Fox forever, Mary E Pearson – the conclusion of the Jenna Fox trilogy. “Locke Jenkins has some catching up to do. After spending 260 years as a disembodied mind in a little black box, he has a perfect new body. But before he can move on with his unexpected new life, he’ll have to return the Favor he accepted from the shadowy resistance group known as the Network. Locke must infiltrate the home of a government official by gaining the trust of his daughter, seventeen-year-old Raine, and he soon finds himself pulled deep into the world of the resistance – and into Raine’s life.” (goodreads.com)
Paper valentine, Brenna Yovanoff. “The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls. For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness. With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life – and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.” (goodreads.com)
Dr Frankenstein’s daughters, Suzanne Weyn. “A new generation is creating a monster…. Giselle and Ingrid are the twin daughters of Doctor Victor Frankenstein, but they are very different people, and when they inherit his castle in the Orkney Islands, Giselle dreams of holding parties and inviting society -but Ingrid is fascinated by her father’s forbidden experiments.” (goodreads.com)
Prisoner B-3087, Alan Gratz. Based on a true story. “As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner – his arm tattooed with the words PRISONER B-3087. He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later. Can Yanek make it through the terror without losing his hope, his will – and, most of all, his sense of who he really is inside?” (goodreads.com)
These books shouldn’t take too long to make their way to Wellington – reserve one today!
Some next instalments!
Stormbringers, Philippa Gregory. The sequel to Changeling, and the second of four in the Order of Darkness series. “Italy, 1453. 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. Caught in the midst of unimaginable chaos, Luca and Isolde must rely on one another in order to survive.” (goodreads.com) If you like historical romance with some fantasy, then this might be right up your street.
Zom-B: Angels, Darren Shan. Darren Shan is pumping out the Zom-B books, which is fantastic for zombie fans. They’re not telling us anything about what happens though, not even a small teaser, but we can tell you that the fifth book (Zom-B: Baby) will follow hot on its heels in September. Ah well, you can order it now and just be surprised.
Goddess, Josephine Angelini. The final book in the Starcrossed trilogy. “After accidentally unleashing the gods from their captivity on Olympus, Helen must find a way to re-imprison them without starting a devastating war. But the gods are angry, and their thirst for blood already has a body count. To make matters worse, the Oracle reveals that a diabolical Tyrant is lurking among them, which drives a wedge between the once-solid group of friends. As the gods use the Scions against one another, Lucas’s life hangs in the balance. Still unsure whether she loves him or Orion, Helen is forced to make a terrifying decision, for war is coming to her shores.” (goodreads.com)
Dare you to, Katie McGarry. Described as the sequel to Pushing the limits, although with new characters I think. “If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does… Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him. But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all…” (goodreads.com)
And one new:
Shipwrecked, Siobhan Curham. This is the first in a new series which is described as “Lost meets Gossip Girl”, which sounds quite intriguing (perhaps like Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, but a bit more serious?). “I jump at the sound of a whispered voice over my shoulder. But when I turn round all I see is sand, and the towering, green wall of the rainforest. I guess it must have been the breeze, but I can’t help shivering. I have the weirdest feeling that we’re being watched… Grace Delaney and her fellow dance students are en route to perform on a South Pacific cruise-ship when a freak storm hits and they find themselves stranded on a deserted island. With the tropical heat rising, passions and tensions swell to breaking point. And the island itself is quietly steaming with a terrible secret…” (goodreads.com)
Order some today!
So many interesting-looking books to read this year, not nearly enough time.
The Madman’s Daughter, Megan Shepherd (February) – based on The Island of Dr. Moreau by H G Wells. Juliet Moreau thinks that her father, a scandallous mad scientist, is dead. When she discovers he’s not, she travels with his assistant to the island where he is conducting experiments on animals to make them behave like humans. Which is actually pretty horrific when you think about it, considering how some humans behave. “Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it’s too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius – and madness – in her own blood.” (goodreads.com) A gothic horror!
