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!’
This post is MASSIVE. Lots of new books, you see.
Thyla, by Kate Gordon (279 pages) – Amnesia, Tasmania, and identity; these are the three subject headings for this book which I think might have an element of the paranormal? Some girls are missing from a school, and it’s all a bit mysterious; the protaganist, Tessa, was found in the bush, living feral and without memory of who she was. Anyway! It gets a glowing review on Amazon. And a sequel is on the way.
First lines: ‘My name is Tessa. It was the one thing I knew for certain. the one word that stood lonely in my head when the lights were turned on.‘
Cloaked, by Alex Finn (341 pages) – This is by the author of Beastly (recently released as a film) and, similarly, is a modern retelling of a fairy tale. Teenager Johnny, who repairs shoes in Miami, is asked by a princess (or someone named Princess? I need to research more) for help to find her brother who has been turned into a toad. That’s like two fairy tales right there.
First lines: ‘I’ve never seen a princess before. And it looks like I won’t be seeing one today either.‘
Recovery Road, by Blake Nelson – A pair of teenaged addicts meet up in rehab, and form a relationship that they try to continue once they’re out again. Of course, both have inner demons and so their relationship is put to the test. Will it last? Will they stay on the wagon?
First lines: ‘You can’t tell what Spring Meadow is from the road. The sign, nestled beneath a large oak tree, could be for a retirement village.’
Phantoms in the Snow, by Kathleen Benner Duble (226 pages) – Newly orphaned Noah, whose parents raised him to be a pacifist, is sent to live with his uncle. He – the uncle – lives on an army base in Colorado, where a division of winter warfare soldiers train. They are called Phantoms, as you can’t see them in the snow. Oh and it’s 1944! So Noah needs to ‘resolve his upbringing with the horrors of World War II’ while on an army base and on the front lines in Italy.
First line: ‘Noah Garrett sat on the kitchen chair and listened to the rhythmic ticking of the hall clock echoing through the nearly empty rooms of his house and to the two lowered voices coming from behind the hastily shut door, the minister’s gentle and quiet, his neighbour’s shrill and determined.‘
Throat, R. A. Nelson (453 pages) – Emma is seventeen and has epilepsy, and her seizures are unpredictable and often. She’s lost friends and can’t even legally drive. One unexpected benefit (I guess?) is that when she’s attacked by a vampire, a seizure prevents him from killing her, and she escapes. Now she has all the powers of a vampire but without having to avoid sunlight or drink blood. The original vampire is determined to make a meal of her, though, and Emma must prepare … for a fight to the death!
First line: ‘When I was thirteen, I ran away from home because of a curse.‘
Corsets & Clockwork : 13 Steampunk Romances, edited by Trisha Telep (437 pages) – Imagine the Victorian era, but with high tech and technomagical machinery, and ‘feisty heroines and genius inventors, supernatural outcasts and idealistic heroes’. Hold that image. Now, add a little romance, and there you have it! Steampunk romance.
First line: ‘There are millions of stories in the Clockwork City; here are thirteen of them.‘
Shadowspell, by Jenna Black (295 pages) – This is the second installment in the Faeriewalker series (the first is Glimmerglass). Aaaaaand here’s what the catalogue says; ‘on top of spending most of her time in a bunkerlike safe house and having her dates hijacked by a formidable Fae bodyguard, Faeriewalker Dana Hathaway is in for some more bad news: the Erlking and his pack of murderous minions known as the Wild Hunt have descended upon Avalon.’ Uh oh!
First line: ‘Going on a date with a bodyguard hanging over your shoulder sucks.‘
Crossing the Tracks, by Barbara Stuber (258 pages) – Missouri, 1926, and fifteen-year-old Iris is hired out to be a companion and housekeeper for an elderly woman. Alone, and stuck in the ‘gritty rural’ country, where a nearby farmer is menacing everyone, she finds herself and learns to ‘trust, hope, and – ultimately – love’.
