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Tag: Vampires Page 1 of 5

Halloween countdown: werewolves and zombies and vampires, oh my!

We’ve all heard of Twilight. But perhaps it’s time to try something different…

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAfterlife with Archie, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla

I know what you’re thinking. Archie, wholesome hero of almost 77 years of comics set in the all-American town of Riverdale, fighting against the Undead? It’s a strange concept, but a concept that works. The art’s not the usually cartoony Archie style, which is also good. I don’t want to give the plot away, but it’s well worth a look.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPrincess Decomposia and Count Spatula, Andi Watson

This is a rather wacky take on your bog-standard supernatural romance. Princess Decomposia spends most of her life running the kingdom while her hypochondriac father lies in bed. On her to do list is to hire a new cook. Luckily, Count Spatula appears. He’s a charming chap with a knack for baking impressive meals. It’s hardly the most terrifying story of love between the undead, but Halloween is equally parts “treat” to “trick.”** A nice break from all the chewing on brains.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe forest of hands and teeth, Carrie Ryan

What happens ten years after the zombie apocalypse? Twenty? This book is set in an undefined period of time after the zombies – here called “Unconsecrated” – have apparently taken over the world. It’s a wonderful blend of horror and dystopia and a really great look at how humanity copes with the undead after the initial attack. It’s also an interesting coming of age story about a young woman struggling with the traditions she’s grown up with and the promise of a world outside all that she’s ever known.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe abused werewolf rescue group, Catherine Jinks

Tobias Richard Vandevelde begins his lycanthropic journey not howling under the moon on a deserted moor but naked in a dingo pen. After that rather inglorious start thing escalate, and the titular group comes into play. I’ve been a fan of Catherine Jinks for a long time, so I was pretty excited to find out she’d written something in my favourite genre. Fair warning, though: you won’t find handsome men with rippling abs brooding under the full moon in this book. Refreshing, really.

**It took me a long time to think of this sentence and I refuse to apologise for it.

My best picks for 2015

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThis year’s been a great year for graphic novels and horror, among other things. Here are my top ten picks for the best reads of 2015.

1) The singing bones, Shaun Tan

2) Baba Yaga’s assistant, Emily Carroll

3) Nimona, Noelle Stevenson

4) Part-time Princesses, Monica Gallagher

5) Gotham by midnight, Ray Fawkes and Ben Templesmith

6) Frozen Charlotte, Alex Bell

7) Calvin, Martine Leavitt

8) When Mr. Dog bites, Brian Conaghan

9) Our endless numbered days, Claire Fuller

10) Silver in the blood, Jessica Day George

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhat waits in the woods, Kieran Scott

It’s a beautiful, sunny day. Callie Velasquez holds hands with her boyfriend Jeremy as they follow Callie’s new BFFs Penelope and Lissa up the trail. The four friends are embarking on a camping trip — a trip that immediately goes awry. They lose their way on the trail, and encounter a charismatic stranger with questionable motives. And when Callie stumbles upon a dead body, it becomes clear that the danger that lies in the woods is deadlier than she could have ever imagined. Tensions mount and friendships are tested as these teenagers try to survive the most sinister of circumstances. (Goodreads)

First lines: There’s no question things could have gone differently out there in those woods. One zipper more tightly zipped, one foot more carefully placed on a rotting wood plank and I might not be here today. I might be roaming free instead of sitting locked up in this hole, sucky my every meal through a straw, staring at a padded wall.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWe all looked up, Tommy Wallach

Before the asteroid we let ourselves be defined by labels:The athlete, the outcast, the slacker, the overachiever. But then we all looked up and everything changed.
They said it would be here in two months. That gave us two months to leave our labels behind. Two months to become something bigger than what we’d been, something that would last even after the end. Two months to really live. (Goodreads)

First lines: “It’s not the end of the world,” Stacy said.
Peter looked down. He ‘d been staring vacantly at the sky, replaying his brief conversation with Mr. McArthur in his head. He still wasn’t sure of what to make of it.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBlack Dove, white raven, Elizabeth Wein

Emilia and Teo’s lives changed in a fiery, terrifying instant when a bird strike brought down the plane their stunt pilot mothers were flying. Teo’s mother died immediately, but Em’s survived, determined to raise Teo according to his late mother’s wishes-in a place where he won’t be discriminated against because of the color of his skin. But in 1930s America, a white woman raising a black adoptive son alongside a white daughter is too often seen as a threat. Seeking a home where her children won’t be held back by ethnicity or gender, Rhoda brings Em and Teo to Ethiopia, and all three fall in love with the beautiful, peaceful country. But that peace is shattered by the threat of war with Italy, and teenage Em and Teo are drawn into the conflict. Will their devotion to their country, its culture and people, and each other be their downfall or their salvation? (Goodreads)

First lines: Sindu told me I should aim for the sun. I still have a plane. There must be some way I can get Teo out safely. I think Momma’s hoard of Maria Theresa dollars is enough to pay for the travel. I am hoping my new passport is waiting for me in Addis Ababa. But Teo…Teo is trapped.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAlong the river, Adeline Yen Mah

After a fall, CC is whisked away to a hospital. As she drifts in and out of consciousness, she is haunted by vivid dreams that seem strange—yet somehow familiar. Thus begins CC’s emotional journey back to a privileged life lived eight hundred years ago during the Song dynasty. CC is the daughter of a wealthy and influential man, but she finds herself drawn to a poor orphan boy with a startling ability to capture the beauty of the natural world. As the relationship between these two young people deepens, the transforming power of art and romantic love comes into conflict with the immovable rules of Chinese society. (Goodreads)

First lines: CC first noticed the woman in black when she stopped at the spice booth to buy salt and soya sauce. The market was packed with people. They crowded the narrow aisles between the stalls, jostling each other and bargaining for better value.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA Court of thorns and roses, Sarah J. Maas

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world. As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

First lines: The forest had become a labyrinth of snow and ice. I’d been monitoring the parameters of the thicket for an hour, and my vantage point in the crook of a tree branch had turned useless. The gusting wind blew thick flurries to sweep away my tracks, but buried along with them any signs of potential quarry.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIn a split second, Sophie McKenzie

Charlie’s life is torn apart by a terrorist bomb in a London market. Months later, she meets Nat, whose family was devastated by the same explosion. But as Charlie gets closer to Nat she uncovers secrets and a whole cast of shady characters that lead her to believe Nat knows more about the attack than he is letting on. (Goodreads)

First lines: I glanced at my phone. It was almost 3pm. Three pm was when the bomb would go off. I raced along the street, my heart banging against my ribs. I had to find Lucas. Canal Street market. That’s what the text had said. That was where Lucas would be.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBoys don’t knit, T.S. Easton (Librarian’s choice)

Ben Fletcher must get to grips with his more ‘feminine’ side following an unfortunate incident with a lollipop lady and a stolen bottle of Martini Rosso from Waitrose. All a big misunderstanding of course. To avoid the Young Offenders unit, Ben is ordered to give something back to the community and develop his sense of social alignment. Take up a hobby and keep on the straight and narrow. The hot teacher he likes runs a knitting group so Ben, reluctantly at first, gets ‘stuck in’. Not easy when your dad is a sports fan and thinks Jeremy Clarkson is God. To his surprise, Ben finds that he likes knitting and that he has a mean competitive streak. If he can just keep it all a secret from his mates…and notice that the girl of his dreams, girl-next-door Megan Hooper has a bit of a thing for him…(Goodreads)

First lines: Mum and Dad are at it again. They’re doing that thing where they make food-based double entendres all the time, thinking it goes over our heads. It goes over Molly’s head; she’s only six and she never listens to Mum or Dad anyway.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSaint Anything, Sarah Dessen

Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident? Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time. (Goodreads)

First Lines: “Would the defendant please rise.”
This wasn’t an actual question, even though it sounded like one. I’d noticed that the first time we’d all been assembled here, in this way. Instead, it was a command, an order. The “please” was just for show.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRead between the lines, Jo Knowles

Thanks to a bully in gym class, unpopular Nate suffers a broken finger—the middle one, splinted to flip off the world. It won’t be the last time a middle finger is raised on this day. Dreamer Claire envisions herself sitting in an artsy café, filling a journal, but fate has other plans. One cheerleader dates a closeted basketball star; another questions just how, as a “big girl,” she fits in. A group of boys scam drivers for beer money without remorse—or so it seems. Over the course of a single day, these voices and others speak loud and clear about the complex dance that is life in a small town. They resonate in a gritty and unflinching portrayal of a day like any other, with ordinary traumas, heartbreak, and revenge. But on any given day, the line where presentation and perception meet is a tenuous one, so hard to discern. Unless, of course, one looks a little closer—and reads between the lines. (Goodreads)

First lines: I step out of the mass of stinking bodies and get ready to catch the ball.
“Granger’s open!” someone yells.
Ben Mead has it. He pivots on one foot, trying to find an opening among the hands blocking his vision. He sees me and pauses doubtfully, then looks around for someone else. Anyone else.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFooter Davis is probably crazy, Susan Vaught (Librarian’s choice)

“Bless your heart” is a saying in the South that sounds nice but really isn’t. It means, “You’re beyond help.” That’s what folks say about fifth grader Footer Davis’s mom, who “ain’t right” because of her bipolar disorder. She just shot a snake in Footer’s yard with an elephant gun, and now she’s been shipped off to a mental hospital, and Footer is missing her fiercely yet again.
“Bless their hearts” is also what folks say about Cissy and Doc Abrams, two kids who went missing after a house fire. Footer wants to be a journalist and her friend Peavine wants to be a detective, so the two decide to help with the mystery of the missing kids. But when visiting the crime scene makes Footer begin to have “episodes” of her own, she wonders if maybe she’s getting sick like her mom, and that’s a mystery that she’s not at all sure she wants to solve. (Goodreads)

First lines: The day my mother exploded a copperhead snake with an elephant gun, I decided I was genetically destined to become a felon or a big-game hunter. That was good, since I had tried being a ballerina, poet, artist and musician, and I sucked at all of those.

