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

Tag: LGBTQ+ Page 2 of 3

Interesting fiction we’re getting soon

A not-so-futuristic dystopian story, some gothic horror, and another new book from the prolific David Levithan.

Gated, Amy Christine Parker. “In Mandrodage Meadows, life seems perfect. The members of this isolated suburban community have thrived under Pioneer, the charismatic leader who saved them from their sad, damaged lives. Lyla Hamilton and her parents are original members of the flock. They moved here following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, looking to escape the evil in the world. Now seventeen, Lyla knows certain facts are not to be questioned: Pioneer is her leader. Will is her Intended. The end of the world is near. Like Noah before him, Pioneer has been told of the imminent destruction of humanity. He says his chosen must arm themselves to fight off the unchosen people, who will surely seek refuge in the compound’s underground fortress – the Silo. Lyla loves her family and friends, but given the choice, she prefers painting to target practice. And lately she’d rather think about a certain boy outside the compound than plan for married life in the Silo with Will. But with the end of days drawing near, she will have to pick up a gun, take a side, and let everyone know where she stands.” (goodreads.com)

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, April Genevieve Tucholke. The first in a new series. “Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town… until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery… who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.” (goodreads.com)

Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan. Based on actual events, Two Boys Kissing tells the story of two seventeen year olds who have a crack at the Guinness World Record for kissing. Their participation in the 32 hour marathon becomes “a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites – all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other” (goodreads.com). From the author/coauthor of Boy Meets Boy, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and so much more.

Winging Your Way Way Through The Weekend, 1-2 June

Kia ora folks!

Wintry splendour is raining down on us with things to do this weekend. It’s a pretty special one because we get one more day than usual – sweet! It’s the Queens Birthday (but not really, her real birthday’s in April. We’re just kind minions and let her have two). One way you could spend your extra day off is revelling in the glory of our monarch or you could do some of these things:

Te Papa re-opens the Visa Platinum Gallery with an Andy Warhol exhibit. “Warhol: Immortal” celebrates Mr. Pop Art himself. He did all sorts of really great things and liked Campbells Soup too. Not to be confused with The Dandy Warhols.

Geeks unite! The closest thing to a Comic-Con on our shores, Armageddon, visits Wellington for the first time this year.

Less Dance Dance Revolution more… real dance? Stage Challenge/J-Rock hit Wellington (starting tonight).

Another Film Festival is in town. Out Takes with the pun-tastic byline, “reel queer film festival” is screening a few choice youth flicks.

Maybe you’re one of the fine few who aren’t having a “weekend” and are instead working it away? Here’s an endgame for those hard earned pingers – they’re building Springfield!

To end NZ Music Month Shapeshifter release “Delta” just in time for the weekend playlist.

Later!

And the Printz for 2013 goes to

In darkness, Nick Lake. Shorty is a gangster in the slums of Site Soleil in Haiti, and he’s caught in the rubble of a hospital in the 2010 earthquake. As he lies there trapped, he thinks on his life so far, and his story is woven betwixt and between that of Toussaint L’Ouverture, the slave who led Haiti to freedom against the French in the 18th century.

There were also four Printz honours given:

Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenz. “Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.” (goodreads.com)

Code name Verity, Elizabeth Wein. We reviewed this book last year (here), and it’s featured on so many Best Of lists we’re hardly surprised the good Printz people also agreed.

Dodger, Terry Pratchett. Dodger is a street urchin living in Victorian London. When he sees a girl jump out of a carriage he helps her escape her captors, thereby earning the interest of Charles Dickens, who reports him as a hero (the Artful Dodger, perhaps?), changing Dodger’s life profoundly. Encounters with the Queen, Benjamin Disraeli, and Sweeney Todd follow.

The white bicycle, Beverley Brenna, which we don’t have (yet). The story is a first-person account of Taylor Jane’s summer trip to the South of France, where she babysits for a family, which is challenging for a girl with Asperger’s Syndrome.

For more information about the Printz Award visit the American Library Association website here.

Meanwhile, the Alex Awards – for general fiction with teen appeal – were also announced, and here are the ten winners:

Caring is Creepy, by David Zimmerman

Girlchild, by Tupelo Hassman

Juvenile in Justice, by Richard Ross

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan

My Friend Dahmer, by Derf Backderf

One Shot at Forever, by Chris Ballard

Pure, by Julianna Baggott

The Round House, by Louise Erdrich

Tell the Wolves I’m Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple

Looking forward to:

Some more serious (although still summery) upcoming fiction, and no fantasy or supernatural-ness in sight.

My Life in Black and White, Natasha Friend. “What if you lost the thing that made you who you are? Lexi has always been stunning. Her butter-colored hair and perfect features have helped her attract friends, a boyfriend, and the attention of a modeling scout. But everything changes the night Lexi’s face goes through a windshield. Now she’s not sure what’s worse: the scars she’ll have to live with forever, or what she saw going on between her best friend and her boyfriend right before the accident. With the help of her trombone-playing, defiantly uncool older sister and a guy at school recovering from his own recent trauma, Lexi learns she’s much more than just a pretty face.” (goodreads.com)

If you’re interested in the subject of beauty, and how the world sees you (and how you see yourself), you might also like to read North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley, and Playing with Matches by Brian Katcher, or indeed something from this selection.

My Life Next Door, Huntley Fitzpatrick. “The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them… until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase’s family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself? A dreamy summer read, full of characters who stay with you long after the story is over.” (goodreads.com) A dreamy summer read! Perfect!

Other dreamy summer reads? If you wade past our zombie suggestions you might find something in our summer reading list.

Ask the Passengers, A S King. “Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions… like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl. As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives – and her own – for the better.” (goodreads.com)

Looking forward to:

The horror of birds, zombies, and negotiating the criminal underworld in a bleak, futuristic New York.

Because it is my blood, Gabrielle Zevin (October) – The sequel to All These Things I’ve Done. “Since her release from Liberty Children’s Facility, Anya Balanchine is determined to follow the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, her criminal record is making it hard for her to do that. No high school wants her with a gun possession charge on her rap sheet. Plus, all the people in her life have moved on: Natty has skipped two grades at Holy Trinity, Scarlet and Gable seem closer than ever, and even Win is in a new relationship.But when old friends return demanding that certain debts be paid, Anya is thrown right back into the criminal world that she had been determined to escape. It’s a journey that will take her across the ocean and straight into the heart of the birthplace of chocolate where her resolve – and her heart – will be tested as never before.” (goodreads.com)

Adaptation, Malinda Lo (October) – Birds! Birds are flying into planes and cars, causing horrific crashes and devastation on a vast scale. The US government fears terrorism, grounding all flights and enforcing curfews. Reese and her friend are making their way back from Arizona to San Francisco when all this happens. Their car flips (bird strike) and Reese wakes up in a military hospital and what seems to be a whole new world. When she finally makes it to San Francisco she gets the sense that something’s really off (and that’s not just the sense that someone or something is following her). Can Reese find out what’s going on?

Alice in Zombieland, Gena Showalter (October also) – the first in the White Rabbit Chronicles series. Alice is in a car crash that claims the lives of her whole family (it wasn’t birds). This is tragic, but to make matters truly worse she wakes up in a world populated by zombies: the monsters her father was warning her about. Now she must become a zombie-slayer in order to survive, and also learn how to trust (and get along with) bad boy Cole.

New Books

A couple of angels, fairies (perhaps!), a shade, a troubled teen, and twins.

Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Graham Joyce (414 pages) – One day (Christmas, to be exact), Peter gets a phone call from his parents to say that his sister, Tara, has arrived home. Tara has been gone for twenty years, and she’s back with incredible tales of adventure. But Tara looks the same as she did when she disappeared, and Peter wonders if there’s something a bit different about her (and do the woods around their parents’ home have something to do with it?).

First sentence: In the deepest heart of England there is a place where everything is at fault.

Fury, Rebecca Lim (368 pages) – the fourth book in the Mercy series. “Heartbreak. Vengeance. Fury. Mercy is an exiled angel cast down to earth and forced to live out thousands of different lives for her own protection. Betrayed by her eternal love, Luc, Mercy burns with fury. The time of reckoning is here and now she must wage open war with Luc and his demons. Ryan’s love for Mercy is more powerful than ever, but loving an angel is mortally dangerous. As their two worlds collide, Mercy approaches her ultimate breathtaking choice.” (catalogue)

First sentence: Picture, if you can, the ancient city of Milan in the dead of night, lashed by an unimaginable storm.

