The magical edition:
Rise of the fallen, Teagan Chilcott (202 pages) – Appearing as students at a local Brisbane high school, Emilie and Cael are centuries-old elementals on the run. Their inseparable bond starts to fray when Soul, an irresistible demon, comes on the scene and Emilie follows him into the savage world where she and Cael were once kept captive.
First lines: “There was nothing but silence as I lay back on the soft, green grass of the oval. It was a clear day; the clouds that usually speckled the bright sky were missing.”
Invisibility, Andrea Cremer and David Levithan (358 pages) – Stephen has been invisible for practically his whole life — because of a curse his grandfather, a powerful cursecaster, bestowed on Stephen’s mother before Stephen was born. So when Elizabeth moves to Stephen’s NYC apartment building from Minnesota, no one is more surprised than he is that she can see him. A budding romance ensues, and when Stephen confides in Elizabeth about his predicament, the two of them decide to dive headfirst into the secret world of cursecasters and spellseekers to figure out a way to break the curse.
First lines: “I was born invisible. I have no idea how this worked. Did my mother go to a hospital, expecting me to be just another normal, visible baby?”
Spellcaster, Claudia Gray (389 pages) – Descended from witches, high school senior Nadia can tell as soon as her family moves to Captive’s Sound that the town is under a dark and powerful spell. A sickness is infecting everyone and everything in the town, especially Mateo, the teenage local whose cursed dreams predict the future. Despite the forces pulling them apart, Nadia and Mateo must work together to break the chains of his curse, and to prevent a coming disaster that threatens the entire town.
First lines: “Before anything else, Nadia felt the chill. She wasn’t sure why. Her father already had the car’s heat on because of the awful weather.”
Pantomime, Laura Lam (390 pages) – R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide. Gene, the daughter of a noble family, runs away from the decadence of court to this circus of magic, where she meets runaway Micah, a runaway who has quickly become the circus’s rising star. But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.
First lines: “”Well, boy,” the ringmaster said. “What can you do?” I swallowed. The clown who had found me eavesdropping tightened his grip on my shirt.”
Scarlet in the snow, Sophie Masson (318 pages) – When Natasha is forced to take shelter from a sudden, terrible blizzard, she is lucky to see a mansion looming out of the snow. Inside, it is beautiful despite the empty frames instead of paintings that hang on the walls. In the garden, she finds one perfect red rose about to bloom, a vivid splash of scarlet against the snow. Dreamily she reaches out a hand, only to have a terrifying, gigantic creature who looks like a cross between a bear and a man and demand vengeance on her for taking his rose. Sound familiar? There’s plenty of twists and intrigue to make this fairy tale fresh. Natasha will have a long journey, and many ordeals, ahead of her before there can be a happy ending.
First lines: “‘Ah, there you are! I might have known I’d find you up here, scribbling like some old clerk. Look at you – you’ve got ink all over your fingers! No, stop, don’t do that, Natasha, you’ll get it on your nose too!’”
Fathomless, Jackson Pearce (291 pages) – Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant until Celia meets Lo who is fighting to remember her past. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea – a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid – all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she’s becoming. There’s only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her … and steal his soul.
First lines: “There are lights at the surface. Lights so unlike the sun, that can’t reach down into the depths of the ocean. Lights we can see only when we look outside the water.”
Between the lives, Jessica Shirvington (330 pages) – For as long as she can remember, every 24 hours Sabine ‘shifts’, living each day twice. She has one life in Wellesley, Massachusetts (where she is rich, popular and has the charmed future) and a completely different life in Roxbury, Boston (where she is poor, a delinquent and with a hopeless future). All Sabine has ever wanted is the chance to live one life. When it seems this might finally be possible, Sabine begins a series of dangerous experiments to achieve her goal. But is she willing to risk everything to get it?
First lines: “I am a liar. Not compulsive. Simply required. I am two people. Neither better than the other, no superpowers, no mystical destinies, no two-places-in-one-time mechanism – but two people.”
A necklace of souls, R L Stedman (366 pages) – In a hidden kingdom a mysterious Guardian protects Dana’s people with the help of a magical necklace. But evil forces are also seeking the power of the necklace, and as the Guardian grows weaker these forces threaten to destroy the kingdom. With the help of her best friend, Will, and the enigmatic N’tombe, Dana, the rightful heir, must claim the power of the necklace and save her people. But the necklace takes a terrible toll on whoever wears it – a toll that Dana may not be prepared to face.
First lines: “A true dream is when the events I see in my sleep have, or will happen. It’s a talent that runs in my family. I was thirteen when I had my first true dream. This was my dream.”