Graphic Novels

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPart-time Princesses, Monica Gallagher (Librarian’s Choice)

Working as costumed princesses at the local amusement park is a nice gig, but it’s not what Courtney, Amber, Tiffany, and Michelle want to do with their lives. These queens of high school have their own plans for life post-graduation, and they do not involve fixed games and fried pickles. But when all their plans fall apart, what are the girls to do? Left with no other options, they decide to keep their part-time jobs as princesses–for the moment. But even that plan is threatening to fall apart, thanks to the sudden and increasing muggings plaguing the park and chasing away customers. With their back-up jobs in peril, the girls have no choice but to take matters into their own hands and fight back. But the more they work to save the park, the more their part-time jobs become full-time, and the more their carefully-planned futures get pushed to the wayside. Will these princesses ever get their lives back on track?
Will they even want to? (Goodreads)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPrincess Decomposia and Count Spatula, Andi Watson (Librarian’s choice)

Princess Decomposia is overworked and underappreciated. This princess of the underworld has plenty of her own work to do but always seems to find herself doing her layabout father’s job, as well. The king doesn’t feel quite well, you see. Ever. So the princess is left scurrying through the halls, dodging her mummy, werewolf, and ghost subjects, always running behind and always buried under a ton of paperwork. Oh, and her father just fired the chef, so now she has to hire a new cook as well. Luckily for Princess Decomposia, she makes a good hire in Count Spatula, the vampire chef with a sweet tooth. He’s a charming go-getter of a blood-sucker, and pretty soon the two young ghouls become friends. And then…more than friends? Maybe eventually, but first Princess Decomposia has to sort out her life. And with Count Spatula at her side, you can be sure she’ll succeed. (Goodreads)

New fiction

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFar from you, Tess Sharpe

Nine months. Two weeks. Six days.
That’s how long recovering addict Sophie’s been drug-free. Four months ago her best friend, Mina, died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong – a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered. Forced into rehab for an addiction she’d already beaten, Sophie’s finally out and on the trail of the killer – but can she track them down before they come for her? (Goodreads)

First lines: It doesn’t start here. You think it would: two terrified girls in the middle of nowhere, cowering together, eyes bulging at the gun in his hand. But it doesn’t start here. It starts the first time I almost die.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe sowing, Steven Dos Santos

Lucian “Lucky” Spark leads a double life. By day, he trains to become one of the Establishment elite. At night, he sabotages his oppressors from within, seeking to avenge the murder of his love, Digory Tycho, and rescue his imprisoned brother. But when he embarks on a risky plot to assassinate members of the Establishment hierarchy, Lucky is thrust into the war between the Establishment and the rebellion, where the lines between friend and foe are blurred beyond recognition. His only chance for survival lies in facing the secrets of the Sowing, a mystery rooted in the ashes of the apocalyptic past that threatens to destroy Lucky’s last hope for the future.(Goodreads)

First lines: I squint through my protective goggles against the maelstrom of swirling sand and blinding neon lights closing in on either side of me, trying to crush me in their rainbow vise. This is it. The Avenue of Longing. Home of the Pleasure Emporiums, the place where every appetite can be satisfied-for a steep price.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe vigilante poets of Selwyn Academy, Kate Hattemer

Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art’s Sake, that is being filmed at their high school, the esteemed Selwyn Arts Academy, where each student is more talented than the next. While studying Ezra Pound in English class, the friends are inspired to write a vigilante long poem and distribute it to the student body, detailing the evils of For Art’s Sake. But then Luke—the creative force behind the poem and leader of the anti-show movement—becomes a contestant on the nefarious show. It’s up to Ethan, his two remaining best friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save their school. Along the way, they’ll discover a web of secrets and corruption involving the principal, vice principal, and even their favorite teacher.(Goodreads)

First lines: Just call me Ethan. You’re reading this first, but I’m writing it last. I;m at a corner table in this low-rent Starbucks a few blocks from my house. I had planned to write this on the living room couch, but I have triplet sisters and they are four years old.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe winter horses, Philip Kerr

It will soon be another cold winter in the Ukraine. But it’s 1941, and things are different this year. Max, the devoted caretaker of an animal preserve, must learn to live with the Nazis who have overtaken this precious land. He must also learn to keep secrets-for there is a girl, Kalinka, who is hiding in the park. Kalinka has lost her home, her family, her belongings-everything but her life. Still, she has gained one small, precious gift: a relationship with the rare wild and wily Przewalski’s horses that wander the preserve. Aside from Max, these endangered animals are her only friends-until a Nazi campaign of extermination nearly wipes them out for good. Now Kalinka must set out on a treacherous journey across the frozen Ukrainian forest to save the only two surviving horses-and herself.(Goodreads)

First lines: Much of this old story has been gathered together like the many fragments of a broken vase. The pieces do not always fit as best they might, and indeed it’s quite possible that several of them do not belong here at all.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMystic City, Theo Lawrence

Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City’s two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents’ sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud – and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths.
But Aria doesn’t remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can’t conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place. Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection – and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city – including herself.(Goodreads)

First lines: So little time is left.
“Take this.” He folds the locket into my hand. It throbs as if it has a pulse, giving off a faint white glow. “I’m sorry for putting you in danger.”
“I would do it all again,” I tell him. “A thousand times.”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe caller, Juliet Marillier

Neryn has made a long journey to perfect her skills as a Caller. She has learned the wisdom of water and of earth; she has journeyed to the remote isles of the west and the forbidding mountains of the north. Now, Neryn must travel in Alban’s freezing winter to seek the mysterious White Lady, Guardian of Air. For only when Neryn has been trained by all four Guardians will she be ready to play her role in toppling the tyrannical King Keldec. But the White Lady is not what she seems. Trapped with Whisper, her fey protector, Neryn is unable to send word to her beloved Flint, who is in danger of being exposed as a double agent. When a new threat looms and the rebellion is in jeopardy, Neryn must enter Keldec’s court, where one false move could see her culled. She must stand up against forces more powerful than any she has confronted before, and face losses that could break her heart.(Goodreads)

First lines: Done. He was done. No more lies; no more acts of blind savagery; no longer any need to pretend he was Keldec’s loyal retainer. His precarious double life as Enforcer and rebel spy was over. He had turned his back on it, and he was going home.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPredator’s Gold, Philip Reeve

Tom and Hester are in danger. Pursued by the grim aviators of the Green Storm, they stumble onto the ice city of Anchorage just in time. But Anchorage is not a safe refuge: devastated by plague and haunted by thieves or ghosts, the city is barely lurching along. And savage Huntsmen are closing in. Surrounded by danger, Tom and Hester struggle as jealousy threatens to destroy them and the city. In a desperate bid for survival, the young ruler of Anchorage sets a course for the Dead Continent: America. (Goodreads)

First lines: Freya woke early and lay for a while in the dark, feeling her city shiver and sway beneath her as its powerful engines sent it skimming across the ice. Sleepily, she waited for her servants to come and help her out of bed. It took her a few moments to remember that they were all dead.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSearching for Sky, Jillian Cantor

Sky and River have always lived on Island, the only world they’ve ever known. Until the day River spots a boat. Across Ocean, in a place called California, Sky is separated from River and forced to live with a grandmother she’s just met. Here the rules for survival are different. People rely on strange things like cars and cell phones. They keep secrets from one another. And without River, nothing makes sense. Sky yearns for her old life where she was strong and capable, not lost and confused. She must find River so they can return to Island, but the truth behind how they ended up there in the first place will come as the biggest shock of all. (Goodreads)

First lines: On the afternoon of my sixteenth birthday, River spears a fish. “Happy birthday,” he says, and he’s grinning as he holds the fish out in front of me. It is large, the length of River’s outstretched arms, and I’m both surprised and impressed by the size of his catch.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe slayer chronicles: Second chance, Heather Brewer

The summer after Joss failed to kill the vampire Vladimir Tod, he gets a second chance to prove himself as a Slayer. He is sent to New York City to hunt down a serial killer that the Slayer Society believes is a vampire. It is up to Joss to lead his Slayer team, and through their detective work, they discover that there are actually four vampire brothers who are on the killing rampage. Joss must use all his skill to save the innocent people of New York City from the murderers. Joss’s status as a Slayer depends on it. (Goodreads)

First lines: Kilian whipped around the corner of the building, his long hair flowing behind him, his coat billowing in the wind. His heart beat steadily in an unhurried pace. His breaths came even and smooth. But Kilian was terrified and didn’t know where to go, or who could possibly help him.

New Fiction

nullThe year of the rat, Clare Furniss (305 pages)
The world can tip at any moment…a fact that fifteen-year-old Pearl is all too aware of when her mom dies after giving birth to her baby sister, Rose. Rose, who looks exactly like a baby rat, all pink, wrinkled, and writhing. This little Rat has destroyed everything, even ruined the wonderful relationship that Pearl had with her stepfather, the Rat’s biological father.Mom, though…Mom’s dead but she can’t seem to leave. She keeps visiting Pearl. Smoking, cursing, guiding. Told across the year following her mother’s death, Pearl’s story is full of bittersweet humor and heartbreaking honesty about how you deal with grief that cuts you to the bone, as she tries not only to come to terms with losing her mother, but also the fact that her sister—The Rat—is a constant reminder of why her mom is no longer around. (Goodreads)

First lines: The traffic light glows red through the rainy windscreen, blurred, clear, blurred again, as the wipers swish to and fro. Below it, in front of us, is the hearse. I try not to look at it.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTorn away, Jennifer Brown (276 pages) Born and raised in the Midwest, Jersey Cameron knows all about tornadoes. Or so she thinks. When her town is devastated by a twister, Jersey survives — but loses her mother, her young sister, and her home. As she struggles to overcome her grief, she’s sent to live with her only surviving relatives: first her biological father, then her estranged grandparents. In an unfamiliar place, Jersey faces a reality she’s never considered before — one in which her mother wasn’t perfect, and neither were her grandparents, but they all loved her just the same. Together, they create a new definition of family. And that’s something no tornado can touch. (Goodreads)

First lines: Marin wanted to teach me the East Coast Swing. It was pretty much her only goal in life. She was constantly pulling on my arms or standing in front of the TV, her hands on her square little hips, sparkle nail polish glinting and ratty rose-colored tutu quivering.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAfter the end, Amy Plum (322 pages)World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They’ve survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there. At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.
When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie. Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she’s trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past. (Goodreads)

First lines: I crouch low to the ground, pressing my back to the ancient spruce tree, and raise my crossbow in one hand. Keeping my eye on the precious shard of mirror embedded in my weapon, I inch it out from behind the tree. In the reflection, I spot something moving behind a cedar across the snowy clearing.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTake me on, Katie McGarry (455 pages)Champion kickboxer Haley swore she’d never set foot in the ring again after one tragic night. But then the guy she can’t stop thinking about accepts a mixed martial arts fight in her honor. Suddenly, Haley has to train West Young. All attitude, West is everything Haley promised herself she’d stay away from. Yet he won’t last five seconds in the ring without her help. West is keeping a big secret from Haley. About who he really is. But helping her-fighting for her-is a shot at redemption. Especially since it’s his fault his family is falling apart. He can’t change the past, but maybe he can change Haley’s future. Hayley and West have agreed to keep their relationship strictly in the ring. But as an unexpected bond forms between them and attraction mocks their best intentions, they’ll face their darkest fears and discover love is worth fighting for. (Goodreads)

