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Tag: Road Trips Page 1 of 2


If you’re familiar with this term: good. If not, let us explain. Galentines is a (soon to be) widely celebrated holiday on the 13th of February, the day before Valentines day. If you’re unlucky in love, or just over the whole idea of Valentines, this is the holiday for you. Invented by the amazing Leslie Knope on the tv show Parks and Recreation, it’s a day to celebrate all your girl pals! No boys allowed. Typically it is celebrated with numerous compliments among friends, needlepoint portraits of one another, and waffles galore! Here’s a picture of our Galentines celebrations from last year:


Excited yet? You should be! In honor of Galentines on Wednesday, we’ve compiled a list of books about great female friendships, which we hope will inspire you to celebrate your own friends.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray

This one is a Librarian’s Choice pick by many of us librarians! It’s kind of like a Victorian, elongated Gossip Girl, but with fantasy bits. Gemma Doyle has grown up in India, until she has a spookily true vision of her mother’s death. She is then shipped off to Spence Academy for girls in England, where she encounters an exclusive clique. Rejected by the group as well as her less glamorous roommate Ann, Gemma blackmails herself and Ann into the clique. Gemma soon discovers she has been followed from India by a young man named Kartik, who warns her to fight off her ominous visions. Ignoring Kartik, Gemma has a vision one night of a child-spirit, which leads her to discover her visions transport her to another realm. The other girls find a way to accompany Gemma to other realms, but they find everything is not quite so simple or innocent as it first seems.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSloppy Firsts, Megan McCafferty

While I was reading this, everyone I talked to about it was grossed out by the title. But I urge everyone to look past that because this book is brilliant! It’s more about an absent friendship and how to deal with the gap it leaves. Hyperobservant Jessica Darling’s best friend Hope has moved away from their home of Pinesville and Jessica feels more lost than ever, now that the only person she could really communicate with is gone. She can barely stand the Clueless Crew, her other so-called “friends”, her dad is obsessed with her track meets, and her mother won’t shut up about Jessica’s sister’s wedding. Everything feels terrible for Jessica, until a chance encounter with the infamous Marcus Flutie, the elusive ginger dropkick of the school, leaves her mind-bogglingly flustered. Slowly their friendship grows, but what would everyone else think if they found out what was really going on between Jessica and Marcus? This is a great bildungsroman and seriously funny. Also, Marcus Flutie has quite a sizeable group of dedicated online fans, google him if you don’t believe us!

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend, Emily Horner

Sad but uplifting, this book is about both friendship and loss. Cass’s best friend Julia has been working on a secret project for months. When Julia is suddenly killed in a car crash, Julia’s boyfriend and drama friends make it their mission to complete the project: a musical called Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad. Cass doesn’t fit in with the drama kids, and things get infinitely worse when Heather Galloway, the girl that has made her life miserable for years, is cast as the ninja princess. Cass has had enough, so she decides to go through with her original summer plan: a cross-country road trip with Julia. Cass sets off with a bicycle and Julia’s ashes in a Tupperware container for a summer of cleansing, healing and adventure.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAnne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery

“Marilla and Matthew, two siblings living on Prince Edward Island, Canada, decide to adopt an orphan boy to help out on their farm. But when Matthew goes to pick up the boy from the train station, he is shocked to find little red-headed Anne Shirley, and is instantly taken to her, charmed by her enthusiasm and talent for chattering.” – Goodreads review
A new edition of this book came out recently and some people are not very happy about the cover design. What do you think?

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsReunited, Hilary Weisman Graham

Back in middle school, Alice, Summer and Tiernan were best friends. But when their favourite band Level3 split up, so did their friendship. They parted ways into different social paths – popular, rebel and bookworm – but just as they’re getting ready to graduate, Level3 announce a one-time-only reunion show. Now the girls are on a 2000 mile road trip together to see the momentous show. Will their friendship be rekindled or is it over for good?

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Darlings Are Forever, Melissa Kantor

This one’s sort of the opposite of Reunited. Jane, Victoria and Natalya are BFFs with matching necklaces and a motto: “May you always do what you’re afraid of doing.” Then they all begin high school at three different schools across New York, and their friendship seems less certain. Not being together all the time is hard for the girls, and new things are scary when you’re alone. Will their friendship stand the test of time and distance?

Happy Galentines Day everyone!

The curious phenomenon of John Green

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWe need some help! We love John Green, we’ve recommended him to you before but we face a conundrum we cannot explain. We understand the 21 reserves on his latest (and brilliant novel) The Fault in Our Stars but why oh why do his older books suddenly have enormous queues of reserves on them? We know The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska  and Paper Towns have all made it into this weeks New York Times Bestseller list but that doesn’t quite seem to explain it… If you know anything about Wellington’s sudden interest in John Green novels, can you please let us know in the comments? We’re deeply curious, as the title suggests!

If you’re biting your nails in anticipation for your reserve to come through, then check out these similar books while you wait:

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIf we continue our theory of the New York Times Bestseller list (an excellent source of reading material btw), then possibly one of Maggie Stiefvater’s books is for you. Her 2009 book Shiver made this week’s list which is about werewolves and love stories (who doesn’t love them) and leads into the sequels Linger and Forever. If werewolves aren’t your thing then check out The Scorpio Races and, of course, The Raven Boys which we (the teen blog) have raved about before.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsJohn Green has won lots of awards, so has Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book and Stardust. Both of which are fabulously funny reads, one of which is also a marvelous movie!

If you’re after a road trip story, check out Morgan Matson’s Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour which is about dealing with death or Lauren Barnholdt’s Two-Way Street which is the love story of an unlikely couple.


R n R

New Books

More, as promised!

POD, Stephen Wallenfels (297 pages) – a POD is a sort of alien flying thing that destroys (“zaps” says the back cover, a little playfully) people who venture out of their houses. Josh and his father are trapped in their house, slowly running out of food. Megs is – a little more tenuously – trapped in a multi storey car park, with “dangerous security staff” lurking in the hotel next door. What’s more dangerous? The PODs, or the humans left?

First sentence: The screeching wakes me.

Dust Girl, Sarah Zettel (292 pages) – the first of the American Fairy trilogy. It’s 1935 and dust storms are tormenting Kansas. This is bad for Callie, whose mother insists on staying in Slow Run, waiting for Callie’s father (who is never coming back). When Callie’s mother also disappears in a violent storm, Callie befriends Jack, and they hitch rides on trains (hobo-style) to California. But! Callie is about to learn that the supernatural world is alive and well, and is looking for her (and indeed, she might be one of them).

First sentence: Once upon a time, I was a girl called Callie.

Reunited, Hilary Westman Graham (325 pages) – Alice, Summer and Tiernan used to be best friends, and best fans of the group Level3. But the band split up, and so did they. A few years later, at the end of high school, Level3 announces a one-time-only reunion concert. So Alice, Summer and Tiernan go on a road trip together to the concert, but will they be able to reestablish their friendship?

First sentence: “Is the blindfold really necessary?” Alice asked her parents.

Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe, Shelley Coriell (299 pages) – Chloe is super popular at school, until her best friend suddenly goes cold on her and turns her into a social outcast. So Chloe joins the school radio station – which is so not cool, but necessary – where she becomes the host of a call-in show, with mixed (and possibly romantic?) results.

First sentence: I loved being a burrito.