Altered, Jennifer Rush (February) – more experimentation, this time on humans. “Everything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, Cas, Trev . . . and Sam, who’s stolen Anna’s heart. When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape, killing the agents sent to retrieve them. Anna is torn between following Sam or staying behind in the safety of her everyday life. But her father pushes her to flee, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs…” (goodreads.com)
Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Powell (March) – a love story set in 1986, the birth year of Lauren Conrad, Robert Pattinson, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and Usain Bolt. Eleanor and Park are in high school, and are in love - true love, maybe? But no, they might be social misfits, but they – like, let’s face it, lots of other people – know that true love doesn’t happen when you’re 16 unless you’re in a fairytale. So this is perhaps a realistic story about love? We shall see!
Geek Girl, Holly Smale (March) – “Harriet Manners knows a lot of things. She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a “jiffy” lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn’t quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she’s spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend’s dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves…” (goodreads.com)
The Voyage of the Unquiet Ice, by Andrew McHagan (384 pages) – This is book two of the Ship Kings series. I haven’t read the first one, sorry! You should though. BECAUSE. In this volume, Dow Amber has at last a ship, but he does he – an outsider! – belong with the Ship Kings? Also he has to travel to the frozen north to save the empire from rebellion and treachery.
First line: ‘In the beginning – at least as Ship Kings scholars would tell the tale – there was only inhabitated land in all the world, and that was Great Island.‘
The Girl with Borrowed Wings, by Rinsai Rossetti (290 pages) - Frenenqer Paje feels trapped by the desert she lives in, and the rules set by her father. She meets a boy who happened to be a shapechanger – a ‘Free’ – who has no obligations and not attachments. He shows her the freedom she wants and is that a little romance? Why yes, the blurb seems to hint at it.
First line: ‘I am unlike most other people because I began, not in the body of my mother, but in the brain of my father.‘
Oblivion, by Anthony Horowitz (667 pages) – This is book five (and the last book!) in the Power of Five series. It has a lot of pages! Just over 666, which would sort of seem appropriate as it’s about earth getting (almost) destroyed by the powers of darkness. There’s an app you can download that makes the cover ‘come alive’ when you hold your cellular telephone in front of it. I am trying it! Well hey that’s pretty cool
First lines: ‘It was the week before my sixteenth birthday when the boy fell out of the door and eveything changed. Is that a good start? Miss Keyland, who taught me at the village school, used to say that you have to reach out and grab the reader with the first sentence.‘
The Paladin Prophecy, by Mark Frost (549 pages) – This is the first in a series. Will West has always been encouraged by his parents to NOT do his best but to stay in the middle of his class. When he mistakenly reveals that he’s some kind of genius he is recruited by a secret organisation with super technology, and he begins to notices that men in dark hats and cars are following him and his family everywhere. Also there is a centuries-old war between secret societies that he’s now a part of, alarmingly.
First line: ‘“The Importance of an Orderly Mind” – Will West began each day with that thought even before he opened his eyes. When he did open them, the same words greeted him on a banner across his bedroom wall: “#1: THE IMPORTANCE OF AN ORDERLY MIND.”‘
Deadwater Lane, by Stephen Barker (290 pages) – When Christopher (Christo) was younger he was in a car accident that killed an elderly man and left him with a slight brain injury that has reduced his memory. He also got blamed, and as part of his community service he must help a lonely old man. His best friend has betrayed him with his girlfriend and so Christo seeks revenge (inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo). The best revenge is classical, usually.
First lines: ‘When I think back carefully I can see now that Ferdy was smiling. The dash threw up an eerie blue light and I remember a cold twinkle in his eyes as the grin began to spread across his face; teeth picked out ultra-white amongst purple shadows.‘
The Crimson Crown : A Seven Realms Novel, by Cinda Williams Chima (598 pages) – This is the last book in the series. Which is just as well because 1. you can read them all now and be satisfied with a conclusion, and 2. we are literally running out of room on the shelves to accomodate them. They are big books! So, 3. imagine relaxing on a beach (or wherever) while on holiday reading them. Don’t get sand in them though.
First lines: ‘It was the largest gathering of the Spirit clans Raisa had ever seen. They came from all over the Fells – from Demonai Camp to the west, from Hunter’s Camp to the east, and from the rugged northern reaches and the river valleys near the West Wall.’