First lines: A door squeaks open at the far end of the barren hallway and the clicking of high heels echoes off the row of mteal post-office boxes. I attempt to appear causual as I flip through the mail. All of it leftovers from our previous life: my brother’s mixed martial arts magazine, an American Girl doll catalog for my sister, another seed and gardening catalog for my mother. Collection notices for my father.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDangerous creatures, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (327 pages)Ridley Duchannes will be the first to tell you that she’s a bad girl. She’s Dark. She’s a Siren. You can never trust her, or even yourself when she’s around. Lucky for her, Wesley “Link” Lincoln can never seem to remember that; quarter Incubus or not, his heart is Mortal when it comes to Ridley. When Link heads to New York City to start a music career, Ridley goes along for the ride-and she has her own reasons. As if leaving small-town Gatlin for the big city, trying to form a band, and surviving life with a partially reformed Siren isn’t hard enough already, Link soon learns he has a price on his head that no Caster or Mortal can ever pay. (Goodreads)

First lines: There are only two kinds of Mortals in the backwater town of Gatlin, South Carolina-the stupid and the stuck. At least, that’s what they sat. As if there are any kinds of Mortals anywhere else. Please. Luckily, there’s only one kind of Siren no matter where you go in this world or the Otherworld.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMoon at Nine, Deborah Ellis (214 pages)Fifteen-year-old Farrin has many secrets. Although she goes to a school for gifted girls in Tehran, as the daughter of an aristocratic mother and wealthy father, Farrin must keep a low profile. It is 1988; ever since the Shah was overthrown, the deeply conservative and religious government controls every facet of life in Iran. If the Revolutionary Guard finds out about her mother’s Bring Back the Shah activities, her family could be thrown in jail, or worse.
The day she meets Sadira, Farrin’s life changes forever. Sadira is funny, wise, and outgoing; the two girls become inseparable. But as their friendship deepens into romance, the relationship takes a dangerous turn. It is against the law to be gay in Iran; the punishment is death. Despite their efforts to keep their love secret, the girls are discovered and arrested. Separated from Sadira, Farrin can only pray as she awaits execution. Will her family find a way to save them both? (Goodreads)

First lines: Ancient demons roam an ancient land. They dwell in the valleys of lurk in the mountains. They hide among the grains of sand and sleep beside the scorpions. They watch the humans go on about their insignificant business 0 shopping in the markets, heeding the call to prayer, taking care of their children. The humans are busy. The demons go unnoticed.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe other side of nowhere, Steve Johnson (209 pages)When Johnno and his friends survive the freak storm that rips apart their yacht, they’re just glad to be alive. That is, until reality hits: they’ve washed up on an uninhabited island with few supplies, no phone and no way to get home. The situation becomes even more desperate when the four teenagers discover they are not alone on the island. There’s a hideout where men with guns are covering up a dark secret that they will protect at any cost. With nowhere to run, Johnno and his friends are forced into a dangerous game with the criminals as they fight to save one of their own. (Goodreads)

First lines: “Matty?” I puffed. “You still alive back there?” I could see him out of the corner of my eye, his head down and tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth. “Course I am,” he wheezed back, “Doing better than you.”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Minnow, Diana Sweeny (263 pages)Tom survived a devastating flood that claimed the lives of her sister and parents. Now she lives with Bill in his old shed by the lake. But it’s time to move out—Tom is pregnant with Bill’s baby. Jonah lets her move in with him. Mrs Peck gives her the Fishmaster Super Series tackle box. Nana is full of gentle good advice and useful sayings. And in her longing for what is lost, Tom talks to fish: Oscar the carp in the pet shop, little Sarah catfish who might be her sister, an unhelpful turtle in a tank at the maternity ward. And the minnow. (Goodreads)

First lines: “I think Bill is in love with Mrs. Peck,” I confide to an undersized blue swimmer crab that has become all tangled up in my line. The little crab doesn’t appear to be the slightest bit interested, so I finish pulling it free and toss it over the side of Bill’s dinghy.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsZero Hour, Will Hill (700 pages)When Jamie Carpenter’s mother is kidnapped by strange creatures, he finds himself dragged into Department 19, the government’s most secret agency.
Fortunately for Jamie, Department 19 can provide the tools he needs to find his mother, and to kill the vampires who want him dead. But unfortunately for everyone, something much older is stirring, something even Department 19 can’t stand up against…(Goodreads)

First lines: Eight black-clad Operators made their way silently over the lip of the canyon, spacing themselves evenly out along the length of the ridge. They bristled with weaponry, although not the kind they were used to carrying; they wore no stakes on their belts, no ultraviolet grenades or beam guns, no T-Bones.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsShadows, Paula Weston (387 pages)It’s almost a year since Gaby Winters was in the car crash that killed her twin brother, Jude. Her body has healed in the sunshine of Pandanus Beach, but her grief is raw and constant. It doesn’t help that every night in her dreams she kills demons and other hell-spawn.
And then Rafa comes to town. Not only does he look exactly like the guy who’s been appearing in Gaby’s dreams—he claims a history with her brother that makes no sense. Gaby is forced to accept that what she thought she knew about herself and her life is only a shadow of the truth—and that the truth is more likely to be found in the shadows of her nightmares. Who is Rafa? Who are the Rephaim? And most importantly, who can she trust?(Goodreads)

First lines: I’m running along the boardwalk, wind and sand stinging my arms. It’s after work and I have the track to myself. A handful of surfers are battling the choppy waves, and the Williamsons are walking on the beach like they do every morning in their matching sports gear and orthopedic shoes. Their silver heads are bowed against the wind, but they’re still holding hands. It makes me feel emptier than usual.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMy brother’s keeper, Tom and Tony Bradman (106 pages) Alfie signs up for the army aged just 15, carried away by patriotic fervour at the start of the Great War. But life in the trenches is very far from his dreams of glory. It’s hard, and cold, and it’s boring. Alfie is desperate to see some action. But when he volunteers for a raid on the German trenches, against the advice of his comrades, Alfie begins to understand what war means, and to see the value of the lives that are being thrown away on the Western Front every day…(Goodreads)

First lines: Alfie Barnes peered into the darkness shrouding no-man’s land and wished he were taller. Like the rest of the men in his section he was in position on the trench’s fire-step, but he could only just get his head up to the level of the sandbagged parapet.

Looking forward to:

A bit of this, bit of that:

The Gladiator series by Simon Scarrow. The series is (so far): Fight for Freedom, Street Fighter, and Son of Spartacus. They tell the story of Marcus Cornelius Primus, a young gladiator determined to find justice for the crimes against his family. Julius Caesar makes an appearance also. Have to say, Roman names are awesome.

   

The Prey, Andrew Fukuda (February/March) – “For Gene and the remaining humans – or hepers – death is just a heartbeat away. On the run and hunted by society, they must find a way to survive in The Vast… and avoid the hungry predators tracking them in the dark. But they’re not the only things following Gene. He’s haunted by the girl he left behind and his burgeoning feelings for Sissy, the human girl at his side. When they discover a refuge of exiled humans living high in the mountains, Gene and his friends think they’re finally safe. Led by a group of intensely secretive elders, the civilisation begins to raise more questions than answers. A strict code of behaviour is the rule, harsh punishments are meted out, young men are nowhere to be found – and Gene begins to wonder if the world they’ve entered is just as evil as the one they left behind. As life at the refuge grows more perilous, he and Sissy only grow closer. In an increasingly violent world, all they have is each other… if they can only stay alive.” (goodreads.com)

The Eternity Cure, Julie Kagawa (April) – sequel to The Immortal Rules. “Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning – New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally. Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.” (goodreads.com)

New Books

Bound, by Erica O’Rourke (353 pages) – This is the third book in the Torn series. Wow have you ever thought that there are so many series in teen fiction? This one is about mortals and magic, and Mo Fitzgerald, who has to choose between the two worlds or else lose everything and everyone.

First lines: ‘The problem with terrible ideas is that the people who have them don’t recognize how truly awful they are until it’s too late. After all, nobody deliberately chooses the worst possible course of action.

Stormdancer : The Lotus War book one, by Jay Kristoff (324 pages) – Well here it is! Feudal Japanese steampunk. Yukiko, the book’s heroine, and her flightless griffin pal must take on the Shogun and his empire. There are also chainsaw swords in this book, a little blurb tells me.

First line: ‘As the iron war club scythed toward her head, Yukiko could help wishing she’d listened to her father. She rolled aside as her cover was smashed to kindling, azalea petals drifting over the oni’s shoulders like perfumed snowflakes.

Bitter Blood : The Morganville Vampires book 13, by Rachel Caine (538 pages) – For ages vampires and humans have co-existed in Morganville, getting up to at least twelve books-worth of adventure and intrigue. Now that the draug – the creatures that kept the vampires in check – have been defeated, the vampires are becoming a little excessive, and the humans want to fight back! Also a reality television show threatens to reveal all to the world.

First lines: ‘Morganville, Texas, isn’t like other towns. Oh, it’s small, dusty, and ordinary, in most ways, but the thing is, there are these – well, let’s not be shy about it. Vampires.’

Break My Heart 1,000 Times, by Daniel Waters (342 pages) – After the Event, everyone could see ghosts. Creepy! Man. Veronica sees the ghost of a teenaged boy in her mirror each morning, but isn’t too worried. However, the ghosts seem to becoming more powerful, and Veronica and chum Kirk uncover a creepier plot of their teacher, whose dead daughter hasn’t come back; he’s now convinced that by killing a living host (i.e., Veronica) his kid might resurface.

First lines: ‘I walk through walls. I whisper at the window when I watch her leave our home. I flicker at the edges of my own memory.

Rivals and Retribution : A 13 to Life Novel, by Shannon Delany (308 pages) – This is the conclusion (and book number five) to the 13 to Life series, about two werewolf families battling it out for the town of Junction. It receives what they call ‘mixed reviews’ on Goodreads, now accessible directly through the library catalogue! Handy

First line: ‘The girl enters the barn, slipping between hay bales and a stack of buckets.

Butter, by Erin Jade Lange (296 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Butter is morbidly obese, and feels alone. So he gets a website – butterslastmeal.com – and decides that he will broadcast his own death by over-eating. As he carries out his (somewhat macabre) plan he discovers that the attention he receiving, though not exactly positive, feels like popularity, and as the deadline approaches, does he still want to go through with it? Very tense with an amazing character is what I distill from the reviews I just read.

