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These Violent Delights and I

Have you ever known something was going to be big before it happens?

That was the feeling I had when reserving These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong months before it came out. While talk about the book online was a consistent hum, for the longest time I was one of only three reserves, and I could not help but wonder who else was in on this not-so-secret secret.

Then late November came along, and These Violent Delights was released – and appeared on the New York Times Young Adult Bestseller list. All the local papers wanted to tell everyone who this local success story was. In a matter of days the reserve list doubled, then tripled. One thing quickly became apparent to everyone who had not seen this coming. We needed more than the three copies we originally had!

So what’s the big deal?

Let’s first start with the book. These Violent Delights is a young adult historical fantasy novel that is also a reimagining of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. To break it down, it’s Romeo and Juliet + gangs in 1920s Shanghai + monsters = These Violent Delights. Juliet is now Juliette Cai, heir to the Scarlet Gang, while Romeo has become Roma Montagov, heir to rivals the White Flowers.

Who could say no to a book cover like that?

Gong wrote These Violent Delights in May 2018. That’s not a typo: she started and finished her first draft in the same month, while back in Auckland for the summer break of the University of Pennsylvania. Thanks to a year’s worth of notes and the eight novels she had previously written throughout her teens Gong was able to do what most NaNoWriMo participants can only dream of doing.

With a completed manuscript in hand, Gong went in search of an agent. She found one. Together they worked on making Gong’s manuscript the best it could be before submitting to publishers. After four months of submissions, the offer came through. And then another. There were enough editors and publishers interested that the book went to auction, where they all competed to be the one that got to publish the book. A sort of Publishing Games, if you will, only much much much less violent.

Long story short, the deal was announced in February 2019 and just over a year and a half later the book hit shelves and number three on the NYT bestseller list. Right between The Hate U Give and Once Of Us Is Lying. At twenty-one, with a book she had written when she was nineteen, Chloe Gong was now one of 2020s youngest bestsellers. Plus it’s the rare example of a book for teens that was written by a teen; a funny thing as when submitting Gong was often told that These Violent Delights was more adult than young adult. It goes to show that if you have a great idea and are willing to put in the hard work as well as take the leap you too can achieve great things.

The author stares enigmatically at the camera, leaning against an ornate wall in a forest setting.

Yes, she is the coolest. Photograph © JON STUDIO

If you’re interested in reading These Violent Delights, make sure you reserve a copy today as the queue is still quite impressive. Don’t forget to mark your calendars as its sequel, Our Violent Ends, is due for release November 16, 2021.

And if you think you think you have got it in you to be the next teen bestseller from New Zealand, check out Chloe Gong’s blog post about being a youth in publishing. Her website is also full of links to articles about and interviews with Gong, while her twitter feed is full of very excellent memes.


These violent delights / Gong, Chloe

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

New books!

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDescendant of the crane, Joan He

When her father is murdered, Princess Hesina of Yan is thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina engages the aid of a soothsayer. It is a treasonous act, punishable by death, because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago. Using the information provided, Hesina turns to Akira, an investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsToffee, Sarah Crossan

Allison has run away from home and with nowhere to live finds herself hiding out in the shed of what she thinks is an abandoned house. But the house isn’t empty. An elderly woman named Marla, with dementia, lives there — and she mistakes Allison for an old friend from her past called Toffee. Allison is used to hiding who she really is, and trying to be what other people want her to be. And so, Toffee is who she becomes. After all, it means she has a place to stay. There are worse places she could be. But as their bond grows, and Allison discovers how much Marla needs a real friend, she begins to ask herself – where is home? What is a family? And most importantly, who am I, really? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWe hunt the flame, Hafsah Faizal

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya– but neither wants to be. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA curse so dark and lonely, Brigid Kemmerer

Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall, was cursed to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year; he could only be saved if a girl fell for him. But at the end of each autumn he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction… and destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope. Washington, D.C. native Harper Lacy’s father is long gone, her mother is dying, and her brother constantly underestimates her because of her cerebral palsy. When she is sucked into Rhen’s cursed world, Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. As Rhen regains hope, they learn it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe missing of Clairdelune, Christelle Dabos ; translated from the French by Hildegarde Serle

When Ophelia is promoted to Vice-storyteller by Farouk, the ancestral Spirit of Pole, she finds herself unexpectedly thrust into the public spotlight. Her gift–the ability to read the secret history of objects–is now known by all, and there can be no greater threat to the nefarious denizens of her icy adopted home than this. Beneath the golden rafters of Pole’s capitol, she discovers that the only person she may be able to trust is Thorn, her enigmatic and emotionally distant fiancé́. As one influential courtier after another disappears, Ophelia again finds herself unintentionally implicated in an investigation that will lead her to see beyond Pole’s many illusions to the heart of a formidable truth. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhat I lost, Alexandra Ballard

What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her–girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again. She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size-zero obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSomewhere only we know, Maurene Goo

9:00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest Korean pop star on the scene, and tomorrow is her debut on The Tonight Show, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. She’s in her fancy hotel, and her feet are killing her. She’s dying for a hamburger. 10:00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid reporter job that he keeps secret from his high-profile journalist father. On his way out, he runs into a girl wearing hotel slippers who is determined to find a hamburger. She looks familiar. She’s kind of cute. He’s really curious. 12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCold day in the sun, by Sara Biren

Holland Delviss wants to be known for her talent as a hockey player, not a hockey player who happens to be a girl. But when her school team is selected to be featured and televised as part of HockeyFest, her status as the only girl on the boys’ team makes her the lead story. Not everyone is thrilled with Holland’s new fame, but there’s one person who fiercely supports her, and it’s the last person she expects (and definitely the last person she should be falling for): her bossy team captain, Wes. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWicked fox, Kat Cho

Gu Miyoung is a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. The modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt. After feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. She violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead– her gumiho soul– in the process. Jihoon saw her nine tails, but he’s drawn to her anyway. Their a tenuous friendship blossoms into something more… until a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead. Now Miyoung must choose between her immortal life– and Jihoon’s. (Publisher summary).