First lines: ‘I’m under Mama’s coffin. My little house in the centre of the parlour has silky black curtain walls and a hard ceiling that I can touch with the top of my head if I sit cross-legged and stretch my neck.’
Entwined, by Heather Dixon (472 pages) – After their mother dies, Princess Azalea and her 11 princess sisters are locked in a castle to mourn her death. Each night they join The Keeper for a dance in a magical silver forest, accessible via a magical passage. But soon they discover that he likes to keep things. The clue’s in the name, your highnesses!
First line: ‘ An hour before Azalea’s first ball began, she paced the ballroom floor, tracing her toes in a waltz.‘
Demonglass, by Rachel Hawkins (359 pages) – Sophie thought she was just a witch, but she is actually a demon, and her powers threaten everyone. SO she heads to London in an attempt to have her powers removed. The Eye, the organisation out to rid the world of ‘Prodigum’ (i.e. magic users, faeries, and shapeshifters) are also on her tail. Her pointy devil tail. (Made that up.)
First line: ‘At a normal high school, having class outside on a gorgeous May day is usually pretty awesome.’
What Happened to Goodbye, by Sarah Dessen (402 pages) – Mclean and her father are always on the move, going from town to town and from school to school. At each stop she reinvents herself, but now, at Lakeview, she’s trying to be just herself. Mclean. Not anyone else. Partly because she meets and falls for Colgate (just kidding! his name is Dave) and he falls for the real Mclean, whoever that is. Are your Mcleans showing?
First line: ‘The table was sticky, there was a cloudy smudge on my water glass, and we’d been seated for ten minutes with no sign of a waitress.‘
Bumped, by Megan McCafferty (232 pages) – It is the future! And all people over 18 are infertile. As a consequence, teen girls are paid to conceive and give birth to peoples’ kids, and teens become the most prized members of society. Twins Melody and Harmony, were separated at birth; Melody has an ‘enviable conception contract’ and Harmony believes ‘pregging for profit’ is a sin. But they soon find they have more in common than just DNA.
First lines: ‘I’m sixteen. Pregnant. And the most important person on the planet.‘
The Marbury Lens, by Andrew Smith (358 pages) – This seems complex! So here’s the catalogue summary; ‘Sixteen-year-old Jack is kidnapped. He escapes, narrowly. The only person he tells is his best friend, Conner. When they arrive in London for summer break, a stranger hands Jack a pair of glasses. Through the lenses, he sees another world called Marbury.’
(Fantastic!) first line: ‘I guess in the old days, in other places, boys like me usually ended up twisting and kicking in the empty air beneath gallows.‘
Timeless, by Alexandra Monir (290 pages) – Michele’s parents die (lots of orphans this week!) and she is sent to live with her rich-but-distant grandparents in New York. She discovers a diary which transports her back to 1910. Literally!
First line: ‘Michele stood alone in the centre of a hall of mirrors.‘
Now over to Grimm for mooooooore new books.
Keep Sweet, by Michele Dominguez Greene (215 pages) – Alva Jane’s family are Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, and it’s a rather large family: 29 brothers and sisters, and a father with seven wives. She doesn’t question her life, until she’s caught innocently kissing her crush and is forced into a marriage to a fifty year old man.
First sentence: ‘I closed my eyes at the memory of Joseph John’s face, flushed with excitement as he whispered those words to me – the words that changed my life forever.’
Stay, by Deb Caletti (313 pages) – Clara is caught in an unhealthy obsessive relationship with Christian, until she escapes and leaves town. Noone knows where she is, but she is still unable to feel safe, fearing he might find her.
First sentence: ‘First off, I’ve never told this story to anyone.’
Jenna & Jonah’s Fauxmance, by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin (229 pages) – Charlie and Fielding are stars of the show Jenna & Jonah’s How to Be a Rock Star, and it’s a raging hit. Part of the charm of the show is Charlie and Fielding’s “relationship”, so they are to hold hands and kiss and whatnot when they’re out in public. Trouble is, they hate each other. Then when a paparazzo gets hold of a rumour that could ruin everything for them and they have to lie low for a while they finally get to find out more about each other: will this be a good thing or an even worse thing?