Dustlands : Rebel Heart, by Moira Young (424 pages) – This is book two in the Dustlands trilogy, and is, according to the cover, better than The Hunger Games. Truly a claim to test (by reading them all). Anyway, here’s the synopsis from Amazon: ‘Saba has rescued her kidnapped brother and defeated the fanatical Tonton. But the price to be paid for her violent victory is terible. Jack has disappeared – and can no longer be trusted. A new and formidable enemy is on the rise in the dustlands. No one is safe. And Saba must confront the terrible secret hidden in the darkest depths of her soul.’
First lines: ‘It’s late afternoon. Since morning, the trail’s been following a line of light towers. That is, the iron remains of what used to be light towers, way back in the Wrecker days, time out of mind.‘
Zom-B, by Darren Shan (217 pages) – B. Smith has a racist dad, nightmares about killer babies, and a lot of other things to deal with. He finds it easier to agree with his father, rather than argue, especially since his dad is abusive as well as a bigot. However, when there’s a zombie apocalypse, and B’s school is attacked, B must ally himself with anyone he can if he wants to survive. Serious real-world issues + addition of supernatural gore, and the first in a series (of three I think).
First line: ‘It was the darkest, most wretched hour of the night when the dead came back to life and spread like a plgue of monstrous locusts through the village of Pallaskenry.‘
Cuttlefish, by Dave Freer (299 pages) – This is alternative-history fiction! And I leave it to the catalogue to explain. ‘In an alternate 1976 dominated by coal power and the British Empire, Clara Calland and her mother, an important scientist, embark on a treacherous journey toward freedom in Westralia aboard a smugglers’ submarine, the Cuttlefish, pursued by Menshevik spies and Imperial soldiers.’
First lines: ‘It was after midnight, and London’s lights shimmered on the waters that had once been her streets. Something dark moved down there, in the murky depths.’
Poison Tree, by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (219 pages) – Might copy & paste this one as well, since its blurb is pretty oblique and difficult to summarise: ‘Alysia has quickly moved to a position of responsibility in SingleEarth, working among shapeshifters and witches who fight against vampires, but she is hiding secret alliances that could put her fellow mediators at risk.’
First lines: ‘There was blood on her hands, congealing slowly. The body in her arms was cold, its once-vibrant cheer forever vanished from the world.‘
Starstruck, by Lauren Conrad (293 pages) – The latest Fame Game novel, about a bunch of people in Hollywood who star in a reality show about a bunch of people in Hollywood, written by someone who was in a (slightly-scripted, apparently?) reality show about a bunch of people in Hollywood. So somewhat authentic. In this book Madison does time, Kate has a hit single, and Carmen is overshadowed by her mother.
First line: ‘Madison Parker stood in the echoing marble foyer of the Beverly Hills Courthouse, her back pressed against the wall and he purse clutched tightly in her freshly manicured fingers.‘
Shadows, by Ilsa J. Bick (518 pages) – Book two of the Ashes trilogy. An apocalyptic thriller full of horror and gore and a love triangle, according to (the somewhat mixed) reviews on Amazon.com. If that sounds like your cup of tea, read the first book, er, first.
First line: ‘FUBAR: that was Jed’s name for it. Once a Marine, always a Marine. He didn’t know what to call the kids. Some said zombies, but that wasn’t right.‘
Yesterday, by C. K. Kelly Martin (355 pages) – This is about sixteen-year-old Freya Kallas, who lives in a future (2063) where climate change has left the world a bit of a dystopic nightmare. It is also about a Freya Kallas who lives in Toronto in 1985 and whose memory is a bit fuzzy. If that makes sense? To explain further might spoil things! Noooo
First line: ‘When I’ve wailed for so long and so hard that my throat is in shreds and my fingernails ripped and fingertips bloody from clawing at the door, I collapse in front of it curled up like a dead cat I saw on an otherwise spotless sidewalk as a child once.‘
Black Spring, by Alison Croggan (286 pages) – This story is inpired by Wuthering Heights, which is, if you’ve not read it, a gothic classic. However, this has – judging from the cover’s synopsis - witchcraft thrown in to make it even more gothic. Gothicky? You know.
