Terrifyingly it’s already that time of year when Amazon produces its best books of the year lists. The Top 20 list for teens is here. It’s an interesting, varied collection, with some of our favourites of 2012.
I am typing this in Wadestown library! Sort of like New Books on Tour. Haha. Haaa.
Blink Once, by Cylin Busby (290 pages) – West wakes up in a hospital bed, strapped down. He is paralyzed. The girl in the neighbouring bed, Olivia, is the only one who can communicate to him. But why? Why is she in hospital? How is she connected to all his nightmares? What is going on here, guys. Publishers Weekly says that readers rush to the end to answer these questions, and ‘they won’t be disappointed by what they discover’, which is frankly very appealing.
First lines: ‘Someone is crying. A girl. Not a pretty kind of crying, like actresses do, tears delicately streaming down a beautiful face. This is sobbing, sniffling, gasping for air.‘
The Demon Catchers of Milan, by Kat Beyer (278 pages) – Mia’s distant family from Italy have come to visit. Just in the nick of time! As she has been possessed by a powerful demon, and they are actually all demon hunters. Once her cousins have exorcised her, she heads back to Italy with them to learn Italian, get more involved with the family business (i.e. killing demons) and fall in love with Italians. Not her cousins though! I don’t know.
First line: ‘I used to be the kind of girl who would check under the bed and in the closet every night before going to sleep.‘
Embers & Echoes, by Karsten Knight (461 pages) – This is the follow-up to Wildefire, about a bunch of gods who have reincarnated as teens. Ashline Wilde is the reincarnation of Pele, a Polynesian volcano goddess, and when her sister is taken by some evil gods she must join up with Wes, a reincarnated Aztec god, who has his own vendetta to hash out. ’More X-Men than Clash of the Titans,’ says the Library School Journal, which is really quite a compliment.
First line: ‘Ashline Wilde lay battered on the side of the Pacific Coast Highway and watched her boyfriend emerge from the fiery car wreck, back from the dead.‘
Unfed, by Kirsty McKay (307 pages) – This follows on from Undead, about a zombie apocalypse during Bobby’s school trip. She survived it! Unfortunately, he best pal is missing and it’s up to her to find him in the zombie-infected wastelands AND and find an antidote before it’s all over for the human race. ‘Hysterically funny,’ says The Times.
First line: ‘When you’re staring into the jaws of death at the age of fifteen, there’s not a whole lot of life to flash before your eyes.‘
So Close To You, by Rachel Carter (313 pages) – Lydia’s great-grandfather disappeared, along with others, it is rumoured, because of some weird army experiment called the Montauk Project which occurred at the spooky abandoned military base near her home. When a portal opens up and takes her back to 1945, six days before her great-grandad disappears, she becomes part of the experiment. The first in a planned trilogy.
First line: ‘The bonfire in the clearing spits out flames and smoke. Red, yellow, orange sparks fly up into the night sky.‘
Tiger Lily, by Jodi Lynn Anderson (292 pages) – Before Peter Pan met Wendy there was Tiger Lily, who faced all kinds of hurdles to be with Peter (and not this guy her family and tribe wanted her to marry). And then of course Wendy comes along to Neverland on an English boat and things get messy. A clever retelling of the Peter Pan story, as narrated by Tinkerbell. ‘Perplexing’ to those familiar only with the Disney version, which of course doesn’t include any Teen Blog readers.
First line: ‘She stands on the cliffs, near the old crumbling stone house. There’s nothing left in the house but an upturned table, a ladle, and a clay bowl.‘
What’s Left of Me : The Hybrid Chronicles, by Kat Zhang (343 pages) – Eva and Addie were born in the same body, but are two distinct souls, or hybrids. However in this alternate reality, hybrids are against the law, so they must keep their dual existence a secret from the government and their family. Reviews say this is very well written, with a great ending, so go on reserve it why don’t you.
First lines: ‘Addie and I were born into the same body, our souls’ ghostly fingers entwined before we gasped our very first breath.‘
Don’t Turn Around, by Michelle Gagnon (310 pages) – Noa, a rebellious teen orphan, has woken on an operating table with no memory. She joins with Peter, a computer hacker from a wealthy background, to take down a large and evil corporation. ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for teens’, a reviewer writes, if that’s a good thing?
First line: ‘When Noa Torson woke up, the first thing she noticed was that her feet were cold. Odd, since she always wore socks to bed.‘
Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo (358 pages) – Gonna let the catalogue describe this one – ‘Orphaned by the Border Wars, Alina Starkov is taken from obscurity and her only friend, Mal, to become the protegé of the mysterious Darkling, who trains her to join the magical elite in the belief that she is the Sun Summoner, who can destroy the monsters of the Fold.’
