We’ve all heard of Twilight. But perhaps it’s time to try something different…
Afterlife with Archie, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla
I know what you’re thinking. Archie, wholesome hero of almost 77 years of comics set in the all-American town of Riverdale, fighting against the Undead? It’s a strange concept, but a concept that works. The art’s not the usually cartoony Archie style, which is also good. I don’t want to give the plot away, but it’s well worth a look.
Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula, Andi Watson
This is a rather wacky take on your bog-standard supernatural romance. Princess Decomposia spends most of her life running the kingdom while her hypochondriac father lies in bed. On her to do list is to hire a new cook. Luckily, Count Spatula appears. He’s a charming chap with a knack for baking impressive meals. It’s hardly the most terrifying story of love between the undead, but Halloween is equally parts “treat” to “trick.”** A nice break from all the chewing on brains.
The forest of hands and teeth, Carrie Ryan
What happens ten years after the zombie apocalypse? Twenty? This book is set in an undefined period of time after the zombies – here called “Unconsecrated” – have apparently taken over the world. It’s a wonderful blend of horror and dystopia and a really great look at how humanity copes with the undead after the initial attack. It’s also an interesting coming of age story about a young woman struggling with the traditions she’s grown up with and the promise of a world outside all that she’s ever known.
The abused werewolf rescue group, Catherine Jinks
Tobias Richard Vandevelde begins his lycanthropic journey not howling under the moon on a deserted moor but naked in a dingo pen. After that rather inglorious start thing escalate, and the titular group comes into play. I’ve been a fan of Catherine Jinks for a long time, so I was pretty excited to find out she’d written something in my favourite genre. Fair warning, though: you won’t find handsome men with rippling abs brooding under the full moon in this book. Refreshing, really.
**It took me a long time to think of this sentence and I refuse to apologise for it.
Undead with benefits, Jeff Hart
Jake and Amanda are in love, on the run—and undead. They’ve teamed up with Cass, who’s ditched her former job as shady government psychic zombie-tracker, and they’re headed across the border into Iowa, where there’s rumored to be a zombie cure. Armed with a trunk full of guinea pigs (aka zombie snacks), they’re ready to take on the Midwest’s first undead warlord, the psycho psychic out for their blood, and their own superawkward love triangle. But the virus is spreading faster than you can say “zombie apocalypse,” and Jake, Amanda, and Cass have to find the cure—if it even exists—before the whole state of Iowa goes up in flames. (Goodreads)
First lines: My first week as a zombie ended when a dark haired psychic collapsed into my arms, blood curling out of her nose, her eyes wide and pleading with me. Behind us: a farmhouse where a hoard of Iowan zombies were still snacking on recently massacred government agents. Around us: Tall grass and the unconscious bodies of our friends, courtesy of some psychic mojo I couldn’t even begin to understand. In front of us: the future, the great unknown, and probably a lot of walking.
The boy I love, Nina de Gramont
Sixteen-year-old Wren has been content to stay in her best friend Allie’s shadow. It doesn’t bother her that Ally gets the cutest guys, the cutest clothes, and even a modeling gig—Wren is happy hanging with the horses on her family’s farm and avoiding the jealousy of other girls. But when Tim, the most intriguing guy in school, starts hanging out with Ally and Wren, jealousy is unavoidable, but not the kind Wren expects. Because even though Ally is way into him and Wren hasn’t flirted, not one little bit, it becomes increasingly clear that Tim prefers Wren’s company above anyone else’s. Tim’s unexpected devotion comes at the exact time Wren’s home life is about to be turned upside down. But at least there is Tim…always a gentleman and ever dependable. But as his own seemingly perfect world comes spiraling down around him and he tells Wren his biggest secret, Wren must decide what she’ll really do for love. (Goodreads)
First lines: I could tell you that the trouble between Allie and me started with Tim Greenlaw, but that wouldn’t be completely true. If I’m going to be honest (and what’s the point of telling this story of I’m not going to be honest?), it’s never been easy having a friend who looks like Allie.
Zodiac, Romina Russell
Rhoma Grace is a 16-year-old student from House Cancer with an unusual way of reading the stars. While her classmates use measurements to make accurate astrological predictions, Rho can’t solve for ‘x’ to save her life—so instead, she looks up at the night sky and makes up stories. When a violent blast strikes the moons of Cancer, sending its ocean planet off-kilter and killing thousands of citizens—including its beloved Guardian—Rho is more surprised than anyone when she is named the House’s new leader. But, a true Cancerian who loves her home fiercely and will protect her people no matter what, Rho accepts. Then, when more Houses fall victim to freak weather catastrophes, Rho starts seeing a pattern in the stars. She suspects Ophiuchus—the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac legend—has returned to exact his revenge across the Galaxy. Now Rho—along with Hysan Dax, a young envoy from House Libra, and Mathias, her guide and a member of her Royal Guard—must travel through the Zodiac to warn the other Guardians. But who will believe anything this young novice says? Whom can Rho trust in a universe defined by differences? And how can she convince twelve worlds to unite as one Zodiac?(Goodreads)
First lines: When U think of home, I see blue. The swirl blue of the seawater, the infinite blue of the sky, the brilliant blue of Mom’s gaze. Sometimes I question if her eyes were really that blue, or if the blue of House Cancer colours them in my memory.
