City of Heavenly Fire, Cassandra Clare (due in New Zealand in May/June) – the next instalment in the Mortal Instruments series. They say it’s the last, but we’ve heard that before (can it really be true?). “Darkness returns to the Shadowhunter world. As their society falls apart around them, Clary, Jace, Simon and their friends must band together to fight the greatest evil the Nephilim have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Nothing in the world can defeat him – must they journey to another world to find the chance? Lives will be lost, love sacrificed, and the whole world changed in the sixth and last installment of the Mortal Instruments series!” (goodreads.com)
Raging Star, Moira Young (May) – the conclusion to the Dust Lands trilogy that began with Blood Red Road. “Saba is ready to seize her destiny and defeat DeMalo and the Tonton…until she meets him and he confounds all her expectations with his seductive vision of a healed earth, a New Eden. DeMalo wants Saba to join him, in life and work, to create and build a healthy, stable, sustainable world… for the chosen few. The few who can pay. Jack’s choice is clear: to fight DeMalo and try to stop New Eden. Still uncertain, her connection with DeMalo a secret, Saba commits herself to the fight. Joined by her brother, Lugh, anxious for the land in New Eden, Saba leads an inexperienced guerilla band against the powerfully charismatic DeMalo, in command of his settlers and the Tonton militia. What chance do they have? Saba must act. And be willing to pay the price.” (goodreads.com)
The One, Kiera Cass (May) – the next in the Selection series. “The Selection changed the lives of thirty-five girls forever. And now, the time has come for one winner to be chosen. America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown – or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose – and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.” (goodreads.com) That’s an amazing dress.
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak – we’ve ordered extra copies of this, for re-reading after watching the movie (opening on Thursday, tomorrow).
The Book Thief has raced up the reserves list since New Year’s. It’s got staying power: first published in 2006, it was on our most wanted list in 2009 – 2010, and has been on the New York Times bestsellers list continually for a very long time. It’s also one of 5 movie books on our list this month.
1. Allegiant, Veronica Roth [no change]
2. The Fault in Our Stars, John Green [no change]
3. Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins [no change]
4. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak [back after 4 years]
5. Divergent,Veronica Roth [up 4]
6=. The Fall of Five, Pittacus Lore [down 2]
6=. Black Friday, Robert Muchamore [down 1]
6=. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins [no change]
9=. Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins [down 1]
9=. 1D: One Direction: Forever Young [down 3]
Stay Where You Are And Then Leave, John Boyne
“The day the First World War broke out, Alfie Summerfield’s father promised he wouldn’t go away to fight – but he broke that promise the following day. Four years later, Alfie doesn’t know where his father might be, other than that he’s away on a special, secret mission. Then, while shining shoes at King’s Cross Station, Alfie unexpectedly sees his father’s name – on a sheaf of papers belonging to a military doctor. Bewildered and confused, Alfie realises his father is in a hospital close by – a hospital treating soldiers with an unusual condition. Alfie is determined to rescue his father from this strange, unnerving place…” (catalogue description)
“John Boyne (best-selling author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) shows huge skill at showing us how Alfie thinks and feels,” says Julie. If you loved TBITSP then make sure you read this!
and now for something completely different:
All the Truth That’s in Me, Julie Berry (266 pages) – After two years missing, Judith returns home – her tongue cut out, her best friend dead. No one knows what has happened and Judith cannot speak of it. All she can do is silently pour out her feelings to the boy who has owned her heart for as long as she can remember: Lucas. In a voice filled with hurt, yearning, hope and love, this is Judith’s story.
First lines: “You didn’t come. I waited all evening in the willow tree, with gnats buzzing in my face and sap sticking in my hair, watching for you to return from town.”
Zac & Mia, A. J. Betts (307 pages) – The last person Zac expects in the room next door is a girl like Mia, angry and feisty with questionable taste in music. In the real world, he wouldn’t—couldn’t—be friends with her. In hospital different rules apply, and what begins as a knock on the wall leads to a note… then a friendship neither of them sees coming. You need courage to be in hospital; different courage to be back in the real world. In one of these worlds Zac needs Mia. And in the other Mia needs Zac. Or maybe they both need each other, always.
First lines: “A newbie arrives next door. From this side of the wall I hear the shuffle of feet, unsure of where to stand. I hear Nina going through the arrival instructions in that buoyoant air-hostess way, as if this ‘flight’ will go smoothly, no need to pull the Emergency Exit lever. Just relax and enjoy the service. Nina has the kind of voice you believe.”