First line: ‘The servants called the malenchki, little ghosts, because the haunted the Duke’s house like giggling phantoms, darting in and out of rooms, hiding in cupboards to eavesdrop, sneaking into the kitchen to steal the last of the summer peaches.‘
The Broken Lands, by Kate Milford (455 pages) – This is the prequel to steampunky The Boneshaker, and is set in New York, 1877. Two teenaged orphans – Sam and a pyromaniac girl named Jim – must battle ancient dark forces from turning the city into Hell.
First line: ‘A crossroads can be a place of gerat power; this should not come as any surprise. It is a place of choosing, of testing, of transition, and there is power in all of those things.‘
Promised, Caragh O’Brien (October/November) - this is the third in the popular Birthmarked trilogy. “After defying the ruthless Enclave, surviving the wasteland, and upending the rigid matriarchy of Sylum, Gaia Stone now faces her biggest challenge ever. She must lead the people of Sylum back to the Enclave and persuade the Protectorat to grant them refuge from the wasteland. In Gaia’s absence, the Enclave has grown more cruel, more desperate to experiment on mothers from outside the wall, and now the stakes of cooperating or rebelling have never been higher. Is Gaia ready, as a leader, to sacrifice what–or whom–she loves most?” (goodreads.com)
The Other Normals, Ned Vizzini (this month) – from the author of It’s Kind of a Funny Story (that got turned into a movie ($4 for one week)). Perry (long name Peregrine) is an epic nerd, who lives for Creatures & Caverns, a role playing game. He much prefers C & C to his real world, so he’s gutted when his parents send him to summer camp. But! At summer camp he meets Mortin Enaw, the writer of the C & C manual, and very soon Perry finds himself in the world of The Other Normals, where he must embark on a quest to save the other normals’ princess. His RPG skills will no doubt prove completely indispensible, and may save the day.
Oblivion, Anthony Horowitz (October/November) – This is the last in the Gatekeepers series (book number 5). “Having escaped from Hong Kong, the five gatekeepers – Matt, Pedro, Scott, Jamie and Scarlett – are scattered in a hostile and dangerous world. As they struggle to re-group and plan their next move, the malevolent King of the Old Ones gathers his forces in Oblivion: a desolate landscape where the last survivors of humanity must fight the ultimate battle.” (goodreads.com)
Eve and Adam, Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate (October/November) – by the authors of the Gone series and the Animorphs series for kids. “And girl created boy” says the cover. Eve and Adam is the story of Evening, who, after a car crash, must recuperate in her mother’s research facility. The research at the facility is all about genetics, and genetic engineering. To cure Evening of her boredom, her mother sets her the task of creating the perfect boy – Adam, of course – which Evening sets about doing. (But will he end up being more like Frankenstein’s monster? We wonder.)
This week, some paranormal, horror and historical fantasy series.
“In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures – if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.
“All Mallory knows of The City is that her father – and every other witch there – fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it’s only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable. While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.” (goodreads.com)
You can read a sample here (PDF, 5.8MB)
Souls in Exile and King of Lanka, David Hair – The third and fourth in the Return of Ravana series (the first book, Pyre of Queens, won a New Zealand book award recently).
Souls in Exile: “Bollywood actress Sunita Ashoka’s reality show Swayamvara Live has ended in bloodshed and disaster. Vikram, Amanjit and Rasita are on the run, accused of the actress’ murder. Exiled like the heroes of the Ramayana, they are seemingly beset by the same perils, especially when Vikram encounters an unlikely temptress. Then another tragedy, also foretold in the Ramayana, forces Vikram into the open. But there is hope: Amanjit’s skills as a warrior are returning, Rasita is beginning to remember her own past lives, and Deepika is awakening to powers undreamt. But the Enemy, Ravindra, has also found allies─the nightmarish Rakshasa army. Memories and legends are coming alive all over India, from the bloodied sands of Ullal and the fortress of Jhansi to secret places in Mumbai, Pushkar and Varanasi. The fight to the finish has begun…” (goodreads.com)
King of Lanka: “There is no escape from destiny . . . is there? For four teenagers trapped in its story-cycle, the Ramayana is not just a tale. It is their fate! In every life they have ever lived, Vikram, Amanjit, Rasita and Deepika have been persecuted and killed by Ravindra, who aspires to the throne of Ravana the Demon-King. Now Rasita is a captive of Ravindra, and demonic beings thought to be mythical are rallying to him. His triumph seems inevitable. Vikram and Amanjit must rescue her, though in every past life, Vikram has died at Ravindra’s hands. This time, failure is not an option. This time if Ravindra wins, it will be forever. Age-old mysteries must be uncovered and forgotten powers regained, as the quest to free Rasita and end the tyranny of Ravindra moves toward the final, heart-stopping climax and a finale that is as startling as it is electrifying.” (goodreads.com – thanks goodreads!)