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe candle and the flame, by Nafiza Azad

Fatima lives in the city of Noor, on the Silk Road, which is currently protected by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, from attacks by the violent and ruthless Shayateen djinn–but Fatima was infused with the fire of the Ifrit who died saving her when she was four years old, and when one of the most important Ifrit dies she finds herself drawn into the intrigues of the court, the affairs of the djinn, and the very real dangers of a magical battlefield. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThere’s something about Sweetie, Sandhya Menon

Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so… sucky. After being dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up. The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl — under contract. Per subclause 1(a), he’ll be taking his date on “fun” excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work? Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat. To Sweetie’s traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death. Sweetie loves her parents, but she’s so tired of being told she’s lacking because she’s fat. She decides it’s time to kick off the Sassy Sweetie Project, where she’ll show the world (and herself) what she’s really made of. Ashish and Sweetie both have something to prove. But with each date they realize there’s an unexpected magic growing between them. Can they find their true selves without losing each other? (Publisher summary(

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDear Ally, how do you write a book? Ally Carter

Have you always wanted to write a book, but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’re really great at writing the first few chapters . . . but you never quite make it to the end? Or do you finally have a finished manuscript, but you’re not sure what to do next? Fear not — if you have writing-related questions, this book has answers! Whether you’re writing for fun or to build a career, bestselling author Ally Carter is ready to help you make your work shine. With honesty, encouragement, and humor, Ally’s ready here to answer the questions that writers struggle with the most. Filled with practical tips and helpful advice, Dear Ally is a treasure for aspiring writers at any stage of their careers. It offers a behind-the-scenes look at how books get made, from idea to publication, and gives you insight into the writing processes of some of the biggest and most talented YA authors writing today. (Amazon summary).

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe watch that ends the night, Allan Wolf

On Sunday, April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic, the largest and most luxurious ship in the world, is 1,400 miles out to sea. More than two thousand men, women, and children are on board. In the distance, shrouded in darkness, an ancient iceberg lies in wait. In dozens of voices-from the unsinkable Molly Brown to the captain who went down with the ship, from a young boy in search of dragons to a gambler in search of fools with money to lose, from the ship’s rats to the iceberg itself-poet Allen Wolf offers a breathtaking, intimate recreation of that fateful night. (Cover summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFamous in a small town, Emma Mills

For Sophie, small town life has never felt small. With her four best friends–loving, infuriating, and all she could ever ask for–she can weather any storm. But when Sophie’s beloved Acadia High School marching band is selected to march in the upcoming Rose Parade, it’s her job to get them all the way to LA. Her plan? To persuade country singer Megan Pleasant, their Midwestern town’s only claim to fame, to come back to Acadia to headline a fundraising festival. The only problem is that Megan has very publicly sworn never to return.

What ensues is a journey filled with long-kept secrets, hidden heartbreaks, and revelations that could change everything–along with a possible fifth best friend: a new guy with a magnetic smile and secrets of his own. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe truth about lies, Tracy Darnton

Jess has an incredible memory. She can remember every single detail of every single day since she was eleven. But Jess would rather not be remarkable and, after years of testing at the hands of a ruthless research team, she has finally managed to escape. Just when Jess thinks that she’s managing to settle in to living a normal life, everything changes. Her boarding-school roommate dies and the school is thrown into a state of chaos and grief. Then new boy Dan appears and Jess can’t help but find herself drawn to him. But building relationships is hard when you can’t reveal who you really are and Jess is getting hints that someone knows more about her than she would like. Is it time to run again? Will she ever be truly free? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe anger of angels, Sherryl Jordan

In a world where it is a crime to speak against injustice, a jester dares to perform a play that enrages a powerful tyrant prince. The jester’s daughter, Giovanna, must journey into the heart of danger to turn back the terrible consequences unleashed by her father’s words – and becomes entangled in a treacherous plot to overthrow the prince. She alone holds a secret which, if made public, will overthrow the prince and liberate his oppressed people. Will she have the courage to speak out? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNowhere on Earth, Nick Lake

Sixteen-year-old Emily and her little brother Aidan are onboard a plane bound for Anchorage. When the plane crashes, both kids and the pilot barely escape with their lives and are left to fight for survival in the Alaskan wilderness. But there is worse to come – Emily and Aidan are being chased, and their shady, unknown pursuers are closing in. As the kids go on the run, Emily finds herself in greater danger than she could have imagined. Because nothing in her life is what it seems – not even the things she holds dearest of all…(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDeadly by design, Carina Axelsson

When a new case lands on Axelle Anderson’s London doorstep, the stylish sleuth can’t resist strapping on the heels and snapping on the shades to track down whoever attacked fashion photographer Gavin. But what’s the deal with the memory stick full of mysterious photos? Can Axelle discover the secret they contain and stop a killer in his tracks? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOn the come up, Angie Thomas

This is the highly anticipated second novel by Angie Thomas, the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling, award-winning The Hate U Give. Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral…for all the wrong reasons. Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it–she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be. Insightful, unflinching, and full of heart, On the Come Up is an ode to hip hop from one of the most influential literary voices of a generation. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; and about how, especially for young black people, freedom of speech isn’t always free. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe vanishing stair, Maureen Johnson

Stevie Bell seemed to be on the cusp of the decades-old kidnapping and murder of Albert Ellingham’s family. But a classmate’s murder– which Stevie solved– convinced her parents to pull her out of Ellingham Academy. Then politician Edward King arrives at her house to offer a deal: he will bring Stevie back to Ellingham if she will play nice with his son, David, a fellow classmate. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. Stevie knows she can solve the riddles behind the Ellingham murders, but discovers that moving forward will mean hurting someone she cares for. (Book jacket)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSong of the dead, Sarah Glenn Marsh

Karthia is nothing like it used to be. The kingdom’s borders are open for the first time in nearly three hundred years, and raising the dead has been outlawed. Odessa is determined to explore the world beyond Karthia’s waters, hoping to heal a heart broken in more ways than she can count. But with Meredy joining the ocean voyage, vanquishing her sorrow will be a difficult task. Despite the daily reminder of the history they share, Odessa and Meredy are fascinated when their journey takes them to a land where the Dead rule the night and dragons roam the streets. Odessa can’t help being mesmerized by the new magic–and by the girl at her side. But just as she and Meredy are beginning to explore the new world, a terrifying development in Karthia summons them home at once. Growing political unrest on top of threats from foreign invaders means Odessa and Meredy are thrust back into the lives they tried to leave behind while specters from their past haunt their tenuous relationship. Gathering a force big enough to ward off enemies seems impossible, until one of Queen Valoria’s mages creates a weapon that could make them invincible. As danger continues to mount inside the palace, Odessa fears that without the Dead, even the greatest invention won’t be enough to save their fates. In this enthralling, heartrending sequel to Reign of the Fallen, Odessa faces the fight of her life as the boundaries between the Dead and the living are challenged in a way more gruesome than ever before. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA curse so dark and lonely, Brigid Kemmerer

