A bit of this, bit of that:
The Gladiator series by Simon Scarrow. The series is (so far): Fight for Freedom, Street Fighter, and Son of Spartacus. They tell the story of Marcus Cornelius Primus, a young gladiator determined to find justice for the crimes against his family. Julius Caesar makes an appearance also. Have to say, Roman names are awesome.
The Prey, Andrew Fukuda (February/March) – “For Gene and the remaining humans – or hepers – death is just a heartbeat away. On the run and hunted by society, they must find a way to survive in The Vast… and avoid the hungry predators tracking them in the dark. But they’re not the only things following Gene. He’s haunted by the girl he left behind and his burgeoning feelings for Sissy, the human girl at his side. When they discover a refuge of exiled humans living high in the mountains, Gene and his friends think they’re finally safe. Led by a group of intensely secretive elders, the civilisation begins to raise more questions than answers. A strict code of behaviour is the rule, harsh punishments are meted out, young men are nowhere to be found – and Gene begins to wonder if the world they’ve entered is just as evil as the one they left behind. As life at the refuge grows more perilous, he and Sissy only grow closer. In an increasingly violent world, all they have is each other… if they can only stay alive.” (goodreads.com)
The Eternity Cure, Julie Kagawa (April) – sequel to The Immortal Rules. “Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning – New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally. Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.” (goodreads.com)
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.
Time travel (maybe?), a gritty fairy tale, and the Big Easy.
Back to Blackbrick, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald (February/March). “Cosmo’s brother Brian died when he was ten years old. His mum hides her grief by working all the hours God sends and Cosmo lives with his grandparents. They’ve been carefree days as Granddad buys him a horse called John and teaches him all he knows about horses. But the good times have to come to an end and although he doesn’t want to admit it, Cosmo knows his Granddad is losing his mind. So on one of the rare occasions when Granddad seems to recognise him, Cosmo is bemused that he gives him a key to Blackbrick Abbey and urges him to go there. Cosmo shrugs it off, but gradually Blackbrick draws him in… Cosmo arrives there, scared and lonely, and is dropped off at the crumbling gates of a huge house. As he goes in, the gates close, and when he turns to look, they’re rusty and padlocked as if they haven’t been opened in years. Cosmo finds himself face to face with his grandfather as a young man, and questions begin to form in his mind: can Cosmo change the course of his family’s future?” (goodreads.com
Teeth, Hannah Moskowitz (February). “Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house. Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.” (goodreads.com) This is described as a “gritty, romantic modern fairytale”.
Out of The Easy, Ruta Sepetys (February/March). Ruta Sepetys wrote the best-selling and award-winning Between Shades of Gray, about a Lithuanian teenager’s struggle for life during World War II. Here she turns her attention to the French Quarter of New Orleans in the 1950s. “Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.” (goodreads.com)
In darkness, Nick Lake. Shorty is a gangster in the slums of Site Soleil in Haiti, and he’s caught in the rubble of a hospital in the 2010 earthquake. As he lies there trapped, he thinks on his life so far, and his story is woven betwixt and between that of Toussaint L’Ouverture, the slave who led Haiti to freedom against the French in the 18th century.
There were also four Printz honours given:
Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenz. “Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.” (goodreads.com)
Dodger, Terry Pratchett. Dodger is a street urchin living in Victorian London. When he sees a girl jump out of a carriage he helps her escape her captors, thereby earning the interest of Charles Dickens, who reports him as a hero (the Artful Dodger, perhaps?), changing Dodger’s life profoundly. Encounters with the Queen, Benjamin Disraeli, and Sweeney Todd follow.
The white bicycle, Beverley Brenna, which we don’t have (yet). The story is a first-person account of Taylor Jane’s summer trip to the South of France, where she babysits for a family, which is challenging for a girl with Asperger’s Syndrome.
For more information about the Printz Award visit the American Library Association website here.
Meanwhile, the Alex Awards – for general fiction with teen appeal – were also announced, and here are the ten winners:
Caring is Creepy, by David Zimmerman
Girlchild, by Tupelo Hassman
Juvenile in Justice, by Richard Ross
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan
My Friend Dahmer, by Derf Backderf
One Shot at Forever, by Chris Ballard
Pure, by Julianna Baggott
The Round House, by Louise Erdrich
Tell the Wolves I’m Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt
Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple
Dystopian political intrigue, exploring a new planet, and something for Downton fans.
Prodigy, Marie Lu – this is the sequel to Legend. “June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request – June and Day must assassinate the new Elector. It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long. But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood – what if the Patriots are wrong?” (goodreads.com)
Shades of Earth, Beth Revis – the final in the Across the Universe trilogy. In which Amy and Elder finally get to escape the good ship Godspeed, and create a new home on Centauri-Earth. But! What of Centauri-Earth? “But this new Earth isn’t the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed’s former passengers aren’t alone on this planet. And if they’re going to stay, they’ll have to fight. Amy and Elder must race to discover who – or what – else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed – friends, family, life on Earth – will have been for nothing.” (goodreads.com) Fun times!