This is so not happening, Kieran Scott (315 pages) – This is the conclusion to the trilogy that began with She’s So Dead to Us and continued with He’s So Not Worth It. Ally and Jake being their senior year together together, but a bit shakily. Then life gets complicated and seems to be pulling them apart: as high school ends will they end too, or stick together?

First sentence: “Chloe’s pregnant?” Jake blurted, pushing himself up off the ground.

Bullet Boys, Ally Kennen (320 pages) – “Alex, Levi and Max follow the young soldiers from the local army camp on the moor. But harmless rivalry develops into something far more incendiary. When the boys discover a cache of buried weapons near the training grounds, deadly forces are brought into play.” (catalogue)

First sentence: Alex never killed hares.

A Breath of Eyre, Eve Marie Mont (342 pages) – Emma lives partly in the real world and partly in the imaginary world of the books she reads and the stories she makes up in her head. When reading an old copy of Jane Eyre during a lightning storm, Emma suddenly finds herself catapulted into Jane’s shoes: and the brooding gaze of Mr Rochester… (You could try it with one of our not-so-old copies of Jane Eyre.)

First sentence: There was no possibility of taking a swim that day.

New Books

Catch & Release, Blythe Woolston (210 pages) – a road trip! Polly and Odd have had one of your worst nightmares – a flesh-eating bacterial infection, and many reconstructive surgeries as a result. Now their epic future plans are derailed, so they head off to Oregon in a classy car for a spot of fly fishing (and perhaps some more worrying adventures?).

First sentence: I would have recognized the guy even if he hadn’t driven up in a truck with Estes Equipment on the door, wearing an Estes Equipment hat and an Estes Equipment shirt with ‘Buck’ embroidered above the pocket.”

Beneath a Meth Moon, Jacqueline Woodson (182 pages) – Laurel loses her mother and grandmother in Hurricane Katrina and turns to crystal meth to cope. Can she grieve, move on, and beat her addiction? We hope so :-\

First sentence: It’s almost winter again and the cold moves through this town like water washing over us.

Poison Heart, S B Hayes (360 pages) – “From the moment Katy sees Genevieve’s beautiful face staring at her from a window, her life will never be the same. Wherever Katy turns, Genevieve is there – at school, with Katy’s friends, and worst of all, in Katy’s hot new boyfriend’s life. But Genevieve has a menacing side, a dangerous side, a threatening side that she only reveals to Katy: I’m your worst nightmare. When Genevieve’s behaviour becomes increasingly twisted, Katy delves into the girl’s past, with the help of her best friend Luke. Nothing prepares her for the dark truths that she discovers, or the new romance she finds along the way. Is Genevieve a troubled girl with a difficult childhood? Or is the truth unearthly and much more frightening? Who is the real Genevieve? What are her secrets? Why is she determined to destroy Katy’s life?” (catalogue)

First sentence: We were on the number fifty-seven bus when it happened – the moment that would change my life forever.

The Jade Notebook, Laura Resau (365 pages) – this is a companion novel to The Indigo Notebook and The Ruby Notebook. Zeeta and her mother have been traveling the globe, but finally settle in Mazunte, Mexico, where Zeeta’s boyfriend, Wendell, is spending time photographing sea turtles (as you do). Zeeta feels like Mazunte could be home, but when she and Wendell begin finding out information about her mysterious father’s past, Zeeta starts to see a darker side to her home.

First sentence: At sunset, Comet Point feels like the tip of the world.

Promise the Night, Michaela MacColl (262 pages) – this is based on the life of Beryl Markham, who was the first pilot to fly solo from England to North America. But this is not about the flying, but earlier: Beryl lives with her father on a huge ranch in British East Africa, with only her mother’s dog, Buller, for company. When one day Buller is attacked and taken by a leopard, Beryl promises to rescue him (as you would!). Which might be good training for being daring enough to fly solo across the Atlantic.

First sentence: Beryl sat bolt upright, her heart beating faster.

Skin Deep, Laura Jarratt (376 pages) – “After the car crash that leaves her best friend dead, Jenna struggles to rebuild her life. But every stare in the street, every glance in the mirror, makes her want to hide away. And then Ryan turns up – a tall, good-looking traveller unlike anyone Jenna’s met before.” (cover) Yay Ryan.

First sentence: The stereo thumps out a drumbeat.

The Emerald Flame, Frewin Jones (344 pages) – more adventures from Branwen, the Warrior Princess. Branwen has come to accept that she’s the one to save her country from imminent invasion by the Saxons. This is no small task, and one filled with danger and the threat of disaster. We wonder if guidance from the spirits, and the trusty Rhodi and “sometimes maddening” Iwan, are enough support?

First sentence: A profound darkness had fallen among the close-packed oaks, and it felt to Branwen ap Griffith as though she and her small band of riders were wading through a flood tide of shadows, thick as black water.

Vixen, Jillian Larkin (385 pages) – the first book in a new series called The Flappers. “The roaring twenties where anything goes…The first in a sparkling new trilogy full of romance, dancing and secrecy. Every girl wants what she can’t have. Seventeen-year-old Gloria wants the glamorous flapper lifestyle. Now that she’s engaged to the heir of one of Chicago’s most powerful families, Gloria’s party days are over before they’ve even begun… or are they? Clara, Gloria’s goody-two-shoes cousin, has arrived to make sure the high-society wedding comes off without a hitch – but Clara isn’t as lily-white as she appears… Lorraine, Gloria’s social-climbing best friend, is tired of living in Gloria’s shadow. When Lorraine’s envy spills over into desperate spite, no one is safe. And someone’s going to be very sorry.” (catalogue)

First sentence: She didn’t feel like wearing a garter tonight.

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.

Top 10: Dystopia Revisited

Since we published our list of Top 10 Dystopian novels (see it here), the publishing world has gone a bit barmy for them, the result being heaps and heaps more to choose from. So, it might be time for another list! Here’s the 10 dystopian novels (and series) I have enjoyed the most since (or more accurately, found the most gripping).