First lines: ‘Most people would say the website is where this wild ride began. But for me is started two days earlier, on a Tuesday night in front of the TV in my living room.

Passenger, by Andrew Smith (465 pages) – This is a sequel to The Marbury Lens, about a pair of boys who run away to London and find a lens that transports them to an war-stricken alternate reality. Now they try to destroy the lens, but there is an evil that won’t let them run away so easily, especially when it has their friends. Full of coolness.

First lines: ‘This is it. Of course it wasn’t over. Things like this never end. It has been two and a half months since Freddie Horvath kidnapped some dumb kid who was too drunk to find his way home.

Unwholly, by Neal Shusterman (402 pages) – Book one of the Unwind trilogy. Here is book one! Teens can be harvested – ‘unwound’ – for body parts, which is of course not ideal, but it is the future and it is dystopian. Thrilling, affecting, and really good, I reckon, after skimming through Goodreads.

First line: ‘He’s fighting a nightmare when they come for him. A great flood is swallowing the world, and in the middle of the it all, he’s being mauled by a bear.

For Darkness Shows the Stars, by Diana Peterfreund (407 pages) – This is a sci-fi post-apocalyptic romance strongly inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion. FINALLY. Elliot North reunites with Kai, the boy she loved but refused to elope with, when she’s forced to rent land from the mysterious Cloud Feet group to which he now belongs. He’s got secrets! He’s also kind of unpleasant, but it’s justified (because of the secrets).

First lines: ‘Elliot North raced across the pasture, leaving a scar of green in the silver, dew-encrusted grass. Jeff followed, tripping a bit as his feet slid inside his too-big shoes.

Ashen Winter, by Mike Mullin (576 pages) – This is set in the US, six months after the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupted, as depicted in the first book, Ashfall. (You know that part in that film 2012 when Yellowstone explodes? Well there actually is a supervolcano there! There is one under Taupo and 26,000 years ago it plunged the earth into a volcanic winter and invented pumice.) So in this book, Yellowstone has gone up and the country is pretty post-apocalyptic; protaganist Alex must return to Iowa to find his parents.

First line: ‘Ten months had passed since I’d last seen the sun. The rich blue of that final August sky was fading from my memory.

Son, by Lois Lowry (393 pages) – The conclusion the series begun in The Giver. It is a utopian future! But, sadly, it comes with a heavy cost; a society where regimented eugenics dictates almost every aspect of interpersonal interactions. In this book, Claire, who’d been a Vessel, can not forget her son. She is desperate to get him back, and will stop at nothing to do so.

First lines: ‘The young girl cringed when the buckled the eyeless leather mask around the upper half of her face and blinded her. It felt grotesque and unnecessary, but she didn’t object. It was the procedure.‘ 

Vessel, by Sarah Beth Durst (424 pages) – Liyana’s reason to be is to become the vessel for her tribe’s goddess; she will dance and summon the goddess, who will then bring the rain that her people desperately need. However! It doesn’t work, and Liyana is exiled. She meets a boy reportedly possessed by the trickster god, Korbyn, who seeks Liyana’s help to find five other vessels; the gods are going missing, and they’re needed.

First lines: ‘On the day she was to die, Liyana walked out of her family’s tent to see the dawn. She buried her toes in the sand, cold from the night, and she wrapped her father’s goatskin cloak tight around her shoulders.

New Books

The Voyage of the Unquiet Ice, by Andrew McHagan (384 pages) – This is book two of the Ship Kings series. I haven’t read the first one, sorry! You should though. BECAUSE. In this volume, Dow Amber has at last a ship, but he does he – an outsider! – belong with the Ship Kings? Also he has to travel to the frozen north to save the empire from rebellion and treachery.

First line: ‘In the beginning – at least as Ship Kings scholars would tell the tale – there was only inhabitated land in all the world, and that was Great Island.

The Girl with Borrowed Wings, by Rinsai Rossetti (290 pages) – Frenenqer Paje feels trapped by the desert she lives in, and the rules set by her father. She meets a boy who happened to be a shapechanger – a ‘Free’ – who has no obligations and not attachments. He shows her the freedom she wants and is that a little romance? Why yes, the blurb seems to hint at it.

First line: ‘I am unlike most other people because I began, not in the body of my mother, but in the brain of my father.

Oblivion, by Anthony Horowitz (667 pages) – This is book five (and the last book!) in the Power of Five series. It has a lot of pages! Just over 666, which would sort of seem appropriate as it’s about earth getting (almost) destroyed by the powers of darkness. There’s an app you can download that makes the cover ‘come alive’ when you hold your cellular telephone in front of it. I am trying it! Well hey that’s pretty cool

First lines: ‘It was the week before my sixteenth birthday when the boy fell out of the door and eveything changed. Is that a good start? Miss Keyland, who taught me at the village school, used to say that you have to reach out and grab the reader with the first sentence.

The Paladin Prophecy, by Mark Frost (549 pages) – This is the first in a series. Will West has always been encouraged by his parents to NOT do his best but to stay in the middle of his class. When he mistakenly reveals that he’s some kind of genius he is recruited by a secret organisation with super technology, and he begins to notices that men in dark hats and cars are following him and his family everywhere. Also there is a centuries-old war between secret societies that he’s now a part of, alarmingly. 

First line: ‘“The Importance of an Orderly Mind” – Will West began each day with that thought even before he opened his eyes. When he did open them, the same words greeted him on a banner across his bedroom wall: “#1: THE IMPORTANCE OF AN ORDERLY MIND.”

Deadwater Lane, by Stephen Barker (290 pages) – When Christopher (Christo) was younger he was in a car accident that killed an elderly man and left him with a slight brain injury that has reduced his memory. He also got blamed, and as part of his community service he must help a lonely old man. His best friend has betrayed him with his girlfriend and so Christo seeks revenge (inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo). The best revenge is classical, usually.

First lines: ‘When I think back carefully I can see now that Ferdy was smiling. The dash threw up an eerie blue light and I remember a cold twinkle in his eyes as the grin began to spread across his face; teeth picked out ultra-white amongst purple shadows.

The Crimson Crown : A Seven Realms Novel, by Cinda Williams Chima (598 pages) – This is the last book in the series. Which is just as well because 1. you can read them all now and  be satisfied with a conclusion, and 2. we are literally running out of room on the shelves to accomodate them. They are big books! So, 3. imagine relaxing on a beach (or wherever) while on holiday reading them. Don’t get sand in them though.

First lines: ‘It was the largest gathering of the Spirit clans Raisa had ever seen. They came from all over the Fells – from Demonai Camp to the west, from Hunter’s Camp to the east, and from the rugged northern reaches and the river valleys near the West Wall.’

Dustlands : Rebel Heart, by Moira Young (424 pages) – This is book two in the Dustlands trilogy, and is, according to the cover, better than The Hunger Games. Truly a claim to test (by reading them all). Anyway, here’s the synopsis from Amazon: ‘Saba has rescued her kidnapped brother and defeated the fanatical Tonton. But the price to be paid for her violent victory is terible. Jack has disappeared – and can no longer be trusted. A new and formidable enemy is on the rise in the dustlands. No one is safe. And Saba must confront the terrible secret hidden in the darkest depths of her soul.’

First lines: ‘It’s late afternoon. Since morning, the trail’s been following a line of light towers. That is, the iron remains of what used to be light towers, way back in the Wrecker days, time out of mind.

Zom-B, by Darren Shan (217 pages) – B. Smith has a racist dad, nightmares about killer babies, and a lot of other things to deal with. He finds it easier to agree with his father, rather than argue, especially since his dad is abusive as well as a bigot. However, when there’s a zombie apocalypse, and B’s school is attacked, B must ally himself with anyone he can if he wants to survive. Serious real-world issues + addition of supernatural gore, and the first in a series (of three I think).

First line: ‘It was the darkest, most wretched hour of the night when the dead came back to life and spread like a plgue of monstrous locusts through the village of Pallaskenry.

Cuttlefish, by Dave Freer (299 pages) – This is alternative-history fiction! And I leave it to the catalogue to explain. ‘In an alternate 1976 dominated by coal power and the British Empire, Clara Calland and her mother, an important scientist, embark on a treacherous journey toward freedom in Westralia aboard a smugglers’ submarine, the Cuttlefish, pursued by Menshevik spies and Imperial soldiers.’

First lines: ‘It was after midnight, and London’s lights shimmered on the waters that had once been her streets. Something dark moved down there, in the murky depths.’

Poison Tree, by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (219 pages) – Might copy & paste this one as well, since its blurb is pretty oblique and difficult to summarise: ‘Alysia has quickly moved to a position of responsibility in SingleEarth, working among shapeshifters and witches who fight against vampires, but she is hiding secret alliances that could put her fellow mediators at risk.’

First lines: ‘There was blood on her hands, congealing slowly. The body in her arms was cold, its once-vibrant cheer forever vanished from the world.

Starstruck, by Lauren Conrad (293 pages) – The latest Fame Game novel, about a bunch of people in Hollywood who star in a reality show about a bunch of people in Hollywood, written by someone who was in a (slightly-scripted, apparently?) reality show about a bunch of people in Hollywood. So somewhat authentic. In this book Madison does time, Kate has a hit single, and Carmen is overshadowed by her mother.

First line: ‘Madison Parker stood in the echoing marble foyer of the Beverly Hills Courthouse, her back pressed against the wall and he purse clutched tightly in her freshly manicured fingers.

Shadows, by Ilsa J. Bick (518 pages) – Book two of the Ashes trilogy. An apocalyptic thriller full of horror and gore and a love triangle, according to (the somewhat mixed) reviews on Amazon.com. If that sounds like your cup of tea, read the first book, er, first.

First line: ‘FUBAR: that was Jed’s name for it. Once a Marine, always a Marine. He didn’t know what to call the kids. Some said zombies, but that wasn’t right.

Yesterday, by C. K. Kelly Martin (355 pages) – This is about sixteen-year-old Freya Kallas, who lives in a future (2063) where climate change has left the world a bit of a dystopic nightmare. It is also about a Freya Kallas who lives in Toronto in 1985 and whose memory is a bit fuzzy. If that makes sense? To explain further might spoil things! Noooo

First line: ‘When I’ve wailed for so long and so hard that my throat is in shreds and my fingernails ripped and fingertips bloody from clawing at the door, I collapse in front of it curled up like a dead cat I saw on an otherwise spotless sidewalk as a child once.

Black Spring, by Alison Croggan (286 pages) – This story is inpired by Wuthering Heights, which is, if you’ve not read it, a gothic classic. However, this has – judging from the cover’s synopsis  –  witchcraft thrown in to make it even more gothic. Gothicky? You know.