Shift, Jeri Smith-Ready (367 pages) – this is the second in the Shade trilogy. “Aura’s life is anything but easy. Her boyfriend, Logan, died, and his slides between ghost and shade have left her reeling. Aura knows he needs her now more than ever. She loves Logan, but she can’t deny her connection with the totally supportive, totally gorgeous Zachary. And she’s not sure that she wants to. Logan and Zachary will fight to be the one by her side, but Aura needs them both to uncover the mystery of her past – the mystery of the Shift. As Aura’s search uncovers new truths, she must decide whom to trust with her secrets… and her heart” (cover).

First sentence: I held my breath as it began, the last verse of the last song.

Happy Families, Tanita S Davis (234 pages) – Twins Ysabel and Justin have a perfect life and a happy family, and are preparing for life after school (Ysabel as an aspiring jewellery designer, Justin as a college student), when their father makes an announcement that will turn their world on its end.

First sentence: The surge of chattering, pointing, gawking people pours into the massive auditorium, and I feel a shiver crawl up my arms.

Heaven, Alexandra Adornetto (417 pages) – the conclusion to the Halo trilogy. In which Bethany and Xavier take a rather important step in their relationship – a forbidden marriage – and come up against the Sevens, who are (I think) like the angel equivalent of the SAS, and who are bent on keeping Bethany and Xavier apart. Will true love conquer?

First sentence(s): Everything began to rattle. I clutched the edge of the table and watched my engagement ring tumble onto the checkered floor of Sweethearts Cafe.

Trapped Outside a Cage, Ken Benn (237 pages, New Zealand author) – “Rochelle’s brother, Jack, is in prison for the murder of Methsy, and Rochelle is convinced he didn’t do it. But if Jack is innocent, then why has he confessed to the crime? Rochelle is about to find out that something or someone with sinister intentions is behind Jack’s actions” (summary from the publisher – thanks!).

New Books

In time for the long weekend (happy Queen’s Birthday to you)!

From Simon:

The Dreamwalker’s Child, by Steve Voake (300 pages) – Young Sam lives in the country and hates it. He has no pals and everything is relaxed and peaceful slow and dull. Until he’s in an accident which sticks him in a coma. However! His mind wakes in another world run by giant smart insects who want to wupe humanity from the face of Earth with mosquito-spread disease. It’s up to Sam and his allies to stop this from happening.

First line: ‘When they are first born, most people find the world a fascinating, magical place.

The Girl in the Mask, by Marie-Louise Jensen (311 pages) – It is 1715 or so, and Sophie’s duty is to look pretty and get hitched ASAP. She hate all the balls and dances and so on required of her, so when it’s dark she secretly moonlights as a highway robber. Which seems reasonable. She also gets involved with the failed Stuart rebellion, just to add a touch of historical context.

First lines: ‘I didn’t hear my cousin’s voice at first. It wasn’t until the library door was flung open with a bang, making me jump, that I came back down to earth.

The Calling, by Kelley Armstrong (326 pages) – This is the second book in the Darkness Rising series (the first is The Gathering). Maya. who has a pawprint birthmark and can talk to animals (I think?), and her similarly supernatural friends have all been kidnapped. They escape! And are now being chased through the Vancouver wilds.

First line: ‘I don’t know who was more anxious – Daniel or Kenjii – but they weren’t making this emergency helicopter evacuation and easier.

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline (372 pages) – In a vast virtual reality world (designed by Willy Wonka’s futuristic twin), Wade Watts escapes the ecological wasteland that is Earth in 2044. The world’s founder died a few years previously and had left his fortune to whoever can solve numerous 1980s-pop-culture riddles throughout the world. 1980s pop culture! Well I am sold. Ready Player One has been showered with praise and awards probably and I think a movie is on its way.

First line: ‘Everyone my age remembers where they were and what they were doing when the first heard about the contest. I was sitting in my hideout watching cartoons when the news bulletin broke in on my video feed, announcing the James Halliday had died during the night.’

From Grimm, since Simon is sickathomewithacold:

Lovetorn, by Kavita Daswani (250 pages) – Shalini has moved from India to Los Angeles, which is a rather large cultural shock (accent, hair, clothes etc.). Additionally, and most differently of all, she is set to marry Vikram (and has been almost her whole life). Then there’s Toby at school, who is bound to turn Shalini’s sense of her destiny on its head.

First sentence: In a carved wooden frame on my mother’s bedside table sits a photograph of me taken on the day that I got engaged.

The Difference Between You and Me, by Madeleine George (256 pages) – Jesse and Emily are really rather different. One is an activist (or rather, the only member of NOLAW – the National Organization to Liberate All Weirdos) the other is vice president of the student council. But they are attracted to one another. Things get complicated when they end up on opposite sides of an issue – what will win over, their relationship or their commitment to their causes?

First sentence: Jesse is in the sophomore hall girls’ bathroom, the farthest stall from the door, one huge, scuffed fisherman’s boot propped up on the toilet seat so she can balance her backpack on her knee and rifle through it.

Trafficked, by Kim Purcell (384 pages) – Hannah struggles to look after her grandmother in Moldova, so she leaps at the chance to go to Los Angeles to work as a nanny. However, the family treats her like a captive slave, and when she is caught sneaking out the house to visit Colin, her neighbour, she is threatened with prostitution. Hannah, fortunately, has a lot of gumption, and her investigations into her employers captors may lead to the truth about a missing uncle who disappeared mysteriously in Moldova, but they may also put her in danger.

First sentence: Hannah took two small steps forward in the immigration line entering America at LAX.

When the Sea is Rising Red, by Cat Hellisen (296 pages) – Felicita lives an elite life as a member of Pelimburg’s founding family, but she has few choices. When her friend throws herself off a cliff rather than marry the man she’s been assigned to, Felicita fakes her own suicide and escapes to the city’s slums. There she meets Dash (a “charismatic renegade”, what’s not to like?) and the vampire Jannik. Things take a turn for the disturbing when pale corpses begin washing up on the beach. In her death, Felicita’s friend has (maybe unknowingly?) unleashed some sinister magic from the sea, which those who want to overthrow the powerful classes of Pelimburg might use to start a rebellion.

First sentence: She’s not here.

Frost, Marianna Baer (396 pages) – Strange goings on are going on at Frost House, a boarding school with a rather creepy name. Door slam, pictures fall off walls. Leena’s room mate, Celeste, thinks it’s the other students trying to scare her off, but Leena is not so sure, and fears increasingly for her safety: “does the threat lie with her new roommate, within Leena’s own mind… or in Frost House itself?” (book cover). Warning: this book may also contain a love interest named David.

First sentence: Before I lived here, before any of this happened, I imagined Frost House as a sanctuary.

Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am, Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis (148 pages) – Ben is a bit of a star: he’s bright, popular, and talented. He surprises everyone when he enlists in the army straight out of high school, saying he feels compelled to serve his country. But things go horribly wrong when he’s serving in Iraq, and Ben returns with a brain injury: he comes back hardly able to speak or walk, and with no memory of who he is.

First sentence: The knife came out of nowhere.

New Books

This week’s selection is brought to you by heart shaped things, sunglasses, and a whole lot of love.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Saenz (359 pages) – Dante and Ari are opposites (the cover tells me in detail), so opposite that in fact they probably shouldn’t attract, but they do! “In breathtaking prose, American Book Award winner Benjamin Alires Saenz captures those moments that make a boy a man as he explores loyalty and trust, friendship and love” (cover!).

First sentence: One summer night I fell asleep, hoping the world would be different when I woke.

Love? Maybe, Heather Hepler (267 pages) – a Valentine’s Day story! Piper’s birthday is Valentine’s Day, which may be one of the reasons why she’s a bit cynical about the whole thing. But when her one best friend suffers a broken heart two weeks before the BIG DAY, she agrees to get involved in a plot to restore said heart, even if it means going on a date herself. All of a sudden everything is warm and fuzzy for Piper: her heart shaped lollies are a hit (see cover), she has a popular boyfriend, and someone’s leaving secret gifts in her locker.

