Flash Point, Nancy Kress (501 pages) – the Collapse has happened, and the economy is a mess. Amy now has to support her family, but it’s hard when there are no jobs. When an opportunity comes up for her to go on a reality TV programme and get paid – called ‘Who Knows People Baby – You?’ – she jumps at the chance. The show’s premise seems okay – put a bunch of teenagers together and see what they do in various crises – but the producers up the ante whenever the ratings drop, and soon it’s life and death.
First sentence: All the other girls were better dressed and prettier than she was.
The Dead and Buried, Kim Harrington (297 pages) – Jade and her family have moved to a new town and new house, which Jade loves, until strange things start happening. The house is haunted, doh. The ghost is that of the popular girl in school who died mysteriously last year. Jade decides to investigate, and her nice new school friends (including the guy with the “dreamy blue eyes”) appear to be keeping secrets…
First sentences: I’m not stupid. I know half of them only worship me because they fear me.
Sea of Whispers, Tim Bowler (214 pages) – “Hetty’s always been a bit of a loner, preferring to keep to the outer edges of the close-knit island community. But when a strange woman is washed up on the shore, Hetty finds herself under increasing scrutiny from the islanders. There’s a connection between Hetty and the woman that makes people suspicious, so when death comes to the community the woman is branded a bad omen and Hetty has no choice but to take matters into her own hands. As she heads out to sea, a storm is breaking and the whispers that she’s heard before are louder than ever. Voices from the very depths of the sea… and they’re calling her name” (goodreads.com)
First sentence: They told her she was a dreamer, that the pictures she saw were an illusion, that sea glass could not tell a story; but this was a different kind of story.
Turf, John Lucas (360 pages) – Jay is a member of the Blake Street Boyz gang in London. He has the opportunity to become a gang senior, but he must first stab and kill a rival gang member. (or face the consequences).
First sentence: When you’re fifteen, everything matters.
Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend, Cora Harrison (335 pages) - take it away goodreads: “Jane wants to meet a hero worthy of her extraordinary imagination: a gentleman who is dashing and daring and handsome and brave; who can dance like a viscount and duel like a king. Jane and Jenny are whiling away the season in Bath and there are plenty of dances, rumours and scandals to entertain them. But a good reputation, once lost, is gone forever; and Jane is in danger of becoming the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons…” (nicely put).
First sentences: ‘I hate Jane Austen! I really hate her!’
Gilt, Katherin Longshore (406 pages) – Kitty has always been the wind beneath Cat’s wings, so to speak, living in her shadow. Then Cat finds herself in King Henry VIII’s court – and his heart – and invites Kitty to join her. Soon Kitty is enjoying the glitz and glamour, and the interest of dashing men. But not the shady side of court life, the secrets, treachery, and the possibility of one losing one’s head, literally.
First sentence: “You’re not going to steal anything.”
When We Wake, Karen Healey (291 pages) – Tegan wakes up one day to discover it’s been 100 years since she was last awake. As the first cryonically frozen human, she’s an instant celebrity. When she learns appalling secrets about her new society she must choose between keeping her head down and learning how to fit in, or fighting for a better future.
First sentences: My name is Tegan Oglietti. One of my ancestors was a highwayman, and another was a prince.
Vortex, Julie Cross (360 pages) – Tempest is the division of the CIA that deals with time travel-related security threats. Jackson is an agent for Tempest, a role he’s dedicated his life to after losing Holly – who he altered history in order to save. When a rival organisation called Eyewall starts up, Jackson finds both he and Holly are under threat: his little history-tweaking is no longer a secret.
First sentence: The only things that gave me the strength to pull myself off that grassy spot and walk farther from Holly were the images that flashed through my mind – Holly, sitting in that orientation, hiding the book in her lap with her name carefully written inside, her hair twirling around the pencil she was using to take notes.
Heppy new yur!
Middle School : Get Me Out of Here!, by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts (257 pages) – Rafe Khatchodorian is in middle school, which I think must be intermediate? Is it? He gets to leave and go to an art school in the city, which isn’t the break from the existential horror of middle school that he’d hoped for. This is the sequel to Middle School : The Worst Years of My Life!.
First lines: ‘Well, who’d have thought so much could change in one summer? Not me, that’s for sure. Not my best buddy, Leonardo the Silent.‘
Beta, by Rachel Cohn (331 pages) – Elysia was born as a sixteen-year-old, as fresh as any cloned scientific creation thrown together in a lab could be. She is to serve the wealthy inhabitants of paradise island, Demesne, but Elysia isn’t the souless clone that her makers think she is, and when her only chance at happiness is booted off the island (literally!), she learns she needs to fight back.
