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.
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone, by Kat Rosenfield (279 pages) – Becca is keen to leave the small town where she grew up. Her boyfriend dumps her, and the body of a girl Becca’s age is found the next day, and Becca is suddenly too unsure and too shaken to gather the will to leave. “Horrifying,” “emotionally arresting,” and a “raw debut.”
First line: ‘They found her just after dawn on June 24th, crumpled awkwardly by the side of the road with a rust-coloured blossom drying in the dirt beneath her.‘
Hidden : A Firelight Novel, by Sophie Jordan (264 pages) – Siteen-year-old Jacinda can turn into a dragon, and now she must surrender her giant lizardy self to her enemies in order to destroy them. From within! This is the third book in the series, aaaand it’s also the last one.
First (amazing) line: ‘The air traps hot inside my lungs as I hover outside the van, peering within, studying the shadowed depths, so reminiscent of another van not so long ago.‘
Smart Girls Get What They Want, by Sarah Strohmeyer (348 pages) – Three pals – Gigi, Bea, and Neerja – are very smart overachievers, and are all certain that once they leave school for Harvard or Princeton or whatever their lives will be just awesome. They probably will! But in the meantime they decide that they’re missing out on the full highschool experience, so make a pact to face their fears and do something about it.
First line: ‘Before Bea, Neerja, and I got everything we wanted from high school – the adoration, the fun, the fame, and the super-hot boys – all we did was study.‘
The Diviners, by Libba Bray(578 pages) – It is 1926, and New York is pretty swell. It’s the tops! Evie is excited to move there, but she has to live with her occult-obsessed uncle, who she fears will discover her secret occult powers. However, something evil and dark has awoken, and the bodies begin to pile up.
First lines: ‘In a town house at a fashionable address on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, every lamp blazes. There’s a party going on – the last of the summer.‘
Carnival of Souls, by Melissa Marr (306 pages) – Mallory is a witch! As is the rest of her family, who all some time ago fled the City of Daimons where they lived. Now in the human world, Mallory must always be on the watch for any daimons out to get her. At the City’s heart is the Carnival of Souls, where once every generation the chance to join the ruling elite is up for grabs in deadly competitions. Soon Mallory must face the Carnival. I think! I’m not doing a good job of summarising this one.
First lines: ‘The man – witch - who’d summoned Selah was nothing like what she’d expected. In truth, he looked no different than many daimons she’d met: implacable expression and a musculature that would serve him well in one of Marchosias’ fighting competitions.‘
Drift Race, by David Jubermann (342 pages) – Leon grew up in Japan, but moves back to NZ with his mother. He becomes involved in the world of drift racing, which he thought he’d left behind. In no time at all he ’spirals into an exciting world of adrenaline, fast cars and high-speed chases,’ and becomes a top competitor. BUT! Death and danger await around the corner (maybe literally?) – will he be okay?
First line: ‘They were tired – all of them, near the end of their endurance.’
Geek Charming, by Robin Palmer (338 pages) – This is the book that was the inspiration for ‘the Disney Channel original movie Geek Charming.’ If I had to guess (without reading the blurb) it is about a geek who is in fact a prince! Or a geek who gets a make-over and a girl falls for him! Maybe she kisses a geek and he turns into a prince. Or all of that? Who knows
First line: ‘One day as I was watching Oprah, waiting for her to get to her “Favourite Things for Spring” segment (she has the cutest taste in accessories), I heard this self-help guru guy say that the word for crisis in Chinese is actually two words: danger and opportunity.‘
Betrayal, by Gregg Olsen (273 pages) – This is the second Empty Coffin Novel (Envy was the first). Twins Hayley and Taylor are murder solving slueths in a Washington town that is sometimes called ‘Empty Coffin’ after some old piece of creepy folklore probably. The twins have some supernatural abilities that allow them to receive clues from the dead, often via Scrabble tiles. (Here’s my usual Scrabble message: ‘QZKKCYTP’ or something.)
First line: ‘Olivia Grant wasn’t exactly sure what she’d expected America to be like, but Port Gamble, Washington, most certainly wasn’t it.‘
Justice and Utu, by David Hair (320 pages) – This is the third book in Hair’s Aotearoa series, and the sequel to The Lost Tohunga; ‘thrilling young-adult fantasy novels drawn from the mythology and history of New Zealand.’ They have all won or been nominated for awards, and you can read the first chapter of the latest book on the author’s official website. Or the first few sentences of the prologue, here, on this ol’ weblog.
First lines: ‘Twelve-year-old Evie van Zelle loved cards and games, and knew dozens of card tricks. She’d been superstitious all her life: wouldn’t cross the path of a black cat, go under a ladder or step on cracks.‘
Slated, by Teri Terry (438 pages) – Kyla may or may not have been a terrorist, but whatever happened she’s been ’slated’: her memory has been wiped and her personality reset. She even gets a new family. It is sort of a second chance for hardened criminals, such as herself (maybe). But she still recalls faints memories of what she once was, and it seems that maybe someone is lying to her. A thriller.
First lines: ‘Weird. All right, I haven’t got much experience on which to bas this judgement. I may be sixteen and I’m not slow or backward and haven’t been locked in a cupboard since birth – so far as I know – but Slating does that to you.‘
Among Others, by Jo Walton (302 pages) – Morwenna grows up in Wales, reading sci-fi and playing with fairies. Her mother, a sorceress, tries to bend the spirits to dark ends (she’s up to no good), Morwenna has to battle her, resulting in her twin sister’s death. Now, sent to a boarding school in non-magical England by her remote father, her magic attracts her mother – who’s looking for her, and Morwenna won’t be able to escape. Aren’t you glad your mum isn’t an evil sorceress?
