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New Books

Pirate Cinema, by Cory Doctorow (384 pages) – In near-future England, the law has become really tight with digital downloads. If you’re caught three times your household’s internet is blocked for a year. Which is actually not too dissimilar to NZ, actually. Anyway, sixteen-year-old Trent, moviemaker and downloader, gets banned, nearly destroying his family – they all rely on the internet for work. He runs away to London and joins up with like-minded people who are fighting the wealthy media conglomerates that control the government.

First line: ‘I will never forget the day my family got cut off from the Internet, I was hiding in my room as I usually did after school let out, holed up with a laptop I’d bought thirdhand and that I nursed to health with parts from here and there and a lot of cursing and sweat.

Burning Blue, by Paul Griffin (293 pages) – Rich, popular, and pretty Nicole is attacked by someone who throws acid on her face, disfiguring her. Quiet hacker Jay, who goes to her school, decides that he will find out who it was that attacked Nicole, and in the process he begins to fall for Nicole, whose personality is pretty attractive also, evidently.

First lines: ‘I was at the cemetery when it happened. I didn’t even know Nicole at the time. Well, I knew of her. Everybody did.

All You Never Wanted, by Adele Griffin (225 pages) – Alex is super-pretty, and her parents are rich, so she lives the life. Her sister, Thea, doesn’t quite have the looks, however, and she’s jealous of Alex’s boyfriend, Joshua. They have the house to themselves one weekend and plan a party; Thea also plans to sabotage Alex’s relationship, and she will do anything to get the life that Alex wants. ANYTHING

First line: ‘She gets into the car and then she can’t drive it. Can’t even start the engine for the gift of the air conditioner. She is a living corpse roasting in sun-warmed leather.

The Blood Keeper, by Tessa Gratton (422 pages) – Mab Prowd is a blood witch, and spends her time practising blood magic on the remote Kansas farm where she and other blood witches hang out, doing their thing (i.e., blood magic) and avoiding non-blood magic studies. Mab accidently activates a long-dead and powerful curse, which messes with her magic. It does result in her meeting Will Sanger, a local boy, for whom she develops an attachment. Ooooh

First line: ‘The last thing the Deacon said to me before he died was “Destroy those roses.”

The Lost Prince, by Julie Kagawa (395 pages) – This is book five of The Iron Fey series. It’s about fairies! But not Rainbow Magic fairies, that’s for sure. In this volume Ethan Chase, whose dislike of the Faery realm is such that he ignores them all, has to break his own rules when the Fey start to disappear and his family is endangered.

First lines: ‘My name is Ethan Chase. And I doubt I’ll live to see my eighteenth birthday. That’s not me being dramatic; it just is.

Illumination, by Karen Brooks (664 pages) – This is book III of The Curse of the Bond Riders, following on from Tallow and Votive. Now Tallow ‘sets in motion forces beyond her control. From Serenissima to Farrowfare, enemies – as well as those she has always trusted – plot to ensure her compliance and, ultimately, destruction. But in doing so, they make a fatal mistake – they underestimate her and the power she can wield.’ Yes I just copied and pasted that

First lines: ‘Dawn infused the glade with a sickly light. In the distance, an owl gave a tired hoot and a gentle wind stirred the trees.

The Assassin’s Curse, by Cassandra Rose Clarke (298 pages) – Ananna is told that she has to marry some dude from another pirate clan. She’s not keen so abandons ship, only to have an assassin sent after her. She accidently misuses her magic, cursing them both – her and the assassin – and binding them together. To break the curse they must complete three tasks, and soon romance blossoms betwixt them, yarrr.

First line: ‘I ain’t never been one to trust beautiful people, and Tarrin of the Hariri was the most beautiful man I ever saw.

99 Flavours of Suck, by Tania Hutley (237 pages) – Kane’s mother is a dog-whisperer with her own television show, and together they track down a sheep-killing dog for her show. He gets bitten and transforms into some kind of werewolf, which results in nonstop itching (among other things). The only way to break the curse is a kiss from his soulmate, Pippa, who unfortunately hates his guts.