First line (I wanted to add the excellent second line but it’s too long): ‘After the last long winter, I needed to get as far away from the city as I possibly could.‘
Here are some of the new books we’ve got in the library! Just some, mind you. This is not a representative sample. Oh no no
Time Between Us, by Tamara Ireland Stone (368 pages) – This book is set in 1995, which, incredibly for some of us, was nearly eighteen years ago. I am almost too depressed to continue. Haha ha. Anna, who lives back then, meets Bennett, who is from the now (2012) but can travel through time. They fall in love, but their relationship is complicated by the whole time travel thing. You might say it is literally tested by time.
First line: ‘Even from this distance I can see how young he looks. Younger than the first time I saw him.‘
Crewel : A Novel, by Gennifer Albin (360 pages) – Crewel is not a mispelling of ‘cruel’*, as I thought, but it is a type of embroidery, and teen Adelice is able to embroider the very fabric of reality. She is manipulated by the Manipulation Services into becoming a Spinster, which means living apart from her home and family. Part one of the ‘Crewel World’ series.
* the pun still stands though
First lines: ‘They came in the night. Once, families fought them, neighbours coming to their aid. But now that peace has been established, and the looms proven, girls pray to be retrieved.‘
My Book of Life by Angel, by Martine Leavitt (246 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Angel is taken in by Call, who soon has her addicted to drugs and working on the streets. It’s when her best friend disappears and she has an innocent to save that she finds she has the strength to do what she couldn’t for herself. Told entirely as a long, kind of depressing poem.
First line: ‘When Serena went missing
I look in all the places she might go‘
A Corner of White, by Jaclyn Moriarty (413 pages) – This is the first in a series called ‘The Colours of Madeleine.’ Madeleine lives in Cambridge, and discovers a crack in reality between our world and the Kingdom of Cello, just large enough for her and Elliot to exchange letters. Can Madeleine help Elliot solve the mystery of his father’s whereabouts and his mother’s illness?
First line: ‘Madeleine Tully turned fourteen yesterday, but today she did not turn anything at all.‘
Origin, by Jessica Khoury (393 pages) – Pia has been genetically breed to produce a new race of humans who will never die. She lives in a compound deep in the Amazon rainforest, but when she finds a secret way out she meets Eio, a nearby village with whom she forms an attachment. The pair of them begin to work out the details of Pia’s life, and she discovers that there is much more to life than living forever.
First lines: ‘I’m told that the day I was born, Uncle Paolo held me against his white lab coat and whispered, “she’s perfect.” Sixteen years later, they’re still repeating the word.‘
Glass Heart, by Amy Garvey (310 pages) – Wren Darby has powers that are actually quite impressive, but when she uses them she risks losing control. She forms an attachment with Gabriel, who warns her not to go overboard on the reality altering, and she discovers things about her family that are shocking revelations. Yikes, Wren!
First line: ‘I’m flying, soaring, swooping, dizzy with power and the sharp bite of the December air on my cheeks.‘
Call The Shots, by Don Calame (457 pages) – This is a follow on from Swim the Fly and Beat the Band. Sean is jealous that his two best friends have awesome girlfriends. His parents are going to have a baby soon, and his sister is convinced that he’s gay. SO to remedy all this he plans to make their own horror film, and then enter it in a competition. But making a film isn’t easy!
First lines: ‘“It’s my best idea yet.” Coop’s got a huge grin on his face as he wrestles his ice skate onto his left foot. “It came to me last night while I was launching a mud missile.”‘
Eve & Adam, by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate (291 pages) – Eve (short for ‘Evening’) is in a nasty car crash, and rushed to her mother’s research facility to recuperate. Bored, she gets the chance to create a boy using an ‘amazing simulation’ that teaches human genetics – it makes eyes, hair, even personality. WILL he be perfect?
First line: ‘I am thinking of an apple when the streetcar hits and my leg severs and my ribs crumble and my arm is no longer an arm but something unrecognisable, wet and red.‘
Flock, by Wendy Delsol (394 pages) – Here’s what the catalogue has to say. ‘Katla’s hopes of dodging unfinished business during her senior year are dashed by the arrival of two “Icelandic exchange students,” Marik and Jinky, who have come to collect Katla’s frail baby sister and take her to the water queen.’ The sequel to Frost.