Leap of Faith, Jamie Blair (240 pages) – Leah Kurtz has finally found a place to call home, a town where she and baby Addy can live in peace, far from the drug-infested place she grew up. Chris is one of the best parts of her new life, the only person who’s ever made her feel safe. And now that she’s found him, there’s no way she can tell the truth: Her real name is Faith, not Leah. She’s seventeen, not nineteen. And the baby isn’t hers; Faith kidnapped her. Faith’s history catches up with her when a cop starts asking questions and Chris’s aunt spots her picture in the newspaper. She knows it’s time to run again, but if Faith leaves, she’ll lose Chris. If Chris is in love with a lie, though, did Faith ever really have him in the first place?
First lines: “The bangbangbanging of Mom’s headboard against my wall needs to stop before my head explodes. I’m exhausted and wish he’d just leave so I can sleep. Of course Mom’s bed has to be shoved right up against the other side of my wall. I roll my eyes and take a deep breath, pulling the covers up higher around my neck.”
The Ghost Bride, Yangsze Choo (384 pages) – In 1890s Malaya, Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price. After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.
First lines: “One evening, my father asked me whether I would like to become a ghost bride. ‘Asked’ is perhaps not the right word. We were in his study. I was leafing through a newspaper, my father lying on his rattan daybed. It was very hot and still. The oil lamp was lit and moths fluttered through the humid air in lazy swirls. ‘What did you say?’”
Bracelet of Bones, Kevin Crossley-Holland (256 pages) – One morning, Solveig wakes to find her father, Halfdan, has gone. He has followed the young Viking warrior Harald Hardrada to Miklagard (Constantinople), where he is leader of the Empress’s guard. Solveig sets off in a tiny boat to find him. So begins a fierce journey of discovery and survival, where the young Viking girl will meet a ghost ship and befriend an English slave, shoot rapids, survive an arrow storm, and witness a living sacrifice. Will Solveig reach Miklagard? And will her father be there?
First lines: “‘Is this it?’ Solveig called out. No trees stood on the battlefield. Nothing but little scrubby, twisted black bushes. Without breaking his long, limping stride, Halfdan glanced over his shoulder. ‘You all right, girl?’ It’s all dead, thought Solveig. There’s nothing left but black fingers, black hands, thousands of them. Stiklestad. What can ever grow in this place again?”
Sweet Peril, Wendy Higgins (371 pages) – Anna Whitt, the daughter of a guardian angel and a demon, promised herself she’d never do the work of her father—polluting souls. She’d been naive to make such a vow. She’d been naive about a lot of things. Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school’s party girl. Her life has never looked more bleak. And all the while there’s Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind. When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time. It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaidan must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: is loving someone worth risking their life?
First lines: “Unbeknownst to the Roman community, 666 earthbound demons were making use of the infamous Colosseum. Twelve of the fallen ones, the Dukes, were present in human form, while the others hovered as spirits, blotting celestial light from the night sky. Rahab, the Duke of Pride, took his place in the center, exhilarated by the attention his presence commanded.”
The Messengers, Edward Hogan (214 pages) – When fifteen-year-old Frances is sent down to the coast to Helmstown, to live with her aunt, uncle and cousin, she meets and befriends Peter Kennedy, a somewhat tramp-like character who lives in a beach hut along the seafront. As soon as they meet, Peter recognizes that Frances is a messenger, just like him. As messengers, they experience black-outs, and when they come round, they have the ability to draw, in minute detail, the scene of an accident. Although Frances can’t change the past, she realises that she can change the future, at least for a chosen few.
First lines: “We’re drawn to each other, us messengers. We must be. I remember the first time I saw him, down by the beach huts. There was something about him. The look of him. How could I not go over? You might even say it was fate, but I don’t believe in that.”
The Neptune Project, Polly Holyoke (340 pages) – Nere has never understood why she feels so much more comfortable and confident swimming with the dolphins that her mother studies than hanging out with her classmates on land, but everything falls into place when Nere learns that she is one of a group of kids who – unbeknownst to them – have been genetically altered to survive in the ocean. These products of “The Neptune Project” are given a mission to build a better future under the sea, safe from the dangers on land. But there are some very big problems: no one asked Nere if she wanted to be a science experiment; the other Neptune kids aren’t exactly the friendliest bunch; and in order to reach the safe haven of the Neptune colony, Nere and her fellow mutates must swim through hundreds of miles of dangerous waters, relying only on their wits, dolphins, and each other to evade terrifying undersea creatures and a government that will stop at nothing to capture the Neptune kids … dead or alive.
First lines: “I wake to an urgent tap at my window. My heart thudding, I sit bolt upright in bed. The night is hot and still. I push my sweaty hair away from my face and try to ignore the twist of fear in my gut. No one brings good news at this hour. I slip from my bed and peer cautiously through my window.”
