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Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Category: exclusive academies for rich kids who form cliques

Upcoming additions: new fiction

Hello! Revisionings of Jane Eyre and The Phantom of the Opera, a 1920s series from the author of The Luxe, a new book from style doyenne Lauren Conrad, another winning collaboration from David Levithan and Rachel Cohn (as in the writers of Nick and Norah): just some of the titles we’ve just ordered for the young adult fiction collection.

Behemoth, Scott Westerfeld – the next book in the series where the clankers and their mechs are pitted against the Darwinists and their beasties, with Alek and Deryn stuck in the middle. If you haven’t already, read Leviathan first, which is where it all starts. They’ve also got cool illustrations by Keith Thompson.

Revolution, Jennifer Donnelly – from the author of A Gathering Light, which we rather like. The intertwining stories of two girls, one in present day Brooklyn (New York) and the other in revolutionary Paris. Here’s a book trailer (where the author talks about the inspiration for the story):


Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, David Levithan and Rachel Cohn – Lily writes a book of dares designed to entice exactly the right guy for her and leaves it in a beguiling place (a shelf in her favourite bookshop). Dash finds it and is intrigued and game, but is he indeed exactly the right guy?

Jane, April Lindner –  yay, a modern retelling of Jane Eyre, where Jane is a nanny for Nico Rathburn (actually his kids, not him), a rock star on his way back to greatness. Since it’s Jane Eyre-ish there will no doubt also be creeping mysteriousness and (I hope!) a mad woman in the attic (I will be a little disappointed if not). Also, Nico better make a good Mr Rochester.

Bright Young Things, Anna Godbersen – Luxe fans (and Gossip Girl fans)! Look here! The gorgeous elite of Manhattan in the 1920s, intrigue among the flappers, with a focus on three girls in particular: Letty and Cordelia (new to the big city) and Astrid. Anna Godbersen also helpfully has put together a playlist (it’s here – mind the html).

Jumbee, Pamela Keyes – one of those books that just sounds intriguing when you summarise: the Phantom of the Opera in the Caribbean! Esti and her mother move to a Caribbean island after the death of her father, a famous Shakespearean actor, where a spectral, mysterious friend (Alan) helps her unlock her thespian potential.

Sugar and Spice, Lauren Conrad – more from L A Candy land.

The Duff, Kody Keplinger – DUFF is the Designated Ugly Fat Friend, sadly. The story of Bianca, a seventeen year old nicknamed Duffy with a razor sharp wit and beautiful friends, who (I think) decides to even things up a bit. Don’t want to spoil things too much. Good for older teens. This is also available as a downloadable audiobook.

Swoon, Nina Malkin – a paranormal romance set in Swoon, Connecticut, with ghosts and demons, bad boys and lurve.

A Collection of New Books

Jump, Elisa Carbone (255 pages) – “a high-adrenaline love story”. P K and Critter both love rock climbing. P K is desperate to leave town, and her parents, and Critter comes along for the ride and they rock-climb their way out west (States), until the police eventually show up and decisions have to be made.

First sentence: Things I know to be true: 1 I am not my body.

The Princess and the Bear and The Princess and the Snowbird, Mette Ivie Harrison – magical, time travelling and shape-shifting books (the first in the series being The Princess and the Hound) with a hint of historical romance.

First sentence for the bear: Long ago, there lived a wild cat that was the sleekest, fastest, and bravest of its kind.

And the snowbird: Thousands of years ago, before humans ruled the world, the snowbirds flew above the earth and watched over the flow of the first, pure aur-magic, spreading the power to all, and making sure that every creature had a share.

Fallen Grace, Mary Hooper (294 pages) – Google Books says “A stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions, ranging from the deprivation that the truly poor suffered to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich: all bound up with a pacy and thrilling plot, as Grace races to unravel the fraud about to be perpetrated against her and her sister.”

First sentence: Grace, holding on tightly to her precious burden, found the station entrance without much difficulty.