First line: ‘Spending the morning ball-and-chained to a new kid was not my idea of a good kickoff to our senior year.‘
Be My Enemy, by Ian McDonald (269 pages) – Everett Singh continues his search of the multiverse for his missing father, who could be anywhere – there are billions of parallel universes out there. Here he must visit three Earths: one that is frozen and barren; one that has had aliens occupying the moon since the 60s; and the third where nanotechnology has cornered what remains of humanity in the ruins of London. Sequel to Planesrunner.
First line: ‘The car came out nowhere. He thought it might have been black in the split second that he saw it.‘
Halloween is not so spooky in New Zealand, largely on account of the bright, perky evenings and the fact that pumpkin’s not really in season. Here are some book suggestions to fill the void:
The teen blog slightly random-ish list of quality fiction about horror and ghosts.
Some zombie books that are a little bit gruesome.
A list of good Halloween reads from The Horn Book (if the picture books don’t interest you so much, look further down for an excellent selection).
An updated list of recommendations from allhallowsread.com.
Or you can read up about Halloween at history.com.
Promised, Caragh O’Brien (October/November) - this is the third in the popular Birthmarked trilogy. “After defying the ruthless Enclave, surviving the wasteland, and upending the rigid matriarchy of Sylum, Gaia Stone now faces her biggest challenge ever. She must lead the people of Sylum back to the Enclave and persuade the Protectorat to grant them refuge from the wasteland. In Gaia’s absence, the Enclave has grown more cruel, more desperate to experiment on mothers from outside the wall, and now the stakes of cooperating or rebelling have never been higher. Is Gaia ready, as a leader, to sacrifice what–or whom–she loves most?” (goodreads.com)
The Other Normals, Ned Vizzini (this month) – from the author of It’s Kind of a Funny Story (that got turned into a movie ($4 for one week)). Perry (long name Peregrine) is an epic nerd, who lives for Creatures & Caverns, a role playing game. He much prefers C & C to his real world, so he’s gutted when his parents send him to summer camp. But! At summer camp he meets Mortin Enaw, the writer of the C & C manual, and very soon Perry finds himself in the world of The Other Normals, where he must embark on a quest to save the other normals’ princess. His RPG skills will no doubt prove completely indispensible, and may save the day.
Oblivion, Anthony Horowitz (October/November) – This is the last in the Gatekeepers series (book number 5). “Having escaped from Hong Kong, the five gatekeepers – Matt, Pedro, Scott, Jamie and Scarlett – are scattered in a hostile and dangerous world. As they struggle to re-group and plan their next move, the malevolent King of the Old Ones gathers his forces in Oblivion: a desolate landscape where the last survivors of humanity must fight the ultimate battle.” (goodreads.com)
Eve and Adam, Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate (October/November) – by the authors of the Gone series and the Animorphs series for kids. “And girl created boy” says the cover. Eve and Adam is the story of Evening, who, after a car crash, must recuperate in her mother’s research facility. The research at the facility is all about genetics, and genetic engineering. To cure Evening of her boredom, her mother sets her the task of creating the perfect boy – Adam, of course – which Evening sets about doing. (But will he end up being more like Frankenstein’s monster? We wonder.)
Can you take a zombie seriously? Sometimes yes, sometimes no (it depends largely on whether there is supposed to be kissing).
This is Not a Test, Courtney Summers – this book is a horror story: imagine being trapped inside your school building with five other students, with moaning masses of the undead outside, lying in wait, when you know it’s only a matter of time before the water supply runs dry, you eat your last food, and face the prospect of either starving to death or running the zombie gauntlet outside, to who knows where. What makes it worse is how the horror plays out in the way that you and your schoolmates cope. And then, when you think you’ve barricaded the school building enough, someone gets in.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan – to quote an earlier post: “Mary lives in a fenced village in the middle of the forest of hands and teeth; fenced, because the forest of hands and teeth is peopled with zombies (the Unconsecrated) with an undying drive to bite. When the village’s fortifications are compromised Mary must flee in the ensuing chaos, down the paths that run through the forest, following mysterious symbols that might lead her to the sea she dreams of.”
