If you’re familiar with this term: good. If not, let us explain. Galentines is a (soon to be) widely celebrated holiday on the 13th of February, the day before Valentines day. If you’re unlucky in love, or just over the whole idea of Valentines, this is the holiday for you. Invented by the amazing Leslie Knope on the tv show Parks and Recreation, it’s a day to celebrate all your girl pals! No boys allowed. Typically it is celebrated with numerous compliments among friends, needlepoint portraits of one another, and waffles galore! Here’s a picture of our Galentines celebrations from last year:
Excited yet? You should be! In honor of Galentines on Wednesday, we’ve compiled a list of books about great female friendships, which we hope will inspire you to celebrate your own friends.
A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray
This one is a Librarian’s Choice pick by many of us librarians! It’s kind of like a Victorian, elongated Gossip Girl, but with fantasy bits. Gemma Doyle has grown up in India, until she has a spookily true vision of her mother’s death. She is then shipped off to Spence Academy for girls in England, where she encounters an exclusive clique. Rejected by the group as well as her less glamorous roommate Ann, Gemma blackmails herself and Ann into the clique. Gemma soon discovers she has been followed from India by a young man named Kartik, who warns her to fight off her ominous visions. Ignoring Kartik, Gemma has a vision one night of a child-spirit, which leads her to discover her visions transport her to another realm. The other girls find a way to accompany Gemma to other realms, but they find everything is not quite so simple or innocent as it first seems.
Sloppy Firsts, Megan McCafferty
While I was reading this, everyone I talked to about it was grossed out by the title. But I urge everyone to look past that because this book is brilliant! It’s more about an absent friendship and how to deal with the gap it leaves. Hyperobservant Jessica Darling’s best friend Hope has moved away from their home of Pinesville and Jessica feels more lost than ever, now that the only person she could really communicate with is gone. She can barely stand the Clueless Crew, her other so-called “friends”, her dad is obsessed with her track meets, and her mother won’t shut up about Jessica’s sister’s wedding. Everything feels terrible for Jessica, until a chance encounter with the infamous Marcus Flutie, the elusive ginger dropkick of the school, leaves her mind-bogglingly flustered. Slowly their friendship grows, but what would everyone else think if they found out what was really going on between Jessica and Marcus? This is a great bildungsroman and seriously funny. Also, Marcus Flutie has quite a sizeable group of dedicated online fans, google him if you don’t believe us!
A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend, Emily Horner
Sad but uplifting, this book is about both friendship and loss. Cass’s best friend Julia has been working on a secret project for months. When Julia is suddenly killed in a car crash, Julia’s boyfriend and drama friends make it their mission to complete the project: a musical called Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad. Cass doesn’t fit in with the drama kids, and things get infinitely worse when Heather Galloway, the girl that has made her life miserable for years, is cast as the ninja princess. Cass has had enough, so she decides to go through with her original summer plan: a cross-country road trip with Julia. Cass sets off with a bicycle and Julia’s ashes in a Tupperware container for a summer of cleansing, healing and adventure.
Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery
“Marilla and Matthew, two siblings living on Prince Edward Island, Canada, decide to adopt an orphan boy to help out on their farm. But when Matthew goes to pick up the boy from the train station, he is shocked to find little red-headed Anne Shirley, and is instantly taken to her, charmed by her enthusiasm and talent for chattering.” - Goodreads review
A new edition of this book came out recently and some people are not very happy about the cover design. What do you think?
Reunited, Hilary Weisman Graham
Back in middle school, Alice, Summer and Tiernan were best friends. But when their favourite band Level3 split up, so did their friendship. They parted ways into different social paths – popular, rebel and bookworm – but just as they’re getting ready to graduate, Level3 announce a one-time-only reunion show. Now the girls are on a 2000 mile road trip together to see the momentous show. Will their friendship be rekindled or is it over for good?
