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

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New! Books!

Not too many this week. Sorry, bibliophiles!

Monsters of Men : Chaos Walking Book 3, by Patrick Ness (602 pages! Massive) – This is the third and final volume in the Chaos Walking trilogy, which are all always out and have a hefty reserve queue. It’s won awards! This is a ‘heart-stopping novel about power, survival, and the devastating realities of war.’ Awesome.

First line: ‘“War,” says Mayor Prentiss, his eyes glinting. “At last.”

When Courage Came to Call, by L. M. Fuge (326 pages) – This was started by the author when she was 10, and finished when she was 14. It’s set in the fictional city of Zamascus, just as it is invaded by the nasty Inigo, and Imm and his brother must do whatever they can to survive.

First line: ‘I was in the teaching house when the first bomb hit.

Slice : Juicy Moments from my Impossible Life, by Steven Herrick (222 pages) – ‘Darcy can cope with parents, parties, punch-ups, his infatuation with the beautiful Audrey, even the misadventures of kayaking on a school excursion. If only he’d learn to keep his mouth closed.’ (Pulled from the back blurb.)

First lines: ‘My name is Darcy Franz Pele Walker. Ignore the middle names. I do.

Possessing Jessie, by Nancy Springer (88 pages) – Jessie’s popular brother died a week ago, and when she starts imitating the way he cut his hair, wearing his clothes, and even copying the way he walked, her mother seems to brighten and she (Jessie, not the mother!) becomes the centre of attention at school. But soon this ‘weird obsession’ take over! A remarkably complex story for a book of only 88 pages.

First line: ‘Jessie put on her brother’s True Athlete T-shirt.

Jack Flint and the Dark Ways, by Joe Donnelly (276 pages) – This is the third Jack Flint book. Sorcerers, gargoyles, nightshades, giant spiders, and all kinds of evil badness get in Jack’s path as he continues his search for his old man.

First line: ‘Jack Flint had never felt so completely alone in his life.

Darke Academy : Blood Ties, by Gabriella Poole (288 pages) – This, the second Darke Academy book, has vampires, fairies, and (obviously!) supernatural content, according to the subject headings in the catalogue.

First lines: ‘“Hey kiddo. Are we keeping you up?” The voice sounded familiar, but somehow muffled and distant.

Montacute House, by Lucy Jago (278 pages) – A boy is found dead, and Cess’s friend disappears; are they connected? Cess thinks so, and attempts to solve the mystery, becoming involved in a ‘terrible intrigue’. Set in 1596, and there may be witches.

First lines: ‘“Ugh, droppings between my toes.’ Cess kicked off her clogs anyway, because they were rubbing.

Checkered Flag Cheater, by Will Weaver (198 pages) – Trace Bonham (not Tracy Bonham! Let’s be clear) is the teen driver for a professional Super Stock racing team. He always wins on the track and off the track, but does he deserve it? Let the title offer a clue.

First line: ‘Trace Bonham poked the Seek button.

Breathless, by Jessica Warman (311 pages) – Katie Kitrell is a swimming prodigy, and at her new school she tries to become popular as well as a swimming star, all the while she’s trying to cope with the recent death of her older, institutionalised brother.

First line: ‘There’s a man feeding the koi in our fishpond because my parents don’t want to do it themselves.

Calling all supernatural creatures

Are there any more out there? The teen blog new books posts have been inundated by angels recently (see this, for example), and we’re told that they’re the new vampire. We were told previously that zombies were the new vampire, but it’s tough being a romantic love interest when you’ve got no brain (or is it?). Last year I thought maybe fairies would do the trick.

So, if you’re getting picky about your supernatural creatures (fair enough), then here’s a tip on how to search for them in the library catalogue: in the classic catalogue, choose a keyword search and then type, for example, zombies young adult fiction (or zombies fiction if you want to broaden your search). You’ll end up with a list that looks a little something like this. So, they’re all here: zombies, fairies, angels, vampires.

If you want to do some more in-depth browsing then Fiction Connection in MyGateway would be an excellent place to start.

Getting back to angels, here are a few novels that feature angels, but not necessarily in the dark, brooding, fallen romantic sense that you might be interested in:

Meridian, Amber Kizer (2010). While, yes, this does appear to be romantic, the angel is a girl angel, so worth noting.

Going Bovine, Libba Bray (2009). Going Bovine contains a bizarre collection of characters, including Dulcie, who is, I’m pretty sure, an angel, with pink hair and white wings even.

Skellig, David Almond (1999). Michael moves into his family’s garage as his premature baby sister fights for her life and his home becomes an anxious place. In the garage is Skellig, a creature that appears to be part owl, part angel, who is not doing too well, so Michael and his neighbour Mina nurse him back to health.

Dark Angel, L J Smith (1998). Once again, L J Smith is so cutting edge that she’s got in at least 10 years before others (the first Vampire Diaries book was published in 1991), and she’s already done angels. Angel saves Gillian’s life and becomes like her guardian angel, who only she can see. Gillian’s star is on the rise, thanks to Angel’s influence, and her crush starts to notice her, but then her life becomes increasingly dark and dangerous…

New Books

Crocodile Tears, Anthony Horowitz (385 pages) – Alex is recruited for a seemingly simple mission – download some data from a computer in a plant engineering lab while on a school mission – but of course in the world of espionage things are never simple. We’re thinking that a normal school life just isn’t going to happen for poor old Alex.

First sentence: Ravi Chandra was going to be a rich man.