First sentence: ‘I will never like a boy like Fielding Withers (and, yes, I know I used the word “like” twice in one sentence, but meaning different things).’
Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys (338 pages) – In 1941 in Lithuania Lina and her mother and brother are captured by Soviet guards and shipped off to Siberia, not knowing if they will see their father again (and it’s thousands and thousands of kilometres). The story is based on first hand accounts of survivors of the Siberian deportations.
First sentence: ‘They took me in my nightgown.’
The Ghoul Next Door, by Lisi Harrison (241 pages) – from the author of The Clique series, this is the first in the Monster High series. “Freak is the new chique” says the back cover! Cleopatra De Nile is used to being in charge at Merston High, but now there’s Frankie Stein and Melody Carver to contend with: her popularity is seriously in danger, but then Frankie and Melody have their own issues as well.
First sentence: ‘The amber-infused air snapped with anxiety.’
Livvie Owen Lived Here, by Sarah Dooley (229 pages) – Livvie is autistic and has frequent outbursts, causing trouble for her family: her destructive tendencies mean they’re constantly on the move. When they are faced again with eviction, Livvie decides to search out the house where she felt happy: “The problem is, Livvie burned down that house” says the cover.
First sentence: ‘I heard the whistle blast at 9.15.’
A box of chocolates: horror, angels, love triangles, the origins of a New York icon, memoirs of addiction, high fantasy, gritty realism, dramas, and short stories, oh and chimpanzees again!
We All Fall Down: Living With Addiction, and Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines, by Nic Sheff – Two memoirs with rave reviews on the subject of drug addiction, and companions to the book Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff. On Tweak: “The author details his immersion in a world of hardcore drugs, revealing the mental and physical depths of addiction, and the violent relapse one summer in California that forever changed his life, leading him down the road to recovery.” (Library catalogue)
Half Brother, Kenneth Oppel (377 pages) – Oh fab! Ben’s father is a behavioural scientist, and on Ben’s 13th birthday, Zan comes to live with the family, as an experiment: Zan is a chimpanzee. Cool, you’d think. Well yes indeed!, although having a chimpanzee for a half-brother can have its hairy moments, and then when things start going wrong can Ben save Zan? (From what, I want to know, hoping it’s not horrible, and that it has a happy ending like the Chimpanzee movie.)
First sentence: This is how we got Zan.
Angry Young Man, Chris Lynch (167 pages) – Xan (not to be confused with Zan) is an angry young man, becoming increasingly involved in hard-core activism and groups of anarchists. Robert, his older brother, is completely different, steady and together. But when Xan appears to spiral out of control will Robert be able to rescue him, and is Robert such a solid, dependable hero anyway?
First sentence: I want you to understand my brother.
Huntress, Malinda Lo (371 pages) – High fantasy (complete with map) inspired by the I Ching, and prequel (by several centuries) to Ash, in Huntress the human kingdom is suffering: the sun never shines and strange creatures have begun appearing. Two seventeen year old girls are chosen to go on a dangerous journey to save the kingdom. Along the way they fall in love, but then it becomes clear that there should only be one Huntress saviour: will they be torn apart?
First sentence: She saw a beach made of ice, and she felt her heart breaking.
Summer and the City, Candace Bushnell (409 pages) – sequel to The Carrie Diaries and therefore also prequel to Sex and the City. Carrie’s having a good summer, enjoying the shopping, the parties, and the men the Big Apple provide, plus she’s in a writing class learning what will become her trade. During the summer she will meet two of her BFFs, Samantha and Miranda, and become more Carrie Bradshaw-ish.
First sentence: First Samantha asks me to find her shoe.
Dramarama, E Lockhart (305 pages) – Sadye (Sarah) and Demi (Douglas) become instant best friends when they meet at the auditions for a prestigious drama camp. When they both get in things look exciting – the chance to study under one of New York’s leading directors, for example, but it’s drama camp in more ways than one: can their friendship survive?