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope. Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world. Break the curse, save the kingdom. A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall…and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsKing of scars, Leigh Bardugo

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war–and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army. Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried–and some wounds aren’t meant to heal. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMud, Emily Thomas

It’s 1979 and thirteen-year-old Lydia has no idea how she’ll cope when her dad announces that the family has to sell up and move onto a Thames sailing barge in Essex. With his girlfriend and her three kids. Between trying to keep her clothes dry in a leaky cabin, disastrous hair-dye attempts, awkward encounters with local boys, and coping with her suddenly enormous and troublesome family, Lydia fears she’ll sink rather than swim. At turns heartbreaking and uplifting, through Lydia’s innocent and perceptive voice we find out that while the mud may stick, the tide can turn – and in unexpected and joyful ways. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsChaos, Sarah Fine

With Juri in control and everything in absolute chaos, Lela plunges into the depths of hell to free Malachi from creatures that have waited decades to exact their revenge. But the Judge has her own way of doing things, and Lela must work with Ana, the new Captain, who has a very personal mission of her own. Together, they infiltrate the most horrifying realm either has yet encountered in the Shadowlands–the bitter landscape ruled by the Mazikin. The stakes could not be higher, and Lela must accept the help–and love–of people she barely knows or trusts. As alliances and loyalties shift and she realizes the soul she came to save isn’t the only one in need of rescue, can Lela summon the strength to see the fight through to the very end? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCircle of shadows, Evelyn Skye

Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied around his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas–marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona. As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging in the elite group–but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark. So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group. Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever–and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved. Love, spies, and adventure abound as Sora and Daemon unravel a complex web of magic and secrets that might tear them–and the entire kingdom–apart. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsImprison the sky, A.C Gaughgen

Aspasia, an Elementae who controls air, was stolen from her family as a child. She captains her own trading vessel– and risks it all every time she uses magic to free as many women, children, and Elementae from slavery as she can. Cyrus knows Aspasia is searching for her lost family– and is now searching for them himself. With a war brewing, will Aspasia’s power alone be enough to save her friends, family, and freedom? (Book jacket)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDear heartbreak: YA authors and teens on the dark side of love, edited by Heather Demetrios

In this powerful collection, well-known YA authors answer real letters from teens all over the world about the dark side of love: cheating, betrayals, break-ups, dating violence, and loneliness. This book contains a raw, no-holds-barred outpouring of the wisdom these authors have culled from mining their own hearts for the fiction they write. Their responses are autobiographical, unflinching, and filled with love and hope for the anonymous teen letter writers. (Book jacket)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFor everyone, Jason Reynolds

Originally performed at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and later as a tribute to Walter Dean Myers, this stirring and inspirational poem is New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds’s rallying cry to the dreamers of the world. For Every One is just that: for every one. For every one person. For every one dream. But especially for every one kid. The kids who dream of being better than they are. Kids who dream of doing more than they almost dare to dream. Kids who are like Jason Reynolds, a self-professed dreamer. Jason does not claim to know how to make dreams come true; he has, in fact, been fighting on the front line of his own battle to make his own dreams a reality. He expected to make it when he was sixteen. Then eighteen. Then twenty-five. Now, some of those expectations have been realized. But others, the most important ones, lay ahead, and a lot of them involve kids, how to inspire them. All the kids who are scared to dream, or don’t know how to dream, or don’t dare to dream because they’ve never seen a dream come true. Jason wants kids to know that dreams take time. They involve countless struggles. But no matter how many times a dreamer gets beat down, the drive and the passion and the hope never fully extinguish–because just having the dream is the start you need, or you won’t get anywhere anyway, and that is when you have to take a leap of faith. (Publisher summary)

Newly Ordered Books

This week, a historical fantasy from a Christchurch-based author, two short stories from a popular series, a moving novel about grief and loss, and a holocaust story of survival.

Awakening, Natalie King (New Zealand writer) – “When Zelie Taylor pulls a lost necklace out of the icy waters of the lake, she has no idea what the consequences will be. At first the pendant is just freezing cold – unnaturally so – but then she hears a voice inside her head and Zelie thinks she must be going mad. She’s not. Seventeen-year-old Tamas’ soul has been trapped in the silver necklace since 1918. His body is nearby, sleeping, and Zelie must help him awaken. At first Zelie would like nothing better than for Tamas’ moody, enigmatic presence to be out of her life, but after a while she isn’t so sure. And what is waiting for Tamas when he does emerge? It seems that the sinister force that trapped him all those years ago has returned and is growing more powerful. A hundred-year-old mystery steeped in dark magic will make Zelie question everything she thought she knew.” (goodreads.com)

Tales from the Half-Continent, D M Cornish – this is number 3.5 in the Monster Blood Tattoo series, and it’s really two short/long stories: ‘The Corsers’ Hinge’ and ‘The Fuller and the Bogle’. “Bunting Faukes has a debt and no way to repay it – times are tough for grave robbers. But a way out is presented in the person of Atticus Wells, a sleuth with strange eyes that see into everything — Virtue Bland is alone in the world. Packed off to Brandenbrass to serve the household of her late father’s employer, she has only her old pa’s olfactologue to remember him by. But with it she can smell monsters.” (goodreads.com)

The Year of the Rat, Clare Furniss. “The world can tip at any moment … a fact that fifteen-year-old Pearl is all too aware of when her mum dies after giving birth to her baby sister. Told across the year following her mother’s death, Pearl’s story is full of bittersweet humour and heartbreaking honesty about how you deal with grief that cuts you to the bone, as she tries not only to come to terms with losing her mum, but also the fact that her sister – The Rat – is a constant reminder of why her mum is no longer around…” (goodreads.com)

Alexander Altmann A10567, Suzy Zail. “Fourteen-year-old Alexander Altmann doesn’t need to look at the number tattooed on his arm. A10567; he knows it by heart. He also knows to survive Auschwitz, he must toughen up. Being soft will get him killed. Alexander will take any chance he’s given – and when that chance is caring for the German officers’ horses he grabs it. He just can’t let them know he’s scared.” (goodreads.com)

Recently ordered by us

A historical fantasy, a contemporary fantasy, and two romances.