Claim to Fame, Margaret Peterson Haddix (256 pages) – Lindsay is a former child star who suffered a breakdown at age 11, partly because she can hear everything anyone says about her around the world. That’d be tough. Now she is 16, and trying to learn how to cope with her talent in a new, isolated place, when a group of teenagers “rescue” (kidnap) her and force her to confront her situation.

First sentence: I was supposed to be doing my algebra homework that night.

Chasing Brooklyn, Lisa Schroeder (412 pages) – a novel in verse. Nico and Brooklyn are haunted by the ghosts of their dead brother/boyfriend and Brooklyn’s best friend Gabe, but neither can admit it to the other.

First sentence: I lost my boyfriend, Lucca.

Same Difference, Siobhan Vivian (287 pages) – “Emily’s life reeks of the ordinary: she lives in suburban New Jersey in a posh gated community and hangs out at Starbucks with her friends in a town where most of the buildings are old, and if they’re not, they’re eventually made to look that way. When Emily heads to Philadelphia for a summer art institute—complete with an eclectic cast of funky classmates and one dreamy teaching assistant—she faces the classic teen dilemma of whether to choose the familiar over the new and exciting, while figuring out who she really is: Emily from Cherry Grove or Emily the aspiring artist?” (Amazon.com)

First sentence: When I was a kid, I drew clouds that looked like bodies of cartoon sheep.

By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead, Julie Anne Peters (200 pages) – A story about “how bullying can push young people to the very edge.” (Book Cover)

First sentence: The white boy, the skinny, tall boy with shocking white hair, sneaks behind the stone bench and leans against the tree trunk.

Eyes Like Stars, Lisa Mantchev (Theatre Illuminata, Act I: 356 pages) – This looks interesting and mighty hard to explain! So I shall quote Suzanne Collins (out from underneath the barcode): “All the world’s truly a stage in Lisa Mantchev’s innovative tale, Eyes Like Stars. Magical stagecraft, unmanageable fairies, and a humourous cast of classical characters form the backdrop for this imaginative coming-of-age.”

First sentence: The fairies flew suspended on wires despite their tendency to get tangled together.

Jonas, Eden Maguire (Beautiful Dead Book 1, 271 pages) – Jonas, Arizona, Summer and Phoenix have all mysteriously died at Ellerton High in one year. This is the story of Jonas’ death, the unanswered questions, and Darina, who has visions of Phoenix, her dead boyfriend, and the others. What are the visions, and who are the beautiful dead?

First sentence: The first thing I heard was a door banging in the wind.

Freefall, Ariela Anhalt (247 pages) – Something bad happened on the cliff one night and the police want to know. Hayden may be up for murder, and his friend Luke is the only witness. Luke must come to terms with what happened and what that means for his friendship.

First sentence: Luke Prescott stood at the top of the cliff, his toes curled over the edge and pointing downward.

The Miles Between, Mary E Pearson (265 pages) – Destiny and three of her friends hit the road in a story that “explores the absurdities of life, friendship, and fate – and also the moments of grace and wonder.” (Book cover)

First sentence: I was seven the first time I was sent away.

Bleeding Violet, Dia Reeves (454 pages) – Hanna, who suffers from bipolar disorder, moves to the town of Portero in Texas, where she meets up with Wyatt, a member of a demon-hunting organisation. Meanwhile, an ancient evil threatens the town…

First sentence: The truck driver let me off on Lamartine, on the odd side of the street.

This Week in New Books

Th1rteen R3asons Why, Jay Asher (288 pages) – (Thirteen Reasons Why) Hannah Baker committed suicide and left several cassettes (those analogue recording things) for Clay Jensen, explaining the thirteen reasons why she killed herself. The cassettes send Clay on a night-long trip around town, learning the truth about Hannah and also himself.

First line: “Sir?” she repeats. “How soon do you want it to get there?”

The Piper’s Son, Melina Marchetta (328 pages) – five years after Francesca was saved, Tom needs a bit of help, as the back cover says: “Thomas Mackee wants oblivion. Wants to forget parents who leave and friends he used to care about and a string of one-night stands, and favourite uncles being blown to smithereens on their way to work on the other side of the world… in a year when everything’s broken, Tom realises that his family and friends need him to help put the pieces back together as much as he needs them.”

First line: The string slices into the skin of his fingers and no matter how tough the calluses, it tears.

Darklight, Lesley Livingston (310 pages) – the follow on from Wondrous Strange. Kelley is propelled out of rehearsals for Romeo and Juliet and into the Otherworld where she is reunited with Sonny but caught in faerie stuff, which is nearly always potentially deadly, and always intriguing.

First line: The old man lay crumpled on the flagstones in front of a Park Avenue brownstone, his lifeblood oozing from five small holes in his neatly buttoned tweed vest like sap from a maple tree tapped in spring.

The Season, Sarah McLean (343 pages) – Anna Godbersen says, “The Season is frothy, girly, wicked, and wise to the tender, tenuous and sometimes very strong ties between young people throughout the ages.” In other words, in a similar vein to The Luxe, The Season follows elite young women, this time in regency London (being regency it’s probably too early for an exclusive academy though). Lady Alexandra Stafford is more interested in adventure than romance, which proves to be a recipe for espionage, murder, mystery and action. Looks gripping.

First line: The rain fell steadily on the slick rocks marking the edge of the Essex countryside, where the land fell in sheer cliffs to a frigid winter sea.