The last leaves falling, Sarah Benwell
Japanese teenager, Sora, is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Lonely and isolated, Sora turns to the ancient wisdom of the samurai for guidance and comfort. But he also finds hope in the present; through the internet he finds friends that see him, not just his illness. (Goodreads)
First lines: I stare at the cursor blinking expectantly at the top of the page. Who do I want to be? There are so many choices; honest, funny, brave. A superhero with a tragic past and a bright, mysterious future; with super strength or telekinetic powers. I could be anyone and they would never know.
Avalon, Mindee Arnett
Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light. Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they’re damn good at it. Jeth doesn’t care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents’ ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he’ll go to get the freedom he’s wanted for so long.(Goodreads)
First lines: Stealing a spaceship shouldn’t be this easy. Jeth Seagrave peered around the corner and counted the number of sentries standing at the docking bay terminal. There were two of them, both sporting the tan uniforms of the local guards, with matching bored expressions. He slipped back before being spotted.
First team, Tim Green
Brock Nickerson is on the run…again. But this time his dad promises it’s going to be different. With his strong left arm, Brock knows he can be a great quarterback, and with the help of his new friend, Mak, he has a plan to beat the odds and make the first team. But the coaches have plans of their own, especially for the kids from the wrong side of the tracks, which is exactly where Brock now lives. Brock is trying to finally fit in, but his father’s past is creeping up on him—and one chance meeting causes everything to come crashing down. Will Brock finally be able to navigate his new life, or will his past force him back on the run? (Goodreads)
First lines: Brock was used to running. It’s just what he and his dad did. He could hear the thump of his own pounding heart. He looked out the window. The darkness outside their racing car was complete. Clouds covered the moon and a light drizzle rushed by in a mist.
Slump, Kevin Waltman
Derrick Bowen’s sophomore year is a grind. He’s been looking forward to the basketball season all summer, but his girlfriend Jasmine leaves him for putting too much focus on basketball. The promise his Marion East basketball team showed at the end of last season isn’t materializing. And the sweet jumper D-Bow worked on all summer just isn’t falling. When Derrick’s father is severely injured in a car crash, Derrick is faced with a new reality where basketball can’t be his only priority. (Goodreads)
First lines: Any other sixteen-year-old gets invited over to his girl’s place to watch a movie and it doesn’t mean they’re going to “watch a movie.” But with Jasmine, it actually means that’s what we’re doing – sitting on the couch in her living room, her tablet between us, checking out Jackie Robinson and 42.
Rat runners, Oisin McGann
Four young criminals. One simple task: steal a mysterious box from the daughter of a dead scientist. They have to follow her, bug her phone, hack her computer, search her home, all without her knowing. But WatchWorld run this city now. On every street are cameras, X-ray scanners, microphones. Terrifying Safe-Guards can see through walls, hear your heartbeat, analyze the smell of your sweat. Their motto? If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear. But Nimmo, Scope, Manikin and FX, who work in the blind-spots of the city’s shady underworld, are soon caught in a maze of deception, treachery and murder… will they make it out of the rat-runs alive?(Goodreads)
First lines: Nimmo heard the whistles and immediately stopped what he was doing. People on the ground floor of the tenement were warning those above. There was a Safe-Guard in the building. He looked at his watch, noting the time. Six-fifteen – three hours before sundown. He needed to be gone before seven, or he’d have to leave the job for another night.
Waiting for Unicorns, Beth Hautala
After her mother dies, twelve-year-old Talia McQuinn goes to the Arctic with her father, a whale researcher. Over the course of one summer, and through several unlikely friendships, Talia learns that stories have the power to connect us, to provide hope, and to pull us out of the darkness.(Goodreads)
First lines: The Inuit woman told me that if I ever saw a unicorn, to close my eyes. Tight.
“Unicorns break your heart,” she said, all the warmth seeping out of her voice. She was warning me against the very thing I was dying to see.
Diamond boy, Michael Williams
“Diamonds for everyone.” That’s what fifteen-year-old Patson Moyo hears when his family arrives in the Marange diamond fields. Soon Patson is working in the mines himself, hoping to find his girazi–the priceless stone that could change his life forever. But when the government’s soldiers comes to Marange, Patson’s world is shattered.(Goodreads)
First lines: How did you get here, Patson? Sometimes the simple questions are the hardest to answer. My tongue lay like a chisel in my mouth; my eyes leaden. I was swimming from a place of no feeling, moving steadily upward into a world of sensation to the dark, throbbing pain that lived in my leg.
Knockout games, G. Neri
Knockout Games is set in modern day St. Louis amidst a disturbing rash of seemingly random attacks on bystanders by a group of urban teenagers in a crew called the TKO club. The protagonist, Erica, is one of a few girls who is down with TKO in part due to her natural skill with a video camera and her ability to make art out of the attacks. (Goodreads)
First lines: It came out of nowhere. The sound of Nikes charging across asphalt – the bounce of baby fat in the black kid’s face- the meat of his fist smashing into a random stranger’s jaw- I heard the SMACK! from where I was standing. Through my lens, I saw the stranger’s cigarette fly out of frame, his eyes rolling back into his head _ and then he just fell. Hard.
