Time Spirit Trilogy, Melissa Pearl (New Zealand author). The Time Spirit Trilogy is Golden Blood, Black Blood and Pure Blood. Gemma Hart and her family are Time Spirits, able to travel through time (as and when her father desires). This sets her apart from others, and makes her a bit of an outsider at school. But then her crush, Harrison, looks like he might fancy her also: is her growing relationship with him going to jeopardise her family’s secret?
Ngā waituhi o Rēhua, Katerina Mataira (379 pages) – This is a dystopian novel in Māori, or more accurately, four stories in one volume (plus audiobook): Rēhua, Hōkio, Maungaroa, Hokingaroa. The book “follows four teenagers living on Rēhua, a planet settled after Earth is destroyed by ecological disasters and global war. The four raise hōkio, giant mystical birds, which take them on flights to explore their new world. On one flight, they discover an island with another colony of people and are given a quest to interpret a message drawn on cave walls. Deciphering the symbols leads them to appease a gargantuan octopus and help the Tūrehu, fair-skinned sea fairies, who have discovered a way to return to Earth.” (catalogue description)
The Poison Diaries, Maryrose Wood (with The Duchess of Northumberland, 278 pages) – Jessamine Luxton has lived her whole life in a cottage near Alnwick Castle, where she has been learning about the power of plants from her apothecary father and hanging out for the day when he will let her in to his locked, poison garden. One day a traveler called Weed arrives, who – as the name suggests – has an affinity for and knowledge of plants that goes beyond her father’s. Will Jessamine’s growing fascination for Weed draw her into the dangerous secrets of the poison garden? (The Duchess of Northumberland is herself the proud owner of a Poison Garden.)
First sentence: Gray skies; the rain came and went all morning.
Devine Intervention, Martha Brockenbrough (297 pages) – Heidi is a junior in high school and would most like to be an artist but instead must play basketball, on account of her height. Jerome is Heidi’s guardian angel, except he’s not especially good at it (he’s in rehabilitative training). When things go badly wrong (and “the unthinkable happens” – what? what unthinkable??), will the two be able to muddle through and save Heidi?
First sentence: One Monday morning, a couple of years before my cousin Mike shot me in the forehead with an arrow, my eighth-grade homeroom teacher brought two cartons of raw eggs to school.
Lucy in the Sky, Anonymous (267 pages) – “The author of this diary began journaling on her sixteenth birthday. She lived in an upper middle class neighborhood in Santa Monica with her mom, dad, and Berkeley-bound older brother. She was a good girl, living a good life… but one party changed everything. One party, where she took one taste, and liked it. Really liked it. Social drinking and drugging lead to more, faster, harder… She convinced herself that she was no different from anyone else who liked to party. But the evidence indicates otherwise: soon she was she hanging out with an edgy crowd, blowing off school and everything she used to care about, all to find her next high. But what goes up must come down, and everything, from her first swig, to her last breath is chronicled in the diary she left behind.”
First sentence(s): Dear Diary. That’s ridiculous. Who writes “Dear Diary” in a diary?
Keeping the Castle, Patrice Kindl (261 pages) – Someone suggests this is like I Capture the Castle meets Pride and Prejudice. We shall see! Althea is under pressure to “marry well” in order to keep her mother and brother and sisters in a manner to which they are accustomed, and to stop the family castle – Crawley Castle – from crumbling into ruins. Enter Lord Boring. Althea decides he’s a good candidate, and swings into action, only to find Lord Boring’s business manager, Mr Fredericks, has plans of his own that may foil Althea’s.
First sentence(s): We were walking in the castle garden. The silvery light of early spring streaked across the grass, transforming the overgrown shrubbery into a place of magic and romance.
Interrupted, Rachel Coker (247 pages) – “After the loss of her mother, Allie is sent from Tennessee to Maine to become the daughter of Miss Betrice Lovell, a prim woman with a faith Allie cannot accept. Clinging to the past is comforting but will it cost Allie her chance to be loved?” (catalogue)
First sentence(s): I stared at the ceiling in silence. Although it was so dark I don’t think it could really be called staring at all.
More, as promised!
POD, Stephen Wallenfels (297 pages) – a POD is a sort of alien flying thing that destroys (“zaps” says the back cover, a little playfully) people who venture out of their houses. Josh and his father are trapped in their house, slowly running out of food. Megs is – a little more tenuously – trapped in a multi storey car park, with “dangerous security staff” lurking in the hotel next door. What’s more dangerous? The PODs, or the humans left?
First sentence: The screeching wakes me.
Dust Girl, Sarah Zettel (292 pages) – the first of the American Fairy trilogy. It’s 1935 and dust storms are tormenting Kansas. This is bad for Callie, whose mother insists on staying in Slow Run, waiting for Callie’s father (who is never coming back). When Callie’s mother also disappears in a violent storm, Callie befriends Jack, and they hitch rides on trains (hobo-style) to California. But! Callie is about to learn that the supernatural world is alive and well, and is looking for her (and indeed, she might be one of them).
First sentence: Once upon a time, I was a girl called Callie.
