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Announcing T L Costa!

Once again we’d like to welcome a new author to our ranks – our family now stands at twelve authors; how extraordinary! Please give a very warm Strange Chemistry welcome to T L Costa.

We’ve signed T L Costa with a novel called Playing Tyler, and it is truly extraordinary. We cannot wait to have this novel in the hands of readers.

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Introducing the Iron Fey series

We have to confess – and we know it makes us bad people – that we haven’t yet tackled the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa. So we have turned to a group of bloggers to tell us (and you!) exactly why we should be picking it up instantly.

(aren’t those covers just *gorgeous*?!)

First up, let’s hear from Pixie who operates The Bookaholic:

The Iron Fey Series by Julie Kagawa stole my heart a year ago after I picked it up per recommendation from a friend. No one told me there were Shakespeare characters involved. All I knew before going into the first book was that it was a YA Fantasy with fairy characters and adventure. After falling head over heels for the Wicked Lovely series (Melissa Marr) in the last few years (and it ending shortly before I started this one), I wanted a fresh new series to start.
I’ve reviewed these books on my blog and have had several other friends pick them up. I’ve loved them. I’ve read the novellas—with the exception of the newest one that’s to be released soon—and I’ve called a team. Team Ash here! Holla! Ahem. Anyways, I saw an opportunity recently on Twitter calling for a few bloggers to write articles on WHY we love this series. So here I am. Why do I love The Iron Fey?

Unique. I first expected the typical fae story with nothing new to give the reader. Kagawa did the complete opposite through the entire series. Every time I thought it was about to get “typical”, it turned around, twisted, and became sensational. This in itself was what began my deep-rooted love.

The characters! Oh, I can’t even begin here without going into some long two-page detail about the characters. They fascinated me from the start. Shakespeare, people. Shakespeare. Everyone knows by now how much of a geek I am with Shakespeare. The minute I realized it was Puck and Titania…and then Queen Mab!! (Queen Mab by the way totally rocks my socks…I don’t care if she’s supposed to be the “villain” or whatever) So, yeah, I probably had an almost dork overload. Almost. But it’s not just about the Shakespeare-inspired backdrop. I don’t want potential readers to think that there’s nothing new to bring to the table. Because there is. Kagawa crafted a world of new and interesting characters—even an entirely new kind of faery, the Iron Fae. You don’t have to know everything about fae lore and legends to understand the characters and background, and that’s another reason to love this series.

There’s an awesome talking cat. I want a Grimalkin.

The romance between Ash and Meghan is dreamy.

The writing is vivid and powerful. I can re-read these books without growing tired of the world of NeverNever. It’s an incredible journey that is addictive and charming and intoxicating…

The Iron Fey Series is magical and this is why I love it so much.

Shouldn’t they make it a movie?!

Next is Liyana, blogger from LiyanaLand and ambassador from The Faery Court (we couldn’t NOT have Liyana tell us about the Iron Fey series! *winks*)

Ahh, the Iron Fey series. A series that goes back to the roots of the fey mythology and honours it by creating a unique spin on the whole situation with this simple take: having Iron Fey, aka fey that are not immune to iron.

Traditionally, the fey are deathly allergic to them, so you can see how brilliant this one twist is. Simple, yet brilliant.

I’ve always been a fan of fey stories, but the first time I read Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, I was just blown away. I’m a sucker for a good setting and an interesting, action filled storyline, so this is just perfect. The Iron Fey series has lush imagery and descriptions throughout its four books, and a rich, layered ensemble of characters that stand well on their own. At the same time, they simply excel when they’re together.

Let’s take Grim for example. Underneath that Cheshire cat-like presence and mystery, there’s a subtle layer of danger and the cunning of a hyena. He has some of the best one liners in the series, and he’s no doubt my favourite character.

We can’t forget Ash either, because he’s crucial to the whole series. I mean, he has a book dedicated to his own heartwrenching adventures. The epitome of the hot, tortured soul, that’s what Ash is. *swoons*

I wrote this in my review of THE IRON KING, and I think it bears repeating:

The IRON FEY series can double as a fey dictionary.

There’s a lot of tightly plotted worldbuilding, with obviously a whole lot of research poured into it, and yet the way they’re presented makes it interesting. The scenes and history of the NeverNever is just impeccable. I always feel like I’m there with Meghan (or Ash in the case of The Iron Knight), and when I don’t, I want to be there.

I do love that Kagawa’s branching off into a different story with the Immortals Rules series (another great read), but I can’t lie: I’m really excited that there’ll be a spin-off of the Iron Fey series, called The Iron Fey: Call of The Forgotten. Who’s ready for Ethan’s story?! (Me! Me!)

