This week, a feudal, Eastern dystopian fantasy adventure, flying shapeshifters, and Russian spies who are after potions during the Cold War.
Stormdancer, Jay Kristoff (The Lotus War number 1). “Griffins are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shogun, they fear that their lives are over. Everyone knows what happens to those who fail him, no matter how hopeless the task. But the mission proves far less impossible, and far more deadly, than anyone expects – and soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. But trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and Buruu soon discover a friendship that neither of them expected. Meanwhile, the country around them verges on the brink of collapse. A toxic fuel is slowly choking the land; the omnipotent, machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure; and the Shogun cares about nothing but his own dominion. Yukiko has always been uneasy in the shadow of power, when she learns the awful truth of what the Shogun has done, both to her country and to her own family she’s determined to do something about it. Returning to the city, Yukiko and Buruu plan to make the Shogun pay for his crimes – but what can one girl and a flightless griffin do against the might of an empire?” (goodreads.com)
The Girl With Borrowed Wings, Rinsai Rossetti. “A stunningly written tale of an isolated girl and the shape-shifting boy who shows her what freedom could be – if only she has the courage to take it. Controlled by her father and bound by desert, Frenenqer Paje’s life is tediously the same, until a small act of rebellion explodes her world and she meets a boy, but not just a boy – a Free person, a winged person, a shape-shifter. He has everything Frenenqer doesn’t. No family, no attachments, no rules. At night, he flies them to the far-flung places of their childhoods to retrace their pasts. But when the delicate balance of their friendship threatens to rupture into something more, Frenenqer must confront her isolation, her father, and her very sense of identity, breaking all the rules of her life to become free.” (goodreads.com)
The Apothecary, Maile Meloy. “It’s 1952 and the Scott family has just moved from Los Angeles to London. Here, fourteen-year-old Janie meets a mysterious apothecary and his son, Benjamin Burrows – a fascinating boy who’s not afraid to stand up to authority and dreams of becoming a spy. When Benjamin’s father is kidnapped, Janie and Benjamin must uncover the secrets of the apothecary’s sacred book, the Pharmacopoeia, in order to find him, all while keeping it out of the hands of their enemies – Russian spies in possession of nuclear weapons. Discovering and testing potions they never believed could exist, Janie and Benjamin embark on a dangerous race to save the apothecary and prevent impending disaster.” (goodreads.com). This book also has illustrations by Ian Schoenherr, who drew the bridges and maps in Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (they are cool bridges and maps).
I am typing this in Wadestown library! Sort of like New Books on Tour. Haha. Haaa.
Blink Once, by Cylin Busby (290 pages) – West wakes up in a hospital bed, strapped down. He is paralyzed. The girl in the neighbouring bed, Olivia, is the only one who can communicate to him. But why? Why is she in hospital? How is she connected to all his nightmares? What is going on here, guys. Publishers Weekly says that readers rush to the end to answer these questions, and ‘they won’t be disappointed by what they discover’, which is frankly very appealing.
First lines: ‘Someone is crying. A girl. Not a pretty kind of crying, like actresses do, tears delicately streaming down a beautiful face. This is sobbing, sniffling, gasping for air.‘
The Demon Catchers of Milan, by Kat Beyer (278 pages) – Mia’s distant family from Italy have come to visit. Just in the nick of time! As she has been possessed by a powerful demon, and they are actually all demon hunters. Once her cousins have exorcised her, she heads back to Italy with them to learn Italian, get more involved with the family business (i.e. killing demons) and fall in love with Italians. Not her cousins though! I don’t know.
First line: ‘I used to be the kind of girl who would check under the bed and in the closet every night before going to sleep.‘
Embers & Echoes, by Karsten Knight (461 pages) – This is the follow-up to Wildefire, about a bunch of gods who have reincarnated as teens. Ashline Wilde is the reincarnation of Pele, a Polynesian volcano goddess, and when her sister is taken by some evil gods she must join up with Wes, a reincarnated Aztec god, who has his own vendetta to hash out. ’More X-Men than Clash of the Titans,’ says the Library School Journal, which is really quite a compliment.