First sentence: Claire tells me it’s romantic that my birthday is on Valentine’s Day, but then she thinks it’s romantic when Stuart remembers to say excuse me after he burps.

The Darlings in Love, Melissa Kantor (311 pages) – The Darlings are three best friends, Victoria, Natalya and Jane (as seen in The Darlings are Forever), and they fall in love! This could lead to happiness, or heartbreak, or both! (Preferrably in reverse order.)

First sentence: Natalya pulled her dark blue winter jacket more tightly around her, shivering in the sharp January wind as she waited for the light to change.

The Disenchantments, Nina LaCour (307 pages) – Colby and Bev are in a band – The Disenchantments – and the plan is to graduate and tour Europe. But Bev disenchants The Disenchantments when she announces she’s ditching them to go off on her own travels. So plans must change, and the band swaps Europe for the Pacific Northwest, and the future becomes much less certain.

First sentence: Bev says when she’s onstage she feels the world holding its breath for her.

Love & Haight, Susan Carlton (176 pages) – In 1971 Chloe and MJ have a plan to travel to San Francisco to spend the Christmas/New Year break with Chloe’s hippy aunt. Chloe has a second plan, involving her secret, unwanted pregnancy. Reviewers say this book is an interesting historical account of 1970s San Francisco, hippy culture, and some of the serious social issues of the time.

First sentences: The view was wrong. That’s what Chloe kept thinking.

Glimmer, Phoebe Kitandis (347 pages) – Oo. Marshal and Elyse wake up one day “tangled in each other’s arms” but also with amnesia. They have no idea how they came to be in Summer Falls, a resort town, but they do know that something’s amiss: the town’s people are “happy zombies” with no memory of unpleasant things, even though there are indeed unpleasant things in Summer Falls…

First sentence: I come to life with a gasp in the darkness.

The Story of Us, Deb Caletti (389 pages) – “After jilting two previous fiances, Cricket’s mother is finally marrying the right man, but as wedding attendees arrive for a week of festivities, complications arise for Cricket involving her own love life, her beloved dog Jupiter, and her mother’s reluctance to marry.” (catalogue)

First sentence: I found out something about myself as all those boxes piled up: I hated change.

Dragonswood, Janet Lee Carey (403 pages) – When the king dies, Wilde Island is thrown into turmoil as the royal witch hunter goes on, well, a witch-hunting rampage, determined to root out an young women with “fire in their hearts and sparks in their soul”. This is unfortunate for Tess, who wants the things in life that fire and sparks give (i.e. not just a husband and house). She’s accused of witchery and forced to run to Dragonswood, to take refuge with an “enigmatic huntsman”, who sounds interesting.

First sentences: I am seven years old. My father takes me to a witch burning.

The Mephisto Covenant, Trinity Faegen (434 pages) – “Jax, a son of Hell, and Sasha, a descendent of Eve, unexpectedly find love, but Sasha must sacrifice the purity of her soul to save him while he struggles to keep her safe from his brother Eryx, whose mission is to take over Hell and abolish humanity’s free will.” (catalogue)

First sentence: “Your father’s ring is gone! That slime, Alex, took it – I know he did.”

Bewitching, Alex Flinn (338 pages) – in which we read about Kendra, who was responsible for the Beast becoming Beastly in Beastly. Kendra is an immortal, who finds that her interfering in human life sometimes makes problems worse rather than better. So, when she comes across Emma, a modern-day plain step-sister, can she stop herself from getting involved?

First sentence: If you read fairy tales, and who doesn’t, you might believe there are witches all over the place – witches baking children into gingerbread, making princesses sleep hundreds of years, even turning normal teenage boys into hideous beasts to teach them a lesson.

New Books

172 Hours on the Moon, Johan Harstad (351 pages) – as reported a little earlier, this one’s a space travel thriller, where a trip to the moon would seem to be the opportunity of a lifetime for three teens, but only one will make it back.

First sentence: “Gentlemen, it’s time,” Dr ______ [suspiciously blacked out name] said, eyeing the seven men in suits around the large conference table.

Cross My Heart, Sasha Gould (263 pages) – set in 16th century Venice. Laura is safely installed in a convent, until her sister unexpectedly dies, and Laura’s father takes her back home, to marry her sister’s odious old fiance. Doom! Luckily, Laura manages to escape this fate, and earn her way into a secret society of women – The Segreta – whose secrets may or may not be deadly, and may be linked to her sister’s untimely demise. The cover says “clandestine romance, political intrigue, and deadly secrets”.

First sentence: His gondola slips through the water like a knife cutting into dark silk.

The One Dollar Horse, Lauren St John (309 pages) – Casey Blue lives in a tower block in East London but dreams of winning the Badminton Horse Trials (which is as far away from a tower block in London as you can get really). When she rescues a starving horse, it seems like she might be a little bit on her way, but her past (and a boy with “melty, dark eyes”) might derail her.

First sentence: Casey used the twin points of her horse’s ears to line up the jump, like a sniper lining up a target on a gun barrel.

Love-shy, Lili Wilkinson (309 pages) – Penny is a journalist-in-training, and works on the school newspaper. When she finds a boy posting on a “love-shy forum” anonymously, she decides she is going to discover who he is, and write a feature article. But who is the love-shy boy?

First sentence: “I found a story.”

Chopsticks, Jessica Anthony & Rodrigo Corral (unpaged) – unlike your average novel: “In a love story told in photographs and drawings, Glory, a brilliant piano prodigy, is drawn to Frank, an artistic new boy, and the farther she falls, the deeper she spirals into madness until the only song she is able to play is ‘Chopsticks.'” (Catalogue)

First sentence: [photo of sunlight through an oak tree].

Preloved, Shirley Marr (272 pages) – Amy’s life is full of hassles (mother, friend, reputation, etc etc). She certainly doesn’t need to be haunted by a 1980s ghost called Logan, who’s either dangerous, annoying, or the ideal boy.

First sentence: Whenever my mum decided to give me advice, it often sounded like this: “Amy, don’t bring an open umbrella into the house, because a ghost might be hiding under it.”

Stir It Up!, Ramin Ganeshram (166 pages) – Anjali lives above her parents’ roti shop in Queens (NY), where she develops a passion for cooking, but her dream of becoming a celebrity chef doesn’t sit well with her traditional Trinidadian parents. When the chance to be a part of a reality TV cooking show arises, Anjali jumps: are her dreams about to be realised?

First sentence: My heart pounds as I race around the kitchen with Deema, filling orders, trying not to get behind.

Tessa Masterson Will go to Prom, Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin (256 pages) – from the people who brought you Jenna & Jonah’s Fauxmance. Lucas and Tessa are best friends, have been forever. Lucas wishes they were more, so when he finally comes out, and asks Tessa to the prom, his world is shaken when Tessa, in turn, comes out as a lesbian. Lucas feels betrayed that she has kept this a secret from him for so long, and when Tessa decides to go to the prom with her girlfriend – and dressed in a tux – and comes under fire as a result, will she be able to count on her best friend for support?

First sentence: Before you read the paper or watch tonight’s news, before you grab the Time magazine in your orthodontist’s office or dig into the police report, before the protesters’ shouts distract you, you should hear the whole thing from the beginning.

Between the Sea and Sky, Jaclyn Dolamore (229 pages) – “Esmerine, a mermaid, grows close to her childhood playmate Alander, a winged man, when they join forces to find her sister Dosia, who has reportedly eloped with a human despite the sisters’ vow to always keep the sea and its people first in their hearts.” (catalogue) “With subtle echoes of Pride and Prejudice” says the cover, which just adds to the charm.

First sentence: It was not every day that a mermaid became a siren, and not every day that Esmerine attended such a party.

Rock On, Denise Vega (297 pages) – Ori has lived a bit in his brother Del’s shadow, but with Del safely away at college, Ori’s chance to step into the spotlight arises. Ori and his band (called The Band to Be Named Later, or TBTBNL) are competing in The Battle of the Bands, and Ori’s the lead singer. But then Del comes back from college, and expects things to revert to the way they were. Can Ori overcome his confidence issues with his brother, and be a true lead singer? Can TBTBNL also win Battle of the Bands glory? Perhaps.

Last sentence: Rock and roll, baby.

New Books

This week’s selection! Quite a serious bunch, this one.