Illyria, Elizabeth Hand (135 pages) – Madeline and Rogan, who are cousins, have an intense passion for each other and for the stage. A “creepy”, spooky short novel about a forbidden love, and the winner of the World Fantasy Award.

First sentence: Rogan and I were cousins; our fathers were identical twins.

The Karma Club, Jessica Brody (258 pages) – when Maddy’s boyfriend is caught cheating on her with the perfect girl, and they become the hot new couple, Maddy and her other friends form The Karma Club, “to clean up the messes that the universe has been leaving behind.” High jinks ensue, but also a right mess.

First sentence: I can tell you right now, it’s all Karma’s fault.

My Double Life, Janette Rallison (265 pages) – Lexi discovers that she is a dead ringer for a famous rock star, so she gets paid to be her body double. This might sound like an ideal sort of job, but really life isn’t like that, it’s much more complicated.

First sentence: I didn’t want to write this.

Classic (An It Girl novel – 227 pages) – the latest in the Jenny Humphrey series, where she’s trying to work out why her new boyfriend Isaac is acting “skittish”, and all other sorts of intrigue is going on, which you get at exclusive academies.

First sentence: The cold February wind whipped across the snow-covered Waverly Academy fields, cutting right through Easy Walsh’s thick Patagonia jacket.

Jealousy, Lili St Crow (A Strange Angels novel – 316 pages) – Dru has made it to her exclusive academy equivalent (the Schola Prima, a djamphir training facility). Sergej still wants to suck her blood, or tear her “to shreds”, Graves and Christophe still hate each other and now there’s Anna, who wants to show Dru who’s on top, and who’s after Christophe.

First sentence: I am lying in a narrow single bed in a room no bigger than a closet, in a tiny apartment.

The Thin Executioner, Darren Shan (483 pages) – inspired by The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and therefore a road trip type adventure book with horror twists, The Thin Executioner sees Jebel Rum travelling to the home of a fire god in order to get inhuman powers that will make him the most lethal human ever (the thin executioner), taking with him his human slave sacrifice. Things may well get dodgy along the way.

First sentence: The executioner swung his axe – thwack! – and another head went rolling into the dust.

The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya, Nagaru Tangigawa (210 pages) – a novel speckled with manga illustrations. Haruhi is the ringleader of her school’s S.O.S. Brigade, who must keep her from getting bored, because when she gets bored bad things happen and she actually has the power to destroy the world.

First (fabulous) sentence: Looking back, the memorable inauguration of the SOS Brigade, which had left me, not Haruhi, in a state of melancholy, had been back in the beginning of spring, and the incident involving the production of the independent film, which, naturally, had forced me, not Haruhi, to sigh, had technically happened in autumn if you go by the calendar.

Lost for Words, Alice Kuipers (210 pages) – the story of Sophie, who wants to forget the difficult, tragic past but is haunted by it as she struggles to make sense of her life, her friendships and her future.

First sentence: I look at the words, black like inky spiders, and watch the webs they weave.

Divided Souls, Gabriella Poole (A Darke Academy book – 298 pages) – Cassie – new to the academy – is enjoying Istanbul, but she is also torn between old and new loves. She must also choose between old friends and the Few, plus there is a killer on the hunt.

First sentence: This was no chore.

The Demon’s Covenant, Sarah Rees Brennan (440 pages) – a follow up to The Demon’s Lexicon, which got good reviews. Mae’s brother Jamie has started showing magical abilities, and Gerald (an unlikely name for a power-hungry magician?) is after him for his coven.

First sentence: “Any minute now,” Rachel said, “something terrible is going to happen to us.”

Mistwood, Leah Cypress (304 pages) – this intriguing blurb here: “The Shifter is an immortal creature bound by an ancient spell to protect the kings of Samorna. When the realm is peaceful, she retreats to the Mistwood. But when she is needed she always comes.”

First sentence: She knew every inch of the forest, every narrow path that twisted and wound its way beneath the silver branches.