First line: ‘On my babe-scale, Pippa Jensen shoots past infinity.

The Dark Unwinding, by Sharon Cameron (318 pages) – Katherine is told to sort out her uncle, who is reportedly insane and squandering the family fortune. However, she finds that he’s a genius with clockwork who has employed an entire village of people rescued from London workhouses, and his apprentice is hot. She’s torn between the family she’s part of, the people he’s helping, and the hot apprentice in this romantic gothic adventure.

First lines: ‘Warm sun and robin’s-egg skies were inappropriate conditions for sending one’s uncle to a lunatic asylum. I had settled this point four hours earlier, while miles of road slipped beneath the carriage wheels.

Regine’s Book : A Teen Girl’s Last Words, by Regine Stokke (329 pages) – Regine Stokke was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008, and started a blog in which she  wrote about the last year of her life (she died a year later). This book is reproduction of her blog and many of the comments she received from the hundreds of followers she had, and is full of photos, and you might need a box of tissues with you when you read it.

First line: ‘Tuesday, Nov 4 2008 – Disclaimer; I’ve decided to start a blog about what it’s like to get a life-threatening disease. Some of the content will therefore be too heavy for some people.

The Shadow Society, by Marie Rutkoski (408 pages) – At the age of five, Darcy Jones was abandoned outside a firestation in Chicago. She doesn’t remember much but the new boy – Conn – at her high school awakens old memories. She discovers that she’s in fact from an alternate timeline where the Great Chicago Fire never happened and where Shades prey on humans. She must infiltrate the Shadow Society to reveals what the Shades have planned.

First line: ‘Knowing what I know now, I’d say my foster mother had her reasons for throwing a kitchen knife at me.

Game Changer, by Margaret Peterson Haddix (250 pages) – KT Sutton is the star pitcher of her softball team, and so her life is pretty much softball-centred. However, she blacks out during a game and awakens in a world where sports and academia have reversed roles. Sports is taught all day long, with hours of tedious practice, while everyone obsesses over after-school academic competition.

First lines: ‘KT Sutton swung her arm in a phantom arc. Her hand released a phantom ball. The perfect pitch.

Looking forward to:

More stuff! Including more zombies.

Zom-B, Darren Shan (September/October). This is the start of a new series by the horror master. I have read that there’s rather a lot of blood and stuff, so if you’ve got a cast-iron stomach you might love this. “Zom-B is a radical new series about a zombie apocalypse, told in the first person by one of its victims. The series combines classic Shan action with a fiendishly twisting plot and hard-hitting and thought-provoking moral questions dealing with racism, abuse of power and more. This is challenging material, which will captivate existing Shan fans and bring in many new ones. As Darren says, “It’s a big, sprawling, vicious tale…a grisly piece of escapism, and a barbed look at the world in which we live. Each book in the series is short, fast-paced and bloody. A high body-count is guaranteed!” (goodreads.com)

Flesh & Bone, Jonathan Maberry (September/October). The third in a trilogy (maybe?) that started with Rot & Ruin. “In the Rot & Ruin… everything wants to kill you” (goodreads.com). Everything means escaped zoo and circus animals, and a new breed of zombie, who are faster and smarter. How is it possible then for Chong and his friends to survive? Tom better have trained them well. Plus we do like the rather disturbing cover.

Iron Legends, Julie Kagawa (September/October). If you’ve been reading Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, then you might like to read these three novellas in one volume (called ‘Winter’s Passage’, ‘Summer’s Crossing’ and ‘Iron’s Prophecy’).

New Books

A couple of angels, fairies (perhaps!), a shade, a troubled teen, and twins.

Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Graham Joyce (414 pages) – One day (Christmas, to be exact), Peter gets a phone call from his parents to say that his sister, Tara, has arrived home. Tara has been gone for twenty years, and she’s back with incredible tales of adventure. But Tara looks the same as she did when she disappeared, and Peter wonders if there’s something a bit different about her (and do the woods around their parents’ home have something to do with it?).

First sentence: In the deepest heart of England there is a place where everything is at fault.