  1. The Chaos Walking trilogy, Patrick Ness – Todd lives in a strange world where only men exist, and they can hear each other’s thoughts, which are a constant “Noise” that is inescapable. While out with his dog, Manchee – who can talk – Todd finds an odd “hole” in the Noise, and it is his interaction with this whole that will send him on the most incredible, dangerous, hard journey you could possibly imagine: the books read like a nightmare rollercoaster. 
  2. The Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins – speaking of nightmare rollercoasters.
  3. Blood Red Road, Moira Young – this was fab! It’s a dangerous, post-apocalyptic road trip, where the danger comes more from some truly heinous characters than the desert-like landscape. There’s a kick-ass heroine, a witty and confident, mysterious hero, and a crow. Plus there will be a sequel. And a movie.
  4. The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan – Mary lives in a fenced village in the middle of the forest of hands and teeth; fenced, because the forest of hands and teeth is peopled with zombies (the Unconsecrated) with an undying drive to bite. When the village’s fortifications are compromised Mary must flee in the ensuing chaos, down the paths that run through the forest, following mysterious symbols that might lead her to the sea she dreams of. Rather tense. This book has two companions, The Dead-Tossed Waves and The Dark and Hollow Places.
  5. A Long, Long Sleep, Anna Sheehan – a dystopian take on the sleeping beauty fairytale. Rose is, in effect, a society princess. Her parents are high flying elite, rich enough to afford a stas chamber, in which you can sleep for years without aging. So, one day Rose is woken with a kiss (as in, the kiss of life), to find she’s sixty two years in the future and everyone she knows is long gone. She must struggle to adjust to a whole new society, a new life, but there’s much worse: a terminator-like killing machine that’s out to get her, and the truth about her long, long sleep.
  6. Matched and Crossed, Ally Condie – this kind of goes together with:
  7. Delirium and Pandemonium, Lauren Oliver – these two series have, it is often pointed out, similar storylines. The characters live in societies that attempt to control human emotions, since it is human emotions that have caused all societal catastrophes in the past. They rule with an iron grip, but what happens when someone beings to question the rules, regulations, and truths that have been hammered into them all their lives? Not towing the party line, risking and living a little, and following your heart can lead you on a dangerous journey!
  8. Under the Never Sky, Veronica Rossi. I don’t think very much of the cover (sorry cover!), or the tag line on the cover (it needs a paper bag really). But! It’s a really good read. Lots of action, and a heroine and hero who learn things along the way, and develop, and don’t fall floppily in love with each other after a few moments.
  9. Divergent, Veronica Roth – the Veronicas! This one is soon to be followed by Insurgent. People have gone quite crazily enthusiastic for Divergent. If you’re after a gripping read with suspense, a courageous heroine and an aloof, super-cool hero, then please read! My only problem with Divergent is the idea central to its dystopian-ness, being that society is divided into factions based on character traits and behaviours (why?). I also hoped that the names for the factions could have been cooler. Still, am looking forward to reading the next!
  10. The Maze Runner trilogy, James Dashner – In The Maze Runner, Thomas wakes up in a lift that is climbing for what seems to be an eternity into a nightmare world, where a group of boys survive together in “The Maze” of shifting walls, and hideous machine-bug-like monsters. He has no recollection of his past, apart from a sense of having been here before, and a yearning to become one of the maze runners, who map the maze in the hope of finding a way out.

But there’s much more! Here’s a selection of dystopian fiction (and other book lists are here).

Some New Books

Cupcake, Rachel Cohn (310 pages) – if you’ve read Shrimp and Gingerbread then you need to read this! CC has moved to New York, leaving behind Shrimp. She’s on a mission to find the best job, the best coffee, the best cupcake (we hear you), and a new love. But then, oops, Shrimp shows up, and CC must decide whether to continue the New York dream, or follow the surf with Shrimp.

First sentence: A cappucino cost me my life.

Frost, Wendy Delsol (376 pages) – the sequel to Stork. Katla is adjusting to life being a Stork and her mystical abilities, and to snowy Minnesota. The attentions of Jack help, however when a snowstorm brings environmental scientist Brigid to town, Katla finds there’s competition for Jack’s attentions. Worse, on a trip with Brigid to Greenland, Jack goes missing, and Katla knows she’s the only one who can find him.

First sentence: There was one thing, and one thing only, that could coax me into striped red tights, a fur vest, and an elf cap: Jack Snjosson.

Dust & Decay, Jonathan Maberry (519 pages) – the sequel to Rot & Ruin. Benny and his friends are ready to leave in search of a better future (on a road trip!), but this is not so easy! Zombies, wild animals, murderers, and the rebuilt Gamelands are in their way, plus also possibly Charlie Pink-eye (who is supposed to be safely dead!).

First sentence: Benny Imura was appalled to learn that the Apocalypse came with homework.

My Life Undecided, Jessica Brody (299 pages) – Brooklyn can’t make decisions, so she blogs in the hopes that her readers will make up her mind for her. But things get messy when love gets involved.

First sentence: The sirens are louder than I anticipated.

Audition, Stasia Ward Kehoe (458 pages) – Sara moves to a new city and joins the prestigious Jersey Ballet. As she struggles to adapt she spends time with Remington, a choreographer on the rise, becoming his muse and creating gossip and scandal that may make it all seem not worth it. A novel in verse.

First sentence: When you are a dancer / you learn the beginning / is first position.

This Dark Endeavor, Kenneth Oppel (298 pages) – subtitled The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein and therefore the prequel to Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein. Sixteen year old Victor’s twin, Konrad, falls ill, and Victor is desperate to save him. He enlists the help of some friends in creating the Elixir of Life, but in the process pushes the boundaries of “nature, science and love”.

First sentence: We found the monster on a rocky ledge high above the lake.

Dead End in Norvelt, Jack Gantos (341 pages) – Over to the rather good catalogue description: “In the historic town of Norvelt, Pennsylvania, twelve-year-old Jack Gantos spends the summer of 1962 grounded for various offenses until he is assigned to help an elderly neighbor with a most unusual chore involving the newly dead, molten wax, twisted promises, Girl Scout cookies, underage driving, lessons from history, typewriting, and countless bloody noses.”

First sentence: School was finally out and I was standing on a picnic table in our backyard getting ready for a great summer vacation when my mother walked up to me and ruined it.

A Need So Beautiful, Suzanne Young (267 pages) – Charlotte is a Forgotten, an earth-bound angel compelled to help someone. She’d rather spend her life with her boyfriend, so she must make the difficult, wrenching choice between her destiny and her love.

First sentence: I sit on the front steps of St. Vincent’s Cathedral and pick at the moss nestled in the cracks of the concrete.

More New Books

Here’s an interesting collection of fiction: werewolves, monsters, scary trees, space cowboys, debutantes, God as a teenage boy (imagine), and a couple of pretty fetching first sentences.

Low Red Moon, Ivy Devlin (244 pages) – a star-crossed supernatural love story. Avery Hood’s parents died when she was young, mysteriously. So when she falls for Ben, the new boy in town, only to discover he triggers a disturbing memory, she must find out what really happened. The cover says this is “part murder mystery, part grief narrative, and part heart-stopping, headlong romance” which sounds fab.

First sentence: I was covered in blood when the police found me.

Black Hole Sun, David MacInnis Gill (340 pages) – a science fiction dystopian novel with space cowboys! Durango is a mercenary living on Mars who is hired by miners to protect their mine from the evil, mutant Draeu, but while doing his job Durango discovers the secret reason why the Draeu are so intent on attacking the mine. The author has a suggested playlist for his novel which you can see at largehearted boy here.

First sentence: Now come the mousies nosing out their hole, thinks Kuhru as he wipes fresh bone marrow from his snout.


The Dead Boys, Royce Buckingham (201 pages) – a horror/mystery, especially horrific if you think trees are creepy. Teddy Mathews, new in town, is disturbed to find all the boys he befriends disappear mysteriously. He’s determined to find out what’s going on, but nobody will believe him when he says he thinks the freaky great tree outside his house has something to do with it. We believe you Teddy!

First sentence: In its early years, the sycamore tree stretched its branches up toward the light, reaching for the desert sun and its life-giving energy.

The Magnolia League, Katie Crouch (348 pages) – another mystery, this time around the intrigue of a southern debutante society. After her mother dies, Alexandria must move from the West Coast of the United States to Savannah, and start a new life with her grandmother. This life involves the Magnolia League, said debutante society, which Alexandria becomes involved with, discovering a sinister secret pact between the Magnolias and the Buzzards, a hoodoo family.

First sentences: You know what I hate? Sweet tea.

