It feels like it is all go here at the moment *grins* Right on the heels of announcing Sean Cummings and Kim Curran, and then letting you all know about our Open Door in April for unagented authors, we now have more BIG NEWS!
That’s right – another author! And a simply fabulous book!
Strange Chemistry are thrilled to announce a two book deal with Gwenda Bond, concluded between Amanda Rutter and Jennifer Laughran, of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc. The first book, Blackwood, will be one of the imprint’s September 2012 launch titles, with the second following in 2013.
On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.
Miranda, a misfit girl from the island’s most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can’t dodge is each other.
Blackwood is a dark, witty coming of age story that combines America’s oldest mystery with a thoroughly contemporary romance.
About GWENDA BOND:
Gwenda Bond is a contributing writer for Publishers Weekly, has reviewed books for the Washington Post and Locus Magazine, and has appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition. She won the 2010 Veritas Media Award from the Romance Writers of America for her article “Romancing the Recession” in PW, and recently guest edited a special YA issue of Subterranean Online featuring work by Kelly Link, Sarah Rees Brennan, Malinda Lo, and others.
Gwenda also holds an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ program in writing for children and young adults, and maintains an active online presence. She lives in a hundred-year-old house in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband, SF author Christopher Rowe, and their menagerie.
Gwenda says: Gwenda says: “Angry Robot has quickly built a reputation as one of the smartest, most innovative imprints publishing speculative fiction. I was instantly intrigued when I saw the news about the launch of their new YA imprint, and I couldn’t be happier to become a Strange Chemistry author. I can’t wait to work with Amanda and the rest of the Angry Robot team as they continue on the path toward world domination.”
Amanda says: “Gwenda is clearly a massive talent and I am absolutely delighted to have signed her in a two book deal. BLACKWOOD is a truly impressive debut novel and I’m certain it will be a great success.”
Jennifer says: “BLACKWOOD is a super-smart and inventive YA novel with an exceptional voice. Angry Robot is a super-smart and inventive publisher with an exceptional list. It’s a perfect fit.”
Hopefully you are all as super excited as we are about this deal! Would be great for you to give some love to Gwenda in the comments and welcome her to the Strange Chemistry family.
It involved AR relaxing the usual submission guidelines and allowing authors-to-be who were unagented to send in a manuscript.
It worked wonderfully well, with three authors signed up!
Why am I telling you this?
Because this year Strange Chemistry is jumping on the band wagon!
That’s right – we are looking for YA authors-to-be who have written any form of speculative YA fiction (fantasy, SF, horror, or some mash-up of the three!) to submit in the period between April 16th and April 30th.
I am absolutely delighted to bring you the news of the first two authors signed to Strange Chemistry! I know a lot of you have been waiting impatiently to hear about the novels that will be coming out later this year, so it’s very exciting to be able to start giving you some details. Both of these authors have been signed into the Strange Chemistry family for two novels, so you will be hearing lots about them over the next few years!
Kim Curran is an incredibly talented debut novelist, with an absolute flair for YA writing.
Her debut novel, Shift is the tale of your average, 16-year old loser Scott Tyler. When he meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he’s not quite so average after all. He’s a ‘Shifter’. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world quickly starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.
Shift is a page-turning, kick-ass SF thriller novel with a very down-to-earth male protagonist. It will be published Autumn 2012, with a sequel to follow in 2013.
When we asked Kim how she felt, she said, “When I saw Angry Robot was launching a YA imprint I literally said I would kill to be published by those guys. So to have signed with Strange Chemistry is everything I could have wished for and then some. To say I’m excited is a massive understatement. I just hope I won’t be expected to actually kill anyone!” We got a teensy bit nervous at that last comment – we will try to keep her in check!
In our formal press release, we said: “As soon as I read the first page of Shift, I absolutely knew I wanted Kim on board. The novel is fast-paced, exciting and a real page turner. I simply cannot wait to introduce the world of Scott and Aubrey to YA readers!” And this pretty much equates to you needing to read the book NOW. Except you’ll have to wait *grins*
The deal was made between Amanda Rutter of Strange Chemistry and Sam Copeland of Rogers, Coleridge and White Ltd. Sam said of the deal: “I’m delighted to have placed Kim with Strange Chemistry. They are a great match; Kim is a hugely exciting young writer, and Strange Chemistry are a hugely exciting new imprint. I have admired from afar the work Angry Robot have been doing, and I’m sure Amanda and Strange Chemistry are going to do great things.”
Our second new author is Sean Cummings, who brings us the remarkably dark and funny Poltergeeks. Julie is an apprentice witch – or so she believes. When a dark power comes stalking out of the past to haunt her and her mother, Julie learns that she is far more than just a witch. With the help of her best friend Marcus and a rather unusual Great Dane, Julie has to race against time to ensure she can defeat the bad guy, save her mother and avoid being grounded – again!
We have signed Sean for two novels in the Poltergeeks universe, the first to be published in Autumn of this year with the second to follow in the summer of 2013.
Sean said, “I’m a huge fan of Angry Robot Books and when I heard they were starting a Young Adult imprint I just knew they’d be publishing some of the best in YA fiction. I’m thrilled that POLTERGEEKS has found a home with Strange Chemistry and I look forward to working with Amanda. (Did I mention that Angry Robot has fantastic cover art, too?)” while our Amanda said, “Sean has written a wonderful book with a title that made the whole AR office sit up and take notice – who wouldn’t want to read a novel called Poltergeeks?! And, as you read further, you just become gripped by this sassy and sarcastic apprentice witch who has to face down the darkest of powers. It’s just a tremendous story, and I’m thrilled that Strange Chemistry is bringing it to you.”
The deal was negotiated by Amanda Rutter, and Jenny Savill and Ella Kahn, from Andrew Nurnberg Associates. Jenny and Ella said: “We are thrilled that Strange Chemistry will be publishing POLTERGEEKS on their launch list this September. They have been hugely enthusiastic from the start and, with their obvious passion for genre YA, we knew they would be the perfect home for Sean’s fabulously funny and distinctive YA voice.”
Author picture credit is: David Marc Anderson and you can find out more about Sean (including details about his three previously published adult novels) on his website.
SO! HOW EXCITED ARE YOU NOW?! WE’RE SO EXCITED WE’VE MOVED TO ALL CAPS LOCK! *ahem* Anyway, give some love to Kim and Sean in the comments and stalk them on Twitter (Kim Curran and Sean Cummings) – and look out for more announcements soon!
Welcome to Part Two of our romp through the beautiful boys and gorgeous girls beloved of our bloggers!
As always, please feel free to add your own favourites in the comments section.
Dimitri Belikov from the Vampire Academy series
My YA crush?
Need you even ask?
Four words: Dimitri. Belikov. Is. AMAZING!