Fury, Rebecca Lim (368 pages) – the fourth book in the Mercy series. “Heartbreak. Vengeance. Fury. Mercy is an exiled angel cast down to earth and forced to live out thousands of different lives for her own protection. Betrayed by her eternal love, Luc, Mercy burns with fury. The time of reckoning is here and now she must wage open war with Luc and his demons. Ryan’s love for Mercy is more powerful than ever, but loving an angel is mortally dangerous. As their two worlds collide, Mercy approaches her ultimate breathtaking choice.” (catalogue)

First sentence: Picture, if you can, the ancient city of Milan in the dead of night, lashed by an unimaginable storm.

Shift, Jeri Smith-Ready (367 pages) – this is the second in the Shade trilogy. “Aura’s life is anything but easy. Her boyfriend, Logan, died, and his slides between ghost and shade have left her reeling. Aura knows he needs her now more than ever. She loves Logan, but she can’t deny her connection with the totally supportive, totally gorgeous Zachary. And she’s not sure that she wants to. Logan and Zachary will fight to be the one by her side, but Aura needs them both to uncover the mystery of her past – the mystery of the Shift. As Aura’s search uncovers new truths, she must decide whom to trust with her secrets… and her heart” (cover).

First sentence: I held my breath as it began, the last verse of the last song.

Happy Families, Tanita S Davis (234 pages) – Twins Ysabel and Justin have a perfect life and a happy family, and are preparing for life after school (Ysabel as an aspiring jewellery designer, Justin as a college student), when their father makes an announcement that will turn their world on its end.

First sentence: The surge of chattering, pointing, gawking people pours into the massive auditorium, and I feel a shiver crawl up my arms.

Heaven, Alexandra Adornetto (417 pages) – the conclusion to the Halo trilogy. In which Bethany and Xavier take a rather important step in their relationship – a forbidden marriage – and come up against the Sevens, who are (I think) like the angel equivalent of the SAS, and who are bent on keeping Bethany and Xavier apart. Will true love conquer?

First sentence(s): Everything began to rattle. I clutched the edge of the table and watched my engagement ring tumble onto the checkered floor of Sweethearts Cafe.

Trapped Outside a Cage, Ken Benn (237 pages, New Zealand author) – “Rochelle’s brother, Jack, is in prison for the murder of Methsy, and Rochelle is convinced he didn’t do it. But if Jack is innocent, then why has he confessed to the crime? Rochelle is about to find out that something or someone with sinister intentions is behind Jack’s actions” (summary from the publisher – thanks!).

New Books

More, as promised!

POD, Stephen Wallenfels (297 pages) – a POD is a sort of alien flying thing that destroys (“zaps” says the back cover, a little playfully) people who venture out of their houses. Josh and his father are trapped in their house, slowly running out of food. Megs is – a little more tenuously – trapped in a multi storey car park, with “dangerous security staff” lurking in the hotel next door. What’s more dangerous? The PODs, or the humans left?

First sentence: The screeching wakes me.

Dust Girl, Sarah Zettel (292 pages) – the first of the American Fairy trilogy. It’s 1935 and dust storms are tormenting Kansas. This is bad for Callie, whose mother insists on staying in Slow Run, waiting for Callie’s father (who is never coming back). When Callie’s mother also disappears in a violent storm, Callie befriends Jack, and they hitch rides on trains (hobo-style) to California. But! Callie is about to learn that the supernatural world is alive and well, and is looking for her (and indeed, she might be one of them).

First sentence: Once upon a time, I was a girl called Callie.

Reunited, Hilary Westman Graham (325 pages) – Alice, Summer and Tiernan used to be best friends, and best fans of the group Level3. But the band split up, and so did they. A few years later, at the end of high school, Level3 announces a one-time-only reunion concert. So Alice, Summer and Tiernan go on a road trip together to the concert, but will they be able to reestablish their friendship?

First sentence: “Is the blindfold really necessary?” Alice asked her parents.

Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe, Shelley Coriell (299 pages) – Chloe is super popular at school, until her best friend suddenly goes cold on her and turns her into a social outcast. So Chloe joins the school radio station – which is so not cool, but necessary – where she becomes the host of a call-in show, with mixed (and possibly romantic?) results.

First sentence: I loved being a burrito.

This is so not happening, Kieran Scott (315 pages) – This is the conclusion to the trilogy that began with She’s So Dead to Us and continued with He’s So Not Worth It. Ally and Jake being their senior year together together, but a bit shakily. Then life gets complicated and seems to be pulling them apart: as high school ends will they end too, or stick together?

First sentence: “Chloe’s pregnant?” Jake blurted, pushing himself up off the ground.

Bullet Boys, Ally Kennen (320 pages) – “Alex, Levi and Max follow the young soldiers from the local army camp on the moor. But harmless rivalry develops into something far more incendiary. When the boys discover a cache of buried weapons near the training grounds, deadly forces are brought into play.” (catalogue)

First sentence: Alex never killed hares.

A Breath of Eyre, Eve Marie Mont (342 pages) – Emma lives partly in the real world and partly in the imaginary world of the books she reads and the stories she makes up in her head. When reading an old copy of Jane Eyre during a lightning storm, Emma suddenly finds herself catapulted into Jane’s shoes: and the brooding gaze of Mr Rochester… (You could try it with one of our not-so-old copies of Jane Eyre.)

First sentence: There was no possibility of taking a swim that day.

New Books

This week’s selection is brought to you by heart shaped things, sunglasses, and a whole lot of love.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Saenz (359 pages) – Dante and Ari are opposites (the cover tells me in detail), so opposite that in fact they probably shouldn’t attract, but they do! “In breathtaking prose, American Book Award winner Benjamin Alires Saenz captures those moments that make a boy a man as he explores loyalty and trust, friendship and love” (cover!).

First sentence: One summer night I fell asleep, hoping the world would be different when I woke.

Love? Maybe, Heather Hepler (267 pages) – a Valentine’s Day story! Piper’s birthday is Valentine’s Day, which may be one of the reasons why she’s a bit cynical about the whole thing. But when her one best friend suffers a broken heart two weeks before the BIG DAY, she agrees to get involved in a plot to restore said heart, even if it means going on a date herself. All of a sudden everything is warm and fuzzy for Piper: her heart shaped lollies are a hit (see cover), she has a popular boyfriend, and someone’s leaving secret gifts in her locker.

First sentence: Claire tells me it’s romantic that my birthday is on Valentine’s Day, but then she thinks it’s romantic when Stuart remembers to say excuse me after he burps.

The Darlings in Love, Melissa Kantor (311 pages) – The Darlings are three best friends, Victoria, Natalya and Jane (as seen in The Darlings are Forever), and they fall in love! This could lead to happiness, or heartbreak, or both! (Preferrably in reverse order.)

First sentence: Natalya pulled her dark blue winter jacket more tightly around her, shivering in the sharp January wind as she waited for the light to change.

The Disenchantments, Nina LaCour (307 pages) – Colby and Bev are in a band – The Disenchantments – and the plan is to graduate and tour Europe. But Bev disenchants The Disenchantments when she announces she’s ditching them to go off on her own travels. So plans must change, and the band swaps Europe for the Pacific Northwest, and the future becomes much less certain.

First sentence: Bev says when she’s onstage she feels the world holding its breath for her.

Love & Haight, Susan Carlton (176 pages) – In 1971 Chloe and MJ have a plan to travel to San Francisco to spend the Christmas/New Year break with Chloe’s hippy aunt. Chloe has a second plan, involving her secret, unwanted pregnancy. Reviewers say this book is an interesting historical account of 1970s San Francisco, hippy culture, and some of the serious social issues of the time.

First sentences: The view was wrong. That’s what Chloe kept thinking.

Glimmer, Phoebe Kitandis (347 pages) – Oo. Marshal and Elyse wake up one day “tangled in each other’s arms” but also with amnesia. They have no idea how they came to be in Summer Falls, a resort town, but they do know that something’s amiss: the town’s people are “happy zombies” with no memory of unpleasant things, even though there are indeed unpleasant things in Summer Falls…

First sentence: I come to life with a gasp in the darkness.