SYLO, D. J. MacHale (407 pages) – Fourteen-year-old Tucker Pierce prefers to fly under the radar. He’s used to navigating around summer tourists in his hometown on idyllic Pemberwick Island, Maine. He’s content to sit on the sidelines as a backup player on the high school football team. And though his best friend Quinn tells him to “go for it,” he’s too chicken to ask Tori Sleeper on a date. There’s always tomorrow, he figures. Then Pemberwick Island is invaded by a mysterious branch of the U.S. military called SYLO. And sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option for Tucker, because tomorrow may never come. It’s up to Tucker, Quinn, and Tori to uncover the truth about the singing aircraft that appears only at night—and the stranger named Feit who’s pushing a red crystal he calls the Ruby that brings unique powers to all who take it. Tucker and his friends must rescue not just Pemberwick Island, but the fate of the world.
First lines: “It was the perfect night for a football game. And for death. Not that the two have anything in common. When you hear the term “sudden death,” you normally don’t expect there to be an actual loss of life, sudden or otherwise, but there was nothing normal about that night.”
Death & Co., D.J. McCune (279 pages) – Adam Mortson is a Luman, one of the elite band of spirit guides who travel to the Hinterland to guide dead souls into the afterlife. And though Adam just wants to be a normal teenager – one who dates girls like Melissa, hangs out with his mates and avoids his homework – his role as a Luman is strictly non-negotiable. But as a hidden and dangerous power grows within him, Adam must make a terrible choice: to stand by and watch as lives are lost, or to disobey the rules of death … and risk everything.
First lines: “Nathanial Mortson stood in the darkness, hands thrust into the pockets of his camel-hair coat. In the physical world it was freezing, the road glittering with ice, but here in the Hinterland he couldn’t feel it. It was the middle of the night and he was tired. Usually he had company but on a job like this he preferred to work alone.”
Starglass, Phoebe North (448 pages) – Terra has never known anything but life aboard the Asherah, a city-within-a-spaceship that left Earth five hundred years ago in search of refuge. At sixteen, working a job that doesn’t interest her, and living with a grieving father who only notices her when he’s yelling, Terra is sure that there has to be more to life than what she’s got. But when she inadvertently witnesses the captain’s guard murdering an innocent man, Terra is suddenly thrust into the dark world beneath her ship’s idyllic surface. As she’s drawn into a secret rebellion determined to restore power to the people, Terra discovers that her choices may determine life or death for the people she cares most about. With mere months to go before landing on the long-promised planet, Terra has to make the decision of a lifetime–one that will determine the fate of her people.
First lines: “On the day of my mother’s funeral, we all wore white. My father said that dressing ourselves in the stiff, pale cloth would be a mitzvah. I ran the word over my tongue as I straightened a starched new shirt against my shoulders.
He Forgot to Say Goodbye, Benjamin Alire Sáenz (321 pages) – On the surface, Ramiro Lopez and Jake Upthegrove could not be more different. Ram is Mexican-America, living in “DizzyLand,” the poor side of El Paso. He’s struggling to keep his family together as his younger brother descends into a dangerous world of drugs and violence. Jake is a rich WASP with anger-management issues who can’t stand the falseness of his mother’s materialistic world. But as circumstances in both of their lives begin to spiral out of control, Jake and Ram turn to each other for comfort, friendship, and understanding. No one realizes what it’s like to know that all of your problems stem from one thing: that your father didn’t even care enough to say goodbye.
First lines: “My mom says I need to stop and think about things. I think about things all the effen time. Think and think and think. You know, it’s not like all that thinking has gotten me places.”
Steelheart, Brandon Sanderson (384 pages) – Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills. Nobody fights the Epics… nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them. And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience. He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.
First lines: “I’ve seen Steelheart bleed. It happened ten years ago; I was eight. My father and I were at the First Union Bank on Adams Street. We used the old street names than, before the Annexation.”
Ashes of Twilight, Kassy Tayler (320 pages) – Wren MacAvoy works as a coal miner for a domed city that was constructed in the mid-nineteenth century to protect the royal blood line of England when astronomers spotted a comet on a collision course with Earth. Humanity would be saved by the most groundbreaking technology of the time. But after nearly 200 years of life beneath the dome, society has become complacent and the coal is running out. Plus there are those who wonder, is there life outside the dome or is the world still consumed by fire? When one of Wren’s friends escapes the confines of the dome, he is burned alive and put on display as a warning to those seeking to disrupt the dome’s way of life. But Alex’s final words are haunting. “The sky is blue.” What happens next is a whirlwind of adventure, romance, conspiracy and the struggle to stay alive in a world where nothing is as it seems. Wren unwittingly becomes a catalyst for a revolution that destroys the dome and the only way to survive might be to embrace what the entire society has feared their entire existence.