First line: ‘The Phurnacite factory in Abercwmboi killed all the trees for two miles around.‘
Invisible Sun, by David MacInnis Gill (370 pages) – This is the companion to Black Hole Sun. Durango is a sixteen-year-old mercenary who, with his girlfriend, live on the wild frontier that is newly colonised Mars. The first chapter starts in Christchurch, the Capital City of the Zealand Perfecture, and is the largest city on Mars, so we must do something right in the future, I guess?
First line: ‘Vienne points the gun, squeezes the trigger, and fires a live round square into my chest.‘
Illuminate, by Aimee Agresti (514 pages) – High-school student Haven Terra gets an amazing job as an intern to Aurelia Brown, a rich, powerful A-lister who owns the fabulous Chicago hotel Haven gets to live in. She is lucky! But is she really. No, probably not. Aurelia and her circle of minions, the Outfit, are in the business of buying souls, and does Haven want anything to do with that? What does her destiny hold? The first in the Gilded Wings trilogy.
First line: ‘Up until that point, English class had been unremarkable.‘
A Waste of Good Paper, by Sean Taylor (293 pages) – Jason’s been given a diary to write in by Pete, a teacher at the school for boys with behaviour difficulties where Jason has been sent. Because he’s good at writing, if a little reluctant to actually fill in the pages. But things worth recording happen! And so his diary isn’t the waste of good paper Jason initially thought it would be.
First line: ‘Friday the 6th of March - Pete says this is a writing boook that he’s only giving me and he says it’s called JASON’S JOURNAL.‘.
Little Sister, by Aimee Said (301 pages) – Allison can’t wait for her older sister, Larrie, to leave their (Australian, if it matters? just setting the scene) high school so that she can make her mark, for her older sister is super-popular and smart. But when a rumour about Larrie surfaces online, Allison finds that she is in the spotlight for unwanted reasons. Also there is a boy she likes.
First lines: ‘Monday morning: Whitlam High School assembly hall. Welcome to another week of mind-numbing boredom higher education.‘
Love Notes from Vinegar House, by Karen Tayleur (250 pages) – Going to copy this off the book cover: ‘Freya Jackson Kramer has done some stupid things before, but this is the first time they’ve been splashed across Facebook. When she escapes to Vinegar House for the holidays, she thinks she’s leaving her troubles behind. But Freya’s troubles are just beginning. How will she deal with her manipulative cousin, Rumer? How can she avoid the ex-love of her life, Luke Hart? And what secrets lie in the locked attic?’ Also; ghosts.
First line: ‘There are three things you should know about me if we’re ever going to be friends.‘
The Lost Crown, by Sarah Miller (412 pages) – There have been several YA books lately about the last Tsar of Russia and his family; this one focuses on his daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. History tells us how it all ends (pretty tragically!), but The Lost Crown ‘recounts the days of Imperial Russia with lyricism, criticism, and true compassion.’ Quite a grim epilogue you can be sure.
First lines: ‘Our luggage is packed and we’ve said our good-byes. The palace is as dark and still as a museum at midnight, but it’s been hours and the train still isn’t here.‘
Incarnate, by Jodi Meadows (374 pages) – In Range, a million people have been reincarnated for thousands of years, each time able to remember their past lives. Until Ana comes along; she is a new soul, and is subsequently distrusted and feared by people. But not Sam, who develops a relationship with Ana. Romance! Fantasy! Thrills! Book one in a planned trilogy!
First lines: ‘I wasn’t reborn. I was five when I first realized how different that made me.‘
172 Hours on the Moon, Johan Harstad (351 pages) – as reported a little earlier, this one’s a space travel thriller, where a trip to the moon would seem to be the opportunity of a lifetime for three teens, but only one will make it back.
First sentence: “Gentlemen, it’s time,” Dr ______ [suspiciously blacked out name] said, eyeing the seven men in suits around the large conference table.
Cross My Heart, Sasha Gould (263 pages) – set in 16th century Venice. Laura is safely installed in a convent, until her sister unexpectedly dies, and Laura’s father takes her back home, to marry her sister’s odious old fiance. Doom! Luckily, Laura manages to escape this fate, and earn her way into a secret society of women – The Segreta – whose secrets may or may not be deadly, and may be linked to her sister’s untimely demise. The cover says “clandestine romance, political intrigue, and deadly secrets”.
First sentence: His gondola slips through the water like a knife cutting into dark silk.
The One Dollar Horse, Lauren St John (309 pages) – Casey Blue lives in a tower block in East London but dreams of winning the Badminton Horse Trials (which is as far away from a tower block in London as you can get really). When she rescues a starving horse, it seems like she might be a little bit on her way, but her past (and a boy with “melty, dark eyes”) might derail her.
First sentence: Casey used the twin points of her horse’s ears to line up the jump, like a sniper lining up a target on a gun barrel.
Love-shy, Lili Wilkinson (309 pages) – Penny is a journalist-in-training, and works on the school newspaper. When she finds a boy posting on a “love-shy forum” anonymously, she decides she is going to discover who he is, and write a feature article. But who is the love-shy boy?
First sentence: “I found a story.”
Chopsticks, Jessica Anthony & Rodrigo Corral (unpaged) – unlike your average novel: “In a love story told in photographs and drawings, Glory, a brilliant piano prodigy, is drawn to Frank, an artistic new boy, and the farther she falls, the deeper she spirals into madness until the only song she is able to play is ‘Chopsticks.’” (Catalogue)
First sentence: [photo of sunlight through an oak tree].