The Halcyon Bird, Kat Beyer
Mia has settled into her life with the Della Torres — Milan’s premier demon-catching family, accompanying them to exorcisms and even learning some way to be useful in the family trade. Then Bernardo comes into her life, handsome, well-mannered, someone who makes her forget her impossible crush on Emilio, her cousin. But always lurking in the background is the demon who possessed Mia once before, and who has not given up on possessing her again–this time for good. (Goodreads)
First lines: It was only a small candle. The first match went out, but the second took, and Nonno Giuliano nodded at the tiny flame like an old friend. The man on the floor lay perfectly still, his eyes on the ceiling, in the middle of a rug full of shattered glad, his head twisted at a frightening angle.
Seeker, Arwen Elys Dayton
Quin Kincaid has been put through years of brutal training for what she thinks is the noble purpose of becoming a revered ‘Seeker’. Only when it’s too late does she discover she will be using her new-found knowledge and training to become an assassin. Quin’s new role will take her around the globe, from a remote estate in Scotland to a bustling, futuristic Hong Kong where the past she thought she had escaped will finally catch up with her. (Goodreads)
First lines: It would be nice to make it through alive, Quinn thought, She ducked to the right as her opponent’s sword came whistling past the left side of her body, nearly slicing of her arm. Quin’s own whipsword was coiled in her hand in its whip form. With a crack, she flicked it out, and it solidified into a long sword.
Salt and storm, Kendall Kulper
Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the sea witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe and prosperous at sea. But before she could learn how to control her power, her mother – the first Roe woman in centuries to turn her back on magic – steals Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roe’s power. The one magical remnant left to Avery is the ability to read dreams, and one night she foresees her own murder. Time is running short, both for her and for the people of her island who need the witches’ help to thrive. Avery has never read a dream that hasn’t come true, but a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane tells her he can help her change her fate. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected. And as she falls in love with Tane, she learns it is his life and hers that hang in the balance. (Goodreads)
First lines: Despite my mother’s best efforts, I never forgot the day my grandmother taught me how to tie the winds. That was ten years ago, when Prince Island was more than just a rock out in the Atlantic Ocean, when its docks choked with ships, when the factory furnaces spat out a constant stream of thick black smoke and the island’s bars spat out a constant stream of laughing men, their faces round and shiny.
A cold legacy, Megan Shepherd
After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.
Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own. (Goodreads)
First lines: The last traveller’s inn on the road from Inverness was no place to die. Freezing rain lashed the windowpanes as I huddled over a warm bowl of soup in a corner of the inn’s ground floor tavern. Across the table, Montgomery rubbed a scar on his arm and stared out the window, scanning the muddy road for signs we were being pursued.
Zomburbia, Adam Gallardo
My name is Courtney Hart, and I’m here to tell you about things that suck. Being born in a podunk town like Salem, Oregon, for one. Living in a world infested with zombies? That, too. And the meat heads I go to school with? I think I’d actually take the undead over them most days. But I have a plan to get out of here and move to New York. I just have to keep selling Vitamin Z along with your fries at The Bully Burger. The secret ingredient? Zombie brains. I’ve noticed things are getting even worse lately, if that’s even possible. The zombies seem to be getting smarter and faster. If I can avoid being arrested, eaten by shufflers, or catching the eye of some stupid boy, I should be able to make it through finals week still breathing…(Goodreads)
First lines: The night shifts at Bully Burger are the absolute worst. It’s like sitting through a five-hour History lecture from Mr. Chanders, only you have to wear a festively colored polyester uniform while you do it. Maybe a car an hour comes through the drive-thru, and you get really tired of that fearful look people have in their eyes after dark.
Of metal and wishes, Sarah Fine
There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally. Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her…for a very long time.
As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it. (Goodreads)
First lines: If I believed in the devil, I’d give him credit for the shift whistle at the Gochan One factory. Its shriek rips me from a dream of the wind whispering through flowering dogwood trees. I fold the pillow over my ears, crush it down, and think of my mother singing me to sleep.
Circus of the unseen, Joanne Owen
After an accident at her grandmother’s house, Rosie is transported to a strange and sinister world populated by a cast of carnivalesque characters who reside in the Circus of the Unseen. They are reigned over by an old woman called Madam Matushka, who guards the threshold between life and death and has extraordinary powers over all around her.
This is an in-between world, a bizarre and trapped existence, but Rosie is not like the others here. She seems to be hovering between the worlds of the living and the dead, and she is a challenge to Madam Matushka. Can Rosie escape Madame Matushka’s malevolent rule and a world in limbo? And can she help resolve another mystery – one at the heart of her grandmother’s life?(Goodreads)
First lines: Long ago, when the world was young and people still though of the marsh and the mists and the witch in the woods, there lived a girl called Vasilia, whose mother fell gravely ill. On her deathbed, Vasilia’s mother called for her daughter.