If you’ve read Richelle Mead’s entire Vampire Academy series, you’ll know that there are dozens of reasons to crush on Dimitri—assuming you even need a reason other than his sexy, swoon-worthy appearance. He’s smart, witty, great in hand to hand combat… but, honestly, the thing that I love the most about him? He believes in Rose’s strength. In the finale Clockwork Prince Will is so heroic while saving Tessa’s behind, and it’s adorable how Patch is so protective of Nora in Hush, Hush. But the true sign of a great guy? He believes in you. You, being able to save yourself. Dimitri doesn’t save Rose’s life—though he does help her out every now and then—instead, he tells her that he believes in her, encourages her, gives her advice. Somewhere deep inside his muscular chest, Dimitri knows that his girl can kick ass. And he respects that. And this, my friends, is why he is my ultimate YA crush.
Well… assuming I need an excuse to be crushing on Dimitri ;)
If you would have known me in my teenage years, you would know that Adam from If I Stay was my type. Completely my type. Adam and his skinny jeans, black lucky t-shirt, singer in a band, punk/emo and I would have probably developed an unhealthy obsession with him when I was in high school. Forman doesn’t give much of a physical description of Adam which is probably another thing that draws me in, because I have made him into whatever I wanted him to be in my head.
I also love how much he loves Mia. He loves all of her so much it makes my heart happy to think of it. He encourages her and loves her family as well. He wants the best for Mia because he truly believes she deserves nothing but the absolute best.
Where She Went gives us deeper side of him that we don’t see much of in YA characters. We get to see Adam at his most vulnerable moments and I wanted nothing more than to snuggle him while he was going through so much pain. He is absolutely broken and it’s heartbreaking to see him go through these things. We see him practically fall apart and we see that he is strong enough to get through it. Basically, he is just amazing on every level.
My favorite YA Crush is Ash from The Iron Fey series. He’s an ice prince yes, and he gives up everything to be with Meghan. He ignores the fact that it is forbidden for them to be together, and he doesn’t even care what others will think. At first, it appears he has a heart of ice, but he’s super warm-hearted once you get to know him. He also can fight like no other and is completely noble. He is practically perfect! Go Team Ash! :)
My YA crush just has to be Patch from the Hush Hush Series he’s perfect! Ultimately perfect!! I mean who wouldn’t want him sent to look after you and keep you safe then fall in love with you! He’s just ever girls dream guy . . . well mine anyway. What girls always secretly want is a bad boy and Patch fits the description for me amazingly well! Although he isn’t that bad . . . He just has that bad boy streak which appeals to me. I love reading about him and his part in the books as you never know what to expect next from him.
My YA crush is Kaleb from Myra McEntire’s Hourglass series. He’s a bad-boy, an empath and completely in love with someone he’s not supposed to be. He flips every single one of my triggers. I can’t wait to read more about him in Timepiece.
W.W. Hale (or just Hale) from Heist society by Ally Carter
Why I love Hale-
He comes with an air of mystery from a non-existent family, and although you don’t really know what he’s thinking, you know that he’ll never let you down. Not only is he gorgeous and an extremely talented thief, but hes loaded. His never ending excess of money lets him do what ever he wants, and help his friends in whatever crazy schemes they come up with, from his multiple private jets and yachts, to a house in every place you can think of. Hale is extremely charismatic, which just aids in letting people fall into Kat and his con’s. Hales is extremely smart, sarcastic, and a good actor, but most of all he’s extremely loving and protective of his friends, and the new family that Kat has brought him into.
Okay, I fell in love with Finn just by reading the BLURB of the book. God, what can’t YA guys be real? I love his humor, his constant blushing and his pure awesomeness in pissing Josh (ick) off. But what I love most is that even though he’s a jock, he’s always nice to everyone and just a really sweet guy. He’s stand up against his jock buddies if they were hurting anyone. PLUS he brings food for Hannah, because he knows she gets hungry every shift. Come on, who couldn’t say no to a guy like that? :D
Only one character comes to mind when I think YA crush, Catcher. Catcher a major character in Dead Tossed Waves, and Dark and Hollow Places of Carrie Ryan’s zombie trilogy is a traditional look at something different. Traditional meaning Catcher believes that he is a monster when he of course is not. Catcher is the only one immune to zombies. After he was bitten himself he can now walk amongst them without harm. He is awesome, courageous, and always the white knight. His first appearance in Dark and Hollow Places is the smoothest and heroic debut I have read so far that my jaw literally dropped, and yes I read it more than once. He is the quiet loner type that every girl swoons over and never falters when protecting what he loves. Since he is the only immune in existence he does not know if he is able to infect anyone, so he must keep his distant from the very ones he must protect. Angst, heartbreak, and heroism tied up in a tattered ribbon.
There’s lots to love about Four from Veronica Roth’s Divergent. From his dreamy deep blue eyes to his tough yet intelligent demeanour as instructor for the Dauntless, he’s the perfect match for Tris. Mysterious and alluring, passionate yet reserved, it’s obvious that he’s tough – he’s teaching her how to kick-ass and fight! – but you can always tell that there’s more to him than meets the eye. I love how his relationship with Tris is one that’s built on mutual admiration and respect and while obviously they’re attracted to each other, it’s so much nicer that they can fall in love without the need for a dramatic love triangle or an unhealthy obsessive dependency on each other. Four helps Tris conquer her fears and they push each other to succeed on their own merits, which is what every girl really wants in life – someone who can see you at your lowest, and still say, “You look tough as nails.” I’d take that guy over your average brooding bad boy any day.
She’s feisty, she’s witty, she’s sarcastic. She’s insane, and the decisions she makes aren’t always the best. Mara Dyer from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is the complete opposite of me. She’s one of those people that says what everybody is thinking. Never thinking about the consequence of her actions or words, Mara is outspoken and sarcastic, and intimidated by almost no one. Where I am thoughtful and non-confrontational, Mara seems to look for every chance she gets. The things that she gets into due to her outspoken nature are the complete opposite of me. And opposites attract, right?
My YA crush has to be Otieno from Shadows on the Moon. From the initial description of him with his dreadlocks and blue tattoos I started to swoon, by the time we discover he is a scholar I knew it was going to be love. I found his general attitude pretty attractive, and I loved the way he really understood Suzume. The fact he spends enough time away from his books to be an accomplished archer? Icing on a very lovely cake. Otieno is just the sort of boy I like, smart, sporty and sexy!
Well, here we go with our first New Releases post of 2012 and there are more than a few to choose from. We’ve included just about every YA book we could find – romance, science fiction, dystopian, thriller. We’re sure there is something here to your taste! These will be a mix of UK and US January releases. This is because a) we’re being a bit lazy and b) we wanted to appeal to ALL the readers of this site!