First lines: “The Bible teaches us that the heavens and earth were made by the one true God. I have heard these things all of my life but I dare not ask the questions that the lessons have created in my mind. I am certain I know quite a bit about the earth, as I spend most of my waking moments within its clanking iron bowels. The heavens, however, are a mystery to me as my world is hollow and my sky is made of glass.”
Coda, Emma Trevayne (309 pages) – Deep in an abandoned basement, Anthem sings of truth and freedom with his illegal underground band. Yet on the surface and under watchful eyes, Anthem is unable to resist the call of the Corporation’s addictive, mind-altering music tracks, even as he knows they are used to control him and his fellow citizens. When tragedy strikes close to home, Anthem realizes that defying the Corp comes at a deadly price … and the stakes of preventing his brother and sister from being claimed by the government drug are worth every heart-pounding second. The key to the revolution might lie with the girl Anthem loves, but will he trust her enough to let her join the fight?
First lines: “I’m drawn toward the door. I can’t hear it yet, but I can feel it. A pulse, a heartbeat. The floor shakes. Inside, the cavernous, soundproof room is already packed, black and neon and flashing lights and stifling heat from the crush of bodies.”
a rather grisly theme this week, these new books all have a dead character in the premise.
Killing Rachel, Anne Cassidy (313 pages) – Rose’s mother and Joshua’s father have disappeared. Police inquiries have gone nowhere and the case, it seems, is closed: Rose and Joshua have been told that the police believe their parents are dead. But Rose and Joshua still hold out hope that they are alive. Joshua is determined to follow up his own inquiries, which includes working out the meaning of the cryptic notebooks – the murder notebooks – they have discovered. Then Rose is distracted by odd, desperate messages she receives from Rachel, a former best friend from her school, followed by the terrible news that Rachel is dead. But perhaps Rachel’s death will provide one more piece of the puzzle about what has happened to Rose and Joshua’s parents.
First lines: “Rose was hiding. It was dark and cold and she was in a shop doorway staring at two people across the road. The street was busy and a stream of people passed without noticing her, wrapped up against the cold night air.”
Dead Silence: a body finder novel, Kimberly Derting (389 pages) – Violet thought she’d made peace with her unique ability to sense the echoes of the dead and the imprints that cling to their killers. That is until she acquired an imprint of her own. Forced to carry a reminder of the horrible events of her kidnapping, Violet is more determined than ever to lead a normal life. However, the people who run the special investigative team Violet works for have no intention of letting her go. When someone close to Violet becomes a suspect in a horrific murder, she finds herself pulled into a deadly hunt for a madman with an army of devoted followers. Violet has survived dangerous situations before, but she quickly discovers that protecting those closest to her is far more difficult than protecting herself
First lines: “Jay hit the door with his shoulder, but it didn’t splinter beneath his weight or anything quite so dramatic. The handle, which was probably old and in disrepair anyway, fell apart on impact and the door shot open, banging against the wall on the other side. The crashing noise filled the dark house, echoing off the walls.”
Deviant, Helen FitzGerald (248 pages) – When 16-year-old Abigail’s mother dies in Scotland she leaves behind a faded photo, a weirdly cryptic letter, and a one-way ticket to America. Abigail’s mother gave her away when she was a baby, leaving her to grow up on an anti-nuclear commune and then in ugly foster homes. But the letter is a surprise in more ways than one: Her father is living in California. What’s more, Abigail discovers she has an eighteen-year-old sister, Becky. And the two are expecting Abigail to move in with them. Just as Abigail grows close to her newfound sister, Becky is found dead, the accidental victim of an apparent drug overdose. As Abigail wrestles with her feelings and compiles a “Book of Remembrance” of her sister’s short life, she uncovers a horrifying global plot aimed at controlling teen behavior: one that took her sister’s and mother’s lives, with vast implications.
First lines: “The guy facing Abigail across the desk wasn’t her parent and he wasn’t her friend. “Sit down, Abi,” he said, in a voice that tried to be both. He wasn’t a social worker either, more an unqualified asshole.”
Dangerous Girls, Abigail Haas (388 pages) – It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer, she discovers harsh revelations about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love. Awaiting the judge’s decree, it becomes clear to Anna that everyone around her thinks she is not only guilty, but also dangerous. And when the whole story comes out, reality is more shocking than anyone ever imagined
As a side note, go read the reviews on Goodreads, they’re full of people exclaiming about how good this book is and what an incredibly masterful storyteller Abigail Haas is. I completely agree with them.
First lines: “”Shots! Shots! Shots!” We yell it together, slamming our hands on the sticky wooden table. The dreadlocked waiter pours a row of something lurid, neon blue. It’s our first night on the island, and the music is almost too loud for me to think; some European dance-pop thing that shakes the crowded beach club, making the glasses quiver and the blood vibrate in my chest.”