Oh yeah, Audrey! Tucker Shaw
It’s 5:00 a.m. on Fifth Avenue, and 16-year-old Gemma Beasley is standing in front of Tiffany & Co. wearing the perfect black dress with her coffee in hand—just like Holly Golightly. As the cofounder of a successful Tumblr blog—Oh Yeah Audrey!—devoted to all things Audrey Hepburn, Gemma has traveled to New York in order to meet up with her fellow bloggers for the first time. She has meticulously planned out a 24-hour adventure in homage to Breakfast at Tiffany’s; however, her plans are derailed when a glamorous boy sweeps in and offers her the New York experience she’s always dreamed of. Gemma soon learns who her true friends are and that, sometimes, no matter where you go, you just end up finding yourself.(Goodreads)
First lines: It’s not like I officially ran away. Actual running away is when you just can’t take it anymore – your family or school or life in general- and you hop on a bus to some big city, change your name, and find a job clearing plates or checking coats at a restaurant.
Monstrous affections: an anthology of beastly tales, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant
Fifteen top voices in speculative fiction explore the intersection of fear and love in a haunting, at times hilarious, darkly imaginative volume.
Predatory kraken that sing with – and for – their kin; band members and betrayed friends who happen to be demonic; harpies as likely to attract as to repel. Welcome to a world where humans live side-by-side with monsters, from vampires both nostalgic and bumbling, to an eight-legged alien who makes tea. Here you’ll find mercurial forms that burrow into warm fat, spectral boy toys, a Maori force of nature, a landform that claims lives, and an architect of hell on earth. Through these, and a few monsters that defy categorization, some of today’s top young-adult authors explore ambition and sacrifice, loneliness and rage, love requited and avenged, and the boundless potential for connection, even across extreme borders.(Goodreads)
First lines: Let’s be honest. We have questions about monsters. That’s why we put this book together. That’s why you’re reading this book right now. On old maps, cartographers would draw strange beasts around the margins and wrote phrases such as “Here there be dragons.” That’s where monsters exist: in the unmapped spaces, in the places where we haven’t filled in all the gaps, in outer space or the deepest parts of the ocean.
Hello! Apologies for my absence over the last couple of weeks, I was busy getting some of my wisdom teeth taken out. I wouldn’t recommend it as a lifestyle choice, but it’s not so bad in the long run. To honour of my loss of wisdom (and teeth) I thought I would feature some toothy books, ranging from orthodontic problems to toothy beasties. Sink your teeth in!
Smile, Raina Telgemeier
“Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.” (Goodreads)
White Fang, Jack London
“In the desolate, frozen wilds of northwest Canada, White Fang, a part dog, part wolf cub soon finds himself the sole survivor of a litter of five. In his lonely world, he soon learned to follow the harsh law of the North – kill or be killed. But nothing in his young life prepared him for the cruelty of the bully Beauty Smith, who buys White Fang from his Indian master and turns him into a vicious killer – a pit dog forced to fight for money. Will White Fang ever know the kindness of a gentle master or will he die a fierce deadly killer?” (Goodreads)
Dracula, Bram Stoker
“Jonathan Harker is sent by his law firm to Castle Dracula to discuss business with Transylvania noble Count Dracula. His nightmare experience there is just the start of a macabre chain of events. Harker soon finds himself in a race against time to free his wife, Mina, and other souls who are in thrall to the evil count. Dracula must be destroyed at all costs…” (Syndetics summary)
The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan
“In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best, and the fence that protects her village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth must remain intact. After fence is breached, Mary’s world is thrown into chaos, and she must choose between her village and her future.” (Syndetics summary)
Chomp, Carl Hiaasen
“Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he’s grown up with all manner of critters, but his father is the unpredictable one. When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called “Expedition Survival!”, Wahoo figures he’ll have to do a bit of wrangling himself — to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show’s boneheaded star, before the shoot is over. And Wahoo’s acquired a shadow named Tuna — a girl who’s sporting a shiner courtesy of her old man and needs a place to hide out. They’ve only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties head out and promptly get lost themselves. And then Tuna’s dad shows up with a gun…” (Adapted from Goodreads)
Swamplandia!, Karen Russell
“The Bigtree alligator wrestling dynasty is in decline, and Swamplandia!, its island home and gator-wrestling theme park, is swiftly being encroached upon by a competitor. To save her family, Ava must journey on her own to a perilous part of the swamp called the Underworld.” (Syndetics summary)
This randomly, accidentally, turned into a horror special, complete with some pretty nice book covers, we think.
The Mark of Cain, Lindsey Barraclough. The sequel to Long Lankin! The horror! Perfect timing for Halloween reserves. This one introduces the charming Aphra (1567). “Four years have passed since the death of Ida Guerdon, and Cora is back in Bryers Guerdon in the manor house her aunt left to her. It is a cold, bitter winter, and the horrifying events of that sweltering summer in 1958 seem long past. Until Cora’s father arranges for some restoration work to take place at Guerdon Hall, and it seems that something hidden there long ago has been disturbed. The spirit of Aphra Rushes – intent on finishing what she began, four centuries ago” (goodreads.com)
Evil Librarian, Michelle Knudsen. How could we not order a book called Evil Librarian? “When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He’s really young and super cute and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the creepy look in the librarian’s eyes, or the weird feeling Cyn gets whenever she’s around him. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact… a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian, who also seems to be slowly sucking the life force out of the entire student body!” (goodreads.com).