Wish, Alexandra Bullen (323 pages) – Olivia’s twin sister Violet is gone, leaving her (Olivia) broken hearted. One day a magical dress arrives on her doorstep, entitling her to one wish. She wishes for Violet back.

First line: Some girls are wishaholics.

Sweet Little Lies, Lauren Conrad (309 pages) – subtitled: an L A Candy Novel. Jane and Scarlett are on the reality TV show L. A. Candy. Being in the spotlight means that Jane is tabloid fodder when photos of her are leaked to the press. Secrets and lies…

First line: Jane Roberts sat up on her white chaise longue and gazed at the horizon between the vast blue ocean and the vast blue sky.

This is just a small sample: more next week. Have a good weekend!

New Books Add On

And also:

Jumping off Swings, Jo Knowles (230 pages) – a novel from four perspectives about teenagers having to grow up really fast: Ellie, who gets pregnant; Caleb, who loves Ellie but didn’t, you know; Corinne, who is Ellie’s best friend; and Josh who, you know. A gritty real life drama.

First sentence: I can still feel a trace of his warm lips against mine as he slips away from me and fumbles for the door to his father’s van.

A Trick of the Dark, B R Collins (311 pages) – Zach is convincingly buried under the collapsed wall of a derelict building and should be dead but isn’t. After the accident a strange boy starts trailing Zach mysteriously…

First sentence: Wake up.

The Midnight Charter, David Whitley (372 pages) – Everything can be bought and sold in Agora, even human life. Mark and Lily, living a life of virtual slavery, decide to escape, but can they, when they are, for some reason, watched by the ruler of the city? (This summary was brought to you by the comma.)

First sentence: Being dead was colder than Mark had expected.
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The White Horse Trick, Kate Thompson (342 pages) – These fairies are Irish, which is what all good fairies are. Devastating climate change has hit Ireland, and the ramifications of this are felt in Tír na n’Og (the land of eternal youth, Ireland’s alter ego I think). JJ, an old man, is sent from their back to Ireland to sort out the problem, which is difficult since technically he’s dead in Ireland (being a fairy he’s older than is humanly possible) and must use the “dangerous white horse trick” to make his journey possible. This sounds intriguing.

First sentence: They came in the dead of night when the family was sleeping.

Wheels of War, Sally Prue (271 pages) – Set in England in 1822. Will is too young to go to war, but history suggests that this is not the case. Left behind with the women and children, soon he finds the war is coming to him. [I notice that likely lads in historical fiction are often called Will, a likely name.]

First sentence: Red, for blood.

No Way to Go, Bernard Ashley (287 pages) – Amber’s brother falls to his death from the roof of an apartment building, but Amber is certain this is not an accident; she is determined to find out the truth.

First sentence: Amber Long stared into the policeman’s face.

Some Books to Read in the Holidays

summerreadingIf you’re looking for something to read over summer, here’s some interesting fiction that arrived in the library some time during 2009. Where the book is a sequel or part of a series we’ve also listed the other books (in order) so as not to ruin your reading experience. We’ve also included the blurb we wrote when the books came in, for your reference.

A Small Amount of Horror

Fen Runners, John Gordon – Tom Townsend lost the blade of his skate in an accident on the frozen fens years ago, and since then has been plagued by nightmares. His granddaughter, Jenny, is haunted too, and then her friend Kit pulls something out of the fen water.

The Enemy, Charlie Higson – The Enemy is the first book in a new trilogy with zombies – a whole lot of zombies. Reviews suggest this is rather scary, and overall really rather good. Plus it has black page edges. Website

The Devouring, Simon Holt – “Your body is here, but not your soul…” says the cover. Yoicks! The Vours are “evil, demonic beings that inhabit human bodies on Sorry Night, the darkest hours of the winter solstice.” (Book cover) Website

Zombie Blondes, Brian James – The girl on the cover has disturbingly large eyes (courtesy of artist Sas Christian). Blonde zombie cheerleaders are the most popular girls in the school that Hannah Sanders finds herself attending. It seems to be a cross between The Stepford Wives and Twilight (the concept of new girl in school coming across the undead, you understand). Worth a look.

Wake and Fade, Lisa McMann – (for Fade) The dream catchers Janie and Cabel must expose something horrid that’s going on at Fieldridge High. Website

The Parliament of Blood, Justin Richards – When an Egyptian mummy wakes up in the British Museum Eddie and George, Liz and Sir William (first seen in The Death Collector) are on hand to rescue the situation, which is a good thing, since they’re the only ones who know just how scary this particular mummy truly is.

The Kiss of Death, Marcus Sedgwick (companion to My Swordhand is Singing) – Set in eighteenth century Venice. Peter is still chasing the Shadow Queen, who is amassing an impressive undead army. In amongst this is Marko and Sorrel, both trying to uncover the mysteries surrounding their fathers.

Bit of a Laugh

I Love You, Beth Cooper, Larry Doyle – Denis Cooverman announces to everyone at his graduation that he loves Beth Cooper, the head cheerleader. Unfortunately her boyfriend, Kevin, is on leave from the United States Army and isn’t too happy. ‘Complications ensue’. Doyle is a former writer for The Simpson, and this book is extremely funny. They made it into a movie too.

The Reformed Vampire Support Group, Catherine Jinks – becoming undead and never aging would make you slightly nuts. Nina’s been fifteen for “a while” and finds life boring and unfun. Then one of the members of her therapy group is mysteriously staked and Nina and co have to find out who’s the culprit: their unlives are at stake (I’m sorry, that’s pretty bad). [It’s still bad.]