First lines: ‘It’s me she wants to purchase. The fancy lady claims she came into the resort boutique looking to buy a sweater, but she can’t take her eyes off me.‘
Made on Earth, by Wolfgang Korn (184 pages) – This is the story of one item of clothing and the people it connects (a red polar fleece, if you can imagine such a thing) in the context of globalisation. ‘This is a story about people, their livelihoods and their life expectations.’ Its written as a short novel, but could almost be non-fiction I reckon.
First line: ‘It was not love at first sight, no way! Bright red fleeces are for young girls, or Liverpool FC fans. They are definately not for tough journalists.‘
The Turning, by Francine Prose (246 pages) – Jack gets a job on a private island, babysitting the orphaned niece and nephew of some rich guy. The kids are well-behaved (if a little odd), while the cook, Mrs Gross seems nice enough. BUT things are not what they seem – he keeps seeing people that no one else can see – and he begins to feel like he is losing his grip. This is based on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. By the way!
First line: ‘Dear Sophie, I’m afraid this is going to sound crazy. But a very strange thing just happened.‘
The Curiosities : A Collection of Stories, by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff (291 pages) – The three authors of this book are all published authors of paranormal fiction, and a few years ago they all got together and created a website called merryfates.com, where they each posted a small short story once a week. This book is a compilation of such stories, along with lots of annotations from the authors (similar to the website’s comments I guess?). I don’t think the website is a going concern anymore, but here’s the book anyway. It gets a nice 4 stars on Goodreads.
Star-crossed : 18 Tales of Bittersweet Love, by Frances Kelly & Penny Murray (306 pages) – Like it says in the title! This is a collection of love stories. They are all retellings of classic romances from the olden days; Shakespeare, fable, myth, and fact are all covered, from Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor to Robin Hood and Maid Marian. Each has a little end-note explaining the romance preceding it and recommending more sources. So yeah, loads of romance.
Speechless, by Hannah Harrington (268 pages) – Chelsea nearly got someone killed indirectly when she blabbed someone’s secret, so, as a consequence, she takes a vow of silence. Her old friends all still blame her, and by not talking she’s not necessarily endearing herself to them, but other people – people she wouldn’t have once had much to do with – soon come out of the woodwork. One boy she might even have a future with. The 500 people who have reviewd it on Goodreads really like it, so get cracking and read it okay
First line: ‘Keping secrets isn’t my speciality.’
Easy, by Tammara Webber (310 pages) – Jacqueline moves to a new city to study at college with her boyfriend, but he dumps her, leaving her stranded – friendless and alone in a place she’d rather not be at, and failing a paper for the first time in her life. However, she forms an attachment with her economics tutor by email, and also meets a guy who electrifies her with his dancing. She is also being stalked, and then her ex comes back into her life. What is a girl to do
First lines: ‘I had never noticed Lucas before that night. It was as though he didn’t exist, and then suddenly, he was everywhere.‘
Lullaby : A Watersong Novel, by Amanda Hocking (290 pages) – This is the second book in the series that started with Wake. They series is seemingly your usual teen supernatural novel featuring a specific creature from myth and legend; in this case, the monsters are Sirens. Not the plastic lights on top of police cars! Haha, imagine that
First line: ‘Harper woke up when the sun was just beginning to set, and squinted at the dim orange light streaming in through her curtains.‘
Struck by Lightning : The Carson Phillips Journal, by Chris Colfer (258 pages) – Chris Colfer is the same Chris Colfer who plays (played?) Kurt Hummel on Glee. This book is based on the screenplay he wrote for the movie he made, about a high school student who is desperate to leave his small town and become a hard-hitting journalist; and to achieve his goals he resorts to blackmailing his fellow students.
First lines: ‘Dear Journal, one more school year with these $#!^heads and I’ll be free. It’s taken almost two decades of careful planning, but I’m proud to say my overdue departure from the town of Clover is only days away.‘
The Twinning Project, by Robert Lipsyte (269 pages) – Tom has an imaginary twin named Eddie who, in actual fact, is real and lives on another Earth that mirrors our own, but 50 years earlier, engineered by aliens. Somehow they connect and join the fight against those same aliens who are set destroy both planets.