Reunited, Hilary Westman Graham (325 pages) – Alice, Summer and Tiernan used to be best friends, and best fans of the group Level3. But the band split up, and so did they. A few years later, at the end of high school, Level3 announces a one-time-only reunion concert. So Alice, Summer and Tiernan go on a road trip together to the concert, but will they be able to reestablish their friendship?
First sentence: “Is the blindfold really necessary?” Alice asked her parents.
Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe, Shelley Coriell (299 pages) – Chloe is super popular at school, until her best friend suddenly goes cold on her and turns her into a social outcast. So Chloe joins the school radio station - which is so not cool, but necessary - where she becomes the host of a call-in show, with mixed (and possibly romantic?) results.
First sentence: I loved being a burrito.
This is so not happening, Kieran Scott (315 pages) – This is the conclusion to the trilogy that began with She’s So Dead to Us and continued with He’s So Not Worth It. Ally and Jake being their senior year together together, but a bit shakily. Then life gets complicated and seems to be pulling them apart: as high school ends will they end too, or stick together?
First sentence: “Chloe’s pregnant?” Jake blurted, pushing himself up off the ground.
Bullet Boys, Ally Kennen (320 pages) – “Alex, Levi and Max follow the young soldiers from the local army camp on the moor. But harmless rivalry develops into something far more incendiary. When the boys discover a cache of buried weapons near the training grounds, deadly forces are brought into play.” (catalogue)
First sentence: Alex never killed hares.
A Breath of Eyre, Eve Marie Mont (342 pages) – Emma lives partly in the real world and partly in the imaginary world of the books she reads and the stories she makes up in her head. When reading an old copy of Jane Eyre during a lightning storm, Emma suddenly finds herself catapulted into Jane’s shoes: and the brooding gaze of Mr Rochester… (You could try it with one of our not-so-old copies of Jane Eyre.)
First sentence: There was no possibility of taking a swim that day.
Justice and Utu, by David Hair (320 pages) – This is the third book in Hair’s Aotearoa series, and the sequel to The Lost Tohunga; ‘thrilling young-adult fantasy novels drawn from the mythology and history of New Zealand.’ They have all won or been nominated for awards, and you can read the first chapter of the latest book on the author’s official website. Or the first few sentences of the prologue, here, on this ol’ weblog.
First lines: ‘Twelve-year-old Evie van Zelle loved cards and games, and knew dozens of card tricks. She’d been superstitious all her life: wouldn’t cross the path of a black cat, go under a ladder or step on cracks.‘
Slated, by Teri Terry (438 pages) – Kyla may or may not have been a terrorist, but whatever happened she’s been ‘slated’: her memory has been wiped and her personality reset. She even gets a new family. It is sort of a second chance for hardened criminals, such as herself (maybe). But she still recalls faints memories of what she once was, and it seems that maybe someone is lying to her. A thriller.
First lines: ‘Weird. All right, I haven’t got much experience on which to bas this judgement. I may be sixteen and I’m not slow or backward and haven’t been locked in a cupboard since birth – so far as I know – but Slating does that to you.‘
Among Others, by Jo Walton (302 pages) – Morwenna grows up in Wales, reading sci-fi and playing with fairies. Her mother, a sorceress, tries to bend the spirits to dark ends (she’s up to no good), Morwenna has to battle her, resulting in her twin sister’s death. Now, sent to a boarding school in non-magical England by her remote father, her magic attracts her mother – who’s looking for her, and Morwenna won’t be able to escape. Aren’t you glad your mum isn’t an evil sorceress?
First line: ‘The Phurnacite factory in Abercwmboi killed all the trees for two miles around.‘
Invisible Sun, by David MacInnis Gill (370 pages) – This is the companion to Black Hole Sun. Durango is a sixteen-year-old mercenary who, with his girlfriend, live on the wild frontier that is newly colonised Mars. The first chapter starts in Christchurch, the Capital City of the Zealand Perfecture, and is the largest city on Mars, so we must do something right in the future, I guess?
First line: ‘Vienne points the gun, squeezes the trigger, and fires a live round square into my chest.‘
Illuminate, by Aimee Agresti (514 pages) – High-school student Haven Terra gets an amazing job as an intern to Aurelia Brown, a rich, powerful A-lister who owns the fabulous Chicago hotel Haven gets to live in. She is lucky! But is she really. No, probably not. Aurelia and her circle of minions, the Outfit, are in the business of buying souls, and does Haven want anything to do with that? What does her destiny hold? The first in the Gilded Wings trilogy.
First line: ‘Up until that point, English class had been unremarkable.‘
A Waste of Good Paper, by Sean Taylor (293 pages) – Jason’s been given a diary to write in by Pete, a teacher at the school for boys with behaviour difficulties where Jason has been sent. Because he’s good at writing, if a little reluctant to actually fill in the pages. But things worth recording happen! And so his diary isn’t the waste of good paper Jason initially thought it would be.
First line: ‘Friday the 6th of March - Pete says this is a writing boook that he’s only giving me and he says it’s called JASON’S JOURNAL.‘.
Little Sister, by Aimee Said (301 pages) – Allison can’t wait for her older sister, Larrie, to leave their (Australian, if it matters? just setting the scene) high school so that she can make her mark, for her older sister is super-popular and smart. But when a rumour about Larrie surfaces online, Allison finds that she is in the spotlight for unwanted reasons. Also there is a boy she likes.
