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.
The blue covers edition:
Me myself Milly, Penelope Bush (183 pages) – What happened to Milly last summer? She can’t talk about it. Instead, she’s writing her journal. About growing up in the shadow of her twin sister Lily. About the American boy who’s moved upstairs. Milly can’t keep her secret forever – can she?
First line: “This week at the counselling session, Mr Jessop – or Ted, as he keeps telling me to call him – suggested I write a journal.”
One Crow Alone, S. D. Crockett (310 pages) – The cold, bitter winters are getting longer, and a state of emergency has been declared across Europe. After the death of her grandmother and the evacuation of her small Polish village, sixteen-year-old Magda is running out of options. With the help of arrogant, yet resourceful Ivan, she smuggles her way to London. But London is nightmarish and far from welcoming. The pair will need all the cunning and know-how they possess to survive.
First lines: “Of course there were summers. But not then.”
Finding Cherokee Brown, Siobhan Curham (331 pages) – When I decided to write a book about my life I thought I’d have to make loads of stuff up. I mean, who wants to read about someone like me? But as soon as I started writing, the weirdest thing happened. I found out I wasn’t who I thought I was. And I stopped being scared. Then everything went crazy! Best of all, I discovered that when you finally decide to be brave it’s like waving a wand over your life – the most magical things can happen.
First lines: “I’ve decided to write a novel. If I don’t write a novel I will kill somebody.”
Another Life, Keren David (340 pages) – Kicked out of yet another boarding school, Archie couldn’t be happier to find himself back in London with old friends and an exciting social life. But he’s worried about his cousin Ty, who is facing a sentence in a Young Offender Institution and doesn’t seem to be coping. And he’s finding that his old friends have moved on and it’s a struggle to keep up with their new lives. When he begins to learn surprising things about Ty, Archie goes on a mission to discover the truth about his cousin’s past.
First line: “There’s a matchbox of weed sitting on the headmaster’s desk – good quality Dutch skunk. I can smell it, sweet and strong, from my uncomfortably low chair.”
Infinite Sky, C. J. Flood (271 pages) – No one should die the way he did. I think about him, in there, with all that space, and I want to stop them. I want to open the coffin and climb in with him. I can’t bear the thought of him being cold. And all the time the same question flails around my head, like a hawk moth round a light bulb. Is it possible to keep loving somebody when they kill someone you love? Sidenote: check out the seriously pretty cover!
First lines: “It was three months after Mum left that the gypsies moved in. They set up camp in the paddock one Sunday night while we were asleep.”
Jepp, who defied the stars, Katherine Marsh (380 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Jepp’s life is changed forever the day he is whisked from the Dutch countryside to the court of the Spanish Infanta. However, Jepp’s happiness soon turns to misery as he discovers that humiliation and cruelty lurk beneath the court’s glittering facade. Jepp must draw on all his courage and charm to win the woman he loves, find his true identity and become the man he wishes to be.
First lines: “Being a court dwarf is no easy task. I know because I failed at it.”
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.”
Catalyst, Laurie Halse Anderson (231 pages) – Eighteen-year-old Kate, who sometimes chafes at being a preacher’s daughter, finds herself losing control in her senior year as she faces difficult neighbors, the possibility that she may not be accepted by the college of her choice, and an unexpected death.
First lines: “I like to run at night. No one watches me. No one hears my sneakers slipping in the loose gravel at the side of the road.”
Quicksilver, R. J. Anderson (314 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Tori had everything she could want; popularity, money, and beauty. And a one very valuable secret. Now, she must use every ounce of her considerable hacking and engineering skills to escape those who want that secret and live the normal human life she wants to. Sidenote: it’s the companion to Ultraviolet.
First lines: “On June 7, the year I turned sixteen, I vanished without a trace. On September 28 of the same year I came back, with a story so bizarre that only my parents would ever believe it and a secret I couldn’t share even with them.”
Fuse, Julianna Baggott (461 pages) – Book two of the Pure Trilogy which is set in a post-apocalyptic world where those who dwell within the Dome are safe, and those who live outside struggle to survive. Pressia decodes secrets from the past in an effort to set the Wretches free of their fusings forever while Partridge, in order to save millions of innocent lives, must risk his own by returning to the Dome to face his most terrifying challenge.