Spanking Shakespeare, Jake Wizner – Shakespeare Shapiro hopes that his writing project – a memoir – will bring him ‘respect, admiration, and a girlfriend … or at least a prom date.’ He hates his name, his family is eccentric, and he’s pretty socially inept.

Past Tense

What I Saw and How I Lied, Judy Blundell – Evie’s father returns from World War II and everything appears normal, however a web of deception surrounds him and handsome young Peter, one of Evie’s father’s company. Evie must get to the heart of things and ultimately choose between love and family loyalty.

Lost, Jacqueline Davies – Set in New York in the early 1900s.  The story of Essie, who lives in virtual poverty with her mother and siblings, is woven into a retelling of two historical events; the disappearance of a New York heiress and the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire. Nice cover.

The Bride’s Farewell, Meg Rosoff – Pell runs away on the morning of her wedding and hits the road to uncover the secrets of her past. From the author of How I Live Now.

Fantasy (may contain cool gadgetry)

The Looking Glass Wars, Seeing Redd, and Archenemy, Frank Beddor – (for Archenemy) 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. Website

Fever Crumb, Philip Reeve – A new book in the Infernal Engines world; huge, armoured fortresses that move across the wastelands. The book has a neat cover! Website

Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld – ‘In an alternate 1914 Europe, fifteen-year-old Austrian Prince Alek, on the run from the Clanker Powers who are attempting to take over the globe using mechanical machinery, forms an uneasy alliance with Deryn who, disguised as a boy to join the British Air Service, is learning to fly genetically-engineered beasts.’ The book has terrific illustrations throughout. [Another cool cover. Since here at teen blog we’re all about the pictures.]

Flora Segunda and Flora’s Dare, Ysabeau S Wilce – (for Flora’s Dare) Apart from comments about the incredibly long and eccentric book titles (have a look at the catalogue link) we had this to say: Awarding-winning fantasy. And it has a giant squid.

A Small Amount of Fantasy with Romance

Fire, Kristin Cashore (companion to Graceling) – Fire is a human monster who is irresistible to humans (and other monsters) and is able to influence minds. Thought control: cool (in theory). This book is called a companion because it has one linking character – you get to find out what made Leck so Leck-ish. I may write a review of this book some time soon – it has some interesting positives and negatives. One positive is the creepy Prologue.

Hush, Hush, Becca Fitzpatrick – Nora Grey isn’t interested in romance until transfer student Patch appears. He’s dreamy [sexy, more like] and mysterious and he’s also an angel, I think? [Yes indeed] If you like Twilight you may appreciate this – reviewers have commented favourably on the character of Nora compared with Bella. Facebook

Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange and Fragile Eternity, Melissa Marr – (for Fragile Eternity, me making this up just now) After a shift in focus in Ink Exchange, the story returns to Ash, Seth and Keenan, focussing most on Seth and his conundrum (one faced by many at the moment: how does one love an immortal?). Website

Princess Ben…, Catherine Gilbert Murdock – Again a long title! Princess Ben, held by the nasty Queen Sophia, learns the magical arts and saves the kingdom. Catherine Gilbert Murdock has previously written about the marvellous DJ Schwenk (Dairy Queen, The Off Season and now Front and Center), so this is a really different tack for her!

Lament, Maggie Stiefvater – Deirdre is not only a gifted musician, she’s also been lumped with the gift of seeing faeries, which means she becomes entangled in a faerie war that is as old as the hills.

Intrigue

The Nostradamus Prophecy, Teresa Breslin – Nostradamus has predicted a massacre, but King Charles doesn’t believe him; his mother, Catherine de’ Medici, does, however. So to does Melisande, the minstrel’s daughter, who ends up with some parchments written by Nostradamus that hold the secret of the French royal line. Adventure ensues!

The Robber Baron’s Daughter, Jamila Gavin – Philip Pullman describes this as a “rich and almost gothic drama” (Amazon.co.uk). The back cover tells me, “Nettie lives a privileged life… but everything changes when her beloved tutor, Miss Kovachev, vanishes.” The story travels between central London and (interestingly) Bulgaria.

Romantic (but not all just for girls)

Swim the Fly, Don Calame – you thought right: this is a novel where swimming is involved. It’s a humorous coming-of-age novel which wonders if it’s harder to swim the 100 metres butterfly or impress a really hot girl. Doing the one well might cause the other to happen, and hopefully it’s not a case of neither.

Along for the Ride, Sarah Dessen – From the library catalogue’s description: ‘When Auden impulsively goes to stay with her father, stepmother, and new baby sister the summer before she starts college, all the trauma of her parents’ divorce is revived, even as she is making new friends and having new experiences such as learning to ride a bike and dating.’

Cruel Summer, Alyson Noel – Colby Cavendish ditches her dorky image and her dorky best friend and dreams of a summer spent larking it up on the beach. But! Her parents send her to spend summer in Greece with her aunt. Which sounds great to me, but Colby isn’t having any of it. Until she meets Yanni, that is. Yannniiii.

Something, Maybe, Elizabeth Scott – Hannah’s parents are famous and notorious, and she’s managed to live life under the radar. But! Nothing is ever that simple, especially with crazy parents and falling in lurve.

Boy Minus Girl, Richard Uhlig – Les seems to be the harmless, shy, geek type in whose life girls just don’t feature (see title), but then Uncle Ray arrives, who is quite the opposite and therefore either potentially a really good role model or a really bad influence.