Lily from The Whispering of the Pages talks more about the characters:

If asked who my favourite author is, I don’t even have to think about it. Without a doubt, Julie Kagawa is my favourite. Her characters are compelling and original. They have voices that will draw the reader into the book and compel them to read until the very end. Pick up one book and you’ll take Megan, Puck, Ash, Grim, and many other characters into your hearts forever.

The thing I love most about the Iron Fey series, however, is the world. It’s so vivid and detailed. The amount of faerie creatures that Kagawa has invented, or reinvented, is astounding. The most striking of these creatures are obviously the Iron Fey. Having the whole series named after them, you can imagine that they crop up a lot.

If you haven’t read any books about the fey before, let me just say before I go on, forget everything you know about Fairies. Forget Tinkerbell, forget sparkly, happy magic. The fey are evil creatures who have no regard for humanity. They can be combated using many things. The colour red, salt and wearing clothes inside out are but a few. The one that is most important here though, is Iron. Iron is very damaging to fey.

This fact is another of the things that makes Iron Fey a wonderful series. The iron fey are created by combining the fey with the one thing they’re weak against. It also updates the fey, bringing in the fairy tales of the digital age with viruses and gremlins. Whether you’re overwhelmed with the desire to have a pack rat as a pet, or the power of the fearsome Iron Horse, these are creatures who you’ll remember forever.

Now we have Erica from The Book Cellar:

The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa has been a long time favorite. I just absolutely love it. From the enticing characters to the bewitching plot, The Iron Fey series has wedged its way into my life.

The series plays host to such a uniquely crafted world that puts a new spin on the typical fey story. Julie Kagawa has introduced a new type of fey to the playing field: the iron fey. It was such a joy to read and figure out how they would fit into the plot.

Plus, the characters are 100% awesome. I loved following Meghan on her journey, to see who she would meet next. Grimalkin is also the coolest cat in all of literature and he was one of the best things about the series. Meghan’s love interest, Ash, is one hunky guy, which I won’t complain about ;) Not only that, but he is such a wonderfully complex character.

The Iron Fey series is absolutely addictive. Right away I was drawn into the world and I never wanted to leave. Even now, after the series is finished I am longing to go back. They are the perfect books to read on a day when you just want to get lost in a book. It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of fey books or not, you should give this one a try. You won’t regret it!

Lastly, the lovely Sam from Fresh Fantasy Fiction:

A friend recommended The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa to me, which I really enjoyed. Naturally I googled the author and I discovered The Iron Fey series. I was a bit weary at first as fairies had never really been my thing. I gave it a chance though based on the strength of Julie Kagawa’s writing. I am so happy I did!

Fairies are now my thing.

Now I haven’t read all the books in the series yet and in a way I’m glad. This is one of those series you just don’t want to end, that you just fall into to the world and even dream about it. Julie Kagawa really brings this world to life. The whole experience of reading these books is magical. The writing itself makes me want to “Woo Hoo“. It’s well paced and flows and has the perfect balance of showing and telling. There is love, action, suspense, twists and laughter.

Kagawa has incorporated famous elements of fairy culture and managed to make it original and fresh. The characters are a dream. They are real and have substance and personality. You fall in love with them…..even the ones you aren’t meant to.

I need to spend a moment gushing about the art work of the book. They are beautiful! They are alluring and mysterious. My copies of the book were originally on my Kindle but I just had to buy the paperbacks for the magpie in me. I am so happy that the beauty inside the book matches the beauty of the outside.

These books are awesome. Buy them, read them, love them!

Are you now ready to go and pick up the Iron Fey series?

All About the Books – with Gwenda Bond

We’re delighted to bring you the answers today of Gwenda Bond, the talented and beautiful author of Blackwood (out in all good bookshops in September!)

1) One Book That Changed My Life

Having to choose just one book induces an existential crisis (all over again!), so I’m going to cheat and choose two. One would have to be an anthology I encountered earlyish in childhood, Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbinders in Suspense, which had a fabulous cover and an even more fabulous TOC. “The Birds” was one of the first truly creepy stories I read, and add to that “The Most Dangerous Game” (I grew up in the south surrounded by hunting culture) and stories by Robert Bloch, Roald Dahl, and Dorothy Sayers, I was hooked. The second is a book I came to in adulthood, Lewis Hyde’s The Gift, which I think every writer/artist/creative should read. It’s also an accidental but fair approximation of an operating guide for the internet that I’d sum up as ‘Give freely and you’ll get more out of it.’