Preloved, Shirley Marr (272 pages) – Amy’s life is full of hassles (mother, friend, reputation, etc etc). She certainly doesn’t need to be haunted by a 1980s ghost called Logan, who’s either dangerous, annoying, or the ideal boy.
First sentence: Whenever my mum decided to give me advice, it often sounded like this: “Amy, don’t bring an open umbrella into the house, because a ghost might be hiding under it.”
Stir It Up!, Ramin Ganeshram (166 pages) – Anjali lives above her parents’ roti shop in Queens (NY), where she develops a passion for cooking, but her dream of becoming a celebrity chef doesn’t sit well with her traditional Trinidadian parents. When the chance to be a part of a reality TV cooking show arises, Anjali jumps: are her dreams about to be realised?
First sentence: My heart pounds as I race around the kitchen with Deema, filling orders, trying not to get behind.
Tessa Masterson Will go to Prom, Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin (256 pages) – from the people who brought you Jenna & Jonah’s Fauxmance. Lucas and Tessa are best friends, have been forever. Lucas wishes they were more, so when he finally comes out, and asks Tessa to the prom, his world is shaken when Tessa, in turn, comes out as a lesbian. Lucas feels betrayed that she has kept this a secret from him for so long, and when Tessa decides to go to the prom with her girlfriend – and dressed in a tux – and comes under fire as a result, will she be able to count on her best friend for support?
First sentence: Before you read the paper or watch tonight’s news, before you grab the Time magazine in your orthodontist’s office or dig into the police report, before the protesters’ shouts distract you, you should hear the whole thing from the beginning.
Between the Sea and Sky, Jaclyn Dolamore (229 pages) – “Esmerine, a mermaid, grows close to her childhood playmate Alander, a winged man, when they join forces to find her sister Dosia, who has reportedly eloped with a human despite the sisters’ vow to always keep the sea and its people first in their hearts.” (catalogue) “With subtle echoes of Pride and Prejudice” says the cover, which just adds to the charm.
First sentence: It was not every day that a mermaid became a siren, and not every day that Esmerine attended such a party.
Rock On, Denise Vega (297 pages) – Ori has lived a bit in his brother Del’s shadow, but with Del safely away at college, Ori’s chance to step into the spotlight arises. Ori and his band (called The Band to Be Named Later, or TBTBNL) are competing in The Battle of the Bands, and Ori’s the lead singer. But then Del comes back from college, and expects things to revert to the way they were. Can Ori overcome his confidence issues with his brother, and be a true lead singer? Can TBTBNL also win Battle of the Bands glory? Perhaps.
Last sentence: Rock and roll, baby.
Some titles that will be published soon:
172 Hours on the Moon, Johan Harstad. Johan Harstad is a Norwegian author: this one was published as DARLAH in Norway, and won awards.
“Three teenagers are going on the trip of a lifetime. Only one is coming back. It’s been more than forty years since NASA sent the first men to the moon, and to grab some much-needed funding and attention, they decide to launch an historic international lottery in which three lucky teenagers can win a week-long trip to moon base DARLAH 2-a place that no one but top government officials even knew existed until now. The three winners, Antoine, Midori, and Mia, come from all over the world. But just before the scheduled launch, the teenagers each experience strange, inexplicable events. Little do they know that there was a reason NASA never sent anyone back there until now-a sinister reason. But the countdown has already begun.” (goodreads.com)
The Fame Game, Lauren Conrad. For a complete change of pace: Lauren Conrad’s latest novel finds Madison Parker (frenemy of Jane Roberts in L A Candy) about to become famous in Hollywood. But this comes with the usual backstabbing, rumours and negativity. To top it off, there’s a new girl in town who threatens to eclipse Madison’s star. Who’s going to win the fame game?
Insurgent, Veronica Roth. The anticipated sequel to Divergent which will be released in May. “War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.” (goodreads again)
Here is the author’s tumblr, in which she answers random questions about her books and other stuff.
Thanks to Stephanie for the selections.
In other upcoming news: Markus Zusak, author of the über-popular The Book Thief will be publishing a new novel in September this year, called Bridge of Clay. It’s about time! This is how it is summarised so far: “It’s about a boy. His name is Clay. He’s building a bridge. And he wants that bridge to be something truly great and miraculous.” (goodreads.com). This is suitably mysterious. We will let you know when you can reserve a copy!
In other Australian author news, Melina Marchetta recently blogged about the cover of the upcoming concluding chapter in the Lumatere Chronicles, Quintana of Charyn. You can see it right here. She looks suitably confrontational. Quintana will be published in October this year (can’t hardly wait). In the mean time you should recap on the other two: Finnikin of the Rock, and Froi of the Exiles. Rave, rave <3.
Finder’s Shore, by Anna Mackenzie (218 pages) – This, the ‘gripping finale to the award-winning Sea-Wreck Stranger Trilogy’, has Ness returning back to the island she fled from three years previously. A ‘haunting exploration of belonging, of life’s tangled threads, of the stark and unsettling reality of ambition and greed.’ Look for it in next year’s NZ Post Children’s Book Awards, and say to yourself, “man, that guy on that library blog was right – again”.
First lines: ‘Blood binds me to this place. Blood and memory.‘
King of Ithaka, by Tracy Barrett (261 pages) – Telemachos is the son of Odysseus, king of Ithaka, and although the island has been doing okay without its ruler (who has been dealing with the Trojan War) for many years, the people are getting restless. They want a new king! So Telemachos leaves home to find his dad with only a cryptic prophecy to guide him.