What They Always Tell Us, Martin Wilson – James and Alex are brothers, but they’re quite different. James has it all together and Alex is a bit of an outcast, but this year things will change: Alex starts cross country running which leads him along an unexpected path, and both brothers befriend Henry, a smart 10 year old neighbour. Critics call this book “beautifully realised”, which is rather a nice compliment for a writer.

Tough Love

Wintergirls, Laurie Halse Anderson – Lia’s best friend Cassie has died from anorexia, and now Lia faces the same fate. ‘One girl’s chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.’

Ostrich Boys, Keith Gray – Three boys take – well, steal, really – their late friend’s ashes after his depressing and dispiriting funeral, and travel 261 miles to a tiny hamlet in Scotland called Ross (which was also his first name).

Living Dead Girl, Elizabeth Scott – This rather grim tale is about Alice, who is abducted by someone when 10-years-old and held captive for years. Has an edge-of-your-seat ending.

Ghost Medicine, Andrew Smith – After the death of his mother, Troy just wants to spend the summer hanging out with his friends and being sort of invisible, but life gets in the way with complex, dangerous twists and turns. [I liked this book.]

Once Was Lost, Sara Zarr – “As the tragedy of a missing girl enfolds in her small town, fifteen-year-old Samara, who feels emotionally abandoned by her parents, begins to question her faith.” (Catalogue entry)

The World’s Turned to Custard

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins – (for Catching Fire) Set in a post-apocalyptic future where a new, authoritarian government pits teens against one another on television. Now that the hunger games are over (or are they?) can Katniss survive the Capitol’s scrutiny? Website and Facebook

Bang, Bang, You’re Dead, Narinder Dhami – A gunman is rumoured to be somewhere in Mia’s school, and the place is being evacuated. Mia has a dreadful feeling that the gunman is her brother, Jamie, who has been acting very weird lately. Can she get to him in time? This book has a terrific twist at the end that’s right I read the end first

Brainjack, Brian Falkner – Sam Wilson, brilliant teenage computer hacker, has a go at the computer systems of the White House. This reckless obsession leads Sam into a dangerous world of ‘espionage and intrigue; of cybercrime and imminent war.’ Dangerous, sure, but pretty exciting you must admit.

Small-Minded Giants, Oisin McGann – Beyond the huge domed roof of Ash Harbour, deadly storms and Arctic temperatures have stripped the Earth bare. Sinister bodies reign supreme, and undercover operations are rife. When sixteen-year-old Sol Wheat’s father goes missing and is accused of murder, Sol sets out to find out why, and in doing so uncovers the harsh reality behind the city… (thanks Adrienne)

The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer, Patrick Ness – Things aren’t going well for Todd; Viola is in the hands of Mayor Prentiss and he (Todd) has been imprisoned, then there’s the question of the Answer: who are they? Very cool cover. [Maybe cool cover = cool book? Although they do say you shouldn’t think that.]

Read These New Books

Once again, here’s a large selection of new books, from fairies to vampires to werewolves to survivalists to society’s elite (pirates and witches).

Rapture of the Deep, L A Meyer (454 pages) – for lovers of the Bloody Jack adventures, here’s the next. Jacky thinks she’s getting married, but actually she’s being kidnapped by British Naval Intelligence and made to dive for treasure near Havana, which isn’t necessarily such a terrible thing when you’re the piratical spy type.

First sentence: “Ah, and it’s a bonny, bonny bride ye shall be, Jacky.”
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Re-Gifters, Mike Carey, Sonny Liew and Marc Hempel (graphic novel) – Dixie is a soon-to-be maybe champion of hapkido (a martial art), but her life gets complicated when she meets and falls for surfery boy Adam. Winning her championship and also Adam could be tricky: there are lessons to be learned for Dixie.

Tallow, Karen Brooks (404 pages) – The Curse of the Bond Riders Book 1. Tallow is rescued as a child by a candlemaker. As he grows up, his mysterious and deadly talents are revealed, and all manner of ominous people – both enemies and allies – become interested in him. A fantasy story based on historical Italy with excellent reviews!

First sentence: “I know you’re out there.”
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Splendor, Anna Godbersen (394 pages) – the last of the Luxe novels, or at least I think it is. Will Diana and Henry find a way to be together without having Manhattan’s society up in arms?

First sentence: Fifty years ago every American girl wanted to be a European princess.
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Battleground, Chris Ryan (305 pages) – the SAS supremo writer is back again, this time with the story of 14 year old Ben who finds himself kidnapped in Afghanistan. Which sounds bad, but worse is the fact that he discovers they’ve got a nuclear weapon on them.

First sentence: “Ambush!”
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X Isle, Steve Augarde (477 pages) – see what he’s doing with the title? X Isle is the only way out after the floods come and devastate the globe. Sounds like a grim disaster novel (Adrienne might like it!).

First sentence: The steady chug of the diesel engine drew closer, and eventually the salvage boat emerged from the mist, a blank grey shape steering a middle course between the ghostly lines of chimney stacks that rose from the water.
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Destiny’s Path, Frewin Jones (329 pages) – book two in the Warrior Princess series, good news if you’ve already read the first one. Branwen is still uncomfortable with the idea of being the Chosen One, but then she’s shown a vision of life if she abandons her destiny, and it’s pretty bleak.

