The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern (387 pages) -Le Cirque des Rêves is the name of the circus, and it is indeed only open at night. At night, in the circus, Celia and Marco are two young magicians who must compete against each other to be the best. They don’t know that the game they are bound to play is very real, with implications for the whole circus. When the two fall in love, what then happens to the competition?
Is possibly a bit like maybe: The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor; The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M Valente.
First sentence: The circus arrives without warning.
Is possibly a bit like maybe: The Iron Thorn, Caitlin Kittredge; The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson; Corsets & Clockwork: 13 steampunk romances
First sentence: The moment she saw the young man walking down the darkened hall toward her, twirling his walking stick, Finley Jayne knew she’d be unemployed before the sun rose.
Black Heart, Holly Black (296 pages) – the third book in the Curse Workers trilogy. Will there be another? “Cassel Sharpe knows he’s been used as an assassin, but he’s trying to put all that behind him. He’s trying to be good, even though he grew up in a family of con artists and cheating comes as easily as breathing to him. He’s trying to do the right thing, even though the girl he loves is inextricably connected with crime. And he’s trying to convince himself that working for the Feds is smart, even though he’s been raised to believe the government is the enemy. But with a mother on the lam, the girl he loves about to take her place in the Mob, and new secrets coming to light, the line between what’s right and what’s wrong becomes increasingly blurred. When the Feds ask Cassel to do the one thing he said he would never do again, he needs to sort out what’s a con and what’s truth. In a dangerous game and with his life on the line, Cassel may have to make his biggest gamble yet… this time on love.” (catalogue description)
Is possibly a bit like maybe: The Calling, Kelley Armstrong; City of Bones, Cassandra Clare
First sentence: My brother Barron sits next to me, sucking the last dregs of milk tea slush noisily through a wide yellow straw.
The Way We Fall, Megan Crewe (309 pages) – a strange virus attacks a small island community, killing many. Those that remain must fight for food, or starve. Grim! Kaelyn is one of the survivors, and she must join forces with a former rival to better her odds, while those around her she cares for slowly get sick. Can she find a way to save them?
Is possibly a bit like maybe: After the Snow, S D Crockett; Under the Never Sky, Veronica Rossi; Life as We Knew It, Susan Beth Pfeffer
First sentence: Leo, it’s about six hours since you left the island.
The Butterfly Clues, Kate Ellison (325 pages) – “Having experienced compulsive behavior all her life, Lo’s symptoms are getting her into trouble when she witnesses a murder while wandering dangerous quarters of Cleveland, Ohio, collecting things that do not belong to her, obsessing about her brother’s death.” Thank you catalogue! Sounds interesting.
First sentence: I spot her out of the corner of my eye and freeze.
Getting Over Garrett Delaney, Abby McDonald (319 pages) – Garrett Delaney is Sadie’s best friend. She’s awesomely in love with him, which is a bit of a shame. Especially when he rings from a summer literary retreat to say he’s fallen in love. Sadie must – as the title says – get over Garrett Delaney. A summer of reinventing herself is in order! Can she do it? Yes she can! (Maybe – read the book to find out!)
First sentence: You have to understand: I’ve been madly, hopelessly, tragically in love with Garrett Delaney for two years now – ever since the fateful day when I looked up from my list of the Top Ten Couples of All Time and saw him sauntering into the local coffeehouse.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson (423 pages) – “A fearful sixteen-year-old princess discovers her heroic destiny after being married off to the king of a neighboring country in turmoil and pursued by enemies seething with dark magic” says the catalogue. Elisa (the fearful, sixteen-year-old princess) has a lot on her plate! A good book for Tamora Pierce, or Sharon Shinn fans, maybe?
First sentence: Prayer candles flicker in my bedroom.
Perception, Kim Harrington (275 pages) – Clare (Clarity) is the school psychic, and when someone starts sending her mysterious messages and gifts she’s put on high alert. Who could they be from? Things take a dark turn when the messages become increasingly sinister, and a girl suddenly disappears.