Zomburbia, Adam Gallardo. “My name is Courtney Hart, and I’m here to tell you about things that suck. Being born in a podunk town like Salem, Oregon, for one. Living in a world infested with zombies? That, too. And the meat heads I go to school with? I think I’d actually take the undead over them most days. But I have a plan to get out of here and move to New York. I just have to keep selling Vitamin Z along with your fries at The Bully Burger. The secret ingredient? Zombie brains. I’ve noticed things are getting even worse lately, if that’s even possible. The zombies seem to be getting smarter and faster. If I can avoid being arrested, eaten by shufflers, or catching the eye of some stupid boy, I should be able to make it through finals week still breathing…” (goodreads.com)
Blackfin Sky, Kat Ellis. “When Sky falls from Blackfin Pier and drowns on her sixteenth birthday, the whole town goes into mourning – until she shows up three months later like nothing happened. Unravelling the mystery of those missing months takes Sky to the burned-out circus in the woods, where whispers of murder and kidnapping begin to reveal the town’s secrets. But Sky’s not the only one digging up the past – the old mime from the circus knows what happened to her, and he has more than one reason for keeping quiet about it.” (goodreads.com)
Donnel’s Promise, Anna Mackenzie
“When Risha takes up her mother’s throne there is celebration — for some. In the murky world of politics, how can you know who to trust, when to fight, when to run? As war between the Five Duchies threatens everyone Risha loves, the hidden truth of Cattra’s legacy is revealed — but for Risha there is no time to learn to use her arcane talent, even less to save those sacrificed in her name.” (Goodreads)
First lines: From a scarp of rock high on the slope above the citadel, Rosha gazed north. A spine of mountains steered her vision inland, across the hills and plains of LeMarc, the Elswater Sound a blue bite at the juncture of land and sea. Beyond that the distance defeated her.
The kiss of deception, Mary E. Pearson
“A princess must find her place in a reborn world.
She flees on her wedding day.
She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor’s secret collection.
She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.
She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.
The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can’t abide. Like having to marry someone she’s never met to secure a political alliance.
Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.” (Goodreads)
First lines: Journey’s end. The promise. The hope. Tell me again, Ama. About the light. I search my memories. A dream. A story. A blurred remembrance. I was smaller than you, child. The line between truth and sustenance unravels. The need. The hope. My own grandmother telling stories to fill me because there was nothing more.
The war of the four isles, Andrew McGahn
“Nearly three years have passed since Dow Amber escaped the ruin of the Twelfth Kingdom. In that time, war has raged across the Four Isles, but Dow himself has been hidden away by his Twin Islands hosts, relegated to a backwater of the war in the company of the beguiling Cassandra. But when word reaches Dow that Ignella of the Cave has been imprisoned on the infamous Ship Kings dungeon-isle of Banishment, he can be patient no longer. He sets forth on an epic voyage that will take him halfway around the world — defying storm and monster, betrayal and despair — to the heart of the greatest battle of the age, and to the discovery at last of his true purpose upon the high seas.” (Syndetics summary)
First lines: The War of the Four Isles – so called to set it apart from the Great War of eight decades earlier – was a complex and many-faceted affair, not easily summarised. But as this tale will mot join the war until the third year of the fighting, some account of the intervening years is required – and there not being the time nor space here to give that account in full, the merest summary must indeed suffice, and now follows.
Spark, Rachael Craw
“Evie doesn’t have a choice. One day she’s an ordinary seventeen year old, grieving for her mother. The next, she’s a Shield, the result of a decades-old experiment gone wrong, bound by DNA to defend her best friend from an unknown killer. The threat could come at home, at school, anywhere. All Evie knows is that it will be a fight to the death.” (Goodreads)
First lines: The dream is always the same. I’m running through a forest at night, air like warm water, lapping at my skin, warming my lungs. Above me a canopy of branches filters the moonlight in black and white – a strobe effect exaggerating the feel of speed, the pumping of my arms and legs. I am strong. Powerful. Fearless.
Playlist for a broken heart, Cathy Hopkins
“When Paige finds an old mix CD in a local charity shop, she can’t help but wonder about the boy who made it and the girl he was thinking of when he chose the songs. The tracks tell the story of a boy looking for his perfect girl, a girl to understand him, a story of being alone, being let down, misunderstood and not knowing where to turn. Following the clues of the music, Paige sets out to find the mysterious boy, going from gig to gig and band to band, hoping to track him down. But will who she finds at the end of the trail, be the boy she’s imagined?” (Goodreads)
First lines: “Here we go,” whispered Allegra.