The Miracle Stealer, Neil Connelly (230 pages) – Andi’s six year old brother Daniel is touted as a miracle worker: they say he can cure the sick and bring the dead back to life. People flock to town to see him, and when one of the pilgrims turns out to be some sort of dangerous stalker, Andi knows she must put an end to the madness.

First sentence: I needed to save Daniel.

The Ruby Notebook, Laura Resau (365 pages) – Zeeta and her English teacher mother travel around the globe together, each year moving to a different country. This year it’s Aix in France, which sounds ideal, but not so much when the love of your life – Wendell – doesn’t live there too. To complicate things, Zeeta starts receiving mystery notes from a secret admirer, and forms a strong connection with Jean-Claude, a street performer. When Wendell comes to visit Zeeta feels they are drifting apart, until a mystery forces them together again. But but: who is the secret admirer?

First sentences: It’s true. There’s something about the light here.

The Julian Game, Adele Griffin (200 pages) – Raye is the new girl at an exclusive academy, struggling to fit in. So when the opportunity arise for her to get involved in a game to help Ella get revenge on her ex Julian, Raye sees the chance to become accepted. But then she falls for Julian, and unleashes the enraged, nasty Ella, and things get a whole lot worse.

First sentence: “This is the craziest idea you ever had,” said Natalya.

The Things a Brother Knows, Dana Reinhardt (242 pages) – Levi’s brother Boaz returns from a tour of duty withdrawn, not himself. Levi knows something is up, so he follows him on a walk from Boston to Washington, determined to find out what’s wrong, and discover the truth about his brother, and a little bit about himself too perhaps.

First sentence: I used to love my brother.

Teenage Waistland, Lynn Biederman & Lisa Pazer (307 pages) – Three obese teenagers tell the story of their involvement in a clinical trial for a new surgery. They must meet weekly over the course of a year, learning to live a healthy life, but also learning a devastating secret that will also alter their lives.

First sentence: Marcie Mandlebaum here: sixteen years old and sporting the collective girth of the Tenafly High cheerleading squad – this according to their captain, my twitorexic stepsister, Liselle.

Wicked Girls, Stephanie Hemphill (389 pages) – a novel in verse about the Salem witch trials in the 17th century. The novel explores the lives of three girls living in Salem who accuse members of the community of witchcraft after a series of unexplained illnesses.

First sentence: Silent, not even the twitter / of insects.

There Is No Dog, Meg Rosoff (243 pages) – Imagine God is a teenage boy (Bob). He is “lazy, careless, self-obsessed, sex-mad” says the cover. So, when Lucy prays to fall in love and Bob decides to answer her prayer personally, things could get really ugly.

First sentences: Oh glorious, most glorious glorious! And yet again glorious!


The Curse of the Wendigo, Rick Yancey (424 pages) – sequel to The Monstrumologist. When Dr Warthrop’s mentor Dr von Helrung says he wants to prove the existence of the Wendigo, known as “He Who Devours All Mankind”, Will and Dr Warthrop find themselves in northern Canada in search of this terrible creature, and in the process unearth a truth “far more terrifying than even they could have ever imagined” (book cover) which, since their business is the study of monsters, must be pretty terrifying.

First sentence: The reader was a retired middle school English teacher whose mother had come to live at the facility in 2001.

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.


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.


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!’

More New Books


The Girl Who Was On Fire, edited by Leah Wilson (210 pages) – young adult authors write about the Hunger Games phenomenon, including Jennifer Lynn Barnes on Team Katniss (i.e. Katniss is a character quite apart from which team she chooses); Blythe Woolston on trauma, PTSD, what it’s all about and how it works in the Hunger Games trilogy; Terri Clark on the fashion genius that is Cinna; Carrie Ryan on reality TV’s relationship with fiction, and much more!

Skin: The Bare Facts, Lori Bergamotto (97 pages) – learn about your skin! What makes it tick, what’s good for it, what really really isn’t, how to keep it healthy and much more!

Teen Cuisine, Matthew Lcrocchio (207 pages) – pages and pages of recipes, from New York style pizza dough to Grits and cheddar cheese souffles, with pulled pork sandwiches in between: cook like an American chef! There’s also a section on fondue parties, and much more!


The Haunting of Charles Dickens, Lewis Buzbee (350 pages) – Charles Dickens, stricken with writer’s block, takes to roaming the streets of London. Meg’s brother, Orion, has disappeared, and she goes out looking for him, and in her lookings bumps into Mr Dickens. Together they must try to solve the msytery of what happened to Orion; hopefully a byproduct being a cure for Mr Dickens’ writer’s block.

First sentences: London. Mid-summer night nearly upon us.

So Shelly, Ty Roth (325 pages) – John Keats and Gordon Byron are both friends with Michelle “Shelly” Shelley (see here for some info), but not each other. When Shelly is killed in a sailing accident, Byron and Keats steal her ashes and go on the sailing equivalent of a road trip, to lay her to rest.

First sentence: Most of us like to believe that we are born to do great things, maybe even to be famous.

Illegal, Bettina Restrepo (251 pages) – After her father disappears in Texas, Nora and her mother must leave Mexico to search for him, crossing the border illegally.

First sentence: “When will you be back?” I asked, holding Papa’s hand at the bus stop.

The Water Wars, Cameron Stracher (240 pages) – in a dystopian future water is scarce and people are dying, but Kai flies in the face of this, letting drops of water spill from his cup, and claiming he knows a government secret. And then he disappears.

First sentence: The year before he joined the Reclamation, when he was still seventeen, my brother Will set a new high score at the YouToo! booth at the gaming centre.

Hothouse, Chris Lynch (198 pages) – When DJ and Russell’s fathers are both killed in a firefighting accident they must come to terms with their loss, and also being minor macabre celebrities in their town, as sons of heroes.

First sentence: “Are ya winnin’?”

Babe in Boyland, Jody Gehrman (292 pages) – Natalie’s love relationship advice at school is rubbish, so she does the only thing you can do: enrols herself in a private boys’ boarding school, as a boy. That way she can learn how boys think, see, but things get a bit tricky when she falls for her hot roommate.

First sentence: My name is Natalie Rowan.

The Gathering, Kelley Armstrong (359 pages) – Maya has a paw-print birthmark on her hip. This is the only clue to her background, and who her birth parents were. Now strange things are happening in her town: unexplained deaths, and mountain lions are approaching her, plus there’s a sexy new guy in town complicating things. The first book in a new trilogy!

First sentence: Serena stood on the rock ledge twenty feet above the lake, singing in a voice known to bring tears to the eyes of everyone who heard it.

New Books

August, Bernard Beckett (204 pages, New Zealand author) – Tristan and Grace are in a car wreck, waiting for rescue (if it happens!). As they wait, as one does, they review their very different lives and philosophies. “A compelling novel about will, freedom and what it means to live” (cover).

First sentence: For a moment the balance was uncertain.

Scorpia Rising, Anthony Horowitz (402 pages) – the final mission, the cover declares! No! Alex must put Scorpia out of business, once and for all, but is this the mission to end all missions, and to end Alex? We hope not!

First sentence: The man in the black cashmere coat climbed down the steps of his private, six-seater Learjet 40 and stood for a moment, his breath frosting in the chill morning air.