The Story of Owen, dragon slayer of Trondheim, E. K. Johnston (March) – This is getting great reviews by people saying it’s awesome, and like any great hero, Owen has a bard: “Listen! For I sing of Owen Thorskard: valiant of heart, hopeless at algebra, last in a long line of legendary dragon slayers. Though he had few years and was not built for football, he stood between the town of Trondheim and creatures that threatened its survival. There have always been dragons. As far back as history is told, men and women have fought them, loyally defending their villages. Dragon slaying was a proud tradition. But dragons and humans have one thing in common: an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels. From the moment Henry Ford hired his first dragon slayer, no small town was safe. Dragon slayers flocked to cities, leaving more remote areas unprotected. Such was Trondheim’s fate until Owen Thorskard arrived. At sixteen, with dragons advancing and his grades plummeting, Owen faced impossible odds armed only with a sword, his legacy, and the classmate who agreed to be his bard. Listen! I am Siobhan McQuaid. I alone know the story of Owen, the story that changes everything. Listen!” (goodreads.com)

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Jenny Han (April) – the new novel by the popular author of The Summer I Turned Pretty. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.” (goodreads.com) This sounds horrifying to me! If you do this, maybe don’t address the letters.

The Geography of You and Me, Jennifer E. Smith (April) – the latest from the queen of chance encounters (e.g. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight). “Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father. Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and – finally – a reunion in the city where they first met.” (goodreads.com)

The Ring and the Crown, Melissa de la Cruz (April) – “Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve? Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. But even with the aid of Emrys’ magic, Eleanor’s extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen’s Guard. Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie’s face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she’s always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she’s always dreamed of – the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only one rule that matters in Eleanor’s court: trust no one.” (goodreads.com)

Best of 2013: Bridget’s Picks

Mortal Fire, Elizabeth Knox

“Sixteen-year-old Canny Mochrie’s vacation takes a turn when she stumbles upon a mysterious and enchanting valley, occupied almost entirely by children who can perform a special type of magic that tells things how to be stronger and better than they already are. As Canny studies the magic more carefully, she realizes that she not only understands it–she can perform the magic, too, so well that it feels like it has always been a part of her. With the help of an alluring seventeen-year-old boy who is held hostage by a spell that is now more powerful than the people who first placed it, Canny figures out the secrets of this valley and of her own past.” (goodreads.com)

This is another highly original fantasy story featuring a strong and unique female hero, from New Zealander Elizabeth Knox.

I also really liked:

Dark Triumph, Robin LaFevers

Rose Under Fire, Elizabeth Wein

The Dream Thieves, Maggie Stiefvater

Picture Me Gone, Meg Rosoff

Looking forward to:

The Princesses of Iowa, M Molly Backes (July) – “Paige Sheridan has the perfect life. She’s pretty, rich, and popular, and her spot on the homecoming court is practically guaranteed. But when a night of partying ends in an it-could-have-been-so-much worse crash, everything changes. Her best friends start ignoring her, her boyfriend grows cold and distant, and her once-adoring younger sister now views her with contempt. The only bright spot is her creative writing class, led by a charismatic new teacher who encourages students to be true to themselves. But who is Paige, if not the homecoming princess everyone expects her to be?” (goodreads.com)

Belle Epoque, Elizabeth Ross (July) – “When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service – the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive. Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect foil. But Isabelle has no idea her new ‘friend’ is the hired help, and Maude’s very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.” (goodreads.com)

Freedom Merchants, Sherryl Jordan (New Zealand author) – “A riveting tale of piracy and slavery set in the early 1600s in Ireland and Northern Africa. Twenty-five years ago, young Liam’s small fishing village on the Irish Coast was raided and its population decimated by brutal corsair pirates from the Barbary Coast who killed, plundered, and took a number of his people back to Northern Africa as slaves to Muslim masters. And now a pirate ship has been wrecked in Liam’s bay, and survivors are struggling ashore…” (goodreads.com)

Looking forward to:

New novels from some popular authors (a couple of them a while in the making!), and a new series of Victorian intrigue.

More than this, Patrick Ness (September) – “A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this…” (goodreads.com)

The clockwork scarab, Colleen Gleason (September) – “Two young women of similar age and standing have disappeared: one found dead and the other still missing. The only clue to connect them is a small Egyptian clockwork scarab. Only Miss Stoker and Miss Holmes are well-positioned enough – similar in age and stature as they are to the victims – to investigate. An unlikely pair, the fierce Evaline Stoker and logical Mina Holmes must follow in the footsteps of their infamous families – Miss Holmes has inherited her Uncle Sherlock’s keen investigative skills, while Miss Stoker has accepted her family calling as a hunter of the undead. The partners must find a way to work together, while navigating the advances of a strange yet handsome American, a clever Scotland Yard investigator, and a cunning thief, to solve the mystery of the clockwork scarabs.” (goodreads.com) In case you missed it, the two main characters are the niece of Sherlock Holmes and the half-sister of Bram Stoker (author of Dracula). They’d be an awesome detective duo, we think. The first in a new series.

Armageddon, James Patterson (Daniel X series – October) – “In the fifth installment of James Patterson’s action-packed Daniel X series, Daniel must now face an alien whose origins appear nearer to the depths of Hell than the outer reaches of the galaxy. Number Two is an unstoppable criminal that’s slowly been amassing an underground army of disgusting, disgruntled, and dangerous aliens to help him enslave Earth’s population. And it’s all in preparation for the arrival of Number One, the most powerful alien in the universe and Daniel’s arch-nemesis. To Daniel’s horror, thousands of humans defect to the alien’s side, making the odds of success that much more impossible. But for the first time in his life, Daniel isn’t alone in his fight. He’s connected with several military and intelligence groups–including the daughter of a prominent FBI agent – and is prepared to lead the ultimate showdown against the evil that has plagued planet Earth for so long. Readers, beware – and be prepared for a truly epic battle that evokes the ancient prophecies of Armageddon!” (goodreads.com)

Picture me gone, Meg Rosoff (September) – we’ve been waiting ages for the new book from the bestselling author of How I Live Now. “Mila is on a roadtrip across the USA with her father. They are looking for his best friend but Mila discovers a more important truth. Sometimes the act of searching reveals more than the final discovery can. Adults do not have all the answers. It all depends what questions you ask. A brilliantly atmospheric exploration of someone on the brink of adulthood…” (amazon.co.uk)

Looking forward to:

Allegiant, Veronica Roth (October) – we’ve ordered the final in the Divergent trilogy, so now you can too! Get in quick and you won’t have to wait too long in the reserve queue. But what will happen? Jolly good question. We don’t know! But, we do now have a book cover at least.