Rot & Ruin, Jonathan Maberry – the School Library Journal likes this series, perhaps even better than The Forest of Hands and Teeth: they say it “appears to be a retelling of Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth but with a male protagonist. But Maberry’s vision of a zombie-infested future has more action, more violence, and more emotional depth” (School Library Journal). It must be good then! Instead of a forest, here there’s the Rot and Ruin where - Benny (the male protagonist) learns - the zombies actually aren’t even the scariest prospect.
The Enemy, Charlie Higson – the latest in the series (The Sacrifice) has recently arrived. When a sickness sweeps through London, affecting everyone over the age of 14, leaving them either (mercifully) dead or the walking undead, those under 14 find themselves in a fight to survive. Some, sensibly, hole up in supermarkets (the lucky ones in Waitrose, which is quite posh), while they must attempt to make their way to the relative safety of Buckingham Palace. But if they get to Buckingham Palace, what will they find? A zombie queen? Or something more problematic? We should’t be too flip: this one’s grim and doesn’t pull any punches.
Not quite as seriously:
Dearly Departed, Lia Habel – this series is called “Gone with the Respiration” (a salute to Gone With the Wind), so I think it’s safe to say it’s a bit fun. “Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead – or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?” (Goodreads.com). This brings a whole new meaning to the expression “undying love”.
You Are So Undead to Me, Stacey Jay – the first in the series about Megan Berry, Zombie Settler. Homecoming (and people’s lives) are in peril when someone starts using black magic to turn the average, bumbling undead of an Arkansas town into souped-up zombies. Can Megan save the day? Can she what! (I’m picking).
I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It, Adam Selzer – take that Katy Perry. Ali meets the mysterious Doug – a strong, silent, Goth-type of singer – and falls madly in love with him before, doh, someone points out he’s actually a zombie. Naturally Doug’s mysteriousness is not all that attractive any more, but when Ali tries to dump him she learns it’s not so easy to get rid of a zombie. She also learns, along the way, that vampires don’t like their music being critiqued.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Seth Grahame-Smith – I think you have to give credit to someone who basically invents a new genre in the 21st century. This was the first Classic Novel Horror Mashup, and there’s a bunch of others, including Romeo and Juliet, Sense and Sensibility, and P & P & Z even has it’s own sequels and prequels. Excellent.
A mixed bag:
Zombie Blondes, Brian James – Hannah is the new girl in a town where the many houses for sale and the, well, deathly quiet suggest something’s wrong. Hannah seems oblivious on her first day of school, when she meets the popular crowd: a group of cheerleaders who all look remarkably the same, and who Hannah really wants to be like.
Zombies Versus Unicorns – more to the point, can you take a unicorn seriously? One or two writers have had a crack at it in this oddly fab collection of short stories.
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone, by Kat Rosenfield (279 pages) – Becca is keen to leave the small town where she grew up. Her boyfriend dumps her, and the body of a girl Becca’s age is found the next day, and Becca is suddenly too unsure and too shaken to gather the will to leave. “Horrifying,” “emotionally arresting,” and a “raw debut.”
First line: ‘They found her just after dawn on June 24th, crumpled awkwardly by the side of the road with a rust-coloured blossom drying in the dirt beneath her.‘
Hidden : A Firelight Novel, by Sophie Jordan (264 pages) – Siteen-year-old Jacinda can turn into a dragon, and now she must surrender her giant lizardy self to her enemies in order to destroy them. From within! This is the third book in the series, aaaand it’s also the last one.
First (amazing) line: ‘The air traps hot inside my lungs as I hover outside the van, peering within, studying the shadowed depths, so reminiscent of another van not so long ago.‘
Smart Girls Get What They Want, by Sarah Strohmeyer (348 pages) – Three pals – Gigi, Bea, and Neerja – are very smart overachievers, and are all certain that once they leave school for Harvard or Princeton or whatever their lives will be just awesome. They probably will! But in the meantime they decide that they’re missing out on the full highschool experience, so make a pact to face their fears and do something about it.
