An excellent-looking new New Zealand book, a couple of crazy popular series, and the Norse gods’ take on America.
Dear Vincent, Mandy Hager (June/July) – the new novel by the New Zealand author of the Blood of the Lamb trilogy. “17 year old Tara McClusky’s life is hard. She shares the care of her paralysed father with her domineering, difficult mother, forced to cut down on her hours at school to help support the family with a part-time rest home job. She’s very much alone, still grieving the loss of her older sister Van, who died five years before. Her only source of consolation is her obsession with art and painting in particular. Most especially she is enamoured with Vincent Van Gogh: she has read all his letters and finds many parallels between the tragic story of his life and her own. Luckily she meets the intelligent, kindly Professor Max Stockhamer (a Jewish refugee and philosopher) and his grandson Johannes, and their support is crucial to her ability to survive this turbulent time.” (goodreads.com)
Crushed, Sara Shepard (June/July) – the 13th (13!) in the Pretty Little Liars series. “It’s springtime in suburban Rosewood, which means iced soy lattes, fresh manicures in shimmering pastels—and prom. But while everyone else is flipping through the racks at Saks in search of the perfect dress, Hanna, Spencer, Emily, and Aria are on a different kind of hunt: They’re looking for A… Hanna puts her campaign for prom queen on the back burner to volunteer at the burn clinic, where one of A’s victims is recovering. Emily digs into Ali’s past at the mental hospital with some very crazy consequences. Spencer contacts a private eye to help her stalk her stalker. But when their sessions get a little too private, they may forget to keep their eyes on A… And Aria’s worried that A is even closer than she thought. When her dark secret from Iceland finally comes to light, she discovers that maybe, just maybe, the one person she’s been trying to hide the truth from has known all along. The liars are finally taking the fight to A. But no matter what they do, A’s always one step ahead, ready to crush the girls completely.” (goodreads.com)
Black Friday, Robert Muchamore (September) – the 3rd in the Aramov subseries of the über popular CHERUB phenomenon. “The Aramov Clan has splintered into two rival factions and Ryan is joined by more CHERUB agents as his three year mission enters its final phase. Ryan is about to board a plane, knowing that the next twenty-four hours will change everything. His mission is to stop the biggest terrorist attack America’s ever seen. Ryan works for CHERUB, a secret organisation with one key advantage: even a trained terrorist won’t suspect that a teenager is spying on them. For official purposes, these children do not exist.” (goodreads.com)
The Lost Sun, Tessa Gratton (July) – the first in an interesting-sounding new series set in an alternate United States founded by Norse Gods. “Seventeen-year-old Soren Bearskin is trying to escape the past. His father, a famed warrior, lost himself to the battle-frenzy and killed thirteen innocent people. Soren cannot deny that berserking is in his blood – the fevers, insomnia, and occasional feelings of uncontrollable rage haunt him. So he tries to remain calm and detached from everyone at Sanctus Sigurd’s Academy. But that’s hard to do when a popular, beautiful girl like Astrid Glyn tells Soren she dreams of him. That’s not all Astrid dreams of – the daughter of a renowned prophetess, Astrid is coming into her own inherited abilities. When Baldur, son of Odin and one of the most popular gods in the country, goes missing, Astrid sees where he is and convinces Soren to join her on a road trip that will take them to find not only a lost god, but also who they are beyond the legacy of their parents and everything they’ve been told they have to be.” (goodreads.com)
Mortal Fire, Elizabeth Knox (June) – the new fantasy novel from one of New Zealand’s premier writers. “When sixteen-year-old Canny of the Pacific island, Southland, sets out on a trip with her stepbrother and his girlfriend, she finds herself drawn into enchanting Zarene Valley where the mysterious but dark seventeen-year-old Ghislain helps her to figure out her origins.” (Children’s Bookshop, Kilbirnie) Margo Lanagan said, “It has brains; it has heart; it has people to fear and to fall in low with; and it all takes place in a totally beguiling world full of natural beauties, glittering puzzles and earthy problems.”
Chantress, Amy Butler Greenfield (June) – “This historical fantasy imagines an alternate 17th-century England where the tyrannical Lord Protector has hunted down anyone with magical power. The last ‘Chantress,’ 15-year-old Lucy, lives in exile on a deserted island, knowing only that she should never sing and tap her dangerous latent talent.” (goodreads.com) Described as “atmospheric and lyrical, dangerous and romantic”.