Also, in the mean time, here’s a link to a still from the Divergent movie.

There are other interesting titles appearing soon in the mean time, like a couple of Victorian stories:

Legacy of the Clockwork Key, Kristin Bailey (June). “When a fire consumes Meg’s home, killing her parents and destroying both her fortune and her future, all she has left is the tarnished pocket watch she rescued from the ashes. But this is no ordinary timepiece. The clock turns out to be a mechanical key – a key that only Meg can use – that unlocks a series of deadly secrets and intricate clues that Meg is compelled to follow. Meg has uncovered evidence of an elite secret society and a dangerous invention that some will stop at nothing to protect – and that Meg alone can destroy. Together with the handsome stable hand she barely knows but hopes she can trust, Meg is swept into a hidden world of deception, betrayal, and revenge. The clockwork key has unlocked her destiny in this captivating start to a trilogy.” (goodreads.com)

The Incredible Charlotte Sycamore, Kate Maddison (June) – don’t mind the interesting font on the cover. “”I’m sixteen, live in Buckingham Palace, my father is the Royal Surgeon to Queen Victoria, and I have a price on my head. I’m wanted for high treason – stealing medicine and knowledge from the rich to treat the poor. They call me the Robin Hood Surgeon and believe I’m a man, but I can’t confess, for not only would they send me to the gallows, but my unsuspecting father as well. I’m grateful to my secret band of friends for helping me maneuver through London as we battle the deadly mechanical dogs, but it’s becoming more difficult because my feelings are so torn between Peter and Benjamin.” (author’s website)

Plus one other for good measure:

The Moon and More, Sarah Dessen (June/July) – it’s been ages (since 2011), but Sarah Dessen fans don’t have long to wait for her next book! “Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough. Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo’s sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby. Emaline’s mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he’s convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby? Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she’s going?” (goodreads.com)

Looking forward to:

Mortal Fire, Elizabeth Knox (June) – the new fantasy novel from one of New Zealand’s premier writers. “When sixteen-year-old Canny of the Pacific island, Southland, sets out on a trip with her stepbrother and his girlfriend, she finds herself drawn into enchanting Zarene Valley where the mysterious but dark seventeen-year-old Ghislain helps her to figure out her origins.” (Children’s Bookshop, Kilbirnie) Margo Lanagan said, “It has brains; it has heart; it has people to fear and to fall in low with; and it all takes place in a totally beguiling world full of natural beauties, glittering puzzles and earthy problems.”

Chantress, Amy Butler Greenfield (June) – “This historical fantasy imagines an alternate 17th-century England where the tyrannical Lord Protector has hunted down anyone with magical power. The last ‘Chantress,’ 15-year-old Lucy, lives in exile on a deserted island, knowing only that she should never sing and tap her dangerous latent talent.” (goodreads.com) Described as “atmospheric and lyrical, dangerous and romantic”.

The Rules for Disappearing, Ashley Elston (June/July) – “She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky… But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last. Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules – and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself. But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters – survival” (goodreads.com)

Looking forward to:

Fox forever, Mary E Pearson – the conclusion of the Jenna Fox trilogy. “Locke Jenkins has some catching up to do. After spending 260 years as a disembodied mind in a little black box, he has a perfect new body. But before he can move on with his unexpected new life, he’ll have to return the Favor he accepted from the shadowy resistance group known as the Network. Locke must infiltrate the home of a government official by gaining the trust of his daughter, seventeen-year-old Raine, and he soon finds himself pulled deep into the world of the resistance – and into Raine’s life.” (goodreads.com)

Paper valentine, Brenna Yovanoff. “The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls. For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness. With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life – and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.” (goodreads.com)

Dr Frankenstein’s daughters, Suzanne Weyn. “A new generation is creating a monster…. Giselle and Ingrid are the twin daughters of Doctor Victor Frankenstein, but they are very different people, and when they inherit his castle in the Orkney Islands, Giselle dreams of holding parties and inviting society -but Ingrid is fascinated by her father’s forbidden experiments.” (goodreads.com)

Prisoner B-3087, Alan Gratz. Based on a true story. “As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner – his arm tattooed with the words PRISONER B-3087. He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later. Can Yanek make it through the terror without losing his hope, his will – and, most of all, his sense of who he really is inside?” (goodreads.com)

These books shouldn’t take too long to make their way to Wellington – reserve one today!

Looking forward to:

Some next instalments!

Stormbringers, Philippa Gregory. The sequel to Changeling, and the second of four in the Order of Darkness series. “Italy, 1453. Luca and Isolde grow more and more attracted to each other as they continue their journey to unravel the mysteries throughout Christendom. But their travels are delayed by the uprising of an intense religious crusade that threatens the balance of the civilized world. Death lingers in the air as war ravages on, but this religious conflict is nothing compared to the arrival of an intense and deadly storm. Caught in the midst of unimaginable chaos, Luca and Isolde must rely on one another in order to survive.” (goodreads.com) If you like historical romance with some fantasy, then this might be right up your street.

Zom-B: Angels, Darren Shan. Darren Shan is pumping out the Zom-B books, which is fantastic for zombie fans. They’re not telling us anything about what happens though, not even a small teaser, but we can tell you that the fifth book (Zom-B: Baby) will follow hot on its heels in September. Ah well, you can order it now and just be surprised.

Goddess, Josephine Angelini. The final book in the Starcrossed trilogy. “After accidentally unleashing the gods from their captivity on Olympus, Helen must find a way to re-imprison them without starting a devastating war. But the gods are angry, and their thirst for blood already has a body count. To make matters worse, the Oracle reveals that a diabolical Tyrant is lurking among them, which drives a wedge between the once-solid group of friends. As the gods use the Scions against one another, Lucas’s life hangs in the balance. Still unsure whether she loves him or Orion, Helen is forced to make a terrifying decision, for war is coming to her shores.” (goodreads.com)

Dare you to, Katie McGarry. Described as the sequel to Pushing the limits, although with new characters I think. “If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does… Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him. But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all…” (goodreads.com)

And one new:

Shipwrecked, Siobhan Curham. This is the first in a new series which is described as “Lost meets Gossip Girl”, which sounds quite intriguing (perhaps like Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, but a bit more serious?). “I jump at the sound of a whispered voice over my shoulder. But when I turn round all I see is sand, and the towering, green wall of the rainforest. I guess it must have been the breeze, but I can’t help shivering. I have the weirdest feeling that we’re being watched… Grace Delaney and her fellow dance students are en route to perform on a South Pacific cruise-ship when a freak storm hits and they find themselves stranded on a deserted island. With the tropical heat rising, passions and tensions swell to breaking point. And the island itself is quietly steaming with a terrible secret…” (goodreads.com)

Order some today!