First line: ‘Before Bea, Neerja, and I got everything we wanted from high school – the adoration, the fun, the fame, and the super-hot boys – all we did was study.‘
The Diviners, by Libba Bray(578 pages) – It is 1926, and New York is pretty swell. It’s the tops! Evie is excited to move there, but she has to live with her occult-obsessed uncle, who she fears will discover her secret occult powers. However, something evil and dark has awoken, and the bodies begin to pile up.
First lines: ‘In a town house at a fashionable address on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, every lamp blazes. There’s a party going on – the last of the summer.‘
Carnival of Souls, by Melissa Marr (306 pages) – Mallory is a witch! As is the rest of her family, who all some time ago fled the City of Daimons where they lived. Now in the human world, Mallory must always be on the watch for any daimons out to get her. At the City’s heart is the Carnival of Souls, where once every generation the chance to join the ruling elite is up for grabs in deadly competitions. Soon Mallory must face the Carnival. I think! I’m not doing a good job of summarising this one.
First lines: ‘The man – witch - who’d summoned Selah was nothing like what she’d expected. In truth, he looked no different than many daimons she’d met: implacable expression and a musculature that would serve him well in one of Marchosias’ fighting competitions.‘
Drift Race, by David Jubermann (342 pages) – Leon grew up in Japan, but moves back to NZ with his mother. He becomes involved in the world of drift racing, which he thought he’d left behind. In no time at all he ’spirals into an exciting world of adrenaline, fast cars and high-speed chases,’ and becomes a top competitor. BUT! Death and danger await around the corner (maybe literally?) – will he be okay?
First line: ‘They were tired – all of them, near the end of their endurance.’
Geek Charming, by Robin Palmer (338 pages) – This is the book that was the inspiration for ‘the Disney Channel original movie Geek Charming.’ If I had to guess (without reading the blurb) it is about a geek who is in fact a prince! Or a geek who gets a make-over and a girl falls for him! Maybe she kisses a geek and he turns into a prince. Or all of that? Who knows
First line: ‘One day as I was watching Oprah, waiting for her to get to her “Favourite Things for Spring” segment (she has the cutest taste in accessories), I heard this self-help guru guy say that the word for crisis in Chinese is actually two words: danger and opportunity.‘
Betrayal, by Gregg Olsen (273 pages) – This is the second Empty Coffin Novel (Envy was the first). Twins Hayley and Taylor are murder solving slueths in a Washington town that is sometimes called ‘Empty Coffin’ after some old piece of creepy folklore probably. The twins have some supernatural abilities that allow them to receive clues from the dead, often via Scrabble tiles. (Here’s my usual Scrabble message: ‘QZKKCYTP’ or something.)
First line: ‘Olivia Grant wasn’t exactly sure what she’d expected America to be like, but Port Gamble, Washington, most certainly wasn’t it.‘
More stuff! Including more zombies.
Zom-B, Darren Shan (September/October). This is the start of a new series by the horror master. I have read that there’s rather a lot of blood and stuff, so if you’ve got a cast-iron stomach you might love this. “Zom-B is a radical new series about a zombie apocalypse, told in the first person by one of its victims. The series combines classic Shan action with a fiendishly twisting plot and hard-hitting and thought-provoking moral questions dealing with racism, abuse of power and more. This is challenging material, which will captivate existing Shan fans and bring in many new ones. As Darren says, “It’s a big, sprawling, vicious tale…a grisly piece of escapism, and a barbed look at the world in which we live. Each book in the series is short, fast-paced and bloody. A high body-count is guaranteed!” (goodreads.com)
Flesh & Bone, Jonathan Maberry (September/October). The third in a trilogy (maybe?) that started with Rot & Ruin. “In the Rot & Ruin… everything wants to kill you” (goodreads.com). Everything means escaped zoo and circus animals, and a new breed of zombie, who are faster and smarter. How is it possible then for Chong and his friends to survive? Tom better have trained them well. Plus we do like the rather disturbing cover.
Iron Legends, Julie Kagawa (September/October). If you’ve been reading Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, then you might like to read these three novellas in one volume (called ‘Winter’s Passage’, ‘Summer’s Crossing’ and ‘Iron’s Prophecy’).