The Darlings Are Forever, Melissa Kantor
This one’s sort of the opposite of Reunited. Jane, Victoria and Natalya are BFFs with matching necklaces and a motto: “May you always do what you’re afraid of doing.” Then they all begin high school at three different schools across New York, and their friendship seems less certain. Not being together all the time is hard for the girls, and new things are scary when you’re alone. Will their friendship stand the test of time and distance?
Happy Galentines Day everyone!
We need some help! We love John Green, we’ve recommended him to you before but we face a conundrum we cannot explain. We understand the 21 reserves on his latest (and brilliant novel) The Fault in Our Stars but why oh why do his older books suddenly have enormous queues of reserves on them? We know The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns have all made it into this weeks New York Times Bestseller list but that doesn’t quite seem to explain it… If you know anything about Wellington’s sudden interest in John Green novels, can you please let us know in the comments? We’re deeply curious, as the title suggests!
If you’re biting your nails in anticipation for your reserve to come through, then check out these similar books while you wait:
If we continue our theory of the New York Times Bestseller list (an excellent source of reading material btw), then possibly one of Maggie Stiefvater’s books is for you. Her 2009 book Shiver made this week’s list which is about werewolves and love stories (who doesn’t love them) and leads into the sequels Linger and Forever. If werewolves aren’t your thing then check out The Scorpio Races and, of course, The Raven Boys which we (the teen blog) have raved about before.
If you’re after a road trip story, check out Morgan Matson’s Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour which is about dealing with death or Lauren Barnholdt’s Two-Way Street which is the love story of an unlikely couple.
R n R
More, as promised!
POD, Stephen Wallenfels (297 pages) – a POD is a sort of alien flying thing that destroys (“zaps” says the back cover, a little playfully) people who venture out of their houses. Josh and his father are trapped in their house, slowly running out of food. Megs is – a little more tenuously – trapped in a multi storey car park, with “dangerous security staff” lurking in the hotel next door. What’s more dangerous? The PODs, or the humans left?
First sentence: The screeching wakes me.
Dust Girl, Sarah Zettel (292 pages) – the first of the American Fairy trilogy. It’s 1935 and dust storms are tormenting Kansas. This is bad for Callie, whose mother insists on staying in Slow Run, waiting for Callie’s father (who is never coming back). When Callie’s mother also disappears in a violent storm, Callie befriends Jack, and they hitch rides on trains (hobo-style) to California. But! Callie is about to learn that the supernatural world is alive and well, and is looking for her (and indeed, she might be one of them).
First sentence: Once upon a time, I was a girl called Callie.
Reunited, Hilary Westman Graham (325 pages) – Alice, Summer and Tiernan used to be best friends, and best fans of the group Level3. But the band split up, and so did they. A few years later, at the end of high school, Level3 announces a one-time-only reunion concert. So Alice, Summer and Tiernan go on a road trip together to the concert, but will they be able to reestablish their friendship?
First sentence: “Is the blindfold really necessary?” Alice asked her parents.
Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe, Shelley Coriell (299 pages) – Chloe is super popular at school, until her best friend suddenly goes cold on her and turns her into a social outcast. So Chloe joins the school radio station - which is so not cool, but necessary - where she becomes the host of a call-in show, with mixed (and possibly romantic?) results.
First sentence: I loved being a burrito.
This is so not happening, Kieran Scott (315 pages) – This is the conclusion to the trilogy that began with She’s So Dead to Us and continued with He’s So Not Worth It. Ally and Jake being their senior year together together, but a bit shakily. Then life gets complicated and seems to be pulling them apart: as high school ends will they end too, or stick together?
First sentence: “Chloe’s pregnant?” Jake blurted, pushing himself up off the ground.
Bullet Boys, Ally Kennen (320 pages) – “Alex, Levi and Max follow the young soldiers from the local army camp on the moor. But harmless rivalry develops into something far more incendiary. When the boys discover a cache of buried weapons near the training grounds, deadly forces are brought into play.” (catalogue)
First sentence: Alex never killed hares.