2) One Book I’ve HAD to Read More Than Once

Well, I’ve never been forced to read a book more than once. But one book I’ve reread more than a few times is Jonathan Carroll’s Bones of the Moon, a novel about a woman named Cullen James and her encounters with the strange land of Rondua. It came highly recommended to me, and I’d kept an eye out for it in used bookstores for a couple of years before I found a copy. It lived up to the wait.

3) One Book I’d Want on a Desert Island

The Norton Anthology of Children’s Literature, purely based on length and variety, since I’m guessing “MacBook” isn’t allowable. Not to mention, desert island is probably wireless-free.

4) One Book That Made Me Laugh

This is almost a cheat, but not quite: Daniel Pinkwater’s 5 Novels. It’s one book, but it collects five (obviously), and some of my favorites, especially Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars, Young Adult Novel, and The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death.

5) One Book That Made Me Cry

I know I’m not alone here, but most recently I was sobbing before the end of the first chapter of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, and most of the way through. When I wasn’t laughing, that is. That’s how I knew it was brilliant.

6) One Book I Wish I’d Written

I don’t wish I’d written other people’s books (feels too much like wishing to be another person), but I would love to write something as wonderful as Margaret Mahy’s The Changeover someday. Or as wonderful as most of her books, really.

7) One Book I’m Currently Reading

I tend to be a book monogamist, not counting nonfiction, and I just started Malinda Lo’s Adaptation. It’s a departure for her, an SF thriller instead of another lush high fantasy. I’m excited. I do love a writer with range.

8) One Book I’m Intending to Read

Libba Bray’s The Diviners! She had me the moment I heard it was set in the Roaring Twenties, and now I hear it’s scary too. I can’t wait.

Thanks Gwenda!

Anything you fancy adding to your reading list now?

YA Releases for July 2012

Another month swings around – they’re going pretty fast, aren’t they? It’s a little unbelievable that we only have two more months before we will be listing Blackwood and Shift amongst the new YA releases for the month! Anyway, here are the fifty or so books that you should have saved some money for this month. As always, please do shout in the comments if there is one in particular that has caught your eye!

1) Team Human – Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan

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.

2) Once – Anna Carey

When you’re being hunted, who can you trust?

For the first time since she escaped from her school many months ago, Eve can sleep soundly. She’s living in Califia, a haven for women, protected from the terrifying fate that awaits orphaned girls in The New America.

But her safety came at a price: She was forced to abandon Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. When Eve gets word that Caleb is in trouble, she sets out into the wild again to rescue him, only to be captured and brought to the City of Sand, the capital of The New America.

Trapped inside the City walls, Eve uncovers a shocking secret about her past–and is forced to confront the harsh reality of her future. When she discovers Caleb is alive, Eve attempts to flee her prison so they can be together–but the consequences could be deadly. She must make a desperate choice to save the ones she loves . . . or risk losing Caleb forever.

3) Tiger Lily – Jodi Lynn Anderson

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

4) Choke – Diana Lopez

If she could — if her parents would let her — eighth-grader Windy would change everything about herself. She’d get highlights in her hair, a new wardrobe; she’d wear makeup. But nothing ever changes. The mean girls at school are still mean, and Windy’s best friend Elena is still more interested in making up words than talking about boys.

And then one day, Windy gets the change she’s been looking for. New girl Nina — impossibly cool, confident, and not afraid of anyone — starts hanging out with Windy! Nina even wants to be “breath sisters.” Windy isn’t sure what that means, exactly, but she knows she wants to find out. It sounds even better than a BFF.

Windy is right, at first. Being a breath sister gains her a whole new set of friends, girls she feels closer to and cooler with than anyone else. But her inclusion in the new crowd comes at a dangerous price. Windy wants to change everything about her life … but is she really willing to give up everything in the process?

5) Waking Storms – Sarah Porter

After parting ways with her troubled mermaid tribe, Luce just wants to live peacefully on her own. But her tranquility doesn’t last long: she receives news that the tribe is on the verge of collapse and desperately needs her leadership. The tribe’s cruel queen wants Luce dead. Dorian, the boy Luce broke mermaid law to save, is determined to make her pay for her part in the murder of his family. And while the mermaids cling to the idea that humans never suspect their existence, there are suddenly ominous signs to the contrary. But when Luce and Dorian meet, they start to wonder if love can overpower the hatred they know they should feel for each other. Can Luce fulfill her rightful role as queen of the mermaids without sacrificing her forbidden romance with Dorian?

6) Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone – Kat Rosenfield

Becca has always longed to break free from her small, backwater hometown. But the discovery of an unidentified dead girl on the side of a dirt road sends the town–and Becca–into a tailspin. Unable to make sense of the violence of the outside world creeping into her backyard, Becca finds herself retreating inward, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life.

Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson’s life are intercut with Becca’s own summer as the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge twist the reader closer and closer to the truth about Amelia’s death.

7) Dark Companion – Marta Acosta

When foster teen Jane Williams is invited to attend elite Birch Grove Academy for Girls and escape her violent urban neighborhood, she thinks the offer is too good to be true. She’s even offered her own living quarters, the groundskeeper’s cottage in the center of the birch grove.

Something’s not quite right about the school — or is it Jane? She thinks she sees things in the birch grove at night. She’s also beginning to suspect that the elegant headmistress and her sons are hiding secrets. Lucky is the gorgeous, golden son who is especially attentive to Jane, and Jack is the sardonic puzzling brother.

The school with its talented teachers and bright students is a dream for a science and math geek like Jane. She also loves her new friends, including hilarious poetry-spouting rich girl, Mary Violet. But the longer Jane stays at Birch Grove, the more questions she has about the disappearance of another scholarship girl and a missing faculty member.

Jane discovers one secret about Birch Grove, which only leads to more mysteries. What is she willing to sacrifice in order to stay at this school…and be bound to Birch Grove forever?

8) Between the Lines – Samantha van Leer and Jodi Picoult

Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah.

And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom.

Delilah and Oliver work together to attempt to get Oliver out of his book, a challenging task that forces them to examine their perceptions of fate, the world, and their places in it. And as their attraction to each other grows along the way, a romance blossoms that is anything but a fairy tale.

9) The Last Guardian – Eoin Colfer

Seemingly nothing in this world daunts the young criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl. In the fairy world, however, there is a small thing that has gotten under his skin on more than one occasion: Opal Koboi. In The Last Guardian, the evil pixie is wreaking havoc yet again. This time his arch rival has somehow reanimated dead fairy warriors who were buried in the grounds of Fowl Manor. Their spirits have possessed Artemis’s little brothers, making his siblings even more annoying than usual. The warriors don’t seem to realize that the battle they were fighting when they died—a battle against Artemis—is long over. Artemis has until sunrise to get the spirits to vacate his brothers and go back into the earth where they belong. Can he count on a certain LEPrecon fairy to join him in what could well be his last stand?

10) Endlessly – Kiersten White

Evie’s paranormal past keeps coming back to haunt her. A new director at the International Paranormal Containment Agency wants to drag her back to headquarters. The Dark Faerie Queen is torturing humans in her poisonous realm. And supernatural creatures keep insisting that Evie is the only one who can save them from a mysterious, perilous fate.

The clock is ticking on the entire paranormal world. And its fate rests solely in Evie’s hands.

So much for normal.

11) Insignia – S J Kincaid

More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?

12) Such a Rush – Jennifer Echols

High school senior Leah Jones loves nothing more than flying. While she’s in the air, it’s easy to forget life with her absentee mother at the low-rent end of a South Carolina beach town. When her flight instructor, Mr. Hall, hires her to fly for his banner advertising business, she sees it as her ticket out of the trailer park. And when he dies suddenly, she’s afraid her flying career is gone forever.

But Mr. Hall’s teenage sons, golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson, are determined to keep the banner planes flying. Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business — until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers — and the consequences could be deadly.

13) Soul Fire – Kate Harrison

Welcome to Soul Beach.

People are dying to get here . . .

Alice Forster talks to her dead sister, Meggie, in the virtual world of Soul Beach – an online paradise for the young, the beautiful and the dead – but paradise can be stifling and the Beach’s guests want to move on.

If Alice can solve the mystery of her sister’s murder then Meggie will be free.

But passions are running high, the temperature’s rising and as Alice gets closer to finding the killer, the killer is getting closer to Alice . . .

14) Something Strange and Deadly – Susan Dennard

The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

15) Dark Water – Tricia Rayburn

When seventeen-year-old Vanessa reunites with her biological mother, she faces the dilemma of a siren’s existence, that in order to survive she must endanger the lives of those she loves most.

16) The Thing About the Truth – Lauren Barnholdt

Kelsey’s not going to let one mistake ruin her life. Sure, she got kicked out of prep school and all her old friends are shutting her out. But Kelsey’s focused on her future, and she’s determined to get back on track at Concordia High.