City of Swords, Mary Hoffman (September) – this is the sixth book in the Stravaganza series, in which Stravagantes travel in space and time between modern day London (Islington, to be exact) and Renaissance-era Talia (a fictitious country a bit like Italy). “Desperately unhappy, Laura has resorted to secretly self-harming. But Laura is a Stravagante, somebody who can travel in time and space. When she finds her talisman, a small silver dagger, she stravagates with it to sixteenth-century Fortezza, a town similar to Lucca in Italy, where she meets her Stravagante, who is a swordsmith. But Laura also meets the charming and attractive Ludo, and falls for him. Their love for each other is tested when Ludo lays claim to the crown of Fortezza, and Laura finds herself fighting on the side of the Stravaganti opposing him.” (goodreads.com)
You can read an extract here.
Starling, Leslie Livingston (the first in a new series; September). Mason Starling is a champion fencer (did you see any fencing in the London Olympics? We here at the teen blog thought it was exciting (except for the hair adjustment stoppages)) at Gosforth Academy. It’s one thing to be a fencer in staged competition, quite another to be running for your life from frightening creatures that have been unleashed on your campus in the middle of a storm. Lucky then that her path collides with the Fennrys Wolf (from Wondrous Strange), who remembers only his name. Together they will begin to uncover the truth of his past, and hers, and how they are connected to the strangeness that surrounds them.
The Diviners, Libba Bray (September). Again, the first in a new series. After Going Bovine and Beauty Queens, Libba Bray returns to a storyline a bit more like that of A Great and Terrible Beauty. “Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as ‘The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.’ When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.” (goodreads.com)
This has a very cool trailer which I can’t embed but you can see right here.
Such Wicked Intent, Kenneth Oppel (September again!). This is the sequel to His Dark Endeavour. “When does obsession become madness? Tragedy has forced sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein to swear off alchemy forever. He burns the Dark Library. He vows he will never dabble in the dark sciences again—just as he vows he will no longer covet Elizabeth, his brother’s betrothed. If only these things were not so tempting. When he and Elizabeth discover a portal into the spirit world, they cannot resist. Together with Victor’s twin, Konrad, and their friend Henry, the four venture into a place of infinite possibilities where power and passion reign. But as they search for the knowledge to raise the dead, they unknowingly unlock a darkness from which they may never return.” (goodreads.com)
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.‘
Here are some new books! Now Grimm won’t have an excuse to kill me.
The Immortal Rules, by Julie Kagawa (504 pages) – It is the future (I think!) and vampires treat humans like cattle, farming them for blood. Allison lives on the fringes of a vampire city, surviving as a scavenger; she is turned into a vampire, so becoming what she hates the most. Just to make things worse she has to pretend to not be a vampire so her new friends – a ragged band of humands seeking an end to vampirism – don’t kill her.
First lines: ‘They hung the Unregistered in the old warehouse district; it was a public execution, so everyone went to see.‘
Fated : The Soul Seekers, by Alyson Noel (325 pages) – This is the first book in a series by the author of the Immortals series. Daire Santos is seeing things and everything is generally pretty weird. Her mother send her to live with her grandmother, who realises that Daire is, in fact, a Soul Seeker, someone who can navigate between the worlds of the living and the dead, flavoured with Native American mysticism. Also she meets a guy.
First lines: ‘First came the crows. An entire murder of them. Circling the graveyard in strict formation, their dark beady eyes watching, relentlessly watching, their sleek black bodies buffeted by the wind.‘
The Girl in the Park, by Mariah Fredericks (217 pages) – A haunting psychological thriller about a girl – the school ‘party girl’ - whose murdered body is found in NYC’s Central Park. Her childhood friend, Rain, is determined to untangle the gossip and rumour from the truth and subsequently find the killer.