First line: ‘Brax snorted and stamped, his bony knee grazing my ear.‘
Bad Taste in Boys, by Carrie Harris (201 pages) – Kate Grable wants to become a physician, so when she gets to help her high school football team she’s thrilled, as it’s a nice career move. And she also has a crush on the quarterback. However, the idiot coach has been giving the team steroids which somehow turn the team into zombies who crave the ‘other’ white meat, if you know what I mean (i.e., they literally want to eat Kate and her pals). Can Kate find an antidote? Or will she be food?
First line: ‘“You’re one of thos genius types,” said Coach, nudging me with a beefy elbow.‘
The Unidentified, by Rae Mariz (296 pages) – It is … the future! But it’s a dystopian future, sadly. Fifteen-year-old Katey goes to school in a mall/school (‘The Game‘) run by corporations, who use the students for market research and product creation. One day she witnesses a shocking anticorporate prank, and by following the clues she discovers a counterculture group who call themselves The Unidentified. They too become part of the marketing they so dislike, so Katey decides to do something that could change The Game forEVER!
First lines: ‘If reality TV cameras were installed in my high school, the would be focused directly on the Pit. That’s where all the drama plays out.‘
Picture The Dead, by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown (262 pages) – I am having trouble summarising this book, so here’s the catalogue; ‘After Jennie Lovell’s fiancé, Will, is killed during the Civil War, she forms an alliance with a spirit photographer and uses her ability to talk to the dead to investigate the secrets Will was hiding and how he really died.’ This book (a ghost story and a mystery!) has many lovely illustrations!
First line: ‘It’s dark outside, an elsewhere hour between midnight and dawn. I lie awake, frozen, waiting for a sound not yet audible.‘
Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt : And Other Things I learned in Southern Belle Hell, by Crickett Rumley (296 pages) – Deliquent seventeen-year-old Jane has been expelled from thirteen boarding schools, and so is sent back to the small town in Alabama her family comes from. There she finds herself stuck in Magnolia Maid Pageant hell, where everyone wears pearls and those massive Gone With The Wind-type dresses covered in ruffles and lace and drink sweet tea and eat fried green tomatoes. Can she escape, or will they make a Southern belle out of her?
First line: ‘There’s a whole chapter in the Magnolia Court Orientation Handbook titled “Manners Befitting a Maid Upon Announcement of Selection to the Court.”‘
The Midnight Palace, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (298 pages) – Ben and Sheere are twins. When just wee babies in Calcutta, they were rescued from an unthinkable threat. Later, in the 1930s and on their sixteenth birthday, it reappears and so they – and a secret society of orphans – must face ‘the most frightening creature in the history of the City of Palaces’. This book is translated from the Spanish, which suggests that it’s probably going to be quite creepy somehow (the scariest night of my life was due to a Spanish horror film. It haunts me still).
First line: ‘Shortly after midnight, a boat emerged out of the mist that rose like a fetid curse from the surface of the Hooghly River.‘
Mostly Good Girls, by Leila Sales (347 pages) – Catalogue, please: ‘Sixteen-year-olds Violet and Katie, best friends since seventh grade despite differences in their family backgrounds and abilities, are pulled apart during their junior year at Massachusetts’ exclusive Westfield School.’ “Brilliant, poignant, and straight-up hilarious,” says Lauren Oliver. “Recommend this to fans of Meg Cabot’s novels and academy-based stories,” argues Booklist. “Suggest this one to readers who enjoy the writing style of Ally Carter. A strong debut that is not be missed,” adds School Library Journal, knowingly.
First lines: ‘Poor Mr. Thompson. Mr’s Thompson is my precalc teacher, and he is also the only male at the Westfield School.‘
Payback Time, by Carl Deuker (298 pages) – Mitch wants to be a writer, so he becomes – a little reluctantly! – the sports reporter for his high school’s newspaper. The football (not soccer, or even rugby, but gridiron) team’s quarterback, Angel, is obviously really talented at his ball-handling abilities, but doesn’t appear too keen to show them on the field. And the coach never lets him anyway. What gives, Angel? What’s the story here? Mitch is determined to find out, ‘in this thriller both thought-provoking and suspenseful.’
First lines: ‘I’m going to be a famous reporter. My name – Daniel True – will be on the front page of the New York Times.’
The Anti-Prom, by Abby McDonald (280 pages) – Three girls, each somehow done a wrong by the guys who were supposed to take them to the school prom, decide to seek revenge and ‘team up for a night of rebellion, romance, and revenge.’ Sort of like Carrie but funnier and not a horror. Heh. Eh heh heh.
First lines: ‘He doesn’t kiss me like that. That’s the first thing I think when I find Kaitlin Carter getting to second base with my boyfriend in the back of our rental limo.‘
An Act of Love, by Alan Gibbons (295 pages) – When only seven-years-old, besties Chris and Imran became blood brothers. Now, eleven years later, one has joined the army and is serving in Afghanistan, and the other is a potential jihad recruit. They certainly aren’t friends anymore. ‘Will their childhood bond be strong enough to overcome an extremist plot?’
First lines: ‘you think you’re invincible when you’re a kid. Invincible, that’s a laugh.‘
This post is MASSIVE. Lots of new books, you see.