Looking forward to:

The big buy-up continues! Here are some popular sequels and series enders (and one stand-alone novel) which lots of people have been hanging out for. Or maybe just me? Hopefully not!

Requiem, Lauren Oliver – the last book in the Itrilogy. “Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight. After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven – pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor. Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.” (goodreads.com)

Nascent = “Emerging: just coming into existence” (thank you Wiktionary, I have learned a new word). Incidentally but related, we have also ordered the Delirium short stories – these focus on Hana, Annabel and Raven.

Dark Triumph, Robin LaFevers – this is the companion novel to Grave Mercy which we loved last year, partly because it has assassin nuns. “Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. Naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, the convent views Sybella as one of their most dangerous weapons. But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?” (goodreads.com)

Light, Michael Grant – this is the sixth and final book in the über popular Gone series. “In the time since everyperson over the age of fourteen disappeared from the town of Perdido Beach, California, countless battles have been fought: battles against hunger and lies and plague, and epic battles of good against evil. And now, the gaiaphage has been reborn as Diana’s malicious mutant daughter, Gaia. Gaia is endlessly hungry for destruction. She yearns to conquer her Nemesis, Little Pete, and then bend the entire world to her warped will. As long-standing enemies become allies, secrets are revealed and unexpected sacrifices are made. Will their attempts to save themselves and one another matter in the end, or will the kids of Perdido Beach perish in this final power struggle?” (goodreads.com)

Return to Me, Justina Chen Headley. Justina Chen wrote the excellent and popular North of Beautiful. “Nothing is going as planned for Rebecca Muir. She’s weeks away from starting college–at a school chosen specifically to put a few thousand miles of freedom between Reb and her parents. But her dad’s last-minute job opportunity has her entire family moving all those miles with her! And then there’s the matter of her unexpected, amazing boyfriend, Jackson, who is staying behind on the exact opposite coast. And if that isn’t enough to deal with, mere days after moving cross-country, Reb’s dad drops shocking, life-changing news. With her mother and brother overwhelmed and confused, Reb is left alone to pick up the pieces of her former life. But how can she do that when everything can change in an instant? How can she trust her “perfect” boyfriend when her own dad let her down? Reb started the year knowing exactly what her future would hold, but now that her world has turned upside down, will she discover what she really wants?” (goodreads.com)

Some terrible magic this way comes

Advent (Advent Trilogy book one), by James Treadwell

A December night 1537 and a powerful mage boards a ship for England. There is a shipwreck and none survive. What has happened to the box he was carrying? The box with a magic mirror and ring inside?

Present day: Gavin knows he is different. He still has his childhood imaginary friend, Miss Grey for a start and he dreams very strange dreams. His parents don’t like him and when they get the chance to go overseas, they pack him off to his Aunt Gwen who lives outside Truro, on an estate called Pendurra. But his aunt isn’t there to meet his train and she isn’t in her cottage and when a girl with dead eyes bangs on his door at midnight and then shuffles away, Gavin is certain this is not going to be an ordinary holiday! The next day he meets the owner of Pendurra and his daughter. The very same dead looking girl whom he’d seen the night before but now very much alive. Marina and Gavin spend time exploring, finding strange things happening and finally realise that ‘magic is rising…’

~ Raewyn

Raewyn Reviews:

Changeling (Order of Darkness book one), by Philippa Gregory

Luca Vero, the changeling. Or so the people of his village called him, for he was a very brilliant boy and his parents only peasants. The church of 1453 find him, always asking questions and put him to the task of Inquirer into some of the strange happenings the church has become aware of lately. He arrives at an abbey where the nuns are having visions and stigmata are appearing on their hands. All of these things began when the new abbess arrived but is she the evil temptress they think she is? Luca must discover the truth or watch an innocent girl burn at the stake.

Written by the renowned historical author of The Other Boleyn Girl and many other books, this is an easy read with interesting outcomes and images.

~ Raewyn

New Books

The Crown of Embers, by Rae Carson (410 pages) – This is the sequel to The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Elisa has led her people to victory, but now she must harness the power of the Godstone. This can only be done by following the clues found in ancient scripture, hidden catacombs and similary dangerous places. A nice thick fantasy book for this apparently eternal winter, I reckon.

First line: ‘My entourage of guards struggles to keep pace as I fly down the corridors of my palace. Servants in starched frocks and shined shoes line the way, bowing like dominoes as I pass.

Small Damages, by Beth Kephart (293 pages) – Kenzie is eighteen and pregnant to her boyfriend, the ambitious Kevin who is headed for Yale. Kenzie is sent to Spain to stay so that she’s closer to her baby’s adoptive parents. She has to cope with the culture shock, a stubborn old cook, and the young and mysterious Esteban with his Hyberian charm and gentle way with horses.

First line: ‘The streets of Seville are the size of sidewalks, and there are alleys leaking off from the streets.

Something Strange and Deadly, by Susan Dennard (388 pages) – Victoria-era Philadelphia has a zombie problem, and Eleanor Fitt’s brother has gone missing in New York. He was able to send a cryptic letter via zombie, and for Eleanor to find him she will need the help of the Spirit-Hunters, who defend the city from the weird. This is the first book in a planned trilogy.

First line: ‘“Dead!” a woman screamed. “It’s the Dead!” My heart shot into my throat, and shocked cries rippled through the station.

Pushing the Limits, by Katie McGarry (403 pages) – Echo and Noah are both teens whose lives are marred by tragedy and secrets, and both are struggling to regain some semblance of normalcy. They are drawn together, and fall in love. If you like  a “suspenseful plot, dramatic conflicts, and tragic characters” you will like this, a review says.

First line: ‘“My father is a control freak, I hate my stepmother, my brother is dead and my mother has … well … issues. How do you think I’m doing?”