First line (I wanted to add the excellent second line but it’s too long): ‘After the last long winter, I needed to get as far away from the city as I possibly could.

Breaking Dawn Part 2: Mini Clips

Hard to imagine, but after next month there will be no more Twilight movie trailers ever. Until then, here’s a couple of little jigsaw pieces of clips of Breaking Dawn Part 2:

 And here:

 

Cute.

Breaking Dawn Part 2 opens in theatres in the middle of next month.

Waiting on Wednesday on Friday

Stephanie’s been ordering up a storm: here’s a couple of new interesting titles you might like to reserve. Zombies and vampires, oh my! (More next Wednesday.)

Team Human, Justine Larbalastier and Sarah Rees Brennan. This is a spoof, obviously, but reviewers say it’s an affectionate spoof, from the authors of Liar, and The Demon’s Lexicon:

“Just because Mel lives in New Whitby, a city founded by vampires, doesn’t mean she knows any of the blood-drinking undead personally. They stay in their part of town; she says in hers. Until the day a vampire shows up at her high school. Worse yet, her best friend, Cathy, seems to be falling in love with him. It’s up to Mel to save Cathy from a mistake she might regret for all eternity.

“On top of trying to help Cathy (whether she wants it or not), Mel is investigating a mysterious disappearance for another friend and discovering the attractions of a certain vampire wannabe. Combine all this with a cranky vampire cop, a number of unlikely romantic entanglements, and the occasional zombie, and soon Mel is hip-deep in an adventure that is equal parts hilarious and touching.” (goodreads.com)

This Is Not a Test, Courtney Summers. Brace yourself: Courtney Summers, queen of gritty stories, does the zombie apocalypse (that is a blood spatter top left of the book cover):

“It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self.

“To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.

“But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside.

“When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?” (goodreads.com)

Waiting on Wednesday

This week we look forward to: two books in which vampires are wrecking the future, and one about celebrity pregnant twins. Reserve them if they grab your interest!

The Hunt, Andrew Fukuda – this sounds really interesting: it’s been described as like a vampire version of the Hunger Games. I know!

“Seventeen-year-old Gene struggles to survive in a society where humans have been eaten to near extinction by the general population. When Gene is chosen to participate in the government-sponsored hunt for the remaining humans, he must learn the art of the hunt but also elude his fellow hunters whose suspicions about his true human nature are growing… ” (author’s website)

Thanks Steph for the recommendation! And on the subject of futuristic vampires:

The Immortal Rules, Julie Kagawa – “In a future world, vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity. Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked-and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters. Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad…” (from the Syndetics summary)

Thumped, Megan McCafferty – the sequel to Bumped. “It’s been thirty-five weeks since twin sisters Harmony and Melody went their separate ways. And now their story has become irresistible: twins separated at birth, each due to deliver twins…on the same day! Married to Ram and living in Goodside, Harmony spends her time trying to fit back into the community she once believed in. But she can’t forget about Jondoe, the guy she fell for under the strangest of circumstances. To her adoring fans, Melody has achieved everything: a major contract and a coupling with the hottest bump prospect around. But this image is costing her the one guy she really wants. The girls’ every move is analyzed by millions of fans eagerly counting down to “Double Double Due Date.” They’re two of the most powerful teen girls on the planet, and they could do only one thing to make them even more famous: Tell the truth.” (author’s website)

Waiting on Wednesday

Here are some interesting titles we’ve ordered recently.

15 Days Without a Head, Dave Cousins. Laurence lives with his six year old brother Jay, and his alcoholic mother. One day his mother doesn’t come home from work, and Laurence is left to care for himself and his brother, fearing that their predicament will be discovered, and they will be separated. Happily, Laurence discovers a friend in Mina, who is keen to help him track down his mum. The author’s blog is here.

Starters, Lissa Price. Years ago (although still in the future) a killer bug (deliberately spread) wiped out anyone who was not vaccinated against it. Those who were were the very old and the very young. Callie and her younger brother have no grandparents to look after them, so they live life by their wits, on the run. Things seem to be looking up when they come across Prime Destinations, a group run by The Old Man: a potential income source. Prime Destinations organises for teenagers rent their bodies out to the older people who’d like to be young again (yes, we know, yuck, can you imagine?), using neurochip technology. When it’s Callie’s turn her neurochip malfunctions and she wakes up in her wealthy renter’s life.

Department 19: The Rising, Will Hill. The sequel to Department 19, which people said some touchingly lovely things about (such as “…plenty of high-octane action, groovy specialized vampire-fighting equipment, buckets of gore, intriguing historical side trips and even a little romance…” (from Amazon) which, let’s face it, if you were an author you’d be happy with).

There is an active Facebook page (Department 19 exists!) with interactive elements. And a book trailer:

New Books – ‘spongy blades collapsing’

You guys, here are some more new books!

12 Things To Do Before You Crash and Burn, by James Proimos (121 pages) – Hercules Martino is 16, and the son of a recently deceased famous self-help guru who was no good as a dad. Staying with his uncle for Summer, Hercules is set twelve tasks that will ‘change the way he sees his past, present, and future.’ A book that is short, funny (as promised by Library Journals LLC) and in all likelihood a satisfying read.

First lines: ‘The casket is close. It was a plane crash, after all.

Light Beneath Ferns, by Anne Spollen (206 pages) – Here’s another not-so-long book; this time a ghost story, not a comedy. Elizah moves in with her mother, who is a caretaker at a cemetery. She finds a human jawbone by a river (!!!) and, at the cemetery, she meets Nathaniel, who is mysterious and, you know, maybe not all there. LITERALLY. Fans of supernatural romance probably won’t be disappointed.

First lines: ‘This story does not teach a lesson. It does not explain gravity or the pack rituals of wolves or how the sun will explode one day and leave us all inside a gray welt of ice and famine.

Down the Mysterly River, by Bill Willingham (333 pages) – Max “the Wolf” is a champion boy scout who – inexplicably! – wakes up in a strange forest with no memory of how he got there. With him is a badger, a bear, and a barn cat who are similarly clueless but can talk. They realise that they are being hunted, and it’s up to Max to solve the mystery of what’s what. This is by the writer of the Fables comics, with drawings by the comic artist throughout. ~the more you know~

First line: ‘Max the Wolf was a wolf in exactly the same way that foothills are made up of real feet and a tiger shark is part tiger, which is to say, not at all.

Vintage Veronica, by Erica S. Perl (279 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Veronica gets a summer job in the Clothing Bonanza, a second-hand clothing store. She is pretty happy about that! She loves fashion, and her job is to sort out the quality stuff from the rubbish, and she doesn’t have to deal with customers (she has low self-esteem). Two ‘outrageous yet charismatic’ salesgirls befriend her and encourage her to stalk the stock boy as a joke. Soon Veronica realises she will need to come out of her (proverbial! obviously) shell when romance blossoms.

First lines: ‘I’m sure you don’t know me. But you’ve probably seen me around. I’m that fat girl. You know, the one who dresses funny. The one who wears those ridiculous poufy skirts from the fifties that look like she hacked off the top of an old prom dress (because actually, I did).

How to Save a Life, by Sara Zarr (341 pages) – Here is the catalogue synopsis for what might be a little grim but ultimately uplifting book; ‘Told from their own viewpoints, seventeen-year-old Jill, in grief over the loss of her father, and Mandy, nearly nineteen, are thrown together when Jill’s mother agrees to adopt Mandy’s unborn child but nothing turns out as they had anticipated.’  

First line: ‘Dad would want me to be here. There’s no other explanation for my presence.

Kiss of Death, by Lauren Henderson (307 pages) – This is the final book in the series that began with Kiss Me Kill Me. Unfortunately we don’t seem to have the second and third books in the series! We will buy them. IN THE MEANTIME, here’s a brutal abridgement of the catalogue synopsis: ‘Scarlett [and] Taylor arrive in Scotland […] Old friends and enemies […] explore […] passages under Edinburgh […] [and] someone is out to get [Scarlett] […] and that person has deadly plans for her. Is it time to kiss our heroine goodbye?’

First line: ‘This is absolutely the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

The Espressologist, by Kristina Springer (184 pages) – Jane is seventeen and a barista  (someone who makes coffee). She has a theory that you can tell a lot about someone by the coffee they drink*, and she uses this to set people up on dates. She’s pretty good at it, so her boss develops it as an instore promotion. BUT she matches her best friend with Cam, which in hindsight was silly since she maybe is a little bit in love with him?
*Probably wouldn’t work in NZ where we all drink flat whites, pretty much

First line: ‘“Excuse me,” the customer says, stepping up to the counter. I quickly stop scribbling in my notebook and slide it onto the shelf under the espresso machine.

The Warlock ‘s Shadow, by Stephen Deas (291 pages) – The follow-up to The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice. When the thief-taker is hired to protect a prince, Berren (the apprentice) is pleased to get away from the tedium at the temple. He meets a girl, who happens to be a Dragon Monk, the best sword fighters ever to wield a sword. But the prince needs protection for a reason – people want to kill him and anyone who stands in their way, including young Berren. Especially Berren! Maybe

First line: ‘Kasmin didn’t see the three men come into the tavern but he knew they were there almost at once.

Unleashed : Wolf Springs Chronicles, by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie (385 pages) – Katelyn moves to a new town, to live with her grandfather in the middle of a forest. Her new school is Wolf Springs High. Judging from the cover and the blurb on the back that says, ‘a dark exciting tale that will have you believing in werewolves,’ I am willing to bet this is about werewolves! Book one in a series

First lines: ‘I can fly. Katelyn Claire McBride was the girl on the flying trapeze.

Hunters : Phantom – The Vampire Diaries, not really by L. J. Smith (413 pages) – This is a brand-new VD story. Apparently it was written by a ghostwriter, since the publisher who holds the copyright fired L. J. Smith. That seems a bit strange actually! Anyway, Damon is dead, Elena and Stefan can be together, but Elena dreams of Damon. And she loves him a little too. A lot maybe! Soon everyone is threatened by a new darkness.

First line: ‘Elena Gilbert stepped onto a smooth expanse of grass, the spongy blades collapsing beneath her feet.

New Stuff on the Horizon

It’s time for a new batch of soon-to-be-published bestselling titles – reserve your preferred sequel / series continuer / riveting conclusion now, so you don’t have to wait!

The Power of Six, Pittacus Lore. This is the next in the Lorien Legacies, after I Am Number Four (the DVD has arrived in the library recently), and it focuses on Number Seven (who’s got a bit more breathing room than Number Four). There’s an exclusive extract here, or you can become a follower of Lorien Legacies on Twitter for more tips and things.