First lines: ‘In my dream, everyone talks except me. It’s a party, and I’m surrounded by voices.‘
The Selection, by Kiera Cass (327 pages) – It is the future! America has had a war and is now a dystopian monarchy (called Illea) with a fairly strict caste system. Thirty-five girls are selected and must compete in a televised selection to win the heart of Illea’s prince. America Singer is selected to compete, but she really just wants to be with Aspen, her true love, who happens to be a caste below her. Sooooo I reckon you might like this if you like The Hunger Games but weren’t so keen on all the killing?
First lines: ‘When we got the letter in the post, my mother was ecstatic. She had already decided that all our problems were solved, gone forever.‘
Dying to Know You, by Aidan Chambers (275 pages) – Karl is in love with Fiorella, and because is very smart and literate, she insists that he writes her a letter to express his love for her. However! Karl isn’t sure that he can write well enough at all, so he convinces Fiorella’s favourite author to write the letter on his behalf. He agrees! Setting off a chain of events that transforms all their lives.
First lines: ‘“Could I talk to you?”
“You’re a writer?”
“I need your help.”‘
Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse, by Lucas Klauss (403 pages) – Phillip meets and falls for the girl of his dream, Rebekah, who happens to belong to a super-evangelical church, as mainly found in the US. He starts to get involved with the religion in an effort to get to know Rebekah more; or is it because his mother died recently? Anyway. I don’t think an actual apocalypse takes place.
First lines: ‘Ow. Ow. Ow. Pain cuts through my foot each time it hits the pavement. I hobble and curse, and then I stumble onto a nearby lawn.‘
Everneath, by Brodi Ashton (370 pages) – Nikki gets snatched into the underworld, or the Everneath, and has to spend six months there and six months on Earth with her loved ones. It is like the myth of Persephone, brought into the present! Cole, the smouldering immortal from Everneath, wants Nikki for his Queen, but Nikki just wants to stay with her boyfriend Jack. Cole, Jack. Jack, Cole. Everneath, Earth. Earth, Everneath.
First line: ‘I was picturing his face – a boy with floppy brown hair and brown eyes – when the Feed ended.’
The Haunting of Tabitha Grey, by Vanessa Curtis (295 pages) – Tabitha and her family move into Weston Manor, and soon things start behaving unnaturally. Sounds, smells, and ghostly crying, and soon Tabitha is getting haunted. Like the title says! ‘A classic ghost story with a stunning twist’ says the book cover - correctly, for I read the ending and it’s very good and chilling.
First line: ‘When Dad first crunches the car up the semi-circular gravel drive outside Weston Manor I don’t take much notice.‘
Red Rocks, by Rachel King (255 pages) – Jessie inadvertedly unleashes a curse on his family by stealing a sealskin he finds at Red Rocks. Wellington’s Red Rocks! He is staying with his father … in Owhiro Bay! Yay Wellington
First line: ‘Waves battered the beach, chattering to the stones as the receded. Jake stood still, watching the rocks, waiting for a movement.‘
Pretty Crooked, by Elisa Ludwig (360 pages) – Willa takes from all the rich kids - who are ostensibly her ‘friends’ – at her school and gives it to the poorer scholarship kids. Soon the cops get involved and Willa’s noble efforts might get her in trouble, but maybe help comes from the most unlikely people. The first in an ‘adventurous teen caper series’ filled with active social reform mystery and humour.
First line: ‘Go go go go go go! The chant was in my head, because I didn’t have enough breath in my lungs to make sound.‘
AND NOW here is a list of books that are either sequels or parts of continuing series. Have you read a book that you liked so much that you thought, man, where’s that sequel? WELL it might be here. Who knows.
Angel Fire, by L. A. Weatherly (sequel to Angel)
Alice On Board, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (part of the immensely long Alice series)
The Savage Grace, by Bree Despain (sequel to Lost Saint and part of the Dark Divine series)
Flora’s Fury, by Ysabeau S. Wilce (sequel to Flora’s Dare and Flora Segunda)
Surrender, by Elena Johnson (sequel to Possession)
The Nightmare Garden, by Caitlin Kittredge (sequel to The Iron Thorn)
Thumped, by Megan McCafferty (sequel to Bumped)
Taken at Dusk : A Shadow Falls Novel, by C. C. Hunter
Balthazar, by Claudia Gray (part of the Evernight series)
Until I Die, by Amy Plum (sequel to Die For Me)
Spell Bound : A Hex Hall Novel, by Rachel Hawkins
Freax and Rejex, by Robin Jarvis (sequel to Dancing Jax)
There is, we hope, something for almost everyone in this week’s selection of new books!