First line: “Lying on a thin coat of snow, she sees gray earth meeting gray sky, and she knows she’s back.”
Sever, Lauren DeStefano (371 pages) – With time ticking until the virus takes its toll, Rhine is desperate for answers. In this breathtaking conclusion to Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden Trilogy, everything Rhine knows to be true will be irrevocably shattered.
First lines: “In the Atlas the river still flows. The thin line of it carries cargo to a destination that no longer exists.”
Life in Outer Space, Melissa Keil (305 pages) – Sam Kinnison is a geek, and he’s totally fine with that. Then Sam meets Camilla. She’s beautiful, friendly and completely irrelevant to his life. Sam is determined to ignore her, except that Camilla has a life of her own – and she’s decided that he’s going to be part of it.
First lines: “I start this Monday by falling flat on my arse. A normal guy might think his day could improve from here. I seriously doubt this is going to be the case.”
Asunder, Jodi Meadows (406 pages) – In the second book of the Incarnate trilogy, Ana discovers the truth about reincarnation and will have to find a way to embrace love and make her young life meaningful. Asunder explores the beauty and shadowed depths of the soul in a story equal parts epic romance and captivating fantasy.
First lines: “My life was a mistake. As long as I’d been alive, I’d wanted to know why I’d been born. Why, after five thousand years of the same souls being reincarnated, my soul had slipped through the cracks of existence”
Shadows in the Silence, Courtney Allison Moulton (469 pages) – This is the final installment of the Angelfire trilogy in which Ellie must fight to save Will, humanities and herself from the demonic forces of Hell. It’s a quest that will take her and her allies to the world’s darkest and most ancient regions. Courtney Allison Moulton brings her dark world of epic battles and blistering romance to a blazing conclusion.
First line: “The demonic had tried to break me over and over again, but even with my dress drenched in Will’s blood, I stayed standing.”
Cinders & Sapphires, Leila Rasheed (389 pages) – Sumptuous and enticing, the first novel in the At Somerton series introduces two worlds, utterly different yet entangled, where ruthless ambition, forbidden attraction, and unspoken dreams are hidden behind dutiful smiles and glittering jewels. All these secrets are waiting … at Somerton.
First line: “Lady Ada Averly leaned on the rail of the steamboat Moldavia, feeling the hum of the ship’s huge engines through the steel, a rhythmic shudder like a giant’s breathing.”
A bit of this, bit of that:
The Gladiator series by Simon Scarrow. The series is (so far): Fight for Freedom, Street Fighter, and Son of Spartacus. They tell the story of Marcus Cornelius Primus, a young gladiator determined to find justice for the crimes against his family. Julius Caesar makes an appearance also. Have to say, Roman names are awesome.
The Prey, Andrew Fukuda (February/March) – “For Gene and the remaining humans – or hepers – death is just a heartbeat away. On the run and hunted by society, they must find a way to survive in The Vast… and avoid the hungry predators tracking them in the dark. But they’re not the only things following Gene. He’s haunted by the girl he left behind and his burgeoning feelings for Sissy, the human girl at his side. When they discover a refuge of exiled humans living high in the mountains, Gene and his friends think they’re finally safe. Led by a group of intensely secretive elders, the civilisation begins to raise more questions than answers. A strict code of behaviour is the rule, harsh punishments are meted out, young men are nowhere to be found – and Gene begins to wonder if the world they’ve entered is just as evil as the one they left behind. As life at the refuge grows more perilous, he and Sissy only grow closer. In an increasingly violent world, all they have is each other… if they can only stay alive.” (goodreads.com)
The Eternity Cure, Julie Kagawa (April) – sequel to The Immortal Rules. “Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning – New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally. Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.” (goodreads.com)
Heppy new yur!
Middle School : Get Me Out of Here!, by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts (257 pages) – Rafe Khatchodorian is in middle school, which I think must be intermediate? Is it? He gets to leave and go to an art school in the city, which isn’t the break from the existential horror of middle school that he’d hoped for. This is the sequel to Middle School : The Worst Years of My Life!.