First sentence(s): I stepped forward with forced confidence. “Let’s do this.”
It’s Wednesday! Here’s a small selection of interesting titles we’ve ordered recently. Reserve them if they take your fancy.
Soonchild, Russell Hoban (illustrated by Alexis Deacon). Russell Hoban, creator of Captain Najork and Aunt Fidget Wonkham-Strong, was once called “the strangest writer in Britain”. Sadly, he is retiring soon, and this is his second to last book! You must read it! In all seriousness, here’s what it’s about:
“Somewhere in the Arctic Circle, Sixteen-Face John, a shaman, learns that his first child, a soonchild, cannot hear the World Songs from her mother’s womb. The World Songs are what inspire all newborns to come out into the world, and John must find them for her. But how? The answer takes him through many lifetimes and many shape-shifts, as well as encounters with beasts, demons and a mysterious benevolent owl spirit, Ukpika, who is linked to John’s past…” (goodreads.com)
The Girl in the Steel Corset, Kady Cross. A steampunk romance! “In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one… except the ‘thing’ inside her. When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch… Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret. Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help – and finally be a part of something, finally fit in. But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on – even if it seems no one believes her.” (amazon.com)
Pure, Julianna Baggott. The first in a new dystopian series (the next one will be called Fuse, when it is published). This is the story of Pressia and Partridge. After a nuclear holocaust, people are - for the most part – horribly disfigured, and society corrupt. Pressia is one of the disfigured, Partridge is one of the “pure”. The Pure are the ones who made it to the Dome in time, their bodies unmarked. Inside the Dome Partridge is protected from the people who will burn him, as some type of living sacrifice. Pressia also has problems, since she’s come of age and must join the militia (as a soldier, if she’s physically capable, or as a “live target” if she’s not). When Partridge learns that his mother (who didn’t make it to the Dome) may still be alive, he makes the dangerous decision to venture out in search of her, and “when Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.”
Here are this week’s fortnight’s month’s new books, where I literally judge books by their covers.
Article 5, by Kristen Simmons (364 pages) – It is the near future and things have changed! The US has revoked its Bill of Rights, and replaced it with some ‘Moral Statutes’. Instead of police, law is enforced by soldiers, who don’t hesitate to arrest for bad behaviour. When Ember’s rebellious single mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes, she leaves her previously unassuming and safe life behind and becomes a rebel with a cause. The Handmaid’s Tale for teens maybe!
First lines: ‘Beth and Ryan were holding hands. It was enough to risk a formal citation for indecency, and they knew better, but I didn’t say anything.‘
The Catastrophic History of You and Me, by Jess Rothenberg (375 pages) – Brie is sixteen, and tastes great on crackers with quince. Just kidding! She is an actual human who is sixteen, and when her boyfriend tells her he doesn’t love her, she dies of a broken heart. And now, stuck in limbo, she must watch everyone deal with her death, while she too must go through the five stages of grief. Luckily (to balance the whole unluckily dying situation) she has the ghost of a boy who died in the 80s to help her.
First line: ‘There’s always that one guy who gets a hold on you. Not like your best friend’s brother who gets you in headlock kind of hold.’
What Boys Really Want, by Pete Hautman (297 pages) – Lita and Adam are both sixteen, and have been friends for ages. They try not to interfere with one anothers’ love lives, mistaken though they think the other is, but when Adam steals content from Lita’s anonymous blog for a self-help book he is writing, What Boys Really Want, things get hilariously complex.
First line: ‘The idea for the book came to me as a bunch of us were tubing down the Apple River on a nice, sunny day, the last weekend before school started.‘
The Survival Kit, by Donna Freitas(351 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Rose is popular! But when her mother dies, none of that matters so much. Rose’s late mother has left her a ‘Survival Kit’; an iPod, a picture of peonies, a crystal heart, a paper star, a box of crayons, and a tiny handmade kite. What can they mean? Well you will have to read the book won’t you.