A Breath of Eyre, Eve Marie Mont (342 pages) – Emma lives partly in the real world and partly in the imaginary world of the books she reads and the stories she makes up in her head. When reading an old copy of Jane Eyre during a lightning storm, Emma suddenly finds herself catapulted into Jane’s shoes: and the brooding gaze of Mr Rochester… (You could try it with one of our not-so-old copies of Jane Eyre.)
First sentence: There was no possibility of taking a swim that day.
Catch & Release, Blythe Woolston (210 pages) – a road trip! Polly and Odd have had one of your worst nightmares – a flesh-eating bacterial infection, and many reconstructive surgeries as a result. Now their epic future plans are derailed, so they head off to Oregon in a classy car for a spot of fly fishing (and perhaps some more worrying adventures?).
First sentence: I would have recognized the guy even if he hadn’t driven up in a truck with Estes Equipment on the door, wearing an Estes Equipment hat and an Estes Equipment shirt with ‘Buck’ embroidered above the pocket.”
Beneath a Meth Moon, Jacqueline Woodson (182 pages) – Laurel loses her mother and grandmother in Hurricane Katrina and turns to crystal meth to cope. Can she grieve, move on, and beat her addiction? We hope so :-\
First sentence: It’s almost winter again and the cold moves through this town like water washing over us.
Poison Heart, S B Hayes (360 pages) – “From the moment Katy sees Genevieve’s beautiful face staring at her from a window, her life will never be the same. Wherever Katy turns, Genevieve is there – at school, with Katy’s friends, and worst of all, in Katy’s hot new boyfriend’s life. But Genevieve has a menacing side, a dangerous side, a threatening side that she only reveals to Katy: I’m your worst nightmare. When Genevieve’s behaviour becomes increasingly twisted, Katy delves into the girl’s past, with the help of her best friend Luke. Nothing prepares her for the dark truths that she discovers, or the new romance she finds along the way. Is Genevieve a troubled girl with a difficult childhood? Or is the truth unearthly and much more frightening? Who is the real Genevieve? What are her secrets? Why is she determined to destroy Katy’s life?” (catalogue)
First sentence: We were on the number fifty-seven bus when it happened – the moment that would change my life forever.
The Jade Notebook, Laura Resau (365 pages) – this is a companion novel to The Indigo Notebook and The Ruby Notebook. Zeeta and her mother have been traveling the globe, but finally settle in Mazunte, Mexico, where Zeeta’s boyfriend, Wendell, is spending time photographing sea turtles (as you do). Zeeta feels like Mazunte could be home, but when she and Wendell begin finding out information about her mysterious father’s past, Zeeta starts to see a darker side to her home.
First sentence: At sunset, Comet Point feels like the tip of the world.
Promise the Night, Michaela MacColl (262 pages) – this is based on the life of Beryl Markham, who was the first pilot to fly solo from England to North America. But this is not about the flying, but earlier: Beryl lives with her father on a huge ranch in British East Africa, with only her mother’s dog, Buller, for company. When one day Buller is attacked and taken by a leopard, Beryl promises to rescue him (as you would!). Which might be good training for being daring enough to fly solo across the Atlantic.
First sentence: Beryl sat bolt upright, her heart beating faster.
Skin Deep, Laura Jarratt (376 pages) – “After the car crash that leaves her best friend dead, Jenna struggles to rebuild her life. But every stare in the street, every glance in the mirror, makes her want to hide away. And then Ryan turns up – a tall, good-looking traveller unlike anyone Jenna’s met before.” (cover) Yay Ryan.
First sentence: The stereo thumps out a drumbeat.
The Emerald Flame, Frewin Jones (344 pages) – more adventures from Branwen, the Warrior Princess. Branwen has come to accept that she’s the one to save her country from imminent invasion by the Saxons. This is no small task, and one filled with danger and the threat of disaster. We wonder if guidance from the spirits, and the trusty Rhodi and “sometimes maddening” Iwan, are enough support?