I held my breath and waited for Mr Collins, our drama teacher, to read out who had got parts in the end-of-year play. Everyone who’d auditioned standing near the wooden stage in the school hall. It smelt of beeswax and lavender from the polish used by the cleaners who’d started the evening clear-up behind us. Please, please let me get Juliet, I prayed.
Through to you, Lauren Barnholt
“It starts with a scribbled note in class: I like your sparkle. Harper had casually threaded a piece of blue and silver tinsel through her ponytail in honor of school spirit day. And that carefree, corny gesture is what grabs Penn Mattingly’s eye. Penn—resident heartbreaker of the senior class. Reliably unreliable. Trouble with a capital “T.” Harper’s surprised by Penn’s attention—and so is Penn. The last thing he needs is a girlfriend. The note is not supposed to lead to anything. Oh, but it does. They hang out. They have fun. They talk. They make out. And after a while, it seems like they just click. But Penn and Harper have very different ideas about what relationships look like, in no small part because of their very different family backgrounds. Of course they could talk about these differences—if Penn knew how to talk about feelings. Harper and Penn understand their attraction is illogical, yet something keeps pulling them together. It’s like a crazy roller coaster—exhilarating, terrifying, and amazing all at once. And neither knows how to stop the ride…” (adapted from Goodreads)
First lines: This is how it ends:
With me crying in a bathroom and the Crowne Plaza Hotel, cursing myself for being so stupid. I knew it was wrong, I knew it wasn’t going to end well, I knew I was putting myself in a situation where I was going to end up broken hearted.
The boy’s own manual to being a proper Jew, Eli Glasman
“Yossi, at seventeen, feels as though his homosexuality makes him less of a Jew. Living as he does in Melbourne’s Orthodox Jewish community, he has a lot to hide. When non-religious rebel Josh turns up at school, Yossi is asked to look after him, and while Yossi educates Josh on the ancient traditions of their race, Josh does some educating of his own. Through their relationship, Yossi learns to see the laws of Judaism in a very new light. But when he and Josh are caught kissing in the bathhouse, Yossi’s life takes on a dramatic new turn, and he can ignore his new reality no longer.” (Goodreads)
First lines: Reading an article online from one of New York’s Jewish newspapers, I found an advertisement offering a Jewish alternative to homosexuality. I followed the link and read through everything the website had to say. The administrator of the website was a guy named Rabbi Pilcer. It took me three weeks to get up the courage to send him an email asking if I could speak with him.
A blind spot for boys, Justina Chen
“Sixteen-year-old Shana Wilde is officially on a Boy Moratorium. After a devastating breakup, she decides it’s time to end the plague of Mr. Wrong, Wrong, and More Wrong. Enter Quattro, the undeniably cute lacrosse player who slams into Shana one morning in Seattle. Sparks don’t just fly; they ignite. And so does Shana’s interest. Right as she’s about to rethink her ban on boys, she receives crushing news: Her dad is going blind. Quattro is quickly forgotten, and Shana and her parents vow to make the most of the time her father has left to see. So they travel to Machu Picchu, and as they begin their trek, they run into none other than Quattro himself. But even as the trip unites them, Quattro pulls away mysteriously…” (Goodreads)
First lines: If you want to see the world with fresh eyes, haul yourself off to the Gum Wall in Pike Place Market. At least that’s what Dad said twelve years ago when he brought me to the brick was studded with spat-out, stretched-thin, and air hardened wads of gum.
Zom-B Clans, Darren Shan
“B’s first mission with the Angels –sentient, do-gooder zombies– went horribly wrong when vicious members of the Ku Klux Klan attacked New Kirkham, a stronghold of precious human survivors. B is not about to let the racist thugs persecute innocent people, but while saving the town, one of B’s oldest friends is kidnapped by the Klan. The Angels are prepared to do what it takes to save him, but B will have to make some very hard decisions about loyalties–to old friends, to the Angels, and to new families and old.” (Goodreads)
First lines: When Becky Smith’s racist father told her to throw an innocent black boy to a pack of zombies, she did it because she had spent her whole life obeying his orders. Instantly horrified by what she had done, she told her father he was a monster and cut herself off from him.
Played, Liz Fichera
“He said: I like to keep under the radar and mostly hang out with my friends from the rez. But when I saved Riley Berenger from falling off a mountain, that rich suburban princess decided to try to save me.
She said: If I can help Sam Tracy win the heart of the girl he can’t get over, I’ll pay him back for helping me. I promised him I would, no matter what it takes.” (Goodreads)
First lines: being the good daughter wasn’t easy. First there was the guilt that gnawed at my self-esteem like a leech whenever I didn’t live up to my parents’ expectations. That guilt could be triggered by the smallest of things. Like when I snapped at Mom before school because I was late and she didn’t appreciate my lipstick shade, and she looked back at me with wide eyes as if wondering whether I was her real daughter or an imposter from outer space.
The long-awaited series edition!
Clariel, Garth Nix (October) – this book deserves special mention. It is the new novel in the Old Kingdom
trilogy series, which is super-popular (for lots of excellent reasons). The series began with Sabriel in 1995, and the last addition, Abhorsen, was published in 2003. So fans have been waiting 11 years! This is a long time in book-land. There is to be a fifth book in the series (hopefully published before 2025).
