This week: historical romance, science fiction, and epic fantasy.
Changeling, Philippa Gregory. “Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days. Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape. Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.” (amazon.com)
This is the first of a series by one of the queens of historical fiction!
Burnt Ice, Steve Wheeler (New Zealand). The first book in the A Fury of Aces series. A space adventure! “In our future worlds the Administration rules the Sphere of Humankind, the Games Board sanctions and funds wars and conflicts, and the Haulers′ Collective roams the space routes like the caravanners of old. Marko and his crew of fellow soldier-engineers are sent to investigate an unknown planet. When they encounter strange artefacts and an intelligent but aggressive squid species, they are forced to embark on a perilous journey far from the Sphere. They will have to survive not only other alien encounters but also their own Administration′s deadly manipulations. Political factions and galactic media moguls vie for power … and money.” (Text from HarperCollins)
Do you like a really good sad story? We do. Here’s some.
The nineteenth century: mystery, adventure, magic, the supernatural, orphans, the industrial age of machinery and steam; all good stuff. Here’s a selection of fiction set in Victorian times (strictly speaking 1837 to 1901), mostly in London.
Today: a weaponry face-off.
In the Blue Corner:
In the Red Corner:
Cupcake, Rachel Cohn (310 pages) – if you’ve read Shrimp and Gingerbread then you need to read this! CC has moved to New York, leaving behind Shrimp. She’s on a mission to find the best job, the best coffee, the best cupcake (we hear you), and a new love. But then, oops, Shrimp shows up, and CC must decide whether to continue the New York dream, or follow the surf with Shrimp.
First sentence: A cappucino cost me my life.
Frost, Wendy Delsol (376 pages) – the sequel to Stork. Katla is adjusting to life being a Stork and her mystical abilities, and to snowy Minnesota. The attentions of Jack help, however when a snowstorm brings environmental scientist Brigid to town, Katla finds there’s competition for Jack’s attentions. Worse, on a trip with Brigid to Greenland, Jack goes missing, and Katla knows she’s the only one who can find him.
First sentence: There was one thing, and one thing only, that could coax me into striped red tights, a fur vest, and an elf cap: Jack Snjosson.
Dust & Decay, Jonathan Maberry (519 pages) – the sequel to Rot & Ruin. Benny and his friends are ready to leave in search of a better future (on a road trip!), but this is not so easy! Zombies, wild animals, murderers, and the rebuilt Gamelands are in their way, plus also possibly Charlie Pink-eye (who is supposed to be safely dead!).
First sentence: Benny Imura was appalled to learn that the Apocalypse came with homework.
My Life Undecided, Jessica Brody (299 pages) – Brooklyn can’t make decisions, so she blogs in the hopes that her readers will make up her mind for her. But things get messy when love gets involved.
First sentence: The sirens are louder than I anticipated.
Audition, Stasia Ward Kehoe (458 pages) – Sara moves to a new city and joins the prestigious Jersey Ballet. As she struggles to adapt she spends time with Remington, a choreographer on the rise, becoming his muse and creating gossip and scandal that may make it all seem not worth it. A novel in verse.
First sentence: When you are a dancer / you learn the beginning / is first position.
This Dark Endeavor, Kenneth Oppel (298 pages) – subtitled The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein and therefore the prequel to Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein. Sixteen year old Victor’s twin, Konrad, falls ill, and Victor is desperate to save him. He enlists the help of some friends in creating the Elixir of Life, but in the process pushes the boundaries of “nature, science and love”.
First sentence: We found the monster on a rocky ledge high above the lake.
Dead End in Norvelt, Jack Gantos (341 pages) – Over to the rather good catalogue description: “In the historic town of Norvelt, Pennsylvania, twelve-year-old Jack Gantos spends the summer of 1962 grounded for various offenses until he is assigned to help an elderly neighbor with a most unusual chore involving the newly dead, molten wax, twisted promises, Girl Scout cookies, underage driving, lessons from history, typewriting, and countless bloody noses.”
First sentence: School was finally out and I was standing on a picnic table in our backyard getting ready for a great summer vacation when my mother walked up to me and ruined it.
A Need So Beautiful, Suzanne Young (267 pages) – Charlotte is a Forgotten, an earth-bound angel compelled to help someone. She’d rather spend her life with her boyfriend, so she must make the difficult, wrenching choice between her destiny and her love.
First sentence: I sit on the front steps of St. Vincent’s Cathedral and pick at the moss nestled in the cracks of the concrete.