First sentence: A profound darkness had fallen among the close-packed oaks, and it felt to Branwen ap Griffith as though she and her small band of riders were wading through a flood tide of shadows, thick as black water.
Vixen, Jillian Larkin (385 pages) – the first book in a new series called The Flappers. “The roaring twenties where anything goes…The first in a sparkling new trilogy full of romance, dancing and secrecy. Every girl wants what she can’t have. Seventeen-year-old Gloria wants the glamorous flapper lifestyle. Now that she’s engaged to the heir of one of Chicago’s most powerful families, Gloria’s party days are over before they’ve even begun… or are they? Clara, Gloria’s goody-two-shoes cousin, has arrived to make sure the high-society wedding comes off without a hitch – but Clara isn’t as lily-white as she appears… Lorraine, Gloria’s social-climbing best friend, is tired of living in Gloria’s shadow. When Lorraine’s envy spills over into desperate spite, no one is safe. And someone’s going to be very sorry.” (catalogue)
First sentence: She didn’t feel like wearing a garter tonight.
This week’s selection is brought to you by heart shaped things, sunglasses, and a whole lot of love.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Saenz (359 pages) – Dante and Ari are opposites (the cover tells me in detail), so opposite that in fact they probably shouldn’t attract, but they do! “In breathtaking prose, American Book Award winner Benjamin Alires Saenz captures those moments that make a boy a man as he explores loyalty and trust, friendship and love” (cover!).
First sentence: One summer night I fell asleep, hoping the world would be different when I woke.
Love? Maybe, Heather Hepler (267 pages) – a Valentine’s Day story! Piper’s birthday is Valentine’s Day, which may be one of the reasons why she’s a bit cynical about the whole thing. But when her one best friend suffers a broken heart two weeks before the BIG DAY, she agrees to get involved in a plot to restore said heart, even if it means going on a date herself. All of a sudden everything is warm and fuzzy for Piper: her heart shaped lollies are a hit (see cover), she has a popular boyfriend, and someone’s leaving secret gifts in her locker.
First sentence: Claire tells me it’s romantic that my birthday is on Valentine’s Day, but then she thinks it’s romantic when Stuart remembers to say excuse me after he burps.
The Darlings in Love, Melissa Kantor (311 pages) – The Darlings are three best friends, Victoria, Natalya and Jane (as seen in The Darlings are Forever), and they fall in love! This could lead to happiness, or heartbreak, or both! (Preferrably in reverse order.)
First sentence: Natalya pulled her dark blue winter jacket more tightly around her, shivering in the sharp January wind as she waited for the light to change.
The Disenchantments, Nina LaCour (307 pages) – Colby and Bev are in a band – The Disenchantments – and the plan is to graduate and tour Europe. But Bev disenchants The Disenchantments when she announces she’s ditching them to go off on her own travels. So plans must change, and the band swaps Europe for the Pacific Northwest, and the future becomes much less certain.
First sentence: Bev says when she’s onstage she feels the world holding its breath for her.
Love & Haight, Susan Carlton (176 pages) – In 1971 Chloe and MJ have a plan to travel to San Francisco to spend the Christmas/New Year break with Chloe’s hippy aunt. Chloe has a second plan, involving her secret, unwanted pregnancy. Reviewers say this book is an interesting historical account of 1970s San Francisco, hippy culture, and some of the serious social issues of the time.
First sentences: The view was wrong. That’s what Chloe kept thinking.
Glimmer, Phoebe Kitandis (347 pages) – Oo. Marshal and Elyse wake up one day “tangled in each other’s arms” but also with amnesia. They have no idea how they came to be in Summer Falls, a resort town, but they do know that something’s amiss: the town’s people are “happy zombies” with no memory of unpleasant things, even though there are indeed unpleasant things in Summer Falls…
First sentence: I come to life with a gasp in the darkness.