Ripper, Stefan Petrucha (426 pages) – “Adopted by famous Pinkerton Agency Detective Hawking in 1895 New York, fourteen-year-old Carver Young hopes to find his birth father, but when he becomes involved in the pursuit of notorious killer Jack the Ripper, Carver discovers that finding the truth can be worse than ignorance” (catalogue summary). Creepy! We all love Jack the Ripper stories of course.

First sentences: “Let me show you a secret.” Elizabeth B. Rowley liked the man’s confidence.

Take a Bow, Elizabeth Eulberg (280 pages) – set at a performing arts school (remember my name! fame!). Emme, Sophie, Carter and Ethan are all performers, with varying backgrounds and concerns in their senior year, but they all feel the pressure to perform well in the senior recital, to cement their future careers.

First sentence: My life has been one big audition.

Wanderlove, Kirsten Hubbard (338 pages) – Bria yearns to wander the world, travelling to exotic places. To take the first step, she signs up for a Central American tour, only to discover it’s a tour for oldies (with matching leisure suits, etc.). Luckily she’s rescued from tour hell when she meets Rowan and Starling, an adventurous brother and sister, who promise more interesting travels off the beaten track. A novel about backpacking and finding yourself in the rainforests of Belize.

First sentence: As soon as I see the blond girl bouncing down the aisle, I know she’s heading for the empty seat beside me.

Fever, Lauren DeStefano (341 pages) – book two in the Chemical Garden trilogy. “In a future where genetic engineering has cured humanity of all diseases and defects but has also produced a virus that kills all females by age twenty and all males by the age twenty-five, teenaged Rhine escapes her forced marriage and journeys back to New York to find her twin brother.” (catalogue description) It sounds like a grim future indeed!

First sentence: We run, with water in our shoes and the smell of the ocean clinging to our skin.

Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy, Bil Wright (219 pages) – for a less alarming change of pace! Carlos Duarte has a flair for makeup, and it’s his dream to become a celebrity makeup artist. When he gets a part time job at Macy’s it seems like his career is on the right trajectory, but the makeup world is a cutthroat world: can he make it to the top?

First sentence: When I was twelve, I convinced my mother to let me do her makeup for Parents’ Night.

After the Snow, S D Crockett (288 pages) – another dystopian world, this time it’s a cold one! Willo’s life is as settled as it can be, with his family living in the wilderness, and him a successful hunter. When one day he comes back from a hunting trip to find his family gone, Willo packs up and heads for the mountains, planning on finding a way of getting them back. Things become (more) complicated, however, when he finds a staring girl and boy.

First sentence: I’m gonna sit here in my place on the hill behind the house.

Boy 21, Matthew Quick (250 pages) – Basketball is the winner in this book about life in a really tough neighbourhood. Finley has jersey number 21, and basketball is the one really good thing in his hard life. Russ has just moved into town following a tragedy, and refuses to play basketball, although he is known only as Boy21, after his former jersey number. “A moving novel about hope, recovery, and redemption” (cover).

First sentence: Sometimes I pretend that shooting hoops in my backyard is my earliest memory.

Drowning Instinct, Lisa J Bick (346 pages) – a serious one here, again. Jenna is sixteen, and troubled. Her family life is a shocker, then her older brother – who she looks up to – leaves for Iraq. She finds support in a relationship with an older man – a teacher, in fact. Which could make everything so much worse.

First sentence(s): “Look,” says the detective. He stares down at the girl huddled on the gurney.

The Poisoned House, Michael Ford (319 pages) – goodie! We do love ghost stories. This one looks rather spooky, too. Abi is a scullery maid in 19th century London. There’s something “otherwordly” in the house where she works, though, and Abi – I think – may find herself uncovering its deadly secret.

First sentence: The stone steps to the basement were ice cold under my bare feet.

Desert Angel, Charlie Price (233 pages) – Angel lives in a trailer in the California desert with her mother and her mother’s loser boyfriend, Scotty. One morning she wakes to discover her mother murdered and the boyfriend vanished. Fearing for her life – the boyfriend has excellent tracking skills – Angel escapes into the unforgiving desert, where she discovers a community of people who will help her. But Scotty is always just a few steps behind. Golly.

First sentence: The fight started after midnight, Scotty drunk, Angel’s mother shrill on crystal.

The Beginning of After, Jennifer Castle (425 pages) – Laurel’s family is killed in a horrific car accident, caused by her neighbour, who survived, but is in a coma. Laurel must adjust to life on her own, where it’s hard to tell if her relationships are built on pity or are genuine, and where she has a problematic attraction with the son of her neighbour.

First sentence: Anyone who’s had something truly crappy happen to them will tell you: it’s all about Before and After.

Dead to You, Lisa McMann (243 pages) – from the author of the Wake trilogy. Ethan was abducted when he was seven. Now, nine years later, he has been returned to his family. This should be fantastic! But, inevitably, there’s friction in the family, and some terrible things that Ethan can’t remember.

First sentence(s): There are three of them. No, four.

Grave Mercy, Robin LaFevers (549 pages) – the girl on the cover is wearing a killer red dress and carrying a crossbow. She’s Ismae, and she’s sought refuge in the convent of St Mortain, only to discover that the god of Death has blessed her with certain gifts. She is to be the handmaiden of Death, an assassin. Her first assignment finds her in the court of Brittany. Her target is Gavriel Duval. Seems simple enough, except she’s not prepared for the intrigues at court, or the intrigues of Gavriel Duval.

First sentence: I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch’s poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Emily M Danforth (470 pages) – Cameron Post’s parents die in a car crash (another car crash!), right around the time that Cam is discovering that she is attracted to girls. Moving to Miles City, Montana, to live with her conservative aunt and grandmother, means she will have to appear to tow the line. When Cam meets Coley and they hit it off and begin a close friendship, Cam’s aunt decides to try and “fix” Cam, but can you deny who you really are?

First sentence: The afternoon my parents died I was out shop-lifting with Irene Klauson.

New Books

Here is a selection of newly arrived fiction. Completely randomly a theme emerged in the tower of new books, which makes for some serious reading.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs (352 pages) – this includes very cool (peculiar) Victorian-style portrait photographs (of the peculiar children). Jacob is sent to an island off the coast of Wales (go Wales!), on which there lie the ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (an orphanage). As you would, Jacob explores the ruins, learning about the children, discovering that by “peculiar” people might have meant “dangerous”: there was a reason why Miss Peregrine’s Home is on an island. (Wrestle this one out of the hands of a librarian today!)

First sentence: I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, Annabel Pitcher (226 pages) – The title is a reference to Jamie’s sister’s ashes. Five years on from her death, the family is still struggling to come to terms. Jamie’s father drinks, and his mother has left, and Jamie is trying to make sense of the tragedy.

First sentence: My sister Rose lives on the mantelpiece.

Hades, Alexandra Adornetto (422 pages) – the sequel to Halo. Bethany is tricked, and finds herself in Hades (the underworld), Jake is back in town, and is going after Xavier, to get at Bethany. So to spare Xavier’s life, must Bethany make the ultimate sacrifice?

First sentence: When the final bell sounded at Bryce Hamilton, Xavier and I gathered our things and headed out onto the south lawn.

She Loves You, She Loves You Not, Julie Anne Peters (278 pages) – Alyssa is disowned by her father, so she must move away from her girlfriend Sarah, to live with her mother who she doesn’t know in a new town, starting over again (and trying not to repeat the mistakes of the past).

First sentence: The night Sarah and Ben showed up out of the blue.

Sorta Like a Rock Star, Matthew Quick (355 pages) – Amber, her mother, and her dog, live in the back of the school bus her mother drives (one of those big yellow buses). Even so, Amber is an optimist, visiting people in a nursing home, and teaching English to Korean women, but then something terrible happens that tips Amber over the edge into depression.

First sentence: Lying down, shivering on the last seat of school bus 161, pinned by his teensy doggie gaze, which is completely 100% cute – I’m such a girl, I know – I say, “You won’t believe the bull I had to endure today.”

The Girl is Murder, Kathryn Miller Haines (342 pages) – set in New York in 1942. Iris’ father owns a detective agency, so naturally she is dead keen to help him on some of his cases. When he refuses to let her – and he’s working on a case involving a boy at her school – she decides to do some secret detective work of her own.

First sentence: Pop’s leg was across the room when I came downstairs. (And the next sentence: I didn’t ask him how it got there.)