Thyla, by Kate Gordon (279 pages) – Amnesia, Tasmania, and identity; these are the three subject headings for this book which I think might have an element of the paranormal? Some girls are missing from a school, and it’s all a bit mysterious; the protaganist, Tessa, was found in the bush, living feral and without memory of who she was. Anyway! It gets a glowing review on Amazon. And a sequel is on the way.
First lines: ‘My name is Tessa. It was the one thing I knew for certain. the one word that stood lonely in my head when the lights were turned on.‘
Cloaked, by Alex Finn (341 pages) – This is by the author of Beastly (recently released as a film) and, similarly, is a modern retelling of a fairy tale. Teenager Johnny, who repairs shoes in Miami, is asked by a princess (or someone named Princess? I need to research more) for help to find her brother who has been turned into a toad. That’s like two fairy tales right there.
First lines: ‘I’ve never seen a princess before. And it looks like I won’t be seeing one today either.‘
Recovery Road, by Blake Nelson – A pair of teenaged addicts meet up in rehab, and form a relationship that they try to continue once they’re out again. Of course, both have inner demons and so their relationship is put to the test. Will it last? Will they stay on the wagon?
First lines: ‘You can’t tell what Spring Meadow is from the road. The sign, nestled beneath a large oak tree, could be for a retirement village.’
Phantoms in the Snow, by Kathleen Benner Duble (226 pages) – Newly orphaned Noah, whose parents raised him to be a pacifist, is sent to live with his uncle. He – the uncle – lives on an army base in Colorado, where a division of winter warfare soldiers train. They are called Phantoms, as you can’t see them in the snow. Oh and it’s 1944! So Noah needs to ‘resolve his upbringing with the horrors of World War II’ while on an army base and on the front lines in Italy.
First line: ‘Noah Garrett sat on the kitchen chair and listened to the rhythmic ticking of the hall clock echoing through the nearly empty rooms of his house and to the two lowered voices coming from behind the hastily shut door, the minister’s gentle and quiet, his neighbour’s shrill and determined.‘
Throat, R. A. Nelson (453 pages) – Emma is seventeen and has epilepsy, and her seizures are unpredictable and often. She’s lost friends and can’t even legally drive. One unexpected benefit (I guess?) is that when she’s attacked by a vampire, a seizure prevents him from killing her, and she escapes. Now she has all the powers of a vampire but without having to avoid sunlight or drink blood. The original vampire is determined to make a meal of her, though, and Emma must prepare … for a fight to the death!
First line: ‘When I was thirteen, I ran away from home because of a curse.‘
Corsets & Clockwork : 13 Steampunk Romances, edited by Trisha Telep (437 pages) – Imagine the Victorian era, but with high tech and technomagical machinery, and ‘feisty heroines and genius inventors, supernatural outcasts and idealistic heroes’. Hold that image. Now, add a little romance, and there you have it! Steampunk romance.
First line: ‘There are millions of stories in the Clockwork City; here are thirteen of them.‘
Shadowspell, by Jenna Black (295 pages) – This is the second installment in the Faeriewalker series (the first is Glimmerglass). Aaaaaand here’s what the catalogue says; ‘on top of spending most of her time in a bunkerlike safe house and having her dates hijacked by a formidable Fae bodyguard, Faeriewalker Dana Hathaway is in for some more bad news: the Erlking and his pack of murderous minions known as the Wild Hunt have descended upon Avalon.’ Uh oh!
First line: ‘Going on a date with a bodyguard hanging over your shoulder sucks.‘
Crossing the Tracks, by Barbara Stuber (258 pages) – Missouri, 1926, and fifteen-year-old Iris is hired out to be a companion and housekeeper for an elderly woman. Alone, and stuck in the ‘gritty rural’ country, where a nearby farmer is menacing everyone, she finds herself and learns to ‘trust, hope, and – ultimately – love’.
First lines: ‘I’m under Mama’s coffin. My little house in the centre of the parlour has silky black curtain walls and a hard ceiling that I can touch with the top of my head if I sit cross-legged and stretch my neck.’
Entwined, by Heather Dixon (472 pages) – After their mother dies, Princess Azalea and her 11 princess sisters are locked in a castle to mourn her death. Each night they join The Keeper for a dance in a magical silver forest, accessible via a magical passage. But soon they discover that he likes to keep things. The clue’s in the name, your highnesses!
First line: ‘ An hour before Azalea’s first ball began, she paced the ballroom floor, tracing her toes in a waltz.‘
Demonglass, by Rachel Hawkins (359 pages) – Sophie thought she was just a witch, but she is actually a demon, and her powers threaten everyone. SO she heads to London in an attempt to have her powers removed. The Eye, the organisation out to rid the world of ‘Prodigum’ (i.e. magic users, faeries, and shapeshifters) are also on her tail. Her pointy devil tail. (Made that up.)
First line: ‘At a normal high school, having class outside on a gorgeous May day is usually pretty awesome.’
What Happened to Goodbye, by Sarah Dessen (402 pages) – Mclean and her father are always on the move, going from town to town and from school to school. At each stop she reinvents herself, but now, at Lakeview, she’s trying to be just herself. Mclean. Not anyone else. Partly because she meets and falls for Colgate (just kidding! his name is Dave) and he falls for the real Mclean, whoever that is. Are your Mcleans showing?
First line: ‘The table was sticky, there was a cloudy smudge on my water glass, and we’d been seated for ten minutes with no sign of a waitress.‘
Bumped, by Megan McCafferty (232 pages) – It is the future! And all people over 18 are infertile. As a consequence, teen girls are paid to conceive and give birth to peoples’ kids, and teens become the most prized members of society. Twins Melody and Harmony, were separated at birth; Melody has an ‘enviable conception contract’ and Harmony believes ‘pregging for profit’ is a sin. But they soon find they have more in common than just DNA.