First line: ‘I found it on the day of my mother’s funeral, tucked in a place she knew I would look. There is was, hanging with her favorite dress, the one I’d always wanted to wear.‘
Tiger’s Voyage, by Colleen Houck (543 pages) – This is book three in the Tiger’s Curse series. Books one and two are already in! I don’t recall seeing them, but they’re in the catalogue. And the catalogue never lies. Here’s what it says about this part of the series: ‘After battling the villanous Lokesh, Kelsey and the Indian princes Ren and Kishan return to India, where Kelsey learns that Ren has amnesia, and five cunning dragons try to keep the trio from breaking the curse that binds them.’
First line: ‘Behind the thick glass of his Mumbai penthouse office once again, Lokesh tried to control the incredible rage slowly circling through his veins.‘
Under the Never Sky, by Veronica Rossi (376 pages) – After some kind of ecological apocalypse, humanity splits – some live in the Reverie, a kind of haven from the storms that assault the planet, while others survive on the earth, mutated and living pretty primitive lives. Aria leaves the safety of the Reverie to find her missing mother, and meets Perry, an outsider who is also searching for someone. His mutation seems to be looking like a male model! They fall in love! A forbidden romance. ‘Should appeal to both teen and adult readers far beyond dystopia fans’, says Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.
First lines: ‘They called the world beyond the walls of the Pod “the Death Shop.” A million ways to die out there. Aria never thought she’d get so close.‘
Where Things Come Back, by John Corey Whaley (228 pages) – Here is what the catalogue says: ‘Seventeen-year-old Cullen’s summer in Lily, Arkansas, is marked by his cousin’s death by overdose, an alleged spotting of a woodpecker thought to be extinct, failed romances, and his younger brother’s sudden disappearance.’ However! There is a lot more to this multi-award winning book than just that short sentence!
First lines: ‘I was seventeen years old when I saw my first dead body It wasn’t my cousin Oslo’s. It was a woman who looked to have been around fifty or at least in her late forties.‘
Someone Else’s Life, by Katie Dale (485 pages) – Another book about a girl coping with her dead mum. Rosie learns that she might have inherited Huntington’s disease, which has recently killed her mother … or she might not, since she also learns that she was actually switched at birth. She discovers a secret that could ’shatter the lives of everyone around her,’ which can’t be much fun for Rosie, or the girl who might actually have inherited Huntington’s. Sounds grim.
First lines: ‘Sunlight dances over the little girl’s dark curls as she toddles clumsily through the dry grass.‘
Immortal Beloved, by Cate Tiernan (389 pages) – From the catalogue! ‘New name, new town, new life. Nastasya has done it too often to count. And there,s no end in sight. Nothing ever really ends . . . when you’re immortal.’ And now, from Youtube!
First line: ‘Last night my whole world came tumbling down. Now I’m running scared.‘
(We also have the sequel, Darkness Falls.)
Advent, by James Treadwell (439 pages) – This is book 1 in the ‘Advent Trilogy’. Gavin, a disenfranchised youth is sent to his eccentric aunt’s place in Cornwall. At the same time magic returns to the world, 500 years after it was locked away. Its return to the modern world is disruptive and not at all benign. And! Some reviews suggest that this could be the new Tolkien, so there you go.
First line: ‘On a wild night in deep winter in the year 1537, the greatest magus in the world gathered together and dismissed his household servants, wrapped himself in his travelling cloak, took his staff in one hand and in the other a small wooden box sealed with pitch and clasped with silver, and stepped out into the whirling sleet, bound for the harbour and - so he expected – immortality.‘
Hollow Pike, by James Dawson (314 pages) – Witchcraft! Horror! Lis London has nightmares that someone is trying to murder her. She dismisses the local legends of witchcraft but … should she? Probably not! This has been enjoyably reviewed on Amazon, where it gets a pretty good rating of 4.5 stars.
First line: ‘Lis knew she was dreaming, although this brought little comfort as the blood ran over her face.’
Here are the first batch of new books for the year. Please come and take them so we have some space on our shelves. But return them! And take some more! That is how libraries work.