Putting Makeup on Dead People, Jen Violi (326 pages) – Donna’s father has been dead for four years and she’s never really got over it. Then one day, she discovers a calling to become a mortician. A story of “how one girl learns to grieve and say good-bye, turn loss into a gift, and let herself be exceptional” (cover).

First sentence: I’m mixing a can of tomato soup with a can of two percent milk for dinner that no one will eat.

A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie, Matt Blackstone (248 pages) – Rene is an obsessive-compulsive superhero in the making, convinced he is responsible for bad things that happen by doing things in the wrong order, or moving at the wrong time. He has one friend, Gio, who is determined to teach him how to “play it cool” – one imagines Gio has his work cut out for him.

First sentence: Legs are my favorite part.

Between, Jessica Warman (454 pages) – “By weaving through her memories and watching the family and friends she left behind, eighteen-year-old Liz Valchar solves the mystery of how her life ended in the Long Island Sound.” (catalogue)

First sentence: It’s a little after two a.m.

New! Books!

A selection of new fiction (good for reading while drinking hot cocoa, if you’ve got some left after learning about language and colour) which covers a bit of everything: there’s road trips (huzzah!), romance, spooky thrillers, conclusions to trilogies, and some serious subject matter for readers who want food for thought.

Blood Red Road, Moira Young (492 pages) – a dystopian road trip! Saba lives in Silverlake, a bleak wasteland. After the black-robed riders take Saba’s brother Lugh, Saba must set off on a dangerous journey in pursuit, with the help of  a clever crow, the dashing, mysterious Jack, and a group of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks.

First sentences: Lugh got born first. On Midwinter Day when the sun hangs low in the sky.

The Shattering, Karen Healey (302 pages) – Summerton is the perfect place to live, but is it? When Keri, grieving after the suicide of her brother, starts spending more time with a couple of friends she discovers that their brothers have also died, in suspicious circumstances. Is there something dark and terrible going on in Summerton?

First sentence: The first time I broke my arm I was ready for it.

Other Words for Love, Lorraine Zago Rosenthal (354 pages) – Ari lives in the shadow of her vibrant friend Summer, but when an inheritance means she is able to attend an elite prep school she starts to come out of her shell, making new friends, and falling for Blake. Swept up in in her romance, Ari doesn’t agree with her friends that this is infatuation – knowing that instead it is true love – but when Blake starts distancing himself after family troubles, Ari comes to learn what love really means.

First sentence: In 1985 just about everyone I knew was afraid of two things: a nuclear attack by the Russians and a gruesome death from the AIDS virus, which allegedly thrived on the mouthpieces of New York City public telephones.

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Bitter End, Jennifer Brown (359 pages) – Alex is blissfully in love with gorgeous, sporty Cole, but things gradually turn nightmarish, first with Cole becoming jealous of her best friend Alex, then putting her down, then threatening her, until she is “forced to choose – between her ‘true love’ and herself.”

First sentence: If I had to describe my best friend, Bethany, in one word, it would be persistent.

In the Sea There Are Crocodiles, Fabio Geda (211 pages) – Based on the true story of 10 year old Afghan boy Enaiatollah’s five year journey from Afghanistan to Italy, and the harrowing events that took place along the way.

First sentence: The thing is, I really wasn’t expecting her to go.

Forever, Maggie Stiefvater (390 pages) – the conclusion to the story of the wolves of Mercy Falls that started with Shiver and continued with Linger. Isabel’s father is intent on getting rid of the wolves once and for all, and he’s making alarming headway with his plans: can Sam save them before it’s too late? Can he save Grace, who is now shifting between wolf and human form? Can Cole St Clair get to the bottom of the disease that causes the changes? So many questions!

First sentence: I can be so, so quiet.

Winter’s Shadow, M J Hearle (424 pages) – Winter is consumed by Blake Duchamp, the dark, brooding stranger she met at Pilgrim’s Lament. But Blake has a dark, dangerous secret – one that Winter seems to be be unwittingly doing her best to distract him from.

First sentence: Madeleine Bonnaire fled beneath the flickering street lamps of Rue Descartes.

I Am J, Chris Beam (326 pages) – J goes on a journey of self discovery working through the issues surrounding the fact that he’s always known he is a boy in a girl’s body.

First sentence: J could smell the hostility, the pretense, the utter fakeness of it all before they even climbed the last set of stairs.

The Demon’s Surrender, Sarah Rees Brennan (387 pages) – the conclusion to the trilogy that began with The Demon’s Lexicon. Sin and Mae are in competition for leadership of the Goblin Market and the Aventurine Circle is a threat to the survival of the market – and people generally – but can they be stopped? Also, can Sin get over her dislike of Alan so they can work together to defeat the magicians, and does Jamie really have control over Nick? This can’t be good, since he’s decided turn against the market and join the magicians.

First sentence: Magic was like a special guest in Sin’s life.

Life: An Exploded Diagram, Mal Peet (413 pages) – Set in Norfolk (UK) in 1962, when the Cold War means the world thinks it’s going to be annihilated by a nuclear bomb. Against this backdrop, Clem and Frankie are in a secret, furtive relationship (from opposite sides of the track, as it were). You can read Meg Rosoff’s review on the Guardian here.

First sentence: Ruth Ackroyd was in the garden checking the rhubarb when the RAF Spitfire accidentally shot her chimney-pot to bits.

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The Dead of Winter, Chris Priestley (218 pages) – The dust jacket makes this sound spooky: “When Michael Vyner goes to spend the Christmas holidays with his distant and aloof guardian, he finds himself in a dark and desolate East Anglian [UK] house – a house that harbours a terrible secret which it will fight to retain. Michael’s lonely task soon becomes clear as he is haunted not just by a solitary woman in the mists but by the terrible reason behind her death.”

First sentence: My name is Michael: Michael Vyner.

Votive, Karen Brooks (617 pages) – the sequel to Tallow. Set in the republic of Venice – La Serenissima. Tallow has lost everything, so in order to survive she takes on a new persona, and poses as a courtesan to move among the Serenissian nobility. But evil looms in the form of her enemies, who have something up their sleeves that could ruin her.

First sentence: ‘By the gods! Stop!’

About An Author: Malinda Lo

Malinda Lo is the author of two fantasy novels, Ash and Huntress. She was born in China and moved to the United States as a child, and writes fantasy fiction with a twist.

Ash, published in 2009, is her first novel, borrowing from the Cinderella fairytale, where Ash or Aisling (standing in for Cinderella), under the iron fist of her stepmother, is able to attend a ball through magical means and the help of Sidhean, fairy but certainly not godmother. But that’s less of the point: she’s not interested in the prince (he is in her), but rather the king’s huntress, Kaisa, who she meets and goes hunting with, escaping her home and the repressive step-s. Plus Sidhean (pronounced something like sheen I think), has questionable motives, and may have laid claim to Ash. Kirkus Reviews said, “Beautiful language magically wrought; beautiful storytelling magically told.” Ash was a nominee for the Andre Norton Award.

Huntress, recently published, is a centuries-earlier prequel to Ash, this time drawing from the i-Ching. Kaede and Taisin must go on a treacherous journey to the Fairy Queen’s city, Taninli, when the order of the natural world is disturbed and “strange and hostile creatures” begin to appear.

When you’ve read Huntress, there’s also ‘The Fox’, a short story set a couple of years later (therefore there are spoilers) here.

More from Malinda Lo on the www:

More posts About An Author are here (just the one at the moment).

If you like Malinda Lo you could also try reading books by Melissa Marr, Aprilynne Pike, Sharon Shinn, Garth Nix (Abhorsen, Sabriel, Lirael), Cyn Balog (thanks to Literature Resource Centre for the recommendations). If you like the Chinese element to the fantasy in Huntress you could also read Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon.

New Books Again

A box of chocolates: horror, angels, love triangles, the origins of a New York icon, memoirs of addiction, high fantasy, gritty realism, dramas, and short stories, oh and chimpanzees again!