And here’s why: did you know some authors often don’t have any say over the covers of their books? Even someone as huge as Maureen Johnson! What started as an idle musing on twitter about her book covers generally, led to her asking her fans to coverflip some of their favourite books. What’s a coverflip you ask? Well, you know how a lot of YA fiction, particularly those by female authors, have “girly” book-covers with curly-cue fonts, lots of pink, or a picture of a stereotypically pretty girl? Imagine if instead that “girly” (or “dudely”) cover was redesigned to target the opposite audience. Change the sex of the author. How does this gendering of a book cover affect your desire to read it?
For example if the cover of A game of thrones looked like this, would you pick it up? What about these other ones?
Personally, we think this a beyond fantastic idea. Although we do spend a lot of our time (especially Rachel) looking at book covers so we may have a slightly vested interest. Anyway, in the spirit of coverflips we give you some brilliant books whose content doesn’t quite match their covers. This is entirely subjective and just our opinion, so feel free to disagree!
This lullaby : a novel, Sarah Dessen
This is far from your traditional love story. The heroine, Remy, has a distinctly cynical view of love. Mainly because at the start of the book she’s watching her mother getting married for the fifth (yes, fifth!) time. Remy’s all about ending a relationship before it gets to the emotional attachment stage. Of course there is a boy, a messy and impulsive musician named Dexter – a stereotype that doesn’t scream commitment. So everyone’s surprised that they’re still together. It’s a complicated romance, especially with Remy’s issues about relationships, which we don’t think is suggested at all by the cover.
Hex Hall, Rachel Hawkins
One goodreads user describes this cover as looking like “a Disney movie” which we have to agree with. Don’t get us wrong, we love a good Disney movie but it doesn’t fit this books supernatural and super sarcastic heroine. Sophie Mercer isn’t a very good witch. In fact it’s a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong in the human world that gets her exiled to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium (witches, faeries, and shapeshifters). There, Sophie learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect. As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.
Fly on the wall, E. Lockhart
This is a fantastic book centred around an intriguing idea; what if you could be a fly on the wall for a week in the boys’ locker room – just to learn more about guys. What are they really like? What do they really talk about? Are they really cretins most of the time? Imagine how much easier it would be to talk to them if you understood them! We adore E. Lockhart and it was on the strength of that and the concept that we both read this book rather than a captivating cover. The new edition cover goes in another direction completely (check it out here) but we’re not sure the hot pink captures the spirit of Gretchen Yee either.
Cracked up to be, Courtney Summers
Personally, this cover reminds me of Gossip Girl, the early seasons when they wore those plaid school uniform skirts. Which I love for many reasons but it’s very different to Courtney Summers’ writing. Cracked up to be is about perfect high school senior Parker Fadley who has quit the cheerleading squad, broken up with her popular boyfriend, and is in danger of not graduating with her class, but she refuses to tell anyone what has precipitated this sudden change in her attitude and behavior, insisting that she only wants to be left alone. Courtney Summers has a way of pulling you through an emotional roller coaster in her books; they’re powerfully hard hitting which I don’t think you get from the cover. Which makes it that much more surprising. So maybe it’s better, who knows.
The Thief, Megan Whalen Turner
We both loved this book (and the rest of the series) because of its combination of adventure and mystery and an almost recognisable fantasy world and the twist at the end and the hero, Gen. The set up is this: the king’s scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king’s prison. The magus is interested only in the thief’s abilities because the stone is the key to securing his kingdom’s future. And while the stone makes it onto the cover, we feel there is a whole lot more at the heart of this story (the mystery and adventure and the relationship between Gen and the magus for example) that isn’t captured by its cover.
To us, a book’s cover and content are intrinsically linked. Don’t believe us? Look at this six-year-old guessing the content of some classics based on their covers. So here are some covers that we think beautifully capture the content and tone of their books:
We genuinely want to know what you think of cover flipping! Agree with us? Disagree? What makes you pick up a book? We want to know!
The fall of Five, Pittacus Lore (August) – for fans of the Lorien Legacies, here’s the next one! The Garde have taken refuge in Nine’s penthouse in Chicago: they don’t have enough fire power to defeat the Mogadorians… yet. When they receive a sign from Number Five - a crop circle, awesome – they know they’re close to being fully united. But is it a trap? (Book cover to be revealed!)