Cinders & Sapphires (At Somerton), Leila Rasheed. This has been described as “‘a thoroughly satisfying romp for Downtown Abbey fans” by a Kirkus reviewer, so if you love DA, and all the upper class / serving class intrigue, you should give it a go! “Rose Cliffe has never met a young lady like her new mistress. Clever, rich, and beautiful, Ada Averley treats Rose as an equal. And Rose could use a friend. Especially now that she, at barely sixteen, has risen to the position of ladies’ maid. Rose knows she should be grateful to have a place at a house like Somerton. Still, she can’t help but wonder what her life might have been had she been born a lady, like Ada. For the first time in a decade, the Averleys have returned to Somerton, their majestic ancestral estate. But terrible scandal has followed Ada’s beloved father all the way from India. Now Ada finds herself torn between her own happiness and her family’s honor. Only she has the power to restore the Averley name – but it would mean giving up her one true love… someone she could never persuade her father to accept.” (amazon.com)
Radiant Days : A Novel, Elizabeth Hand
This is a book about Merle, a young artist who goes homeless in the late ’70s after her heart is broken. It is also about the nineteenth-century French poet Arthur Rimbaud, who, at the age of 16, was already on the way to becoming an established writer. He and Merle meet up via time travel, but this is not a science-fiction novel; this is about the isolation and transcendence of art. Arthur Rimbaud (a real person!) was a hero of mine when I was a teen and so I was thrilled to read a story in which he is a character. AND furthermore the book is beautifully written, something you’d always hope for but is especially appropriate in this case.
Here are more reviews and information.
Terrifyingly it’s already that time of year when Amazon produces its best books of the year lists. The Top 20 list for teens is here. It’s an interesting, varied collection, with some of our favourites of 2012.
Stephanie has bought some new ebooks recently, including a couple of popular series and some intriguing plot-lines.
Stravaganza: City of Masks, City of Stars, City of Flowers, by Mary Hoffman. We have the first three books in this very popular series as ebooks (you can also reserve the paper version of the soon-to-be-published latest, City of Swords). The official series website is here.
Gossip Girl series, created by Cecily von Ziegasar. We’ve recently acquired heaps of these (approximately 13), including the first book, It Had to be You (the prequel), and Don’t You Forget About Me (which we partly mention because that’s the name of the theme song of the excellent The Breakfast Club (outstanding teen movie from the 80s! ($4.00 for 1 week))).
The Académie, Susanne Dunlap. Eliza Monroe is the daughter of the soon-to-be fifth president of the United States (true story!). It is only fitting, then, that she attend an exclusive academy in Paris. She’s not too thrilled at the notion, until she discovers she will be attending with the daughter of Josephine (of Napoleon and Josephine fame), who is marvellously called Hortense de Beauharnais (true story) and the younger sister of Napoleon himself (Caroline). More intriguing: the two girls hate each other. Paris in the early 19th century: what a place to be!
The Pledge, Kimberly Derting. In the far future the world is divided strictly by language, and the language you speak is a matter of life and death. This world is complicated for Charlie, as she is gifted with the ability to understand all languages. When Charlie meets Max, who speaks a language she’s never heard before (but can understand, of course), she’s intrigued, but Max understands the danger Charlie is in: can he protect her as war threatens?
Note: you need Adobe Digital Editions to download ebooks. This step-by-step guide will tell you everything!
For more ebooks, visit our Overdrive homepage.
Starling, Leslie Livingston (the first in a new series; September). Mason Starling is a champion fencer (did you see any fencing in the London Olympics? We here at the teen blog thought it was exciting (except for the hair adjustment stoppages)) at Gosforth Academy. It’s one thing to be a fencer in staged competition, quite another to be running for your life from frightening creatures that have been unleashed on your campus in the middle of a storm. Lucky then that her path collides with the Fennrys Wolf (from Wondrous Strange), who remembers only his name. Together they will begin to uncover the truth of his past, and hers, and how they are connected to the strangeness that surrounds them.
The Diviners, Libba Bray (September). Again, the first in a new series. After Going Bovine and Beauty Queens, Libba Bray returns to a storyline a bit more like that of A Great and Terrible Beauty. “Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as ‘The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.’ When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.” (goodreads.com)
This has a very cool trailer which I can’t embed but you can see right here.
Such Wicked Intent, Kenneth Oppel (September again!). This is the sequel to His Dark Endeavour. “When does obsession become madness? Tragedy has forced sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein to swear off alchemy forever. He burns the Dark Library. He vows he will never dabble in the dark sciences again—just as he vows he will no longer covet Elizabeth, his brother’s betrothed. If only these things were not so tempting. When he and Elizabeth discover a portal into the spirit world, they cannot resist. Together with Victor’s twin, Konrad, and their friend Henry, the four venture into a place of infinite possibilities where power and passion reign. But as they search for the knowledge to raise the dead, they unknowingly unlock a darkness from which they may never return.” (goodreads.com)
Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein.
“I AM A COWARD,” begins Verity. “I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was. I have always been good at pretending.”
“Verity” has been captured in a town in France because she looked the wrong way crossing the road, crashing into a truck right outside Gestapo headquarters in 1943. So, she’s not the most talented spy the British have ever seen then, or is she? Tortured by Gestapo Captain von Linden and his underlings, Verity has cracked under the intense pressure, and agreed to give up British war secrets in exchange for her clothes (”The warmth and dignity of my flannel skirt and woolly jumper are worth far more to me now than patriotism or integrity”). She tells her story on recipe cards, music scores and doctor’s prescription forms, gradually revealing the truth about herself, the British espionage effort, and her best friend Maddie – who flew her across the Channel to begin her short-lived mission – all the time loathing herself for her cowardice, and being loathed by her fellow prisoners. Her story reaches its stressful conclusion about half way into the novel, and I shall say no more!
Except, Code Name Verity is an awesome World War II espionage novel. ”Verity” is a wonderfully unreliable narrator (would you trust a spy?), and her story is of two heroic young women who throw themselves headlong into the war with unexpected and frightening consequences. Bring your hankie, or two.
Elizabeth Wein has said this novel was inspired by her research into female pilots in World War II (as a pilot herself – cool! – she wondered what role she could have played), and you can read about her other literary inspirations for the story in this Book Smugglers post here.
If you’re also interested in reading more about women’s participation in World War II (the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, for example), then here are some titles.
Also, Flygirl by Sherri L Smith is about an African American woman who pretends to be white in order to be accepted into the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).