Folly, Marthe Jocelyn (246 pages) – cool cover. A tale set in Victorian London about three lives intertwined; a somewhat innocent if commonsensical country girl, a heartthrob cad and a young orphan boy. Sounds entertaining.

First sentence: I began excceeding ignorant, apart from what a girl can learn through family mayhem, a dead mother, a grim stepmother, and a sorrowful parting from home.

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, Morgan Matson (343 pages) – Amy’s mother wants her to drive the family car from California to Connecticut (aka a very long way), but she’s not been able to get herself to since her dad died. Roger comes to her rescue, a friend of the family (friends of the family not usually being romantic possibilities, specially not ones called Roger), and so they set off and on the way Amy learns “sometimes you have to get lost in order to find your way home.” Another road trip!

First sentence(ish): I sat on the front steps of my house and watched the beige Subaru station wagon swing too quickly around the cul-de-sac.

Free as a Bird, Gina McMurchy-Barber (160 pages) – Ruby Jean has Down syndrome and when her grandmother dies she’s sent to Woodlands School, originally opened in the 19th century as a lunatic assylum. There she learns to survive the horrors of life.

First sentence: My name’s Ruby Jean Sharp an I growed up in Woodlands School.

We’ve also got: new The Vampire Diaries books with the TV tie-in covers (look out for The Struggle at your library). Cirque Du Freak manga.

Pretty Little Liars on telly

Pretty Little Liars is now a television series. It will premier in the US in a few days’ time. This is what it’s about!

Three years ago the leader (Alison) of a group of girls disappears. Now someone calling themselves ‘A’ is threatening to expose the secrets of the group, who all fit the Gossip Girl mold. With a bit of mystery thrown in, the series has been called ‘Desperate Housewives for teens.’

(I wrote that a year ago and now not so sure about the Desperate Housewives reference?) Anyway! You can view the trailer here, at the official site. You have to watch an ad for cheese slices first though. It’s produced by the same people who make The Vampire Diaries, which will screen here eventually, apparently.

Dear Carrie’s Diary

Book CoverThe Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell is the prequel to the popular and trend-setting Sex and the City, which inspired the ridiculously popular TV series of the same name. The Carrie Diaries follows Carrie Bradshaw in her senior year in high school, so you get an idea of how Carrie became Carrie, how she got to love writing and (maybe) expensive shoes etc. All this with 1980s American culture as a backdrop – the hair, the clothes, the eyeshadow, the music.

Yet More New Books

Another large load from the new book factory.

Meridian, Amber Kizer (305 pages) – “dark, lovely and lushly romantic” says the cover. Meridian is half human, half angel and she’s packed off to her great aunt’s to come to terms with this fact. Here she must learn how to be who she is, work out how to use her gifts, and deal with the ever-present dark danger of the Aternocti. If you like books like Hush, Hush you might be interested?

First sentence: The first creatures to see me were the insects; my parents cleaned the bassinet free of dead ants the morning after they brought me home from the hospital.

The Mark, Jen Nadol (228 pages) – Cassandra can tell when people are about to die (there’s a glow like candlelight that only she can see). After coming to terms with this fact she sets about working out what this means, and whether she can influence fate.

First sentence: There is nothing like the gut-hollowing experience of watching someone die, especially when you know it’s coming.

The Orange Houses, Paul Griffin (147 pages) – Three outsiders – Mik, who is hearing impared; Jimmi, a street poet; and Fatima, a refugee – form a tight friendship and “set off an explosive chain of events that will alter the course of each of their lives.”

First sentence: Everybody’s eyes were like, Say what?

The Lonely Hearts Club, Elizabeth Fulberg (285 pages) – Penny swears off boys and forms The Lonely Hearts Club which becomes super popular, which is only bad when the founding member of said club finds a boy she kind of likes…

First sentence: I, Penny Lane Bloom, do solemnly swear to never date another boy for as long as I shall live.