VIII, H. M. Castor (399 pages) – Before he was Henry VIII he was Hal; young, dashing and handsome, and destined to become one of the most famous kings of England (not necessarily for all the right reasons). VIII tells the story of young Hal, tormented by his family’s ghosts and convinced of his path to lead his country. This has good reviews!
First sentence: I’m still half asleep when I feel strong hands grabbing me.
So Silver Bright, Lisa Mantchev (356 pages) – the concluding Act in the quirky, effervescent trilogy that began with Eyes Like Stars, So Silver Bright sees Bertie on the up and up, having rescued Nate from Sedna, and having discovered the identity of her father, the Scrimshander. Now she must try and reunite him with her mother, Ophelia, so they can be a family. But of course, things can’t go to plan: her father has disappeared, Sedna’s on the loose, and the Theatre Illuminata and her mother are on the verge of collapse. Plus: Nate, or Ariel?
First sentence: It is a nipping and an eager air.
Dark Parties, Sara Grant (313 pages) – Neva has lived in Homeland her whole life, told that the rest of the earth is just wasteland. But this is a lie! Neva is aware of The Missing, people who vanish without warning. She and her friend Sanna decide to start an underground rebellion, to uncover the truths the government has been hiding, but is Neva in danger of becoming one of The Missing?
First sentence: I’m standing in the dark, not the gentle gray of dusk or the soft black of a moonlit night but pitch-black.
Compuls1on, Heidi Ayarbe (297 pages) – Jake is obsessed with prime numbers, and this obsession lends him some sort of magic – it’s what keeps his family safe, and makes him so brilliant at football, and it’s what’s going to make his team state soccer champions for the third year in a row (3 = a prime number). He is sure that this final game of the season will set the magic free from the numbers, and he won’t be a freak – but what if this doesn’t happen? A story about obsessive compulsive disorder, obvs.
First sentence: Tanya Reese’s Tinker Bell taattoo flits on her pale shoulder, blowing on a dandelion, its fluff spiraling down on her back.
Following Christopher Creed, Carol Plum-Ucci (405 pages) – sequel to The Body of Christopher Creed. A body is found in Steepleton (could it be Christopher Creed?), so college reporter Mike Mavic ups stakes and moves there to follow the story, convinced this is his big break. What he finds, however, is a suffering town (unexplained sickness, accidents), and Justin Creed, Christopher’s brother, who is also obsessed with uncovering the truth of his disappearance.
First sentence: It happened on a dark and stormy night.
(we do love dark and stormy nights in first sentences)
Lola and the Boy Next Door, Stephanie Perkins (338 pages) – Lola’s life seems perfect. She’s a designer with an outrageous sense of style, and she has a hot boyfriend. But then (there’s always a but then) the Bell twins move back to the house next door, one of the twins being Cricket (yes, Cricket), a gifted inventor, and the boy Lola has unacknowledged feelings for.
First sentence: I have three simple wishes.
Cold Kiss, Amy Garvey (292 pages) – When Wren’s boyfriend Danny dies, she’s determined to bring him back… and so she does. Trouble is, new Danny is nothing like old Danny: “his touch is icy; his skin, smooth and stiff as marble; his chest, cruelly silent when Wren rests her head against it” (salute to Edward?). Wren tries to keep him a secret, but Gabriel DeMarnes arrives in town. He can sense her power and somehow knows what she’s done, and wants to help her, but only Wren can undo what she’s done.
First sentence: I wasn’t thinking about falling in love the day I met Danny Greer.
And finally for this week, two retellings:
Falling for Hamlet, Michelle Ray (348 pages) – Hamlet updated! Ophelia is a high school senior and girlfriend of Prince Hamlet, son of the Danish king. Her life seems glamorous, but there’s the paparazzi, and the controlling royals, and then the suspicious death of the king. Hamlet starts acting oddly – madly – and Ophelia finds herself isolated, and wishing for a normal life (preferably not in a nunnery).
First sentence: Hamlet’s father had the kind of laugh that made wineglasses vibrate and clink of the staff set them too close together, and Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, loved to hear it so much that she went to great lengths to provoke it.
Dark of the Moon, Tracy Barrett (310 pages) – “Retells the story of the minotaur through the eyes of his fifteen-year-old sister, Ariadne, a lonely girl destined to become a goddess of the moon, and her new friend, Theseus, the son of Athens’ king who was sent to Crete as a sacrifice to her misshapen brother.” (catalogue!)