Isaac’s been kicked out of more schools than he can count. Since his father’s a state senator, Isaac’s life is under constant scrutiny—but Concordia High’s his last stop before boarding school, so Isaac’s hoping to fly under the radar and try to stay put for a change.

When Kelsey and Isaac meet, it’s anything but love at first sight. She thinks he’s an entitled brat, and he thinks she’s a stuck-up snob. So it surprises them both when they start to fall for each other. Kelsey’s happy for the first time in months, and Isaac’s never felt this way about anyone before…But nothing’s ever completely perfect. Everyone has secrets, and Isaac and Kelsey are no exceptions. These two may have fallen hard, but there’s one thing that can ruin it all: the truth.

17) Just for Fins – Tera Lynn Childs

When Lily Sanderson decided to remain Crown Princess Waterlily of the mermaid kingdom Thalassinia, she knew she couldn’t just coast along in the current. But since she’s spent the last couple of years on land—with gorgeous human Quince by her side—Lily’s not sure she has the fins to lead a kingdom. Even her maddeningly pretentious cousin Dosinia seems to know more about ruling than she does.

But Lily has to dive in deep to keep her promise to Tellin, her mer bond in name only, whose kingdom is suffering in the changing ocean climate. Lily knows this is a seven seas–sized problem: from sea animals dying to oil spills and threats to humans. They’ll need to create some serious waves to make the mer community aware and get it to join together to make things right. Even if that means facing one of the iciest queens in the mer kingdoms.

Just when Lily thinks her double life on land and sea can’t get any more complicated, an ancient mer law might separate Lily and Quince after all. It feels as if the pair is up against a solid tsunami wave!

18) Spark – Amy Kathleen Ryan

Waverly and Kieran are finally reunited on the Empyrean. Kieran has led the boys safely up to this point, and now that the girls are back, their mission seems slightly less impossible: to chase down the New Horizon, and save their parents from the enemy ship. But nothing is truly as it seems…Kieran’s leadership methods have raised Seth’s hackles— and Waverly’s suspicions. Is this really her fiancé? The handsome, loving boy she was torn from just a short time before? More and more, she finds her thoughts aligned with Seth’s. But if Seth is Kieran’s Enemy No. 1, what does that make her?

In one night, a strange explosion rocks the Empyrean—shooting them off course and delaying their pursuit of the New Horizon—and Seth is mysteriously released from the brig. Seth is the most obvious suspect for the explosion, and Waverly the most obvious suspect for releasing him. As the tension reaches a boiling point, will Seth be able to find the true culprit before Kieran locks them both away—or worse? Will Waverly follow her heart, even if it puts lives at risk? With the balance of power precarious and the clock ticking, every decision counts… every step brings them closer to a new beginning, or a sudden end…

19) Diva – Jillian Larkin

Parties, bad boys, speakeasies—life in Manhattan has become a woozy blur for Clara Knowles. If Marcus Eastman truly loved her, how could he have fallen for another girl so quickly? Their romance mustn’t have been as magical as Clara thought. And if she has to be unhappy, she’s going to drag everyone else down to the depths of despair right along with her.

Being a Barnard girl is the stuff of Lorraine Dyer’s dreams. Finding out that Marcus is marrying a gold digger who may or may not be named Anastasia? A nightmare. The old Lorraine would have sat by and let the chips fall where they may, but she’s grown up a lot these past few months. She can’t bear to see Marcus lose a chance for true love. But will anyone listen to her?

Now that the charges against her have been dropped, Gloria Carmody is spending the last dizzying days of summer on Long Island, yachting on the sound and palling around with socialites at Forrest Hamilton’s swanky villa. Beneath her smile, though, Gloria’s keeping a secret. One that could have deadly consequences . . .

20) Bound – Erica O’Rourke

Mo Fitzgerald has made her choice: A life in Chicago. A future with Colin. To leave behind the enigmatic Luc and the world of the Arcs. But the more she struggles to keep her magic and mortal lives separate, the deadlier the consequences. In the end, Mo must risk everything–her life, her heart, her future–or lose it all.

21) Destiny – Gillian Shields

Everything is connected. We weave in and out of one another’s lives, like circles within circles, and everything is for a purpose.

Helen has always been the “crazy” one among the girls of Wyldcliffe, scarred by her bleak past and her troubled relationship with her mother, the former headmistress and leader of the Wyldcliffe coven, Mrs. Hartle.

But Miss Scratton promised Helen that a love “beyond the confines of this world” is waiting for her. Could this be Lynton, the mysterious music student who visits Wyldcliffe for his lessons? And what about the brooch her mother gave her–what can the Seal reveal about Helen’s past and future?