Assault – Recon Team Angel, by Brian Faulkner (365 pages) – This is the first in a series set in the future (2030!) when we are at war with aliens. Recon Team Angel is an elite multinational group of teens who have been training for years. On X-Boxes, haha. Nah, joke. “Haha.” Their first mission; to sneak behind enemy lines and get into a top-secret alien facility.
First lines: ‘This is not a history book. The achievements of 4th Reconnaisannce Team (designation: Angel) of the Allied Combined Operation Group 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, from November 2030 through to July 2035, during the Great Bzadian War, are well documented by scholars and historians.‘
Equinox – The Rosie Black Chronicles Book Two, by Lara Morgan – It is five centuries into the future, most of Australia is submerged, and ‘Rosie’s dad is locked away, Pip has abandoned her, and Riley isn’t telling her the full story. Bent on revenge, Rosie is still working in secret to try and take down the evil Helios group. But what sacrifices is she prepared to make to destroy Helios?’ SO many names
First line: ‘Rosie took a steadying breath, licked her finger and touched it to her eye. The identification-distorter lens stuck to her skin and she lifted off her iris.‘
Stealing Phoenix, by Joss Stirling (265 pages) – Phoenix is part of a group of thieves with paranormal powers (they are quite cool but I won’t ruin it for you), and she is set to rob Yves Benedict, an American student visiting London. But lo! she discovers that he is ‘her destiny’ and ‘her soulmate’, and as there is no room for love amongst thieves, Phoenix must save herself and Yves. Which is pronounced like ‘Eve’ so you know.
First lines: ‘The boy seemed the perfect target. He stood at the back of a group taking the tour of the London Olympic stadium, attention on the construction vehicles beetling up the huge ramp to the athletes’ entrance, not on the thief watching him.‘
Outlaw, by Stephen Davies (236 pages) – Jake is fifteen and is sent to live with his parents in North Africa after getting into trouble one too many times at his English boarding school. Unfortunately he is kidnapped by Yakuuba Sor, the most wanted outlaw in the Sahara desert. Is he a terrorist or is he more like Robin Hood, without a forest?
First lines: ‘Jake Knight ran along the deserted towpath past Armley Mills and the Industrial Museum. It was two o’clock in the morning and he was so far out of bounds it was not even funny.‘
Good Fortune, by Noni Carter (489 pages) – Ayanna Bahati is brutally taken from her African village and brought to America, as a slave on a plantation. It’s a very dangerous life, but she’s able to secretely teach herself to read and write. Later she risks everything and escapes, heading north where she can be free and get an education; ‘can she shed the chains of her harrowing past to live the life she has longed for?‘
First lines: ‘His hand came down upon my cheek hard and fast. Stunned, I staggered backward.‘
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, by Jennifer E. Smith (236 pages) – Hadley is stuck at JFK airport after missing her flight to London. She meets Oliver, a Brit, who is also on the same flight as her. They talk and he’s pretty perfect, so they fall in love. Love! There when you least expect it, like a northerly gale in summer. Anyway, they lose track of each other once they land – can serendipity bring them back together? Is that the right word? A romantic comedy!
First line: ‘There are so many ways it could have all turned out differently.‘
Bittersweet, by Sarah Ockler (378 pages) – Hudson was a pretty swell ice skater, but when her parents divorced when she was fourteen, she ditches the sport and makes cupcakes for her mother’s upscale diner. But when she starts coaching the boys’ ice hockey team she rethinks her choices re: ice skating and taking chances with her life. Also a cute boy comes along.
First line: ‘It was the biggest competition night of my life, but all I could think about was the cheetah bra.‘
The Song of the Quarkbeast : A Last Dragonslayer Novel, by Jasper Fforde (290 pages) – This is the sequel to The Last Dragonslayer, which I didn’t read but DO know was very good. Fforde’s books are very difficult to put down, and why shouldn’t this be an exception.