Of course, we might have missed some – please do add those we’ve missed into the comments section. And, here’s an idea: how about linking through to your reviews of any of these novels so that you can encourage people/warn people away from the respective books?
1) The Storyteller – Antonia Michaelis
Anna and Abel couldn’t be more different. They are both seventeen and in their last year of school, but while Anna lives in a nice old town house and comes from a well-to-do family, Abel, the school drug dealer, lives in a big, prisonlike tower block at the edge of town. Anna is afraid of him until she realizes that he is caring for his six-year-old sister on his own. Fascinated, Anna follows the two and listens as Abel tells little Micha the story of a tiny queen assailed by dark forces. It’s a beautiful fairy tale that Anna comes to see has a basis in reality. Abel is in real danger of losing Micha to their abusive father and to his own inability to make ends meet. Anna gradually falls in love with Abel, but when his “enemies” begin to turn up dead, she fears she has fallen for a murderer. Has she?
2) Cinder – Marissa Meyer
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
3) Bloodrose – Andrea Cremer
Calla has always welcomed war. But now that the final battle is upon her, there’s more at stake than fighting. There’s saving Ren, even if it incurs Shay’s wrath. There’s keeping Ansel safe, even if he’s been branded a traitor. There’s proving herself as the pack’s alpha, facing unnamable horrors, and ridding the world of the Keepers’ magic once and for all. And then there’s deciding what to do when the war ends. If Calla makes it out alive, that is.
4) Fracture – Megan Miranda
Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine – despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she’s far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can’t control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?
Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she’s reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy’s motives aren’t quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?
5) Under the Never Sky – Veronica Rossi
Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she’s never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.
Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He’s searching for someone too. He’s also wild – a savage – but might be her best hope at staying alive.
If they can survive, they are each other’s best hope for finding answers.
6) Pretty Little Secrets – Sara Shepard
Rewind to junior year in Rosewood, Pennsylvania, to a winter break no one has ever heard about. . . .
Fat snowflakes fall onto manicured lawns, quilted stockings hang over marble fireplaces, and everyone is at peace, especially Hanna, Emily, Aria, and Spencer. Now that Alison’s murderer is in jail and A is dead, they can finally relax. Little do they know there’s a new A in town. . . .
Rule number one of being an effective stalker: Get to know your prey. So I watch these liars day and night, keeping an eye on the trouble they get into, the messes they make, and the secrets they keep. Hanna’s desperate for a very personal session with her gym trainer. Emily is number one on Santa’s naughty list. Aria’s old flame from Iceland is about to land her in hot water. And Spencer’s resorting to some backhanded tactics to get what she wants.
What happens on holiday break stays on holiday break—right? But guess what. I saw. And now I’m telling.
7) Winterling – Sarah Prineas
With her boundless curiosity and wild spirit, Fer has always felt that she doesn’t belong. Not when the forest is calling to her, when the rush of wind through branches feels more real than school or the quiet farms near her house. Then she saves an injured creature—he looks like a boy, but he’s really something else. He knows who Fer truly is, and invites her through the Way, a passage to a strange, dangerous land.
Fer feels an instant attachment to this realm, where magic is real and oaths forge bonds stronger than iron. But a powerful huntress named the Mor rules here, and Fer can sense that the land is perilously out of balance. Fer must unlock the secrets about the parents she never knew and claim her true place before the worlds on both sides of the Way descend into endless winter.
8) Bittersweet – Sarah Ockler
Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life, and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances… a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.
So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life…and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.
It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last…
9) Unraveling Isobel – Eileen Cook
Isobel’s life is falling apart. Her mom just married some guy she met on the internet only three months before, and is moving them to his sprawling, gothic mansion off the coast of nowhere. Goodbye, best friend. Goodbye, social life. Hello, icky new stepfather, crunchy granola town, and unbelievably good-looking, officially off-limits stepbrother.
But on her first night in her new home, Isobel starts to fear that it isn’t only her life that’s unraveling—her sanity might be giving way too. Because either Isobel is losing her mind, just like her artist father did before her, or she’s seeing ghosts. Either way, Isobel’s fast on her way to being the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.
10) Cracked – K M Walton
Sometimes there’s no easy way out.
Victor hates his life. He has no friends, gets beaten up at school, and his parents are always criticizing him. Tired of feeling miserable, Victor takes a bottle of his mother’s sleeping pills—only to wake up in the hospital.
Bull is angry, and takes all of his rage out on Victor. That makes him feel better, at least a little. But it doesn’t stop Bull’s grandfather from getting drunk and hitting him. So Bull tries to defend himself with a loaded gun.
When Victor and Bull end up as roommates in the same psych ward, there’s no way to escape each other or their problems. Which means things are going to get worse—much worse—before they get better…
11) The International Kissing Club – Ivy Adams
Piper, Cassidy, Mei, and Izzy have been best friends their whole lives. And they’ve always agreed on one goal: to get out of tiny Paris, Texas, and see the world. The school’s foreign exchange program seems like the perfect escape: Piper will go to the original Paris; Mei will go to China; Cassidy will go to Australia; and Izzy, unable to afford the program, will stay at home. To add spice to their semester away, and to stay connected to their best friends, the girls start The International Kissing Club, a Facebook page where they can anonymously update one another and brag about all the amazing guys they’re meeting. After all, these girls are traveling abroad: amazing guys abound at every turn! But sometimes fun, flirty vacation flings turn into more serious romances, and sometimes you don’t return from abroad the same person you were. Will the girls’ relationships-and their friendships-be able to survive?
12) Darkness Falls – Cate Tiernan
Nastasya has lived for hundreds of years, but for some reason, life never seems to get any better. She left her spoiled, rich girl life to find peace at River’s Edge, a safe haven for wayward immortals. There, she learned to embrace River’s Edge, despite some drama involving the sexy Reyn, who she wants but won’t allow herself to have. But just as she’s getting comfortable, her family’s ties to dark magick force her to leave.
She falls back into her old, hard partying ways, but will her decision lead her into the hands of a dark immortal? Or will it be her first step to embracing the darkness within her?
13) The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – Jennifer E Smith
Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. She’s stuck at JFK, late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s in seat 18C. Hadley’s in 18A.
Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.