First line: ‘Ashline Wilde lay battered on the side of the Pacific Coast Highway and watched her boyfriend emerge from the fiery car wreck, back from the dead.‘
Unfed, by Kirsty McKay (307 pages) – This follows on from Undead, about a zombie apocalypse during Bobby’s school trip. She survived it! Unfortunately, he best pal is missing and it’s up to her to find him in the zombie-infected wastelands AND and find an antidote before it’s all over for the human race. ‘Hysterically funny,’ says The Times.
First line: ‘When you’re staring into the jaws of death at the age of fifteen, there’s not a whole lot of life to flash before your eyes.‘
So Close To You, by Rachel Carter (313 pages) – Lydia’s great-grandfather disappeared, along with others, it is rumoured, because of some weird army experiment called the Montauk Project which occurred at the spooky abandoned military base near her home. When a portal opens up and takes her back to 1945, six days before her great-grandad disappears, she becomes part of the experiment. The first in a planned trilogy.
First line: ‘The bonfire in the clearing spits out flames and smoke. Red, yellow, orange sparks fly up into the night sky.‘
Tiger Lily, by Jodi Lynn Anderson (292 pages) – Before Peter Pan met Wendy there was Tiger Lily, who faced all kinds of hurdles to be with Peter (and not this guy her family and tribe wanted her to marry). And then of course Wendy comes along to Neverland on an English boat and things get messy. A clever retelling of the Peter Pan story, as narrated by Tinkerbell. ‘Perplexing’ to those familiar only with the Disney version, which of course doesn’t include any Teen Blog readers.
First line: ‘She stands on the cliffs, near the old crumbling stone house. There’s nothing left in the house but an upturned table, a ladle, and a clay bowl.‘
What’s Left of Me : The Hybrid Chronicles, by Kat Zhang (343 pages) – Eva and Addie were born in the same body, but are two distinct souls, or hybrids. However in this alternate reality, hybrids are against the law, so they must keep their dual existence a secret from the government and their family. Reviews say this is very well written, with a great ending, so go on reserve it why don’t you.
First lines: ‘Addie and I were born into the same body, our souls’ ghostly fingers entwined before we gasped our very first breath.‘
Don’t Turn Around, by Michelle Gagnon (310 pages) – Noa, a rebellious teen orphan, has woken on an operating table with no memory. She joins with Peter, a computer hacker from a wealthy background, to take down a large and evil corporation. ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for teens’, a reviewer writes, if that’s a good thing?
First line: ‘When Noa Torson woke up, the first thing she noticed was that her feet were cold. Odd, since she always wore socks to bed.‘
Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo (358 pages) – Gonna let the catalogue describe this one – ‘Orphaned by the Border Wars, Alina Starkov is taken from obscurity and her only friend, Mal, to become the protegé of the mysterious Darkling, who trains her to join the magical elite in the belief that she is the Sun Summoner, who can destroy the monsters of the Fold.’
First line: ‘The servants called the malenchki, little ghosts, because the haunted the Duke’s house like giggling phantoms, darting in and out of rooms, hiding in cupboards to eavesdrop, sneaking into the kitchen to steal the last of the summer peaches.‘
The Broken Lands, by Kate Milford (455 pages) – This is the prequel to steampunky The Boneshaker, and is set in New York, 1877. Two teenaged orphans – Sam and a pyromaniac girl named Jim – must battle ancient dark forces from turning the city into Hell.
First line: ‘A crossroads can be a place of gerat power; this should not come as any surprise. It is a place of choosing, of testing, of transition, and there is power in all of those things.‘
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.‘
Here’s a selection of new fiction – there’s more to come also!