First line: ‘I don’t fit in at school because I don’t do what I’m told if it’s stupid. I don’t keep my mouth shut when I have something to say.‘
Someday Dancer, by Sarah Rubin (245 pages) – It is 1959! And somewhere in the rural hindquarters of South Carolina Casey Quinn plans on leaving for New York City, where she wants to be a ballet dancer. She has the talent, but unfortunately lacks the formal training – but is there hope with contemporary dance? yep
First line: ‘Rat-a-tat-tat, my feet hit the ground, and the sound sings up like music. I am daning on the sidewalk, skipping home from school, free as a bird, and my feet are flying.‘
Pinned, by Sharon G. Flake (228 pages) – Catalogue synopsis: ‘Adonis is smart, intellectually gifted and born without legs; Autumn is strong, a great wrestler, and barely able to read in ninth grade – but Autumn is attracted to Adonis and determined to make him a part of her life whatever he or her best friend thinks.’
First lines: ‘You ever like a boy your friends thought you shouldn’t like? Maybe he short. Or his ears stick out. Or he got a face full of pimples. But you like him anyhow.‘
Arise : A Hereafter Novel, by Tara Hudson (408 pages) – This comes after Hereafter, book one in the series (which is also new to the collection). Amelia and Joshua are an item, but sadly Amelia is stuck between the worlds of the living and the dead. Threatened by dark spirits, the couple attempt a Voodoo ritual in a cemetery in an attempt at some protection, but the ceremony will change things. FOREVERRRRRR
First line: ‘The entire world had gone dark, and I had no idea why.‘
Eternally Yours : An Immortal Beloved Novel, by Cate Tiernan (455 pages) – Nastasya is 450-years old, but hasn’t spent all that time too wisely, so she spends five months at a special rehab for troubled immortals. In addition to learning about her family and their past, she also falls for a hot immortal viking boy, and utilises her special kind of magic to fight against the dark forces determined to wipe out all immortals around the world.
First lines: ‘Uppsala, Sweden, 1619. “Vali! Vali! Where is the girl?” I heard my employer’s voice and scrambled up the from the storage cellar.‘
A World Away, by Nancy Grossman (394 pages) – Eliza is sixteen, and Amish, so she’s led as sheltered a life as it’s probably possible to lead in the modern world. No Internet! Let that sink in. Anway, Eliza gets to go to Chicago as a nanny, and she’s scared. And excited! What will the world have for her? Will she return to her family back on the farm?
First line: ‘The strangers were coming, as they did every Thursday night, to bring a burst of color into our plain home. I circled the dining room, checking each lantern to be sure there was enough fuel inside.‘
Speed of Light : A Meridian Novel, by Amber Kizer (525 pages) – This is the third book in a series too complex for me to easily summarise. ‘Meridian and Tens continue to grow closer and explore their relationship of Protector and Fenestra, while sixteen-year-old Juliet Ambrose, grasping at any hope of finding her parents, considers acepting the help offered by Ms. Asura, a proven Nocti.’
First lines: ‘What if a young woman was both a girl to the living and a portal to the dying? I know the answer because I am.‘
My Life Next Door, by Huntley Fitzpatrick (394 pages) – Samantha Reed is the daughter of a successful US Senator, and she leads a typically proper and organised life. However, in the evenings, she watches the family next door, and is envious of their fairly disorganised, messy, and happy life. She and the eldest son, Jase, fall for each other, and the relationship remains their little secret. Until there’s a surprise twist to the story! It’s a popular book on Goodreads, if that sways you.
First lines: ‘The Garretts were forbidden from the start. But that’s not why they were important. We were standing in our yard that day ten years ago when their battered sedan pulled up to the low-slung shingled house next door, close behind the moving van.‘
The Evolution of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin (527 pages) – Mara Dyer has powers that only one other person – Noah – believes she has. Everyone else reckons she is has a developing mental disorder. What is truth? ‘This will have readers doubting Mara’s sanity, trusting the mental health professionals, and suspicious of Noah’s intentions.’
First lines: ‘You will love him to ruins. The words echoed in my mind as I ran through clots of laughing people. Blinking lights and delighted screams bled together in a riot of sound and color.‘
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.‘
Halloween is not so spooky in New Zealand, largely on account of the bright, perky evenings and the fact that pumpkin’s not really in season. Here are some book suggestions to fill the void:
The teen blog slightly random-ish list of quality fiction about horror and ghosts.
Some zombie books that are a little bit gruesome.
A list of good Halloween reads from The Horn Book (if the picture books don’t interest you so much, look further down for an excellent selection).
