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Tag: Short stories Page 1 of 2

New Books on a Shelf Near You!

Now that some of our libraries are back open to the world, the new books are flowing back onto the shelves as our cataloguers, hidden away in the deepest recesses of the library, work their way through their backlog. Here are some of my favourite highlights among the recent additions to our YA collections:

19 love songs / Levithan, David
{LGBTQ+, romance, short stories, verse}
A collection of funny, warm and heartfelt stories exploring queer love and identity from award-winning YA author David Levithan. A resentful member of a high school Quiz Bowl team with an unrequited crush. A Valentine’s Day in the life of Every Day‘s protagonist “A.” A return to the characters of Two Boys Kissing. Born from Levithan’s tradition of writing a story for his friends each Valentine’s Day, this collection brings all of them to his readers for the first time. With fiction, nonfiction, and a story in verse, there’s something for every reader here. Witty, romantic, and honest, teens (and adults) will come to this collection not only on Valentine’s Day, but all year round. (Catalogue)

Beware the night / Fleck, Jessika
{dystopian, religion, politics, science fiction}
On the island of Bellona, they worship the sun. Seventeen-year-old Veda understands that keeping the sun content ensures plentiful crops, peace and harmony, and a thriving economy. But as a member of the Basso class, she never reaps those benefits. Life as a Basso is one fraught with back-breaking work and imposing rules. Her close friendship with Nico is Veda’s one saving grace in a cruel world where the division between her people and the ruling Dogio is as wide and winding as the canals that snake through their island. But when Veda’s grandfather is chosen as the next sacrificial offering to keep the sun’s favor, Veda is forced to see the injustice of her world. Turning away from the sun means she must join the night–and an underground revolution she’s been taught to fear all her life. (Catalogue)

The deceivers / Simmons, Kristen
{drama, intrigue, politics, school}
Welcome to Vale Hall, the school for aspiring con artists. When Brynn Hilder is recruited to Vale, it seems like the elite academy is her chance to start over, away from her mom’s loser boyfriend and her rundown neighborhood. But she soon learns that Vale chooses students not so much for their scholastic talent as for their extracurricular activities, such as her time spent conning rich North Shore kids out of their extravagant allowances. At first, Brynn jumps at the chance to help the school in its mission to rid the city of corrupt officials–because what could be better than giving entitled jerks what they deserve? But that’s before she meets her mark–a senator’s son–and before she discovers the school’s headmaster has secrets he’ll stop at nothing to protect. As the lines between right and wrong blur, Brynn begins to realize she’s in way over head. (Catalogue)

The electric heir / Lee, Victoria
{dystopian, LGBTQ+, pandemics, science fiction}
Six months after Noam Álvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget — that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia. Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control — and that Noam is plotting against him — Noam’s dead. Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life. (Catalogue)

Every other weekend / Johnson, Abigail
{grief, realistic fiction, romance}
Adam Moynihan’s life used to be awesome. Straight As, close friends and a home life so perfect that it could have been a TV show straight out of the 50s. Then his oldest brother died. Now his fun-loving mom cries constantly, he and his remaining brother can’t talk without fighting, and the father he always admired proved himself a coward by moving out when they needed him most. Jolene Timber’s life is nothing like the movies she loves–not the happy ones anyway. With her divorced parents at each other’s throats and using her as a pawn, no amount of mental reediting will give her the love she’s starving for. Forced to spend every other weekend in the same apartment building, the boy who thinks forgiveness makes him weak and the girl who thinks love is for fools begin an unlikely friendship. The weekends he dreaded and she endured soon become the best part of their lives. But when one’s life begins to mend while the other’s spirals out of control, they realize that falling in love while surrounded by its demise means nothing is ever guaranteed (Catalogue)

Harley in the sky / Bowman, Akemi Dawn
{coming-of-age, drama, family}
Harley Milano has dreamed of becoming a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her heart and soul that she would be up there herself one day. After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family, and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Myst re. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion, and collaboration. At the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past–and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams. (Catalogue)

Infinity son / Silvera, Adam
{brothers, fantasy, LGBTQ+, superheroes}
Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures. Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day. Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be. Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed. (Author Summary)