The Rules for Disappearing, Ashley Elston (June/July) – “She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky… But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last. Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules – and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself. But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters – survival” (goodreads.com)
And here’s why: did you know some authors often don’t have any say over the covers of their books? Even someone as huge as Maureen Johnson! What started as an idle musing on twitter about her book covers generally, led to her asking her fans to coverflip some of their favourite books. What’s a coverflip you ask? Well, you know how a lot of YA fiction, particularly those by female authors, have “girly” book-covers with curly-cue fonts, lots of pink, or a picture of a stereotypically pretty girl? Imagine if instead that “girly” (or “dudely”) cover was redesigned to target the opposite audience. Change the sex of the author. How does this gendering of a book cover affect your desire to read it?
For example if the cover of A game of thrones looked like this, would you pick it up? What about these other ones?
Personally, we think this a beyond fantastic idea. Although we do spend a lot of our time (especially Rachel) looking at book covers so we may have a slightly vested interest. Anyway, in the spirit of coverflips we give you some brilliant books whose content doesn’t quite match their covers. This is entirely subjective and just our opinion, so feel free to disagree!
This lullaby : a novel, Sarah Dessen
This is far from your traditional love story. The heroine, Remy, has a distinctly cynical view of love. Mainly because at the start of the book she’s watching her mother getting married for the fifth (yes, fifth!) time. Remy’s all about ending a relationship before it gets to the emotional attachment stage. Of course there is a boy, a messy and impulsive musician named Dexter – a stereotype that doesn’t scream commitment. So everyone’s surprised that they’re still together. It’s a complicated romance, especially with Remy’s issues about relationships, which we don’t think is suggested at all by the cover.
Hex Hall, Rachel Hawkins
One goodreads user describes this cover as looking like “a Disney movie” which we have to agree with. Don’t get us wrong, we love a good Disney movie but it doesn’t fit this books supernatural and super sarcastic heroine. Sophie Mercer isn’t a very good witch. In fact it’s a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong in the human world that gets her exiled to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium (witches, faeries, and shapeshifters). There, Sophie learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect. As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.
Fly on the wall, E. Lockhart
This is a fantastic book centred around an intriguing idea; what if you could be a fly on the wall for a week in the boys’ locker room – just to learn more about guys. What are they really like? What do they really talk about? Are they really cretins most of the time? Imagine how much easier it would be to talk to them if you understood them! We adore E. Lockhart and it was on the strength of that and the concept that we both read this book rather than a captivating cover. The new edition cover goes in another direction completely (check it out here) but we’re not sure the hot pink captures the spirit of Gretchen Yee either.
Cracked up to be, Courtney Summers
Personally, this cover reminds me of Gossip Girl, the early seasons when they wore those plaid school uniform skirts. Which I love for many reasons but it’s very different to Courtney Summers’ writing. Cracked up to be is about perfect high school senior Parker Fadley who has quit the cheerleading squad, broken up with her popular boyfriend, and is in danger of not graduating with her class, but she refuses to tell anyone what has precipitated this sudden change in her attitude and behavior, insisting that she only wants to be left alone. Courtney Summers has a way of pulling you through an emotional roller coaster in her books; they’re powerfully hard hitting which I don’t think you get from the cover. Which makes it that much more surprising. So maybe it’s better, who knows.
The Thief, Megan Whalen Turner
We both loved this book (and the rest of the series) because of its combination of adventure and mystery and an almost recognisable fantasy world and the twist at the end and the hero, Gen. The set up is this: the king’s scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king’s prison. The magus is interested only in the thief’s abilities because the stone is the key to securing his kingdom’s future. And while the stone makes it onto the cover, we feel there is a whole lot more at the heart of this story (the mystery and adventure and the relationship between Gen and the magus for example) that isn’t captured by its cover.
To us, a book’s cover and content are intrinsically linked. Don’t believe us? Look at this six-year-old guessing the content of some classics based on their covers. So here are some covers that we think beautifully capture the content and tone of their books:
We genuinely want to know what you think of cover flipping! Agree with us? Disagree? What makes you pick up a book? We want to know!