First sentence: It isn’t true what they say about my brother – that he ate those children.
This is the rest of this week’s new books. A bit of a history theme this time, with a supernatural twist, and plenty of thrillers!
Fateful, Claudia Gray (328 pages) – it’s a supernatural romance on the Titanic! It’s 1912 and Tess has set sail for New York with the family she works for. On board she meets Alec, a handsome first class passenger. Their budding romance leads to danger for Tess though: there are werewolves, and they’re out to get him.
First sentence: It’s not too late to turn back, I tell myself.
Eternal, Gillian Shields (359 pages) – the companion novel to Immortal and Betrayal. Evie and Helen are distracted from the Mystic Way by personal tragedies, so Sarah must step up and keep them all together against imminent attack from the dark coven and Unconquered lords. Can she rely on the Mystic Way, or will she find help in other, unexpected, places?
First sentence: I am not like Evie.
Misfit, Jon Skovron (362 pages) – Jael is the daughter of a cynical former priest and a 5,000 year old demon. So, she’s not ordinary then. Things become even less ordinary when she receives a special gift on her sixteenth birthday. Now she’s got cool powers, but also demons who are after her family, not in a good way.
First sentence: Jael Thompson looks at her reflection in the bathroom mirror and frowns.
Want to go Private?, Sarah Darer Littman (330 pages) – Abby is about to start high school, and she should be more excited about it, but she’s more interested in building her friendship with Luke, a guy she’s met online. When Luke suggests they meet in person and Abby agrees and goes missing, her family and friends must figure out what’s been going on if they want to get her back.
First sentence: “How can you not be excited?”
Tunnel Vision, Susan Shaw (255 pages) – One evening, when Liza is on the way home with her mother they are attacked by a group of strange men. Liza’s mother is killed, but it transpires that Liza herself was actually the target. Liza and her father are put into witness protection, constantly on the move to escape her would-be killer.
First sentence: The laughing men weren’t leaving much room for anyone to get by, but what else was I supposed to do?
Queen of Hearts, Martha Brooks (211 pages) – Set in Canada during World War II. Marie Claire and her siblings are sent to a sanitorium when they contract tuberculosis. “a new strange land of TB exiles she must “chase the cure,” seek privacy where there is none, and witness the slow wasting decline of others. But in this moving novel about fighting a way back to normal life, it is the thing that sets back Marie Claire the most—the demise of her little brother—that also connects her with the person who will be instrumental in helping her recover.” (Amazon.com)
First sentence: On a cold evening in late spring, with the rain coming down hard around him, there’s Oncle Gérard standing outside our farmhouse, just like he’s never been away.
Hidden, Helen Frost (142 pages) – “When Wren Abbott and Darra Monson are eight years old, Darra’s father steals a minivan. He doesn’t know that Wren is hiding in the back. The hours and days that follow change the lives of both girls. Darra is left with a question that only Wren can answer. Wren has questions, too. Years later, in a chance encounter at camp, the girls face each other for the first time. They can finally learn the truth—that is, if they’re willing to reveal to each other the stories that they’ve hidden for so long…” (Amazon.com). This is a novel in verse – the author tells us that Darra’s poems also give clues about the story (read the author’s note at the back).
First sentence: I was a happy little girl wearing a pink dress, / sitting in our gold minivan, / dancing with my doll, Kamara.
And Then Things Fall Apart, Arlaina Tibensky (254 pages) – Keek’s summer is not turning out well. She’s been abandoned at her grandmother’s house, with nothing but a typewriter, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, and the chickenpox for company. The perfect opportunity, then, to work out why her life’s turned pear-shaped, and attempt to right things.
First sentence: I once watched a collector kill a monarch butterfly on a nature show by putting it under a glass dome with a piece of cotton soaked in gasoline.
Sent, Margaret Peterson Haddix (313 pages) – The Missing Book 2. “Jonah and Katherine have barely adjusted to the discovery that they are actually the missing children of history when a time purist named JB sends them, along with Chip and Alex, hurtling back in time to 1483. JB promises that if they can fix history, they can all return to their present-day lives. Now, Chip and Alex have to reclaim their true identities – as the king and prince of England. But things get complicated when they discover that according to the records, Chip and Alex were murdered. How can Jonah and Katherine fix history if it means letting their friends die?” (Amazon.com).