Boys, Girls & Other Hazardous Materials, Rosalind Wiseman (279 pages) – Charlie is trying to lay low in high school, since middle school ended up getting a bit ugly, but then her old best friend, Will, arrives back in town and he’s super popular on account of being hot, and Charlie ends up in the thick of things again, which turns “near deadly”. A story of friendship and what happens when you try too hard to fit in.

First sentence: Here’s the deal.

Hold Still, Nina LaCour (229 pages) – Caitlin’s friend Ingrid committed suicide, leaving behind her journal of writings and illustrations, which Caitlin reads and processes in the subsequent year.

First sentence: I watch drops of water fall from the ends of my hair.

The Vinyl Princess, Yvonne Prinz (313 pages) – Allie’s into vinyl and works at a record shop – bliss if you’re really into music. In this environment she works on her Vinyl Princess persona, publishing her first zine, blogging, and finding the true music geeks she knows must be out there. A story riding the Zeitgeist.

First sentence: I sense him in my midst.

The Life of Glass, Jillian Cantor (340 pages) – Melissa is coming to terms with the loss of her much-loved father, and with what it means to be beautiful, on the inside and the outside.

First sentence: The last thing my father ever told me was that it takes glass a million years to decay.

Last Night I Sang to the Monster, Benjamin Alire Saenz (239 pages) – Zach is eighteen and in rehab, suffering from amnesia induced by alcohol and depression. With help he can (we hope!) work through it all toward a better life.

First sentence: I want to gather up all the words in the world and write them down on little pieces of paper – then throw them in the air.

Lockdown, Walter Dean Myers (247 pages) – Reese is in juvy and wants to get out as soon as possible, but his friend Toon is getting a hard time and it’s hard being squeaky clean when people want to push you around.

First sentence: “I hope you mess this up!”

Undead Much?, Stacey Jay (306 pages) – zombies running amok again at school, with Megan Berry having to sort out the undead mess, which is hard when one of the undead might be even hotter than your hot boyfriend (and psychic too – how can you be psychic though if you don’t have a brain?).

First sentence: Okay, this was it.

A Voice of Her Own, Barbara Dana (343 pages) – subtitled “Becoming Emily Dickinson”. Emily Dickinson is one of America’s pre-eminent 19th Century poets, an unusual character known for her poems about death (‘Because I would not stop for death he kindly stopped for me’ etc), and who wore only white and refused to conform to society’s expectations. A Voice of Her Own brings to life her childhood and her unique voice.

First sentence: It was too dreary, the last of our family’s possessions piled by the side of the road as if Gypsies had relinquished squatter’s rights and were moving on to points unknown.

A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts, Ying Chang Compestine (176 pages) – the cover says “A collection of deliciously frightening tales”. Chinese ghosts, apparently, are a bit of a nightmare unless you offer them some tempting food. Lucky, then, that this collection of short stories also contains recipes.

First sentence (from ‘Steamed Dumplings’): Long ago, in 200 B.C.E., there was a small village called Bright Stars situated in the northern mountains of China, along the midsection of the Great Wall.

Nothing, Janne Teller (227 pages) – translated from the Danish and described as ‘A Lord of the Flies for the twenty-first century’. Pierre Anthon climbs a plum tree and doesn’t come down because life is worth nothing. His friends are, unsurprisingly, concerned for him, so set about proving there is meaning in life by creating a “pile of meaning” in a sawmill, an exercise which sounds pretty cool on face value, but becomes sinister as the friends push each other beyond the limit.

First sentence: Nothing matters.

The Billionaire’s Curse, Richard Newsome (355 pages) – Gerald is a billionaire at thirteen, which sounds pretty cool, but his new status as a billionaire means he must solve a murder, with the help of his friends, because his life is in imminent danger.

First sentence: The clock on the wall chimed twice.

Drama Girl, Carmen Reid (Secrets at St Jude’s, 287 pages) – Gina, Niffy and Amy discover that mixing their home friends and their school friends can be problematic. Drama ensues.