Gorgeous, Paul Rudnick (May/June) – “When eighteen-year-old Becky Randle’s mother dies, she’s summoned from her Missouri trailer park to meet Tom Kelly, the world’s top designer. He makes her an impossible offer: He’ll create three dresses to transform Becky from a nothing special girl into the most beautiful woman who ever lived. Becky thinks Tom is a lunatic, or that he’s producing a hidden camera show called World’s Most Gullible Poor People. But she accepts, and she’s remade as Rebecca. When Becky looks in the mirror, she sees herself – an awkward mess of split ends and cankles. But when anyone else looks at Becky, they see pure five-alarm hotness. Soon Rebecca is on the cover of Vogue, the new Hollywood darling, and dating celebrities. Then Becky meets Prince Gregory, heir to the British throne, and everything starts to crumble. Because Rebecca aside, Becky loves him. But to love her back, Gregory would have to look past the blinding Rebecca to see the real girl inside. And Becky knows there’s not enough magic in the world.” (goodreads.com)
Isla and the happily ever after, Stephanie Perkins (September) – this book revisits Anna and Etienne, and Lola and Cricket from Stephanie Perkins’ previous two books, yay. “From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.” (goodreads.com)
The Lucy variations, Sara Zarr (May/June) – “Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. The right people knew her name, her performances were booked months in advance, and her future seemed certain. That was all before she turned fourteen. Now, at sixteen, it’s over. A death, and a betrayal, led her to walk away. That leaves her talented ten-year-old brother, Gus, to shoulder the full weight of the Beck-Moreau family expectations. Then Gus gets a new piano teacher who is young, kind, and interested in helping Lucy rekindle her love of piano – on her own terms. But when you’re used to performing for sold-out audiences and world-famous critics, can you ever learn to play just for yourself?” (goodreads.com)
Fathomless, Jackson Pearce (soon) – Jackson Pearce gets back to fairytale retellings (as seen in Sisters Red and Sweetly). “Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant – until Celia meets Lo. Lo doesn’t know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea – a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid – all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she’s becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she’s tempted to embrace her dark immortality.When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude’s affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there’s only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her… and steal his soul.” (goodreads.com) The Little Mermaid!
Some cool stuff.
Invisibility, Andrea Cremer & David Levithan (June) – from the author of the Nightshade series and a master collaborator (e.g. Will Grayson, Will Grayson). “Stephen has been invisible for practically his whole life – because of a curse his grandfather, a powerful cursecaster, bestowed on Stephen’s mother before Stephen was born. So when Elizabeth moves to Stephen’s NYC apartment building from Minnesota, no one is more surprised than he is that she can see him. A budding romance ensues, and when Stephen confides in Elizabeth about his predicament, the two of them decide to dive headfirst into the secret world of cursecasters and spellseekers to figure out a way to break the curse. But things don’t go as planned, especially when Stephen’s grandfather arrives in town, taking his anger out on everyone he sees. In the end, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how big of a sacrifice they’re willing to make for Stephen to become visible – because the answer could mean the difference between life and death. At least for Elizabeth.” (goodreads.com)
The Dream Thieves, Maggie Stiefvater (September) – the second in the Raven cycle after The Raven Boys, and featuring lots of Ronan and Chainsaw, and at least one very bad person. “Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…” (goodreads.com)
Winger, Andrew Smith (June) – An American author on rugby, hm. “Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy. With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.” (goodreads.com) Reviewers say it’s funny and sad in equal measures.
This is what happy looks like, Jennifer E Smith (May/June) – From the bestselling author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. “When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O’Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds. Then Graham finds out that Ellie’s Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?” (goodreads.com). Sounds totes adorbs.
Some next instalments!
Stormbringers, Philippa Gregory. The sequel to Changeling, and the second of four in the Order of Darkness series. “Italy, 1453. Luca and Isolde grow more and more attracted to each other as they continue their journey to unravel the mysteries throughout Christendom. But their travels are delayed by the uprising of an intense religious crusade that threatens the balance of the civilized world. Death lingers in the air as war ravages on, but this religious conflict is nothing compared to the arrival of an intense and deadly storm. Caught in the midst of unimaginable chaos, Luca and Isolde must rely on one another in order to survive.” (goodreads.com) If you like historical romance with some fantasy, then this might be right up your street.
Zom-B: Angels, Darren Shan. Darren Shan is pumping out the Zom-B books, which is fantastic for zombie fans. They’re not telling us anything about what happens though, not even a small teaser, but we can tell you that the fifth book (Zom-B: Baby) will follow hot on its heels in September. Ah well, you can order it now and just be surprised.
Goddess, Josephine Angelini. The final book in the Starcrossed trilogy. “After accidentally unleashing the gods from their captivity on Olympus, Helen must find a way to re-imprison them without starting a devastating war. But the gods are angry, and their thirst for blood already has a body count. To make matters worse, the Oracle reveals that a diabolical Tyrant is lurking among them, which drives a wedge between the once-solid group of friends. As the gods use the Scions against one another, Lucas’s life hangs in the balance. Still unsure whether she loves him or Orion, Helen is forced to make a terrifying decision, for war is coming to her shores.” (goodreads.com)
Dare you to, Katie McGarry. Described as the sequel to Pushing the limits, although with new characters I think. “If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does… Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him. But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all…” (goodreads.com)
And one new:
Shipwrecked, Siobhan Curham. This is the first in a new series which is described as “Lost meets Gossip Girl”, which sounds quite intriguing (perhaps like Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, but a bit more serious?). “I jump at the sound of a whispered voice over my shoulder. But when I turn round all I see is sand, and the towering, green wall of the rainforest. I guess it must have been the breeze, but I can’t help shivering. I have the weirdest feeling that we’re being watched… Grace Delaney and her fellow dance students are en route to perform on a South Pacific cruise-ship when a freak storm hits and they find themselves stranded on a deserted island. With the tropical heat rising, passions and tensions swell to breaking point. And the island itself is quietly steaming with a terrible secret…” (goodreads.com)
Order some today!