Enshadowed : A Nevermore Book, by Kelly Creagh (429 pages) – Book two in a series about a dreamworld inhabited by Edgar Allan Poe’s stories that have come to life. Varen is trapped there, and Isobel is the only person who can save him. Will she save him before he becomes her greatest and most lethal enemy? I don’t knoooooow

First line: ‘“Edgar?” Speaking softly, Dr. Moran leaned over his patient. His eyes traced the wan and pallid countenance of the famous poet, Edgar Poe.

Unspoken : The Lynburn Legacy, by Sarah Rees Brennan (373 pages) – This blurb is incredibly complex and difficult, so just read this summary written by Grimm back in July. It is the first in a series, but according to Goodreads there are a couple of short stories in ebook form that are prequels to this book. Get them from her site, maybe.

First line: ‘Every town in England has a story. One day I am going to find out Sorry-in-the-Vale’s.

Dead Embers : A Valkyrie Novel, by T. G. Ayer (380 pages) – This is book 2 in a series. (Here’s book 1!) Bryn is a Valkyrie (the Norse angels of death who carry heroes to Valhalla (imagine one of the sets from LoTR but with vikings)). She is in training still! Loki (Norse god of mischief) has somehow stuck her boyfriend in Hel (Hel is the Norse underworld! Boo) and Ragnorok (the Norse apocalypse!) is on its way. So yeah, not much to look forward to.

First line: ‘Cold burrowed into my knees, digging icy claws deep into bone. Despite the pain, I didn’t move.’

Between You and Me, by Marisa Calin (243 pages) – Phyre is sixteen and wants to be an actress. She falls in love with the student teacher  of drama class, Mia, which leaves her best friend (who loves Phyre) feeling blue. This book is written as a screenplay, with the best friend never described further than just  the role of “you” in the script. Phyre is “me”, if that makes sense?

First line: ‘FADE IN

‘MY BEDROOM. SEPTEMBER. EVENING.

‘Close-up. Heart-shaped pink sunglasses.’

Some New eBooks

Stephanie has bought some new ebooks recently, including a couple of popular series and some intriguing plot-lines. 

Stravaganza: City of Masks, City of Stars, City of Flowers, by Mary Hoffman. We have the first three books in this very popular series as ebooks (you can also reserve the paper version of the soon-to-be-published latest, City of Swords). The official series website is here.

Gossip Girl series, created by Cecily von Ziegasar. We’ve recently acquired heaps of these (approximately 13), including the first book, It Had to be You (the prequel), and Don’t You Forget About Me (which we partly mention because that’s the name of the theme song of the excellent The Breakfast Club (outstanding teen movie from the 80s! ($4.00 for 1 week))).

The Académie, Susanne Dunlap. Eliza Monroe is the daughter of the soon-to-be fifth president of the United States (true story!). It is only fitting, then, that she attend an exclusive academy in Paris. She’s not too thrilled at the notion, until she discovers she will be attending with the daughter of Josephine (of Napoleon and Josephine fame), who is marvellously called Hortense de Beauharnais (true story) and the younger sister of Napoleon himself (Caroline). More intriguing: the two girls hate each other. Paris in the early 19th century: what a place to be!

The Pledge, Kimberly Derting. In the far future the world is divided strictly by language, and the language you speak is a matter of life and death. This world is complicated for Charlie, as she is gifted with the ability to understand all languages. When Charlie meets Max, who speaks a language she’s never heard before (but can understand, of course), she’s intrigued, but Max understands the danger Charlie is in: can he protect her as war threatens?

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New Books

Arcadia Awakens, Kai Meyer (394 pages) – Rosa Alcantara comes from a New York Sicilian family. On a visit back to the home country, Rosa is introduced to the world of the Mafia, but with a large twist. Not only is the underworld of crime and deadly family rivalries alive and well, but there seems to be a mysterious, supernatural element to it: strange beasts roam the hills of Sicily, and the feuding families have dark, dangerous secrets. It is perhaps unwise, then, to fall in love with a member of the enemy family. But then who’s wise? (Not Rosa, nor Alessandro.)

First sentence: “One day,” she said, “I’ll catch dreams like butterflies.”

The Convent, Maureen McCarthy (419 pages) – “Peach is nineteen and pretty happy with the way things are. She has her university work, two wildly different best friends, her sister, Stella, to look after and a broken heart to mend. But when she takes a summer job at a cafe in the old convent, her idea of who she is takes a sharp turn – into the past. Where once there were nuns, young girls and women who had fallen on hard times, Peach discovers secrets from three generations of her family. As their stories are revealed, Peach is jolted out of her comfort zone. But does she really want to know who she is?” (Book cover)

First sentence: My sister and I often rode past the convent that summer.

Another Faust, Daniel & Dina Nayeri (387 pages) – this novel is a companion to Another Pan, and Another Jekyll, Another Hyde. Set in an exclusive academy (which we like). Five children from various cities across Europe mysteriously disappear, only to turn up seeveral years later in New York, together with an unusual governess. Together they attend the Manhattan Marlowe School, exhibiting unusual powers bestowed on them by their governess. Having unusual powers is a bit of a head rush, but there’s a dangerous side, which they may discover to their detriment.

First sentences: Victoria didn’t have time to play. She didn’t have time for friends or laughing or jumping or any other things little kids do.

The Kill Order, James Dashner (327 pages) – For Maze Runner fans. Before the Maze, there were the sun flares, and the infectious disease of the mind that drove the people of the eastern United States to madness, threatening humanity. Amongst all the chaos, Mark and Trina wonder if there is something they can do to stop the devastation of civilisation as they knew it.

First sentence: Teresa looked at her friend and wondered what it would be like to forget him.

Such Wicked Intent, Kenneth Oppel (310 pages) – the disturbing story of young Victor Frankenstein continues (after This Dark Endeavour). Victor has turned away from alchemy, but can’t resist the temptation when another possible way to cheat death presents itself. He, Elizabeth, Henry and Konrad travel through a portal into the spirit world and “unknowingly unlock a darkness from which they may never return” (cover).

First sentence: The books flew open like startled birds trying to escape the flames.

Endless, Jessica Shirvington (449 pages) – the fourth Violet Eden book. “Angels are real. They aren’t always kind. Violet Eden is certain of all this because she is Grigori – part angel, part human. She has felt the influence of both light and dark. When Hell unleashes its worst, Violet must embrace every facet of her angel self to save the people she cares about and the world as she knows it. But death is not the worst thing that Violet will face. For her, the endless question ‘Can love conquer all?’ will finally be answered.” (goodreads.com)

First sentence: What do you do the moment your father discovers your dead mother is still alive, standing in his apartment looking not a day older than the day she died – over seventeen years ago?