Crossed, Ally Condie (November/December 2011). Sequel to Matched, in which Cassia takes off to the Outer Provinces to track down Ky, which is a very basic straight forward summary of a mission that will be far from straight forward or basic. Have a look at the series website, or visit Ally Condie’s blog here.

Bloodlines, Richelle Mead (August/September 2011). Vampire Academy fans will be pleased to hear that this is the first in a new series, a Vampire Academy spinoff series even, and so you’ll recognise the world of vampire princesses and their protectors, so thumbs up! Read more about it here.

Inheritance, Christopher Paolini (November/December 2011). The final book in the Inheritance cycle will finally be here! Will Eragon and Saphira get the better of Galbatorix? You can read and excerpt here, watch some images of swords, dragon scales and eyes in the book trailer below, or catch up with more Inheritance news at Christopher Paolini’s website here.

People’s Republic, Robert Muchamore (August/September 2011). Meet 12 year old Ryan, CHERUB’s new recruit. Has he got what it takes to take on the most ambitious CHERUB mission yet? In the mean time visit the CHERUB campus for more info.

Silence, Becca Fitzpatrick (October/November 2011). The final in the Hush, Hush trilogy. There is an official Hush Hush fanclub – fallenarchangel. The site has FAQs, playlists, and more photos of and info about the famous cover model for Hush, Hush. There’s an official Silence countdown widget to be got at the author’s website here (perhaps the perfect gift for the reader who has everything?).

The Fear, Charlie Higson (September/October 2011). The next in the Enemy series, in which everyone over the age of 14 has become a zombified predator. Dog Nut and his mates must travel across London in search of lost friends, avoiding the terrifying, blood-thirsty adults. You can read Charlie Higson’s blog post about the book here.

The Clockwork Prince, Cassandra Clare (December 2011). This is the next in Cassandra Clare’s Victorian Steampunk with Shadowhunters series (the first being Clockwork Angel), and we will be ordering it next month!

New Books

Forgotten, by Cat Patrick (279 pages) – London (a girl) has a memory disorder; she can’t remember the past, but she know what the future will bring. She can not remember the boy she loves, and she can’t see him in her future, but she know that today she loves him. And also that there will be a car crash later today. Yikes!

First lines: ‘Aren’t Fridays supposed to be good? This one started badly.

Rockoholic, by C. J. Skuse (368 pages) – Jody is obsessed with the rock star Jackson Gatlin. At one of his concerts she is caught in a stampede and is carried backstage. Somehow she winds up kidnapping Jackson, as you do, but it soon becomes clear that he doesn’t really want to leave her garage. Someone on Amazon.co.uk says, “one of the funniest, most entertaining and highly original books I’ve read in a long time” so reserve it eh?

First lines: ‘To our local newspaper, my grandad’s death was ‘a shocking accident that brought Bristol city centre to a standstill’. To my mum, it was humiliation beyond words and a week’s worth of whispers from her colleagues at the bank.

The Last Summoner, by Sherryl Jordan (187 pages) – It is said that only men can summon dragons, but when the king needs help from the dragons when the land is under attack, Ari and her blind grandfather uncover the moondust mirror and travel to the swamp to summon them. Will the dragons answer Ari’s call?

First line: ‘Alone, the girl crept through the gloomy swamp.’

Heart Burn, by Anne Cassidy (215 pages) – Amazon’s product description says, ‘years ago, local bad boy, Tyler Harrington, did a favour for Ashley. Now Tyler has been beaten up and hospitalized, and he’s calling that favour in. Ashley must hide an envelope for him, but under no circumstances is she to look inside it When Tyler is abducted, Ashley opens the package. What she finds inside is the key to who is holding Tyler. But somebody else wants the envelope and, as long as Ashley has it, she is in mortal danger.’ 

First line: ‘I was waiting for Beth outside Whitechapel tube station when I  heard what happened to Tyler Harrington.‘ 

Wood Angel, by Erin Bow (270 pages) – Kate lives in a time when witches are burned at the stake. Because she lives with a cat and makes and sells lucky wooden charms, she is voted Most Likely To Be A Witch when her village falls on hard times. Terrified for her life, she flees with a stranger who ‘has a plan more dangerous than she could ever have dreamed.’

First line: ‘A long time ago, in a market town by a looping river, there lived an orphan girl called Plain Kate.

A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd (214 pages) – Allow me to copy and paste from the catalogue; ‘Thirteen-year-old Conor awakens one night to find a monster outside his bedroom window, but not the one from the recurring nightmare that began when his mother became ill–an ancient, wild creature that wants him to face truth and loss.’ Siobhan Dowd died before this could be written, sadly, so Patrick Ness wrote the book. It is BEAUTIFULLY illustrated by Jim Kay.

First lines: ‘The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.

The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice, by Stephen Deas (282 pages) – Berren has been a thief all his short life, but when he is noticed by the thief-taker after trying to pinch his reward for the capture of some other thieves, Berren becomes the thief-taker’s apprentice. He thought he knew the city, but now he has to contend with all the political intrigue, corruption, and murder that lie in the shadows.

First lines: ‘The crowd had come to watch three men die. Most of them had no idea who the three men were. Nor did they particularly care.’ 

Long Reach : An Eddie Savage Thriller, by Peter Cocks (401 pages) – Eddie Savage finds out that his brother had been working uncover to infiltrate the Kelly family, a dangerous gang in London. He also discovers that his brother is dead, supposedly by suicide, but Eddie ain’t having none of it. Determined to uncover the truth, Eddie infiltrates the gang and is soon up to his neck in Kelly business. A ‘gritty, glamorous thriller with a heart-stopping, brutal conclusion.’

First line: ‘Donnie gunned the Mercedes back across the Medway bridge.

Akata Witch : A Novel, by Nnedi Okorafor (349 pages) – Sunny lives in Nigeria, although she was born in NYC. She is albino, and feels that she doesn’t fit in. She discovers that she – like two of her classmates – are in fact ‘free agents’, full of magical power, and she has a lot to learn. When the magical authorities ask her and her friends to track down a capture a ‘hard-core serial killer’ with powers greater than theirs, Sunny discovers that magic has a dark, dark side.

First line: ‘The moment Sunny walked into the school yard, people started pointing.

Viola in the Spotlight, by Adriana Trigiani (283 pages) – Catalogue! I choose you! ‘Back home in Brooklyn, fifteen-year-old Viola has big summer plans but with one best friend going to camp and the other not only working but experiencing her first crush, Viola is glad to be overworked as an unpaid lighting intern when her grandmother’s play goes to Broadway.’ This is the sequel to Viola in Reel Life.

First lines: ‘There is no better place on Earth than right here on my stoop on 72nd Street in Bay Ridge. Borough of Brooklyn. City of New York. County of Kings. The Empire State.

Teeth : Vampire tales, edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (452 pages) –  Do you like vampires? Do you like short stories? Do you like books? Do you like library books? Do you like reading? Books? Vampires? Vampire books? Reading them? Reading this? Well?

First line of the first story: ‘As it turns out, if a person dies badly, sometimes the soul can’t escape the body and will have to feed off the living forever.

Deadly Little Secret : A Touch Novel, by Laurie Faria Stolarz (252 pages) – Running out of tiiiiime, so here is the catalogue again; ‘When someone starts stalking high school junior Camelia, everyone at school assumes that it is Ben, who is new at school and rumored to have killed his previous girlfriend, but Camelia is nevertheless inexplicably drawn to him.’

First line: ‘I could have died three months ago. Ever since, things haven’t quite been the same for me.

New Books

This post is MASSIVE. Lots of new books, you see.

Thyla, by Kate Gordon (279 pages) – Amnesia, Tasmania, and identity; these are the three subject headings for this book which I think might have an element of the paranormal? Some girls are missing from a school, and it’s all a bit mysterious; the protaganist, Tessa, was found in the bush, living feral and without memory of who she was. Anyway!  It gets a glowing review on Amazon. And a sequel is on the way.

First lines: ‘My name is Tessa. It was the one thing I knew for certain. the one word that stood lonely in my head when the lights were turned on.

Cloaked, by Alex Finn (341 pages) – This is by the author of Beastly (recently released as a film) and, similarly, is a modern retelling of a fairy tale. Teenager Johnny, who repairs shoes in Miami, is asked by a princess (or someone named Princess? I need to research more) for help to find her brother who has been turned into a toad.  That’s like two fairy tales right there.

First lines: ‘I’ve never seen a princess before. And it looks like I won’t be seeing one today either.

Recovery Road, by Blake Nelson – A pair of teenaged addicts meet up in rehab, and form a relationship that they try to continue once they’re out again. Of course, both have inner demons and so their relationship is put to the test. Will it last? Will they stay on the wagon?

First lines: ‘You can’t tell what Spring Meadow is from the road. The sign, nestled beneath a large oak tree, could be for a retirement village.’

Phantoms in the Snow, by Kathleen Benner Duble (226 pages) – Newly orphaned Noah, whose parents raised him to be a pacifist, is sent to live with his uncle. He – the uncle – lives on an army base in Colorado, where a division of winter warfare soldiers train. They are called Phantoms, as you can’t see them in the snow. Oh and it’s 1944!  So Noah needs to ‘resolve his upbringing with the horrors of World War II’ while on an army base and on the front lines in Italy.

First line: ‘Noah Garrett sat on the kitchen chair and listened to the rhythmic ticking of the hall clock echoing through the nearly empty rooms of his house and to the two lowered voices coming from behind the hastily shut door, the minister’s gentle and quiet, his neighbour’s shrill and determined.

Throat, R. A. Nelson (453 pages) – Emma is seventeen and has epilepsy, and her seizures are unpredictable and often. She’s lost friends and can’t even legally drive. One unexpected benefit (I guess?) is that when she’s attacked by a vampire, a seizure prevents him from killing her, and she escapes. Now she has all the powers of a vampire but without having to avoid sunlight or drink blood. The original vampire is determined to make a meal of her, though, and Emma must prepare … for a fight to the death!

First line: ‘When I was thirteen, I ran away from home because of a curse.

Corsets & Clockwork : 13 Steampunk Romances, edited by Trisha Telep (437 pages) – Imagine the Victorian era, but with high tech and technomagical machinery, and ‘feisty heroines and genius inventors, supernatural outcasts and idealistic heroes’. Hold that image. Now, add a little romance, and there you have it! Steampunk romance.

First line: ‘There are millions of stories in the Clockwork City; here are thirteen of them.