The blue covers edition:
Me myself Milly, Penelope Bush (183 pages) – What happened to Milly last summer? She can’t talk about it. Instead, she’s writing her journal. About growing up in the shadow of her twin sister Lily. About the American boy who’s moved upstairs. Milly can’t keep her secret forever – can she?
First line: “This week at the counselling session, Mr Jessop – or Ted, as he keeps telling me to call him – suggested I write a journal.”
One Crow Alone, S. D. Crockett (310 pages) – The cold, bitter winters are getting longer, and a state of emergency has been declared across Europe. After the death of her grandmother and the evacuation of her small Polish village, sixteen-year-old Magda is running out of options. With the help of arrogant, yet resourceful Ivan, she smuggles her way to London. But London is nightmarish and far from welcoming. The pair will need all the cunning and know-how they possess to survive.
First lines: “Of course there were summers. But not then.”
Finding Cherokee Brown, Siobhan Curham (331 pages) – When I decided to write a book about my life I thought I’d have to make loads of stuff up. I mean, who wants to read about someone like me? But as soon as I started writing, the weirdest thing happened. I found out I wasn’t who I thought I was. And I stopped being scared. Then everything went crazy! Best of all, I discovered that when you finally decide to be brave it’s like waving a wand over your life – the most magical things can happen.
First lines: “I’ve decided to write a novel. If I don’t write a novel I will kill somebody.”
Another Life, Keren David (340 pages) – Kicked out of yet another boarding school, Archie couldn’t be happier to find himself back in London with old friends and an exciting social life. But he’s worried about his cousin Ty, who is facing a sentence in a Young Offender Institution and doesn’t seem to be coping. And he’s finding that his old friends have moved on and it’s a struggle to keep up with their new lives. When he begins to learn surprising things about Ty, Archie goes on a mission to discover the truth about his cousin’s past.
First line: “There’s a matchbox of weed sitting on the headmaster’s desk – good quality Dutch skunk. I can smell it, sweet and strong, from my uncomfortably low chair.”
Infinite Sky, C. J. Flood (271 pages) – No one should die the way he did. I think about him, in there, with all that space, and I want to stop them. I want to open the coffin and climb in with him. I can’t bear the thought of him being cold. And all the time the same question flails around my head, like a hawk moth round a light bulb. Is it possible to keep loving somebody when they kill someone you love? Sidenote: check out the seriously pretty cover!
First lines: “It was three months after Mum left that the gypsies moved in. They set up camp in the paddock one Sunday night while we were asleep.”
Jepp, who defied the stars, Katherine Marsh (380 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Jepp’s life is changed forever the day he is whisked from the Dutch countryside to the court of the Spanish Infanta. However, Jepp’s happiness soon turns to misery as he discovers that humiliation and cruelty lurk beneath the court’s glittering facade. Jepp must draw on all his courage and charm to win the woman he loves, find his true identity and become the man he wishes to be.
First lines: “Being a court dwarf is no easy task. I know because I failed at it.”
Allegiant! The title of the new book in the popular Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth was announced last week, and unhappily it is not ‘Detergent’ as suggested. They’re not as forthcoming with the book cover – this (on the right) is all we’ve got at the moment. We’ll let you know as soon as we’ve ordered it – the book is due to be published at the end of October, so watch this space. Here’s Veronica Roth’s title announcement.