The midnight lie / Rutkoski, Marie
{fantasy, LGBTQ+, romance}
Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences. Nirrim keeps her head down, and a dangerous secret close to her chest. But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away, who whispers rumors that the High Kith possess magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted. (Catalogue)

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsJust don’t mention it, Estelle Maskame

Tyler Bruce, hell raiser and bad boy, tells his story in his own words. Alternating between past and present, Just Don’t Mention It is narrated from Tyler’s perspective. We see him as the daredevil seventeen-year-old we first met in Did I Mention I Love You?, the stepbrother who falls head over heels for Eden. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMy almost flawless Tokyo dream life, Rachel Cohn

Enter foster-kid-out-of-water Elle Zoellner, who, on her sixteenth birthday discovers that her long-lost father, Kenji Takahari, is actually a Japanese hotel mogul and wants her to come live with him. Elle jets off first class from Washington D.C. to Tokyo, which seems like a dream come true. Until she meets her enigmatic father, her way-too-fab aunt, and her hyper-critical grandmother, who seems to wish Elle didn’t exist. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPoems to live your life by, chosen and illustrated by Chris Riddell

This gorgeously illustrated collection includes forty-six poems and is divided into sections covering: musings, youth, family, love, imaginings, nature, war and endings. Chris Riddell brings them to life with his exquisite, intricate artwork in this beautiful anthology. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe true queen, Sarah Fine

Now that Ansa knows she is the destined queen of Kupari, she is desperate to find a permanent home for her people, the Kriegere, in the Kupari lands. But as the small band of warriors crosses into the foreign territory, Ansa loses her fragile grip on her newly-acquired–and violent–fire and ice magic and puts everyone, including her love Thyra, in danger. Inside the walls of Kupari, Elli maintains the facade that she is the magical queen, with her secret–that she has no magic at all–on the brink of exposure every day. But as she tries to prepare the citizens to protect themselves from another invasion, unrest spreads as wielders like her beloved Oskar begin to lose control of their powers. As Kupari grows increasingly unstable, with the land literally crumbling beneath their feet, and a common enemy once again threatening everything, these two young women on a collision course with destiny must find a way to save the realm and their people from total destruction. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe weight of a thousand feathers, Brian Conaghan

Bobby Seed is a caregiver. Along with the usual school-related responsibilities of a 17-year-old, Bobby is tasked with looking out for his younger brother, keeping the house clean and food on the table, and, most important, taking care of his mother, whose advanced-stage MS is rapidly taking its toll on her body and mind. Just as his mother asks him to consider helping her end her suffering, Bobby starts attending a support group for teen caregivers and finds solace and possible romance within the group. (Booklist)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe disasters, M.K. England

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours. But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape–barely–but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats. On the run, Nax and his fellow failures plan to pull off a dangerous heist to spread the truth. Because they may not be “Academy material,” and they may not even get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSkylarks, Karen Gregory

When she was little, Joni used to have dreams that she could fly. But these days her feet are firmly on the ground they have to be when money’s tight and her dad can’t work and the whole family has to pull together to keep afloat. Then she meets Annabel. Annabel is everything Joni isn’t, and yet there’s a spark between them. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Kerb-Stain Boys: The Crongton Broadway Robbery, Alex Wheatle

Life on the Crongton estate can be rough for Briggy. Dad’s lost his job, Mum’s always working to make ends meet and big brother Kingsley just wants out. Then Briggy’s best mate Terror cooks up a plan to impress the coolest chick in the year, Caldonia Lake. Briggy doesn’t want to lose face by chickening out and, who knows, maybe they’ll make a quick buck. So what is Terror’s master plan? Robbing the post office. What could possibly go wrong? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPhantom, Leo Hunt

Tech in her veins. Anarchy in her blood. In the City, they have it all – sunlight, a corp job, a corpbloc home miles above the poisoned earth below. Four-hundred storeys down, in the darkness of the undercity slums, lives sixteen-year-old orphan Nova. Nova is a hacker. Aided by the program Phantom, she can sneak up to the City, leech what she needs and sink back down again, invisible as a ghost.But Nova has caught someone’s eye, and that’s Phantom-creator and legendary anti-corp hacker the Moth. Now the Moth has a job for Nova. A job that will send her miles into the sky.To bring the City crashing down. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBlack enough: stories of being young and black in America, edited Ibi Zoboi

Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, and featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling Black authors writing for teens today–Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America. Black is…sisters navigating their relationship at summer camp in Portland, Oregon, as written by Renée Watson. Black is…three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything, in a story by Jason Reynolds. Black is…Nic Stone’s high-class beauty dating a boy her momma would never approve of. Black is…two girls kissing in Justina Ireland’s story set in Maryland. Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more–because there are countless ways to be Black enough. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsVirus, Chris Bradford

Scott nearly died playing Virtual Kombat, the virtual-reality fighting game that risks the lives of street kids for profit. Hunted by Wasp drones, Scott’s on the run when he comes across a gang of techno-hackers who share his wish to destroy VK. They’ve developed a virus that could do the job, but in order to implant it Scott has to re-enter the arena and risk being trapped inside the game for ever…(Publisher summary)

Halloween series: short story collections

I enjoy settling in with a long novel as much as the next horror fan, but sometimes I like short stories: they’re like the jump scares of scary books. Here are some great collections.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsExtremities: stories of death, murder, and revenge, David Lubar

David Lubar’s better known as a writer for younger readers but this definitely belongs in the YA section. Despite the title, some of these stories have a sly, dark humour – but that doesn’t make them any less disturbing.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsScary stories, illustrated by Barry Moser with an introduction by Peter Glassman

This is a collection of “classic” horror stories – Roald Dahl, H.P Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and our very own Margaret Mahy have stories in here and it’s a good introduction to the other -but perhaps less well known to YA audiences- horror writers such as Saki and Ambrose Bierce. If you’re wanting more names to help broaden your reading. The illustrations are simple black and white – but are creepy as anything.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSlasher girls and monster boys, stories selected by April Genevieve Tucholke

There are some impressive names from YA literature in this collection; Marie Lu and Carrie Ryan to name just two. A more contemporary take on horror themed short stories, I have no doubt these will keep you up past bedtime…

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBlack Juice, Margo Lanagan

Margo Lanagan’s short stories aren’t scary in the conventional sense; there may be things that go bump in the night but more often than not they depict a muted, interior sense of unease that will persist long after you put the book down. Horror doesn’t always come the paranormal – often it’s humanity that shapes a hostile world. Lanagan also has three more short story collections availible; White time, Red Spikes and Yellowcake.

New Upcoming Fiction

This week, for a change, some short stories / novellas. Both these books have content from some popular series: Dorothy Must Die, and the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix.

Dorothy Must Die: stories, D. M. Paige. Have you read Dorothy Must Die yet? We are told it is excellent! Particularly, probably, if you are sick of Dorothy being the hero of the Wizard of Oz. Good news for fans: Danielle Paige has produced a collection of three related stories: ‘No Place Like Oz’, ‘The Witch Must Burn’, ‘The Wizard Returns’. We see that the next book in the series is due for publication in 2017: these might fill a very small piece of the gap.

To Hold the Bridge: a Tale of the Old Kingdom and other stories, Garth Nix. “Far to the north of the magical Old Kingdom, the Greenwash Bridge Company has been building a bridge for almost a hundred years. It is not an easy task, for many dangers threaten the bridge builders, from nomad raiders to Free Magic sorcerers. Despite the danger, Morghan wants nothing more than to join the Bridge Company as a cadet. But the company takes only the best, the most skillful Charter mages, and trains them hard, for the night might come when only a single young cadet must hold the bridge against many foes. Will Morghan be that cadet? Also included in this remarkable collection are eighteen short stories that showcase Nix’s versatility as he adds a fantastical twist on an array of genres including science fiction, paranormal, realistic fiction, mystery, and adventure.” (goodreads.com)

A short post about short stories

We promise, absolutely and completely, that this is our last post about New Zealand Book Month. For this year at least. We hope you’ve read something New Zealand related this month or better yet, been to an event! If you haven’t, never fear, there’s still time (and a long weekend) to do so. Why not check out some New Zealand short stories, it will take mere minutes and the library has some great collections!