The ladies edition:
Dreamless, Josephine Angelini (503 pages) – Heartbroken and forbidden from being with Lucas, Helen has been tasked with breaking the curse that keeps them apart by killing the Furies. She spends her nights wandering the Underworld in search of them and, tormented by her worst nightmares made real, she’s beginning to suffer from extreme exhaustion on top of her heartbreak. One night, Helen meets another person in the shadowy Underworld: Orion. Still in love with Lucas but drawn to this seductive stranger, Helen must make a choice that could save her life but break her heart…
First lines: “On Monday morning, school was cancelled. Power still hadn’t been restored to certain parts of the island, and several streets in the centre of town were impassable due to damage done by the storm.”
All this could end, Steph Bowe (275 pages) – What’s the craziest thing your mum has asked you to do? Nina doesn’t have a conventional family. Her family robs banks. After yet another move and another new school, Nina is fed up and wants things to change. This time she’s made a friend she’s determined to keep: Spencer loves weird words and will talk to her about almost anything. Spencer and Nina both need each other as their families fall apart, but Nina is on the run and doesn’t know if she will ever see Spencer again.
First lines: “Nina Pretty holds the gun to the boy’s head, her other arm around his neck. Her balaclava itches.”
Alex as well, Alyssa Brugman (223 pages) – What do you do when everybody says you’re someone you’re not? Alex wants change. Massive change. More radical than you could imagine. Her mother is not happy, in fact she’s imploding. Her dad walked out. Alex has turned vegetarian, ditched one school, enrolled in another, thrown out her clothes. And created a new identity. An identity that changes her world. And Alex-the other Alex-has a lot to say about it.
First lines: “There are moments in life where something happens and it changes everything forever. You make one decision, and after that you can’t go back. It doesn’t even have to be a big thing.”
Etiquette & espionage, Gail Carriger (307 pages) – Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than in proper manners. Unfortunately for her, her mother is desperate for her to become a proper lady. So Sophronia is sent to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. But the school is not what Sophronia, or her mother, expect. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage.
First lines: “Sophronia intended to pull the dumbwaiter up from the kitchen to outside the front parlor on the ground floor, where Mrs. Barnaclegoose was taking tea. Mrs. Barnaclegoose had arrived with a stranger in tow.”
New Guinea Moon, Kate Constable (275 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Julie is on her way to meet a father she doesn’t know in a country she’s never been to. What will she find when the tiny plane touches down in the lush tropical highlands of New Guinea? She might expect culture shock, she might hope for first love, but the secret she uncovers makes for a truly unforgettable summer.
First lines: “Julie stands in the doorway of the place. The heat slaps her in the face like a hot, wet towel. Passengers crowd at her back, impatient to disembark.”
Earth Girl, Janet Edwards (358 pages) – In the far future, the universe is divided into two different groups: the Norms, who can portal between planets, and people like Jarra, the one in a thousand born with an immune system that doesn’t allow them to survive anywhere but Earth.
First lines: “It was on Wallam-Crane day that I finally decided what I was going to do for my degree course Foundation year. I’d had a mail about it from Issette that morning.”
Flowers in the sky, Lynn Joseph (232 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Nina Perez is faced with a future she never expected. She must leave her Garden of Eden, her lush island home in the Dominican Republic, to seek out a better life. As Nina searches for some glimpse of familiarity amid the urban and jarring world of Washington Heights, she learns to uncover her own strength and independence.
First lines: “Just about everyone from my country, Republica Dominicana, dreams of moving to New York City, except for me. I did not want to leave my seaside home in Samana on the north coast where the humpback whales come every winter and fill Samana Bay with miracles and tourists.”
Out of the Easy, Ruta Sepetys (346 pages) – Josie Moraine wants out of The Big Easy – she needs more than New Orleans can offer. Known as a brothel prostitute’s daughter, she dreams of life at an elite college, far away from here. But then a mysterious death leaves Josie caught between her ambition and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans is luring Josie deeper in as she searches for the truth, and temptation beckons at every turn.
First lines: “My mother’s a prostitute. Not the filthy, streetwalking kind. She’s actually quite pretty, fairly well spoken, and has lovely clothes. But she sleeps with men for money or gifts, and according to the dictionary, that makes her a prostitute.”