First lines: ‘Well, who’d have thought so much could change in one summer? Not me, that’s for sure. Not my best buddy, Leonardo the Silent.‘
Beta, by Rachel Cohn (331 pages) – Elysia was born as a sixteen-year-old, as fresh as any cloned scientific creation thrown together in a lab could be. She is to serve the wealthy inhabitants of paradise island, Demesne, but Elysia isn’t the souless clone that her makers think she is, and when her only chance at happiness is booted off the island (literally!), she learns she needs to fight back.
First lines: ‘It’s me she wants to purchase. The fancy lady claims she came into the resort boutique looking to buy a sweater, but she can’t take her eyes off me.‘
Made on Earth, by Wolfgang Korn (184 pages) – This is the story of one item of clothing and the people it connects (a red polar fleece, if you can imagine such a thing) in the context of globalisation. ‘This is a story about people, their livelihoods and their life expectations.’ Its written as a short novel, but could almost be non-fiction I reckon.
First line: ‘It was not love at first sight, no way! Bright red fleeces are for young girls, or Liverpool FC fans. They are definately not for tough journalists.‘
The Turning, by Francine Prose (246 pages) – Jack gets a job on a private island, babysitting the orphaned niece and nephew of some rich guy. The kids are well-behaved (if a little odd), while the cook, Mrs Gross seems nice enough. BUT things are not what they seem – he keeps seeing people that no one else can see – and he begins to feel like he is losing his grip. This is based on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. By the way!
First line: ‘Dear Sophie, I’m afraid this is going to sound crazy. But a very strange thing just happened.‘
The Curiosities : A Collection of Stories, by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff (291 pages) – The three authors of this book are all published authors of paranormal fiction, and a few years ago they all got together and created a website called merryfates.com, where they each posted a small short story once a week. This book is a compilation of such stories, along with lots of annotations from the authors (similar to the website’s comments I guess?). I don’t think the website is a going concern anymore, but here’s the book anyway. It gets a nice 4 stars on Goodreads.
Star-crossed : 18 Tales of Bittersweet Love, by Frances Kelly & Penny Murray (306 pages) – Like it says in the title! This is a collection of love stories. They are all retellings of classic romances from the olden days; Shakespeare, fable, myth, and fact are all covered, from Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor to Robin Hood and Maid Marian. Each has a little end-note explaining the romance preceding it and recommending more sources. So yeah, loads of romance.
Speechless, by Hannah Harrington (268 pages) – Chelsea nearly got someone killed indirectly when she blabbed someone’s secret, so, as a consequence, she takes a vow of silence. Her old friends all still blame her, and by not talking she’s not necessarily endearing herself to them, but other people – people she wouldn’t have once had much to do with – soon come out of the woodwork. One boy she might even have a future with. The 500 people who have reviewd it on Goodreads really like it, so get cracking and read it okay
First line: ‘Keping secrets isn’t my speciality.’
Easy, by Tammara Webber (310 pages) – Jacqueline moves to a new city to study at college with her boyfriend, but he dumps her, leaving her stranded – friendless and alone in a place she’d rather not be at, and failing a paper for the first time in her life. However, she forms an attachment with her economics tutor by email, and also meets a guy who electrifies her with his dancing. She is also being stalked, and then her ex comes back into her life. What is a girl to do
First lines: ‘I had never noticed Lucas before that night. It was as though he didn’t exist, and then suddenly, he was everywhere.‘
Lullaby : A Watersong Novel, by Amanda Hocking (290 pages) – This is the second book in the series that started with Wake. They series is seemingly your usual teen supernatural novel featuring a specific creature from myth and legend; in this case, the monsters are Sirens. Not the plastic lights on top of police cars! Haha, imagine that
First line: ‘Harper woke up when the sun was just beginning to set, and squinted at the dim orange light streaming in through her curtains.‘
Struck by Lightning : The Carson Phillips Journal, by Chris Colfer (258 pages) – Chris Colfer is the same Chris Colfer who plays (played?) Kurt Hummel on Glee. This book is based on the screenplay he wrote for the movie he made, about a high school student who is desperate to leave his small town and become a hard-hitting journalist; and to achieve his goals he resorts to blackmailing his fellow students.
First lines: ‘Dear Journal, one more school year with these $#!^heads and I’ll be free. It’s taken almost two decades of careful planning, but I’m proud to say my overdue departure from the town of Clover is only days away.‘
The Twinning Project, by Robert Lipsyte (269 pages) – Tom has an imaginary twin named Eddie who, in actual fact, is real and lives on another Earth that mirrors our own, but 50 years earlier, engineered by aliens. Somehow they connect and join the fight against those same aliens who are set destroy both planets.