The Story of Us, Deb Caletti (389 pages) – “After jilting two previous fiances, Cricket’s mother is finally marrying the right man, but as wedding attendees arrive for a week of festivities, complications arise for Cricket involving her own love life, her beloved dog Jupiter, and her mother’s reluctance to marry.” (catalogue)

First sentence: I found out something about myself as all those boxes piled up: I hated change.

Dragonswood, Janet Lee Carey (403 pages) – When the king dies, Wilde Island is thrown into turmoil as the royal witch hunter goes on, well, a witch-hunting rampage, determined to root out an young women with “fire in their hearts and sparks in their soul”. This is unfortunate for Tess, who wants the things in life that fire and sparks give (i.e. not just a husband and house). She’s accused of witchery and forced to run to Dragonswood, to take refuge with an “enigmatic huntsman”, who sounds interesting.

First sentences: I am seven years old. My father takes me to a witch burning.

The Mephisto Covenant, Trinity Faegen (434 pages) – “Jax, a son of Hell, and Sasha, a descendent of Eve, unexpectedly find love, but Sasha must sacrifice the purity of her soul to save him while he struggles to keep her safe from his brother Eryx, whose mission is to take over Hell and abolish humanity’s free will.” (catalogue)

First sentence: “Your father’s ring is gone! That slime, Alex, took it – I know he did.”

Bewitching, Alex Flinn (338 pages) – in which we read about Kendra, who was responsible for the Beast becoming Beastly in Beastly. Kendra is an immortal, who finds that her interfering in human life sometimes makes problems worse rather than better. So, when she comes across Emma, a modern-day plain step-sister, can she stop herself from getting involved?

First sentence: If you read fairy tales, and who doesn’t, you might believe there are witches all over the place – witches baking children into gingerbread, making princesses sleep hundreds of years, even turning normal teenage boys into hideous beasts to teach them a lesson.

New Fiction

Some make-believe to counterbalance all the non-fiction. Lots and lots of fairies, plus a mermaid and one or two regular folk.

Beauty Queens, Libba Bray (390 pages) – <3 the cover. Don’t be fooled! This is not just a book about lipstick as ammunition, and aqua bikinis with little white dots. This is kind of beauty pageant meets Lost (the TV programme), complete with pirates and a few lessons in feminism. The premise: a plane carrying the fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant crashes on a deserted island, leaving them to fend for themselves: “welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness” (book cover.

First sentence: “Are you all right?”

Tempestuous, Lesley Livingston (361 pages) – the conclusion to the trilogy (Wondrous Strange and Darklight are the other two) in which Kelley Winslow discovers she is not only a Shakespearean actor but also a powerful fairy in a world she didn’t know existed. Kelley’s determined to get Sonny back, but she must also find out who’s trying to make the Janus Guards go over to the dark side, try and rebuild her theatre company, and not get distracted by the Fenrys Wolf (in a love triangle sort of way).

First sentence: The antique black carriage sped through the night, its tall spoked wheels whirring, skimming the surface of the river as though the spectral horse that pulled it followed a paved track.

The Secret Journeys of Jack London: The Wild, Christopher Golden & Tim Lebbon (348 pages) – if you read and enjoyed The Call of the Wild and White Fang then this might interest you. It’s a fictionalised account of Jack London’s teenage life, where he finds himself heading for the Yukon in search of gold. What greets him is kidnapping, slavery and murder, and a supernatural twist. It’s also beautifully illustrated, in the style of a Jack London novel.

First sentence: Jack London stood on the deck of the Umatilla and looked out upon the docks of San Francisco, wondering how long it would be before he saw the city again.

Born at Midnight, C C Hunter (398 pages) – The first in a new supernatural series. After getting into trouble Kylie is sent to a camp for troubled teens, but it quickly becomes clear they’re not just ordinary teens. Plus: Kylie’s not a normal teen either. To complicate matters there’s Derek and Lucas.