Sister, Missing, Sophie McKenzie (250 pages) – set two years after Girl, Missing. Lauren is now sixteen, and her birth mother takes her and her two sisters on a holiday. When one of her sisters disappears in mysterious circumstances (similar to those of her own disappearance two years earlier), can Lauren figure out what’s going on and stop the nightmare from repeating?
First sentence: I woke up to sunshine pouring in through the bedroom window of the holiday cottage.
Here is a selection of newly arrived fiction. Completely randomly a theme emerged in the tower of new books, which makes for some serious reading.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs (352 pages) – this includes very cool (peculiar) Victorian-style portrait photographs (of the peculiar children). Jacob is sent to an island off the coast of Wales (go Wales!), on which there lie the ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (an orphanage). As you would, Jacob explores the ruins, learning about the children, discovering that by “peculiar” people might have meant “dangerous”: there was a reason why Miss Peregrine’s Home is on an island. (Wrestle this one out of the hands of a librarian today!)
First sentence: I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, Annabel Pitcher (226 pages) – The title is a reference to Jamie’s sister’s ashes. Five years on from her death, the family is still struggling to come to terms. Jamie’s father drinks, and his mother has left, and Jamie is trying to make sense of the tragedy.
First sentence: My sister Rose lives on the mantelpiece.
Hades, Alexandra Adornetto (422 pages) – the sequel to Halo. Bethany is tricked, and finds herself in Hades (the underworld), Jake is back in town, and is going after Xavier, to get at Bethany. So to spare Xavier’s life, must Bethany make the ultimate sacrifice?
First sentence: When the final bell sounded at Bryce Hamilton, Xavier and I gathered our things and headed out onto the south lawn.
She Loves You, She Loves You Not, Julie Anne Peters (278 pages) – Alyssa is disowned by her father, so she must move away from her girlfriend Sarah, to live with her mother who she doesn’t know in a new town, starting over again (and trying not to repeat the mistakes of the past).
First sentence: The night Sarah and Ben showed up out of the blue.
Sorta Like a Rock Star, Matthew Quick (355 pages) – Amber, her mother, and her dog, live in the back of the school bus her mother drives (one of those big yellow buses). Even so, Amber is an optimist, visiting people in a nursing home, and teaching English to Korean women, but then something terrible happens that tips Amber over the edge into depression.
First sentence: Lying down, shivering on the last seat of school bus 161, pinned by his teensy doggie gaze, which is completely 100% cute – I’m such a girl, I know – I say, “You won’t believe the bull I had to endure today.”
The Girl is Murder, Kathryn Miller Haines (342 pages) – set in New York in 1942. Iris’ father owns a detective agency, so naturally she is dead keen to help him on some of his cases. When he refuses to let her – and he’s working on a case involving a boy at her school – she decides to do some secret detective work of her own.
First sentence: Pop’s leg was across the room when I came downstairs. (And the next sentence: I didn’t ask him how it got there.)
Putting Makeup on Dead People, Jen Violi (326 pages) – Donna’s father has been dead for four years and she’s never really got over it. Then one day, she discovers a calling to become a mortician. A story of “how one girl learns to grieve and say good-bye, turn loss into a gift, and let herself be exceptional” (cover).
First sentence: I’m mixing a can of tomato soup with a can of two percent milk for dinner that no one will eat.
A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie, Matt Blackstone (248 pages) – Rene is an obsessive-compulsive superhero in the making, convinced he is responsible for bad things that happen by doing things in the wrong order, or moving at the wrong time. He has one friend, Gio, who is determined to teach him how to “play it cool” – one imagines Gio has his work cut out for him.
First sentence: Legs are my favorite part.
Between, Jessica Warman (454 pages) – “By weaving through her memories and watching the family and friends she left behind, eighteen-year-old Liz Valchar solves the mystery of how her life ended in the Long Island Sound.” (catalogue)
First sentence: It’s a little after two a.m.
If you love a good thriller, then read on! (There’s a few in here.) There’s also some fantasy, reality, and the all-conquering supernatural romance.
Heart of Danger, Fleur Beale (315 pages) – The third in the Juno series, so if you’ve read Juno of Taris and Fierce September make sure you read this! ”Juno and her family arrive at their new home, but almost immediately danger threatens Hera and they move to Willem’s protection in New Plymouth, the city Juno most hoped to avoid. Fairlands school is too like Taris, and Hilto’s son Thomas is a pupil there. The handsome Ivor is also there and soon begins to pay attention to Juno in a way she finds both confusing and exciting. Juno’s special mind powers are called upon to help her save Hera.” (from the publisher). Romance for Juno?