The Story of Us, Deb Caletti (389 pages) – “After jilting two previous fiances, Cricket’s mother is finally marrying the right man, but as wedding attendees arrive for a week of festivities, complications arise for Cricket involving her own love life, her beloved dog Jupiter, and her mother’s reluctance to marry.” (catalogue)
First sentence: I found out something about myself as all those boxes piled up: I hated change.
Dragonswood, Janet Lee Carey (403 pages) – When the king dies, Wilde Island is thrown into turmoil as the royal witch hunter goes on, well, a witch-hunting rampage, determined to root out an young women with “fire in their hearts and sparks in their soul”. This is unfortunate for Tess, who wants the things in life that fire and sparks give (i.e. not just a husband and house). She’s accused of witchery and forced to run to Dragonswood, to take refuge with an “enigmatic huntsman”, who sounds interesting.
First sentences: I am seven years old. My father takes me to a witch burning.
The Mephisto Covenant, Trinity Faegen (434 pages) – “Jax, a son of Hell, and Sasha, a descendent of Eve, unexpectedly find love, but Sasha must sacrifice the purity of her soul to save him while he struggles to keep her safe from his brother Eryx, whose mission is to take over Hell and abolish humanity’s free will.” (catalogue)
First sentence: “Your father’s ring is gone! That slime, Alex, took it – I know he did.”
Bewitching, Alex Flinn (338 pages) – in which we read about Kendra, who was responsible for the Beast becoming Beastly in Beastly. Kendra is an immortal, who finds that her interfering in human life sometimes makes problems worse rather than better. So, when she comes across Emma, a modern-day plain step-sister, can she stop herself from getting involved?
First sentence: If you read fairy tales, and who doesn’t, you might believe there are witches all over the place – witches baking children into gingerbread, making princesses sleep hundreds of years, even turning normal teenage boys into hideous beasts to teach them a lesson.
Since we published our list of Top 10 Dystopian novels (see it here), the publishing world has gone a bit barmy for them, the result being heaps and heaps more to choose from. So, it might be time for another list! Here’s the 10 dystopian novels (and series) I have enjoyed the most since (or more accurately, found the most gripping).
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.
Here’s an interesting collection of fiction: werewolves, monsters, scary trees, space cowboys, debutantes, God as a teenage boy (imagine), and a couple of pretty fetching first sentences.
Low Red Moon, Ivy Devlin (244 pages) – a star-crossed supernatural love story. Avery Hood’s parents died when she was young, mysteriously. So when she falls for Ben, the new boy in town, only to discover he triggers a disturbing memory, she must find out what really happened. The cover says this is “part murder mystery, part grief narrative, and part heart-stopping, headlong romance” which sounds fab.
First sentence: I was covered in blood when the police found me.
Black Hole Sun, David MacInnis Gill (340 pages) – a science fiction dystopian novel with space cowboys! Durango is a mercenary living on Mars who is hired by miners to protect their mine from the evil, mutant Draeu, but while doing his job Durango discovers the secret reason why the Draeu are so intent on attacking the mine. The author has a suggested playlist for his novel which you can see at largehearted boy here.
First sentence: Now come the mousies nosing out their hole, thinks Kuhru as he wipes fresh bone marrow from his snout.
The Dead Boys, Royce Buckingham (201 pages) – a horror/mystery, especially horrific if you think trees are creepy. Teddy Mathews, new in town, is disturbed to find all the boys he befriends disappear mysteriously. He’s determined to find out what’s going on, but nobody will believe him when he says he thinks the freaky great tree outside his house has something to do with it. We believe you Teddy!
First sentence: In its early years, the sycamore tree stretched its branches up toward the light, reaching for the desert sun and its life-giving energy.
The Magnolia League, Katie Crouch (348 pages) – another mystery, this time around the intrigue of a southern debutante society. After her mother dies, Alexandria must move from the West Coast of the United States to Savannah, and start a new life with her grandmother. This life involves the Magnolia League, said debutante society, which Alexandria becomes involved with, discovering a sinister secret pact between the Magnolias and the Buzzards, a hoodoo family.