First sentence: Branwen Ap Griffith pulled back on the reins and her weary horse gradually came to a halt, snorting softly and shaking its mane.
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Ash, Malinda Lo (264 pages) – A fairy tale; Ash, recovering from the death of her father, dreams that the fairies will “steal her away” then meets Sidhean (a fairy). Because stories need a complication to work (truly they do), she also meets Kaisa (not a fairy) who teaches her to hunt and with whom she becomes friends. The result? A literary tug of war.

First sentence: Aisling’s mother died at midsummer.
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We Were Here, Matt de la Pena (356 pages) – Miguel is sent to juvi, then escapes with Rondell and Mong (great names, together), hoofing it to Mexico where he hopes he’ll have a chance to start over. A story of self-discovery and learning to forgive yourself (among other things).

First sentence: Here’s the thing: I was probably gonna write a book when I got older anyways.
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Taken, Nora McClintock (165 pages) – stress extreme. As mentioned in this post, Stephanie is captured by a serial killer then escapes (good for her) and must survive in the middle of nowhere (bad for her).

First sentence: My stomach clenched as the bus rumbled across the county line.
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Once a Witch, Carolyn MacCullough (292 pages) – Tamsin pretends to be her talented witchy older sister, which might seem like a good idea at the time, but one thing leads to another… this book contains it all; fantasy, romance, witchcraft and time travel.

First sentence: I was born on the night of Samhain, when the barrier between the worlds is whisper thin adn when magic, old magic, sings its heady and sweet song to anyone who cares to hear it.
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Ghost Town, Richard Jennings (165 pages) – I’ve filched this from the catalogue because it’s way to complex for me to explain: “Thirteen-year-old Spencer Honesty and his imaginary friend, an Indian called Chief Leopard Frog, improbably achieve fame and riches in the abandoned town of Paisley, Kansas, when Spencer begins taking photographs with his deceased father’s ancient camera and Chief Leopard Frog has his poems published by a shady businessman in the Cayman Islands.”

First sentence: “Well, I guess that makes it official,” I said to Chief Leopard Frog.
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Destroy All Cars, Blake Nelson (205 pages, plus appendices) – James Hoff is into the environment – he wants to, as the title suggests, destroy all cars. His ex-girlfriend, Sadie, is also into the environment, but James thinks she’s soft, merely wanting to build cycleways. Naturally there’s going to be some sort of romantic showdown that may well be a bit messy.

First sentence (sort of): We stand at the edge.
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Suicide Notes, Michael Thomas Ford (295 pages) – Jeff’s in a psychiatric ward, recovering from a suicide attempt, and learning valuable lessons from the “crazies” around him. “Compelling, witty and refreshingly real.”

First sentence: I read somewhere that when astronauts come back to Earth after floating around in space they get sick to their stomachs because of the air here smells like rotting meat to them.
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My Vicksburg, Ann Rinaldi (149 pages) – set during the American civil war. Claire Louise is forced to make a difficult choice between saving a friend’s life and being loyal to family (and state).

First sentence: The only reason we came back to town, and stayed during that terrible nightmare of a time, those forty-seven days of confusion and heartbreak that made up the siege of Vicksburg, was because of Sammy the cat.
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I Lost My Mobile at the Mall: Teenager on the Edge of  Technological Breakdown, Wendy Harmer (319 pages) – the mobile in question even has a photo of Elly’s friend standing next to Hugh Jackman, no less, so it really is a big deal!

First sentences: My name is Elly Pickering. I’ve lost my mobile phone at the mall and am now facing certain death.
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Changeling: Dark Moon, Steve Feasey (325 pages) – Trey Laporte is back, which is just as well since Lucien is lying in a coma and Trey can save him. The back of the book says it so much better: “… to succeed he must face his biggest challenge yet: a portal to the Netherworld, an Icelandic zombie, an evil sorceress, and Trey’s nemesis, the dark vampire Caliban.” All zombies should be Icelandic.

First sentence: The vampire Lucien Charron lay motionless on a high-sided bed in his Docklands apartment.
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Sideshow: Ten Original Tales of Freaks, Illusionists, and Other Matters Odd and Magical (199 pages plus a small graphic short story) – Some famous YA authors contribute to this collection, including Annette Curtis Klause (Blood and Chocolate), Margo Lanagan (Tender Morsels), David Almond (Skellig) and Cynthia Leitich Smith (Tantalize).

First sentence (Aimee Bender): Mom bought me the razor when I was thirteen.
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Nothing Like You, Lauren Strasnick (209 pages) – update: now that I’ve had a read I can summarise. Holly is nearly finished high school and gets herself into really messy relationship issues. This is a well-written book about figuring out the important things in life, learning from mistakes, and love (kind of reminds me a little bit of Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr). A good example of a realistic, non-romantic first person narrator.

Very briefly:

Avalon High: Coronation: Volume 3: Hunter’s Moon, Meg Cabot (graphic novel)

Top 10 fairies

fairywomanFairies are having a renaissance, (thankfully not just fairies of the Rainbow Magic variety) so it’s really easy to find books and whatnot that feature them. This is not so much a Top 10 as it is a selection.