In the mean time, we’ve been ordering other interesting things:
Scarlet in the snow, Sophie Masson. “A deserted mansion. Empty picture frames. A perfect red rose in a snowy garden. There is rich and powerful magic here, and a mystery to unravel… When Natasha is forced to take shelter from a sudden, terrible blizzard, she is lucky to see a mansion looming out of the snow. Inside it’s beautiful: the fire lit, the table set. But there is no one there. And on the walls, instead of paintings, are empty frames. In the garden, she finds one perfect red rose about to bloom, a vivid splash of scarlet against the snow. Dreamily she reaches out a hand… Only to have the master of the house appear – a terrifying, gigantic creature who looks like a cross between a bear and a man – and demand vengeance on her for taking his rose. So begins an extraordinary adventure that will see Natasha plunged deep into the heart of a mystery… Inspired by two beautiful Russian fairytales – The Scarlet Flower (the Russian version of Beauty and the Beast) and Fenist the Falcon, Scarlet in the Snow is a beguiling mix of magic, romance, adventure and mystery.” (goodreads.com)
Sinking, David Hill – the new novel by the New Zealand author of See Ya Simon and Duet. “A grim secret. A life in danger. When a crazy old man leaps out of the bushes at Conrad on his way to swimming training, he gets the fright of his life. And when he discovers the man’s granddaughter is that weird horse-riding girl from school, he decides to steer clear of them. But fate has other ideas… and he is drawn into a grim secret. What’s the old man’s connection to a death from long ago? And whose life is in danger now…” (Children’s Bookshop, Kilbirnie)
Ghostheart, Ananda Braxton-Smith – the next in the Secrets of Carrick series after Merrow and Tantony. “Her brothers and sisters are fearless, light as scuds, quick as hoppers. Not Mally. She knows too many secrets, that one. She is frighted, all right. Frozen at the edge of the shore, lonely as a cornstalk in a saltmarsh. But in Carrick things are changing and Mally needs to change too. Out of nowhere has come Dolyn Craig – a sneak and a bully but that’s not the worst of it. He’s also unexpected with it. What could he want with poor frightened Mally?” (goodreads.com) These books have fantastic covers!
Ketchup Clouds, Annabel Pitcher (293 pages) – Zoe has a terrible secret that she can’t share with anyone, but secrets need to be shared. She learns about a prisoner on death row in Texas, who would seem to be the ideal recipient of a letter from Zoe, confessing her secret. “These are the letters that she wrote” announces the inside cover of the book, which just makes you extremely curious, right?
First sentence: Dear Mr S Harris, Ignore the blob of red in the top left corner.
Creepy & Maud, Dianne Touchell (202 pages) – Creepy and Maud (not their real names) live next door to each other, indeed their bedroom windows are practically opposite. A perfect scenario for the romance of the century perhaps, but Creepy and Maud (as the names suggest) are both social misfits, for different reasons. Will love conquer all, we wonder? Goodreads.com puts it like so: “Creepy & Maud is a blackly funny and moving first novel that says; ‘You’re ok to be as screwed up as you think you are and you’re not alone in that.’” Nice.
First sentence: My dad has trained our dog, Dobie Squires, to bite my mum.
The Cup and the Crown, Diane Stanley (344 pages) – Handsome King Alaric asks Molly to go in search of one of her grandfather’s loving cups, which bind people together (we think emotionally rather than literally). This quest takes Molly and her friends to the hidden city of Harrowsgode, which – like Hotel California – is hard to leave once you’ve entered. If you’ve read The Silver Bowl, then you’ve probably met Molly.
First sentence: The Great Hall was much as she remembered it: the tapestries, the massive iron candle stands, the enormous fireplace, the great gilt screen behind the dais.
The Wrap-up List, Steven Arnston (236 pages) – Gabriela, out of the blue, receives a letter from Death announcing that she’s got a week to live. She’s shocked and unprepared, but it’s possible that Death has a weakness that, if exploited, could mean he’ll have to let her go.
First sentence: Some people die from heart attacks, and some from falling off ladders.
Colin Fischer, Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz (229 pages) – Colin Fischer is a freshman who has Aspergers Syndrome. He notices every little detail. So, when a gun goes off in the cafeteria, and everyone thinks it’s the school bully who is responsible, Colin turns detective, following the leads that don’t occur to others, even if the school bully is Colin’s especial tormentor.
First sentence: Colin clutched his precious, dog-eared Notebook to his chest.
A Girl Named Digit, Annabel Monaghan (187 pages) – Farrah “Digit” Higgins is a bit of a geek genius. This might mean being not so popular at high school, but it also means being extremely handy at unlocking ecoterrorist codes. The fact that she knows maths is not lost on John, the hot FBI guy. But the world of espionage is a serious place – is Digit up for the challenge? We think she probably is.
First sentence: On the morning of my kidnapping, my mom’s makeup was perfect.
Hostage Three, Nick Lake (368 pages) – Amy is on a luxury yacht with her family in the Indian Ocean – the Maldives, the Seychelles, Comoros… Somali pirates. When their yacht is over run by said pirates, the family is taken hostage, her father Hostage One… Amy Hostage Three. Just like that, their lives are tradeable commodities. A tense thriller!
First sentence: We stand on the diving platform of our yacht, in the brutal sunlight.