First lines: ‘Monday morning: Whitlam High School assembly hall. Welcome to another week of mind-numbing boredom higher education.‘
Love Notes from Vinegar House, by Karen Tayleur (250 pages) – Going to copy this off the book cover: ‘Freya Jackson Kramer has done some stupid things before, but this is the first time they’ve been splashed across Facebook. When she escapes to Vinegar House for the holidays, she thinks she’s leaving her troubles behind. But Freya’s troubles are just beginning. How will she deal with her manipulative cousin, Rumer? How can she avoid the ex-love of her life, Luke Hart? And what secrets lie in the locked attic?’ Also; ghosts.
First line: ‘There are three things you should know about me if we’re ever going to be friends.‘
The Lost Crown, by Sarah Miller (412 pages) – There have been several YA books lately about the last Tsar of Russia and his family; this one focuses on his daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. History tells us how it all ends (pretty tragically!), but The Lost Crown ‘recounts the days of Imperial Russia with lyricism, criticism, and true compassion.’ Quite a grim epilogue you can be sure.
First lines: ‘Our luggage is packed and we’ve said our good-byes. The palace is as dark and still as a museum at midnight, but it’s been hours and the train still isn’t here.‘
Incarnate, by Jodi Meadows (374 pages) – In Range, a million people have been reincarnated for thousands of years, each time able to remember their past lives. Until Ana comes along; she is a new soul, and is subsequently distrusted and feared by people. But not Sam, who develops a relationship with Ana. Romance! Fantasy! Thrills! Book one in a planned trilogy!
First lines: ‘I wasn’t reborn. I was five when I first realized how different that made me.‘
Catch & Release, Blythe Woolston (210 pages) – a road trip! Polly and Odd have had one of your worst nightmares – a flesh-eating bacterial infection, and many reconstructive surgeries as a result. Now their epic future plans are derailed, so they head off to Oregon in a classy car for a spot of fly fishing (and perhaps some more worrying adventures?).
First sentence: I would have recognized the guy even if he hadn’t driven up in a truck with Estes Equipment on the door, wearing an Estes Equipment hat and an Estes Equipment shirt with ‘Buck’ embroidered above the pocket.”
Beneath a Meth Moon, Jacqueline Woodson (182 pages) – Laurel loses her mother and grandmother in Hurricane Katrina and turns to crystal meth to cope. Can she grieve, move on, and beat her addiction? We hope so :-\
First sentence: It’s almost winter again and the cold moves through this town like water washing over us.
Poison Heart, S B Hayes (360 pages) – “From the moment Katy sees Genevieve’s beautiful face staring at her from a window, her life will never be the same. Wherever Katy turns, Genevieve is there – at school, with Katy’s friends, and worst of all, in Katy’s hot new boyfriend’s life. But Genevieve has a menacing side, a dangerous side, a threatening side that she only reveals to Katy: I’m your worst nightmare. When Genevieve’s behaviour becomes increasingly twisted, Katy delves into the girl’s past, with the help of her best friend Luke. Nothing prepares her for the dark truths that she discovers, or the new romance she finds along the way. Is Genevieve a troubled girl with a difficult childhood? Or is the truth unearthly and much more frightening? Who is the real Genevieve? What are her secrets? Why is she determined to destroy Katy’s life?” (catalogue)
First sentence: We were on the number fifty-seven bus when it happened – the moment that would change my life forever.
The Jade Notebook, Laura Resau (365 pages) – this is a companion novel to The Indigo Notebook and The Ruby Notebook. Zeeta and her mother have been traveling the globe, but finally settle in Mazunte, Mexico, where Zeeta’s boyfriend, Wendell, is spending time photographing sea turtles (as you do). Zeeta feels like Mazunte could be home, but when she and Wendell begin finding out information about her mysterious father’s past, Zeeta starts to see a darker side to her home.
First sentence: At sunset, Comet Point feels like the tip of the world.
Promise the Night, Michaela MacColl (262 pages) – this is based on the life of Beryl Markham, who was the first pilot to fly solo from England to North America. But this is not about the flying, but earlier: Beryl lives with her father on a huge ranch in British East Africa, with only her mother’s dog, Buller, for company. When one day Buller is attacked and taken by a leopard, Beryl promises to rescue him (as you would!). Which might be good training for being daring enough to fly solo across the Atlantic.
First sentence: Beryl sat bolt upright, her heart beating faster.
Skin Deep, Laura Jarratt (376 pages) – “After the car crash that leaves her best friend dead, Jenna struggles to rebuild her life. But every stare in the street, every glance in the mirror, makes her want to hide away. And then Ryan turns up – a tall, good-looking traveller unlike anyone Jenna’s met before.” (cover) Yay Ryan.
First sentence: The stereo thumps out a drumbeat.
The Emerald Flame, Frewin Jones (344 pages) – more adventures from Branwen, the Warrior Princess. Branwen has come to accept that she’s the one to save her country from imminent invasion by the Saxons. This is no small task, and one filled with danger and the threat of disaster. We wonder if guidance from the spirits, and the trusty Rhodi and “sometimes maddening” Iwan, are enough support?