First lines: ‘I work in the magic industry. I think you’ll agree it’s pretty glamorous: a life full of spells, potions and whispered enchantments; of levitation, vanishings and alchemy.‘
Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake (316 pages) – Cas Lowood kills the dead. He travels the country with his mother, a witch, and their spirit-sniffing cat, listening to local lore and legend. They go to kill a ghost called Anna Dressed in Blood (she’s covered in blood you know), who has killed everyone who has gone to get her. Except Cas, for some reason? Read to find out!
First line: ‘The grease-slicked hair is a dead giveaway – no pun intended.‘
Here is a pretty funny spoof trailer for The Hunger Games. Thanks for reading this far. I appreciate it.
Virtuosity, by Jessica Martinez (294 pages) – ‘Just before the most important violin competition of her career, seventeen-year-old prodigy Carmen faces critical decisions about her anti-anxiety drug addiction, her controlling mother, and a potential romance with her most talented rival,’ says the catalogue. Can’t beat the catalogue for a precise synopsis.
First line: ‘The balcony felt cold under my cheek.’
Paradise, by Joanna Nadin (262 pages) – Billie Paradise inherits her grandmother’s house, which is by the sea, and a definite improvement on the rental flat she lives in with her mum. But living in her mum’s childhood home dredges up secrets that might be best kept undregded. Buried. Underground.
First line: ‘We all have secrets.‘
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.
Could ghosts be the new vampires? Here at the teen blog we’ve recently noticed a whole bunch of interesting ghost stories are being published, some of them with Victorian, 19th-century sensibilities. Could this be the new black? we wonder. We will keep an eye out for more.
The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater (409 pages) – The Scorpio Races happen each year in November, where riders race waterhorses (presumably underwater). They’re a dangerous sport, and some riders don’t survive. Sean Kendrick has, he’s the current champion, back to defend his title. Then there’s Puck, who is going to be the first female rider ever, not fully aware of what she’s got herself in for. We’re thinking everyone’s going to get more than they bargained for.
First sentence: It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.
Human.4, Mike A. Lancaster (231 pages) – When Kyle volunteers to be hypnotised at a talent show, he doesn’t expect the world to be completely changed when he wakes up. Now everyone behaves like he doesn’t exist, and TVs and computers just display a weird language. So, is this a new real world, or is Kyle still lost in a nightmare?
First sentence (Kyle Straker’s First Tape): … Is this thing on?
Drink Slay Love, Sarah Beth Durst (386 pages) – (The title is an Eat, Pray, Love reference, if you hadn’t already noticed.) Pearl is your average run of the mill vampire until one day she is stabbed through the heart by a unicorn. Now she can be out in daylight, which is kind of useful for vampires, and her vampire family agrees, and puts Pearl to use, enrolling her in high school with the intention of luring innocent humans to the vampire King’s feast (as, you know, the feast). But Pearl starts having second thoughts – especially about one particular cute guy – and finds herself torn between having her friends killed and being killed herself.
First sentence: “One hour until dawn,” Pearl said.
The Summer I Learned to Fly, Dana Reinhardt (216 pages) – Drew is a loner who hangs out in her mother’s cheese shop and owns a pet rat. One day she meets Emmett, a boy with an endless amount of mysteries surrounding him, and begins her first real friendship. The cover says “[it's] about a cautious girl swept up by new feelings. It’s about a charismatic boy in search of a miracle. It’s about what happens when they find each other”, which is quite nice.
First sentence: For some people it’s the smell of sunblock.
He’s So Not Worth It, Kieran Scott (360 pages) – the sequel to She’s So Dead to Us. “Told in two voices, Allie and Jake continue to be bombarded by family issues and pressures from the “Cresties” and their poorer counterparts as they spend a summer dealing with the fallout of their breakup.” (Catalogue)
First sentence: I had imagined my reunion with my father so many times over the past two years, I had every last detail down.
Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake (316 pages) – Cas Lowood is a ghost-killer who travels the country with his mother and cat, following legends and stories to hunt down harmful ghosts and, well, kill them. They arrive in a new town on the trail of the ghost known as Anna Dressed in Blood, who has killed every person who has entered the house she haunts – except, mysteriously, she decides to spare Cas.