Non-fiction

We All Fall Down: Living With Addiction, and Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines, by Nic Sheff – Two memoirs with rave reviews on the subject of drug addiction, and companions to the book Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff. On Tweak: “The author details his immersion in a world of hardcore drugs, revealing the mental and physical depths of addiction, and the violent relapse one summer in California that forever changed his life, leading him down the road to recovery.” (Library catalogue)

Fiction

Half Brother, Kenneth Oppel (377 pages) – Oh fab! Ben’s father is a behavioural scientist, and on Ben’s 13th birthday, Zan comes to live with the family, as an experiment: Zan is a chimpanzee. Cool, you’d think. Well yes indeed!, although having a chimpanzee for a half-brother can have its hairy moments, and then when things start going wrong can Ben save Zan? (From what, I want to know, hoping it’s not horrible, and that it has a happy ending like the Chimpanzee movie.)

First sentence: This is how we got Zan.

Angry Young Man, Chris Lynch (167 pages) – Xan (not to be confused with Zan) is an angry young man, becoming increasingly involved in hard-core activism and groups of anarchists. Robert, his older brother, is completely different, steady and together. But when Xan appears to spiral out of control will Robert be able to rescue him, and is Robert such a solid, dependable hero anyway?

First sentence: I want you to understand my brother.

Huntress, Malinda Lo (371 pages) – High fantasy (complete with map) inspired by the I Ching, and prequel (by several centuries) to Ash, in Huntress the human kingdom is suffering: the sun never shines and strange creatures have begun appearing. Two seventeen year old girls are chosen to go on a dangerous journey to save the kingdom. Along the way they fall in love, but then it becomes clear that there should only be one Huntress saviour: will they be torn apart?

First sentence: She saw a beach made of ice, and she felt her heart breaking.

Summer and the City, Candace Bushnell (409 pages) – sequel to The Carrie Diaries and therefore also prequel to Sex and the City. Carrie’s having a good summer, enjoying the shopping, the parties, and the men the Big Apple provide, plus she’s in a writing class learning what will become her trade. During the summer she will meet two of her BFFs, Samantha and Miranda, and become more Carrie Bradshaw-ish.

First sentence: First Samantha asks me to find her shoe.

Dramarama, E Lockhart (305 pages) – Sadye (Sarah) and Demi (Douglas) become instant best friends when they meet at the auditions for a prestigious drama camp. When they both get in things look exciting – the chance to study under one of New York’s leading directors, for example, but it’s drama camp in more ways than one: can their friendship survive?

First sentence: Transcript of a microcassette recording: Demi: Is it on?

We’ll Always Have Summer, Jenny Han (291 pages) – the conclusion to the trilogy that began with The Summer I Turned Pretty. Belly and Jeremiah have been together for two years. Things should be happily ever after, but they aren’t really. Belly has unresolved feelings for Conrad, and when Jeremiah proposes marriage she must choose between the two, possibly breaking one of their hearts in the process. Obviously you must read this if you’ve read the others! And bring a hankie!

First sentence: On Wednesday nights when I was little, my mom and I would watch old musicals.

The Saga of Larten Crepsley: Ocean of Blood, Darren Shan (247 pages) – The prequel to Cirque Du Freak, where you get to learn more about Larten: what he was like as a teenager, rebelling against vampire authorities and hitting the road with his brother, leaving a trail of human destruction behind them. But are there dangers for him in this wanton, destructive lifestyle?

First sentence: The vampire known as Quicksilver threw a knife high into the smoke-clogged air of the tavern.

Fallen Angel, Heather Terrell (310 pages) – Ellie is shy and withdrawn around everyone except her friend Ruth, until she meets Michael. Together, she and Michael discover they have a similar secret: otherworldly powers, which will come in handy when they’re pitched into the eternal conflict, the battle between good and evil.

First sentence: I watched my curtains billow in the early autumn wind that wafted through my opened bedroom window.

Virgin Territory, Jame Lecesne (218 pages) – Set around the time of September 11 2001. Dylan’s father moves the family from New York to a small Florida town after the death of his mother. Dylan finds himself drifting through summer, losing a sense of his future while his past – and memories of his mother – appears to fade. When the Blessed Virgin Mary is sighted in town, interesting new arrivals bring a new perspective for Dylan: can he forge ahead and carve out a new future for himself?

First sentence: I’m staring out the passenger window of Doug’s banged-up Ford Explorer as we speed along I-95.

The Kissing Game: Short Stories, Aidan Chambers (215 pages) – including several pieces of flash fiction, which we like as a concept. The cover says, “In these sixteen short stories, acclaimed author Aidan Chambers examines moments of truth in which a conversation or an event suddenly reveals a surprising, sometimes life-altering meaning.”

First sentence (‘Cindy’s Day Out’): Enough! she said to herself.

Top 10: Theatre

There’s a fair amount of fiction about drama, acting and theatres, which kind of makes sense, since drama is what fiction is about, in some form of another.

  1. Eyes Like Stars, Lisa Mantchev. Very weird and well written. Bertie has grown up in the Theatre Illuminata, a sort of magical place where some of the great characters of the theatre are actually real, including the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Peaseblossom and friends, and also the mysterious Ariel), and Nate the pirate-type (from The Little Mermaid I think?). Bertie is a bit accident prone, and also adventure prone, to the point where things get really out of control and the theatre is shaken to its foundations. Perchance to Dream, the sequel, is even more of a trip.
  2. Wondrous Strange, Lesley Livingston. The sequel is Darklight. Again there’s a sort of Midsummer Night’s Dream going on here. Kelley Winslow is a theatre actor who is about to have the faerie world unleashed on her (and vice versa), which involves having a horse hang out in her bath for several days, and meeting people like the mysterious Sonny Flannery, who guards the Samhain Gate behind which (and through which) bad things happen.
  3. Illyria, Elizabeth Hand. Yet more Shakespeare! This time cousins Madeleine and Rogan discover their acting talents in a production of Twelfth Night, as well as a problematic romance (they’re cousins). Narrated by Maddy as a reflection on the past, this was a winner of the World Fantasy Award. For older teens.
  4. The Jumbee, Pamela Keyes. A revisioning of The Phantom of the Opera, except where in Phantom it’s about the singing, here it’s all about the (Shakespearean) acting. After her father (who was a famous thespian) dies, Esti and her mother move to a Caribbean island where she attends a theatre school which appears to be haunted by a jumbee (ghost) with a gift for bringing Shakespeare alive and getting the best out of Esti’s talents.
  5. Cuckoo in the Nest, Michelle Magorian. Set in post World War II Britain. During the war Ralph received an education he otherwise wouldn’t have in his working class community, and develops a love for the theatre. When he returns to his family Ralph is caught between two worlds. He wants to become an actor, but this doesn’t sit well with his father at all, and Ralph must try and reconcile his background and his passion.
  6. Shakespeare’s Apprentice, Veronica Bennett. A historical love story of star crossed lovers (as in, like Romeo and Juliet). Sam is an actor in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a theatre group who performs (among other things) pieces written by the playwright William Shakespeare. Lucie is the niece of Lord Essex, and the two (most unsuitably) fall in love. Things get hairy when Lord Essex is convicted of treason.
  7. My Invented Life, Lauren Bjorkman. A comedy of errors (which Shakespeare was rather good at). Roz’s fantasy life sometimes gets in the way of reality. So, when she decides her sister Eva must be gay, she encourages her to come out by staging a (fake) coming out of her own. This sounds problematic already, but to make it more so, Roz has a large crush on Eva’s boyfriend Bryan. Oh the trials! The drama club’s production of As You Like It is the background for this one.
  8. Saving Juliet, Suzanne Selfors. Mimi is somewhat reluctantly performing as Juliet in her family’s Broadway production of Romeo and Juliet. On the final night, however, things get interesting when she and her leading man are transported to Verona (Shakespeare’s Verona, that is) and Mimi decides to help Juliet out a bit. But will she get back again.
  9. Malvolio’s Revenge, Sophie Masson. But wait, there’s more Twelfth Night, this time set in turn of the 20th century New Orleans. A group of travelling performers comes to New Orleans in the hope of staging their play, Malvolio’s Revenge, and stay at a plantation mansion called Illyria, the home of mysterious 17 year old Isabelle. Toby, the group’s young jack of all trades, “unravels the mysteries of Isabelle’s origins, [and] he begins to suspect something terrible will engulf them all.” (from goodreads.com)
  10. Talk, Kathe Koja. Kit is secretly gay, Lindsay is one of the popular crowd, and together they’re the stars of the school’s controversial play Talk. Lindsay falls for Kit, dumps her boyfriend, and therefore tests Kit’s real-life performance. The truth will out.