First sentence: A girl about the same age as me stood on our doorstep.
Fury of the Phoenix, Cindy Pon (359 pages) – Ai Ling joins Chen Yong on his quest to find his father, but she’s plagued by the knowledge that Zhong Ye the sorcerer is not in fact dead, but trapped in Hell and still a threat, particularly to Chen Yong. The sequel to Silver Phoenix.
First sentence: Chen Yong was already on board the ship.
The Fox Inheritance, Mary E Pearson (294 pages) – If you’ve read The Adoration of Jenna Fox you know what happened to Jenna, but what about Locke and Kara? Two hundred and sixty years on from the accident Locke and Kara are brought back to life in new manufactured bodies. They’re haunted by 200+ years of memories of being trapped in a digital netherworld, and having to adjust to a new world knowing nobody (except Jenna).
First sentence: My hands close around the heavy drape, twisting it into a thick cord.
All These Things I’ve Done, Gabrielle Zevin (351 pages) – in a New York of the future, Anya is given an impossible choice by the District Attorney after being arrested for attempted murder. She must choose between her family’s safety and the boy she loves. Things are complicated: the boy she loves is the DA’s son, and her family is really involved in organised crime.
First sentence: The night before junior year – I was sixteen, barely - Gable Arsley said he wanted to sleep with me.
Okay for Now, Gary D. Schmidt (360 pages) – at the end of the book someone says “Haven’t you ever heard of New Zealand?”. We want to know why! Anyway, this one is set in 1968 in New York state and features Doug Swieteck, as first seen in The Wednesday Wars. Everyone’s on a mission in 1968, the Apollo shuttles are on missions to space, the US army are on missions in Vietnam, and Doug’s on a mission discovering a passion for art, and other life lessons.
First sentence: Joe Pepitone once gave me his New York Yankees baseball cap.
Death Sentence, Alexander Gordon Smith (261 pages) – this is book three in the Escape From Furnace series, in which Alex is bearing the consequences of his second attempt at escape from Furnace Penitentiary. Horrifyingly, the warden is injecting him with stuff, turning him into a “superpowered minion of Furnace” (<3 the description). So now Alex must excape not so much the prison outside, but the prison inside.
First sentence: I died in that room.
Shut Out, Kody Keplinger (273 pages) – a reimagining of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, set in an American high school. The football (American) team and soccer (football) team are serious rivals, to the point of school wars. Lissa, girlfriend of the QB, is sick of it all, so she decides to lead the girlfriends in a revolt. Trouble is, this develops into a new war, girls against boys, and the leader of the boys (Cash) is quite distracting. The author’s website (complete with book trailer) is here.
Die for Me, Amy Plum (341 pages) – the first in a new supernatural trilogy. After the death of her parents, Kate and her sister Georgia move to Paris to live with their grandparents. There, Kate meets Vincent, who’s dreamy, but also not your normal human being. He’s a ___________ (couldn’t possibly say), and he has dangerous enemies, and this means danger for Kate and her family too.
First sentence: The first time I had seen the statue in the fountain, I had no idea what Vincent was.
Texas Gothic, Rosemary Clement-Moore (404 pages) – Amy Goodnight’s family are witches, surrounded by friendly spirits. But when she and her sister go to look after their Aunt’s ranch, they encounter a not-so-friendly spirit. It appears there’s a ghostly uprising. Something dangerous is going on “deep in the heart of Texas” (back cover). So Amy, Phin (her sister) and Ben (handsome cowboy) must investigate.
First sentence: The goat was in the tree again.
Paper Covers Rock, Jenny Hubbard (181 pages) – When Alex is unable to save a schoolmate from drowning, he and his friend Glenn (a witness) decide to lie about what happened. But Alex is plagued by guilt, and works through it by writing poetry in his journal. His English teacher, Miss Dovecott, decides to nurture his growing talent, but it’s possible she knows something about what happened – at least Glenn thinks something’s up.
First sentence: When my dad gave me this journal two years ago and said “Fill it with your impressions,” I imagine he had a more idyllic portrait of boarding school life in mind.
Shift, Em Bailey (304 pages) – Olive has made a clean break from the group of friends that got her into so much trouble. Then she notices that there’s a new girl, Miranda, making friends with her former best friend. But there’s something creepy about Miranda, and terrible rumours are circulating about her. What if they are true? Will anyone believe Olive’s suspicions?