Into the River, Ted Dawe (New Zealand author, 279 pages) – Here’s the way the cover excellently puts it: “When Te Arepa Santos is dragged into the river by a giant eel, something happens that will change the course of his whole life. The boy who struggles to the bank is not the same one who plunged in, moments earlier. He has brushed against the spirit world, and there is a price to be paid; an utu to be exacted. Years later, far from the protection of whanau and ancestral land he finds new enemies. This time, with no-one to save him, there is a decision to be made.. he can wait on the bank, or leap forward into the river” .
First sentence(s): There was a tap on the window. Te Arepa sat up.
Us again, and we do hope you’ve been chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool over the Christmas break. To help you along with that all the way through the new year, we’ve come up with a few great movie suggestions from the young adult dvd section, which are just 80c to issue with your young adult library card! Admittedly, you will have to get out of the house to issue them, but that’s a minor detail.
Tomorrow When The War Began
Based on the John Marsden book of the same name, the story follows eight high school friends whose lives are suddenly and violently upended by a war that no one saw coming. They must learn to escape, survive and fight back against a hostile military force. And blow up stuff, a lot of stuff. While looking beautiful.
Under The Mountain
When teenage twins Rachel & Theo investigate the creepy house next door, they discover the Wilberforces – shape shifting creatures that lurk beneath Auckland’s ring of extinct volcanoes. Guided by the mysterious Mr Jones and with the help of their cousin Ricky, the twins must rekindle the unique powers they once shared if they are to destroy this ancient evil. This film does Maurice Gee’s epic story justice with a decent amount of money spent on special effects for once. Forget that they have the same accents as the stars of Shortland Street, this film’s amaze-balls.
The entire collection of the groundbreaking series narrated by David Attenborough. With a budget of unprecedented proportions, Planet Earth has stretched the boundaries of natural history documentary making. This film has breathtaking shots of the planet we all know so well. It’s not like anything you’ve ever seen before with every frame fascinating or beautiful, usually both.
In hopes of wooing a beautiful girl, Tristan promises to bring her a falling star. Yeah it is as awesome as it sounds. This is more than your usual love story as Tristan is in for a magical adventure with wicked witches, scheming princes (who keep dying) and by far the coolest cross-dressing sky pirate you’ll ever see. Possibly the only one you’ll ever see as well. This is an exciting and witty tale along the same vein as The Princess Bride.
Brendan Frye is a loner, someone who knows all the angles but has chosen to stay on the outside. When the girl he loves turns up dead, he is determined to find out the “who” and “why” and plunges into the dark and dangerous social strata of rich girl Laura, intimidating Tug and the ominous Pin. But who can he really trust? Director and screenwriter Rian Johnson (of Looper and The Brothers Bloom) has invented a whole new lingo to fit into the film’s universe. It’s a stylish modern noir thriller at its best.
Dead Poets Society
When charismatic English teacher John Keating arrives at a strict boys academy, his unconventional teaching methods breathe new life into the curriculum steeped in tradition. With his wit and wisdom, Keating encourages his students to be true to themselves and make their lives extraordinary. Equal parts inspirational and heartbreaking – have the tissues ready. O captain! My captain!
We recommended the book, and here’s the film! Essentially the same story as the novel, following Bliss Cavendar on her quest to become a roller derby star while contending with her mother’s obsession with entering her in beauty pageants. Bliss learns a lot about herself and consequences of her actions along the way. Action packed with an awesome and energetic soundtrack and a healthy dose of girl power, Whip It is one of my absolute favourite movies.
Kenji is your typical teenage misfit. He spends most of his time hanging out in the all-powerful online community called Oz. His second life is the only one he has, until the girl of his dreams hijacks him for a starring role as her fake fiance at her family reunion. Things only get stranger. A late-night email containing a cryptic mathematical riddle leads to the unleashing of a rogue AI intent on using Oz to destroy the real world. Kenji and his new ‘family’ have to work together to save the worlds they inhabit.
A Town Called Panic
Based on the tv show of the same name, this movie is MANIC. That is the only word for it. The unlikely trio of Horse, Cowboy and Indian (plastic toys with no opposable limbs) live together in a crooked house on a hill. Cowboy and Indian realise with horror that they have forgotten Horse’s birthday and embark on a series of implausible adventures, taking a journey to the Earth’s core, discovering an aquatic parallel universe and taking part in a breakneck snowball ride across a frozen wasteland. Hilarious. You’ll be in stitches!