Some things to note about lots of fairy books in 2009:

  • – It’s faery (or faerie), not fairy. Duh.
  • – Faeries can be dangerous and unpredictable, toying with mere mortals in the same way that Titania and Oberon did (poor Bottom and everyone), and Tinker Bell threatened to do on the odd occasion when she was a bit miffed with Peter and life in general.
  • – Faeries are into monarchies not republics: no voting here. Faery monarchs don’t like each other much. Grim, really.
  • – Not everyone can see faeries; being able to means you’re special, but bad things might happen.
  • – Like vampires, faeries are often immortal (but not for reasons of being undead) and may well have lived a long time, but still find teenage girls fascinating (whether or not they can be seen by them).
  • – “ “, faeries are mysterious hotties; contrary to what the name might suggest, they’re also buff and often intimidating-looking.
  • – Therefore, tangling with faeries may well lead to a supernatural romance.
  • – A cool male best friend may feature, but will need to be super tough to survive the faerie onslaught. He probably deserves better.
  1. I Was a Teenage Fairy, Francesca Lia Block – Fairies get the FLB treatment: Mab features (as in Queen Mab, as in from, for example, Romeo and Juliet).
  2. Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr – I reviewed this and her other two here (which reminded me that I hadn’t done a fairy list, plus the subject is in keeping with my name, see).
  3. How to Ditch your Fairy, Justine Larbalestier. Having your own personal fairy seems like a nice idea. I think I’d like a work fairy, as in a fairy that works so that I don’t have to. These fairies seem to be a bit more of the godmother or Tinker Bell variety.
  4. The 13 Treasures, Michelle Harrison. An old photograph, the mysterious disappearance of a girl, fairies, a disturbing intruder, terrible dangers…
  5. Wings, Aprilynne Pike – Laurel finds she has a “blossom” growing on her back, which leads to the discovery that she’s a faerie, among other things.
  6. Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception, Maggie Stiefvater. Deirdre is not only a gifted musician, she’s also been lumped with the gift of seeing faeries, which means she becomes entangled in a faerie war that is as old as the hills.
  7. Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale, Holly Black. This is the first of a few modern faery tales by Holly Black, who also co-wrote the Spiderwick Chronicles books with Tony DiTerlizzi. Here again (although Holly Black got in first, it must be said, being a bit of a YA faerie trailblazer) a teenage girl unwittingly finds herself mixed up in a power struggle between faerie kingdoms.
  8. The Princess, The Crone, and The Dung-cart Knight, Gerald Morris. The sixth of Gerald Morris’s Arthurian stories, in which Sarah searches for the knight who is responsible for killing her parents. Along the way she meets and befriends a faery. Having said that, reviewers describe this as the grimmest of the stories.
  9. Peter Pan, J M Barrie – Tinker Bell is noteworthy for many things, including her lack of dialogue and her jealousy of Peter’s attention towards Wendy.
  10. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (DVD) – this play rescued Shakespeare for me; it’s fab. We’ve got a couple of interpretations of it for your viewing pleasure: the one with Rupert Everett as Oberon and Calista Flockhart as Helena, and a “retold” version set in a holiday park.

Would you like some romance with your fantasy?

Supernatural romances are super hot right now, for a few reasons (well, four plus a couple of movies), and there are quite a few trilogies making waves. I’ve taken a deep breath and read three of them: The Mortal Instruments trilogy, by Cassandra Clare; Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange and Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr (there’s another one to come next year); and A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray.

The Hype
There’s internet hype a-plenty for Cassandra Clare (see here, and here for example). Fragile Eternity had a book trailer (you can visit it at YouTube here: I won’t embed it because I’m really not sure I approve of book trailers, since you don’t get to imagine what characters look like and all. He’s no Seth, that’s for sure) that made people oo and ah. Being smart writers, they all blog.

The World
Set in the late 19th Century and mostly in England, Libba Bray’s story is a bit different from the others; Melissa Marr and Cassandra Clare’s books are more urban fantasy. While MM’s books focus solely on faeries, CC’s contain basically every supernatural fantastical creature there is – a melting pot/United Nations sort of deal, which is apt since home base is New York.

The Writing
Libba Bray’s books contain a lot of dense, wordy description which is great if you love dense, wordy description but not so great if you like your books to, you know, move along at pace. The dialogue is witty (actually, witty dialogue happens in all three). As far as style goes, there’s a bit of cringing to be had in the Mortal Instruments trilogy, which needed a really good edit and didn’t get one. I got memorably fed up with being told what everyone was wearing all the time, especially in the heat of battle. Wicked Lovely (and the others by Melissa Marr) rips along at a pace similar to Stephenie Meyer’s books, so don’t start it late at night.

The Most Perfectest Man Ever?
Tell me I’m making generalisations if you like, but there’s hot competition at the moment over who can write the perfect man. In this instance we have in the red corner… Seth (WL etc). Seth could make you love multiple piercings. He’s arty, intelligent, attractive, sensitive, calm, patient, doesn’t think you’re mad if you tell him you see faeries, and (most importantly) has definition in his arms. In the blue corner there’s Kartik (AGATB etc), who also has definition, is the last word in mysterious, doesn’t mind that the girl in question has tendencies towards being a raving feminist ahead of her time, and to top it off, said girl’s friends all think he’s an exotic beauty. Finally, in the annoying corner there’s Jace (MI), although he still manages to impress the odd reader.

The Romance
There’s romance, for sure, in varying quantities, using the tried and true love triangle formula. Gemma (AGATB) must choose between traditional Victorian courtship with the dashing Simon or her less conventional dealings with the aforementioned Kartik. Ash (WL) is a really sensible girl, which is just as well when she’s faced with a choice between a beautiful faery king who’s out to claim her and, well, Seth. Clary (MI) has the option of Simon the friend or Jace, shadowhunter extraordinaire, whose relationship to Clary takes many, many twists and turns. Simmering stuff.