First sentence: The grease-slicked hair is a dead giveaway – no pun intended.
Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Laini Taylor (418 pages) – newly arrived, and featuring in our Most Wanted list: this one is “a sweeping and gorgeously written modern fantasy about a forbidden love, an ancient and epic battle, and hope for a world remade” (cover), which makes it sound fabulous!
First sentence: Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day.
A Long Long Sleep, Anna Sheehan (342 pages) – This is a kind of fairytale-meets-futuristic-semi-dystopian-tale, which sounds really interesting. Rosalinda Fitzroy’s mega rich parents organised for her to “sleep” for sixty years in a stasis tube. When she is kissed awake by a strange boy she discovers the world quite changed, and must reestablish herself. But when an assassin threatens her life, things are turned up a notch, and Rose is forced to uncover some past truths and face the deadly threat head on.
First sentence: I’d try to hold on to my stass dreams as long as I could.
Haunting Violet, Alyxandra Harvey (344 pages) – Set in the 19th century. Violet’s mother is a fake medium, who holds séances to relieve various willing members of society of their cash. But at one particular session Violet is confronted by the ghost of a murder victim, who won’t rest until the killer is brought to justice.
First sentence: I was nine years old when my mother decided it was time I took part in the family business.
VIII, H. M. Castor (399 pages) – Before he was Henry VIII he was Hal; young, dashing and handsome, and destined to become one of the most famous kings of England (not necessarily for all the right reasons). VIII tells the story of young Hal, tormented by his family’s ghosts and convinced of his path to lead his country. This has good reviews!
First sentence: I’m still half asleep when I feel strong hands grabbing me.
So Silver Bright, Lisa Mantchev (356 pages) – the concluding Act in the quirky, effervescent trilogy that began with Eyes Like Stars, So Silver Bright sees Bertie on the up and up, having rescued Nate from Sedna, and having discovered the identity of her father, the Scrimshander. Now she must try and reunite him with her mother, Ophelia, so they can be a family. But of course, things can’t go to plan: her father has disappeared, Sedna’s on the loose, and the Theatre Illuminata and her mother are on the verge of collapse. Plus: Nate, or Ariel?
First sentence: It is a nipping and an eager air.
Dark Parties, Sara Grant (313 pages) – Neva has lived in Homeland her whole life, told that the rest of the earth is just wasteland. But this is a lie! Neva is aware of The Missing, people who vanish without warning. She and her friend Sanna decide to start an underground rebellion, to uncover the truths the government has been hiding, but is Neva in danger of becoming one of The Missing?
First sentence: I’m standing in the dark, not the gentle gray of dusk or the soft black of a moonlit night but pitch-black.
Compuls1on, Heidi Ayarbe (297 pages) – Jake is obsessed with prime numbers, and this obsession lends him some sort of magic – it’s what keeps his family safe, and makes him so brilliant at football, and it’s what’s going to make his team state soccer champions for the third year in a row (3 = a prime number). He is sure that this final game of the season will set the magic free from the numbers, and he won’t be a freak – but what if this doesn’t happen? A story about obsessive compulsive disorder, obvs.
First sentence: Tanya Reese’s Tinker Bell taattoo flits on her pale shoulder, blowing on a dandelion, its fluff spiraling down on her back.
Following Christopher Creed, Carol Plum-Ucci (405 pages) – sequel to The Body of Christopher Creed. A body is found in Steepleton (could it be Christopher Creed?), so college reporter Mike Mavic ups stakes and moves there to follow the story, convinced this is his big break. What he finds, however, is a suffering town (unexplained sickness, accidents), and Justin Creed, Christopher’s brother, who is also obsessed with uncovering the truth of his disappearance.
First sentence: It happened on a dark and stormy night.
(we do love dark and stormy nights in first sentences)
Lola and the Boy Next Door, Stephanie Perkins (338 pages) – Lola’s life seems perfect. She’s a designer with an outrageous sense of style, and she has a hot boyfriend. But then (there’s always a but then) the Bell twins move back to the house next door, one of the twins being Cricket (yes, Cricket), a gifted inventor, and the boy Lola has unacknowledged feelings for.