14) Sadie Walker is Stranded – Madeleine Roux
Sadie Walker fights for survival as the dead close in…In the months since The Outbreak, Seattle has become a walled citadel – the Infected are kept at bay but the city is rife with kidnappings, religious cults and black-market dealings. And things are about to get much, much worse. A group of frustrated religious fanatics, the ‘Repopulationists’, destroy part of the wall and zombies swarm the city. Devastated by the brutal kidnapping of her nephew, illustrator Sadie Walker flees Seattle with her best friend Andrea and secures passage on a boat with no destination. The ragtag bunch aboard the ship are thrown ashore by a storm and stumble across what appears to be a thriving survivors camp. The shipwrecked group, relived to find food, shelter and friendship, relax into the rhythm of the community’s existence. But then people start to disappear…
15) Dark Warning – Marie Louise Fitzpatrick
Ever since Taney was four she’s known she could see things before they happened. She also knows that she must keep her gift a secret – at all costs. Teased and isolated by the local children for being strange, as Taney grows older, she has more and more questions. Why is her father so terrified of her gift? What happened to her mother?
Then she meets the mysterious Billy, an outsider just as she is. Charming and attentive, Billy is the first person with whom Taney can simply be herself; with whom she can share her strange burden, and begin, instead, to feel proud of her ability. But then the visions come – lone girls attacked as they walk home at night.
And as Billy begins to withdraw further into himself, Taney must ask herself who to trust – her only friend, or the visions that torment her dreams…
16) Stormswept – Helen Dunmore
Morveren lives with her parents and twin sister Jenna on an island off the coast of Cornwall – an island that in the long distant past was devastated by a tidal wave, its halls and people lost. Only some of those taken by the sea may not have been lost at all! Now, as Morveren and Jenna’s relationship shifts and changes, like driftwood on the tide, Morveren finds a beautiful teenage boy in a rock pool after a storm. Going to his rescue, she is shocked to see that he is not human but a Mer boy. With Jenna refusing to face the truth, Morveren finds herself alone at the worst possible time. Because when the worlds of Air and Mer meet, the consequences can be terrible!
17) Love? Maybe – Heather Hepler
Just because Piper’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day does not mean she’s a romantic. In fact, after watching her father and then her stepfather leave, she’s pretty sure she doesn’t believe in love at all. Then her friends concoct a plan to find them all Valentine’s dates, and somehow Piper finds herself with the most popular guy in school. But true love never follows a plan, and a string of heartfelt gifts from a secret admirer has Piper wondering if she might be with the wrong guy.
In this heartwarming romance, true love is more than a maybe – and it might be closer than you think.
18) In Darkness – Nick Lake
In darkness I count my blessings like Manman taught me. One: I am alive. Two: there is no two. In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake a boy is trapped beneath the rubble of a ruined hospital: thirsty, terrified and alone. ‘Shorty’ is a child of the slums, a teenage boy who has seen enough violence to last a lifetime, and who has been inexorably drawn into the world of the gangsters who rule Site Soleil: men who dole out money with one hand and death with the other. But Shorty has a secret: a flame of revenge that blazes inside him and a burning wish to find the twin sister he lost five years ago. And he is marked. Marked in a way that links him with Toussaint L’Ouverture, the Haitian rebel who two-hundred years ago led the slave revolt and faced down Napoleon to force the French out of Haiti. As he grows weaker, Shorty relives the journey that took him to the hospital, a bullet wound in his arm. In his visions and memories he hopes to find the strength to survive, and perhaps then Toussaint can find a way to be free …
19) A Million Suns – Beth Revis
Godspeed was fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos.
It’s been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. And everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may just be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He’s finally free to enact his vision – no more Phydus, no more lies.
But when Elder discovers shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a puzzle that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier, unable to fight the romance that’s growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart.
In book two of the Across the Universe trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis mesmerizes us again with a brilliantly crafted mystery filled with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.
20) The Fault in our Stars – John Green
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now.
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
21) Hallowed – Cynthia Hand
For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought. Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.
22) Stolen Away – Alyxandra Harvey
For seventeen years, Eloise Hart had no idea the world of Faery even existed. Now she has been abducted and trapped in the Rath of Lord Strahan, King of Faery. Strahan was only meant to rule for seven years, as Faery tradition dictates, and then give up his crown to another. But he won’t comply, and now chaos threatens both worlds.
The only one who can break his stranglehold on the Faery court is his wife. . . Eloise’s aunt Antonia. Using Eloise to lure Antonia, Strahan captures his wife, desperate to end the only threat to his reign. Now Eloise must become the rescuer. Together with her best friends Jo and Devin, she must forge alliances with other Fae, including a gorgeous protector named Lucas, and Strahan’s mysterious son, Eldric-who may or may not betray them.
23) Daughter of the Centaurs – Kate Klimo
Malora knows what she was born to be: a horse wrangler and a hunter, just like her father. But when her people are massacred by batlike monsters called Leatherwings, Malora will need her horse skills just to survive. The last living human, Malora roams the wilderness at the head of a band of magnificent horses, relying only on her own wits, strength, and courage. When she is captured by a group of centaurs and taken to their city, Malora must decide whether the comforts of her new home and family are worth the parts of herself she must sacrifice to keep them.
24) Havoc – Jeff Sampson
Emily Webb thought life would return to normal after the death of the man who attacked her and her fellow “Deviants.” Or as normal as it could be, after discovering that she has nighttime superpowers . . . and she’s a werewolf. But when Emily awakes one night to find an otherworldy Shadowman watching her, she knows the danger has only just begun.
So Emily and her pack-mates set out to find the people who made them what they are, and why. But as they get closer to the truth, they realize they aren’t the only ones in town with special powers: The most popular girls in school might just have a secret of their own–and they might just have it out for Emily.
With shadowy beings stalking them, a mysterious company doing all it can to keep the truth hidden, and the secrecy of her new identity in jeopardy, life threatens to spiral out of control for Emily. Soon these dangers will come together in one terrifying confrontation that may force her to make the toughest choice of her life . . . so far.
25) The Way We Fall – Megan Crewe
When a deadly virus begins to sweep through sixteen-year-old Kaelyn’s community, the government quarantines her island—no one can leave, and no one can come back.
Those still healthy must fight for dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.
Because how will she go on if there isn’t?
26) Fifteen Days Without a Head – Dave Cousins
Fifteen-year-old Laurence Roach just wants a normal life, but it’s not easy when your mum is a depressed alcoholic, and your six-year-old brother thinks he’s a dog. When Mum fails to come home one night, Laurence tells nobody, terrified he and his brother will be taken into care if anyone finds out. Instead, he attempts to keep up the pretence that Mum is still around: dressing up in her clothes to trick the neighbours and spinning an increasingly complicated tangle of lies. After two weeks on their own, running out of food and money, and with suspicious adults closing in, Laurence finally discovers what happened to his mother. And that’s when the trouble really starts . . .