“Clariel is the daughter of the one of the most notable families in the Old Kingdom, with blood relations to the Abhorsen and, most importantly, to the King. When her family moves to the city of Belisaere, there are rumors that her mother is next in line for the throne. However, Clariel wants no part of it—a natural hunter, all she ever thinks about is escaping the city’s confining walls and journeying back to the quiet, green world of the Great Forest.But many forces conspire against Clariel’s dream. A dangerous Free Magic creature is loose in the city, her parents want to marry her off to a killer, and there is a plot brewing against the old and withdrawn King Orrikan. When Clariel is drawn into the efforts to find and capture the creature, she discovers hidden sorcery within herself, yet it is magic that carries great dangers. Can she rise above the temptation of power, escape the unwanted marriage, and save the King?” (goodreads.com)
Lone Wolf, Robert Muchamore – this is the next instalment in the CHERUB series 2. “Fay has spent eighteen months locked up in a Secure Training Centre. Drug deals and rip-offs are the only things this teenager knows. Now she’s back on the street, looking to settle old scores. CHERUB agents Ryan and Ning need Fay’s knowledge to unearth a major drug importer. They’re trained professionals with one essential advantage: even experienced criminals never suspect that children are spying on them. But Fay’s made a lot of enemies and she’s running out of time …” (goodreads.com)
The Hunted, Charlie Higson – the sixth book in the series that began with The Enemy in which people over the age of 14 are struck down by an illness that leaves them as zombies. “The others had promised that the countryside would be safer than the city. They were wrong. Now Ella’s all alone except for her silent rescuer, Scarface – and she’s not even sure if he’s a kid or a grown-up. Back in London, Ed’s determined to find her. But getting out of town’s never been more dangerous – because coming in the other direction is every SICKO in the country. It’s like they’re being called towards the capital and nothing is going to stop them…” (goodreads.com). This is the second-to-last book in the series, so expect the ending to be a total cliffhanger.
Much action this week, in various forms (zombies, assassins, fairytales gone wrong).
Fire & Ash, Jonathan Maberry – the fourth in the zombie series that started with Rot & Ruin. “Benny Imura and his friends have made it to Sanctuary, they’ve found the jet and they’ve discovered that civilization is struggling to regain its foothold in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. Scientists are on the verge of finding a cure for the zombie plague. It should be time for celebration, but it’s not. Benny’s best friend, Chong, has been infected by an arrow dipped in the flesh of a zombie and he hovers between life and death and Dr McReady, a researcher who may have the critical formula for a cure, has gone missing. So Benny convinces Captain Ledger to mount a search and rescue mission to find the doctor and help Chong. But with the Reapers still pursuing their plan to turn all zombies into super-fast shock troops even if they can save Chong, can they save themselves?” (goodreads.com)
The Elites, Natasha Ngan – “Hundreds of years into the future, wars, riots, resource crises and rising sea-levels have destroyed the old civilisations. Only one city has survived: Neo-Babel, a city full of cultures – and racial tension. Fifteen-year-old Silver is an Elite, a citizen of Neo-Babel chosen to guard the city due to her superior DNA. She’d never dream of leaving – but then she fails to prevent the assassination of Neo Babel’s president, setting off a chain of events more shocking and devastating than she could ever have imagined. Forced to flee the city with her best friend Butterfly (a boy with genetically-enhanced wings), Silver will have to fight to find her family, uncover the truth about Neo-Babel and come to terms with her complicated feelings for Butterfly.” (goodreads.com)
Allies & Assassins, Justin Somper – the first book in a new series (I think!) by the author of the Vampirates series. “They killed his brother. Now they’re coming for him… As the second prince of Archenfield, Jared never expected to rule. But behind the walls of the castle is a dark and dangerous court where murder and intrigue are never far below the surface. Now his older brother is dead. The kingdom is his. And the target is on his back. Can he find the assassin before the assassin finds him?” (goodreads.com)
Briar Rose, Jana G. Oliver – one for readers who love fairytale reimaginings (this one, Sleeping Beauty). “For Briar Rose, life is anything but a fairy tale. She’s stuck in a small town in deepest Georgia with parents who won’t let her out of their sight, a bunch of small-minded, gossiping neighbours and an evil ex who’s spreading nasty rumours about what she may or may not have done in the back of his car. She’s tired of it all, so when, on her sixteenth birthday, her parents tell her that she is cursed and will go to sleep for a hundred years when the clock strikes midnight, she’s actually kind of glad to leave it all behind. She says her goodbyes, lies down, and closes her eyes… And then she wakes up. Cold, alone and in the middle of the darkest, most twisted fairy tale she could ever have dreamed of. Now Briar must fight her way out of the story that has been created for her, but she can’t do it alone. She never believed in handsome princes, but now she’s met one her only chance is to put her life in his hands, or there will be no happy ever after and no waking up.” (goodreads.com)
Here are some new titles we’ve ordered recently for the YA collection.