First lines: ‘I’m sixteen. Pregnant. And the most important person on the planet.‘
The Marbury Lens, by Andrew Smith (358 pages) – This seems complex! So here’s the catalogue summary; ‘Sixteen-year-old Jack is kidnapped. He escapes, narrowly. The only person he tells is his best friend, Conner. When they arrive in London for summer break, a stranger hands Jack a pair of glasses. Through the lenses, he sees another world called Marbury.’
(Fantastic!) first line: ‘I guess in the old days, in other places, boys like me usually ended up twisting and kicking in the empty air beneath gallows.‘
Timeless, by Alexandra Monir (290 pages) – Michele’s parents die (lots of orphans this week!) and she is sent to live with her rich-but-distant grandparents in New York. She discovers a diary which transports her back to 1910. Literally!
First line: ‘Michele stood alone in the centre of a hall of mirrors.‘
Now over to Grimm for mooooooore new books.
Keep Sweet, by Michele Dominguez Greene (215 pages) – Alva Jane’s family are Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, and it’s a rather large family: 29 brothers and sisters, and a father with seven wives. She doesn’t question her life, until she’s caught innocently kissing her crush and is forced into a marriage to a fifty year old man.
First sentence: ‘I closed my eyes at the memory of Joseph John’s face, flushed with excitement as he whispered those words to me – the words that changed my life forever.’
Stay, by Deb Caletti (313 pages) – Clara is caught in an unhealthy obsessive relationship with Christian, until she escapes and leaves town. Noone knows where she is, but she is still unable to feel safe, fearing he might find her.
First sentence: ‘First off, I’ve never told this story to anyone.’
Jenna & Jonah’s Fauxmance, by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin (229 pages) – Charlie and Fielding are stars of the show Jenna & Jonah’s How to Be a Rock Star, and it’s a raging hit. Part of the charm of the show is Charlie and Fielding’s “relationship”, so they are to hold hands and kiss and whatnot when they’re out in public. Trouble is, they hate each other. Then when a paparazzo gets hold of a rumour that could ruin everything for them and they have to lie low for a while they finally get to find out more about each other: will this be a good thing or an even worse thing?
First sentence: ‘I will never like a boy like Fielding Withers (and, yes, I know I used the word “like” twice in one sentence, but meaning different things).’
Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys (338 pages) – In 1941 in Lithuania Lina and her mother and brother are captured by Soviet guards and shipped off to Siberia, not knowing if they will see their father again (and it’s thousands and thousands of kilometres). The story is based on first hand accounts of survivors of the Siberian deportations.
First sentence: ‘They took me in my nightgown.’
The Ghoul Next Door, by Lisi Harrison (241 pages) – from the author of The Clique series, this is the first in the Monster High series. “Freak is the new chique” says the back cover! Cleopatra De Nile is used to being in charge at Merston High, but now there’s Frankie Stein and Melody Carver to contend with: her popularity is seriously in danger, but then Frankie and Melody have their own issues as well.
First sentence: ‘The amber-infused air snapped with anxiety.’
Livvie Owen Lived Here, by Sarah Dooley (229 pages) – Livvie is autistic and has frequent outbursts, causing trouble for her family: her destructive tendencies mean they’re constantly on the move. When they are faced again with eviction, Livvie decides to search out the house where she felt happy: “The problem is, Livvie burned down that house” says the cover.
First sentence: ‘I heard the whistle blast at 9.15.’
A box of chocolates: horror, angels, love triangles, the origins of a New York icon, memoirs of addiction, high fantasy, gritty realism, dramas, and short stories, oh and chimpanzees again!
We All Fall Down: Living With Addiction, and Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines, by Nic Sheff – Two memoirs with rave reviews on the subject of drug addiction, and companions to the book Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff. On Tweak: “The author details his immersion in a world of hardcore drugs, revealing the mental and physical depths of addiction, and the violent relapse one summer in California that forever changed his life, leading him down the road to recovery.” (Library catalogue)
Half Brother, Kenneth Oppel (377 pages) – Oh fab! Ben’s father is a behavioural scientist, and on Ben’s 13th birthday, Zan comes to live with the family, as an experiment: Zan is a chimpanzee. Cool, you’d think. Well yes indeed!, although having a chimpanzee for a half-brother can have its hairy moments, and then when things start going wrong can Ben save Zan? (From what, I want to know, hoping it’s not horrible, and that it has a happy ending like the Chimpanzee movie.)
First sentence: This is how we got Zan.
Angry Young Man, Chris Lynch (167 pages) – Xan (not to be confused with Zan) is an angry young man, becoming increasingly involved in hard-core activism and groups of anarchists. Robert, his older brother, is completely different, steady and together. But when Xan appears to spiral out of control will Robert be able to rescue him, and is Robert such a solid, dependable hero anyway?
First sentence: I want you to understand my brother.
Huntress, Malinda Lo (371 pages) – High fantasy (complete with map) inspired by the I Ching, and prequel (by several centuries) to Ash, in Huntress the human kingdom is suffering: the sun never shines and strange creatures have begun appearing. Two seventeen year old girls are chosen to go on a dangerous journey to save the kingdom. Along the way they fall in love, but then it becomes clear that there should only be one Huntress saviour: will they be torn apart?
First sentence: She saw a beach made of ice, and she felt her heart breaking.