Endure, Carrie Jones (262 pages) – This is the climactic conclusion to Zara’s story! “When evil pixies cause mass destruction and chaos in Bedford, Maine, sixteen-year-old Zara prepares for war, aligning her team of pixies with the humans she loves so much, a task made more difficult by her growing feelings for pixie king Astley.” (catalogue) Nick, or Astley? Astley, or Nick? I couldn’t decide!
First sentences: “Do you want some more spaghetti?” Nick’s voice is so abrupt and unespected that it actually makes me jump in the dining room chair.
This might possibly be a bit like: Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr; Wings, Aprilynne Pike; Abandon, Meg Cabot.
The Last Echo, Kimberly Derting (360 pages) – the next in the Body Finder series. Violet is now working with a special investigative team, and hopes that her ability to sense the dead will do some good, and save lives and catch killers. But her life is about to get very complicated: she has a connection with Rafe, her partner, which creates tension with her boyfriend, Jay. And then “the collector” appears to have her in his sights: will she be his next victim?
First sentence: Violet strained, searching for the sensation through the suffocating blackness.
This might possibly be a bit like: The Dark Divine, Bree Despain; The Vision, Jen Nadol; Deadly Little Voices, Laurie Faria Stolarz.
Radiant Days, Elizabeth Hand (287 pages) – Merle is in her first year of art school and it’s 1978. Arthur Rimbaud is a young poet on the verge of genius and it’s 1870. “The meshed power of words and art thins the boundaries between the present and the past – and allows these two troubled, brilliant artists to enter each other’s worlds.” (cover) Arthur Rimbaud really was a teenage poet.
First sentence: Clea was twenty-three, five years older than me.
This might possibly be a bit like: Revolution, Jennifer Donnelly; Francesca Lia Block.
The Book of Blood and Shadow, Robin Wasserman (431 pages) – “While working on a project translating letters from sixteenth-century Prague, high school senior Nora Kane’s best friend is murdered, with her boyfriend the apparent killer. She is caught up in a dangerous web of secret societies and shadowy conspirators, all searching for a mysterious ancient device purported to allow direct communication with God.” (catalogue) A new thriller from the author of Skinned!
First sentence: I should probably start with the blood.
The Final Four, Paul Volponi (244 pages) – Four basketball players face off in college basketball’s equivalent of the NBA play-offs. As the clock ticks down we find out how they all came to be here – and eventually (we hope!) who will win: the Spartans or the Trojans? (Will history repeat?)
First sentence: Just because the game clock has stopped, don’t believe for a single second that the hearts of the ten basketball players on the court have quite pounding.
The Berlin Boxing Club, Robert Sharenow (403 pages) – Karl Stern is a Jewish boy living in Berlin. Hitler’s Nazi party is in power, and even though Karl’s family are not practising Jews, they are under attack, and Karl longs to prove his worth. Max Schmeling is a German boxing champion who makes a deal with Karl’s father – he will give Karl boxing lessons. Through these lessons Karl gains the confidence to protect his family, but at the same time things are escalating towards World War 2. Max Schmeling really was a boxing champion.
First sentence: As Herr Boch finished the last lecture of the school year, I sketched one final caricature of him into the margins of my notebook.
Deadly Little Voices, Laurie Faria Stolarz (343 pages) – this is the second to last book in the Touch series. Camelia feels like she’s on the brink of losing it: not only can she sense the future, but now she can also hear voices, telling her she’s worthless. So, when she senses that someone’s in danger can she hold it together to help them?
First sentence: A voice startles me awake.
This might possibly be a bit like: The Dark Divine, Bree Despain; The Vision, Jen Nadol; The Last Echo, Kimberly Derting.
The Obsidian Blade, Pete Hautman (308 pages) – and this, the cover tells me, is the first book of The Klaatu Diskos. What then is the Klaatu Diskos? This is a hint: “The first time Tucker saw the disk, his father disappeared into thin air. The Reverend Adrian Feye had climbed onto the roof to fix a loose shingle – and suddenly he was gone. An hour later, the Reverend came walking up the road, tattered and sunburned, bringing with him an unspeaking, yellow-haired, dark-eyed girl.” (cover)
First sentence: The first time his father disappeared, Tucker Feye had only just turned thirteen.
This might possibly be a bit like: I Am Number Four, Pittacus Lore; 172 Hours on the Moon, Johan Harstad.
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.
172 Hours on the Moon, Johan Harstad (351 pages) – as reported a little earlier, this one’s a space travel thriller, where a trip to the moon would seem to be the opportunity of a lifetime for three teens, but only one will make it back.