An updated list of recommendations from allhallowsread.com.
Or you can read up about Halloween at history.com.
The Crown of Embers, by Rae Carson (410 pages) – This is the sequel to The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Elisa has led her people to victory, but now she must harness the power of the Godstone. This can only be done by following the clues found in ancient scripture, hidden catacombs and similary dangerous places. A nice thick fantasy book for this apparently eternal winter, I reckon.
First line: ‘My entourage of guards struggles to keep pace as I fly down the corridors of my palace. Servants in starched frocks and shined shoes line the way, bowing like dominoes as I pass.‘
Small Damages, by Beth Kephart (293 pages) – Kenzie is eighteen and pregnant to her boyfriend, the ambitious Kevin who is headed for Yale. Kenzie is sent to Spain to stay so that she’s closer to her baby’s adoptive parents. She has to cope with the culture shock, a stubborn old cook, and the young and mysterious Esteban with his Hyberian charm and gentle way with horses.
First line: ‘The streets of Seville are the size of sidewalks, and there are alleys leaking off from the streets.‘
Something Strange and Deadly, by Susan Dennard (388 pages) – Victoria-era Philadelphia has a zombie problem, and Eleanor Fitt’s brother has gone missing in New York. He was able to send a cryptic letter via zombie, and for Eleanor to find him she will need the help of the Spirit-Hunters, who defend the city from the weird. This is the first book in a planned trilogy.
First line: ‘“Dead!” a woman screamed. “It’s the Dead!” My heart shot into my throat, and shocked cries rippled through the station.‘
Pushing the Limits, by Katie McGarry (403 pages) – Echo and Noah are both teens whose lives are marred by tragedy and secrets, and both are struggling to regain some semblance of normalcy. They are drawn together, and fall in love. If you like a “suspenseful plot, dramatic conflicts, and tragic characters” you will like this, a review says.
First line: ‘“My father is a control freak, I hate my stepmother, my brother is dead and my mother has … well … issues. How do you think I’m doing?”‘
Enshadowed : A Nevermore Book, by Kelly Creagh (429 pages) – Book two in a series about a dreamworld inhabited by Edgar Allan Poe’s stories that have come to life. Varen is trapped there, and Isobel is the only person who can save him. Will she save him before he becomes her greatest and most lethal enemy? I don’t knoooooow
First line: ‘“Edgar?” Speaking softly, Dr. Moran leaned over his patient. His eyes traced the wan and pallid countenance of the famous poet, Edgar Poe.‘
Unspoken : The Lynburn Legacy, by Sarah Rees Brennan (373 pages) – This blurb is incredibly complex and difficult, so just read this summary written by Grimm back in July. It is the first in a series, but according to Goodreads there are a couple of short stories in ebook form that are prequels to this book. Get them from her site, maybe.
First line: ‘Every town in England has a story. One day I am going to find out Sorry-in-the-Vale’s.‘
Dead Embers : A Valkyrie Novel, by T. G. Ayer (380 pages) – This is book 2 in a series. (Here’s book 1!) Bryn is a Valkyrie (the Norse angels of death who carry heroes to Valhalla (imagine one of the sets from LoTR but with vikings)). She is in training still! Loki (Norse god of mischief) has somehow stuck her boyfriend in Hel (Hel is the Norse underworld! Boo) and Ragnorok (the Norse apocalypse!) is on its way. So yeah, not much to look forward to.
First line: ‘Cold burrowed into my knees, digging icy claws deep into bone. Despite the pain, I didn’t move.’
Between You and Me, by Marisa Calin (243 pages) – Phyre is sixteen and wants to be an actress. She falls in love with the student teacher of drama class, Mia, which leaves her best friend (who loves Phyre) feeling blue. This book is written as a screenplay, with the best friend never described further than just the role of “you” in the script. Phyre is “me”, if that makes sense?
First line: ‘FADE IN
‘MY BEDROOM. SEPTEMBER. EVENING.
‘Close-up. Heart-shaped pink sunglasses.’
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!).
Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin we mentioned on Tuesday: it’s a bleak steampunk, dystopian love triangle which sounds intriguing. Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake is the sequel to the ghost story Anna Dressed in Blood, in which Cas has waking nightmares of Anna being tortured by the Obeahman in some sort of hellish hell: can he bring her back to save her from eternal suffering? I like the idea of a story based on the idea that the ghost stories people tell around campfires are actually true. <3 ghosts.