Where She Went, Gayle Forman (260 pages) – the follow up to the über popular If I Stay. Three years after Mia ended it with Adam they’re back together for one night in New York City, a chance to put things to rest (or to respark something?).

First sentence: Every morning I wake up and I tell myself this: it’s just one day, one twenty-four-hour period to get yourself through.

Plague, Michael Grant (526 pages) – the fourth in the Gone series. Quelle horreur, this one sounds ghastly. There is a plague threatening Perdido Beach (one that is described in graphic detail on the back cover! Guts! Being eaten away from the inside out!), and there’s still the grim reality of what happens to you at fifteen.

First sentence: He stood poised on the edge of a sheet of glass.

Invincible, Sherrilyn Kenyon (420 pages) – The second on the Chronicles of Nick series. Poor Nick is once again challenged by the presence of all manner of horrific supernatural creatures, affecting his life in so many ways, from the inconvenient (his principal thinks he’s gone to the bad, making school a problematic place) to the downright deadly; he must figure out how to raise the dead or he might find himself counted as one of them.

First sentence: They say when you’re about to die, you see your entire life flash before your eyes.

The Running Dream, Wendelin Van Draanen (332 pages) – Puts one’s own annoying, minor running injuries into perspective. Jessica is a runner, until she’s involved in a terrible accident and loses a leg. A story of coming to terms with a significant loss, reestablishing your identity and your place, and overcoming odds.

First sentence: My life is over.

All You Get is Me, Yvonne Prinz (279 pages) – Roar’s father goes all green on her, installing  them on an organic farm, where she must spend the summer adjusting  from her city sensibilities, coping with falling in love, the fact that her mother is gone, and with the fallout from her father’s crusade against the bad working conditions of Mexican farm workers.

First sentence: My mom always promised me she would keep me safe, and then she disappeared.

As Easy as Falling off the Face of the Earth, Lynne Rae Perkins (352 pages) – Ry’s train strands him in the middle of seriously nowhere and he’s got to get to somewhere, a journey that is peppered by a series of scrapes, mishaps and “comedic calamities” (catalogue).

First sentences: Wait a minute. Was the – had the train just moved?

The Floating Islands, Rachel Neumeier (388 pages) – “The adventures of two teenaged cousins who live in a place called The Floating Islands, one of whom is studying to become a mage and the other one of the legendary island flyers” (library catalogue).

First sentence: Trei was fourteen the first time he saw the Floating Islands.

The Education of Hailey Kendrick, Eileen Cook (256 pages) – Hailey is the perfect girl who never does anything wrong, until one night, together with a secret accomplice, she does something quite wrong and gets into a rather lot of trouble, which her secret accomplice escapes. Now her friends don’t want to know her, her teachers don’t trust her, everything’s a mess, and she’s keeping quiet about the identity of said secret accomplice. Is it worth it?

First sentence: There was a matter of life and death to deal with, and instead we were wasting our time discussing Mandy Gallaway’s crotch.

Popular New Books!

Delirium, Lauren Oliver (441 pages) – It’s another Lauren book! says Lauren. What’s more dystopian than a world without love? Lena lives in a world where love is a disease (delirium), and without love life is predictable, orderly and safe. On your eighteenth birthday you get treatment to ensure you don’t become deliriously in love. But in the lead up to Lena’s eighteenth something happens…

First sentence: It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure.

The Monstrumologist, Rick Yancey (454 pages) – “Monsters are real” says the back cover, and Will Henry is apprentice to a monstrumologist. When the body of a girl and a supposedly extinct headless monster show up, Will and the monstrumologist must race to get to the bottom of this mystery, and stop further deaths.

First sentence: The director of facilities was a small man with ruddy cheeks and dark, deep-set eyes, his prominent forehead framed by an explosion of cottony white hair, thinning as it marched toward the back of his head, cowlicks rising from the mass like waves moving toward the slightly pink island of his bald spot.

Prom and Prejudice, Elizabeth Eulberg (231 pages) – The inspiring Jane Austen! This one’s a reworking of Pride and Prejudice (as the title suggests), set in “the very prestigious Longbourn Academy”. Lizzie is a scholarship kid, her friend Jane is not. Jane is in love with Charles Bingley, which Lizzie is happy about. She’s less happy about Will Darcy, Charles’ snobbish friend… For Pride and Prejudice fans, but not purists who might get upset about revisionings.

First sentence: It s a truth universally acknowledged that a single girl of high standing at Longbourn Academy must be in want of a prom date.

Romeo & Juliet & Vampires, Claudia Gabel (via William Shakespeare, 231 pages) – includes an excerpt from the upcoming Little Vampire Women, another in the mashups genre. This time the Montagues want to suck the Capulets’ blurd. New meaning to “blood feud” and all that. Romeo and Juliet fall in love, worryingly, and you kind of know how it’s going to end. Differently from Twilight, that is.

First sentence of Chapter One (the prologue seemed to be all about Vlad the Impaler): Juliet sat on her bed and stared at her reflection in an ornate gilded mirror, which she held close to her face.

Far From You, Lisa Schroeder (355 pages) – another novel in verse form from the author of I Heart You, You Haunt Me. After the death of her mother, Ali reluctantly goes on a road trip with her new stepmother and her baby. Trapped by a snowstorm, Ali must confront her sense of loss, as well as look to the heavens for rescue.

First verse: We’re alone / with only / the cold / and dark / to keep up / company.

Blessed, Cynthia Leitich Smith (454 pages) – continuing from Tantalize and Eternal, with characters from both, Blessed follows Quincie as she comes to terms with her vampireness, and restaurateur-ness, and also tries to get Kieren (werewolf) off murder charges while stopping Bradley Sanguini (also a vampire) in his evil tracks. In order to help with this overload of work she hires Zachary (angel) as a waiter, which is probably a good move: can he help save Quincie’s soul?

First sentence: Have you damned me? I wondered, staring over my shoulder at the lanky devil in dark formal-wear.

Firelight, Sophie Jordan (323 pages) – Dragons! Jacinda is a draki, a dragon shapeshifter, Will is a hunter of  draki, star-crossed lovers of the most dangerous kind. “Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide,” says the book cover, nicely put.

First sentence: Gazing out at the quiet lake, I know the risk is worth it.

Vesper, Jeff Sampson (288 pages) – Emily is discovering that she and her classmates are genetically engineered and have powers that come into effect at night. They’re also being hunted by a murderer.

First sentence: I was halfway out my bedroom window when my cell rang.

A Love Story: Starring My Dead Best Friend, Emily Horner (259 pages) – Cass goes on the road trip she planned with her best friend Julia just before Julia was killed in a car crash, with a bicycle, and Julia’s ashes in a tupperware container. The adjectives on the back are good: poignant, life-affirming, tender, vibrant, plus there’s a “kookiest”.

First sentence: I spent the summer with the smells of rain and grass and sky, and the horizon stretching out for ten miles in front of me.

What I’ve been reading

I have just had three weeks off so finally a chance to lie on the beach and read through the pile of books that have been sitting on my must read list. These are the books that have stood out for me when reading the many reviews before making the decision to buy or not to buy.  It would be great to know what you think….