First sentence: There were two things everyone knew about Miranda Vaile before she’d even started at our school.
Choker, Elizabeth Woods (233 pages) – Cara is a loner who’s been bullied at school, so she’s happy to be reunited with Zoe, a childhood friend. But then a girl goes missing, and Zoe starts acting strangely: can Cara trust her?
First sentences: “Come out, come out, little frog. We’ve made you a nest. It’s under a log.”
Two angels to end:
Angelfire, Courtney Allison Moulton (453 pages) – “A seventeen-year-old girl discovers she has the reincarnated soul of an ancient warrior destined to battle the reapers–monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell.” (catalogue)
First sentence: I stared out the classroom window and longed for freedom, wanting to be anywhere in the world other than gaping up at my economics teacher like the rest of my classmates.
Angel Burn, L. A. Weatherly (449 pages) – “In a world where angels are fierce stalkers whose irresistible force allows them to feed off humans and drain them of their vitality, a ruthless teenaged assassin of angels falls in love with a half-angel half-human girl, with devastating consequences.” (catalogue) This is the sequel to Angel.
First sentence: “Is that your car?” asked the girl at the 7-Eleven checkout counter.
The Power of Six, Pittacus Lore (406 pages) – from the perspective of Number Seven as well as Number Four, this is the continuing story of the nine chosen Lorien teenagers sent to earth to escape the Mogadorians, those of the really bad teeth. Number Seven is in hiding in a convent with her minder, and they are at odds about the possibility of a Lorien uprising. Number Seven is keen to track down the now-famous Number Four, and leaves the convent, the Mogadorians in hot pursuit. Bernie Kosar most likely makes an appearance, you will be pleased to hear.
First sentence: My name is Marina, as of the sea, but I wasn’t called that until much later.
Sweetly, Jackson Pearce (310 pages) – based on Hansel and Gretel. Gretchen’s twin sister disappeared several years ago while they were hunting a witch in the woods. Now Gretchen and her brother Ansel live with Sophia, a chocolatier, in South Carolina, and life does seem to be sweet, literally and metaphorically, until a handsome stranger arrives saying the witch is still around and Gretchen’s the next target. Gretchen decides to face the witch story head on, and her investigations dig up disturbing secrets.
First sentence: The book said there was a witch in the woods.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M Valente (247 pages) – it’s arrived! Mentioned in this post here.
First sentence: Once upon a time, a girl named September grew very tired indeed of her parents’ house, where she washed the same pink-and-yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow, and played with the same small and amiable dog.
Sometimes It Happens, Lauren Barnholdt (312 pages) – It’s the first day of senior year, and Hannah gets to start fresh after her boyfriend dumped her on the last day of junior year. But things are going to go really awry because over summer Hannah has fallen for her friend Ava’s boyfriend, and Ava knows.
First sentence: I really should not be so scared.
Dreams of Significant Girls, Cristina Garcia (238 pages) – Set in the 1970s. Shirin is an Iranian princess, Ingrid is German-Canadian, and Vivien is a Cuban-Jewish girl from New York City. The three girls meet at a Swiss boarding school where they spend three consecutive summers becoming friends. It sounds idyllic, but they all have challenges to face and things to learn about love, hate, friends, and family expectations.
First sentence: Sometime I think my parents sent me to Switzerland because they didn’t want me around.
First sentences: I couldn’t breathe. There was a hand covering my mouth and another shaking my shoulder, startling me out of a heavy sleep.
The Deserter, Peadar O Guilin (441 pages) – the second in the Bone World trilogy, after The Inferior. There are two worlds, the stone-age Surface, and the hi-tech Roof above. Stopmouth, cannibal, and resident of the Surface must leave his world in search of Indrani, the woman he loves, as she’s the only one who knows how to save Surface. But he’s hunted by Roof agents, with their gadgetry and technology: can he prevail and save his world?
First sentence: They’re hunting for Indrani, combing the Roof, projecting her picture everywhere.
Blood Magic, Tessa Gratton (405 pages) – “Silla is damaged and lost since the death of her parents. Nick is the new boy in town with a chilling past of his own. A mysterious spell book steeped in blood magic will bind Silla and Nick together. But at what cost?” (Book cover).
First sentence: It is impossible to know who you really are until you spend time alone in a cemetery.