First line: ‘I don’t fit in at school because I don’t do what I’m told if it’s stupid. I don’t keep my mouth shut when I have something to say.‘
Someday Dancer, by Sarah Rubin (245 pages) – It is 1959! And somewhere in the rural hindquarters of South Carolina Casey Quinn plans on leaving for New York City, where she wants to be a ballet dancer. She has the talent, but unfortunately lacks the formal training – but is there hope with contemporary dance? yep
First line: ‘Rat-a-tat-tat, my feet hit the ground, and the sound sings up like music. I am daning on the sidewalk, skipping home from school, free as a bird, and my feet are flying.‘
Pinned, by Sharon G. Flake (228 pages) – Catalogue synopsis: ‘Adonis is smart, intellectually gifted and born without legs; Autumn is strong, a great wrestler, and barely able to read in ninth grade – but Autumn is attracted to Adonis and determined to make him a part of her life whatever he or her best friend thinks.’
First lines: ‘You ever like a boy your friends thought you shouldn’t like? Maybe he short. Or his ears stick out. Or he got a face full of pimples. But you like him anyhow.‘
Arise : A Hereafter Novel, by Tara Hudson (408 pages) – This comes after Hereafter, book one in the series (which is also new to the collection). Amelia and Joshua are an item, but sadly Amelia is stuck between the worlds of the living and the dead. Threatened by dark spirits, the couple attempt a Voodoo ritual in a cemetery in an attempt at some protection, but the ceremony will change things. FOREVERRRRRR
First line: ‘The entire world had gone dark, and I had no idea why.‘
Eternally Yours : An Immortal Beloved Novel, by Cate Tiernan (455 pages) – Nastasya is 450-years old, but hasn’t spent all that time too wisely, so she spends five months at a special rehab for troubled immortals. In addition to learning about her family and their past, she also falls for a hot immortal viking boy, and utilises her special kind of magic to fight against the dark forces determined to wipe out all immortals around the world.
First lines: ‘Uppsala, Sweden, 1619. “Vali! Vali! Where is the girl?” I heard my employer’s voice and scrambled up the from the storage cellar.‘
A World Away, by Nancy Grossman (394 pages) – Eliza is sixteen, and Amish, so she’s led as sheltered a life as it’s probably possible to lead in the modern world. No Internet! Let that sink in. Anway, Eliza gets to go to Chicago as a nanny, and she’s scared. And excited! What will the world have for her? Will she return to her family back on the farm?
First line: ‘The strangers were coming, as they did every Thursday night, to bring a burst of color into our plain home. I circled the dining room, checking each lantern to be sure there was enough fuel inside.‘
Speed of Light : A Meridian Novel, by Amber Kizer (525 pages) – This is the third book in a series too complex for me to easily summarise. ‘Meridian and Tens continue to grow closer and explore their relationship of Protector and Fenestra, while sixteen-year-old Juliet Ambrose, grasping at any hope of finding her parents, considers acepting the help offered by Ms. Asura, a proven Nocti.’
First lines: ‘What if a young woman was both a girl to the living and a portal to the dying? I know the answer because I am.‘
My Life Next Door, by Huntley Fitzpatrick (394 pages) – Samantha Reed is the daughter of a successful US Senator, and she leads a typically proper and organised life. However, in the evenings, she watches the family next door, and is envious of their fairly disorganised, messy, and happy life. She and the eldest son, Jase, fall for each other, and the relationship remains their little secret. Until there’s a surprise twist to the story! It’s a popular book on Goodreads, if that sways you.
First lines: ‘The Garretts were forbidden from the start. But that’s not why they were important. We were standing in our yard that day ten years ago when their battered sedan pulled up to the low-slung shingled house next door, close behind the moving van.‘
The Evolution of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin (527 pages) – Mara Dyer has powers that only one other person – Noah – believes she has. Everyone else reckons she is has a developing mental disorder. What is truth? ‘This will have readers doubting Mara’s sanity, trusting the mental health professionals, and suspicious of Noah’s intentions.’