Trash, Andy Mulligan

In an unnamed third world country three young teens, Rat, Raphael, and Gardo live with thousands of other kids in a garbage dump. They dig through the rubbish looking for anything that could be profitable. One day Raphael unearths a leather bag containing a map, a wallet and a key. Keeping the discovery secret from the police the three boys soon find themselves in a mission involving a secret code, a corrupt politician and a search for six million dollars. The adventure is told through the voice of all characters, including their thoughts, feelings and perspective.

A gripping adventure story while also giving an insight into the lack of social justice that exists in parts of the world. If you enjoyed Slumdog millionaire give this a go.

 Unhooking the moon, Gregory Hughes

This is the author’s first novel and has won the Booktrust teenage prize!

It is a very unique story of two teenage orphans, Bob and his sister Marie Claire aka Rat who travel from Canada to New York in search of their uncle. Rat is a funny, football playing, singing, dancing and psychic ten year old and I was entranced.  Bob is her older brother and takes on the role of protector of his ‘crazy’ sister. The story follows the two through New York where they come across some very interesting characters including a drug dealer, up and coming rap-star and thieves. While the story itself is a page turner, for me this book was all about the characters. I would be keen to know what you think!

Boys don’t cry, Malorie Blackman

While Dante is waiting for his A level results he gets an unexpected visit from ex girlfriend, Melanie and her baby Emma. Her reason for the visit is to leave the baby in Dante’s care. All of a sudden Dante’s life is turned upside down as comes to grips with fatherhood at seventeen. As a sub plot Dante learns to accept his sixteen year old brother Adam’s homosexuality. This a genuinely moving story, that explores topics not widely covered in teen fiction.

Annexed, Sharon Dogar

Most of us know Anne Frank’s story, however this is a novel written from Peter’s point of view, who is also hiding in the annexe with his mother and father. When the story commences Peter is irritated by Anne but finds himself falling in love with her. As a result of his confinement Peter begins to question his religion, wondering why being Jewish has inspired such hatred. Anne’s diary ends in August 1944, however in ‘Annexed’ Peter’s story continues on beyond their betrayal and into the Nazi concentration camp.

While there has been controversy surrounding this book I found it powerful and engrossing.

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.

A Collection of New Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First sentence: This was no chore.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 10 Surfing

From the Nantucket Historical AssociationAs expected, there’s a bit of surfing happening in YA fiction, thanks largely to Australian writers. If you’re into surfing you might like one or two of these. There’s also a lot of self-discovery, and a hint of danger, if you’d prefer.

  1. Single Fin, Aaron Topp – A New Zealand contribution. “Fin lives to party and to surf the next wave but when his best friend and mentor, Mike, dies he is left alone. Fin goes to live with Mike’s uncle, a farmer down the coast, and begins to adjust to life on the farm. But when Jack, Mike’s younger cousin, is expelled from boarding school things change. Jack comes to live on the farm and he and Fin don’t get along. When Jack discovers surfing Fin is pressured into fighting demons he thought he had shut away for good.” (Catalogue)
  2. Starfish Sisters, J C Burke – Four girls are at an elite surfing camp. At first they are jealously competitive, then they learn that friendship might bring out the best in all of them and make them better surfers. Australian title number one. There’s also a sequel: Ocean Pearl in which the Starfish Sisters must get back together (or can they?).
  3. Surf Mules, Greg Neri – Logan’s friend Fin dies in a freak, giant-surf accident, and his father’s having money troubles, so Logan hits the road with his dodgy friend Z-Boy. Road trips, surfing, illegal dealings, and, ultimately, tragedy.
  4. Surf School, Laurine Croasdale – Tilly and her friends are all into surfing, and Tilly’s father runs a surf school. When he’s injured in a hit and run accident, Tilly must – with the help of her friends – (hopefully) keep the school running.
  5. Last Wave, Paul Hayden – Matt “Owl” has just finished high school and plans to enjoy the summer surfing with his mates, which sounds idyllic, which usually means in fiction land things are going to take a turn for the worse, and “Owl will learn what it really means to lose something you love” (catalogue).
  6. Raw Blue, Kirsty Eagar – another Australian effort: something bad happened to Carly two years ago, and she’s dropped out of university to surf and work at a café. Then she meets Ryan, and is propelled to face what happened, and sink or swim.
  7. Amaryllis, Craig Crist-Evans – Jimmy loves surfing with his brother Frank, but then Frank is called up to fight in the Vietnam war. The story of both brothers, Frank’s told through his letters to Jimmy. Amaryllis is the name of a shipwreck off the coast of Florida, where the brothers live.
  8. In the Break, Jack Lopez – another road trip/ surfing combo. Juan heads for Mexico with his friend Jamie and his (Juan’s) sister Amber after Jamie has a violent confrontation with his father. Along the way (on said road trip) they experience romance, tragedy… and the perfect wave.
  9. Surf Ache, Gerry Bobsien – Ella and her family move from Melbourne to Newcastle, and Ella struggles to adjust until she’s bitten by the surfing bug that’s all over Newcastle. Ella must, I think, also choose between dancing – which she loved in Melbourne – and surfing, and between her long-distance boyfriend and Snowy.
  10. Still Waving, Laurene Kelly – Julie is trying to get over a family tragedy, spending time surfing in her new town, but when the summer holidays arrive she must face the prospect of returning to the family farm and facing what happened.

Want to talk surfing like a pro? There are heaps of surf slang sites on the internet, for example, Riptionary.com.

New Books

Compromised, by Heidi Ayarbe (452 pages) – After Maya’s con-man father goes to prison, and she finds no joy in foster homes, she decides to try to find a long-lost aunt. It’s a long, dangerous journey (400 miles!) and the aunt mightn’t even exist.

First line: ‘First they take our flat screen.’

My Boyfriend’s Dogs : The Tales of Adam and Eve and Shirley, by Dandi Daley Mackall (265 pages) – High-school senior Bailey Daley turns up at a diner soaking wet and leading three wet dogs. The diner’s owner invites her in and listens to her story of searching for the perfect boyfriend (and obtaining three dogs).

First line: ‘“My mother says that falling in love and getting dumped is good for you because it prepares you for the real thing, like it gets you ready for true love and all, but I’m thinking it’s more like climbing up the St. Louis Arch and falling off twice.

Paper Daughter, by Jeanette Ingold (215 pages) – Maggie Chen’s journalist dad is killed in a hit-and-run accident, and her research (for she is a journalist also) soon uncovers illegal activity that may be connected to him. She is determined to uncover the truth, and discovers more about her family’s past than she expected.

First line: ‘“Your, Maggie.” Mom pushed an envelope from the Herald down the counter where I was putting out bread for sandwiches.‘ 

Sweet 15, by Emily Adler and Alex Echevarria (240 pages) – Destiny Lozada is turning 15, and so a traditional quinceañera (a religious ceremony with party, tiaras and ballgowns) is planned by her parents. Her older sister thinks it’s an outdated and misogynistic ritual. So! Destiny doesn’t want  to take sides and, in fact! would rather be skateboarding and watching TV.

First line: ‘Here’s how it went down, the beginning of The End. Breakfast: out of the blue, my mom, in a red bathrobe, with her makeup already on, making coffee in our big yellow kitchen, hit me over the head with “Destiny is having a quinceañera!”

Home Beyond the Mountains : A Novel, by Celia Barker Lottridge (224 pages) – It is 1918, and the Turkish army is eradicating the Assyrian and Armenian peoples in the eastern parts of the Ottoman empire. Nine-year-old Samira and her surviving family members are forced from camp to camp for many years before the opportunity to return home presents itself. Based on a true story.