Fractured, Teri Terry (421 pages) – Kyla shouldn’t remember anything from before she was Slated, but dark secrets of her past will not stay buried. Caught in a tug of war between Lorder oppression and the fight for her freedom, her past and present race towards a collision she may not survive. While her desperate search for Ben continues, who can she trust in this world of secrets and lies?
First lines: “Rain has many uses. Holly and beech trees like those around me need it to live and grow. It washes away tracks, obscures footprints.”
Mermaid : a twist on the classic tale, Carolyn Turgeon (242 pages) – Princess Margrethe has been hidden away while her kingdom is at war. One gloomy, windswept morning, she witnesses a miracle: a glittering mermaid emerging from the waves, a nearly drowned man in her arms. By the time Margrethe reaches the shore, the mermaid has disappeared into the sea. The man is not only a prince, he is also the son of her father’s greatest rival. Margrethe devises a plan to bring peace to her kingdom but it’s one that could cost her, and the mermaid, everything.
First lines: “It was a gloomy, overcast day, like all days where, when the princess first saw them. The two of them, who would change her life.”
Fire Season, David Weber & Jane Lindskold (287 pages) – Fourteen-year-old Stephanie Harrington and her fellow Provisional Forest Rangers on the planet Sphinx must prevent disaster from befalling a treecat clan caught in a blaze. But Sphinx isn’t the only thing ripe for burning. Stephanie has fallen hard for new arrival to Sphinx, Anders Whittaker. When Anders vanishes without a trace, Stephanie has to choose between her planet and her heart.
First lines: “Climbs quickly’s two-leg was up to something she shouldn’t be doing … again. The emotions surging through her mind-glow made that perfectly clear.”
Ketchup Clouds, Annabel Pitcher (293 pages) – Zoe has a terrible secret that she can’t share with anyone, but secrets need to be shared. She learns about a prisoner on death row in Texas, who would seem to be the ideal recipient of a letter from Zoe, confessing her secret. “These are the letters that she wrote” announces the inside cover of the book, which just makes you extremely curious, right?
First sentence: Dear Mr S Harris, Ignore the blob of red in the top left corner.
Creepy & Maud, Dianne Touchell (202 pages) – Creepy and Maud (not their real names) live next door to each other, indeed their bedroom windows are practically opposite. A perfect scenario for the romance of the century perhaps, but Creepy and Maud (as the names suggest) are both social misfits, for different reasons. Will love conquer all, we wonder? Goodreads.com puts it like so: “Creepy & Maud is a blackly funny and moving first novel that says; ‘You’re ok to be as screwed up as you think you are and you’re not alone in that.’” Nice.
First sentence: My dad has trained our dog, Dobie Squires, to bite my mum.
The Cup and the Crown, Diane Stanley (344 pages) – Handsome King Alaric asks Molly to go in search of one of her grandfather’s loving cups, which bind people together (we think emotionally rather than literally). This quest takes Molly and her friends to the hidden city of Harrowsgode, which – like Hotel California – is hard to leave once you’ve entered. If you’ve read The Silver Bowl, then you’ve probably met Molly.
First sentence: The Great Hall was much as she remembered it: the tapestries, the massive iron candle stands, the enormous fireplace, the great gilt screen behind the dais.
The Wrap-up List, Steven Arnston (236 pages) – Gabriela, out of the blue, receives a letter from Death announcing that she’s got a week to live. She’s shocked and unprepared, but it’s possible that Death has a weakness that, if exploited, could mean he’ll have to let her go.
First sentence: Some people die from heart attacks, and some from falling off ladders.
Colin Fischer, Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz (229 pages) – Colin Fischer is a freshman who has Aspergers Syndrome. He notices every little detail. So, when a gun goes off in the cafeteria, and everyone thinks it’s the school bully who is responsible, Colin turns detective, following the leads that don’t occur to others, even if the school bully is Colin’s especial tormentor.
First sentence: Colin clutched his precious, dog-eared Notebook to his chest.
A Girl Named Digit, Annabel Monaghan (187 pages) – Farrah “Digit” Higgins is a bit of a geek genius. This might mean being not so popular at high school, but it also means being extremely handy at unlocking ecoterrorist codes. The fact that she knows maths is not lost on John, the hot FBI guy. But the world of espionage is a serious place – is Digit up for the challenge? We think she probably is.
First sentence: On the morning of my kidnapping, my mom’s makeup was perfect.
Hostage Three, Nick Lake (368 pages) – Amy is on a luxury yacht with her family in the Indian Ocean – the Maldives, the Seychelles, Comoros… Somali pirates. When their yacht is over run by said pirates, the family is taken hostage, her father Hostage One… Amy Hostage Three. Just like that, their lives are tradeable commodities. A tense thriller!
First sentence: We stand on the diving platform of our yacht, in the brutal sunlight.