First sentence: Transcript of a microcassette recording: Demi: Is it on?
We’ll Always Have Summer, Jenny Han (291 pages) – the conclusion to the trilogy that began with The Summer I Turned Pretty. Belly and Jeremiah have been together for two years. Things should be happily ever after, but they aren’t really. Belly has unresolved feelings for Conrad, and when Jeremiah proposes marriage she must choose between the two, possibly breaking one of their hearts in the process. Obviously you must read this if you’ve read the others! And bring a hankie!
First sentence: On Wednesday nights when I was little, my mom and I would watch old musicals.
The Saga of Larten Crepsley: Ocean of Blood, Darren Shan (247 pages) – The prequel to Cirque Du Freak, where you get to learn more about Larten: what he was like as a teenager, rebelling against vampire authorities and hitting the road with his brother, leaving a trail of human destruction behind them. But are there dangers for him in this wanton, destructive lifestyle?
First sentence: The vampire known as Quicksilver threw a knife high into the smoke-clogged air of the tavern.
Fallen Angel, Heather Terrell (310 pages) – Ellie is shy and withdrawn around everyone except her friend Ruth, until she meets Michael. Together, she and Michael discover they have a similar secret: otherworldly powers, which will come in handy when they’re pitched into the eternal conflict, the battle between good and evil.
First sentence: I watched my curtains billow in the early autumn wind that wafted through my opened bedroom window.
Virgin Territory, Jame Lecesne (218 pages) – Set around the time of September 11 2001. Dylan’s father moves the family from New York to a small Florida town after the death of his mother. Dylan finds himself drifting through summer, losing a sense of his future while his past – and memories of his mother – appears to fade. When the Blessed Virgin Mary is sighted in town, interesting new arrivals bring a new perspective for Dylan: can he forge ahead and carve out a new future for himself?
First sentence: I’m staring out the passenger window of Doug’s banged-up Ford Explorer as we speed along I-95.
The Kissing Game: Short Stories, Aidan Chambers (215 pages) – including several pieces of flash fiction, which we like as a concept. The cover says, “In these sixteen short stories, acclaimed author Aidan Chambers examines moments of truth in which a conversation or an event suddenly reveals a surprising, sometimes life-altering meaning.”
First sentence (’Cindy’s Day Out’): Enough! she said to herself.
A Match Made in High School, Kristin Walker (278 pages) – some bright spark teacher at Fiona’s high school has decided to make her class do the mother of all social experiments/class projects called “Trying the Knot”: they have to be “married” for a year, and the mandatory pairings produce a story that is “laugh-out-loud funny, unpredictable, and fresh”, says Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
First sentence: I should have known.
The Sweet Life of Stella Madison, Lara M Zeises (228 pages) – read this if you like culinary things. Stella is the daughter of a famous chef (father) and restaurant owner (mother), but she’s more into food of the fast variety, so when she lands a summer job as a food writer she’s in for a challenge. But the summer also brings on other challenges of the relationship variety, with her own confused romances, and the lives of her separated parents.
Last line: “So what’s for dinner?” I say. “I’m starving.”
Leverage, Joshua C Cohen (425 pages) – the author is a gymnast and acrobat: the photo on the back cover proves it to be so. Anyhow Leverage is about the cauldron of high school sport, and the friendship between the school fullback (American football has fullbacks: Friday Night Lights taught me so) and a gymnast that grows out of the wake of what the book calls a “violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war”. [Edited to add: It's not for the faint hearted.]
First sentence: The high bar’s chalky bite threatens to rip the yellowed calluses right off my palms at the bottom of the swing, where the pull is heaviest.
The Iron Witch, Karen Mahoney (289 pages) – Donna Underwood needs Harry Potter as a mentor! Practically an orphan after the fey attacked and killed her father and drove her mother mad, she’s left with injuries that are magically fixed, but her hands and arms are covered with iron tattoos. Which makes her a powerful weapon in the war between humans and fairies. So, when her best friend is abducted by wood elves, Donna must accept her fate in order to save her friend (with the help of the gorgeous Xan).