First sentence: I have three simple wishes.
Cold Kiss, Amy Garvey (292 pages) – When Wren’s boyfriend Danny dies, she’s determined to bring him back… and so she does. Trouble is, new Danny is nothing like old Danny: “his touch is icy; his skin, smooth and stiff as marble; his chest, cruelly silent when Wren rests her head against it” (salute to Edward?). Wren tries to keep him a secret, but Gabriel DeMarnes arrives in town. He can sense her power and somehow knows what she’s done, and wants to help her, but only Wren can undo what she’s done.
First sentence: I wasn’t thinking about falling in love the day I met Danny Greer.
And finally for this week, two retellings:
Falling for Hamlet, Michelle Ray (348 pages) – Hamlet updated! Ophelia is a high school senior and girlfriend of Prince Hamlet, son of the Danish king. Her life seems glamorous, but there’s the paparazzi, and the controlling royals, and then the suspicious death of the king. Hamlet starts acting oddly – madly – and Ophelia finds herself isolated, and wishing for a normal life (preferably not in a nunnery).
First sentence: Hamlet’s father had the kind of laugh that made wineglasses vibrate and clink of the staff set them too close together, and Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, loved to hear it so much that she went to great lengths to provoke it.
Dark of the Moon, Tracy Barrett (310 pages) – “Retells the story of the minotaur through the eyes of his fifteen-year-old sister, Ariadne, a lonely girl destined to become a goddess of the moon, and her new friend, Theseus, the son of Athens’ king who was sent to Crete as a sacrifice to her misshapen brother.” (catalogue!)
First sentence: It isn’t true what they say about my brother – that he ate those children.
If you love a good thriller, then read on! (There’s a few in here.) There’s also some fantasy, reality, and the all-conquering supernatural romance.
Heart of Danger, Fleur Beale (315 pages) – The third in the Juno series, so if you’ve read Juno of Taris and Fierce September make sure you read this! ”Juno and her family arrive at their new home, but almost immediately danger threatens Hera and they move to Willem’s protection in New Plymouth, the city Juno most hoped to avoid. Fairlands school is too like Taris, and Hilto’s son Thomas is a pupil there. The handsome Ivor is also there and soon begins to pay attention to Juno in a way she finds both confusing and exciting. Juno’s special mind powers are called upon to help her save Hera.” (from the publisher). Romance for Juno?
First sentence: A girl about the same age as me stood on our doorstep.
Fury of the Phoenix, Cindy Pon (359 pages) – Ai Ling joins Chen Yong on his quest to find his father, but she’s plagued by the knowledge that Zhong Ye the sorcerer is not in fact dead, but trapped in Hell and still a threat, particularly to Chen Yong. The sequel to Silver Phoenix.
First sentence: Chen Yong was already on board the ship.
The Fox Inheritance, Mary E Pearson (294 pages) – If you’ve read The Adoration of Jenna Fox you know what happened to Jenna, but what about Locke and Kara? Two hundred and sixty years on from the accident Locke and Kara are brought back to life in new manufactured bodies. They’re haunted by 200+ years of memories of being trapped in a digital netherworld, and having to adjust to a new world knowing nobody (except Jenna).
First sentence: My hands close around the heavy drape, twisting it into a thick cord.
All These Things I’ve Done, Gabrielle Zevin (351 pages) – in a New York of the future, Anya is given an impossible choice by the District Attorney after being arrested for attempted murder. She must choose between her family’s safety and the boy she loves. Things are complicated: the boy she loves is the DA’s son, and her family is really involved in organised crime.
First sentence: The night before junior year – I was sixteen, barely - Gable Arsley said he wanted to sleep with me.
Okay for Now, Gary D. Schmidt (360 pages) – at the end of the book someone says “Haven’t you ever heard of New Zealand?”. We want to know why! Anyway, this one is set in 1968 in New York state and features Doug Swieteck, as first seen in The Wednesday Wars. Everyone’s on a mission in 1968, the Apollo shuttles are on missions to space, the US army are on missions in Vietnam, and Doug’s on a mission discovering a passion for art, and other life lessons.