First sentences: You know what I hate? Sweet tea.
The Miracle Stealer, Neil Connelly (230 pages) – Andi’s six year old brother Daniel is touted as a miracle worker: they say he can cure the sick and bring the dead back to life. People flock to town to see him, and when one of the pilgrims turns out to be some sort of dangerous stalker, Andi knows she must put an end to the madness.
First sentence: I needed to save Daniel.
The Ruby Notebook, Laura Resau (365 pages) – Zeeta and her English teacher mother travel around the globe together, each year moving to a different country. This year it’s Aix in France, which sounds ideal, but not so much when the love of your life – Wendell – doesn’t live there too. To complicate things, Zeeta starts receiving mystery notes from a secret admirer, and forms a strong connection with Jean-Claude, a street performer. When Wendell comes to visit Zeeta feels they are drifting apart, until a mystery forces them together again. But but: who is the secret admirer?
First sentences: It’s true. There’s something about the light here.
The Julian Game, Adele Griffin (200 pages) – Raye is the new girl at an exclusive academy, struggling to fit in. So when the opportunity arise for her to get involved in a game to help Ella get revenge on her ex Julian, Raye sees the chance to become accepted. But then she falls for Julian, and unleashes the enraged, nasty Ella, and things get a whole lot worse.
First sentence: “This is the craziest idea you ever had,” said Natalya.
The Things a Brother Knows, Dana Reinhardt (242 pages) – Levi’s brother Boaz returns from a tour of duty withdrawn, not himself. Levi knows something is up, so he follows him on a walk from Boston to Washington, determined to find out what’s wrong, and discover the truth about his brother, and a little bit about himself too perhaps.
First sentence: I used to love my brother.
Teenage Waistland, Lynn Biederman & Lisa Pazer (307 pages) – Three obese teenagers tell the story of their involvement in a clinical trial for a new surgery. They must meet weekly over the course of a year, learning to live a healthy life, but also learning a devastating secret that will also alter their lives.
First sentence: Marcie Mandlebaum here: sixteen years old and sporting the collective girth of the Tenafly High cheerleading squad – this according to their captain, my twitorexic stepsister, Liselle.
Wicked Girls, Stephanie Hemphill (389 pages) – a novel in verse about the Salem witch trials in the 17th century. The novel explores the lives of three girls living in Salem who accuse members of the community of witchcraft after a series of unexplained illnesses.
First sentence: Silent, not even the twitter / of insects.
There Is No Dog, Meg Rosoff (243 pages) – Imagine God is a teenage boy (Bob). He is “lazy, careless, self-obsessed, sex-mad” says the cover. So, when Lucy prays to fall in love and Bob decides to answer her prayer personally, things could get really ugly.
First sentences: Oh glorious, most glorious glorious! And yet again glorious!
The Curse of the Wendigo, Rick Yancey (424 pages) – sequel to The Monstrumologist. When Dr Warthrop’s mentor Dr von Helrung says he wants to prove the existence of the Wendigo, known as “He Who Devours All Mankind”, Will and Dr Warthrop find themselves in northern Canada in search of this terrible creature, and in the process unearth a truth “far more terrifying than even they could have ever imagined” (book cover) which, since their business is the study of monsters, must be pretty terrifying.
First sentence: The reader was a retired middle school English teacher whose mother had come to live at the facility in 2001.
A selection of new fiction (good for reading while drinking hot cocoa, if you’ve got some left after learning about language and colour) which covers a bit of everything: there’s road trips (huzzah!), romance, spooky thrillers, conclusions to trilogies, and some serious subject matter for readers who want food for thought.
Blood Red Road, Moira Young (492 pages) – a dystopian road trip! Saba lives in Silverlake, a bleak wasteland. After the black-robed riders take Saba’s brother Lugh, Saba must set off on a dangerous journey in pursuit, with the help of a clever crow, the dashing, mysterious Jack, and a group of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks.
First sentences: Lugh got born first. On Midwinter Day when the sun hangs low in the sky.