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEssential New Zealand Short Stories, edited by Owen Marshall

The contents page of this collection reads as a who’s who of New Zealand writing greats including Katherine Mansfield, Janet Frame, Patricia Grace, Joy Cowley, Maurice Gee, Frank Sargeson and many, many more. The collected works span 80 years which demonstrates the way short stories, as a genre, have changed over time (or not). In his introduction Owen Marshall says the reason short stories can be found right through New Zealand writing history is because “they form a resilient genre with its own idiosyncratic pulse of literary energy.” We have to agree! There’s a certain charming idiosyncrasy right through this collection and all the others as well.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEarthless Trees, edited by Pauline Frances

This collection features the work of several young refugees who came to New Zealand seeking security and freedom with their families. From an escape through mountains on an overloaded truck, to living through an explosion in urban Kabul, these stories touch on universal themes: survival, family, home and friends. We love that this collection gives a poignant and, at times, heartbreaking, insight into the lives of some of our refugees.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLike Wallpaper, edited by Barbara Else

The authors featured in this collection are a combination of established like David Hill or Fleur Beale and stunning newcomers like Natasha Lewis and Samantha Stanley. The settings are New Zealand homes and flats, local schools and roads, beaches, rivers, cities. There is a mixture of tone, voice, and form. Issues addressed in the stories range across aspects of peer pressure and friendship. Parents and family relationships feature as do young romance, sexuality, and death. All in all, it’s a capacious collection with several quirky stories you’re bound to love. Hopefully ponder as well.

book cover courtesy of Syndetics50 short short stories by young New Zealanders edited by Graeme Lay

Tandem Press invited New Zealanders aged 18 and under to submit a short story (no more than 500 words) for a writing competition. This collection is the 50 best entries they received. They provide a much broader overview than Earthless Trees of what being a teenager is like in New Zealand and over the course of fifty stories, the themes covered include all the joys and concerns of daily life: peer pressure, rivalry, first love, and questions of identity and belonging; of moving or subtle relationships with friends and family. These are great to read if you’re an aspiring writer yourself because they give an idea of the kind of style and content that one publishing house consider to be good.

Think you can do better? Then a list of writing competitions in New Zealand can be found here including details about the Re-Draft competition. The winners of that are published annually, several collections of which the library has here, here and here. However they don’t get a blurb of their own because they include poetry and because we promised a short post. So there you have it. Short stories are the best! They get to the point within the time of my attention span, they’re often strange and quirky and, best of all, they leave you wondering. And there we will end our very last post about New Zealand Book Month. May you now dazzle your friends and family with your knowledge of homegrown literary talent!

Happy Easter!

R n R

New Books

Heppy new yur!

Middle School : Get Me Out of Here!, by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts (257 pages) – Rafe Khatchodorian is in middle school, which I think must be intermediate? Is it? He gets to leave and go to an art school in the city, which isn’t the break from the existential horror of middle school that he’d hoped for. This is the sequel to Middle School : The Worst Years of My Life!.

First lines: ‘Well, who’d have thought so much could change in one summer? Not me, that’s for sure. Not my best buddy, Leonardo the Silent.

Beta, by Rachel Cohn (331 pages) – Elysia was born as a sixteen-year-old, as fresh as any cloned scientific creation thrown together in a lab could be. She is to serve the wealthy inhabitants of paradise island, Demesne, but Elysia isn’t the souless clone that her makers think she is, and when her only chance at happiness is booted off the island (literally!), she learns she needs to fight back.

First lines: ‘It’s me she wants to purchase. The fancy lady claims she came into the resort boutique looking to buy a sweater, but she can’t take her eyes off me.

Made on Earth, by Wolfgang Korn (184 pages) – This is the story of one item of clothing and the people it connects (a red polar fleece, if you can imagine such a thing) in the context of globalisation. ‘This is a story about people, their livelihoods and their life expectations.’ Its written as a short novel, but could almost be non-fiction I reckon.

First line: ‘It was not love at first sight, no way! Bright red fleeces are for young girls, or Liverpool FC fans. They are definately not for tough journalists.

The Turning, by Francine Prose (246 pages) – Jack gets a job on a private island, babysitting the orphaned niece and nephew of some rich guy. The kids are well-behaved (if a little odd), while the cook, Mrs Gross seems nice enough. BUT things are not what they seem – he keeps seeing people that no one else can see – and he begins to feel like he is losing his grip. This is based on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. By the way!