First sentence: Joe Pepitone once gave me his New York Yankees baseball cap.
Death Sentence, Alexander Gordon Smith (261 pages) – this is book three in the Escape From Furnace series, in which Alex is bearing the consequences of his second attempt at escape from Furnace Penitentiary. Horrifyingly, the warden is injecting him with stuff, turning him into a “superpowered minion of Furnace” (<3 the description). So now Alex must excape not so much the prison outside, but the prison inside.
First sentence: I died in that room.
Shut Out, Kody Keplinger (273 pages) – a reimagining of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, set in an American high school. The football (American) team and soccer (football) team are serious rivals, to the point of school wars. Lissa, girlfriend of the QB, is sick of it all, so she decides to lead the girlfriends in a revolt. Trouble is, this develops into a new war, girls against boys, and the leader of the boys (Cash) is quite distracting. The author’s website (complete with book trailer) is here.
Die for Me, Amy Plum (341 pages) – the first in a new supernatural trilogy. After the death of her parents, Kate and her sister Georgia move to Paris to live with their grandparents. There, Kate meets Vincent, who’s dreamy, but also not your normal human being. He’s a ___________ (couldn’t possibly say), and he has dangerous enemies, and this means danger for Kate and her family too.
First sentence: The first time I had seen the statue in the fountain, I had no idea what Vincent was.
Texas Gothic, Rosemary Clement-Moore (404 pages) – Amy Goodnight’s family are witches, surrounded by friendly spirits. But when she and her sister go to look after their Aunt’s ranch, they encounter a not-so-friendly spirit. It appears there’s a ghostly uprising. Something dangerous is going on “deep in the heart of Texas” (back cover). So Amy, Phin (her sister) and Ben (handsome cowboy) must investigate.
First sentence: The goat was in the tree again.
Paper Covers Rock, Jenny Hubbard (181 pages) – When Alex is unable to save a schoolmate from drowning, he and his friend Glenn (a witness) decide to lie about what happened. But Alex is plagued by guilt, and works through it by writing poetry in his journal. His English teacher, Miss Dovecott, decides to nurture his growing talent, but it’s possible she knows something about what happened – at least Glenn thinks something’s up.
First sentence: When my dad gave me this journal two years ago and said “Fill it with your impressions,” I imagine he had a more idyllic portrait of boarding school life in mind.
Shift, Em Bailey (304 pages) – Olive has made a clean break from the group of friends that got her into so much trouble. Then she notices that there’s a new girl, Miranda, making friends with her former best friend. But there’s something creepy about Miranda, and terrible rumours are circulating about her. What if they are true? Will anyone believe Olive’s suspicions?
First sentence: There were two things everyone knew about Miranda Vaile before she’d even started at our school.
Choker, Elizabeth Woods (233 pages) – Cara is a loner who’s been bullied at school, so she’s happy to be reunited with Zoe, a childhood friend. But then a girl goes missing, and Zoe starts acting strangely: can Cara trust her?
First sentences: “Come out, come out, little frog. We’ve made you a nest. It’s under a log.”
Two angels to end:
Angelfire, Courtney Allison Moulton (453 pages) – “A seventeen-year-old girl discovers she has the reincarnated soul of an ancient warrior destined to battle the reapers–monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell.” (catalogue)
First sentence: I stared out the classroom window and longed for freedom, wanting to be anywhere in the world other than gaping up at my economics teacher like the rest of my classmates.
Angel Burn, L. A. Weatherly (449 pages) – “In a world where angels are fierce stalkers whose irresistible force allows them to feed off humans and drain them of their vitality, a ruthless teenaged assassin of angels falls in love with a half-angel half-human girl, with devastating consequences.” (catalogue) This is the sequel to Angel.
First sentence: “Is that your car?” asked the girl at the 7-Eleven checkout counter.
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!’