Shadowspell, by Jenna Black (295 pages) – This is the second installment in the Faeriewalker series (the first is Glimmerglass). Aaaaaand here’s what the catalogue says; ‘on top of spending most of her time in a bunkerlike safe house and having her dates hijacked by a formidable Fae bodyguard, Faeriewalker Dana Hathaway is in for some more bad news: the Erlking and his pack of murderous minions known as the Wild Hunt have descended upon Avalon.’ Uh oh!

First line: ‘Going on a date with a bodyguard hanging over your shoulder sucks.

Crossing the Tracks, by Barbara Stuber (258 pages) – Missouri, 1926, and fifteen-year-old Iris is hired out to be a companion and housekeeper for an elderly woman. Alone, and stuck in the ‘gritty rural’ country, where a nearby farmer is menacing everyone, she finds herself and learns to ‘trust, hope, and – ultimately – love’.

First lines: ‘I’m under Mama’s coffin. My little house in the centre of the parlour has silky black curtain walls and a hard ceiling that I can touch with the top of my head if I sit cross-legged and stretch my neck.’

Entwined, by Heather Dixon (472 pages) – After their mother dies, Princess Azalea and her 11 princess sisters are locked in a castle to mourn her death. Each night they join The Keeper for a dance in a magical silver forest, accessible via a magical passage. But soon they discover that he likes to keep things. The clue’s in the name, your highnesses!

First line: ‘ An hour before Azalea’s first ball began, she paced the ballroom floor, tracing her toes in a waltz.

Demonglass, by Rachel Hawkins (359 pages) – Sophie thought she was just a witch, but she is actually a demon, and her powers threaten everyone. SO she heads to London in an attempt to have her powers removed. The Eye, the organisation out to rid the world of ‘Prodigum’ (i.e. magic users, faeries, and shapeshifters) are also on her tail. Her pointy devil tail. (Made that up.)

First line: ‘At a normal high school, having class outside on a gorgeous May day is usually pretty awesome.’

What Happened to Goodbye, by Sarah Dessen (402 pages) – Mclean and her father are always on the move, going from town to town and from school to school. At each stop she reinvents herself, but now, at Lakeview, she’s trying to be just herself. Mclean. Not anyone else. Partly because she meets and falls for Colgate (just kidding! his name is Dave) and he falls for the real Mclean, whoever that is. Are your Mcleans showing?

First line: ‘The table was sticky, there was a cloudy smudge on my water glass, and we’d been seated for ten minutes with no sign of a waitress.

Bumped, by Megan McCafferty (232 pages) – It is the future! And all people over 18 are infertile. As a consequence, teen girls are paid to conceive and give birth to peoples’ kids, and teens become the most prized members of society. Twins Melody and Harmony, were separated at birth; Melody has an ‘enviable conception contract’ and Harmony believes ‘pregging for profit’ is a sin. But they soon find they have more in common than just DNA.

First lines: ‘I’m sixteen. Pregnant. And the most important person on the planet.

The Marbury Lens, by Andrew Smith (358 pages) – This seems complex! So here’s the catalogue summary; ‘Sixteen-year-old Jack is kidnapped. He escapes, narrowly. The only person he tells is his best friend, Conner. When they arrive in London for summer break, a stranger hands Jack a pair of glasses. Through the lenses, he sees another world called Marbury.’

(Fantastic!) first line: ‘I guess in the old days, in other places, boys like me usually ended up twisting and kicking in the empty air beneath gallows.

Timeless, by Alexandra Monir (290 pages) – Michele’s parents die (lots of orphans this week!) and she is sent to live with her rich-but-distant grandparents in New York. She discovers a diary which transports her back to 1910. Literally!

First line: ‘Michele stood alone in the centre of a hall of mirrors.

Now over to Grimm for mooooooore new books.

Keep Sweet, by Michele Dominguez Greene (215 pages) – Alva Jane’s family are Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, and it’s a rather large family: 29 brothers and sisters, and a father with seven wives. She doesn’t question her life, until she’s caught innocently kissing her crush and is forced into a marriage to a fifty year old man.

First sentence: ‘I closed my eyes at the memory of Joseph John’s face, flushed with excitement as he whispered those words to me – the words that changed my life forever.’

Stay, by Deb Caletti (313 pages) – Clara is caught in an unhealthy obsessive relationship with Christian, until she escapes and leaves town. Noone knows where she is, but she is still unable to feel safe, fearing he might find her.

First sentence: ‘First off, I’ve never told this story to anyone.’

Jenna & Jonah’s Fauxmance, by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin (229 pages) – Charlie and Fielding are stars of the show Jenna & Jonah’s How to Be a Rock Star, and it’s a raging hit. Part of the charm of the show is Charlie and Fielding’s “relationship”, so they are to hold hands and kiss and whatnot when they’re out in public. Trouble is, they hate each other. Then when a paparazzo gets hold of a rumour that could ruin everything for them and they have to lie low for a while they finally get to find out more about each other: will this be a good thing or an even worse thing?

First sentence: ‘I will never like a boy like Fielding Withers (and, yes, I know I used the word “like” twice in one sentence, but meaning different things).’

Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys (338 pages) – In 1941 in Lithuania Lina and her mother and brother are captured by Soviet guards and shipped off to Siberia, not knowing if they will see their father again (and it’s thousands and thousands of kilometres). The story is based on first hand accounts of survivors of the Siberian deportations.

First sentence: ‘They took me in my nightgown.’

The Ghoul Next Door, by Lisi Harrison (241 pages) – from the author of The Clique series, this is the first in the Monster High series. “Freak is the new chique” says the back cover! Cleopatra De Nile is used to being in charge at Merston High, but now there’s Frankie Stein and Melody Carver to contend with: her popularity is seriously in danger, but then Frankie and Melody have their own issues as well.

First sentence: ‘The amber-infused air snapped with anxiety.’

Livvie Owen Lived Here, by Sarah Dooley (229 pages) – Livvie is autistic and has frequent outbursts, causing trouble for her family: her destructive tendencies mean they’re constantly on the move. When they are faced again with eviction, Livvie decides to search out the house where she felt happy: “The problem is, Livvie burned down that house” says the cover.

First sentence: ‘I heard the whistle blast at 9.15.’

New Books

A Match Made in High School, Kristin Walker (278 pages) – some bright spark teacher at Fiona’s high school has decided to make her class do the mother of all social experiments/class projects called “Trying the Knot”: they have to be “married” for a year, and the mandatory pairings produce a story that is “laugh-out-loud funny, unpredictable, and fresh”, says Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

First sentence: I should have known.

The Sweet Life of Stella Madison, Lara M Zeises (228 pages) – read this if you like culinary things. Stella is the daughter of a famous chef (father) and restaurant owner (mother), but she’s more into food of the fast variety, so when she lands a summer job as a food writer she’s in for a challenge. But the summer also brings on other challenges of the relationship variety, with her own confused romances, and the lives of her separated parents.

Last line: “So what’s for dinner?” I say. “I’m starving.”

Leverage, Joshua C Cohen (425 pages) – the author is a gymnast and acrobat: the photo on the back cover proves it to be so. Anyhow Leverage is about the cauldron of high school sport, and the friendship between the school fullback (American football has fullbacks: Friday Night Lights taught me so) and a gymnast that grows out of the wake of what the book calls a “violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war”. [Edited to add: It’s not for the faint hearted.]

First sentence: The high bar’s chalky bite threatens to rip the yellowed calluses right off my palms at the bottom of the swing, where the pull is heaviest.

The Iron Witch, Karen Mahoney (289 pages) – Donna Underwood needs Harry Potter as a mentor! Practically an orphan after the fey attacked and killed her father and drove her mother mad, she’s left with injuries that are magically fixed, but her hands and arms are covered with iron tattoos. Which makes her a powerful weapon in the war between humans and fairies. So, when her best friend is abducted by wood elves, Donna must accept her fate in order to save her friend (with the help of the gorgeous Xan).

First sentence: My father died saving my life when I was seven years old.

Abandon, Meg Cabot (292 pages) – A new Meg Cabot series! Following an accident (and while being worked on by hospital staff) Pierce died briefly and visited the Underworld, where she met a mysterious boy. The following year, a mysterious boy shows up at her school: the same mysterious boy. He wants to take her back. You might learn something about Persephone and Greek mythology while reading.

First sentence: Anything can happen in the blink of an eye.

The Dark Flight Down, Marcus Sedgwick (234 pages) – the conclusion to The Book of Dead Days. Boy and Willow are held captive in the Emperor Frederick’s palace where they are in constant danger, and must follow a “deadly trail” that will lead them to the Phantom. A gothic fantasy thriller.

First sentence: Midnight at the Imperial Court of Emperor Frederick III.

Chime, Franny Billingsley (361 pages) – Briony is a witch, a fact that she keeps secret on pain of death. She thinks herself to be dark and evil, until Eldric arrives and refuses to believe there is anything bad about her. Can his faith in her save her from death or insanity? “A wild, haunting mystery and romance,” says the cover.

First sentence: I’ve confessed to everything and I’d like to be hanged.

Afterlife, Claudia Gray (360 pages) – over to you, back cover: “Packed with romance, suspense and page-turning drama, Afterlife delivers a heart-stopping conclusion that won’t disappoint the many fans who have made the Evernight series such a runaway success.” So yes basically, if you’ve been reading Evernight you must read this one!

First sentence: “Sunrise is coming,” Balthazar said.

Still Sucks to be Me, Kimberly Pauley (374 pages) – Mina is a teen vampire, who has had to fake her own death in order to deal with the whole never-aging problem. Sensible! So, she’s had to move to a new town, without her bff and her boyfriend, where she finds herself in relationship tangles that even “vampire superstrength” can’t sort. The sequel to Sucks to be Me.

First sentence: I, Mina Hamilton, am officially dead.

Blink & Caution, Tim Wynne-Jones (342 pages) – cool cover (there are, like, bullet holes)! Blink and Caution are actually people, on the run (separately) until they run into each other, with Blink the unfortunate only witness to a crime and Caution escaping from her drug-dealer boyfriend. Can they work together to get out of their messes, and maybe perhaps begin an unlikely friendship?

First sentence: Look up at the Plaza Regent, Blink, in the shivery morning light.

New Books

Some reclaiming of the vampire genre, some thrillers and a couple of popular urban fantasy series this week.

Department Nineteen, Will Hill (540 pages) – It’s a vampire story but without the romance and that stuff (see cover). Department 19 is a secret government department dedicated to finding and destroying vampires, with whom humans have been at war since 1892, and the stakes are going to be raised, says the cover. In at least two ways, obvs.

First sentence: Jamie Carpenter was watching TV in the living room when he heard the tires of his dad’s car crunch across the gravel driveway much, much earlier than usual.

Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising, Jason Henderson (248 pages) – Van Helsing was the vampire hunter who was Dracula’s downfall (says the person who hasn’t read Dracula). Alex Van Helsing doesn’t know he’s related to the great man (ahem, Alex, the name), so when he starts at an exclusive academy on the shores of Lake Geneva and, hello, meets two vampires in his first couple of days, he’s in for an abrupt adjustment. There’s a deadly vampire known as Icemaker in the area, and Alex’s vampire hunting instincts must kick into action.

First sentence: Alex Van Helsing ran.

Blank Confession, Pete Hautman (170 pages) – Shayne Blank confesses to murder, but how could a sweet teenage boy do such a thing? His long statement to the police reveals all.

First sentence: Five lousy minutes.

The Golden Day, Ursula Dubosarsky (149 pages) – Set in Sydney in 1967, “about a group of schoolgirls whose teacher [Miss Renshaw] bizarrely goes missing on a school excursion, apparently murdered”, the author tells us. What really happened?

First sentence: The year began with the hanging of one man, and ended with the drowning of another.

City of Fallen Angels, Cassandra Clare (424 pages) – it’s here finally, 60-something people in Wellington will be pleased to hear. Everything in New York is happiness and light it seems, until someone starts murdering Valentine’s Shadowhunters, endangering the uneasy relationship between the Downworlders and Shadowhunters. Then Simon’s mother finds out the truth about him, he’s kicked out of home, and everyone (except his mother) wants him on their side. Oh, and Jace has gone all distant and Clary doesn’t know why.

First sentence: “Just coffee, please.”

Red Glove, Holly Black (325 pages) – the second book in the Curse Workers series (the first was White Cat). Cassel’s life is complicated and dangerous, he’s an in-demand curse worker, wanted by both the feds and the mob, who can see how valuable he could be. Plus he’s learned that Lila his girlfriend (who is no longer a white cat) only loves him because his mother cursed her. That’d take the gloss off.

First sentence: I don’t know whether it’s day or night when the girl gets up to leave.

Efrain’s Secret, Sofia Quintero (263 pages) – Efrain longs to get out of the South Bronx and attend an Ivy League school, but his family circumstances mean this is not likely to happen. So, Efrain becomes a drug dealer (while maintaining his grades and reputation as an excellent student) to raise the money (after all, this is what society expects boys from the South Bronx to do).

First sentence: I type “SAT prep” into a search engine when Chingy yells, “Yes!” from the computer station next to me.

XVI, Julia Karr (325 pages) – In this 22nd century dystopia, when girls turn sixteen they’re branded with an XVI on their wrist, proclaiming to the world that they are legal (if you know what we mean). Nina is fifteen, about to have her birthday, when her mother is brutally killed, and just before she dies reveals a shocking secret to Nina about her past that sends Nina on a dangerous quest to discover the truth about herself.

First sentences: “Nina, look.” Sandy jabbed me in the ribs.

Dangerously Placed, Nansi Kunze (274 pages) – Alex Thaler is doing work experience in a company that has a virtual office with workers from around the world. Pretty cool, except someone’s murdered and Alex is the prime suspect. She and her friends must find out who’s responsible before she takes the fall, or worse, becomes the next victim.

New Books

Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins (372 pages) – romantic tension in Paris, where Anna (against her will, go figure) goes to spend a year at school, leaving behind her almost-boyfriend and meeting the marvelous Etienne St Clair Smart who, problematically, has an actual-girlfriend.

First sentence: Here is everything I know about France: Madeline and Amélie and Moulin Rouge.

Across the Universe, Beth Revis (398 pages) – this one has an almost retro sci-fi type of cover (which you can’t tell much from the pic over there). Amy is cryogenically frozen, to wake 300 years into the future on a new planet, however her cryo chamber is unplugged and she’s stuck on her spaceship, Godspeed, with the scary Eldest and his son Elder, knowing that someone is trying to kill her.

First sentence: Daddy said, ‘let Mom go first.’

Matched, Ally Condie (366 pages) – The matching screen is a device used by society’s officials to determine who is matched with whom for life. Cassia’s best friend flashes up on the matching screen for her, perfect, she thinks, until she sees another face appear fleetingly. Cassia must choose between two lives, between “perfection and passion”.

First sentence: Now that I’ve found the way to fly, which direction should I go into the night?

Birth of a Killer, Darren Shan (253 pages) – a new series from the horror man! Larten is a young man all alone, until he meets Seba Nile, who teaches him all about being a vampire, but will Larten turn his back on being human and embrace this new world?

First sentence: When Larten Crepsley awoke and yawned one grey Tuesday morning, he had no idea that by midday he would have become a killer.

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, Julie Halpern (245 pages) – Things are changing in Jessie’s world, her friends are getting cooler (she’s not), so she’s on the lookout for a new set of friends. But can she befriend the Dungeons and Dragons crowd without being tainted with their geekdom?

First sentence: I so used to love the first day of school.

The Radleys, Matt Haig (337 pages) – the humorous side of abstaining from being a vampire. The Radleys are a fairly average family (two parents, two kids) living in a fairly average British town, except for the one thing (they’re vampires, but they’re abstaining). Then Uncle Will arrives, the black sheep of the family, and he’s going to shake things up a bit.

First sentence: It is a quiet place, especially at night.

Yellowcake, Margo Lanagan (235 pages) – Ten short stories from one of Australia’s literary fantasy queens.

First sentence (from ‘The Point of Roses’) – Billy flew into the kitchen.

Angel, L A Weatherly (507 pagtes) – Willow doesn’t know what she is, just that she’s different. Alex does know what she is, and that they are enemies. An “epic tale of love, destiny and sacrifice.” With angels, obvs.

First sentence: “Is that your car?” asked the girl at the 7-Eleven checkout counter.

Not That Kind of Girl, Siobhan Vivian (322 pages) – Natalie is the good, bright girl in school, but she nearly gets expelled anyway, so what’s the point in being good? Is it better to be the bad girl?

First sentence: On the first day of my senior year, I happened to walk past the auditorium during the freshman orientation assembly.

Five Flavours of Dumb, Anthony John (338 pages) – Piper is in a band called Dumb, and her bandmates do indeed seem to be a bit that way, plus she’s deaf, which makes being in a band particularly interesting: she has no idea if they’re truly terrible or really good. This doesn’t stop her from determindely finding a gig for them, with some self-discovery along the way.

First sentence: For the record, I wasn’t around the day they decided to become Dumb.

Here are some new books!

Here they are! Exclaim!

You, by Charles Benoit (223 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Kyle makes some choices that will come to haunt him. In a big way. You are Kyle, in that the book is in the second person, you know? Kyle is a bit of a thug who is turned into a ‘project’ by Zack, who has come from a private school and who may actually be quite sinister.

First lines: ‘You’re surprised at all the blood.

The Darlings Are Forever, by Melissa Kantor (328 pages) – The Darlings are some friends who have matching necklaces, a shared motto, and their own table at Ga Ga Noodle. Now they all are heading to different schools in New York City! Will they stay friends?!  I bet the Ga Ga Noodle people want them to.

First line: ‘The Labor Day sun was scorching, and as Jane waited for the light to change,  she could practically hear her dark hair frizzing.

You Against Me, by Jenny Downham (412 pages) – Mikey’s sister claims a boy assaulted her, and Ellie’s brother is charged with the offence. Mikey and Ellie are both caught up; he seeks revenge and she must defend her brother. “Brave and unflinching,” says the blurb, along with (the optimistic) “above all it’s a book about love.”

First line: “Mikey couldn’t believe his life.”

Darkest Mercy, by Melissa Marr (327 pages) – Here it is; the final Wicked Lovely book. ‘The political and romantic tensions that began when Aislin became Summer Queen threaten to boil over as the Faerie Courts brace against the threat of all-out war,’ says the Library of Congress cataloging-in-publication data summary, not incorrectly.

First line: ‘Niall walked through the ruins of the tattoo shop.

The Maya Brown Missions : Circle of Fire, by S. M. Hall (291 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Maya’s mum is an intelligence agent, and Maya can’t wait to be one herself. She enjoys assault courses and shooting ranges and maybe Spooks? Not sure on that. Anyway, her mother is kidnapped by terrorists, and Maya, alone, is determined to infiltrate the terrorist cell and rescue her.

First line: ‘Maya opened her eyes to a room full of shadows.

Eternal : More Love Stories with Bite, ed. P. C. Cast with Leah Wilson (215 pages) – Here’s a collection of love stories with people being bitten by vampires. The stories are by a who’s who of modern YA authors who write about the supernatural, like Nancy Holder, Rachel Caine and Claudie Gray. And the girl on the cover looks JUST LIKE Buffy to me, do you reckon? Say yes.

6, by Karen Tayleur  (203 pages) – ‘One car. One after-party. Six people, six points of view. But only one outcome.’ The book ends with the outcome (which you might be able to guess) but has an ending that I read several times, it was so powerful. (I only read the ends of books.)

First line: ‘A light drizzle falls upon a car.

The Latte Rebellion, by Sarah Jamila Stevenson (328 pages) – Asha Jamison and her best friend sell t-shirts to help fund a post-graduation trip to London. The shirts promote the Latte Rebellion, a club that raises awareness of mixed-race students. But the club goes nationwide, and the peaceful underground movement ‘spins out of control’, and Asha’s ivy league dreams are subsequently threatened.

First line: ‘The jeering male voice came from somewhere behind me, waking me up from a heatstroke-induced doze.

Blood Ransom, by Sophie McKenzie (418 pages) – This is the sequel to Blood Ties, which was about cloning and genetic manipulation. This is also about cloning and genetic manipulation, it looks like! And missing persons. And ransoms of missing persons, who are clones. I wish I had a clone!

First line: ‘It was a Saturday afternoon in early July and I was looking forward to the highlight of my week – the hour or so when Theo and I met online and everything else dropped away.

All Just Glass, by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (246 pages) – Sarah is from a family of vampire hunters. It is a family business! But when she is turned into a vampire by boy she loved (ironically!) she becomes the hunted. By her sister, Sarah, no less, who is made to by her mother. “Aww, mom.”

First line: ‘Saturday, 5.53 a.m. The ringing in her ears was the sound of the world shattering.

The Blending Time, by Michael Kinch (254 pages) – In a dystopian future, teenagers are made to perform ‘Global Assignment’ work assignments when the turn seventeen. Three such teens are given what they think is a cushy job; to repopulate and rebuild African, which has been devastated by a solar flare. But it’s not quite the stroll through the rose garden that they thought …

First line: ‘Jaym stirred as morning light slanted across his cot.

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