First sentence: My father died saving my life when I was seven years old.
Abandon, Meg Cabot (292 pages) – A new Meg Cabot series! Following an accident (and while being worked on by hospital staff) Pierce died briefly and visited the Underworld, where she met a mysterious boy. The following year, a mysterious boy shows up at her school: the same mysterious boy. He wants to take her back. You might learn something about Persephone and Greek mythology while reading.
First sentence: Anything can happen in the blink of an eye.
The Dark Flight Down, Marcus Sedgwick (234 pages) – the conclusion to The Book of Dead Days. Boy and Willow are held captive in the Emperor Frederick’s palace where they are in constant danger, and must follow a “deadly trail” that will lead them to the Phantom. A gothic fantasy thriller.
First sentence: Midnight at the Imperial Court of Emperor Frederick III.
Chime, Franny Billingsley (361 pages) – Briony is a witch, a fact that she keeps secret on pain of death. She thinks herself to be dark and evil, until Eldric arrives and refuses to believe there is anything bad about her. Can his faith in her save her from death or insanity? “A wild, haunting mystery and romance,” says the cover.
First sentence: I’ve confessed to everything and I’d like to be hanged.
Afterlife, Claudia Gray (360 pages) – over to you, back cover: “Packed with romance, suspense and page-turning drama, Afterlife delivers a heart-stopping conclusion that won’t disappoint the many fans who have made the Evernight series such a runaway success.” So yes basically, if you’ve been reading Evernight you must read this one!
First sentence: “Sunrise is coming,” Balthazar said.
Still Sucks to be Me, Kimberly Pauley (374 pages) – Mina is a teen vampire, who has had to fake her own death in order to deal with the whole never-aging problem. Sensible! So, she’s had to move to a new town, without her bff and her boyfriend, where she finds herself in relationship tangles that even “vampire superstrength” can’t sort. The sequel to Sucks to be Me.
First sentence: I, Mina Hamilton, am officially dead.
Blink & Caution, Tim Wynne-Jones (342 pages) – cool cover (there are, like, bullet holes)! Blink and Caution are actually people, on the run (separately) until they run into each other, with Blink the unfortunate only witness to a crime and Caution escaping from her drug-dealer boyfriend. Can they work together to get out of their messes, and maybe perhaps begin an unlikely friendship?
First sentence: Look up at the Plaza Regent, Blink, in the shivery morning light.
We are inundated! Make sure you come into the library these holidays and take some off our hands. This batch is brought to you by the last sentence this time! (Except for when it would be totally giving it away.)
The Lying Game, Sara Shepard (307 pages) – from the author of the Pretty Little Liars series, currently gracing TV2 on Sunday night(ish)es. Emma’s long lost twin sister, the narrator, has died (murdered!), and Emma wants to know what happened, so she takes on the dead narrator’s life, including boyfriend and parents and whatnot. This could be dangerous, with the murderer on the loose.
Last sentence: I’ll see you in the morning… even though you won’t see me.
Strings Attached, Judy Blundell (310 pages) – who wrote What I Saw and How I Lied. This also is set in a historical context, this time the 1950s in New York, where Kit Corrigan is a struggling chorus girl in a Broadway show, who becomes involved with Billy and his father Nate, who is a mob lawyer. Love, deceit, intrigue, and murder, says the cover. Intriguing!
Last sentence(s): Or on an ordinary day, nothing sinister. Nothing noble. Just balloons.
Winter Longing, Tricia Mills (266 pages) – Sob! Winter finally declares her love for Spencer, *and then he dies in a plane crash*. A story of grief, and what it’s like to come through devastation.
First sentence: The drone of a plane engine stopped me in my tracks, and adrenaline surged through my veins.
Alabama Moon, Watt Key (294 pages) – Moon is raised by his father in the Alabama wilderness. When his father dies, Moon finds himself having to adjust to living in an institution. This is also a movie, available on DVD.
Last sentence: “You don’t need to worry about me.”