First sentence: ‘Mom!’ Gina Peterson exclaimed, holding her arms wide for a hug.

Some more of the truckload of new books

Still going.

Almost Perfect, Brian Katcher (357 pages) – Logan begins a relationship with Sage, sort of, only to discover that she’s a boy (transgender). Obviously this is a major thing for him to work through: will he be able to maintain a friendship with her?

First sentence: Everyone has that one line they swear they’ll never cross, the one thing they say they’ll never do.

Demon Princess: Reign or Shine, Michelle Rowen (284 pages) – Nikki finds out that her absent father is the demon king of Shadowlands, so she follows the bearer of the news there to find out more (the bearer happens to be cute). As you’d expect with hereditary titles, her father’s keen for her to take the throne.

First sentence: “That guy is staring at you.”

Archenemy, Frank Beddor (370 pages) – the gripping conclusion to The Looking Glass Wars. Something strange is happening to Wonderland, and it’s not just Arch declaring himself king. Conundrums of evaporating puddles, shimmering portals, assassins, metamorphoses, action aplenty. The dude on the cover has got the coolest suit of armour and gun thingy ever.

First sentence: Alyss of Wonderland raced up the front walk, using her imagination to unlock the door and turn the latch.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Nagaru Tanigawa (200 pages) – First published in Japan in 2003 and described as “the phenomenon that took Japan by storm” which is super cool. Haruhi and Kyon set up an after school club, as you do, all very usual. Unusually, Haruhi has the power to destroy the universe.

First sentence: The question of how long someone believed in Santa Claus is a worthless topic that would never come up in idle conversation.

Punkzilla, Adam Rapp (244 pages) – Jamie, who is Punkzilla, embarks on a road trip to visit his brother who is dying of cancer. Along the way he catalogues, in epistolary fashion (letter writing), the gritty, freakish and interesting people he meets along the way.

First sentence: Hey, I’m finally writing you back.

One Wish, Leigh Brescia (311 pages) – An overweight teenager who determines to do something about this, and is largely successful, learns that the grass is not necessarily greener on the skinny and beautiful side of the fence, particularly when you go to great (dodgy) lengths for your new svelte body.

First sentence: Nobody ever asks you if you want to be popular.

Darke Academy: Secret Lives, Gabriella Poole (267 pages) – The first in a series which I’m going to describe merely by quoting the tagline on the cover (and you can do the rest): “You’ll be dying to join the chosen few.” Good news is the next book, Blood Ties, is less than six months away.

First sentence: “Hey, is that you?”

Tricks, Ellen Hopkins (625 pages) – A novel in verse, interweaving the stories of five different teenagers. Sounds clever, quite serious subject matter.

First sentence: But do they know how / to craft fiction?

Little Black Lies, Tish Cohen (305 pages) – Sara is at a new school in a new town, which seems like the perfect recipe for starting again and leaving behind her difficult past, especially with the help of a few fabrications of truth: popularity awaits. But then a dethroned popular girl starts getting suspicious.

First sentence: “What the…?” Gripping the vinyl passenger seat of the VW bus, I try not to hit the window as my father takes a corner too fast in his rush not to be late for our first day at Boston’s illustrious Anton High School.

That’s it for now. Yet more to come!

Top 10: Series about fabulous rich girls

The success of the Gossip Girl series has led to a number of similarly-themed series. They tend to have several things in common: the main characters are girls, who are rich, or share the same social circles as the über-rich, and they go to an exclusive private school; the books are usually set in (or near) New York; and most of the characters favour style over substance (afterall, it’s difficult to be friendly towards someone in a denim skirt). Sometimes they’re undead, or even just dead.

So here’s a list (in no particular order):

1. The Gossip Girl – The series so popular it’s now a television series! It’s set on the Upper East Side of Manhatten, which is New York’s Oriental Parade, only vastly more wealthy and stylish. No beach, however. The books are about a group of friends/enemies, their designer clothes and parties. The Gossip Girl herself anonymously writes about them. The school is called the Constance Billard School for Girls. There’s a gazillion books in the series.