First line: ‘Dear Sophie, I’m afraid this is going to sound crazy. But a very strange thing just happened.

The Curiosities : A Collection of Stories, by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff (291 pages) – The three authors of this book are all published authors of paranormal fiction, and a few years ago they all got together and created a website called merryfates.com, where they each posted a small short story once a week. This book is a compilation of such stories, along with lots of annotations from the authors (similar to the website’s comments I guess?). I don’t think the website is a going concern anymore, but here’s the book anyway. It gets a nice 4 stars on Goodreads.

Star-crossed : 18 Tales of Bittersweet Love, by Frances Kelly & Penny Murray (306 pages) – Like it says in the title! This is a collection of love stories. They are all retellings of classic romances from the olden days; Shakespeare, fable, myth, and fact are all covered, from Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor to Robin Hood and Maid Marian. Each has a little end-note explaining the romance preceding it and recommending more sources. So yeah, loads of romance.

Speechless, by Hannah Harrington (268 pages) – Chelsea nearly got someone killed indirectly when she blabbed someone’s secret, so, as a consequence, she takes a vow of silence. Her old friends all still blame her, and by not talking she’s not necessarily endearing herself to them, but other people – people she wouldn’t have once had much to do with – soon come out of the woodwork. One boy she might even have a future with. The 500 people who have reviewd it on Goodreads really like it, so get cracking and read it okay

First line: ‘Keping secrets isn’t my speciality.’

Easy, by Tammara Webber (310 pages) – Jacqueline moves to a new city to study at college with her boyfriend, but he dumps her, leaving her stranded – friendless and alone in a place she’d rather not be at, and failing a paper for the first time in her life. However, she forms an attachment with her economics tutor by email, and also meets a guy who electrifies her with his dancing. She is also being stalked, and then her ex comes back into her life. What is a girl to do

First lines: ‘I had never noticed Lucas before that night. It was as though he didn’t exist, and then suddenly, he was everywhere.

Lullaby : A Watersong Novel, by Amanda Hocking (290 pages) – This is the second book in the series that started with Wake. They series is seemingly your usual teen supernatural novel featuring a specific creature from myth and legend; in this case, the monsters are Sirens. Not the plastic lights on top of police cars! Haha, imagine that

First line: ‘Harper woke up when the sun was just beginning to set, and squinted at the dim orange light streaming in through her curtains.

Struck by Lightning : The Carson Phillips Journal, by Chris Colfer (258 pages) – Chris Colfer is the same Chris Colfer who plays (played?) Kurt Hummel on Glee. This book is based on the screenplay he wrote for the movie he made, about a high school student who is desperate to leave his small town and become a hard-hitting journalist; and to achieve his goals he resorts to blackmailing his fellow students.

First lines: ‘Dear Journal, one more school year with these $#!^heads and I’ll be free. It’s taken almost two decades of careful planning, but I’m proud to say my overdue departure from the town of Clover is only days away.

The Twinning Project, by Robert Lipsyte (269 pages) – Tom has an imaginary twin named Eddie who, in actual fact, is real and lives on another Earth that mirrors our own, but 50 years earlier, engineered by aliens. Somehow they connect and join the fight against those same aliens who are set destroy both planets.

First line: ‘I don’t fit in at school because I don’t do what I’m told if it’s stupid. I don’t keep my mouth shut when I have something to say.

Someday Dancer, by Sarah Rubin (245 pages) – It is 1959! And somewhere in the rural hindquarters of South Carolina Casey Quinn plans on leaving for New York City, where she wants to be a ballet dancer. She has the talent, but unfortunately lacks the formal training – but is there hope with contemporary dance? yep

First line: ‘Rat-a-tat-tat, my feet hit the ground, and the sound sings up like music. I am daning on the sidewalk, skipping home from school, free as a bird, and my feet are flying.

Pinned, by Sharon G. Flake (228 pages) – Catalogue synopsis: ‘Adonis is smart, intellectually gifted and born without legs; Autumn is strong, a great wrestler, and barely able to read in ninth grade – but Autumn is attracted to Adonis and determined to make him a part of her life whatever he or her best friend thinks.’