First sentence: A profound darkness had fallen among the close-packed oaks, and it felt to Branwen ap Griffith as though she and her small band of riders were wading through a flood tide of shadows, thick as black water.
Vixen, Jillian Larkin (385 pages) – the first book in a new series called The Flappers. “The roaring twenties where anything goes…The first in a sparkling new trilogy full of romance, dancing and secrecy. Every girl wants what she can’t have. Seventeen-year-old Gloria wants the glamorous flapper lifestyle. Now that she’s engaged to the heir of one of Chicago’s most powerful families, Gloria’s party days are over before they’ve even begun… or are they? Clara, Gloria’s goody-two-shoes cousin, has arrived to make sure the high-society wedding comes off without a hitch – but Clara isn’t as lily-white as she appears… Lorraine, Gloria’s social-climbing best friend, is tired of living in Gloria’s shadow. When Lorraine’s envy spills over into desperate spite, no one is safe. And someone’s going to be very sorry.” (catalogue)
First sentence: She didn’t feel like wearing a garter tonight.
This week’s selection is brought to you by heart shaped things, sunglasses, and a whole lot of love.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Saenz (359 pages) – Dante and Ari are opposites (the cover tells me in detail), so opposite that in fact they probably shouldn’t attract, but they do! “In breathtaking prose, American Book Award winner Benjamin Alires Saenz captures those moments that make a boy a man as he explores loyalty and trust, friendship and love” (cover!).
First sentence: One summer night I fell asleep, hoping the world would be different when I woke.
Love? Maybe, Heather Hepler (267 pages) – a Valentine’s Day story! Piper’s birthday is Valentine’s Day, which may be one of the reasons why she’s a bit cynical about the whole thing. But when her one best friend suffers a broken heart two weeks before the BIG DAY, she agrees to get involved in a plot to restore said heart, even if it means going on a date herself. All of a sudden everything is warm and fuzzy for Piper: her heart shaped lollies are a hit (see cover), she has a popular boyfriend, and someone’s leaving secret gifts in her locker.
First sentence: Claire tells me it’s romantic that my birthday is on Valentine’s Day, but then she thinks it’s romantic when Stuart remembers to say excuse me after he burps.
The Darlings in Love, Melissa Kantor (311 pages) – The Darlings are three best friends, Victoria, Natalya and Jane (as seen in The Darlings are Forever), and they fall in love! This could lead to happiness, or heartbreak, or both! (Preferrably in reverse order.)
First sentence: Natalya pulled her dark blue winter jacket more tightly around her, shivering in the sharp January wind as she waited for the light to change.
The Disenchantments, Nina LaCour (307 pages) – Colby and Bev are in a band – The Disenchantments – and the plan is to graduate and tour Europe. But Bev disenchants The Disenchantments when she announces she’s ditching them to go off on her own travels. So plans must change, and the band swaps Europe for the Pacific Northwest, and the future becomes much less certain.
First sentence: Bev says when she’s onstage she feels the world holding its breath for her.
Love & Haight, Susan Carlton (176 pages) – In 1971 Chloe and MJ have a plan to travel to San Francisco to spend the Christmas/New Year break with Chloe’s hippy aunt. Chloe has a second plan, involving her secret, unwanted pregnancy. Reviewers say this book is an interesting historical account of 1970s San Francisco, hippy culture, and some of the serious social issues of the time.
First sentences: The view was wrong. That’s what Chloe kept thinking.
Glimmer, Phoebe Kitandis (347 pages) – Oo. Marshal and Elyse wake up one day “tangled in each other’s arms” but also with amnesia. They have no idea how they came to be in Summer Falls, a resort town, but they do know that something’s amiss: the town’s people are “happy zombies” with no memory of unpleasant things, even though there are indeed unpleasant things in Summer Falls…
First sentence: I come to life with a gasp in the darkness.
The Story of Us, Deb Caletti (389 pages) – “After jilting two previous fiances, Cricket’s mother is finally marrying the right man, but as wedding attendees arrive for a week of festivities, complications arise for Cricket involving her own love life, her beloved dog Jupiter, and her mother’s reluctance to marry.” (catalogue)
First sentence: I found out something about myself as all those boxes piled up: I hated change.
Dragonswood, Janet Lee Carey (403 pages) – When the king dies, Wilde Island is thrown into turmoil as the royal witch hunter goes on, well, a witch-hunting rampage, determined to root out an young women with “fire in their hearts and sparks in their soul”. This is unfortunate for Tess, who wants the things in life that fire and sparks give (i.e. not just a husband and house). She’s accused of witchery and forced to run to Dragonswood, to take refuge with an “enigmatic huntsman”, who sounds interesting.
First sentences: I am seven years old. My father takes me to a witch burning.
The Mephisto Covenant, Trinity Faegen (434 pages) – “Jax, a son of Hell, and Sasha, a descendent of Eve, unexpectedly find love, but Sasha must sacrifice the purity of her soul to save him while he struggles to keep her safe from his brother Eryx, whose mission is to take over Hell and abolish humanity’s free will.” (catalogue)
First sentence: “Your father’s ring is gone! That slime, Alex, took it – I know he did.”