2. The It Girl – The ‘It Girl’ in the title went to the Constance Billard School for Girls but was so poorly behaved she was sent to the very exclusive Waverly Prep boarding school. She will do anything – anything! – get to be one of the Waverly elite. This series is one of the two Gossip Girl spin-offs (all were created by Cecily von Ziegesar, but most are written by other people).

3. Gossip Girl: The Carlyles – The Carlyle triplets move from Nantucket to NYC after the death of their grandmother. They go to Constance Billard (and St. Jude’s School for Boys, for one of them is a boy) and quickly prove to be even more vicous – and fabulous – than Serena, Blair, etc. (Official website for Gossip Girl.)

4. The Ashleys, by Melissa De la Cruz – At Miss Gamble’s Preparatory School for Girls the three reigning princesses of popularity are all named Ashley; hence ‘The Ashleys’. New-comer Lauren is determined to enter their group. This series is set in San Francisco, and not New York, which is a shame but there you have it. (Official website.)

5. The Clique, by Lisi Harrison – The Clique are a group of girls who are the top of the popularity food chain at their private school.  The books are notable (according to the Library School Journal) for the characters’ cruelty. Awesome! It’s set in Westchester County, New York, where the X-Men hang out (incidentally). Who would win in a fight? The first book was made into a direct-to-DVD film, newly arrived at the library. (Official website.)

6. Inside Girl, by J Minter – Fourteen-year-old Flan Flood’s family are all incredibly beautiful socialites, but she decided to break with tradition and goes to a typical public school. It’s a spin-off from another series by J. Minter, The Insiders, which is more in keeping with the other series in this list. Set in and around lower Manhattan. (Official website.)

7. Pretty Little Liars, by Sara Shepard – Three years ago the leader (Alison) of a group of girls disappears. Now someone calling themselves ‘A’ is threatening to expose the secrets of the group, who all fit the Gossip Girl mold. With a bit of mystery thrown in, the series has been called ‘Desperate Housewives for teens.’ (Official website.)

8. Blue Bloods, by Melissa de la Cruz – Set amongst Manhattan’s elite teens, Blue Bloods throws vampirism into the mix. (Official website.)

9. Vampire Academy, by Rachelle Mead – St Vladimir’s is a private academy (in Montana, not NY) for vampires and the half-vampires who protect them. The series is notable for being set in a gritty and dark world which doesn’t hold back. Perhaps not so in keeping with this list, but the academy is about as exclusive as it gets and one of the main characters is a princess. A vampire princess. (Official website.)

10. The Luxe, by Anna Godberson – Most reviewers remark that this series is essentially Gossip Girl – Manhattan, rich glamorous people, and so on – set in 1899. I’m not sure what the ‘Luxe’ in the title refers to, but funnily enough 1899 was the year that Lux soap was launched in the UK. (Official website.)

New DVDs

The latest additions to the YA DVD collection;

Mirror Mirror (PG) – There are 20 episodes in this double-disc DVD about two girls, separated by 100 years, who can travel through identical mirrors to the other’s time.
Doctor Who – The Next Doctor (PG) – This is the 2008 Xmas special. Cybermen stalk through Victorian London and the Doctor encounters another Doctor.
Archies (G) – A collection of the first series of the Archie animated show. It’s from 1976!
The Clique (PG) – A group of rich girls + one new not-so-trendy girl = this Tyra Banks produced series.
Scary Movie 3.5 (M) This is the ‘longer, funnier’ version of Scary Movie 3.
ReBoot : Daemon Rising & My Two Bobs (PG) – ReBoot was the first full-length CGI television show and ran from 1994 to 2001.

Beautiful new books & DVDs

Remember This, by S. T. Underdahl (282 pages) – Lucy’s looking foward to summer. But she embarrasses herself when trying out for the cheerleading team, ends up dating a boy she previously disliked, and has to watch her grandmother suffer from the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

First sentences: ‘Remember this: I love you. It was the special saying my Nana Lucy and I had for each other, ever since I was tiny.