First sentence: “This isn’t funny!” her father yelled.

The Dead I Know, Scot Gardner (208 pages) – scarily, Aaron is a sleepwalker. More so, he has weird unexplainable dreams and blanks where there should be memories. He must uncover the truth about his past in order to ensure his safe future. A gripping psychodrama.

First sentence: The office of JKB Funerals was a majestic orange-brick addition to a modest orange-brick house.

Illusions, Aprilynne Pike (375 pages) – following on from Wings and Spells. Laurel finds herself in a bind: “As her senior year of high school starts, Laurel is just beginning to adjust to Tamani’s absence when he suddenly reappears, telling her he must guard her against the returning threat of the trolls that pose a danger both to her and to Avalon.” (Library catalogue)

First sentence: The halls of Del Norte High buzzed with first-day-of-school chaos as Laurel wedged herself through a crowd of sophomores and spotted David’s broad shoulders.

Forgive My Fins, Tera Lynn Childs (293 pages) – Lily Sanderson is part human, part mermaid, and this has been the cause of much inner turmoil for her. Trying to find where she belongs, she’s enrolled (as a human) in Seaview High School and things are going well: there’s even Brody. Trouble is, mermaids bond for life, which isn’t necessarily the best scenario for high school, and to top it off, her efforts to win Brody’s heart without letting on who she really is are sure to get her into a large pickle.

First sentence: Water calms me.

The Iron Queen, Julie Kagawa (359 pages) – following on from The Iron King and The Iron Daughter. Meghan is half fairy, half human, and is being pulled into a conflict against the Iron Fey: a conflict she may not survive. All this while being torn from Ash, who seems to be quite special, judging by the rave reviews he’s been getting on the www.

First sentence: Eleven years ago, on my sixth birthday, my father disappeared.

Tales from the Tower, Volume 1: The Wilful Eye (302 pages) – six short stories by authors including Margaret Mahy, Margo Lanagan and Isobelle Carmody. The premise: each writer takes a classic fairytale and “casts their own spell upon it.” The results are stories for fairy tale enthusiasts who like their fairytales gritty and provocative, rather than happily ever after-ish.

First sentence (from ‘Catastrophic Disruption of the Head’ by Margo Lanagan): Who believes in his own death?

About An Author: Malinda Lo

Malinda Lo is the author of two fantasy novels, Ash and Huntress. She was born in China and moved to the United States as a child, and writes fantasy fiction with a twist.

Ash, published in 2009, is her first novel, borrowing from the Cinderella fairytale, where Ash or Aisling (standing in for Cinderella), under the iron fist of her stepmother, is able to attend a ball through magical means and the help of Sidhean, fairy but certainly not godmother. But that’s less of the point: she’s not interested in the prince (he is in her), but rather the king’s huntress, Kaisa, who she meets and goes hunting with, escaping her home and the repressive step-s. Plus Sidhean (pronounced something like sheen I think), has questionable motives, and may have laid claim to Ash. Kirkus Reviews said, “Beautiful language magically wrought; beautiful storytelling magically told.” Ash was a nominee for the Andre Norton Award.

Huntress, recently published, is a centuries-earlier prequel to Ash, this time drawing from the i-Ching. Kaede and Taisin must go on a treacherous journey to the Fairy Queen’s city, Taninli, when the order of the natural world is disturbed and “strange and hostile creatures” begin to appear.

When you’ve read Huntress, there’s also ‘The Fox’, a short story set a couple of years later (therefore there are spoilers) here.

More from Malinda Lo on the www:

More posts About An Author are here (just the one at the moment).

If you like Malinda Lo you could also try reading books by Melissa Marr, Aprilynne Pike, Sharon Shinn, Garth Nix (Abhorsen, Sabriel, Lirael), Cyn Balog (thanks to Literature Resource Centre for the recommendations). If you like the Chinese element to the fantasy in Huntress you could also read Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon.

New Books

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.’

New Books Again

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!

Non-fiction

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)

Fiction

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.