Now that Miss Scratton is gone, life at Wyldcliffe takes an even darker turn. An unexpected threat arrives in the form of a new high master, whom Helen remembers from her unhappy childhood. Can Helen, Evie, and Sarah finally overcome Wyldcliffe’s darkness? Will Lady Agnes come to their aid? And what sacrifices must they make to fulfill their destiny?

22) Momentum – Saci Lloyd

Energy wars are flaring across the globe, but Hunter and Uma have other things to think about. They couldn’t be more different–but, brought together by chance and the cruelty of the kossak soldiers, they must break the system and protect the future of everything they know.

Everything starts right here, right now.

23) The London Stone – Sarah Silverwood

The prophecy has come to pass.

The London Stone has been stolen and the Dark King rules the Nowhere. Only Mona and the new Seer dare to stand against him, leading an underground rebellion in the frozen wasteland… but what chance do they have, against both the Army of the Mad and Arnold Mather’s soldiers?

There is still hope: if they can recruit a banished race to their cause, maybe Fin and his friends can force a final battle against the Dark King. But that aid will be hard-won, through an almost impossible quest, and even then there are no guarantees.

It will come down to three friends, standing together against all odds. And fulfilling their destinies, whatever the cost…

24) Lost Girls – Ann Kelley

No parents. No rules. No way home.

Fourteen-year-old Bonnie MacDonald couldn’t be more excited for a camping trip on an island off the coast of Thailand with her fellow Amelia Earhart Cadets-the daughters of the men and women stationed there during the Vietnam War. But when a strong current deposits the girls on what their boatman calls the “forbidden island,” things take a turn for the worse: A powerful storm comes to destroy their campsite, the smallest of the junior cadets is found dead, and their boatman never returns. What once seemed like a vacation in paradise has become a battle against the elements.

25) So Close to You – Rachel Carter

Lydia Bentley has heard stories about the Montauk Project all her life: stories about the strange things that took place at the abandoned military base near her home and the people who’ve disappeared over the years. Stories about people like her own great-grandfather.

When Lydia stumbles into a portal that transports her to a dangerous and strange new reality, she discovers that all the stories she’s ever heard about the Montauk Project are true, and that she’s in the middle of one of the most dangerous experiments in history.

Alongside a darkly mysterious boy she is wary to trust, Lydia begins to unravel the secrets surrounding the Project. But the truths behind these secrets force her to question all her choices–and if Lydia chooses wrong, she might not save her family but destroy them . . . and herself.

26) Holding on to Zoe – George Ella Lyon

After sixteen-year-old Jules has her baby, Zoe, it doesn’t matter anymore that her mother thinks she’s a drama queen, or that her father left them years ago, or even that Zoe’s father is gone, too. She and her baby make a family now; she doesn’t need anyone else in the world except Zoe. Though it’s tough being a new mom, balancing Zoe’s needs with working at the Toyota factory and thinking about how to finish school, Jules is sure she’ll figure it out. Still, she wonders, why can’t anyone be happy for her and Zoe? And why does her mom refuse to believe that Zoe’s real?

27) The Girl With Borrowed Wings – Rinsai Rossetti

Controlled by her father and bound by desert, Frenenqer Paje’s life is tediously the same, until a small act of rebellion explodes her world and she meets a boy, but not just a boy–a Free person, a winged person, a shape-shifter. He has everything Frenenqer doesn’t. No family, no attachments, no rules. At night, he flies them to the far-flung places of their childhoods to retrace their pasts. But when the delicate balance of their friendship threatens to rupture into something more, Frenenqer must confront her isolation, her father, and her very sense of identity, breaking all the rules of her life to become free.

28) Red Heart Tattoo – Lurlene McDaniel

At 7:45 a.m. on the day before Thanksgiving break, a bomb goes off at Edison High. Nine people die instantly. Fifteen are critically injured. Twenty-two suffer less severe injuries. And one is blinded. Those who survive, struggle to cope with the loss and destruction. All must find new meaning for their lives as a result of something they may never understand.

29) The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life – Tara Altebrando

With only a week until graduation, there’s one last thing Mary and her friends must do together: participate in the Oyster Point High Official Unofficial Senior Week Scavenger Hunt. And Mary is determined to win.

Mary lost her spot at Georgetown to self-professed “it” bully Jake Barbone, and she’s not about to lose again. But everyone is racing for the finish line with complicated motives, and the team’s all-night adventure becomes all-night drama as shifting alliances, flared tempers, and crushing crushes take over. As the items and points pile up, Mary and her team must reinvent their strategy–and themselves–in order to win.