First sentence: “Gentlemen, it’s time,” Dr ______ [suspiciously blacked out name] said, eyeing the seven men in suits around the large conference table.
Cross My Heart, Sasha Gould (263 pages) – set in 16th century Venice. Laura is safely installed in a convent, until her sister unexpectedly dies, and Laura’s father takes her back home, to marry her sister’s odious old fiance. Doom! Luckily, Laura manages to escape this fate, and earn her way into a secret society of women – The Segreta – whose secrets may or may not be deadly, and may be linked to her sister’s untimely demise. The cover says “clandestine romance, political intrigue, and deadly secrets”.
First sentence: His gondola slips through the water like a knife cutting into dark silk.
The One Dollar Horse, Lauren St John (309 pages) – Casey Blue lives in a tower block in East London but dreams of winning the Badminton Horse Trials (which is as far away from a tower block in London as you can get really). When she rescues a starving horse, it seems like she might be a little bit on her way, but her past (and a boy with “melty, dark eyes”) might derail her.
First sentence: Casey used the twin points of her horse’s ears to line up the jump, like a sniper lining up a target on a gun barrel.
Love-shy, Lili Wilkinson (309 pages) – Penny is a journalist-in-training, and works on the school newspaper. When she finds a boy posting on a “love-shy forum” anonymously, she decides she is going to discover who he is, and write a feature article. But who is the love-shy boy?
First sentence: “I found a story.”
Chopsticks, Jessica Anthony & Rodrigo Corral (unpaged) – unlike your average novel: “In a love story told in photographs and drawings, Glory, a brilliant piano prodigy, is drawn to Frank, an artistic new boy, and the farther she falls, the deeper she spirals into madness until the only song she is able to play is ‘Chopsticks.’” (Catalogue)
First sentence: [photo of sunlight through an oak tree].
Preloved, Shirley Marr (272 pages) – Amy’s life is full of hassles (mother, friend, reputation, etc etc). She certainly doesn’t need to be haunted by a 1980s ghost called Logan, who’s either dangerous, annoying, or the ideal boy.
First sentence: Whenever my mum decided to give me advice, it often sounded like this: “Amy, don’t bring an open umbrella into the house, because a ghost might be hiding under it.”
Stir It Up!, Ramin Ganeshram (166 pages) – Anjali lives above her parents’ roti shop in Queens (NY), where she develops a passion for cooking, but her dream of becoming a celebrity chef doesn’t sit well with her traditional Trinidadian parents. When the chance to be a part of a reality TV cooking show arises, Anjali jumps: are her dreams about to be realised?
First sentence: My heart pounds as I race around the kitchen with Deema, filling orders, trying not to get behind.
Tessa Masterson Will go to Prom, Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin (256 pages) – from the people who brought you Jenna & Jonah’s Fauxmance. Lucas and Tessa are best friends, have been forever. Lucas wishes they were more, so when he finally comes out, and asks Tessa to the prom, his world is shaken when Tessa, in turn, comes out as a lesbian. Lucas feels betrayed that she has kept this a secret from him for so long, and when Tessa decides to go to the prom with her girlfriend – and dressed in a tux – and comes under fire as a result, will she be able to count on her best friend for support?
First sentence: Before you read the paper or watch tonight’s news, before you grab the Time magazine in your orthodontist’s office or dig into the police report, before the protesters’ shouts distract you, you should hear the whole thing from the beginning.
Between the Sea and Sky, Jaclyn Dolamore (229 pages) – “Esmerine, a mermaid, grows close to her childhood playmate Alander, a winged man, when they join forces to find her sister Dosia, who has reportedly eloped with a human despite the sisters’ vow to always keep the sea and its people first in their hearts.” (catalogue) “With subtle echoes of Pride and Prejudice” says the cover, which just adds to the charm.
First sentence: It was not every day that a mermaid became a siren, and not every day that Esmerine attended such a party.
Rock On, Denise Vega (297 pages) – Ori has lived a bit in his brother Del’s shadow, but with Del safely away at college, Ori’s chance to step into the spotlight arises. Ori and his band (called The Band to Be Named Later, or TBTBNL) are competing in The Battle of the Bands, and Ori’s the lead singer. But then Del comes back from college, and expects things to revert to the way they were. Can Ori overcome his confidence issues with his brother, and be a true lead singer? Can TBTBNL also win Battle of the Bands glory? Perhaps.
Last sentence: Rock and roll, baby.