Bewitching, Alex Flinn (338 pages) – in which we read about Kendra, who was responsible for the Beast becoming Beastly in Beastly. Kendra is an immortal, who finds that her interfering in human life sometimes makes problems worse rather than better. So, when she comes across Emma, a modern-day plain step-sister, can she stop herself from getting involved?
First sentence: If you read fairy tales, and who doesn’t, you might believe there are witches all over the place – witches baking children into gingerbread, making princesses sleep hundreds of years, even turning normal teenage boys into hideous beasts to teach them a lesson.
The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern (387 pages) -Le Cirque des Rêves is the name of the circus, and it is indeed only open at night. At night, in the circus, Celia and Marco are two young magicians who must compete against each other to be the best. They don’t know that the game they are bound to play is very real, with implications for the whole circus. When the two fall in love, what then happens to the competition?
Is possibly a bit like maybe: The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor; The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M Valente.
First sentence: The circus arrives without warning.
Is possibly a bit like maybe: The Iron Thorn, Caitlin Kittredge; The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson; Corsets & Clockwork: 13 steampunk romances
First sentence: The moment she saw the young man walking down the darkened hall toward her, twirling his walking stick, Finley Jayne knew she’d be unemployed before the sun rose.
Black Heart, Holly Black (296 pages) – the third book in the Curse Workers trilogy. Will there be another? “Cassel Sharpe knows he’s been used as an assassin, but he’s trying to put all that behind him. He’s trying to be good, even though he grew up in a family of con artists and cheating comes as easily as breathing to him. He’s trying to do the right thing, even though the girl he loves is inextricably connected with crime. And he’s trying to convince himself that working for the Feds is smart, even though he’s been raised to believe the government is the enemy. But with a mother on the lam, the girl he loves about to take her place in the Mob, and new secrets coming to light, the line between what’s right and what’s wrong becomes increasingly blurred. When the Feds ask Cassel to do the one thing he said he would never do again, he needs to sort out what’s a con and what’s truth. In a dangerous game and with his life on the line, Cassel may have to make his biggest gamble yet… this time on love.” (catalogue description)
Is possibly a bit like maybe: The Calling, Kelley Armstrong; City of Bones, Cassandra Clare
First sentence: My brother Barron sits next to me, sucking the last dregs of milk tea slush noisily through a wide yellow straw.
The Way We Fall, Megan Crewe (309 pages) – a strange virus attacks a small island community, killing many. Those that remain must fight for food, or starve. Grim! Kaelyn is one of the survivors, and she must join forces with a former rival to better her odds, while those around her she cares for slowly get sick. Can she find a way to save them?
Is possibly a bit like maybe: After the Snow, S D Crockett; Under the Never Sky, Veronica Rossi; Life as We Knew It, Susan Beth Pfeffer
First sentence: Leo, it’s about six hours since you left the island.
The Butterfly Clues, Kate Ellison (325 pages) – “Having experienced compulsive behavior all her life, Lo’s symptoms are getting her into trouble when she witnesses a murder while wandering dangerous quarters of Cleveland, Ohio, collecting things that do not belong to her, obsessing about her brother’s death.” Thank you catalogue! Sounds interesting.
First sentence: I spot her out of the corner of my eye and freeze.
Getting Over Garrett Delaney, Abby McDonald (319 pages) – Garrett Delaney is Sadie’s best friend. She’s awesomely in love with him, which is a bit of a shame. Especially when he rings from a summer literary retreat to say he’s fallen in love. Sadie must – as the title says – get over Garrett Delaney. A summer of reinventing herself is in order! Can she do it? Yes she can! (Maybe – read the book to find out!)
First sentence: You have to understand: I’ve been madly, hopelessly, tragically in love with Garrett Delaney for two years now – ever since the fateful day when I looked up from my list of the Top Ten Couples of All Time and saw him sauntering into the local coffeehouse.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson (423 pages) – “A fearful sixteen-year-old princess discovers her heroic destiny after being married off to the king of a neighboring country in turmoil and pursued by enemies seething with dark magic” says the catalogue. Elisa (the fearful, sixteen-year-old princess) has a lot on her plate! A good book for Tamora Pierce, or Sharon Shinn fans, maybe?
First sentence: Prayer candles flicker in my bedroom.
Perception, Kim Harrington (275 pages) – Clare (Clarity) is the school psychic, and when someone starts sending her mysterious messages and gifts she’s put on high alert. Who could they be from? Things take a dark turn when the messages become increasingly sinister, and a girl suddenly disappears.
First sentence(s): I stepped forward with forced confidence. “Let’s do this.”
It’s Wednesday! Here’s a small selection of interesting titles we’ve ordered recently. Reserve them if they take your fancy.