Into the River, Ted Dawe (New Zealand author, 279 pages) – Here’s the way the cover excellently puts it: “When Te Arepa Santos is dragged into the river by a giant eel, something happens that will change the course of his whole life. The boy who struggles to the bank is not the same one who plunged in, moments earlier. He has brushed against the spirit world, and there is a price to be paid; an utu to be exacted. Years later, far from the protection of whanau and ancestral land he finds new enemies. This time, with no-one to save him, there is a decision to be made.. he can wait on the bank, or leap forward into the river” .
First sentence(s): There was a tap on the window. Te Arepa sat up.
Us again, and we do hope you’ve been chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool over the Christmas break. To help you along with that all the way through the new year, we’ve come up with a few great movie suggestions from the young adult dvd section, which are just 80c to issue with your young adult library card! Admittedly, you will have to get out of the house to issue them, but that’s a minor detail.
Tomorrow When The War Began
Based on the John Marsden book of the same name, the story follows eight high school friends whose lives are suddenly and violently upended by a war that no one saw coming. They must learn to escape, survive and fight back against a hostile military force. And blow up stuff, a lot of stuff. While looking beautiful.
Under The Mountain
When teenage twins Rachel & Theo investigate the creepy house next door, they discover the Wilberforces – shape shifting creatures that lurk beneath Auckland’s ring of extinct volcanoes. Guided by the mysterious Mr Jones and with the help of their cousin Ricky, the twins must rekindle the unique powers they once shared if they are to destroy this ancient evil. This film does Maurice Gee’s epic story justice with a decent amount of money spent on special effects for once. Forget that they have the same accents as the stars of Shortland Street, this film’s amaze-balls.
The entire collection of the groundbreaking series narrated by David Attenborough. With a budget of unprecedented proportions, Planet Earth has stretched the boundaries of natural history documentary making. This film has breathtaking shots of the planet we all know so well. It’s not like anything you’ve ever seen before with every frame fascinating or beautiful, usually both.
In hopes of wooing a beautiful girl, Tristan promises to bring her a falling star. Yeah it is as awesome as it sounds. This is more than your usual love story as Tristan is in for a magical adventure with wicked witches, scheming princes (who keep dying) and by far the coolest cross-dressing sky pirate you’ll ever see. Possibly the only one you’ll ever see as well. This is an exciting and witty tale along the same vein as The Princess Bride.
Brendan Frye is a loner, someone who knows all the angles but has chosen to stay on the outside. When the girl he loves turns up dead, he is determined to find out the “who” and “why” and plunges into the dark and dangerous social strata of rich girl Laura, intimidating Tug and the ominous Pin. But who can he really trust? Director and screenwriter Rian Johnson (of Looper and The Brothers Bloom) has invented a whole new lingo to fit into the film’s universe. It’s a stylish modern noir thriller at its best.
Dead Poets Society
When charismatic English teacher John Keating arrives at a strict boys academy, his unconventional teaching methods breathe new life into the curriculum steeped in tradition. With his wit and wisdom, Keating encourages his students to be true to themselves and make their lives extraordinary. Equal parts inspirational and heartbreaking – have the tissues ready. O captain! My captain!
We recommended the book, and here’s the film! Essentially the same story as the novel, following Bliss Cavendar on her quest to become a roller derby star while contending with her mother’s obsession with entering her in beauty pageants. Bliss learns a lot about herself and consequences of her actions along the way. Action packed with an awesome and energetic soundtrack and a healthy dose of girl power, Whip It is one of my absolute favourite movies.
Kenji is your typical teenage misfit. He spends most of his time hanging out in the all-powerful online community called Oz. His second life is the only one he has, until the girl of his dreams hijacks him for a starring role as her fake fiance at her family reunion. Things only get stranger. A late-night email containing a cryptic mathematical riddle leads to the unleashing of a rogue AI intent on using Oz to destroy the real world. Kenji and his new ‘family’ have to work together to save the worlds they inhabit.
A Town Called Panic
Based on the tv show of the same name, this movie is MANIC. That is the only word for it. The unlikely trio of Horse, Cowboy and Indian (plastic toys with no opposable limbs) live together in a crooked house on a hill. Cowboy and Indian realise with horror that they have forgotten Horse’s birthday and embark on a series of implausible adventures, taking a journey to the Earth’s core, discovering an aquatic parallel universe and taking part in a breakneck snowball ride across a frozen wasteland. Hilarious. You’ll be in stitches!
Mary and Max
A very clever claymation story of a pair of unlikely penpals – Mary, a lonely 8-year-old Australian girl and Max, a 44-year-old severely obese Jewish man with Asperger’s Syndrome. Their friendship grows and spans over twenty years with a lot of ups and downs, and covers a whole range of topics, from taxidermy to trust to agoraphobia.