27) Venus Rocks – Fiona Dunbar
Hey, Kitty Slade here. Just hanging out, doing ordinary things. You know, like seeing ghosts. It’s been happening for a while now, but this time – this time is different…
When Kitty sees a ghost ship, she knows her spooky powers are growing stronger. Plunged into a dark mystery from long a go, she soon encounters Beth, a lost soul who drowned on board. Kitty must uncover the secrets buried at the bottom of the sea – before it’s too late…
28) Shadow’s Edge – Maureen Lipinski
Sixteen-year-old Leah Spencer didn’t mind being a natural-born Shaman to the Créatúir. Until she broke Rule #1 and traveled to the Other Realm, where she quickly lost time. Like, a whole year of time. She missed out on everything—holidays, school, her sixteenth birthday, the boyfriend who ditched her. So Leah swore to leave all things magical behind her and lead the life of a normal high school girl.
But when a mysterious dark force starts offing the Créatúir, both Light and Dark, Leah must choose between her new life and “getting all CSI” on the Other Realm murder spree. With the help of her three sisters (each with their own magical gift), and three gorgeous guys—who may or may not be part of the evil magic—Leah must vanquish an ancient dark force that is connected to her family in unimaginable ways.
29) The Book of Blood and Shadow – Robin Wasserman
It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up. When the night began, Nora had two best friends and an embarrassingly storybook one true love. When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands and an echoing scream that stopped only when the tranquilizers pierced her veins and left her in the merciful dark.
But the next morning, it was all still true: Chris was dead. His girlfriend Adriane, Nora’s best friend, was catatonic. And Max, Nora’s sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also—according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone—a murderer.
Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora follows the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. It ultimately brings her to the ancient streets of Prague, where she is drawn into a dark web of secret societies and shadowy conspirators, all driven by a mad desire to possess something that might not even exist. For buried in a centuries-old manuscript is the secret to ultimate knowledge and communion with the divine; it is said that he who controls the Lumen Dei controls the world. Unbeknownst to her, Nora now holds the crucial key to unlocking its secrets. Her night of blood is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life.
30) Truth – Julia Karr
Nina Oberon’s life has changed enormously in the last few months. When her mother was killed, Nina discovered the truth about her father, the leader of the Resistance. And now she sports the same Governing Council–ordered tattoo of XVI on her wrist that all sixteen-year-old girls have. The one that announces to the world that she is easy prey to predators. But Nina won’t be anyone’s stereotype. And when she joins an organization of girls working within the Resistance, she knows that they can put an end to one of the most terrifying secret programs the GC has ever conceived. Because the truth always comes out…and the consequences can be deadly.
31) Horizon – Sophie Littlefield
Cass Dollar is a survivor. She’s overcome the meltdown of civilization, humans turned mindless cannibals, and the many evils of man.
But from beneath the devastated California landscape emerges a tendril of hope. A mysterious traveler arrives at New Eden with knowledge of a passageway North—a final escape from the increasingly cunning Beaters. Clutching this dream, Cass and many others decamp and follow him into the unknown.
Journeying down valleys and over barren hills, Cass remains torn between two men. One—her beloved Smoke—is not so innocent as he once was. The other keeps a primal hold on her that feels like Fate itself. And beneath it all, Cass must confront the worst of what’s inside her—dark memories from when she was a Beater herself. But she, and all of the other survivors, will fight to the death for the promise of a new horizon….
32) New Girl – Paige Harbison
They call me ‘New Girl’…
Ever since I arrived at exclusive, prestigious Manderly Academy, that’s who I am. New girl. Unknown. But not unnoticed—because of her.
Becca Normandy—that’s the name on everyone’s lips. The girl whose picture I see everywhere. The girl I can’t compare to. I mean, her going missing is the only reason a spot opened up for me at the academy. And everyone stares at me like it’s my fault.
Except for Max Holloway—the boy whose name shouldn’t be spoken. At least, not by me. Everyone thinks of him as Becca’s boyfriend but she’s gone, and here I am, replacing her. I wish it were that easy. Sometimes, when I think of Max, I can imagine how Becca’s life was so much better than mine could ever be.
And maybe she’s still out there, waiting to take it back.
33) Tempest – Julie Cross
The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.
That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.
Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.
But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit… or kill him.
Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.
34) My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan – Seth Rudetsky
Justin has two goals for sophomore year: to date Chuck, the hottest boy in school, and to become the king of Cool U, the table in the cafeteria where the “in” crowd sits.
Unfortunately, he has the wrong look (short, plump, Brillo-pad curls), he has the wrong interests (Broadway, chorus violin), and he has the wrong friends (Spencer, into Eastern religions, and Mary Ann, who doesn’t shave her armpits). And Chuck? Well, he’s not gay; he’s dating Becky, a girl in chorus with whom Justin is friendly.
But Justin is determined.
In detention one day (because he saw Chuck get it first), Justin comes up with a perfect plan: to allow Becky to continue dating Chuck, whom Becky’s dad hates. They will pretend that Becky is dating Justin, whom Becky’s dad loves. And when Becky and Justin go out on a fake date, Chuck will meet up with them for a real date with Becky. Chuck’s bound to find Justin irresistable, right? What could go wrong?
35) Incarnate – Jodi Meadows
Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.
Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?
Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?
36) Tangled – Erica O’Rourke
Constance started to keen as the air around us began to thrash and twist, the caustic scent of ozone burning my nose. As I watched, her dark gold hair began to lift and kink into knots.
“I’m here. It’ll be okay.” It was the last thing I said before my best friend’s little sister went supernova in the second-floor girls’ bathroom, taking me with her.
A month ago, Mo Fitzgerald risked her life to stop an ancient prophecy and avenge her best friend’s murder. Now, she only wants to keep her loved ones safe. But the magic—and the Chicago Mob—have other plans.
Mysterious, green-eyed Luc is back, asking for help—and a second chance. Colin, her strongest protector, is hiding a shocking secret. And inside Constance, the magic is about to go terribly wrong. Tangled in a web of love and betrayal, Mo must choose between the life she’s dreamed of and the one she’s destined for.
37) The Edumacation of Jay Baker – Jay Clark
A few “sexy” bullet points about Jay: • He is in love with a cheerleader named Cameo “Appearance” Parnell
• He is forever losing “Love-15” to tennis-playing goddess Caroline Richardson
• He rocks a touché array of pop-culture references, jokes, and puns
• His family-life cookie is about to crumble.
Live vicariously through Jay as he faces off against his mortal enemy, gets awkward around his dream girl(s), loses his marbles in a Bermudian love triangle, watches his parents’ relationship implode, and, finally, learns to get real and be himself(ish).
38) Pale – Chris Wooding
The Lazarus Serum can bring you back from the dead. Only thing is, it turns you into a Pale. Jed can’t imagine anything worse, but then the choice is taken out of his hands…
39) Scattering Like Light – S C Ransom
Alex knows there’s a way that she and Callum can be together. Catherine holds the key to unlocking the secret but she’s disappeared. Olivia has answers, too, but they’re hidden deep inside her troubled mind and won’t be found. It seems impossible but Alex can’t give up. The question is, how much will she risk to be with the one she loves? Could it be everything?