Mary and Max
A very clever claymation story of a pair of unlikely penpals – Mary, a lonely 8-year-old Australian girl and Max, a 44-year-old severely obese Jewish man with Asperger’s Syndrome. Their friendship grows and spans over twenty years with a lot of ups and downs, and covers a whole range of topics, from taxidermy to trust to agoraphobia.
Scott Pilgrim vs the World
Another of my absolute favourite films! Meet charming and jobless Scott Pilgrim. A bass guitarist for a garage band trying to make it big through the Battle of the Bands in Canada, the 22-year-old has just met the girl of his dreams – literally. But there’s one catch to winning over Ramona Flowers – he has to meet and defeat her seven evil exes! Based on the graphic novels by Brian Lee O’Malley, the film incorporates multimedia elements which make it feel like both a movie and a video game. Bright colours! Sounds! Flashing lights! This movie has it all.
This is a documentary about krumping. Yes, you read that correctly. Don’t know what krumping is? You have to see this film to believe it. Krumping originated in the early 1990s in inner city Los Angeles and evolved from another dance style called ‘clowning’. Those 90s kids were crazy with their dance names. This doco was made by the photographer David LaChapelle and as such it looks incredibly pretty and hyper-real.
We hope you’ve had a great Christmas, now kick back and relax with some fantastic film fun!
Bound, by Erica O’Rourke (353 pages) – This is the third book in the Torn series. Wow have you ever thought that there are so many series in teen fiction? This one is about mortals and magic, and Mo Fitzgerald, who has to choose between the two worlds or else lose everything and everyone.
First lines: ‘The problem with terrible ideas is that the people who have them don’t recognize how truly awful they are until it’s too late. After all, nobody deliberately chooses the worst possible course of action.‘
Stormdancer : The Lotus War book one, by Jay Kristoff (324 pages) – Well here it is! Feudal Japanese steampunk. Yukiko, the book’s heroine, and her flightless griffin pal must take on the Shogun and his empire. There are also chainsaw swords in this book, a little blurb tells me.
First line: ‘As the iron war club scythed toward her head, Yukiko could help wishing she’d listened to her father. She rolled aside as her cover was smashed to kindling, azalea petals drifting over the oni’s shoulders like perfumed snowflakes.‘
Bitter Blood : The Morganville Vampires book 13, by Rachel Caine (538 pages) – For ages vampires and humans have co-existed in Morganville, getting up to at least twelve books-worth of adventure and intrigue. Now that the draug – the creatures that kept the vampires in check – have been defeated, the vampires are becoming a little excessive, and the humans want to fight back! Also a reality television show threatens to reveal all to the world.
First lines: ‘Morganville, Texas, isn’t like other towns. Oh, it’s small, dusty, and ordinary, in most ways, but the thing is, there are these – well, let’s not be shy about it. Vampires.’
Break My Heart 1,000 Times, by Daniel Waters (342 pages) – After the Event, everyone could see ghosts. Creepy! Man. Veronica sees the ghost of a teenaged boy in her mirror each morning, but isn’t too worried. However, the ghosts seem to becoming more powerful, and Veronica and chum Kirk uncover a creepier plot of their teacher, whose dead daughter hasn’t come back; he’s now convinced that by killing a living host (i.e., Veronica) his kid might resurface.
First lines: ‘I walk through walls. I whisper at the window when I watch her leave our home. I flicker at the edges of my own memory.‘
Rivals and Retribution : A 13 to Life Novel, by Shannon Delany (308 pages) – This is the conclusion (and book number five) to the 13 to Life series, about two werewolf families battling it out for the town of Junction. It receives what they call ‘mixed reviews’ on Goodreads, now accessible directly through the library catalogue! Handy
First line: ‘The girl enters the barn, slipping between hay bales and a stack of buckets.‘
Butter, by Erin Jade Lange (296 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Butter is morbidly obese, and feels alone. So he gets a website – butterslastmeal.com – and decides that he will broadcast his own death by over-eating. As he carries out his (somewhat macabre) plan he discovers that the attention he receiving, though not exactly positive, feels like popularity, and as the deadline approaches, does he still want to go through with it? Very tense with an amazing character is what I distill from the reviews I just read.