Some New Books

Revolution, Jennifer Donnelly (472 pages) – Andi, musical genius, New Yorker, sullen pillar of her falling apart family, unwillingly goes to Paris to get her educational life back together. While researching a relatively obscure 18th century French composer for guitar (like, you know, I hadn’t heard of him) she stumbles across the diary of Alexandrine, who may have been the companion of Louis-Charles (son of Marie Antoinette) in his last days, with whom she has a strange connection. Music students and fans may particularly get something out of this, as will people who like Courtney Summers.

First sentences: Those who can, do. Those who can’t, deejay.

The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group, Catherine Jinks (380 pages) – to think that five years ago nobody knew that “lycanthrope” was a word. This must surely be a companion to the popular Reformed Vampire Support Group? Toby discovers he has a rare and dangerous condition, and is adopted by an oddball group of people, keen to help him.

First sentences: You’ve probably heard of me. I’m the guy they found in a dingo pen at Featherdale Wildlife Park.

Extraordinary, Nancy Werlin (390 pages) – the follow up to Impossible. Phoebe is drawn to the mysterious Mallory and her brother Ryland, which may be a very bad thing for Phoebe, as they expect her to pay an “age old debt”.

First sentence: Phoebe Gutle Rothschild met Mallory Tolliver in seventh grade, during the second week of the new school year, in homeroom.

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots, Abby McDonald (293 pages) – Jenna is an urban environmentalist who has the opportunity to spend the summer with her hippie godmother in rural parts, where her urban environmentalism comes up against the locals’ pragmatic ruralism. Plus there’s romance maybe.

First sentences: “Re-use! Re-duce! Re-cycle!”

Everlasting, Angie Frazier (329 pages) – In the 19th century Camille must choose between marrying rich and securing her and her father’s future, or the high seas on her father’s ship, even if this means a storm in the Tasman (!) Sea (bad) and Oscar, a “handsome young sailor” (good). But wait, there’s more: a quest through the Australian outback for an enchanted stone, murder, lies and intrigue. Action-packed adventure.

First sentence: Camille clicked the latches down on her trunk and glanced out her bedroom window.

Life, After, Sarah Darer Littman (278 pages) – Dani’s life in Argentina is blown to bits after a terrorist attack kills her aunt. Moving to the United States means a fresh start, although also troubles like speaking a different language, being a stranger, until she meets some new friends that help her pick up the pieces.

First sentence: Normal kids were happy when the bell rang at the end of the school day.

Love Drugged, James Klise (304 pages) – Jamie is semi-outed at school and does all he can to push the rabbit back into the hat, including taking drugs that will “cure” him and dating the most beautiful girl in school. But is it possible to live a life that’s basically a whole bunch of lies (and side-effects)?

First sentence: Judging by the angry mail we get, a lot of people consider me to be the villain of this story.

The Sorcerer of Sainte Felice, Ann Finnin (353 pages) – set in 15th Century France, Michael de Lorraine is rescued from execution and given refuge at a Benedictine monastery which, he discovers, contains “renegade monk-sorcerers” (how fab is that?) and a secret that could spell the end for the Abbot who rescued him. Oh, and the church (but not the renegade monk-sorcerers) still wants him dead.

First sentences: I was only an apprentice. I swear it.

13 to Life, Shannon Delany (308 pages) – Small time life has changed irrevocably for Jessie after the death of her mother, and then there’s the hot new stranger with the cool accent and a teeny little dangerous secret which the Library of Congress Cataloguing-in-Publication Data, like, totally gives away (don’t read the copyright info).

First sentence: Rio stiffened beneath my touch, striking a glossy hoof against the floor.

Boys Don’t Cry, Malorie Blackman (302 pages) – When the doorbell rings Dante expects the postie with his university exam results, not his ex-girlfriend with his baby.

First sentences: Good luck today. Hope you get what you want and need. 🙂

Paranormalcy, Kiersten White (335 pages) – Evie lives in a world populated with every supernatural being you can imagine, and she can see through their glamours. Trouble is, she can also dream prophetic dreams, and she fears she’s responsible for the recent spate of unexplained paranormal deaths.

First sentence: “Wait – did you – you just yawned!”

The Space Between Trees, Katie Williams (274 pages) – Evie (again! – different Evie) is in the wrong place at the wrong time when the body of her childhood playmate is discovered, which leads to lies, a hunt for the killer, and danger. Cool cover.

First sentence: I’m in Hokepe Woods this morning, like I am every Sunday, delivering papers and keeping an eye out for Jonah Luks.

How They Met and Other Stories, David Levithan (244 pages) – Love in all its guises is explored in 18 stories by bestselling author (Boy Meets Boy, Nick and Norah…) and much successful editor, David Levithan.

First sentence (‘Starbucks Boy’) – It was my aunt who pimped me out.

Unhooking the Moon, Gregory Hughes (374 pages) – This book won the Booktrust Teenage Prize this year. This is what the Guardian said (which I like): “Unhooking the Moon by Gregory Hughes is an extraordinary story of two orphaned siblings, the precocious, fascinating and infuriating 10-year-old Rat and her older brother Bob, who take a road trip from Canada to New York to look for their uncle on the strength of knowing his name and that he is a ‘drug dealer’.”

First sentence: Marymount Manhattan is a small cosy college on the East Side of New York.

My Name is Mina, David Almond (300 pages) – the prequel to the classic Skellig, in which you are privy to Mina’s journal, before she meets Skellig and Michael. Marcus Sedgwick (My Swordhand is Singing) loved it. Indeed, in the Guardian (again) he said,  “My Name Is Mina is a wonderful book in its own right, perhaps an even better one than Skellig. It is joyous. Thank you, David Almond; I cannot remember when a book last filled me with such claminosity.” Claminosity sounds like fun.

First sentence: My name is Mina and I love the night.

Also some continued series:

The Chamber of Shadows, Justin Richards (419 pages) – more from Eddie, George, Liz and Sir William in another horror murder mystery (so much more horrific when set in 19th Century London).

Possession, Chris Humphreys (360 pages) – book three in the Runestone saga.

Book Covers: Carpet of Grass

Here are four book covers illustrating how nice a good patch of grass is to lie on (although not in mid winter). It’s all very chilled out and relaxed and happy, or is it? (Read them and find out.)

 

 

Footfree and Fancyloose, Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain – carrying on from Bass Ackwards and Belly Up, Harper and her three BFFs are half way through a year in which they pursue their dreams rather than going to college. Good for people with withdrawal from the Pants Sisterhood?

Front and Center, Catherine Gilbert Murdock – the final in the trilogy about the fabulous DJ Shwenk (the first being Dairy Queen – which the central library staff selected as a Librarian’s Choice). DJ has to decide on her future, which is quite complex and political when top line College basketball programmes are involved (did anyone see the movie The Blind Side, which is football but still sort of the same saga?).

The Loser’s Guide to Life and Love, A E Cannon – “Four teens fumble the ball of love in this entertaining romantic comedy based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream” says the Booklist review. Snappy dialogue.

The Vast Fields of Ordinary, Nick Burd – while his parents’ marriage fall apart, Dade comes out of the closet. Rites of passage and coming of age: it’s got good reviews too.

New Books! New DVDs!

There are only a handful of new books this week. There’s a stack of DVDs though! Quite exciting for anime fans!

Here are the books.

Here’s How I See It: Here’s How It Is, by Heather Henson (270 pages) – The remarkably named Junebug wants to be an actress, but at the age of thirteen she’s still a stagehand at her parents’ playhouse. She feels like she’s becoming the perfect stagehand – this isn’t necessarily good, as it means she feels invisible!

First line: ‘Here’s how I see it: everything is going to be okay, just like Dad said.

Ship Breaker : A Novel, by Paolo Bacigalupi (326 pages) – In the grim, grim future (teens like dystopian novels!) Nailer, a teenaged boy, strips beached oil tankers for their copper. He stumbles across an ‘exquisite’ clipper ship beached in a hurrican and must decide between stripping it for parts or helping out the sole survivor (she is rich and beautiful!)

First line: ‘Nailer clambered through a service duct, tugging at copper wire and yanking it free.