30) The Unquiet – Jeannine Garsee

Sixteen-year-old Rinn Jacobs has secrets: One, she’s bipolar. Two, she killed her grandmother.

After a suicide attempt, and now her parents’ separation, Rinn and her mom move from California to the rural Ohio town where her mother grew up. Back on her medications and hoping to stay well, Rinn settles into her new home, undaunted by the fact that the previous owner hanged herself in Rinn’s bedroom. At school, her classmates believe the school pool is haunted by Annaliese, a girl who drowned there. But when a reckless séance goes awry, and terrible things start happening to her new friends—yet not to her—Rinn is determined to find out why she can’t be “touched” by Annaliese…or if Annaliese even exists.

With the help of Nate Brenner, the hunky “farmer boy” she’s rapidly falling for, Rinn devises a dangerous plan to uncover the truth. Soon reality and fantasy meld into one, till Rinn finds it nearly impossible to tell the difference. When a malevolent force threatens the lives of everyone she cares about–not to mention her own–she can’t help wondering: who should she really be afraid of?

Annaliese? Or herself?

31) The White Glove War – Katie Crouch and Grady Hendrix

Every society has its secrets.

The members of Savannah’s Magnolia League have it all: money, beauty, power, and love. Some may call them lucky, but we know better. Spells, potions, and conjures are a girl’s best friends, and thanks to the Buzzards — a legendary hoodoo family — the Magnolias never run out of friends.

Golden girl Hayes Anderson would never dream of leaving the League or Savannah, where there’s no problem that can’t be fixed with a cup of Swamp Brew tea — served in a bone china cup, of course — and no boy who can’t be won over with a Conjure Up a New Love spell.

But when danger lurks and family secrets are unearthed, Hayes discovers that her life may not be charmed after all.

32) Pushing the Limits – Katie McGarry

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible. Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

33) 52 Reasons to Hate My Father – Jessica Brody

Lexington Larrabee has never to work a day in her life. After all, she’s the heiress to the multi-billion-dollar Larrabee Media empire. And heiresses are not supposed to work. But then again, they’re not supposed to crash brand new Mercedes convertibles into convenience stores on Sunset Blvd either.

Which is why, on Lexi’s eighteen birthday, her ever-absent, tycoon father decides to take a more proactive approach to her wayward life. Every week for the next year, she will have to take on a different low-wage job if she ever wants to receive her beloved trust fund. But if there’s anything worse than working as a maid, a dishwasher, and a fast-food restaurant employee, it’s dealing with Luke, the arrogant, albeit moderately attractive, college intern her father has assigned to keep tabs on her.

In a hilarious “comedy of heiress” about family, forgiveness, good intentions, and best of all, second chances, Lexi learns that love can be unconditional, money can be immaterial, and, regardless of age, everyone needs a little saving. And although she might have 52 reasons to hate her father, she only needs one reason to love him.

34) Hemlock – Kathleen Peacock

Mackenzie and Amy were best friends.

Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer:

A white werewolf.

Lupine syndrome–also known as the werewolf virus–is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.

Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boy-friend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.

35) Dreamless – Josephine Angelini

Can true love be forgotten?

As the only scion who can descend into the Underworld, Helen Hamilton has been given a nearly impossible task. By night she wanders through Hades, trying to stop the endless cycle of revenge that has cursed her family. By day she struggles to overcome the fatigue that is rapidly eroding her sanity. Without Lucas by her side, Helen is not sure she has the strength to go on.

Just as Helen is pushed to her breaking point, a mysterious new Scion comes to her rescue. Funny and brave, Orion shields her from the dangers of the Underworld. But time is running out–a ruthless foe plots against them, and the Furies’ cry for blood is growing louder.

As the ancient Greek world collides with the mortal one, Helen’s sheltered life on Nantucket descends into chaos. But the hardest task of all will be forgetting Lucas Delos.

36) Before I Wake – Rachel Vincent

I died on a Thursday-killed by a monster intent on stealing my soul. The good news? He didn’t get it. The bad news? Turns out not even death will get you out of high school… Covering up her own murder was one thing, but faking life is much harder than Kaylee Cavanaugh expected. After weeks spent “recovering,” she’s back in school, fighting to stay visible to the human world, struggling to fit in with her friends and planning time alone with her new reaper boyfriend. But to earn her keep in the human world, Kaylee must reclaim stolen souls, and when her first assignment brings her face-to-face with an old foe, she knows the game has changed. Her immortal status won’t keep her safe. And this time Kaylee isn’t just gambling with her own life….