40) Crow Girl Rises – Kate Cann
Brimming with confidence after her spooky display at the Halloween party and with love on the horizon, Lily and her best friend Marsha decide to take on the bullies so they know she is not a girl to be messed with any more. But when they start picking on the younger girls instead, Lily vows to stop them forever.
41) The Future of Us – Jay Asher
It’s 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They’ve been best friends almost as long – at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh’s family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they’re automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn’t been invented yet. And they’re looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.
By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they’re forced to confront what they’re doing right – and wrong – in the present.
42) A Witch in Winter – Ruth Warburton
Anna Winterson doesn’t know she’s a witch and would probably mock you for believing in magic, but after moving to the small town of Winter with her father, she learns more than she ever wanted to about power. When Anna meets Seth, she is smitten, but when she enchants him to love her, she unwittingly amplifies a deadly conflict between two witch clans and splits her own heart in two. She wants to love Seth, to let him love her – but if it is her magic that’s controlling his passion, then she is as monstrous as the witch clan who are trying to use her amazing powers for their own gain.
43) Fated – Sarah Alderson
What happens when you discover you aren’t who you thought you were? And that the person you love is the person who will betray you? If your fate is already determined, can you fight it?
When Evie Tremain discovers that she’s the last in a long line of Demon slayers and that she’s being hunted by an elite band of assassins –Shapeshifters, Vampires and Mixen demons amongst them – she knows she can’t run. They’ll find her wherever she goes. Instead she must learn to stand and fight.
But when the half-human, half-Shadow Warrior Lucas Gray – is sent to spy on Evie and then ordered to kill her before she can fulfil a dangerous prophecy, their fates become inextricably linked. The war that has raged for one thousand years between humans and demons is about to reach a devastating and inevitable conclusion. Either one or both of them will die before this war ends.
If your life becomes bound to another’s, what will it take to sever it?
44) Wereworld: Shadow of the Hawk – Curtis Jobling
Enslaved by the Goatlord Kesslar, young werewolf Drew finds himself on the volcanic isle of Scoria, forced to fight in the arena for the Lizardlords. With the help of an unlikely ally, he must find a way to break free – but who has ever managed to escape?
Meanwhile, Hector the Wereboar flees the forces of the Catlords. Now on board the pirate ship Maelstrom, the enemy’s net is closing in. Haunted by the spirits of the dead, Hector is soon left wondering who the true enemy is . . .
45) Night School – C J Daugherty
Allie Sheridan’s world is falling apart. She hates her school. Her brother has run away from home. And she’s just been arrested.
This time her parents have finally had enough. They cut her off from her friends and send her away to a boarding school for problem teenagers.
But Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. Its rules are strangely archaic. It allows no computers or phones. Its students are an odd mixture of the gifted, the tough and the privileged. And then there’s the secretive Night School, whose activities other students are forbidden even to watch.
When Allie is attacked one night the incident sets off a chain of events leading to the violent death of a girl at the summer ball. As the school begins to seem like a very dangerous place, Allie must learn who she can trust. And what’s really going on at Cimmeria Academy.
46) The Feral Child – Che Golden
Her parents dead, Maddy is sick of living in Ireland, sick of Blarney and sick of her cousin Danny, one of the nastiest people you could meet this side of an Asbo. Mad as hell one evening, she crawls inside the grounds of the castle, the one place she has always been forbidden to go. Once inside, she is chased by a strange feral boy, who she suspects is one of the faerie: cruel, fantastical people who live among humans and exchange local children for their own.
When the boy returns to steal her neighbour Stephen into his world, Maddy and her cousins set off on a terrifying journey into a magical wilderness, determined to bring him back home. To do so, they must face an evil as old as the earth itself…
47) Merion of the Stones – Allan Frewin Jones
Branwen must bravely follow destiny’s path even when it leads her into the enemy’s stronghold …Branwen is set her next task by the Shining Ones: she must rescue an ancient god trapped in a Saxon prison. But the trail leads into the heart of Saxon territory, and she and her followers face their greatest challenge yet…until she learns that she is being hunted by the most feared warrior of all Scandinavia. Surrounded by danger, it is the worst time for her loyal band to splinter. But as Branwen seeks to outgrow her mentor, tensions within her band are growing. In her darkest hour, can Branwen remain on destiny’s path?
48) Doubleborn – Toby Forward
Tamrin doesn’t like being at the Canterstock College for Wizards, but when the tailor who sent her there arrives to take her away she knows that she should not go with him. She sets off to find Sam, only to find that their mutual enemy, Ash, has been waiting for her to lead the way to Flaxfield’s old apprentice so that she can use him to help her to escape from the Tower in which she is imprisoned.
49) Saving Daisy – Phil Earle
Losing love, fighting guilt, seeking hope.
Daisy’s mum is gone. Her dad refuses to talk about it and as far as Daisy’s concerned, it’s all her fault…
Saving Daisy is a powerful and moving story that follows the life of Daisy Houghton who first featured in Phil Earle’s critically acclaimed debut, Being Billy.
As Daisy struggles with misplaced guilt over her mother’s death, she turns to extreme and violent measures and soon her life starts spiralling out of control. This leads to tragedy and suddenly Daisy finds herself left all alone. But sometimes the kindness of a stranger can turn things around. A stranger who desperately wants to save Daisy – if she’ll only let herself be saved.
50) The Beast – Barry Hutchison
There is a beast on the loose and it has killed Kyle’s head teacher. Now Kyle has to stop it — but it would help if he knew where to look. Can Kyle stop this monster from the Darkest Corners before anyone else dies? Certainly not, if the police have anything to do with it. Because they think they know who the beast is. They think it’s Kyle!
There you have it! A massive fifty YA releases for January.
- What have we missed?
- Which books from this list are unmissable?
- Which hadn’t you heard about before, but are now desperate to read?
At first we thought we would struggle to come up with a proper list of YA fantasy – true, epic fantasy, rather than paranormal fantasy – and would have to rely on old-time series like David Eddings’ Belgariad (which we still do urge you to check out). However, once we started working our brains, we came up with plenty and could have added even more. The fantasy side of YA is thriving, for sure! Here are our top ten picks of what to read – as is usual, if you agree, disagree or have more to add, then leave us comments – we luuuuuurve comments! *grin*
1) Kristin Cashore
First up is the series of books by Kristin Cashore – start with Graceling, move onto Fire and then join us all in waiting feverishly for Bitterblue, which is due out this year.
Here is the blurb for Graceling:
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.
When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.