Kill the Music, Nansi Kunze (280 pages) – Most people would love to be Lorna Powell, travelling the globe with her brother and his mega-famous band. Then again, most people don’t realise just how annoying four handsome rock stars can be. A new home and a new school seem like the start of a normal life – until Lorna overhears a chilling plot to silence the band forever. Soon Lorna is drawn into a frantic attempt to identify the killer before they strike. But it’s not easy to track suspects around the world when she’s got homework to do and secrets to protect. And when gorgeous lead singer Marius starts to act strangely, Lorna wonders if she’s had the wrong idea all along.
First lines: “The spa bubbled softly as I stepped into the green marble pool. Scented steam rose from the water; the faint note of a bird chimed in the air. I closed my eyes and sank into the warm depths.”
More than this, Patrick Ness (480 pages) – A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this.
First lines: “Here is the boy, drowning. In these last moments, it’s not the water that’s finally done for him; it’s the cold. It has bled all the energy from his body and contracted his muscles into a painful uselessness, no matter how much he fights to keep himself above the surface.”
Acid, Emma Pass (429 pages) – The year is 2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID—the most brutal controlling police force in history—rule supreme. No throwaway comment or whispered dissent goes unnoticed—or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a horrendous crime she struggles to remember. But Jenna’s violent prison time has taught her how to survive by any means necessary. When a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed, and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID, and try to uncover the truth about what really happened on that terrible night two years ago. They have taken her life, her freedom, and her true memories away from her. How can she reclaim anything when she doesn’t know who to trust?
First lines: “The first time I notice the new inmate is when we’re all lined up outside our cells for morning head count. He’s standing five doors down from me, sneaking glances at the rest of us as the guards wave their wrist-scanners across our hips to read the spytags that are implanted when we first get here.”
This is W.A.R., Lisa & Laura Roecker (278 pages) – Everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club saw Willa Ames-Rowan climb into a boat with James Gregory, the Club’s heir apparent. And everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club watched him return. Alone. They all know he killed her. But none of them will say a word. The Gregory family is very, very good at making problems go away. Enter the W.A.R. – the war to avenge Willa Ames-Rowan. Four girls. Four very different motives for justice and revenge, and only one rule: destroy the Gregory family at any cost.
First lines: “Willa Ames-Rowan never thought she would die. She firmly believed white should be worn before Labor Day, champagne was best enjoyed on an empty stomach, and sleep was for the weak. If it weren’t for the inky black water tugging at her limbs, clawing its way into her mouth, she might have welcomed the dark solitude of Hawthorne Lake. She might have floated on her back, counting stars, dreaming about what it would be like to wake up next to her future husband.”
In the Shadows of Blackbirds : a novel, Cat Winters (387 pages) – In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?
First lines: “I stepped inside the railroad car, and three dozen pairs of eyes peered my way. Gauze masks concealed the passengers’ mouths and noses. The train smelled of my own mask’s cotton, boiling onions, and a whiff of something clammy and sour I took to be fear.”
with extraordinary protagonists:
Siege and Storm, Leigh Bardugo (432 pages) – Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all the while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long. The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the evil there but as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and further away from Mal.
First lines: “The boy and the girl had once dreamed of ships, long ago, before they’d ever seen the True Sea. They were the vessels of stories, magic ships with masts hewn from sweet cedar and sails spun by maidens from thread of pure gold.”
Pulse, Patrick Carman (371 pages) – In the year 2051, most Americans live in one of two gigantic, modern States. Faith Daniels discovers that she can move objects with her mind. This telekinetic ability is called a “pulse,” and her mysterious classmate Dylan has the same talent. They are part of a dwindling group that lives between the states and whose unusual abilities could help when the inevitable war begins.
First lines: “Faith Daniels was sleeping soundly when several things in her room began to move. She was a tall girl with long limbs that extended beyond the bed into the cool air of her bedroom.”
Spirit and Dust, Rosemary Clement-Moore (384 pages) – Daisy Goodnight can speak to the dead. It’s not the result of a head injury or some near-death experience. She was just born that way. And she’s really good at it. Good enough to help the police solve the occasional homicide. But helping the local authorities clear cold cases is one thing. Being whisked out of chemistry class by the FBI and flown to the scene of a murder/kidnapping in Minnesota? That’s the real deal. Before the promotion can go to Daisy’s head, she’s up to her neck in trouble. The spirits are talking, and they’re terrified. There’s a real living girl in danger. And when Daisy is kidnapped by a crime boss with no scruples about using magic—and Daisy—to get what he wants, it looks like hers is the next soul on the line.