The Big Showdown
There’s gruesomeness to be had. Not to give too much away, The Sweet Far Thing ends with a beautifully described apocalyptic battle to end all battles (this really isn’t giving too much away, honest), complete (possibly) with some tear jerking moments. Cassandra Clare worries a bit too much about what people are wearing, as mentioned earlier, but she’s not scared of injuring her characters which is good, because you’re more likely to worry for their safety. The big showdown is yet to happen in the Wicked Lovely world: will have to wait for next year.

If you love books in this genre there is a whole heap more out there, for example:

Evermore, by Alyson Noel. Psychic girl falls in love with an immortal boy.

Need, by Carrie Jones. Werewolves and pixies.

Wings, by Aprilynne Pike. Faeries again, this is the first of a planned series of four.

Impossible, by Nancy Werlin. Read a review at teenreads.com.

Read all this? Well Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater is coming soon. Grace is a girl, haunted by a yellow eyed wolf; Sam is a yellow-eyed werewolf… (here’s an excerpt from teenreads.com).

Also, don’t forget Holly Black’s modern faerie tales.

ps “supernatural romance” isn’t a catchy enough name we decided, so what to call these books? Well, here were some suggestions (not all strictly relevant): supernatromance, phantasromance, zom-rom, boo woo, hell-odrama, vampmance, fantmance, horromance, creepy-crawly-lovey-dovey, unexplained flingnomena

The Long Awaited New Books Part 2

Well better late than never, here’s the promised next batch of new books.

Dark Calling, by Darren Shan (216 pages) – this is Book 9 of The Demonata. The series will reach an earth-shattering conclusion next year with Hell’s Heroes, says the back pages. Can you wait? In Dark Calling Kernel Fleck is in a personal hell worse than hell – can he resist?

First sentence: A small, wiry, scorpion-shaped demon with a semi-human face drives its stinger into my right eye.

Dark Angels, by Katherine Langrish (346 pages) – Wolf has run away from the monastery where he was raised and finds himself on Devil’s Edge, a dark hillside infested with evil supernatural figures and haunted by ghosts. Set in and inspired by the world view of the Middle Ages.

First sentence: The first time the horn sounded on the hill, Wolf mistook it for a sheep bleating or a bird crying, and thought no more of it.

Falling, by Sharon Dogar (344 pages) – a love story with a twist: Neesha has overwhelming, repeated fragmentary nightmares about a girl falling in what appears to be the past. When she meets Sammy he appears to be her “rescuer”, and they are drawn to each other, but are they both repeating an old, nightmarish love affair that ended very badly?

First sentence: I saw a picture once.

Last of the Braves, by Archimede Fusillo (233 pages) – the back cover says “Under the influence of his idol. the hot-headed seventeenth-century Italian painter Caravaggio, Alex draws his mate Ces into an uncontrollable cycle of destruction and hurt.”

First sentence: Alex drew the serrated knife heavily along the bottom of his empty plate, his eyes fixed on a spot right at its centre.

Hell Week, by Rosemary Clement-Moore (327 pages) – Maggie Quinn fights supernatural baddies (demons and the like), but has she met more than she bargained for in the hellish cesspit that is sorority rush on a college campus?

First sentence: Bright teeth flashed; I fought the instinct to recoil.

Blue Flame, by K M Grant (241 pages) – Book One of the Perfect Fire trilogy. Set in the 12th century, the Blue Flame is a treasure everyone wants, and having it means power, but nobody seems to know its true meaning. Parsifal (an Occitanian knight) must enlist the help of Raimon (the son of a weaver) in order to prevent the destruction of the Occitanians.

First sentence: Last night I thought I saw them again: Raimon, throwing out his arms to the wind; Yolanda, delighting in the clear water running between her toes; and Parsifal, sitting near Yolanda, polishing his father’s sword.

Fen Runners, by John Gordon (136 pages) – another horror story for you. Tom Townsend lost the blade of his skate in an accident on the frozen fens years ago, and since then has been plagued by nightmares. His granddaughter, Jenny, is haunted too, and then her friend Kit pulls something out of the fen water.

First sentence: They stood with their toes curled over the edge of the bridge and looked briefly into the distance.

Pop Princess, by Isabelle Merlin (326 pages) – the cover of this book is all Chick Lit, but I’m not judging. Lucie Rees is an ordinary Australian teenager until she finds herself living in Paris working as a companion to Arizona Kingdom, a troubled pop star. Danger is involved.

First sentence: The most important moments of your life aren’t the ones you plan for.

Wings, by Aprilynne Pike (360 pages) – Laurel thinks she’s ordinary, but she’s about to find out that’s not the case: the subtitle of the book says “A new kind of faerie tale.”

First sentence: Laurel’s shoes flipped a cheerful rhythm that defied her dark mood.

The Musician’s Daughter, by Susanne Dunlap (317 pages) – a story of murder and perhaps love set in the Esterhazy court in eighteenth-century Vienna. The musician’s daughter is Theresa, who becomes Haydn’s copyist after her father dies mysteriously.

First sentence: The night it all began I dreamt that Papa returned from the concert with a new violin for me.

Fate, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (354 pages) – the sequel to Tattoo, this is set two years later. Bailey Morgan continues to lead a double life; ordinary high school student by day and “ancient mystical being” by night. Senior year may be complicated, but it’s nothing compared to her other life as the third Fate.

First sentence: Life.

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