Scott Pilgrim vs the World
Another of my absolute favourite films! Meet charming and jobless Scott Pilgrim. A bass guitarist for a garage band trying to make it big through the Battle of the Bands in Canada, the 22-year-old has just met the girl of his dreams – literally. But there’s one catch to winning over Ramona Flowers – he has to meet and defeat her seven evil exes! Based on the graphic novels by Brian Lee O’Malley, the film incorporates multimedia elements which make it feel like both a movie and a video game. Bright colours! Sounds! Flashing lights! This movie has it all.
This is a documentary about krumping. Yes, you read that correctly. Don’t know what krumping is? You have to see this film to believe it. Krumping originated in the early 1990s in inner city Los Angeles and evolved from another dance style called ‘clowning’. Those 90s kids were crazy with their dance names. This doco was made by the photographer David LaChapelle and as such it looks incredibly pretty and hyper-real.
We hope you’ve had a great Christmas, now kick back and relax with some fantastic film fun!
Some more serious (although still summery) upcoming fiction, and no fantasy or supernatural-ness in sight.
My Life in Black and White, Natasha Friend. “What if you lost the thing that made you who you are? Lexi has always been stunning. Her butter-colored hair and perfect features have helped her attract friends, a boyfriend, and the attention of a modeling scout. But everything changes the night Lexi’s face goes through a windshield. Now she’s not sure what’s worse: the scars she’ll have to live with forever, or what she saw going on between her best friend and her boyfriend right before the accident. With the help of her trombone-playing, defiantly uncool older sister and a guy at school recovering from his own recent trauma, Lexi learns she’s much more than just a pretty face.” (goodreads.com)
If you’re interested in the subject of beauty, and how the world sees you (and how you see yourself), you might also like to read North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley, and Playing with Matches by Brian Katcher, or indeed something from this selection.
My Life Next Door, Huntley Fitzpatrick. “The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them… until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase’s family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself? A dreamy summer read, full of characters who stay with you long after the story is over.” (goodreads.com) A dreamy summer read! Perfect!
Other dreamy summer reads? If you wade past our zombie suggestions you might find something in our summer reading list.
Ask the Passengers, A S King. “Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions… like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl. As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives – and her own – for the better.” (goodreads.com)
The Voyage of the Unquiet Ice, by Andrew McHagan (384 pages) – This is book two of the Ship Kings series. I haven’t read the first one, sorry! You should though. BECAUSE. In this volume, Dow Amber has at last a ship, but he does he – an outsider! – belong with the Ship Kings? Also he has to travel to the frozen north to save the empire from rebellion and treachery.
First line: ‘In the beginning – at least as Ship Kings scholars would tell the tale – there was only inhabitated land in all the world, and that was Great Island.‘
The Girl with Borrowed Wings, by Rinsai Rossetti (290 pages) - Frenenqer Paje feels trapped by the desert she lives in, and the rules set by her father. She meets a boy who happened to be a shapechanger – a ‘Free’ – who has no obligations and not attachments. He shows her the freedom she wants and is that a little romance? Why yes, the blurb seems to hint at it.
First line: ‘I am unlike most other people because I began, not in the body of my mother, but in the brain of my father.‘
Oblivion, by Anthony Horowitz (667 pages) – This is book five (and the last book!) in the Power of Five series. It has a lot of pages! Just over 666, which would sort of seem appropriate as it’s about earth getting (almost) destroyed by the powers of darkness. There’s an app you can download that makes the cover ‘come alive’ when you hold your cellular telephone in front of it. I am trying it! Well hey that’s pretty cool
First lines: ‘It was the week before my sixteenth birthday when the boy fell out of the door and eveything changed. Is that a good start? Miss Keyland, who taught me at the village school, used to say that you have to reach out and grab the reader with the first sentence.‘
The Paladin Prophecy, by Mark Frost (549 pages) – This is the first in a series. Will West has always been encouraged by his parents to NOT do his best but to stay in the middle of his class. When he mistakenly reveals that he’s some kind of genius he is recruited by a secret organisation with super technology, and he begins to notices that men in dark hats and cars are following him and his family everywhere. Also there is a centuries-old war between secret societies that he’s now a part of, alarmingly.
First line: ‘“The Importance of an Orderly Mind” – Will West began each day with that thought even before he opened his eyes. When he did open them, the same words greeted him on a banner across his bedroom wall: “#1: THE IMPORTANCE OF AN ORDERLY MIND.”‘
Deadwater Lane, by Stephen Barker (290 pages) – When Christopher (Christo) was younger he was in a car accident that killed an elderly man and left him with a slight brain injury that has reduced his memory. He also got blamed, and as part of his community service he must help a lonely old man. His best friend has betrayed him with his girlfriend and so Christo seeks revenge (inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo). The best revenge is classical, usually.