Sword : A Novel, by Da Chen (232 pages) – Martial arts expert Miu Miu turns fifteen and is told by her mother about her father’s violent death. Miu Miu is asked to avenge her father, and to find her fated true love, all in the faraway city of Chang’an. The Emperor has ‘other plans’.

First sentence: ‘On the morning of Miu Miu’s fifteenth birthday, her mother did not arrange a visit by a matchmaker, as all the mothers of Goose Village did when their daughters reached marriageable age.

The Bloodstone Bird, by Inbali Iserles (326 pages) – Sash finds a riddle in his father’s study, which leads him – and his enemy, Verity – on the search for a magical bird. Their search takes them to a dazzling new world.

First sentence: ‘“In the beginning, Aqarti was a lush paradise surrounded by endless sea.”

Sharp Shot, by Jack Higgins and Justin Richards (297 pages) – Twins Jade and Rich are kidnapped and find themselves at the centre of a deadly plot, involving the first Gulf War and explosives. This is the third book in a series.

First sentence: ‘John Chance raised his powerful binoculars and focused on the low building on the other side of the sand dune.

The Other Side of the Island : A Novel, by Allegra Goodman (280 pages) – Honor and her family move to Island 365, where the weather is always nice, there’s no unhappiness or violence, and everyone prays to Earth Mother and her Corporation. Honor and her family don’t fit in, however, and she meets Helix; together they uncover a terrible secret about the island.

First sentence: ‘All this happened many years ago, before the streets were air-conditioned.

Crushed : A Year in Girl Hell, by Meredith Costain (137 pages) – It’s Lexi’s first year of high school and life is changing fast. Her friends split up and Lexi has to choose between her old friends and her new, cooler friends. And she develops a crush on Jack, one of the cool kids. For younger teens.

First sentence: ‘“Lexi, can you hurry up please?”

Undiscovered Country : A Novel, by Lin Enger (308 pages) – Seventeen-year-old Jesse is out hunting with his father in Minnesota on a cold, wintery day. His father is shot; and it looks like he had killed himself. His father’s ghost begins to haunt Jesse, and he soon uncovers family secrets and his own, new responsibility. This book is a ‘bold reinvention’ of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

First sentence: ‘As I write this, I am sitting in the kitchen of the small house where we’ve lived now for a decade.

Fouth Comings : A Novel, by Megan McCafferty (310 pages) – This is the fourth Jessica Darling book and it will be very difficult to summarise in my usual two or three sentences. But if you’ve read the others you will be hanging out for this (I know Grimm will probably be first to read it).

First sentence: ‘”Waiting sucks.” The voice was male and came from behind my right shoulder.

Bliss, by Lauren Myracle (444 pages) – Bliss has grown up in a Californian commune, and is sent to live with her strict grandmother and to study at Crestview, an exclusive school for the rich with an old, dark history. There she is targetted by Sandy, a girl obsessed with the occult. A ‘contagiously creepy tale of high school horror.’

First sentence: ‘Grandmother won’t tolerate occultism, even of the nose-twitching sort made so adorable by Samantha Stevens, so I’m not allowed to watch Bewitched.’

In brief:
The Beginner’s Guide to Living, by Lia Hills (248 pages)
A Small Free Kiss in the Dark, by Glenda Millard (225 pages)
Dead is a State of Mind, by Marlene Perez (175 pages)
Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, retold by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Chris Riddell (347 pages)
Saving Sam, by Susan Brocker (192 pages)

New DVDs:
Skykids (Rated M) – Two friends sneak aboard a plane for a look and it takes off. They discover a bomb and then – to compound the dire situation further – realise that they’re the only ones left on board.
Grange Hill Series 1 & 2 (Rated PG) – Grange Hill was a British drama series about a group of kids at a high school. It lasted from 1978 until late last year. This DVD collects the first two series. Very retro. Maybe.

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