Desires of the Dead, Kimberly Derting (355 pages) – Violet can sense the dead, and can also tell who killed them. Naturally she’d rather people didn’t know, but she becomes the subject of interest. At the same time, she becomes interested in her boyfriend’s best friend’s tragic past, and stumbles across a deadly secret.
Last sentence: “I think we’re gonna be late,” she whispered, surrendering at last.
Mad Love, Suzanne Selfors (323 pages) – Alice’s mother is a romance novelist. When her mother is secretly admitted to the psychiatric ward of a hospital Alice must maintain the illusion that things are still trucking along as normal, which involves lying to her (Alice’s) boyfriend, answering fan mail… and then writing the next best seller! Luckily (maybe?) she meets a guy who says he’s Cupid and would like her to write about his tragic love with Psyche…
Last sentence: Or the one beating inside our hearts, waiting to be set free.
Wither, Lauren DeStefano (358 pages) – a dystopian world where a virus causes males live to the age of 25 and females to just 20. To ensure the survival of the human race therefore girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous relationships in order to have lots of babies. Rhine is married to Linden, who seems okay, but she’s determined to escape (as you would be).
Last sentence: This time, I don’t know where the light will guide us.
Fishtailing, Wendy Phillips (196 pages) – a novel in verse. “Through a series of poems written for English class, interspersed with teacher comments and letters to and from parents, high school students Natalie, Tricia, Kyle, and Miguel describe their lives.” (catalogue)
Last sentence: I smell spring.
Mortal Kiss, Alice Moss (343 pages) – Faye and her friend Liz have to work out what’s going on in their town: there’s a dead body, a motorcycle gang, and the fact that it doesn’t stop snowing. Could these things be related to the fact that there are two new arrivals, “smouldering Finn and sexy Lucas”?
Last sentence: It shook the frost from its fur once, and then trotted out of the open door, disappearing into the dense forest outside.
The Big Crunch, Pete Hautman (280 pages) – “This is a love story for people not particularly biased toward romance” says the cover. The crowd cheers! June* and Wes have an everyday sort of relationship, where you’re not really sure if it’s love, you’re not sure what’s going to happen, you do some stuff you wish you hadn’t, and you might not exactly smoulder.
First sentence: The first time Wes saw June, he thought she was kind of funny-looking.
* Trivia: the cover blurb says she’s *Jen* but she’s not, we checked.
Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins (372 pages) – romantic tension in Paris, where Anna (against her will, go figure) goes to spend a year at school, leaving behind her almost-boyfriend and meeting the marvelous Etienne St Clair Smart who, problematically, has an actual-girlfriend.
First sentence: Here is everything I know about France: Madeline and Amélie and Moulin Rouge.
Across the Universe, Beth Revis (398 pages) – this one has an almost retro sci-fi type of cover (which you can’t tell much from the pic over there). Amy is cryogenically frozen, to wake 300 years into the future on a new planet, however her cryo chamber is unplugged and she’s stuck on her spaceship, Godspeed, with the scary Eldest and his son Elder, knowing that someone is trying to kill her.
First sentence: Daddy said, ‘let Mom go first.’
Matched, Ally Condie (366 pages) – The matching screen is a device used by society’s officials to determine who is matched with whom for life. Cassia’s best friend flashes up on the matching screen for her, perfect, she thinks, until she sees another face appear fleetingly. Cassia must choose between two lives, between “perfection and passion”.
First sentence: Now that I’ve found the way to fly, which direction should I go into the night?
Birth of a Killer, Darren Shan (253 pages) – a new series from the horror man! Larten is a young man all alone, until he meets Seba Nile, who teaches him all about being a vampire, but will Larten turn his back on being human and embrace this new world?
First sentence: When Larten Crepsley awoke and yawned one grey Tuesday morning, he had no idea that by midday he would have become a killer.
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, Julie Halpern (245 pages) – Things are changing in Jessie’s world, her friends are getting cooler (she’s not), so she’s on the lookout for a new set of friends. But can she befriend the Dungeons and Dragons crowd without being tainted with their geekdom?