First lines: ‘You will love him to ruins. The words echoed in my mind as I ran through clots of laughing people. Blinking lights and delighted screams bled together in a riot of sound and color.‘
Bound, by Erica O’Rourke (353 pages) – This is the third book in the Torn series. Wow have you ever thought that there are so many series in teen fiction? This one is about mortals and magic, and Mo Fitzgerald, who has to choose between the two worlds or else lose everything and everyone.
First lines: ‘The problem with terrible ideas is that the people who have them don’t recognize how truly awful they are until it’s too late. After all, nobody deliberately chooses the worst possible course of action.‘
Stormdancer : The Lotus War book one, by Jay Kristoff (324 pages) – Well here it is! Feudal Japanese steampunk. Yukiko, the book’s heroine, and her flightless griffin pal must take on the Shogun and his empire. There are also chainsaw swords in this book, a little blurb tells me.
First line: ‘As the iron war club scythed toward her head, Yukiko could help wishing she’d listened to her father. She rolled aside as her cover was smashed to kindling, azalea petals drifting over the oni’s shoulders like perfumed snowflakes.‘
Bitter Blood : The Morganville Vampires book 13, by Rachel Caine (538 pages) – For ages vampires and humans have co-existed in Morganville, getting up to at least twelve books-worth of adventure and intrigue. Now that the draug – the creatures that kept the vampires in check – have been defeated, the vampires are becoming a little excessive, and the humans want to fight back! Also a reality television show threatens to reveal all to the world.
First lines: ‘Morganville, Texas, isn’t like other towns. Oh, it’s small, dusty, and ordinary, in most ways, but the thing is, there are these – well, let’s not be shy about it. Vampires.’
Break My Heart 1,000 Times, by Daniel Waters (342 pages) – After the Event, everyone could see ghosts. Creepy! Man. Veronica sees the ghost of a teenaged boy in her mirror each morning, but isn’t too worried. However, the ghosts seem to becoming more powerful, and Veronica and chum Kirk uncover a creepier plot of their teacher, whose dead daughter hasn’t come back; he’s now convinced that by killing a living host (i.e., Veronica) his kid might resurface.
First lines: ‘I walk through walls. I whisper at the window when I watch her leave our home. I flicker at the edges of my own memory.‘
Rivals and Retribution : A 13 to Life Novel, by Shannon Delany (308 pages) – This is the conclusion (and book number five) to the 13 to Life series, about two werewolf families battling it out for the town of Junction. It receives what they call ‘mixed reviews’ on Goodreads, now accessible directly through the library catalogue! Handy
First line: ‘The girl enters the barn, slipping between hay bales and a stack of buckets.‘
Butter, by Erin Jade Lange (296 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Butter is morbidly obese, and feels alone. So he gets a website – butterslastmeal.com – and decides that he will broadcast his own death by over-eating. As he carries out his (somewhat macabre) plan he discovers that the attention he receiving, though not exactly positive, feels like popularity, and as the deadline approaches, does he still want to go through with it? Very tense with an amazing character is what I distill from the reviews I just read.
First lines: ‘Most people would say the website is where this wild ride began. But for me is started two days earlier, on a Tuesday night in front of the TV in my living room.‘
Passenger, by Andrew Smith (465 pages) – This is a sequel to The Marbury Lens, about a pair of boys who run away to London and find a lens that transports them to an war-stricken alternate reality. Now they try to destroy the lens, but there is an evil that won’t let them run away so easily, especially when it has their friends. Full of coolness.
First lines: ‘This is it. Of course it wasn’t over. Things like this never end. It has been two and a half months since Freddie Horvath kidnapped some dumb kid who was too drunk to find his way home.‘
Unwholly, by Neal Shusterman (402 pages) – Book one of the Unwind trilogy. Here is book one! Teens can be harvested – ‘unwound’ – for body parts, which is of course not ideal, but it is the future and it is dystopian. Thrilling, affecting, and really good, I reckon, after skimming through Goodreads.
First line: ‘He’s fighting a nightmare when they come for him. A great flood is swallowing the world, and in the middle of the it all, he’s being mauled by a bear.‘
For Darkness Shows the Stars, by Diana Peterfreund (407 pages) – This is a sci-fi post-apocalyptic romance strongly inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion. FINALLY. Elliot North reunites with Kai, the boy she loved but refused to elope with, when she’s forced to rent land from the mysterious Cloud Feet group to which he now belongs. He’s got secrets! He’s also kind of unpleasant, but it’s justified (because of the secrets).