First line: ‘A sound, a very quite sound, woke Samira.

Little Miss Red, by Robin Palmer (254 pages) – A summary prepared earlier: ‘Sixteen-year-old Sophie’s dream of meeting her soul mate during spring break in Florida seems to have come true, but she must determine if Jack is really the romantic hero he seems to be, or if ex-boyfriend Michael could be.’

First line: ‘I’m very big on signs. So when the captain announced that our flight to Florida would be delayed because of some last-minute passengers, I took that as yet another sign that this trip was going to be a disaster.‘ 

For Keeps, by Natasha Friend (267 pages) – Josie lives with her mum, and her father has never been part of the family. Until suddenly he turns up! And Josie also may have found her first, real boyfriend. ‘A fresh, funny, smart story.’

First line: ‘It’s the last Friday night in August, and instead of dancing on a table at Melanie Jaffin’s party with the rest of the soon-to-be junior class, I am crouched behind a tower of Meow Mix in the pet-food aisle of Shop-Co, watching my mother hyperventilate.

The Hunchback Assignments, by Arthur Slade (278 pages) – Modo is rescued from a freakshow by the mysterious Mr Socrates as a wee baby. He is subsequently trained as a first-class secret agent for the Permanent Association, who are pitted against the evil Clockwork Guild. Steampunk in a Victorian setting! Based on a true story (just kidding).

First line: ‘Six hunting hounds had perished in previous experiments.

Only the Good Spy Young, by Ally Carter (265 pages) – This is the fourth Gallagher Girls book. Gallagher Girls are spies-in-training! Cammie ‘The Chameleon’ is being hunted by an ancient terrorist organisation, and might not be able to trust even her classmates! Ever the way, I suppose.

First line: ‘“Target’s acquired, ten o’clock.” My best friend’s voice was as cool as the wind as it blew off the Thames.

The Demon’s Covenant, by Sarah Rees Brennan (442 pages) – This is the sequel to The Demon’s Lexicon, about a world of magicians and demons (obvs).

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

Happy as Larry, by Scot Gardner (291 pages) – ‘An extraordinary tale of an ordinary family’, says the cover. ‘Laurence Augustine Rainbow is born into an ordinary family, and seems set for an ordinary life. But as the world around him changes, so does the happiness of his own family,’ says the catalogue, which points out that it is also ‘unique, dark and ultimately uplifting.’ We can trust the catalogue, I feel.

First line: ‘Laurence Augustine Rainbow was born in July 1990.

The Mission, Jason Myers (361 pages) – When Kaden’s older brother is killed in Iraq, he follows his late brother’s advice and heads to San Francisco to visit his cousin. His previously sheltered life hasn’t prepared him for what he encounters there, and family secrets further rock his world.

First line: ‘The car creeps to the end of the driveway and turns onto the gravel road, the tires kicking up a small cloud of dust that whips into a spiral in the dead air before disappearing just as quickly as it came.’

Sugar Sugar, by Carole Wilkinson (337 pages) – Jackie leaves Australia  and heads to Paris, dreaming of becoming a world-famous fashion designer. Somehow she ends up in Afghanistan! With New Zealanders!

First line: ‘I was dreaming of the sea when the moonlight woke me.

The Resurrection Fields : Book Three of The Promises of Dr. Sigmundus, by Brian Kearney (158 pages) – The final installment  of this ‘concoction of science fiction, horror, and fantasy’ – ‘Although beset by otherworldly perils, Dante and his best friend Bea continue to be dedicated to the overthrow of Sigmundus and the dark powers that have latched on to his methods of authoritarian mind-control.’ Not based on a true story, but it would be cool if it was.

First line: ‘The storm that had raged over the south of Gehenna had finally blown itself out.

The Iron King, by Julie Kagawa (363 pages) – Meghan Chase, the back cover says, has a secret destiny. She is about to learn why she’s never really fit in, and why there’s a stranger watching her… and find love in the process.

First sentence: Ten years ago, on my sixth birthday, my father disappeared.

The Keening, A LaFaye (163 pages) – Set in 1918 which, Twilight fans might know, is when an influenza pandemic roared across the United States. Lyza feels like she’s the talentless member of an artistic family, but when her mother dies and she (Lyza) must help her father find his feet, uncovering her own gifts in the process.

First sentence: As a child who waded in the head-high grass of our cliffside home, I’d harbored a peculiar fondness for funeral marches – the sight of all those people in one long line, each face holding a memory.

The Complete History of Why I Hate Her, Jennifer Richard Jacobson (181 pages) – “Wanting a break from being known only for her sister’s cancer, seventeen-year-old Nola leaves Boston for a waitressing job at a summer resort in Maine, but soon feels as if her new best friend is taking over her life,” says the catalogue.

First sentence: Song is hanging on my arm, afraid I’m going to slip onto the bus and out of her life as quickly as I made the decision to go.

Toads and Diamonds, Heather Tomlinson (276 pages) – a fairytale set in India (in fact a retelling “of the Perrault fairy tale set in pre-colonial India” to be precise (the catalogue comes to the rescue yet again!)). Diribani and Tana both receive something from a goddess, one a blessing and the other a curse, at least this is how it first appears, but “blessings and curses are never so clear as they might seem” (book cover).

First sentence: Diribani ran toward the stepwell.


Alice in Wonderland: A Visual Companion, Mark Salisbury – to the movie, that is. Full of interesting photos and other graphics, and info about how this visual symphony was made.

New Books (so many)

There are LOTS of new books this week! There are far too many to go into any great detail, so we will have to be mercilessly brief with most of them. Click through to the catalogue for more information about them why don’t you.