First lines: ‘Most people would say the website is where this wild ride began. But for me is started two days earlier, on a Tuesday night in front of the TV in my living room.‘
Passenger, by Andrew Smith (465 pages) – This is a sequel to The Marbury Lens, about a pair of boys who run away to London and find a lens that transports them to an war-stricken alternate reality. Now they try to destroy the lens, but there is an evil that won’t let them run away so easily, especially when it has their friends. Full of coolness.
First lines: ‘This is it. Of course it wasn’t over. Things like this never end. It has been two and a half months since Freddie Horvath kidnapped some dumb kid who was too drunk to find his way home.‘
Unwholly, by Neal Shusterman (402 pages) – Book one of the Unwind trilogy. Here is book one! Teens can be harvested – ‘unwound’ – for body parts, which is of course not ideal, but it is the future and it is dystopian. Thrilling, affecting, and really good, I reckon, after skimming through Goodreads.
First line: ‘He’s fighting a nightmare when they come for him. A great flood is swallowing the world, and in the middle of the it all, he’s being mauled by a bear.‘
For Darkness Shows the Stars, by Diana Peterfreund (407 pages) – This is a sci-fi post-apocalyptic romance strongly inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion. FINALLY. Elliot North reunites with Kai, the boy she loved but refused to elope with, when she’s forced to rent land from the mysterious Cloud Feet group to which he now belongs. He’s got secrets! He’s also kind of unpleasant, but it’s justified (because of the secrets).
First lines: ‘Elliot North raced across the pasture, leaving a scar of green in the silver, dew-encrusted grass. Jeff followed, tripping a bit as his feet slid inside his too-big shoes.‘
Ashen Winter, by Mike Mullin (576 pages) – This is set in the US, six months after the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupted, as depicted in the first book, Ashfall. (You know that part in that film 2012 when Yellowstone explodes? Well there actually is a supervolcano there! There is one under Taupo and 26,000 years ago it plunged the earth into a volcanic winter and invented pumice.) So in this book, Yellowstone has gone up and the country is pretty post-apocalyptic; protaganist Alex must return to Iowa to find his parents.
First line: ‘Ten months had passed since I’d last seen the sun. The rich blue of that final August sky was fading from my memory.‘
Son, by Lois Lowry (393 pages) – The conclusion the series begun in The Giver. It is a utopian future! But, sadly, it comes with a heavy cost; a society where regimented eugenics dictates almost every aspect of interpersonal interactions. In this book, Claire, who’d been a Vessel, can not forget her son. She is desperate to get him back, and will stop at nothing to do so.
First lines: ‘The young girl cringed when the buckled the eyeless leather mask around the upper half of her face and blinded her. It felt grotesque and unnecessary, but she didn’t object. It was the procedure.‘
Vessel, by Sarah Beth Durst (424 pages) – Liyana’s reason to be is to become the vessel for her tribe’s goddess; she will dance and summon the goddess, who will then bring the rain that her people desperately need. However! It doesn’t work, and Liyana is exiled. She meets a boy reportedly possessed by the trickster god, Korbyn, who seeks Liyana’s help to find five other vessels; the gods are going missing, and they’re needed.
First lines: ‘On the day she was to die, Liyana walked out of her family’s tent to see the dawn. She buried her toes in the sand, cold from the night, and she wrapped her father’s goatskin cloak tight around her shoulders.‘
Advent (Advent Trilogy book one), by James Treadwell
A December night 1537 and a powerful mage boards a ship for England. There is a shipwreck and none survive. What has happened to the box he was carrying? The box with a magic mirror and ring inside?
Present day: Gavin knows he is different. He still has his childhood imaginary friend, Miss Grey for a start and he dreams very strange dreams. His parents don’t like him and when they get the chance to go overseas, they pack him off to his Aunt Gwen who lives outside Truro, on an estate called Pendurra. But his aunt isn’t there to meet his train and she isn’t in her cottage and when a girl with dead eyes bangs on his door at midnight and then shuffles away, Gavin is certain this is not going to be an ordinary holiday! The next day he meets the owner of Pendurra and his daughter. The very same dead looking girl whom he’d seen the night before but now very much alive. Marina and Gavin spend time exploring, finding strange things happening and finally realise that ‘magic is rising…’
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.‘