Summer and the City, Candace Bushnell (409 pages) – sequel to The Carrie Diaries and therefore also prequel to Sex and the City. Carrie’s having a good summer, enjoying the shopping, the parties, and the men the Big Apple provide, plus she’s in a writing class learning what will become her trade. During the summer she will meet two of her BFFs, Samantha and Miranda, and become more Carrie Bradshaw-ish.
First sentence: First Samantha asks me to find her shoe.
Dramarama, E Lockhart (305 pages) – Sadye (Sarah) and Demi (Douglas) become instant best friends when they meet at the auditions for a prestigious drama camp. When they both get in things look exciting – the chance to study under one of New York’s leading directors, for example, but it’s drama camp in more ways than one: can their friendship survive?
First sentence: Transcript of a microcassette recording: Demi: Is it on?
We’ll Always Have Summer, Jenny Han (291 pages) – the conclusion to the trilogy that began with The Summer I Turned Pretty. Belly and Jeremiah have been together for two years. Things should be happily ever after, but they aren’t really. Belly has unresolved feelings for Conrad, and when Jeremiah proposes marriage she must choose between the two, possibly breaking one of their hearts in the process. Obviously you must read this if you’ve read the others! And bring a hankie!
First sentence: On Wednesday nights when I was little, my mom and I would watch old musicals.
The Saga of Larten Crepsley: Ocean of Blood, Darren Shan (247 pages) – The prequel to Cirque Du Freak, where you get to learn more about Larten: what he was like as a teenager, rebelling against vampire authorities and hitting the road with his brother, leaving a trail of human destruction behind them. But are there dangers for him in this wanton, destructive lifestyle?
First sentence: The vampire known as Quicksilver threw a knife high into the smoke-clogged air of the tavern.
Fallen Angel, Heather Terrell (310 pages) – Ellie is shy and withdrawn around everyone except her friend Ruth, until she meets Michael. Together, she and Michael discover they have a similar secret: otherworldly powers, which will come in handy when they’re pitched into the eternal conflict, the battle between good and evil.
First sentence: I watched my curtains billow in the early autumn wind that wafted through my opened bedroom window.
Virgin Territory, Jame Lecesne (218 pages) – Set around the time of September 11 2001. Dylan’s father moves the family from New York to a small Florida town after the death of his mother. Dylan finds himself drifting through summer, losing a sense of his future while his past – and memories of his mother – appears to fade. When the Blessed Virgin Mary is sighted in town, interesting new arrivals bring a new perspective for Dylan: can he forge ahead and carve out a new future for himself?
First sentence: I’m staring out the passenger window of Doug’s banged-up Ford Explorer as we speed along I-95.
The Kissing Game: Short Stories, Aidan Chambers (215 pages) – including several pieces of flash fiction, which we like as a concept. The cover says, “In these sixteen short stories, acclaimed author Aidan Chambers examines moments of truth in which a conversation or an event suddenly reveals a surprising, sometimes life-altering meaning.”
First sentence (’Cindy’s Day Out’): Enough! she said to herself.
Rose Sees Red, Cecil Castellucci (197 pages) – It is 1982 in New York and Rose is a ballet dancer who attends the High School of Performing Arts. Yrena is Rose’s neighbour, a visiting Russian dancer who, due to the Cold War between USSR and the United States, is all but a prisoner in her apartment. One night Yrena, intent on experiencing New York life, escapes through Rose’s apartment window, and the two hit the town for a wild night of adventure.
First sentence: I was black inside so I took everything black.
The Children of the Lost, David Whitley (357 pages) – the second book in the Agora trilogy that began with The Midnight Charter. Mark and Lily are exiled from the city of Agora, and find refuge in a small nearby village. Lily is happy, but Mark longs to return to Agora to take revenge and find answers.
First sentence: Gradually, Lily became aware that she was being watched.
Kick, Walter Dean Myers and Ross Workman (197 pages) – Ross Workman wrote to Walter Dean Myers saying he was a fan of his books and Walter Dean Myers replied saying let’s write a book together, so they did. True story. Kick is about a troubled boy who’s an excellent football (soccer) player, on his way to the state cup final, until he ends up in jail. Can he and his mentor, a policeman called Sergeant Brown, turn his life around?
First sentence: Bill Kelly and I had been friends since we played high school basketball together.
I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend, Cora Harrison (342 pages) – Jenny Cooper is Jane’s cousin, and goes to live with the Austens, which is an education in the world of balls, beautiful dresses, turns about the room, gossip, and other such things. When she (Jenny) falls in love, Jane is there to help her out.
First sentence: It’s a terrible thing to write: Jane looks like she could die – but it’s even worse to have the thought jumping into your mind every few minutes.
Pathfinder, Orson Scott Card (657 pages) – Rigg is able to see into people’s paths, a secret he shares only with his father. When his father dies, Rigg learns that he’s been keeping a whole lot of other secrets, about Rigg and his family. Rigg has other powers…
First sentence: Rigg and Father usually set the traps together, because it was Rigg who had the knack of seeing the paths that the animals they wanted were still using.
Firespell, Chloe Neill (278 pages) – Lily is a new girl at an exclusive academy and she doesn’t fit in and has no friends apart from her roommate Scout. When she discovers that Scout has magical powers and protects the city from supernatural monsters, Lily is keen to help, but can she, if she has no powers of her own?
First sentence: They were gathered around a conference table in a high-rise, eight men and women, no one under the age of sixty-five, all of them wealthy beyond measure.