Through the Zombie Glass, Gena Showalter (October) – this is the second in the White Rabbit Chronicles, where Alice in Wonderland collides with the undead. “After a strange new zombie attack, Alice fears she may be losing her mind… A terrible darkness blooms inside her, urging her to do wicked things. The whispers of the dead assault her ears and mirrors seem to come frighteningly to life. She’s never needed her team of zombie slayers more – including her boyfriend, Cole – than she does now. But as Cole strangely withdraws and the zombies gain new strength, Ali knows one false step may doom them all.” (goodreads.com)
Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy, Elizabeth Kiem (September) – ballet, spies and a bit of the supernatural come together in this gripping-sounding novel. “Marina is born of privilege. Her mother, Sveta, is the Soviet Union’s prima ballerina: an international star handpicked by the regime. But Sveta is afflicted with a mysterious second sight and becomes obsessed with exposing a horrific state secret. Then she disappears. Fearing for their lives, Marina and her father defect to Brooklyn. Marina struggles to reestablish herself as a dancer at Juilliard. But her enigmatic partner, Sergei, makes concentration almost impossible, as does the fact that Marina shares her mother’s ‘gift,’ and has a vision of her father’s murder at the hands of the Russian crooks and con artists she thought they’d left behind. Now Marina must navigate the web of intrigue surrounding her mother’s disappearance, her ability, and exactly whom she can – and can’t – trust.” (goodreads.com) The title pays homage to John Le Carre, perhaps the ultimate spy novelist.
In the Age of Love and Chocolate, Gabrielle Zevin (November) – any book with the promise of chocolate should be worth reading, and particularly if you’ve read the other two in the Birthright series. “Now eighteen, life has been more bitter than sweet for Anya. She has lost her parents and her grandmother, and has spent the better part of her high school years in trouble with the law. Perhaps hardest of all, her decision to open a nightclub with her old nemesis Charles Delacroix has cost Anya her relationship with Win. Still, it is Anya’s nature to soldier on. She puts the loss of Win behind her and focuses on her work. Against the odds, the nightclub becomes an enormous success, and Anya feels like she is on her way and that nothing will ever go wrong for her again. But after a terrible misjudgment leaves Anya fighting for her life, she is forced to reckon with her choices and to let people help her for the first time in her life.” (goodreads.com) This dystopian series is really well regarded.
Enders, Lissa Price (January 2014) – getting in early with this sequel to Starters. “With the Prime Destinations body bank destroyed, Callie no longer has to rent herself out to creepy Enders. But Enders can still get inside her mind and make her do things she doesn’t want to do. Like hurt someone she loves. Having the chip removed could save Callie’s life – but it could also silence the voice in her head that might belong to her father. Callie has flashes of her ex-renter Helena’s memories, too …and the Old Man is back, filling her with fear. Who is real and who is masquerading in a teen body?” (goodreads.com)
Some next instalments!
Stormbringers, Philippa Gregory. The sequel to Changeling, and the second of four in the Order of Darkness series. “Italy, 1453. Luca and Isolde grow more and more attracted to each other as they continue their journey to unravel the mysteries throughout Christendom. But their travels are delayed by the uprising of an intense religious crusade that threatens the balance of the civilized world. Death lingers in the air as war ravages on, but this religious conflict is nothing compared to the arrival of an intense and deadly storm. Caught in the midst of unimaginable chaos, Luca and Isolde must rely on one another in order to survive.” (goodreads.com) If you like historical romance with some fantasy, then this might be right up your street.
Zom-B: Angels, Darren Shan. Darren Shan is pumping out the Zom-B books, which is fantastic for zombie fans. They’re not telling us anything about what happens though, not even a small teaser, but we can tell you that the fifth book (Zom-B: Baby) will follow hot on its heels in September. Ah well, you can order it now and just be surprised.
Goddess, Josephine Angelini. The final book in the Starcrossed trilogy. “After accidentally unleashing the gods from their captivity on Olympus, Helen must find a way to re-imprison them without starting a devastating war. But the gods are angry, and their thirst for blood already has a body count. To make matters worse, the Oracle reveals that a diabolical Tyrant is lurking among them, which drives a wedge between the once-solid group of friends. As the gods use the Scions against one another, Lucas’s life hangs in the balance. Still unsure whether she loves him or Orion, Helen is forced to make a terrifying decision, for war is coming to her shores.” (goodreads.com)
Dare you to, Katie McGarry. Described as the sequel to Pushing the limits, although with new characters I think. “If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does… Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him. But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all…” (goodreads.com)
And one new:
Shipwrecked, Siobhan Curham. This is the first in a new series which is described as “Lost meets Gossip Girl”, which sounds quite intriguing (perhaps like Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, but a bit more serious?). “I jump at the sound of a whispered voice over my shoulder. But when I turn round all I see is sand, and the towering, green wall of the rainforest. I guess it must have been the breeze, but I can’t help shivering. I have the weirdest feeling that we’re being watched… Grace Delaney and her fellow dance students are en route to perform on a South Pacific cruise-ship when a freak storm hits and they find themselves stranded on a deserted island. With the tropical heat rising, passions and tensions swell to breaking point. And the island itself is quietly steaming with a terrible secret…” (goodreads.com)
Order some today!