First lines: ‘You ever like a boy your friends thought you shouldn’t like? Maybe he short. Or his ears stick out. Or he got a face full of pimples. But you like him anyhow.

Arise : A Hereafter Novel, by Tara Hudson (408 pages) – This comes after Hereafter, book one in the series (which is also new to the collection). Amelia and Joshua are an item, but sadly Amelia is stuck between the worlds of the living and the dead. Threatened by dark spirits, the couple attempt a Voodoo ritual in a cemetery in an attempt at some protection, but the ceremony will change things. FOREVERRRRRR

First line: ‘The entire world had gone dark, and I had no idea why.

Eternally Yours : An Immortal Beloved Novel, by Cate Tiernan (455 pages) – Nastasya is 450-years old, but hasn’t spent all that time too wisely, so she spends five months at a special rehab for troubled immortals. In addition to learning about her family and their past, she also falls for a hot immortal viking boy, and utilises her special kind of magic to fight against the dark forces determined to wipe out all immortals around the world.

First lines: ‘Uppsala, Sweden, 1619. “Vali! Vali! Where is the girl?” I heard my employer’s voice and scrambled up the from the storage cellar.

A World Away, by Nancy Grossman (394 pages) – Eliza is sixteen, and Amish, so she’s led as sheltered a life as it’s probably possible to lead in the modern world. No Internet! Let that sink in. Anway, Eliza gets to go to Chicago as a nanny, and she’s scared. And excited! What will the world have for her? Will she return to her family back on the farm?

First line: ‘The strangers were coming, as they did every Thursday night, to bring a burst of color into our plain home. I circled the dining room, checking each lantern to be sure there was enough fuel inside.

Speed of Light : A Meridian Novel, by Amber Kizer (525 pages) – This is the third book in a series too complex for me to easily summarise. ‘Meridian and Tens continue to grow closer and explore their relationship of Protector and Fenestra, while sixteen-year-old Juliet Ambrose, grasping at any hope of finding her parents, considers acepting the help offered by Ms. Asura, a proven Nocti.’

First lines: ‘What if a young woman was both a girl to the living and a portal to the dying? I know the answer because I am.

My Life Next Door, by Huntley Fitzpatrick (394 pages) – Samantha Reed is the daughter of a successful US Senator, and she leads a typically proper and organised life. However, in the evenings, she watches the family next door, and is envious of their fairly disorganised, messy, and happy life. She and the eldest son, Jase, fall for each other, and the relationship remains their little secret. Until there’s a surprise twist to the story! It’s a popular book on Goodreads, if that sways you.

First lines: ‘The Garretts were forbidden from the start. But that’s not why they were important. We were standing in our yard that day ten years ago when their battered sedan pulled up to the low-slung shingled house next door, close behind the moving van.

The Evolution of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin (527 pages) – Mara Dyer has powers that only one other person – Noah – believes she has. Everyone else reckons she is has a developing mental disorder. What is truth? ‘This will have readers doubting Mara’s sanity, trusting the mental health professionals, and suspicious of Noah’s intentions.’

First lines: ‘You will love him to ruins. The words echoed in my mind as I ran through clots of laughing people. Blinking lights and delighted screams bled together in a riot of sound and color.

Ferragost by Melina Marchetta

Ferragost is a short story set in the world of the Lumatere Chronicles, featuring Lady Celie. It’s being published in the Review of Australian Fiction, an online journal, which is available for purchase (about $3.00 Australian) from tomorrow (7 August).

Melina Marchetta promises that the story doesn’t have any spoilers for Quintana of Charyn, which is released in a few weeks’ time, but that it does provide useful background. More explanation and a short extract here.

New Fiction

Some make-believe to counterbalance all the non-fiction. Lots and lots of fairies, plus a mermaid and one or two regular folk.

Beauty Queens, Libba Bray (390 pages) – <3 the cover. Don’t be fooled! This is not just a book about lipstick as ammunition, and aqua bikinis with little white dots. This is kind of beauty pageant meets Lost (the TV programme), complete with pirates and a few lessons in feminism. The premise: a plane carrying the fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant crashes on a deserted island, leaving them to fend for themselves: “welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness” (book cover.

First sentence: “Are you all right?”