Wolves, Boys, & Other Things That Might Kill Me : A Novel, by Kristen Chandler (371 pages) – KJ lives in Montana, near Yellowstone park, where introduced wolves are splitting the community. Is she for them or against them? Do I mean the wolves, or the community? Yes to both!

First lines: ‘Wolves don’t actually howl at the moon. Mostly they howl at each other. I’m a girl, so I get that.

The Carrie Diaries, by Candace Bushnell (389 pages) – Carrie Bradshaw is the main character in the Sex And The City TV series and films. This book is her ‘diary’ from when she was a teen in Connecticut in the early ’80s, and before she went to New York.  

First lines: ‘They say a lot can happen in a summer. Or not.

My Worst Best Friend, by Dyan Sheldon (303 pages) – Grace and Savanna are besties! Even soul sisters. But sometimes friendships can turn sour.

First line: ‘The way I saw it when I was in high school, even though there were still millioins of different life forms left on the planet, there were basically only two kinds of girls: Those Girls and everyone else.

Out of Shadows, by Jason Wallace (277 pages) – This is set in Zimbabwe, in the early ’80s, just after independence. Robert is new to the country, and finds that some of his classmates are keen for the country to return to the old, white-led past, at any cost.

First line: ‘Go ahead, shoot, I thought, because I was thirteen and deperate and anything, absolutely anything, was better than the fate to which my parents were leading me.

Here are the new DVDs! We have added the newest Bleach DVDs (volumes 16 to 20), and we’ve also got the first Bleach film, Bleach : Memories of Nobody. (There’s talk of a live-action Bleach film, btw.) We have added a couple of Ghost In The Shell : Stand Alone Complex DVDs to the YA collection, and the entire first series of Tsubasa in one, six-disc boxed set. Boxed sets of shounen-ai classic Gravitation  and FLCL (pronounced ‘fooly-cooly’) are also in. As well as! Death Note  : Relight 2 (highly recommended), the first three Bakugan DVDs, a couple more Dragonball Z movies, the 2001 OVA of Spirit of Wonder, and the complete series of the French-Japanese animation, The Mysterious Cities of Gold (which came out in 1982, when Carrie Bradshaw was in high school).

New! Books!? yes.

Spells, by Aprilynne Pike (425 pages) – Laurel is a faerie, placed among the humans when she was a baby. A baby faerie! She still lives in the human world (a boyfriend you see) but the faerie realm is threatened, so she’s got to do something about it.

First line: ‘Laurel stood in front of the cabin, scanning the tree line, her throat constricting in a rush of nerves.’

f2m – The Boy Within, by Hazel Edwards and Ryan Kennedy (330 pages) – Skye is in an all-girl punk band, and her world is turned upside-down when she decides to transition to male. Skye becomes Finn, and his family and friends will need to come to terms with this.

First line: ‘Tick the box. M or F.

Where I Belong, by Gillian Cross (340 pages) – Human smuggling, Somalia, and supermodels!

First line: ‘Spin the globe, boy,’ my father used to say.

Jaguar Warrior, by Sandy Fussell (212 pages) – Atl is an Aztec boy who runs from captivity (and human sacrifice I think?) towards freedom. Who can blame him!

First line: ‘“Why isn’t that boy dead yet?” When the captain shouts, even the temple walls shiver.

Shadow of the Dragon: Book 2 – Elspeth, by Kate O’Hearn (374 pages) – The king’s ‘First Law’ is an incredibly restrictive bunch of rules preventing girls from going anywhere near dragons (torture then execution you see) but Elspeth and her sister Kira aren’t having any of it.

First line: ‘The heavy rain that fell from the stormy skies around them did little to dampen the celebrations of the dragon riders cutting through the thick dark clouds.

Witchfinder : Dawn of the Demontide, by William Hussey (337 pages) – The Demontide is coming, and Jake Harker is ‘the only one who can stop it.’ Sounds pretty grim! This is the first book in a planned trilogy. There is an official website here.

First line: ‘“HELP! Someone – anyone – please, help me!”

Thief Eyes, by Janni Lee Simner (259 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Haley goes to Iceland with her father to try to find her mother, who disappeared there some time ago. She touches a magic coin Hallgerd  (Haley’s ancestor – and a sorceress!) that curses her. Haley now needs to break the spell, and sets off with the gorgeous but dangerous Ari.

First line: ‘ Icy rain blew into my hood and dripped down my neck as I knelt on the mossy stones.

Bead, Boys, and Bangles, by Sophia Bennett (304 pages) – This is the second book in the Threads series, which is about four girls and ‘their amazing adventure with fashion.’ In this installment Crow’s designs may be manufactured by children in India!

First line: ‘I’ve never seen Crow look so scared. And this time she’s got a point.

Greener Grass, by Caroline Pignat (276 pages) – Ireland 1847. The Great Famine! Kit’s family is to be evicted – is there anything she can do to help her family? She will do anything.

First line: ‘They say home is where the heart is. I believed that, once.

Borderline, by Allan Stratton (298 pages) – Sami is the only Muslim at his private school. When is father is implicated in a terrorist plot, Sami’s ‘must fight to keep his world from unraveling.’ A thriller!

First line: ‘I’m next door in Andy’s driveway, shooting hoops with him and Marty.

Alchemy and Meggy Swann, by Karen Cushman (167 pages) – Meggy is sent from her country village to Elizabethan-era London. From a dire beginning she works her way to improve her lot in the same way that her father, an achemist, attempts to turn base metal into gold.

First line: ‘“Ye toads and vipers,” the girl said, as her granny often had, “ye toads and vipers,” and she snuffled a great snuffle that echoed in the empty room.

Burned : A House of Night Novel, by P. C. and Kristin Cast (323 pages) – Book seven in the series, and one of the Most Wanted books this month. Having not read this I do not know what is going on. High Priestesses! Neferet! Bringing back Zoey!

First line: ‘Kalona lifted his hands. He didn’t hesitate.

Sources of Light, by Margaret McMullan (233 pages) – Mississippi, 1962, and fourteen-year-old Sam ‘learns to use her camera to look for the shades of gray’ in a black and white world.

First line: ‘The year after my father died, my mother took a job teaching at a small college in Jackson, Mississippi.

Spirit Bound : A Vampire Academy Novel, by Richelle Mead (489 pages) – This is the fifth novel in the series. And what happens? ‘Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s and to her best friend, Lissa. But Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri, and she knows he’s out there, somewhere. He has tasted her blood, and now he is hunting her. Only this time, he won’t rest until Rose joins him–forever.’ So says the catalogue.

First line: ‘There’s a big difference between death threats and love letters – even if the person writing the death threats still claims to actually love you.

Hex Hall, by Rachel Hawkins (323 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Sophie discovers she’s a witch, but after screwing up a love spell she’s sent to Hecate ‘Hex’ Hall, a reform school for witches, shapeshifters, and faeries. Also ghosts and a vampire. There’s a mystery predator also.

First line: ‘Felicia Miller was crying in the bathroom. Again.

The Reckoning : The Darkest Power, by Kelley Armstrong (391 pages) – Book three! Chloe is fifteen and is a genetically engineered necromancer, and has feelings for a sorcerer and his brother, a werewolf, all the while on the run from the corporation that created her (and the others).

First line: ‘After four nights on the run, I was finally safe, tucked into bed and enjoying the deep, dreamless sleep of the dead … until the dead decided they’d really rather have me awake.

Koh Tabu, by Ann Kelley (260 pages) – A group of girls are stranded on an island after their boat is blown off course. It’s all an adventure to begin with but quickly becomes an all-girl Lord of the Flies + Man Vs Wild mashup.

First line: ‘It all began with my mother changing her mind.

Rich and Mad, by William Nicholson (341 pages)
The Island, by Sarah Singleton (294 pages)
Ondine : The Summer of Shambles, by Ebony McKenna (291 pages)
Because I Am Furniture, by Thalia Chaltas (352 pages)

Get your pink on

Logo smallPink Shirt Day is on April 28th. What is Pink Shirt Day? Here’s what the website had to say… 

Pink Shirt Day aims to show that bullying is not ok and won’t be tolerated. By encouraging the people of New Zealand to wear a Pink Shirt on the 28th of April we can help to raise awareness of bullying and show there is a  massive amount of people who support taking a stance against bullying.

Sounds good to me! Get your pink on and show everyone that bullying is so not cool!

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