The Shattering, Karen Healey (302 pages) – Summerton is the perfect place to live, but is it? When Keri, grieving after the suicide of her brother, starts spending more time with a couple of friends she discovers that their brothers have also died, in suspicious circumstances. Is there something dark and terrible going on in Summerton?
First sentence: The first time I broke my arm I was ready for it.
Other Words for Love, Lorraine Zago Rosenthal (354 pages) – Ari lives in the shadow of her vibrant friend Summer, but when an inheritance means she is able to attend an elite prep school she starts to come out of her shell, making new friends, and falling for Blake. Swept up in in her romance, Ari doesn’t agree with her friends that this is infatuation - knowing that instead it is true love - but when Blake starts distancing himself after family troubles, Ari comes to learn what love really means.
First sentence: In 1985 just about everyone I knew was afraid of two things: a nuclear attack by the Russians and a gruesome death from the AIDS virus, which allegedly thrived on the mouthpieces of New York City public telephones.
Bitter End, Jennifer Brown (359 pages) – Alex is blissfully in love with gorgeous, sporty Cole, but things gradually turn nightmarish, first with Cole becoming jealous of her best friend Alex, then putting her down, then threatening her, until she is “forced to choose – between her ‘true love’ and herself.”
First sentence: If I had to describe my best friend, Bethany, in one word, it would be persistent.
In the Sea There Are Crocodiles, Fabio Geda (211 pages) – Based on the true story of 10 year old Afghan boy Enaiatollah’s five year journey from Afghanistan to Italy, and the harrowing events that took place along the way.
First sentence: The thing is, I really wasn’t expecting her to go.
Forever, Maggie Stiefvater (390 pages) – the conclusion to the story of the wolves of Mercy Falls that started with Shiver and continued with Linger. Isabel’s father is intent on getting rid of the wolves once and for all, and he’s making alarming headway with his plans: can Sam save them before it’s too late? Can he save Grace, who is now shifting between wolf and human form? Can Cole St Clair get to the bottom of the disease that causes the changes? So many questions!
First sentence: I can be so, so quiet.
Winter’s Shadow, M J Hearle (424 pages) – Winter is consumed by Blake Duchamp, the dark, brooding stranger she met at Pilgrim’s Lament. But Blake has a dark, dangerous secret – one that Winter seems to be be unwittingly doing her best to distract him from.
First sentence: Madeleine Bonnaire fled beneath the flickering street lamps of Rue Descartes.
I Am J, Chris Beam (326 pages) – J goes on a journey of self discovery working through the issues surrounding the fact that he’s always known he is a boy in a girl’s body.
First sentence: J could smell the hostility, the pretense, the utter fakeness of it all before they even climbed the last set of stairs.
The Demon’s Surrender, Sarah Rees Brennan (387 pages) – the conclusion to the trilogy that began with The Demon’s Lexicon. Sin and Mae are in competition for leadership of the Goblin Market and the Aventurine Circle is a threat to the survival of the market – and people generally – but can they be stopped? Also, can Sin get over her dislike of Alan so they can work together to defeat the magicians, and does Jamie really have control over Nick? This can’t be good, since he’s decided turn against the market and join the magicians.
First sentence: Magic was like a special guest in Sin’s life.
Life: An Exploded Diagram, Mal Peet (413 pages) – Set in Norfolk (UK) in 1962, when the Cold War means the world thinks it’s going to be annihilated by a nuclear bomb. Against this backdrop, Clem and Frankie are in a secret, furtive relationship (from opposite sides of the track, as it were). You can read Meg Rosoff’s review on the Guardian here.
First sentence: Ruth Ackroyd was in the garden checking the rhubarb when the RAF Spitfire accidentally shot her chimney-pot to bits.
The Dead of Winter, Chris Priestley (218 pages) – The dust jacket makes this sound spooky: “When Michael Vyner goes to spend the Christmas holidays with his distant and aloof guardian, he finds himself in a dark and desolate East Anglian [UK] house – a house that harbours a terrible secret which it will fight to retain. Michael’s lonely task soon becomes clear as he is haunted not just by a solitary woman in the mists but by the terrible reason behind her death.”