Soonchild, Russell Hoban (illustrated by Alexis Deacon). Russell Hoban, creator of Captain Najork and Aunt Fidget Wonkham-Strong, was once called “the strangest writer in Britain”. Sadly, he is retiring soon, and this is his second to last book! You must read it! In all seriousness, here’s what it’s about:
“Somewhere in the Arctic Circle, Sixteen-Face John, a shaman, learns that his first child, a soonchild, cannot hear the World Songs from her mother’s womb. The World Songs are what inspire all newborns to come out into the world, and John must find them for her. But how? The answer takes him through many lifetimes and many shape-shifts, as well as encounters with beasts, demons and a mysterious benevolent owl spirit, Ukpika, who is linked to John’s past…” (goodreads.com)
The Girl in the Steel Corset, Kady Cross. A steampunk romance! “In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one… except the ‘thing’ inside her. When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch… Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret. Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help – and finally be a part of something, finally fit in. But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on – even if it seems no one believes her.” (amazon.com)
Pure, Julianna Baggott. The first in a new dystopian series (the next one will be called Fuse, when it is published). This is the story of Pressia and Partridge. After a nuclear holocaust, people are - for the most part – horribly disfigured, and society corrupt. Pressia is one of the disfigured, Partridge is one of the “pure”. The Pure are the ones who made it to the Dome in time, their bodies unmarked. Inside the Dome Partridge is protected from the people who will burn him, as some type of living sacrifice. Pressia also has problems, since she’s come of age and must join the militia (as a soldier, if she’s physically capable, or as a “live target” if she’s not). When Partridge learns that his mother (who didn’t make it to the Dome) may still be alive, he makes the dangerous decision to venture out in search of her, and “when Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.”
Here are this week’s fortnight’s month’s new books, where I literally judge books by their covers.
Article 5, by Kristen Simmons (364 pages) – It is the near future and things have changed! The US has revoked its Bill of Rights, and replaced it with some ‘Moral Statutes’. Instead of police, law is enforced by soldiers, who don’t hesitate to arrest for bad behaviour. When Ember’s rebellious single mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes, she leaves her previously unassuming and safe life behind and becomes a rebel with a cause. The Handmaid’s Tale for teens maybe!
First lines: ‘Beth and Ryan were holding hands. It was enough to risk a formal citation for indecency, and they knew better, but I didn’t say anything.‘
The Catastrophic History of You and Me, by Jess Rothenberg (375 pages) – Brie is sixteen, and tastes great on crackers with quince. Just kidding! She is an actual human who is sixteen, and when her boyfriend tells her he doesn’t love her, she dies of a broken heart. And now, stuck in limbo, she must watch everyone deal with her death, while she too must go through the five stages of grief. Luckily (to balance the whole unluckily dying situation) she has the ghost of a boy who died in the 80s to help her.
First line: ‘There’s always that one guy who gets a hold on you. Not like your best friend’s brother who gets you in headlock kind of hold.’
What Boys Really Want, by Pete Hautman (297 pages) – Lita and Adam are both sixteen, and have been friends for ages. They try not to interfere with one anothers’ love lives, mistaken though they think the other is, but when Adam steals content from Lita’s anonymous blog for a self-help book he is writing, What Boys Really Want, things get hilariously complex.
First line: ‘The idea for the book came to me as a bunch of us were tubing down the Apple River on a nice, sunny day, the last weekend before school started.‘
The Survival Kit, by Donna Freitas(351 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Rose is popular! But when her mother dies, none of that matters so much. Rose’s late mother has left her a ‘Survival Kit’; an iPod, a picture of peonies, a crystal heart, a paper star, a box of crayons, and a tiny handmade kite. What can they mean? Well you will have to read the book won’t you.
First line: ‘I found it on the day of my mother’s funeral, tucked in a place she knew I would look. There is was, hanging with her favorite dress, the one I’d always wanted to wear.‘
Tiger’s Voyage, by Colleen Houck (543 pages) – This is book three in the Tiger’s Curse series. Books one and two are already in! I don’t recall seeing them, but they’re in the catalogue. And the catalogue never lies. Here’s what it says about this part of the series: ‘After battling the villanous Lokesh, Kelsey and the Indian princes Ren and Kishan return to India, where Kelsey learns that Ren has amnesia, and five cunning dragons try to keep the trio from breaking the curse that binds them.’
First line: ‘Behind the thick glass of his Mumbai penthouse office once again, Lokesh tried to control the incredible rage slowly circling through his veins.‘
Under the Never Sky, by Veronica Rossi (376 pages) – After some kind of ecological apocalypse, humanity splits – some live in the Reverie, a kind of haven from the storms that assault the planet, while others survive on the earth, mutated and living pretty primitive lives. Aria leaves the safety of the Reverie to find her missing mother, and meets Perry, an outsider who is also searching for someone. His mutation seems to be looking like a male model! They fall in love! A forbidden romance. ‘Should appeal to both teen and adult readers far beyond dystopia fans’, says Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.
First lines: ‘They called the world beyond the walls of the Pod “the Death Shop.” A million ways to die out there. Aria never thought she’d get so close.‘
Where Things Come Back, by John Corey Whaley (228 pages) – Here is what the catalogue says: ‘Seventeen-year-old Cullen’s summer in Lily, Arkansas, is marked by his cousin’s death by overdose, an alleged spotting of a woodpecker thought to be extinct, failed romances, and his younger brother’s sudden disappearance.’ However! There is a lot more to this multi-award winning book than just that short sentence!
First lines: ‘I was seventeen years old when I saw my first dead body It wasn’t my cousin Oslo’s. It was a woman who looked to have been around fifty or at least in her late forties.‘
Someone Else’s Life, by Katie Dale (485 pages) – Another book about a girl coping with her dead mum. Rosie learns that she might have inherited Huntington’s disease, which has recently killed her mother … or she might not, since she also learns that she was actually switched at birth. She discovers a secret that could ‘shatter the lives of everyone around her,’ which can’t be much fun for Rosie, or the girl who might actually have inherited Huntington’s. Sounds grim.