First lines: ‘Elliot North raced across the pasture, leaving a scar of green in the silver, dew-encrusted grass. Jeff followed, tripping a bit as his feet slid inside his too-big shoes.‘
Ashen Winter, by Mike Mullin (576 pages) – This is set in the US, six months after the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupted, as depicted in the first book, Ashfall. (You know that part in that film 2012 when Yellowstone explodes? Well there actually is a supervolcano there! There is one under Taupo and 26,000 years ago it plunged the earth into a volcanic winter and invented pumice.) So in this book, Yellowstone has gone up and the country is pretty post-apocalyptic; protaganist Alex must return to Iowa to find his parents.
First line: ‘Ten months had passed since I’d last seen the sun. The rich blue of that final August sky was fading from my memory.‘
Son, by Lois Lowry (393 pages) – The conclusion the series begun in The Giver. It is a utopian future! But, sadly, it comes with a heavy cost; a society where regimented eugenics dictates almost every aspect of interpersonal interactions. In this book, Claire, who’d been a Vessel, can not forget her son. She is desperate to get him back, and will stop at nothing to do so.
First lines: ‘The young girl cringed when the buckled the eyeless leather mask around the upper half of her face and blinded her. It felt grotesque and unnecessary, but she didn’t object. It was the procedure.‘
Vessel, by Sarah Beth Durst (424 pages) – Liyana’s reason to be is to become the vessel for her tribe’s goddess; she will dance and summon the goddess, who will then bring the rain that her people desperately need. However! It doesn’t work, and Liyana is exiled. She meets a boy reportedly possessed by the trickster god, Korbyn, who seeks Liyana’s help to find five other vessels; the gods are going missing, and they’re needed.
First lines: ‘On the day she was to die, Liyana walked out of her family’s tent to see the dawn. She buried her toes in the sand, cold from the night, and she wrapped her father’s goatskin cloak tight around her shoulders.‘
The Raven Boys, Maggie Stiefvater
All her life, Blue has been told if she kisses her true love he will die. But! Blue’s not too cut up about this, because there are more important things to worry about when you’re a feisty, creative, intelligent young woman who lives in a house full of quirky psychics (therefore the prediction of future doom). Blue’s not psychic herself, so she’s surprised when on St Mark’s Eve - when the spirits of those who will die in the next twelve months walk the Corpse Road – she sees Gansey. The psychics say this is either because Blue will kiss him or just plain kill him, one or t’other. When Gansey turns out to be a Raven Boy – a student at the elite Aglionby academy – Blue decides it’s probably the latter. When she meets him, she’s fairly sure this is the case (best to steer clear then). But Blue’s drawn to Gansey and his Raven friends, who are on a quest to discover the resting place of the long-dead (or rather long-sleeping) Glendower. Gansey is convinced Glendower is around these parts, and that he will grant his waker (being, if all things go to plan, Gansey) a favour.
The Raven Boys is like a supernatural double mystery story (one obvious, one that gradually reveals itself), and if the start sounds like a romance, you might be surprised (don’t be deterred!). There’s a large cast of characters, and they’re all distinct and interesting: I couldn’t decide who I liked best, the competition was stiff. The final sentence is really very good. This book received a lot of advance publicity (um, some of it from me here) and is on its way to being a film.
I also particularly liked this year:
Grave Mercy, Robin LaFevres
Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein
Bitterblue, Kristin Cashore
Quintana of Charyn, Melina Marchetta
Sea Hearts, a.k.a. The Brides of Rollrock Island, Margo Lanagan
“On remote Rollrock Island, men go to sea to make their livings – and to catch their wives. The witch Misskaella knows the way of drawing a girl from the heart of a seal, of luring the beauty out of the beast. And for a price a man may buy himself a lovely sea-wife. He may have and hold and keep her. And he will tell himself that he is her master. But from his first look into those wide, questioning, liquid eyes, he will be just as transformed as she. He will be equally ensnared. And the witch will have her true payment. Margo Lanagan weaves an extraordinary tale of desire, despair, and transformation. With devastatingly beautiful prose, she reveals characters capable of unspeakable cruelty, but also unspoken love.” (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.‘