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.
Today’s selection of soon-to-be-published books is brought to you mostly by the colour red. Reserve them now!
Girl of Nightmares, Kendare Blake (August/September). This is the sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood. “It’s been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can’t move on.
“His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live–not walk around half dead. He knows they’re right, but in Cas’s eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.
“Now he’s seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he’s asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong… these aren’t just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.
“Cas doesn’t know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn’t deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it’s time for him to return the favor.” (goodreads.com)
Unspoken, Sarah Rees Brennan (September). The first of the Lynburn Legacy books. Kami is the strange girl in town – town being Sorry-in-the-Vale in England – with her reputation for being a bit odd thanks to her imaginary friend. Kami’s not too worried about it; she has real friends too now, and has learned to incorporate the voice inside her head into her busy, not too weird life.
Then the Lynburns return to occupy the mansion that overlooks the town - including the Lynburn twins, Jared and Ash. One of the twins, particularly, resonates with Kami (why does she feel like she knows him?) as does her need to solve the mysteries of Sorry-in-the-Vale, like who is responsible for what goes on in the woods? Also, is her mother keeping a secret? What’s become of her imaginary friend?
Rebel Heart, Moira Young (October). This is the much anticipated (by me anyway) sequel to Blood Red Road. “Nothing is certain and no one is safe in the second book in the highly praised Dust Lands trilogy, which MTV’s Hollywood Crush blog called ‘better than The Hunger Games.’ It seemed so simple: defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.” (goodreads.com)
Days of Blood and Starlight, Laini Taylor (November). “In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.” (amazon.com)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone was one of our favourites from last year – the review is here.
Also: Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta – the conclusion to the Lumatere chronicles – should be available in September.
Only a few new
books have come in this week I
am sorry to say
See You at Harry’s, by Jo Knowles (310 pages) – Fern feels a bit rejected by her family, who all have their own things to deal with. Her father run Harry’s, a restaurant, and in addition to an older sister (sarcastic and self-involved), an older brother (coming to terms with being gay), and a mother who is never around, she also has a toddler brother who is always the centre of attention. Until tragedy strikes, sadly, and Fern feels responsible and desolate. Do things get better? Usually!
First line: ‘The very best day of my life, I threw up four times and had a fever of 103 degrees.‘
New Girl, by Paige Harbison (314 pages) – Cassie is newly arrived at the exclusive and hoity-toity Manderley Academy, and finds that her spot was recently vacated by Becca Normandy. Becca was perfect in all the ways that really matter in novels set in exclusive adademies, although in this case she has been missing since the end of last year. Cassie feels like an imposter and it isn’t helped when she falls for Max, Becca’s ex-boyfriend. Is Becca out there, waiting ..?
First line: ‘The panoramic view outside the windoes of the bus showed a world that wasn’t mine.‘
Tina’s Mouth : An Existential Comic Diary, by Keshni Kashya & illustrations by Mari Araki (242 pages) – This is a graphic novel, but with a lot of text, so it’s more like an illustrated book? Tina’s parents are from India and she is from California, where she goes to the Yarborough Academy in Southern California. She creates an ‘existential diary’ for her English class, in an attempt to fix her place in the world; this book represents that diary. Also a good intro to Satre.
First lines: ‘Dear Mr. Jean-Paul Sartre, I know that you are dead and old and also a philosopher. So, on an obvious levl, you and I do not have a lot in common.‘
Secrets of the Henna Girl, by Sufiya Ahmed (269 pages) – Zeba Khan is sixteen, and life is okay. She’s just finished school in the UK and is waiting for her exam results, and excited for college and uni. First she is spending the summer break in Pakistan with her family. There she learns – to her shock! – that is she is it to marry a stranger, to protect her father’s honour. Does she hold the secrets that will help her escape?
First lines: ‘The rain was beating hard against the window. It was the typical English rain of the summer – fast and furious as it attempted to wash away the dusty, dry heat of the unbearably hot days.‘
Messy : A Novel, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (359 pages) – This is a companion book to Spoiled, about Brooke Berlin who discovers her father is a rich and famous movie-star. Now, to help her career along, she decides to start up a blog full of Hollywood inside gossip. But she doesn’t have time to actually write anything, so she hires Max, a green-haired girl who loathes celebrities, to secretely do all the work for her.
First line: ‘“You were so good in that movie. Talking dogs are my favorite.” Max McCormack felt a snicker bubbling up, like a secret, and willed it to die.‘