plans on leaving for New York City, where she wants to be a ballet dancer. She has the talent, but unfortunately lacks the formal training – but is there hope with contemporary dance? yep
First line: ‘Rat-a-tat-tat, my feet hit the ground, and the sound sings up like music. I am daning on the sidewalk, skipping home from school, free as a bird, and my feet are flying.‘
Pinned, by Sharon G. Flake (228 pages) – Catalogue synopsis: ‘Adonis is smart, intellectually gifted and born without legs; Autumn is strong, a great wrestler, and barely able to read in ninth grade – but Autumn is attracted to Adonis and determined to make him a part of her life whatever he or her best friend thinks.’
First lines: ‘You ever like a boy your friends thought you shouldn’t like? Maybe he short. Or his ears stick out. Or he got a face full of pimples. But you like him anyhow.‘
Arise : A Hereafter Novel, by Tara Hudson (408 pages) – This comes after Hereafter, book one in the series (which is also new to the collection). Amelia and Joshua are an item, but sadly Amelia is stuck between the worlds of the living and the dead. Threatened by dark spirits, the couple attempt a Voodoo ritual in a cemetery in an attempt at some protection, but the ceremony will change things. FOREVERRRRRR
First line: ‘The entire world had gone dark, and I had no idea why.‘
Eternally Yours : An Immortal Beloved Novel, by Cate Tiernan (455 pages) – Nastasya is 450-years old, but hasn’t spent all that time too wisely, so she spends five months at a special rehab for troubled immortals. In addition to learning about her family and their past, she also falls for a hot immortal viking boy, and utilises her special kind of magic to fight against the dark forces determined to wipe out all immortals around the world.
First lines: ‘Uppsala, Sweden, 1619. “Vali! Vali! Where is the girl?” I heard my employer’s voice and scrambled up the from the storage cellar.‘
A World Away, by Nancy Grossman (394 pages) – Eliza is sixteen, and Amish, so she’s led as sheltered a life as it’s probably possible to lead in the modern world. No Internet! Let that sink in. Anway, Eliza gets to go to Chicago as a nanny, and she’s scared. And excited! What will the world have for her? Will she return to her family back on the farm?
First line: ‘The strangers were coming, as they did every Thursday night, to bring a burst of color into our plain home. I circled the dining room, checking each lantern to be sure there was enough fuel inside.‘
Speed of Light : A Meridian Novel, by Amber Kizer (525 pages) – This is the third book in a series too complex for me to easily summarise. ‘Meridian and Tens continue to grow closer and explore their relationship of Protector and Fenestra, while sixteen-year-old Juliet Ambrose, grasping at any hope of finding her parents, considers acepting the help offered by Ms. Asura, a proven Nocti.’
First lines: ‘What if a young woman was both a girl to the living and a portal to the dying? I know the answer because I am.‘
My Life Next Door, by Huntley Fitzpatrick (394 pages) – Samantha Reed is the daughter of a successful US Senator, and she leads a typically proper and organised life. However, in the evenings, she watches the family next door, and is envious of their fairly disorganised, messy, and happy life. She and the eldest son, Jase, fall for each other, and the relationship remains their little secret. Until there’s a surprise twist to the story! It’s a popular book on Goodreads, if that sways you.
First lines: ‘The Garretts were forbidden from the start. But that’s not why they were important. We were standing in our yard that day ten years ago when their battered sedan pulled up to the low-slung shingled house next door, close behind the moving van.‘
The Evolution of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin (527 pages) – Mara Dyer has powers that only one other person – Noah – believes she has. Everyone else reckons she is has a developing mental disorder. What is truth? ‘This will have readers doubting Mara’s sanity, trusting the mental health professionals, and suspicious of Noah’s intentions.’
First lines: ‘You will love him to ruins. The words echoed in my mind as I ran through clots of laughing people. Blinking lights and delighted screams bled together in a riot of sound and color.‘