Ransomwood, Sherryl Jordan (New Zealand author, 268 pages) – the cover description is so good that here it is: “Spurned by her lover, and with her uncle threatening to marry her off to his odious widowed brother, Gwenifer is almost relieved to be sent away to escort the magistrate’s old, blind monther to Ransomwood, where the tears of the statue of the Holy Mother are said to have healing qualities. Together with Harry, the village halfwit, who is escaping a sentence of hanging for being in charge of an ox that trampled a child almost to death, they embark on a perilous journey… each of them looking for a different kind of healing.”
First sentence: When the child, Tilly, was trampled by an ox and left a devil’s whisker away from death, Halfwit Harry, innocent and inarticulate and in trouble most days of his life, was blamed for the calamity.
Endlessly, Kiersten White (389 pages) – this is the final instalment in the Paranormalcy series. Three books in, and Evie is still trying to be as normal as possible – as opposed to paranormal. Alas, this is proving as difficult as ever. There is a new director at the International Paranormal Containment Agency who wants her back working for them again, the faeries are proving difficult (and downright dangerous if you’re an unwitting human), and once again Evie seems to be the key to keeping the paranormal (and normal?) world in one piece.
First sentence: Here’s the thing about dragons: I know absolutely nothing whatsoever about them.
Masque of the Red Death, Bethany Griffin (319 pages) – this is inspired by an Edgar Allan Poe short story of the same name (available in this collection here, for example). The world has been all but destroyed by a plague known as the Weeping Sickness (I hear it’s pretty revolting). The only protection is ceramic, air-filtering masks. Fortunately for Araby Worth, she is the daughter of the inventor of these masks, so she is free to move around without fear of dying a gruesome death. Even so, life is bleak, and Araby (and many others) seeks out a way to forget the horrors in a club known as Debauchery. There she meets Will (who runs the club) and Elliott (”wickedly smart”), which can surely only lead to many complications? Also: there’s steampunk!
First sentence: The charcoal sky spits cold rain as we rumble to a stop at a crossroad.
Ghost Flower, Michele Jaffe (358 pages) – Right: Eve has run away from home and works in a Starbucks just outside of Tuscon (Arizona). There she meets Bain and Bridgette, who are rich and attractive, and who have a plan. You see, three years ago, their cousin Aurora disappeared on the night that her best friend Liza died. Eve, as it happens, is the spitting image of Aurora. Bain and Bridgette plan to bring Aurora (Eve) back, claim her inheritance and split it three ways. But when Eve becomes Aurora, Liza’s ghost appears, who tells her there is much more to the story. Can Eve find out what happened to Aurora and Liza? (Without becoming a ghost herself?)
First sentence: It started with a new dawn.
Revived, Cat Patrick (327 pages) – This book cover gives me vertigo! Daisy is a test subject for a government trial for a drug called Revive that bring people back from death. The tests are, I think, top secret, which means that for each test session Daisy officially dies, is revived, then must assume a new identity in a new town to be ready for the next round of tests. This has happened five times. But in her new iteration, Daisy has found a new best friend, and a cute boy (a cute Matt in fact), and she is beginning to question her role in the drug trials: is there something sinister going on?
First sentence: I’m flattened and thrashing on the sun-warmed track next to the football field, lying on what looks like asphalt but what I realise, now that I’m down here, is actually that fake spongy stuff.
Another Jekyll, Another Hyde, Daniel & Dina Nayeri (249 pages) – “When his billionaire father marries French governess Nicola Vileroy, high society is all abuzz — but Thomas, the most popular student at Marlowe, is just plain high. Ever since his girlfriend Belle dumped him, he’s been spending less time with old friends and more time getting wasted at clubs. But after someone slips him a designer drug one night — and his stepmother seems to know way too much about his private life — things really start to get scary. As Thomas’s blackouts give way to a sinister voice inside his head, and as news of a vicious hate crime has students on edge, Thomas comes to the sickening realization that Madame Vileroy has involved him in a horrifying supernatural plan. How can he muster the strength and will to stop it? The pulse-quickening climax revisits Jekyll and Hyde as a current-day cautionary tale laced with a heady dose of paranormal intrigue.” (goodreads.com)
First sentence: A two-faced moon hung over the black-and-white city, in turns shining as bold as the sun and hiding, shamed, behind the veil of cirrus clouds.