First lines: “The local cops kept staring at me. I couldn’t decide if it was the plaid miniskirt in subarctic temperatures, or the fact they’d never seen anyone talk to the dead before.”
The Creative Fire, Brenda Cooper, (348 pages) – Ruby Martin expects to spend her days repairing robots while avoiding the dangerous peace-keeping forces that roam the corridors of the generation ship The Creative Fire. The social structure of the ship is rigidly divided, with Ruby and her friends on the bottom. Then a ship-wide accident gives Ruby a chance to fight for the freedom she craves. Her enemies are numerous, well armed, and knowledgeable. Her weapons are a powerful voice, a quick mind, and a deep stubbornness, If Ruby can’t transform from a rebellious teen to the leader of a revolution, she and all her friends will lose all say in their future.
First lines: “Four men in red uniforms surrounded three men wearing dirty gray work clothes. The reds muscled the less fortunate men down an orange hallway. Uneven light showed the scars where bots and cargo carts had bumped the metal walls and two places where graffiti had been painted over.”
Stormbringers, Philippa Gregory (279 pages) – Luca Vero is a member of the secret Order of Darkness, tasked with searching out and reporting signs of the end of the world. With him are his loyal friend and servant Freize, and his clerk, Brother Peter, as well as the Lady Iolde and her mysterious servant-companion Ishraq. Luca and Isolde grow more and more attracted to each other as they continue their journey to unravel the mysteries throughout Christendom. But their travels are delayed by the uprising of an intense religious crusade that threatens the balance of the civilized world. Death lingers in the air as war ravages on, but this religious conflict is nothing compared to the arrival of an intense and deadly storm.
First lines: “The five travellers on horseback on the rutted track to Pescara made everyone turn and stare: the woman who brought them weak ale in a roadside inn; the peasant building a hewn stone wall by the side of the road; the boy trailing home from school to work in his father’s vineyard.”
Song of the Slums, Richard Harland (370 pages) – What if they’d invented rock ‘n roll way back in the 19th century? What if it could take over the world and change the course of history? In the slums of Brummingham, the outcast gangs are making a new kind of music, with pounding rhythms and wild guitars. Astor Vance has been trained in refined classical music. But when her life plummets from riches to rags, the only way she can survive is to play the music the slum gangs want.
First lines: “‘Come on down!’ called Verrol. There was an urgency in his voice that Astor hadn’t heard before. She joined the musicians down below, but when the young buzz guitarist offered her his instrument, she shook her head. ‘I can’t play that.’”
Imposter, Jill Hathaway (261 pages) – This is the follow up to Slide. Vee Bell is now more or less in control of her gift (or curse) of “sliding”—slipping into the mind of another person and experiencing life, briefly, through his or her eyes. But then Vee starts coming to in weird place, not knowing what she’s done. Someone is getting insider her head and messing with her mind, literally. As Vee finds herself in stranger and stranger situations with no memory of getting there, she begins to suspect that someone else she knows has the ability to slide. And this “slider” is using Vee to exact revenge.
First lines: “The dream always goes like this: I’m in the passenger seat of a car, racing down the interstate. The smell of gasoline stings my nostrils. My lips are moving, and sound is coming out, but my words don’t make sense. And I know what’s going to happen, but there’s nothing I can do about it.“
Touched, Corrine Jackson (341 pages) – You’d think being able to heal people with a touch would be a blessing. But to 17-year-old Remy O’Malley, it’s more like a curse. Every injury Remy heals becomes her own. She lives in fear of the day she’s forced to mend a wound from which she can’t recover – and she’s desperate to keep her ability a secret.
First lines: “Okay. This is going to hurt like hell. Taking a deep breath, I stepped into the room, my movements piercing the alcoholic haze insulating Dean.”
Keeper of the Black Stones, PT McHugh (366 pages) – Jason Evans, a shy, introverted high school freshman, thought that his mundane life was all there was – girls, golf, physics, and the occasional bully. Until he found out about the secrets his grandfather had been keeping from him … a set of stones that allowed him to jump through time … a maniacal madman who used the stones to shape history to his liking … and Jason’s own role as one of the few people in the world who could stop that man.
First lines: “The old soldier’s horse thundered across the plain toward the small village of Abergavenny, and death rode with him. The people of the village didn’t deserve to die, but within the next several hours, many of them would.”
17 & Gone, Nova Ren Suma (353 pages) – Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common – they are seventeen and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these visions, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? Is she next? Through Lauren’s search for clues, things begin to unravel, and when a brush with death lands Lauren in hospital, a shocking truth changes everything.
First lines: “Girls go missing every day. They slip out bedroom windows and into strange cars. They leave good-bye notes or they don’t get a chance to tell anyone… Girls make plans to go, but they also vanish without meaning to, and sometimes people confuse one for the other.”