First lines: ‘Sunlight dances over the little girl’s dark curls as she toddles clumsily through the dry grass.‘
Immortal Beloved, by Cate Tiernan (389 pages) – From the catalogue! ‘New name, new town, new life. Nastasya has done it too often to count. And there,s no end in sight. Nothing ever really ends . . . when you’re immortal.’ And now, from Youtube!
First line: ‘Last night my whole world came tumbling down. Now I’m running scared.‘
(We also have the sequel, Darkness Falls.)
Advent, by James Treadwell (439 pages) – This is book 1 in the ‘Advent Trilogy’. Gavin, a disenfranchised youth is sent to his eccentric aunt’s place in Cornwall. At the same time magic returns to the world, 500 years after it was locked away. Its return to the modern world is disruptive and not at all benign. And! Some reviews suggest that this could be the new Tolkien, so there you go.
First line: ‘On a wild night in deep winter in the year 1537, the greatest magus in the world gathered together and dismissed his household servants, wrapped himself in his travelling cloak, took his staff in one hand and in the other a small wooden box sealed with pitch and clasped with silver, and stepped out into the whirling sleet, bound for the harbour and - so he expected – immortality.‘
Hollow Pike, by James Dawson (314 pages) – Witchcraft! Horror! Lis London has nightmares that someone is trying to murder her. She dismisses the local legends of witchcraft but … should she? Probably not! This has been enjoyably reviewed on Amazon, where it gets a pretty good rating of 4.5 stars.
First line: ‘Lis knew she was dreaming, although this brought little comfort as the blood ran over her face.’
Here are the first batch of new books for the year. Please come and take them so we have some space on our shelves. But return them! And take some more! That is how libraries work.
Assault – Recon Team Angel, by Brian Faulkner (365 pages) – This is the first in a series set in the future (2030!) when we are at war with aliens. Recon Team Angel is an elite multinational group of teens who have been training for years. On X-Boxes, haha. Nah, joke. “Haha.” Their first mission; to sneak behind enemy lines and get into a top-secret alien facility.
First lines: ‘This is not a history book. The achievements of 4th Reconnaisannce Team (designation: Angel) of the Allied Combined Operation Group 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, from November 2030 through to July 2035, during the Great Bzadian War, are well documented by scholars and historians.‘
Equinox – The Rosie Black Chronicles Book Two, by Lara Morgan – It is five centuries into the future, most of Australia is submerged, and ‘Rosie’s dad is locked away, Pip has abandoned her, and Riley isn’t telling her the full story. Bent on revenge, Rosie is still working in secret to try and take down the evil Helios group. But what sacrifices is she prepared to make to destroy Helios?’ SO many names
First line: ‘Rosie took a steadying breath, licked her finger and touched it to her eye. The identification-distorter lens stuck to her skin and she lifted off her iris.‘
Stealing Phoenix, by Joss Stirling (265 pages) – Phoenix is part of a group of thieves with paranormal powers (they are quite cool but I won’t ruin it for you), and she is set to rob Yves Benedict, an American student visiting London. But lo! she discovers that he is ‘her destiny’ and ‘her soulmate’, and as there is no room for love amongst thieves, Phoenix must save herself and Yves. Which is pronounced like ‘Eve’ so you know.
First lines: ‘The boy seemed the perfect target. He stood at the back of a group taking the tour of the London Olympic stadium, attention on the construction vehicles beetling up the huge ramp to the athletes’ entrance, not on the thief watching him.‘
Outlaw, by Stephen Davies (236 pages) – Jake is fifteen and is sent to live with his parents in North Africa after getting into trouble one too many times at his English boarding school. Unfortunately he is kidnapped by Yakuuba Sor, the most wanted outlaw in the Sahara desert. Is he a terrorist or is he more like Robin Hood, without a forest?
First lines: ‘Jake Knight ran along the deserted towpath past Armley Mills and the Industrial Museum. It was two o’clock in the morning and he was so far out of bounds it was not even funny.‘
Good Fortune, by Noni Carter (489 pages) – Ayanna Bahati is brutally taken from her African village and brought to America, as a slave on a plantation. It’s a very dangerous life, but she’s able to secretely teach herself to read and write. Later she risks everything and escapes, heading north where she can be free and get an education; ‘can she shed the chains of her harrowing past to live the life she has longed for?‘
First lines: ‘His hand came down upon my cheek hard and fast. Stunned, I staggered backward.‘
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, by Jennifer E. Smith (236 pages) – Hadley is stuck at JFK airport after missing her flight to London. She meets Oliver, a Brit, who is also on the same flight as her. They talk and he’s pretty perfect, so they fall in love. Love! There when you least expect it, like a northerly gale in summer. Anyway, they lose track of each other once they land – can serendipity bring them back together? Is that the right word? A romantic comedy!