Ferragost is a short story set in the world of the Lumatere Chronicles, featuring Lady Celie. It’s being published in the Review of Australian Fiction, an online journal, which is available for purchase (about $3.00 Australian) from tomorrow (7 August).
Melina Marchetta promises that the story doesn’t have any spoilers for Quintana of Charyn, which is released in a few weeks’ time, but that it does provide useful background. More explanation and a short extract here.
Bitterblue has been Queen of Monsea for eight years when the novel opens. Being Queen of Monsea, in practice, means struggling under a great weight of paperwork supplied by her trusted advisors, who assure her that it is indeed essential to the running of her kingdom. It also means she is isolated from her friends (who are busy overthrowing kings in other countries), and increasingly frustrated by how little she knows about Bitterblue City and Monsea. It is hardly surprising then, when one night she snatches the opportunity to escape the castle and explore the streets in disguise, finding herself drawn to a pub where a storyteller has his audience enthralled.
This begins an intricate journey of discovery for Bitterblue and the people of Monsea, who have been kept from the truth first by Leck (Bitterblue’s heinous father, as seen in Graceling and Fire), and then by a misguided assumption that sweeping things under the carpet and quietly moving on is the best way of dealing with attrocities. Bitterblue is about secrets, lies, and the truth that slowly wangles its way out of hiding. (And also adventure and romance.)
Bitterblue is a quiet, page-turning read. There’s a large cast of characters, all with strengths and weaknesses – it’s hard to separate the goodies from the baddies, which is mostly the point. Bitterblue herself differs from Kristin Cashore’s other two heroines (Katsa and Fire), in that she doesn’t have a special power and isn’t (she thinks) particularly beautiful (describing herself as being built like an eggplant), but she does have a large amount of pluck and courage and wit, proving that you don’t have to be magic to be strong, and being strong is an admirable quality in a heroine.
Apart from being a great story, Bitterblue has some other features:
A Confusion of Princes, Garth Nix
Imagine knowing you are one of ten million princes throughout the Empire! Imagine knowing you could die twenty times and be ‘reborn’! But you can only be reborn if you are connected to the Imperial Mind, so the first task for Prince Khemri is to dodge any stray bullets and explosive devices to get to a base where he can ‘connect’! He becomes a naval cadet and a target for his fellow cadets, as he seems to be privileged with 12 priests and a senior Master of Assassins assigned to him. His first death comes during a raid by their enemies the Sad Eyes, whilst stopping the invaders from blowing up the base. More adventures follow but will he accept his Imperial-chosen destiny or change it for himself? Good sci-fi adventure by a favourite author.
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.‘
This month sees not much change in the most requested items: the queue for The Hunger Games is now only about three months long (!), and lots of people are keen to read all about One Direction (see also Dare to Dream).
1. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins [no change]
2. Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins [no change]
3. Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins [no change]
4. City of Lost Souls, Cassandra Clare [no change]
5. Insurgent, Veronica Roth [no change]
6. Rapture, Lauren Kate (on order) [up 1]
7. Fear, Michael Grant [down 1]
8. Reached, Ally Condy (on order) [up 1]
9. Inheritance, Christopher Paolini [up 1]
10. 1D: One Direction: Forever Young [new]
Young adult books occupy five of the top ten places across the whole library this month, which goes to show just how raging popular it is!
1. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins [no change]
2. Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins [no change]
3. Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins [no change]
4. City of Lost Souls, Cassandra Clare [no change]
5. Insurgent, Veronica Roth [no change]
6. Fear, Michael Grant [no change]
7. Rapture, Lauren Kate (on order) [new]
8. The World of the Hunger Games, Kate Egan [down 1]
9. Reached, Ally Condy (on order) [new]
10. Inheritance, Christopher Paolini [back]