New Books

A Match Made in High School, Kristin Walker (278 pages) – some bright spark teacher at Fiona’s high school has decided to make her class do the mother of all social experiments/class projects called “Trying the Knot”: they have to be “married” for a year, and the mandatory pairings produce a story that is “laugh-out-loud funny, unpredictable, and fresh”, says Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

First sentence: I should have known.

The Sweet Life of Stella Madison, Lara M Zeises (228 pages) – read this if you like culinary things. Stella is the daughter of a famous chef (father) and restaurant owner (mother), but she’s more into food of the fast variety, so when she lands a summer job as a food writer she’s in for a challenge. But the summer also brings on other challenges of the relationship variety, with her own confused romances, and the lives of her separated parents.

Last line: “So what’s for dinner?” I say. “I’m starving.”

Leverage, Joshua C Cohen (425 pages) – the author is a gymnast and acrobat: the photo on the back cover proves it to be so. Anyhow Leverage is about the cauldron of high school sport, and the friendship between the school fullback (American football has fullbacks: Friday Night Lights taught me so) and a gymnast that grows out of the wake of what the book calls a “violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war”. [Edited to add: It’s not for the faint hearted.]

First sentence: The high bar’s chalky bite threatens to rip the yellowed calluses right off my palms at the bottom of the swing, where the pull is heaviest.

The Iron Witch, Karen Mahoney (289 pages) – Donna Underwood needs Harry Potter as a mentor! Practically an orphan after the fey attacked and killed her father and drove her mother mad, she’s left with injuries that are magically fixed, but her hands and arms are covered with iron tattoos. Which makes her a powerful weapon in the war between humans and fairies. So, when her best friend is abducted by wood elves, Donna must accept her fate in order to save her friend (with the help of the gorgeous Xan).

First sentence: My father died saving my life when I was seven years old.

Abandon, Meg Cabot (292 pages) – A new Meg Cabot series! Following an accident (and while being worked on by hospital staff) Pierce died briefly and visited the Underworld, where she met a mysterious boy. The following year, a mysterious boy shows up at her school: the same mysterious boy. He wants to take her back. You might learn something about Persephone and Greek mythology while reading.

First sentence: Anything can happen in the blink of an eye.

The Dark Flight Down, Marcus Sedgwick (234 pages) – the conclusion to The Book of Dead Days. Boy and Willow are held captive in the Emperor Frederick’s palace where they are in constant danger, and must follow a “deadly trail” that will lead them to the Phantom. A gothic fantasy thriller.

First sentence: Midnight at the Imperial Court of Emperor Frederick III.

Chime, Franny Billingsley (361 pages) – Briony is a witch, a fact that she keeps secret on pain of death. She thinks herself to be dark and evil, until Eldric arrives and refuses to believe there is anything bad about her. Can his faith in her save her from death or insanity? “A wild, haunting mystery and romance,” says the cover.

First sentence: I’ve confessed to everything and I’d like to be hanged.

Afterlife, Claudia Gray (360 pages) – over to you, back cover: “Packed with romance, suspense and page-turning drama, Afterlife delivers a heart-stopping conclusion that won’t disappoint the many fans who have made the Evernight series such a runaway success.” So yes basically, if you’ve been reading Evernight you must read this one!

First sentence: “Sunrise is coming,” Balthazar said.

Still Sucks to be Me, Kimberly Pauley (374 pages) – Mina is a teen vampire, who has had to fake her own death in order to deal with the whole never-aging problem. Sensible! So, she’s had to move to a new town, without her bff and her boyfriend, where she finds herself in relationship tangles that even “vampire superstrength” can’t sort. The sequel to Sucks to be Me.

First sentence: I, Mina Hamilton, am officially dead.

Blink & Caution, Tim Wynne-Jones (342 pages) – cool cover (there are, like, bullet holes)! Blink and Caution are actually people, on the run (separately) until they run into each other, with Blink the unfortunate only witness to a crime and Caution escaping from her drug-dealer boyfriend. Can they work together to get out of their messes, and maybe perhaps begin an unlikely friendship?

First sentence: Look up at the Plaza Regent, Blink, in the shivery morning light.

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