Be warned that Goodman’s series came out with two different titles in the US and the UK – in the US, you’ll be picking up Eon and Eona, while in the UK it is The Two Pearls of Wisdom and The Necklace of the Gods (got any preference over title?)
Here is the blurb for Eon:
Twelve-year old Eon has been studying the ancient art of the Dragoneyes for two years. But he is playing a dangerous game: Eon is actually Eona, 16 years old and a girl. Her true identity must remain hidden at all costs: it is forbidden for women to practise the Art, and to be discovered would be punishable by death.
Let down by her injured leg, it seems that Eon is destined to fail in her quest, until a spectacular twist in events catapults her into the opulent but treacherous world of the Imperial court. Without a master to guide her, Eon must learn to harness her unprecedented natural power, while protecting the secret that could cost her everything…
Tamora Pierce has written a whopping 27 novels – we want to particularly highlight her Tortall series of books. This has been published over various quartets and duologies, and we still think it is best to start with Alanna: The First Adventure (from there read In the Hand of the Goddess, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man and Lionness Rampant. You’re welcome).
Here is the blurb for Alanna:
Call it fate, call it intuition, or just call it common sense, but somehow young Alanna knows she isn’t meant to become some proper lady cloistered in a convent. Instead, she wants to be a great warrior maiden–a female knight.But in the land of Tortall, women aren’t allowed to train as warriors. So Alanna finds a way to switch places with her twin, Thom, and take his place as a knight in training at the palace of King Roald. Disguising herself as a boy, Alanna begins her training as a page in the royal court.Soon, she is garnering the admiration of all around her, including the crown prince, with her strong work ethic and her thirst for knowledge. But all the while, she is haunted by the recurring vision of a black stone city that emanates evil… somehow she knows it is her fate to purge that place of its wickedness. But how will she find it? And can she fulfill her destiny while keeping her gender a secret?
We first heard about this series (The Queen’s Thief) after the championing of The Book Smugglers, and now we want to become champions ourselves! Start with The Thief, moving on to The Queen of Attolia, then The King of Attolia and finally A Conspiracy of Kings.
It is quite likely that you have already read His Dark Materials, the trilogy that comprises Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. These books have become a phenomena, held up as one of the finest examples of fantasy writing for young people.
Here is the blurb for Northern Lights:
Lyra and her animal daemon live half-wild and carefree among the scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. But the destiny that has awaited her since birth takes her on a dangerous journey to the frozen North in search of a kidnapped friend. It is a journey that will have immeasurable consequences for her own world…
We include this author even though she is most famous for her contemporary YA, since it demonstrates that many fine authors have turned their hand to fantasy and achieved great success. The novel we are talking about here is Finnikin of the Rock.
Here is the blurb for the novel:
At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar’s cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere.But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock—to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she’ll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin’s faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.
Cinda Williams Chima has written two fantasy series that will be enjoyed thoroughly by teens. The first is The Heir Chronicles (comprising The Warrior Heir, The Wizard Heir and The Dragon Heir) and the second is the Seven Realms quartet (comprising The Demon King, The Exiled Queen, The Gray Wolf Throne and The Crimson Crown).
The blurb for The Warrior Heir is:
Before he knew about the Roses, 16-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity. Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high-schoolers. Then one day Jack skips his medicine. Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before. And it feels great—until he loses control of his own strength and nearly kills another player during soccer team tryouts.Soon, Jack learns the startling truth about himself: He is Weirlind; part of an underground society of magical people who live among us. At the head of this magical society sit the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing The Game—a magical tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death. The winning house rules the Weir.As if his bizarre magical heritage isn’t enough, Jack finds out that he’s not just another member of Weirlind—he’s one of the last of the warriors—at a time when both houses are scouting for a player.
It could be argued that The Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix – currently Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen (with a handful of short stories and companion novels) – is more for middle grade. However, when we read it we felt that teen readers would gain just as much from the reading experience. Besides, it’s damn brilliant *grins*
The blurb for Sabriel is:
Who will guard the living when the dead arise? Sabriel is sent as a child across the Wall to the safety of a school in Ancelstierre. Away from magic; away from the Dead. After receiving a cryptic message from her father, 18-year-old Sabriel leaves her ordinary school and returns across the Wall into the Old Kingdom. Fraught with peril and deadly trickery, her journey takes her to a world filled with parasitical spirits, Mordicants, and Shadow Hands — for her father is none other than The Abhorson. His task is to lay the disturbed dead back to rest. This obliges him — and now Sabriel, who has taken on her father’s title and duties — to slip over the border into the icy river of Death, sometimes battling the evil forces that lurk there, waiting for an opportunity to escape into the realm of the living. Desperate to find her father, and grimly determined to help save the Old Kingdom from destruction by the horrible forces of the evil undead, Sabriel endures almost impossible challenges whilst discovering her own supernatural abilities — and her destiny.
We realise that Trudi Canavan is also shelved under adult fantasy in bookstores, but we think her books fit better in the YA section. Read the Black Magician trilogy, starting with The Magicians’ Guild, then The Novice and finally The High Lord.
The blurb for The Magicians’ Guild is:
Each year the magicians of Imardin gather together to purge the city streets of vagrants, urchins and miscreants. Masters of the disciplines of magic, they know that no one can oppose them. But their protective shield is not as impenetrable as they believe. Sonea, angry, frustrated and outraged by the treatment of her family and friends, hurls a stone at the shield, putting all her rage behind it. To the amazement of all who bear witness, the stone passes unhindered through the barrier and renders a magician unconscious. The guild’s worst fear has been realised …There is an untrained magician loose on the streets. She must be found before her uncontrolled powers unleash forces that will destroy both her, and the city that is her home.
Sherwood Smith is our last entry – she has written a large number of YA fantasy books, but we’ll concentrate here on the Inda quartet, comprising Inda, The Fox, The King’s Shield and Treason’s Shore.
The blurb for Inda is as follows:
Indevan Algara-Vayir is the second son of a powerful prince, destined to stay at home and defend his family’s castle. Inda is sent to the Royal Academy where he learns the art of war and finds that danger and intrigue don’t only come from outside the kingdom—and that one can find oneself on the outside, fighting the dangers that do exist there.
One of the wonderful aspects of YA fiction is the romantic plotlines we’ve seen – from vampires who fall in love with mortals, to two regular human kids. First love, first kisses, first encounters are something that many teens will be thinking about and definitely enjoy reading about.
So, we decided to ask some of the fantastic YA bloggers who their book crush is? Which character does it for them? Makes their stomach tingle and wish that characters could step from the pages of novels? Here are their responses!
Jacob from Twilight
Oh my fave YA Crush!?!? I have so many. But I’m loyal to one person. Jacob Black! He was my first Ya crush. He is handsome, lovely, dangerous, loyal. He just so yummy!!