Throne of Glass, Sarah J Maas (405 pages) – Celaena is an assassin, freed from hard labour by Crown Prince Dorian, provided she defeat 23 other assassins and assorted killers in a gladiatorial competition. The winner becomes King’s Champion. Sounds simple enough, except that before the competition begins the competitors all start dying in mysterious and horrible circumstances. Something evil is afoot, and can Calaena find the cause before her world is destroyed?

First sentence: After a year of slavery in the Salt Mines of Endovier, Calaena Sardothien was accustomed to being escorted everywhere in shackles and at sword-point.

New Books

Time Spirit Trilogy, Melissa Pearl (New Zealand author). The Time Spirit Trilogy is Golden Blood, Black Blood and Pure Blood. Gemma Hart and her family are Time Spirits, able to travel through time (as and when her father desires). This sets her apart from others, and makes her a bit of an outsider at school. But then her crush, Harrison, looks like he might fancy her also: is her growing relationship with him going to jeopardise her family’s secret?

Ngā waituhi o Rēhua, Katerina Mataira (379 pages) – This is a dystopian novel in Māori, or more accurately, four stories in one volume (plus audiobook): Rēhua, Hōkio, Maungaroa, Hokingaroa. The book “follows four teenagers living on Rēhua, a planet settled after Earth is destroyed by ecological disasters and global war. The four raise hōkio, giant mystical birds, which take them on flights to explore their new world. On one flight, they discover an island with another colony of people and are given a quest to interpret a message drawn on cave walls. Deciphering the symbols leads them to appease a gargantuan octopus and help the Tūrehu, fair-skinned sea fairies, who have discovered a way to return to Earth.” (catalogue description)

The Poison Diaries, Maryrose Wood (with The Duchess of Northumberland, 278 pages) – Jessamine Luxton has lived her whole life in a cottage near Alnwick Castle, where she has been learning about the power of plants from her apothecary father and hanging out for the day when he will let her in to his locked, poison garden. One day a traveler called Weed arrives, who – as the name suggests – has an affinity for and knowledge of plants that goes beyond her father’s. Will Jessamine’s growing fascination for Weed draw her into the dangerous secrets of the poison garden? (The Duchess of Northumberland is herself the proud owner of a Poison Garden.)

First sentence: Gray skies; the rain came and went all morning.

Devine Intervention, Martha Brockenbrough (297 pages) – Heidi is a junior in high school and would most like to be an artist but instead must play basketball, on account of her height. Jerome is Heidi’s guardian angel, except he’s not especially good at it (he’s in rehabilitative training). When things go badly wrong (and “the unthinkable happens” – what? what unthinkable??), will the two be able to muddle through and save Heidi?

First sentence: One Monday morning, a couple of years before my cousin Mike shot me in the forehead with an arrow, my eighth-grade homeroom teacher brought two cartons of raw eggs to school.

Lucy in the Sky, Anonymous (267 pages) – “The author of this diary began journaling on her sixteenth birthday. She lived in an upper middle class neighborhood in Santa Monica with her mom, dad, and Berkeley-bound older brother. She was a good girl, living a good life… but one party changed everything. One party, where she took one taste, and liked it. Really liked it. Social drinking and drugging lead to more, faster, harder… She convinced herself that she was no different from anyone else who liked to party. But the evidence indicates otherwise: soon she was she hanging out with an edgy crowd, blowing off school and everything she used to care about, all to find her next high. But what goes up must come down, and everything, from her first swig, to her last breath is chronicled in the diary she left behind.”

First sentence(s): Dear Diary. That’s ridiculous. Who writes “Dear Diary” in a diary?

Keeping the Castle, Patrice Kindl (261 pages) – Someone suggests this is like I Capture the Castle meets Pride and Prejudice. We shall see! Althea is under pressure to “marry well” in order to keep her mother and brother and sisters in a manner to which they are accustomed, and to stop the family castle – Crawley Castle – from crumbling into ruins. Enter Lord Boring. Althea decides he’s a good candidate, and swings into action, only to find Lord Boring’s business manager, Mr Fredericks, has plans of his own that may foil Althea’s.

First sentence(s): We were walking in the castle garden. The silvery light of early spring streaked across the grass, transforming the overgrown shrubbery into a place of magic and romance.

Interrupted, Rachel Coker (247 pages) – “After the loss of her mother, Allie is sent from Tennessee to Maine to become the daughter of Miss Betrice Lovell, a prim woman with a faith Allie cannot accept. Clinging to the past is comforting but will it cost Allie her chance to be loved?” (catalogue)

First sentence(s): I stared at the ceiling in silence. Although it was so dark I don’t think it could really be called staring at all.

Looking forward to:

Starling, Leslie Livingston (the first in a new series; September). Mason Starling is a champion fencer (did you see any fencing in the London Olympics? We here at the teen blog thought it was exciting (except for the hair adjustment stoppages)) at Gosforth Academy. It’s one thing to be a fencer in staged competition, quite another to be running for your life from frightening creatures that have been unleashed on your campus in the middle of a storm. Lucky then that her path collides with the Fennrys Wolf (from Wondrous Strange), who remembers only his name. Together they will begin to uncover the truth of his past, and hers, and how they are connected to the strangeness that surrounds them.

The Diviners, Libba Bray (September). Again, the first in a new series. After Going Bovine and Beauty Queens, Libba Bray returns to a storyline a bit more like that of A Great and Terrible Beauty. “Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as ‘The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.’ When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.” (goodreads.com)

This has a very cool trailer which I can’t embed but you can see right here.

Such Wicked Intent, Kenneth Oppel (September again!). This is the sequel to His Dark Endeavour. “When does obsession become madness? Tragedy has forced sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein to swear off alchemy forever. He burns the Dark Library. He vows he will never dabble in the dark sciences again—just as he vows he will no longer covet Elizabeth, his brother’s betrothed. If only these things were not so tempting. When he and Elizabeth discover a portal into the spirit world, they cannot resist. Together with Victor’s twin, Konrad, and their friend Henry, the four venture into a place of infinite possibilities where power and passion reign. But as they search for the knowledge to raise the dead, they unknowingly unlock a darkness from which they may never return.” (goodreads.com)

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