cofkA Conspiracy of Kings, by Megan Whalen Turner (316 pages) – This is the fourth in a series (the other titles are The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, and The King of Attolia) which has AT LONG LAST arrived. We’ve written about the series before, actually, because we like it a lot! This one seems to be more about Sophos? (I haven’t read it yet.) One of my favourite characters and so I’m as pleased as Punch.
The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin, by Josh Berk (248 pages) – Will Halpin is ‘hefty’ and deaf, and when he is transferred to a new school he is bullied or ignored. This doesn’t stop him from teaming up with the second least popular kid at school, and solving the mystery that surrounds the death of a popular football player
Into the Wilderness : Book two of Blood of the Lamb Trilogy, by Mandy Hager (336 pages) – The first book in the series – The Crossing – is up for a NZ Post Book Award in the YA fiction category. The series is written by a Wellingtonian! And is about a not-too-distant dystopian future, set on a (fictitious) Pacific island
This World We Live In, by Susan Beth Pfeffer (239 pages) – The third book in a series; a meteor has crashed into the moon, and the Earth’s climate is catastrophically changed
Possessed, by Kate Cann (327 pages) – A girl gets a job in the country, away from her tedious London life, and is befriended by a spooky group of people in an eerie old house
Happyface, by Stephen Emond (306 pages) – Another school-transferral-type-story: this one told in an illustrated journal by someone who reinvents himself at his new school
Crazy Beautiful, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (193 pages) – S0rt of a retelling of the Beauty & the Beast, shifted to the present and the beast is Lucius, who lost both hands in an accident and chooses to wear hooks
City of Cannibals, by Ricki Thompson (268 pages) – High drama during the English Reformation
Crash Into Me, by Albert Borris (257 pages) – Four suicidal teens find reasons to live during road-trip
A Non-Blonde Cheerleader in Love, by Kieran Scott (240 pages) – Non-blonde cheerleader falls in love?
The Billionaire’s Curse, by Richard Newsome (355 pages) – Book 1 of trilogy about teen billionaire sleuths
Back Home, by Julia Keller (194 pages) – A girl’s war-injured dad returns and he ain’t the same
Dawn, by Kevin Brooks (250 pages) – A teen girl’s abusive upbringing leads her to contemplate killing God
Day of the Assassins : A Jack Christie Novel, by Johnny O’Brien (211 pages) – Jack is sent back in time to stop WWI, but someone is out to stop him
The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod : Eleventh Grade Burns, by Heather Brewer (309 pages) – Vladimir Tod is the only half-vampire around, which is a bit like being the vampire world’s Harry Potter – special, but loads of enemies
The Crowfield Curse, by Pat Walsh (319 pages) – A medieval ghost story, shortlisted for the Times Children’s Fiction Competition 2008
My So-Called Afterlife, by Tamsyn Murray (184 pages) – Lucy is a ghost, who discovers that being dead doesn’t mean you can’t meet gorgeous guys and hunt down your murderer
Me, Myself, and Ike, by K. L. Denman (192 pages) – Kit used to have a lot of friends, but as he progressively develops schizophrenia he stands to lose everything
Beautiful : Truth’s Found When Beauty’s Lost, by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma (266 pages) – Ellie is beautiful, but when she loses her looks in an accident she must reconsider her life and her Christian beliefs
Duplikate, by Cherry Cheva (242 pages) – Kate somehow develops a computer-generated twin, handily
Coffeehouse Angel, by Suzanne Selfors (276 pages) – Katrina gives a cup of coffee to a homeless guy, who tells her that he’s an angel and in recompense will fulfill her deepest wish for true happiness
Cathy’s Ring, by Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman (149 pages) – The sequel to Cathy’s Book and Cathy’s Key
Tapas and Tears
, by Chris Higgins (264 pages) – Jaime is forced to go to Spain for a school exchange trip, and her life is changed FOREVER
Albatross, by Josie Bloss (229 pages) – “Taut and emotionally wrenching” – Meg Cabot
Nobody Girl, by Sara Manning (368 pages) – Bea heads to Spain but heads off to Paris to find her father, and falls in love on the way
Tangled, by Carolyn Mackler (308 pages) – Four teens stay in a Caribbean resort and their lives are changed FOREVER
They Never Came Back, by Caroline B. Cooney (200 pages) – A page-turner about identity, greed, and fugitives
Sweet, Hereafter, by Angela Johnson (118 pages) – Sweet leaves her family to live with Curtis, who has just been recalled to Iraq 🙁
The Squire’s Quest, by Gerald Morris (272 pages) – This is the ninth and latest book in The Squire’s Tales series, in which the hero goes on his longest and most fantastical adventure yet
Jameela, by Rukhsana Khan (177 pages) – Jameela lives in a devasted village in Afghanistan, and when her new stepmother doesn’t want her, she’s left alone in an orphanage 🙁
Daughter of Fire and Ice, by Marie-Louise Jensen (325 pages) – Thora is kidnapped by Vikings and manages to escape on a boat set for Iceland with the gorgeous Bjorn
Rikers High, by Paul Volponi (246 pages) – Martin is in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, but when he gets to go to the prison’s highschool he has a chance to turn his life around
After Ever After, by Jordan Sonnenblick (260 pages) – A ‘tender, hopeful, and funny story’ about Jeffrey, who is no longer a boy with cancer but rather a teen in remission
Epitaph Road, by David Patneaude (266 pages) – It is 2097 and the world is run by, and populated with, women, after 97% of men have been wiped out by a virus
Flash Burnout, by L. K. Madigan (325 pages) – A comedy romance about a boy with a camera, a girlfriend, and a friend who is a girl
The Ring, by Bobbie Pyron (252 page) – Mardie is a teenage girl whose life is going off the tracks, but when she joins a boxing club her life is changed FOREVER

New Books

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

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

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

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

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

First sentence: I lost my boyfriend, Lucca.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 10: help, I’m at an American high school

A back to school(ish) special. Books featuring high school in America (with a subset of graduating), but sadly no glee clubs. Actually, if you can find a Young Adult fiction book published before 2009 that has a glee club in it I might have to find a spot prize for you. Read all of these and you’ll become an expert on American high school culture.

  1. Paper Towns, John Green. There are so many great elements to this book; a night of really cool pranking, a mysterious disappearance, a road trip, a high school graduation involving a daring lack of clothing, creative yet practical use of a recycled glass bottle… Looking forward to John Green’s next book.
  2. Twisted, Laurie Halse Anderson. One of my favourite young adult books. A tough story about people not necessarily having your best interests in mind, told by a really likeable narrator who takes things in his stride (mostly) until everything gets waaay out of control, and the only person who can help him is himself.
  3. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You, Peter Cameron. An excellent book, and although the narrative is mostly set in the time between school and college, there is a high school trip to Washington DC that is integral to the plot. This book kind of goes with How to Say Goodbye in Robot, and Like the Red Panda by Andrea Seigel in my mind.
  4. How to Say Goodbye in Robot, Natalie Standiford. What a great book. If you’re sick of love and mush and you want a good story about friendship then read this. Bea is Robot Girl (her mother says she lacks emotion and kindness) and Jonah is Ghost Boy, pale and virtually invisible in school. Together they make a great team, then things come to a head in Jonah’s life, and Bea learns just how ghost-like he is. Killer first sentence.
  5. I Love You, Beth Cooper, Larry Doyle. I haven’t read this but Simon says it’s funny, although I have heard it’s quite risqué too. Begins with high school graduation.
  6. Front and Center, Catherine Gilbert Murdock. I found this an interesting insight into the whole college sports scholarship scene. DJ is a fantastic basketball player (which you might know if you’ve read Dairy Queen), which means she’s basically got a free ticket to some of the best colleges in the United States, but the prospect of college b-ball and all the hysteria that surrounds it is not to be taken lightly. Plus there’s a love triangle for her to negotiate.
  7. Fat Hoochie Prom Queen, Nico Medina. With an Ugly Betty-esque cover which is begging to be admired. A showdown between a likely and an unlikely prom queen candidate. The description says: “Welcome to Winter Park High School, where the dirt’s not just gonna fly… it’s gonna go into freakin’ orbit.”
  8. Zombie queen of Newbury High, Amanda Ashby. Amanda Ashby lives in New Zealand – we interviewed her last year about Zombie Queen (and other things).
  9. Shift, Jennifer Bradbury. Directly after high school graduation, Chris and Win head off on a bike trip (as in push bikes), but then Win disappears and Chris determines to find out where (and why) he is hiding.
  10. Reality Check, Peter Abrahams. Mostly about not going to high school in America, since Cody drops out after he injures his knee (he was hoping for a football career in the NFL). Cody’s girlfriend goes missing from her boarding school, so Cody – since he doesn’t have school to worry about – investigates her disappearance, which seems sinister.

Disappearances and high school: big in YA literature (ref #10, 9, 1, 4).

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