First sentence: My name is Michael: Michael Vyner.
Votive, Karen Brooks (617 pages) – the sequel to Tallow. Set in the republic of Venice – La Serenissima. Tallow has lost everything, so in order to survive she takes on a new persona, and poses as a courtesan to move among the Serenissian nobility. But evil looms in the form of her enemies, who have something up their sleeves that could ruin her.
First sentence: ‘By the gods! Stop!’
The Girl Who Was On Fire, edited by Leah Wilson (210 pages) – young adult authors write about the Hunger Games phenomenon, including Jennifer Lynn Barnes on Team Katniss (i.e. Katniss is a character quite apart from which team she chooses); Blythe Woolston on trauma, PTSD, what it’s all about and how it works in the Hunger Games trilogy; Terri Clark on the fashion genius that is Cinna; Carrie Ryan on reality TV’s relationship with fiction, and much more!
Skin: The Bare Facts, Lori Bergamotto (97 pages) – learn about your skin! What makes it tick, what’s good for it, what really really isn’t, how to keep it healthy and much more!
Teen Cuisine, Matthew Lcrocchio (207 pages) – pages and pages of recipes, from New York style pizza dough to Grits and cheddar cheese souffles, with pulled pork sandwiches in between: cook like an American chef! There’s also a section on fondue parties, and much more!
The Haunting of Charles Dickens, Lewis Buzbee (350 pages) – Charles Dickens, stricken with writer’s block, takes to roaming the streets of London. Meg’s brother, Orion, has disappeared, and she goes out looking for him, and in her lookings bumps into Mr Dickens. Together they must try to solve the msytery of what happened to Orion; hopefully a byproduct being a cure for Mr Dickens’ writer’s block.
First sentences: London. Mid-summer night nearly upon us.
So Shelly, Ty Roth (325 pages) – John Keats and Gordon Byron are both friends with Michelle “Shelly” Shelley (see here for some info), but not each other. When Shelly is killed in a sailing accident, Byron and Keats steal her ashes and go on the sailing equivalent of a road trip, to lay her to rest.
First sentence: Most of us like to believe that we are born to do great things, maybe even to be famous.
Illegal, Bettina Restrepo (251 pages) – After her father disappears in Texas, Nora and her mother must leave Mexico to search for him, crossing the border illegally.
First sentence: “When will you be back?” I asked, holding Papa’s hand at the bus stop.
The Water Wars, Cameron Stracher (240 pages) – in a dystopian future water is scarce and people are dying, but Kai flies in the face of this, letting drops of water spill from his cup, and claiming he knows a government secret. And then he disappears.
First sentence: The year before he joined the Reclamation, when he was still seventeen, my brother Will set a new high score at the YouToo! booth at the gaming centre.
Hothouse, Chris Lynch (198 pages) – When DJ and Russell’s fathers are both killed in a firefighting accident they must come to terms with their loss, and also being minor macabre celebrities in their town, as sons of heroes.
First sentence: “Are ya winnin’?”
Babe in Boyland, Jody Gehrman (292 pages) – Natalie’s love relationship advice at school is rubbish, so she does the only thing you can do: enrols herself in a private boys’ boarding school, as a boy. That way she can learn how boys think, see, but things get a bit tricky when she falls for her hot roommate.
First sentence: My name is Natalie Rowan.
The Gathering, Kelley Armstrong (359 pages) – Maya has a paw-print birthmark on her hip. This is the only clue to her background, and who her birth parents were. Now strange things are happening in her town: unexplained deaths, and mountain lions are approaching her, plus there’s a sexy new guy in town complicating things. The first book in a new trilogy!
First sentence: Serena stood on the rock ledge twenty feet above the lake, singing in a voice known to bring tears to the eyes of everyone who heard it.