First line: ‘There are so many ways it could have all turned out differently.‘
Bittersweet, by Sarah Ockler (378 pages) – Hudson was a pretty swell ice skater, but when her parents divorced when she was fourteen, she ditches the sport and makes cupcakes for her mother’s upscale diner. But when she starts coaching the boys’ ice hockey team she rethinks her choices re: ice skating and taking chances with her life. Also a cute boy comes along.
First line: ‘It was the biggest competition night of my life, but all I could think about was the cheetah bra.‘
The Song of the Quarkbeast : A Last Dragonslayer Novel, by Jasper Fforde (290 pages) – This is the sequel to The Last Dragonslayer, which I didn’t read but DO know was very good. Fforde’s books are very difficult to put down, and why shouldn’t this be an exception.
First lines: ‘I work in the magic industry. I think you’ll agree it’s pretty glamorous: a life full of spells, potions and whispered enchantments; of levitation, vanishings and alchemy.‘
Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake (316 pages) – Cas Lowood kills the dead. He travels the country with his mother, a witch, and their spirit-sniffing cat, listening to local lore and legend. They go to kill a ghost called Anna Dressed in Blood (she’s covered in blood you know), who has killed everyone who has gone to get her. Except Cas, for some reason? Read to find out!
First line: ‘The grease-slicked hair is a dead giveaway – no pun intended.‘
Here is a pretty funny spoof trailer for The Hunger Games. Thanks for reading this far. I appreciate it.
Virtuosity, by Jessica Martinez (294 pages) – ‘Just before the most important violin competition of her career, seventeen-year-old prodigy Carmen faces critical decisions about her anti-anxiety drug addiction, her controlling mother, and a potential romance with her most talented rival,’ says the catalogue. Can’t beat the catalogue for a precise synopsis.
First line: ‘The balcony felt cold under my cheek.’
Paradise, by Joanna Nadin (262 pages) – Billie Paradise inherits her grandmother’s house, which is by the sea, and a definite improvement on the rental flat she lives in with her mum. But living in her mum’s childhood home dredges up secrets that might be best kept undregded. Buried. Underground.
First line: ‘We all have secrets.‘
Cupcake, Rachel Cohn (310 pages) – if you’ve read Shrimp and Gingerbread then you need to read this! CC has moved to New York, leaving behind Shrimp. She’s on a mission to find the best job, the best coffee, the best cupcake (we hear you), and a new love. But then, oops, Shrimp shows up, and CC must decide whether to continue the New York dream, or follow the surf with Shrimp.
First sentence: A cappucino cost me my life.
Frost, Wendy Delsol (376 pages) – the sequel to Stork. Katla is adjusting to life being a Stork and her mystical abilities, and to snowy Minnesota. The attentions of Jack help, however when a snowstorm brings environmental scientist Brigid to town, Katla finds there’s competition for Jack’s attentions. Worse, on a trip with Brigid to Greenland, Jack goes missing, and Katla knows she’s the only one who can find him.
First sentence: There was one thing, and one thing only, that could coax me into striped red tights, a fur vest, and an elf cap: Jack Snjosson.
Dust & Decay, Jonathan Maberry (519 pages) – the sequel to Rot & Ruin. Benny and his friends are ready to leave in search of a better future (on a road trip!), but this is not so easy! Zombies, wild animals, murderers, and the rebuilt Gamelands are in their way, plus also possibly Charlie Pink-eye (who is supposed to be safely dead!).
First sentence: Benny Imura was appalled to learn that the Apocalypse came with homework.
My Life Undecided, Jessica Brody (299 pages) – Brooklyn can’t make decisions, so she blogs in the hopes that her readers will make up her mind for her. But things get messy when love gets involved.
First sentence: The sirens are louder than I anticipated.
Audition, Stasia Ward Kehoe (458 pages) – Sara moves to a new city and joins the prestigious Jersey Ballet. As she struggles to adapt she spends time with Remington, a choreographer on the rise, becoming his muse and creating gossip and scandal that may make it all seem not worth it. A novel in verse.
First sentence: When you are a dancer / you learn the beginning / is first position.
This Dark Endeavor, Kenneth Oppel (298 pages) – subtitled The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein and therefore the prequel to Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein. Sixteen year old Victor’s twin, Konrad, falls ill, and Victor is desperate to save him. He enlists the help of some friends in creating the Elixir of Life, but in the process pushes the boundaries of “nature, science and love”.
First sentence: We found the monster on a rocky ledge high above the lake.
Dead End in Norvelt, Jack Gantos (341 pages) – Over to the rather good catalogue description: “In the historic town of Norvelt, Pennsylvania, twelve-year-old Jack Gantos spends the summer of 1962 grounded for various offenses until he is assigned to help an elderly neighbor with a most unusual chore involving the newly dead, molten wax, twisted promises, Girl Scout cookies, underage driving, lessons from history, typewriting, and countless bloody noses.”
First sentence: School was finally out and I was standing on a picnic table in our backyard getting ready for a great summer vacation when my mother walked up to me and ruined it.
A Need So Beautiful, Suzanne Young (267 pages) – Charlotte is a Forgotten, an earth-bound angel compelled to help someone. She’d rather spend her life with her boyfriend, so she must make the difficult, wrenching choice between her destiny and her love.
First sentence: I sit on the front steps of St. Vincent’s Cathedral and pick at the moss nestled in the cracks of the concrete.