First lines: ‘When I think back carefully I can see now that Ferdy was smiling. The dash threw up an eerie blue light and I remember a cold twinkle in his eyes as the grin began to spread across his face; teeth picked out ultra-white amongst purple shadows.‘
The Crimson Crown : A Seven Realms Novel, by Cinda Williams Chima (598 pages) – This is the last book in the series. Which is just as well because 1. you can read them all now and be satisfied with a conclusion, and 2. we are literally running out of room on the shelves to accomodate them. They are big books! So, 3. imagine relaxing on a beach (or wherever) while on holiday reading them. Don’t get sand in them though.
First lines: ‘It was the largest gathering of the Spirit clans Raisa had ever seen. They came from all over the Fells – from Demonai Camp to the west, from Hunter’s Camp to the east, and from the rugged northern reaches and the river valleys near the West Wall.’
Dustlands : Rebel Heart, by Moira Young (424 pages) – This is book two in the Dustlands trilogy, and is, according to the cover, better than The Hunger Games. Truly a claim to test (by reading them all). Anyway, here’s the synopsis from Amazon: ‘Saba has rescued her kidnapped brother and defeated the fanatical Tonton. But the price to be paid for her violent victory is terible. Jack has disappeared – and can no longer be trusted. A new and formidable enemy is on the rise in the dustlands. No one is safe. And Saba must confront the terrible secret hidden in the darkest depths of her soul.’
First lines: ‘It’s late afternoon. Since morning, the trail’s been following a line of light towers. That is, the iron remains of what used to be light towers, way back in the Wrecker days, time out of mind.‘
Zom-B, by Darren Shan (217 pages) – B. Smith has a racist dad, nightmares about killer babies, and a lot of other things to deal with. He finds it easier to agree with his father, rather than argue, especially since his dad is abusive as well as a bigot. However, when there’s a zombie apocalypse, and B’s school is attacked, B must ally himself with anyone he can if he wants to survive. Serious real-world issues + addition of supernatural gore, and the first in a series (of three I think).
First line: ‘It was the darkest, most wretched hour of the night when the dead came back to life and spread like a plgue of monstrous locusts through the village of Pallaskenry.‘
Cuttlefish, by Dave Freer (299 pages) – This is alternative-history fiction! And I leave it to the catalogue to explain. ‘In an alternate 1976 dominated by coal power and the British Empire, Clara Calland and her mother, an important scientist, embark on a treacherous journey toward freedom in Westralia aboard a smugglers’ submarine, the Cuttlefish, pursued by Menshevik spies and Imperial soldiers.’
First lines: ‘It was after midnight, and London’s lights shimmered on the waters that had once been her streets. Something dark moved down there, in the murky depths.’
Poison Tree, by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (219 pages) – Might copy & paste this one as well, since its blurb is pretty oblique and difficult to summarise: ‘Alysia has quickly moved to a position of responsibility in SingleEarth, working among shapeshifters and witches who fight against vampires, but she is hiding secret alliances that could put her fellow mediators at risk.’
First lines: ‘There was blood on her hands, congealing slowly. The body in her arms was cold, its once-vibrant cheer forever vanished from the world.‘
Starstruck, by Lauren Conrad (293 pages) – The latest Fame Game novel, about a bunch of people in Hollywood who star in a reality show about a bunch of people in Hollywood, written by someone who was in a (slightly-scripted, apparently?) reality show about a bunch of people in Hollywood. So somewhat authentic. In this book Madison does time, Kate has a hit single, and Carmen is overshadowed by her mother.
First line: ‘Madison Parker stood in the echoing marble foyer of the Beverly Hills Courthouse, her back pressed against the wall and he purse clutched tightly in her freshly manicured fingers.‘
Shadows, by Ilsa J. Bick (518 pages) – Book two of the Ashes trilogy. An apocalyptic thriller full of horror and gore and a love triangle, according to (the somewhat mixed) reviews on Amazon.com. If that sounds like your cup of tea, read the first book, er, first.
First line: ‘FUBAR: that was Jed’s name for it. Once a Marine, always a Marine. He didn’t know what to call the kids. Some said zombies, but that wasn’t right.‘
Yesterday, by C. K. Kelly Martin (355 pages) – This is about sixteen-year-old Freya Kallas, who lives in a future (2063) where climate change has left the world a bit of a dystopic nightmare. It is also about a Freya Kallas who lives in Toronto in 1985 and whose memory is a bit fuzzy. If that makes sense? To explain further might spoil things! Noooo
First line: ‘When I’ve wailed for so long and so hard that my throat is in shreds and my fingernails ripped and fingertips bloody from clawing at the door, I collapse in front of it curled up like a dead cat I saw on an otherwise spotless sidewalk as a child once.‘
Black Spring, by Alison Croggan (286 pages) – This story is inpired by Wuthering Heights, which is, if you’ve not read it, a gothic classic. However, this has – judging from the cover’s synopsis - witchcraft thrown in to make it even more gothic. Gothicky? You know.
First line (I wanted to add the excellent second line but it’s too long): ‘After the last long winter, I needed to get as far away from the city as I possibly could.‘