First sentence: I so used to love the first day of school.
The Radleys, Matt Haig (337 pages) – the humorous side of abstaining from being a vampire. The Radleys are a fairly average family (two parents, two kids) living in a fairly average British town, except for the one thing (they’re vampires, but they’re abstaining). Then Uncle Will arrives, the black sheep of the family, and he’s going to shake things up a bit.
First sentence: It is a quiet place, especially at night.
Yellowcake, Margo Lanagan (235 pages) – Ten short stories from one of Australia’s literary fantasy queens.
First sentence (from ‘The Point of Roses’) – Billy flew into the kitchen.
Angel, L A Weatherly (507 pagtes) – Willow doesn’t know what she is, just that she’s different. Alex does know what she is, and that they are enemies. An “epic tale of love, destiny and sacrifice.” With angels, obvs.
First sentence: “Is that your car?” asked the girl at the 7-Eleven checkout counter.
Not That Kind of Girl, Siobhan Vivian (322 pages) – Natalie is the good, bright girl in school, but she nearly gets expelled anyway, so what’s the point in being good? Is it better to be the bad girl?
First sentence: On the first day of my senior year, I happened to walk past the auditorium during the freshman orientation assembly.
Five Flavours of Dumb, Anthony John (338 pages) – Piper is in a band called Dumb, and her bandmates do indeed seem to be a bit that way, plus she’s deaf, which makes being in a band particularly interesting: she has no idea if they’re truly terrible or really good. This doesn’t stop her from determindely finding a gig for them, with some self-discovery along the way.
First sentence: For the record, I wasn’t around the day they decided to become Dumb.
I have just had three weeks off so finally a chance to lie on the beach and read through the pile of books that have been sitting on my must read list. These are the books that have stood out for me when reading the many reviews before making the decision to buy or not to buy. It would be great to know what you think….
Trash, Andy Mulligan
In an unnamed third world country three young teens, Rat, Raphael, and Gardo live with thousands of other kids in a garbage dump. They dig through the rubbish looking for anything that could be profitable. One day Raphael unearths a leather bag containing a map, a wallet and a key. Keeping the discovery secret from the police the three boys soon find themselves in a mission involving a secret code, a corrupt politician and a search for six million dollars. The adventure is told through the voice of all characters, including their thoughts, feelings and perspective.
A gripping adventure story while also giving an insight into the lack of social justice that exists in parts of the world. If you enjoyed Slumdog millionaire give this a go.
Unhooking the moon, Gregory Hughes
This is the author’s first novel and has won the Booktrust teenage prize!
It is a very unique story of two teenage orphans, Bob and his sister Marie Claire aka Rat who travel from Canada to New York in search of their uncle. Rat is a funny, football playing, singing, dancing and psychic ten year old and I was entranced. Bob is her older brother and takes on the role of protector of his ‘crazy’ sister. The story follows the two through New York where they come across some very interesting characters including a drug dealer, up and coming rap-star and thieves. While the story itself is a page turner, for me this book was all about the characters. I would be keen to know what you think!
Boys don’t cry, Malorie Blackman
While Dante is waiting for his A level results he gets an unexpected visit from ex girlfriend, Melanie and her baby Emma. Her reason for the visit is to leave the baby in Dante’s care. All of a sudden Dante’s life is turned upside down as comes to grips with fatherhood at seventeen. As a sub plot Dante learns to accept his sixteen year old brother Adam’s homosexuality. This a genuinely moving story, that explores topics not widely covered in teen fiction.
Annexed, Sharon Dogar
Most of us know Anne Frank’s story, however this is a novel written from Peter’s point of view, who is also hiding in the annexe with his mother and father. When the story commences Peter is irritated by Anne but finds himself falling in love with her. As a result of his confinement Peter begins to question his religion, wondering why being Jewish has inspired such hatred. Anne’s diary ends in August 1944, however in ‘Annexed’ Peter’s story continues on beyond their betrayal and into the Nazi concentration camp.
While there has been controversy surrounding this book I found it powerful and engrossing.