Another gut-wrenching war thriller, the end of two series (one dystopian, one spy), and the other side of the story…
Rose Under Fire, Elizabeth Wein (September) - this is another World War 2 thriller from the author of Code Name Verity, and we’re super excited! “While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?” (goodreads.com)
Champion, Marie Lu (November) – the final book in the Legend trilogy. “He is a Legend. She is a Prodigy. Who will be Champion? June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic – and each other – and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps Elect while Day has been assigned a high level military position. But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them once again. Just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything he has.” (goodreads.com)
Just One Year, Gayle Forman (October) – Willem gets a crack at telling his story in this parallel/sequel to Just One Day. We suggest you probably read Day first, and also we won’t say too much here for fear of *spoilers*. So, what’s it all about then? “Equal parts romance, coming-of-age-tale, mystery and travel romp (with settings that span from England’s Stratford upon Avon to Paris to Amsterdam to India’s Bollywood) Just One Day and Just One Year show how in looking for someone else, you just might wind up finding yourself.” (goodreads.com) Looking forward to Bollywood!
United We Spy, Ally Carter (September) – the final in the Gallagher Girls series from the queen of teen spies. “Cammie Morgan has lost her father and her memory, but in the heart-pounding conclusion to the best-selling Gallagher Girls series, she finds her greatest mission yet. Cammie and her friends finally know why the terrorist organization called the Circle of Cavan has been hunting her. Now the spy girls and Zach must track down the Circle’s elite members to stop them before they implement a master plan that will change Cammie – and her country – forever.” (goodreads.com)
The Boy on the Bridge, Natalie Standiford (August) – “Laura Reid goes to Leningrad for a semester abroad as Cold War paranoia is peaking in 1982. She meets a young Russian artist named Alexei and soon, with Alexei as her guide, Laura immerses herself in the real Russia – a crazy world of wild parties, black-market books and music, and smuggled letters to dissidents. She must keep the relationship secret; associating with Americans is dangerous for Alexei, and if caught, Laura could be sent home and Alexei put under surveillance or worse. At the same time, she’s been warned that Soviets often latch onto Americans in hopes of marrying them and thus escaping to the United States. But she knows Alexei loves her. Right? As June approaches – when Laura must return to the United States – Alexei asks Laura to marry him. She’s only nineteen and doesn’t think she’s ready to settle down. But what if Alexei is the love of her life? How can she leave him behind? If she has a chance to change his life, to rescue him from misery, shouldn’t she take it?” (goodreads.com). A history lesson and love story all in one. I think Natalie Standiford is great, so this I am looking forward to. This one could be given the coverflip treatment, some people suggest. We shall see!
Stupid Fast, Nothing Special and I’m With Stupid, Geoff Herbach. Over one summer, Felton Reinstein grows into an American Football sensation – he’s always been stupid fast, but now he’s so busy being a jock he hardly has time to notice his family life is coming apart. Reviews say this series is great for fans of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie, for example, or Godless, by Pete Hautman. Note: I’m With Stupid will get here before the others, so if you want to read them in order you might like to suspend your reserve on that one!
Thorn Abbey, Nancy Ohlin (July/August) – this one is a reimagining of the classic Gothic novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (which, incidentally, has the famous first sentence, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”). “Becca was the perfect girlfriend: smart, gorgeous, and loved by everyone at New England’s premier boarding school, Thorn Abbey. But Becca’s dead. And her boyfriend, Max, can’t get over his loss. Then Tess transfers to Thorn Abbey. She’s shy, insecure, and ordinary – everything that Becca wasn’t. And despite her roommate’s warnings, she falls for brooding Max. Now Max finally has a reason to move on. Except it won’t be easy. Because Becca may be gone, but she’s not quite ready to let him go…” (goodreads.com) You can read the prologue at the author’s website here.
If He Had Been With Me, Laura Nowlin (July/August) – This has been getting great reviews, but be warned, it’s saaad! “Throughout their whole childhood, Finn and Autumn were inseparable – they finished each other’s sentences, they knew just what to say when the other person was hurting. But one incident in middle school puts them in separate social worlds come high school, and Autumn has been happily dating James for the last 2 years. But she’s always wondered what if… The night she’s about to get the answer is also one of terrible tragedy.” (goodreads.com)
The New Zealand authors edition:
Sinking, David Hill (175 pages) – Conrad is on his way to swimming training in the pre-dawn darkness. As he hurries through a park, a terrified old man bursts out of the trees at him, before running away. On his way home later, Con sees the same old man, perfectly at ease this time, with his grand-daughter, an edgy, aggressive, solitary girl who has just arrived at Con’s school. The girl, Becks is a horse enthusiast. Con hates horses almost as much as she hates swimming. The old man holds a terrible secret, which is driving him almost mad. Becks is fiercely protective of him, and reacts explosively against the group of school bullies who mock him. But she can’t cope by herself, and slowly, she and Con are drawn into the full details of the secret
First lines: “It was still dark when I came out of our driveway. I mean really dark. Quarter past five on Tuesday morning dark. The soft dark when you should be asleep in bed.”