Tempestuous, Lesley Livingston (361 pages) – the conclusion to the trilogy (Wondrous Strange and Darklight are the other two) in which Kelley Winslow discovers she is not only a Shakespearean actor but also a powerful fairy in a world she didn’t know existed. Kelley’s determined to get Sonny back, but she must also find out who’s trying to make the Janus Guards go over to the dark side, try and rebuild her theatre company, and not get distracted by the Fenrys Wolf (in a love triangle sort of way).

First sentence: The antique black carriage sped through the night, its tall spoked wheels whirring, skimming the surface of the river as though the spectral horse that pulled it followed a paved track.

The Secret Journeys of Jack London: The Wild, Christopher Golden & Tim Lebbon (348 pages) – if you read and enjoyed The Call of the Wild and White Fang then this might interest you. It’s a fictionalised account of Jack London’s teenage life, where he finds himself heading for the Yukon in search of gold. What greets him is kidnapping, slavery and murder, and a supernatural twist. It’s also beautifully illustrated, in the style of a Jack London novel.

First sentence: Jack London stood on the deck of the Umatilla and looked out upon the docks of San Francisco, wondering how long it would be before he saw the city again.

Born at Midnight, C C Hunter (398 pages) – The first in a new supernatural series. After getting into trouble Kylie is sent to a camp for troubled teens, but it quickly becomes clear they’re not just ordinary teens. Plus: Kylie’s not a normal teen either. To complicate matters there’s Derek and Lucas.

First sentence: “This isn’t funny!” her father yelled.

The Dead I Know, Scot Gardner (208 pages) – scarily, Aaron is a sleepwalker. More so, he has weird unexplainable dreams and blanks where there should be memories. He must uncover the truth about his past in order to ensure his safe future. A gripping psychodrama.

First sentence: The office of JKB Funerals was a majestic orange-brick addition to a modest orange-brick house.

Illusions, Aprilynne Pike (375 pages) – following on from Wings and Spells. Laurel finds herself in a bind: “As her senior year of high school starts, Laurel is just beginning to adjust to Tamani’s absence when he suddenly reappears, telling her he must guard her against the returning threat of the trolls that pose a danger both to her and to Avalon.” (Library catalogue)

First sentence: The halls of Del Norte High buzzed with first-day-of-school chaos as Laurel wedged herself through a crowd of sophomores and spotted David’s broad shoulders.

Forgive My Fins, Tera Lynn Childs (293 pages) – Lily Sanderson is part human, part mermaid, and this has been the cause of much inner turmoil for her. Trying to find where she belongs, she’s enrolled (as a human) in Seaview High School and things are going well: there’s even Brody. Trouble is, mermaids bond for life, which isn’t necessarily the best scenario for high school, and to top it off, her efforts to win Brody’s heart without letting on who she really is are sure to get her into a large pickle.

First sentence: Water calms me.

The Iron Queen, Julie Kagawa (359 pages) – following on from The Iron King and The Iron Daughter. Meghan is half fairy, half human, and is being pulled into a conflict against the Iron Fey: a conflict she may not survive. All this while being torn from Ash, who seems to be quite special, judging by the rave reviews he’s been getting on the www.

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

Tales from the Tower, Volume 1: The Wilful Eye (302 pages) – six short stories by authors including Margaret Mahy, Margo Lanagan and Isobelle Carmody. The premise: each writer takes a classic fairytale and “casts their own spell upon it.” The results are stories for fairy tale enthusiasts who like their fairytales gritty and provocative, rather than happily ever after-ish.

First sentence (from ‘Catastrophic Disruption of the Head’ by Margo Lanagan): Who believes in his own death?

New Books Again

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

Non-fiction

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

Fiction

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

First sentence: This is how we got Zan.

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

First sentence: I want you to understand my brother.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best of 2010: Monty’s and Raewyn’s Picks

Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

Slightly epic fantasy ghost comic with nicely gruesome humour and characters you like – to be released as a film soon…

~ Monty

Geektastic : stories from the Nerd Herd

What happens when a Klingon wakes up in the morning next to a Jedi!? I mean they are the enemy – Star Trek versus Star Wars! “Once you’re a Jedi, you’re a Jedi all the way” is the first short story scenario in this anthology of funny stories of geeks.

~ Raewyn

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