Guys in our world are no match to the boys in book-land. Especially, when it comes to someone like Étienne St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss. He’s a perfect gentleman. Well, as gentleman-like as guys get. If you’re being bullied he would stand up for you in a heartbeat. When Anna was being bullied by Mickey Mouse sweatshirt-man, Étienne was ready to fight the guy. Talk about sexy. He will be there for you, even when your Christmas break sucks and you just need someone to talk to—yeah, he’ll still be there. St. Clair would go to the ends of the Earth for his friends and that’s mostly what makes him so likeable. Anna is his best friend in the world and even though I am a bit jealous of her, I love St. Clair’s devotion and affection. I would love to hear more about him, but, sadly, there is no sequel to his story.
Akiva from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor is my latest YA crush. He’s an angel who cannot help but be lured by a beautiful human from doing what needs to be done. He’s haunted and beautiful, definitely a dreamworthy combination. Akiva is dangerous as well, smiting the bad guys and comes close to offing his love interest because of who she consorts with. And there’s nothing more telling than fire-colored eyes, is there? I’m definitely crushing.
Sam Roth and Cole St. Clair from The Wolves of Mercy Falls
So, Sam is a little on the sensitive side. Not so much the type to cry during a chick flick, but the type that reads poetry and plays his guitar and loves loves loves Grace with all of his being. And to me that is hot, really hot. He isn’t the super macho tough guy, but his occasional jealous moments and the intimate way he looks at Grace is way better. You see, Sam really is broken, he went through some horrifying things as a child, and even though Grace had family and friends, she was all alone. They needed each other and I think they truly loved each other.
And I stand by that. I think Sam is awesome. But my focus seems to have shifted a bit when we are introduced to another wolf, Cole St. Clair. Oh my stars, is Cole amazing. I didn’t love him in Linger, I liked him a whole lot, but it took me getting to know him and seeing another side in Forever to be completely hooked.
Cole is a lot of things that Sam is not. They are both musicians, intelligent, caring and really good looking guys, but Cole is witty and hilarious and he could charm my socks off in a minute. I basically loved everything he did and said.
My YA boy crush at the moment is Jack Caputo from Everneath by Brodi Ashton. A word of warning: This isn’t my biggest crush but simply my most recent. I’d agonise too much, otherwise! Jack is completely swoon-worthy because he’s that perfect boyfriend. He’s the quarterback of the football team and adores his girlfriend, Nikki. He’s charming, funny, caring, “sensitive”, adorably sweet, strong, loyal and completely determined. What’s not to love? So many positive adjectives! Everneath tells the story of the past and present. While Jack and Nikki were an inseparable couple in the past (those flashbacks will make you faint with sugar overload), the present deals with the rekindling of their relationship after their surprising break-up. Throughout it all, Jack’s a solid friend who always supports Nikki. He never stopped loving her even when she disappeared for 6 months and deals so well with the supernatural baggage she brings back. He’s an amazing person that everyone would be friends with in real life. What a guy! <3
Peregrine (Perry) from UNDER THE NEVER SKY is my new book boyfriend. From the very first chapter, Perry is fierce and commanding. He battles with the hunter side of himself that is good at bringing down his foes, as his intentions are to protect his loved ones at all costs, not be a ruthless killer. But he can’t deny he’s a born fighter. His blood cries out to take on his brother to become the Blood Lord of his tribe. Only after he spends time with Aria, his Sense and loyalty to her makes taking on his leadership role complicated. The way he protects Aria, with skills that no other under the Aether sky can match, makes my heart ache for this guy. Strong, protective, amazingly hot with a tanned, muscular body, not to mention his tribal tattoos, Perry is one to be challenged for the top YA crush spot!
My YA crush definitely has to be Jace Wayland from the Mortal Instruments series. I have to say, as well as him being described as one big hottie, he is such a great character in the books. I love how cheeky and how blatantly rude he can be at times and he has me laughing for quite a while whenever he makes some brash remark. I could read quotes from Jace all day and still want more! Aside from that when he does decide to be serious he can come out with some really heartfelt things that are all the more heartbreaking just because he doesn’t say them often.
My YA crush? I have so many! But I think I’m going to have to go with Emrys from T.A. Barron’s The Lost Years of Merlin. Yes, this is a book series nobody ever talks about ever despite being a New York Times bestseller AND being absolutely fabulous – it’s one of my favorites! – but come on! It’s not that I’m a sucker for anything to do with Arthurian legend. It’s that Emrys is flawed and scared but brave and always willing to do what’s right. Plus we have the same weird snarky sense of humor. Give me a smart guy with a good sense of humor over your stereotypical controlling hottie any day.
My YA crush of this year has to be Noah Shaw from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. There are very few characters that truly spring to life for me. But I could see Noah without having him described much. All of his actions and reactions were so easily visible and felt natural. His witty response to just about everything kept me laughing and fanning myself at the same time. Mara was so full of sarcasm that she needed someone to match her and keep her on her toes. Noah provided this flawlessly with an adorable half smile and rumpled clothes to boot. His willingness to help Mara, even if it was from herself, made him sweet and his charming bad boy way of throwing himself into a fight gave him that dangerous edge that’s completely irresistible. Plus, he’s got a sexy British accent. There are millions of them but here’s one of Noah’s best quotes:
“You’re the girl who called me an asshole the first time we spoke. The girl who tried to pay for lunch even after you learned I have more money than God. You’re the girl who risked her ass to save a dying dog, who makes my chest ache whether you’re wearing green silk or ripped jeans. You’re the girl that I–” Noah stopped, then took a step closer to me. “You are my girl.” –The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Sarah Dessen has become known for her boys in the world of YA. And for good reason. Although Owen from Just Listen seems to be the reigning favourite, I have a major soft spot for the hero of The Truth About Forever: Wes. He a troubled art boy who’s dealing with grief and anger issues and he’s pretty damn awesome, to be honest. Wes helps to heal Macy and completely steals everyone’s heart in the process.
The fireworks have now gone off all over the world and we are now, together, all in 2012.
This is often a time to think ahead, to wonder what it is we are capable of achieving – and to make resolutions. And, as readers, I’m pretty sure some of those resolutions will involve reading.
Our own reading resolutions are as follows:
- to read 100 books (this has been the same challenge as the last two years, although it might prove more difficult now that the job includes reading as well…)
- to re-read the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan in preparation for the final novel being released (hopefully at the end of this year)
- to read the Vampire Academy series.
- to keep up with YA debuts in 2012
They are not many, but I’m sure will keep me occupied!
So, tell us, what are your reading resolutions? Have you a set number of books to read? Is there a series you are desperate to read but haven’t tackled yet? Have you joined any of the Reading Challenges hosted by bloggers this year?