Mortal Fire, Elizabeth Knox (434 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Canny Mochrie has always been a little different. She’s never known her father, she’s always had a calculating, mathematical mind, and she’s always been able to see something Extra. When she begrudgingly joins her older stepbrother on a trip to research a strange coal mine disaster that happened thirty years earlier, she stumbles into a mystery with long buried secrets, that may just be her own secrets too.
First lines: “Canny and her teammates stood on platform nine of Castlereagh Station and watched everything they’d seen the night before in Founderston play again in reverse. Passengers from the overnight express were met, kissed and led away into the concourse – or set off by themselves heads down into the hot wind.”
When Our Jack Went to War, Sandy McKay (180 pages) – It’s 1916 and the Great War has been going on in Europe for nearly three years when Jack McAllister enlists. Jack’s younger brother, thirteen-year-old Tom, is at first envious, but Tom soon changes his mind as the reality of war becomes more apparent through the letters Jack sends home. Tom writes to Jack about life at home in New Zealand, while in turn Jack writes of his first-hand experience in Trentham, the troop ship, Britain, France, the Battle of Messines and finally, Passchendaele.
First lines: “When our Jack went to war our mother cried and cried. Poor Ma – she really didn’t want him to go.”
Cattra’s Legacy, Anna Mackenzie (348 pages) – Thirteen-year-old Risha is living a simple life in the mountains with her father when he suddenly dies. Risha is left alone and discovers she is no longer welcome in her village. Disguised as a boy, Risha, leaves the village with a group of traders on a quest to find out the truth about her mother and her true heritage.
First lines: “The villagers came to witness the burial, but only out of custom and curiosity, drifting away as soon as the first clod of earth fell. Ganny lingered longest, touching Risha’s arm before she left. Risha didn’t notice.”
Murder at Mykenai, Catherine Mayo (389 pages) – Friendship vs. Treachery in Ancient Greece, a decade before the Trojan War. Menelaos, teenage son of the assassinated High King of Greece, is tumbling ever deeper into danger. Odysseus, his best friend, tries to help – but Odysseus’s great ideas have a tendency to backfire…
First lines: “This had to be the strangest thing he’s ever seen. Odysseus stared at it, caught between laughter and amazement, and it glared right back, its tiny head swaying snake-wise at the end of a long, scrawny neck.”
Felix and the Red Rats, James Norcliffe (245 pages) – When David’s uncle comes to visit he sets off a bizarre series of events. Things become complicated when the pet rats turn bright red. David senses that somehow the red rats are connected to the story he is reading, and he becomes more convinced when the colour red becomes contagious. The parallel story sees Felix and his friend Bella inadvertently shifted into a strange land where they must solve a riddle. But this puts them into great danger. How will they escape and find their way home?
First lines: “‘But why?’ demanded Martha. ‘He’s such a weirdo,’ said Gray. ‘He’s such a fake,’ said Martha. I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t upset that Mum’s uncle was coming to stay. I was younger and I’d only met him once before and, to tell the truth, I’d kind of liked him.”
The Princesses of Iowa, M Molly Backes (July) – “Paige Sheridan has the perfect life. She’s pretty, rich, and popular, and her spot on the homecoming court is practically guaranteed. But when a night of partying ends in an it-could-have-been-so-much worse crash, everything changes. Her best friends start ignoring her, her boyfriend grows cold and distant, and her once-adoring younger sister now views her with contempt. The only bright spot is her creative writing class, led by a charismatic new teacher who encourages students to be true to themselves. But who is Paige, if not the homecoming princess everyone expects her to be?” (goodreads.com)
Belle Epoque, Elizabeth Ross (July) - “When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service – the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive. Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect foil. But Isabelle has no idea her new ‘friend’ is the hired help, and Maude’s very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.” (goodreads.com)
Freedom Merchants, Sherryl Jordan (New Zealand author) - “A riveting tale of piracy and slavery set in the early 1600s in Ireland and Northern Africa. Twenty-five years ago, young Liam’s small fishing village on the Irish Coast was raided and its population decimated by brutal corsair pirates from the Barbary Coast who killed, plundered, and took a number of his people back to Northern Africa as slaves to Muslim masters. And now a pirate ship has been wrecked in Liam’s bay, and survivors are struggling ashore…” (goodreads.com)