The Body at the Tower, Y S Lee (344 pages) – the second book in the Agency Victorian detective series (the first is A Spy in the House). Mary Quinn, under cover, investigates the mysterious scandals surrounding the building of the Houses of Parliament, but there are distractions (suspicious workmates, past secrets, and the return of James Easton).
First sentence: A sobbing man huddles on a narrow ledge, clawing at his eyes to shield them from the horror far below.
The Doomsday Box, Herbie Brennan (328 pages) – a Shadow Project book. Time travel is possible, trouble is someone (secret codename Cobra) has used it to transport the black plague into the 21st Century. The supernatural teen spies of the Shadow Project must avert disaster, while also averting their own disaster, on the run from the KGB in Moscow in the 1960s.
First sentence: Opal fastened the strap around her ankle and stood up to admire her new shoes.
Zora and Me, Victoria Bond and T R Simon (170 pages) – based on events in the life of author Zora Neale Hurston. When a young man’s body is found on train tracks in a small Florida town Zora thinks she knows who did it, so she and her friends set out to prove her theory and search for the truth. Narrated by Zora’s best friend Carrie, hence the title.
First sentence: It’s funny how you can be in a story but not realise until the end that you were in one.
The False Princess, Eilis O’Neal (319 pages) – Nalia believes herself to be princess of Thorvaldor, but discovers she’s actually a stand in. She’s cast out, called Sinda, and sent to live with her unwelcoming aunt in a village where she (Sinda) learns she has magic, which is Sinda’s ticket out, albeit a dangerous ticket. This one is called “A dazzling first novel” and “an engrossing fantasy full of mystery, action, and romance”, which sounds great.
First sentence: The day they came to tell me, I was in one of the gardens with Kiernan, trying to decipher a three-hundred-year-old map of the palace grounds.
Fallout, Ellen Hopkins (663 pages) – the companion to Crank and Glass. About Kristina’s three oldest children, who must climb out from under their mother’s meth addiction and the hold it has over the family. Novel in verse form.
First sentence: That life was good / before she / met / the monster, / but those page flips / went down before / our collective / cognition.
Accomplice, Eireann Corrigan (259 pages) – Two friends stage a kidnapping as a joke and in order to gain notoreity. Of course this is going to be a very bad idea indeed.
First sentence: The picture they usually use is one from the Activities spread of the yearbook.
Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins (372 pages) – romantic tension in Paris, where Anna (against her will, go figure) goes to spend a year at school, leaving behind her almost-boyfriend and meeting the marvelous Etienne St Clair Smart who, problematically, has an actual-girlfriend.
First sentence: Here is everything I know about France: Madeline and Amélie and Moulin Rouge.
Across the Universe, Beth Revis (398 pages) – this one has an almost retro sci-fi type of cover (which you can’t tell much from the pic over there). Amy is cryogenically frozen, to wake 300 years into the future on a new planet, however her cryo chamber is unplugged and she’s stuck on her spaceship, Godspeed, with the scary Eldest and his son Elder, knowing that someone is trying to kill her.
First sentence: Daddy said, ‘let Mom go first.’
Matched, Ally Condie (366 pages) – The matching screen is a device used by society’s officials to determine who is matched with whom for life. Cassia’s best friend flashes up on the matching screen for her, perfect, she thinks, until she sees another face appear fleetingly. Cassia must choose between two lives, between “perfection and passion”.
First sentence: Now that I’ve found the way to fly, which direction should I go into the night?
Birth of a Killer, Darren Shan (253 pages) – a new series from the horror man! Larten is a young man all alone, until he meets Seba Nile, who teaches him all about being a vampire, but will Larten turn his back on being human and embrace this new world?
First sentence: When Larten Crepsley awoke and yawned one grey Tuesday morning, he had no idea that by midday he would have become a killer.
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, Julie Halpern (245 pages) – Things are changing in Jessie’s world, her friends are getting cooler (she’s not), so she’s on the lookout for a new set of friends. But can she befriend the Dungeons and Dragons crowd without being tainted with their geekdom?
First sentence: I so used to love the first day of school.
The Radleys, Matt Haig (337 pages) – the humorous side of abstaining from being a vampire. The Radleys are a fairly average family (two parents, two kids) living in a fairly average British town, except for the one thing (they’re vampires, but they’re abstaining). Then Uncle Will arrives, the black sheep of the family, and he’s going to shake things up a bit.
First sentence: It is a quiet place, especially at night.
Yellowcake, Margo Lanagan (235 pages) – Ten short stories from one of Australia’s literary fantasy queens.
First sentence (from ‘The Point of Roses’) – Billy flew into the kitchen.
Angel, L A Weatherly (507 pagtes) – Willow doesn’t know what she is, just that she’s different. Alex does know what she is, and that they are enemies. An “epic tale of love, destiny and sacrifice.” With angels, obvs.
First sentence: “Is that your car?” asked the girl at the 7-Eleven checkout counter.
Not That Kind of Girl, Siobhan Vivian (322 pages) – Natalie is the good, bright girl in school, but she nearly gets expelled anyway, so what’s the point in being good? Is it better to be the bad girl?
First sentence: On the first day of my senior year, I happened to walk past the auditorium during the freshman orientation assembly.
Five Flavours of Dumb, Anthony John (338 pages) – Piper is in a band called Dumb, and her bandmates do indeed seem to be a bit that way, plus she’s deaf, which makes being in a band particularly interesting: she has no idea if they’re truly terrible or really good. This doesn’t stop her from determindely finding a gig for them, with some self-discovery along the way.
First sentence: For the record, I wasn’t around the day they decided to become Dumb.