37) The Goddess Legacy – Aimée Carter

Calliope/Hera represented constancy and yet had a husband who never matched her faithfulness….

Ava/Aphrodite was the goddess of love and yet commitment was a totally different deal….

Persephone was urged to marry one man, yet longed for another….

James/Hermes loved to make trouble for others-but never knew true loss before….

Henry/Hades’s solitary existence had grown too wearisome to continue. But meeting Kate Winters gave him a new hope….

Five original novellas of love, loss and longing and the will to survive throughout the ages.

38) Revived – Cat Patrick

As a little girl, Daisy Appleby was killed in a school bus crash. Moments after the accident, she was brought back to life.

A secret government agency has developed a drug called Revive that can bring people back from the dead, and Daisy Appleby, a test subject, has been Revived five times in fifteen years. Daisy takes extraordinary risks, knowing that she can beat death, but each new death also means a new name, a new city, and a new life. When she meets Matt McKean, Daisy begins to question the moral implications of Revive, and as she discovers the agency’s true goals, she realizes she’s at the center of something much larger—and more sinister—than she ever imagined.

39) Uncommon Criminals – Ally Carter

Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

40) City of Swords – Mary Hoffman

Desperately unhappy, Laura has resorted to secretly self-harming. But Laura is a Stravagante, somebody who can travel in time and space. When she finds her talisman, a small silver dagger, she stravagates with it to sixteenth-century Fortezza, a town similar to Lucca in Italy, where she meets her Stravagante, who is a swordsmith. But Laura also meets the charming and attractive Ludo, and falls for him. Their love for each other is tested when Ludo lays claim to the crown of Fortezza, and Laura finds herself fighting on the side of the Stravaganti opposing him.

41) A Witch in Love – Ruth Warburton

Anna still finds it hard to believe that Seth loves her and has vowed to suppress her powers, no matter what.

But magic – like love – is uncontrollable. It spills out with terrible consequences, and soon, Anna is being hunted.

42) This is Not a Test – Courtney Summers

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?

43) Frostfire – Zoe Marriott

Frost is cursed – possessed by a wolf demon that brings death everywhere she goes. Desperate to find a cure, she flees her home, only to be captured by the Ruan Hill Guard. Trapped until she can prove she is not an enemy, Frost grows increasingly close to the Guard’s charismatic leader Luca and his second in command, the tortured Arian. Torn between two very different men, Frost fears that she may not be able to protect either of them … from herself.

44) Witchstruck – Victoria Lamb

Meg Lytton has always known of her dark and powerful gift. Raised a student of the old magick by her Aunt Jane, casting the circle to see visions of the future and concocting spells from herbs and bones has always been as natural to Meg as breathing. But there has never been a more dangerous time to practise the craft, for it is 1554, and the sentence for any woman branded a witch is hanging, or burning at the stake.

Sent to the ruined, isolated palace of Woodstock to serve the disgraced Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and half-sister of Queen Mary, Meg discovers her skills are of interest to the outcast princess, who is desperate to know if she will ever claim the throne. But Meg’s existence becomes more dangerous every day, with the constant threat of exposure by the ruthless witchfinder Marcus Dent, and the arrival of a young Spanish priest, Alejandro de Castillo, to whom Meg is irresistibly drawn – despite their very different attitudes to her secret.

45) Burning Emerald – Jaime Reed

Coping with loss, keeping secrets from friends, and juggling classes has kept Sam Marshall busy in her senior year. She finds comfort in her unlikely companion, Caleb, as their connection grows to where one cannot survive without the other.

But Sam’s biggest problem is a powerful enemy that wants her for himself and to destroy Caleb and his family.
Determined to keep Caleb safe, Sam fights a battle where she is both the enemy and the prize, but victory will come
at a deadly price.

46) Whisper – Chrissie Keighery

I’m always trying to figure out what’s really going on. Always having to fill in the gaps, but never getting all the details. It’s like trying to do a jigsaw when I don’t even know what the picture is, and I’m missing one of the vital middle pieces.

How do you know if your friends are talking about you behind your back or if a boy likes you? They could act innocent, but you’d know from the rumours. You’d hear the whispers. But what if you couldn’t hear those whispers anymore? What if everything you took for granted was gone? Being a teenager is hard enough.

But being a deaf teenager?

47) All You Desire – Kirsten Miller

Haven Moore and Iain Morrow have been living a blissful life in Rome, an ocean way from the Ouroboros Society and its diabolical leader. But paradise is not to last. The mysterious disappearance of Haven’s best friend, Beau, sends the pair running back to New York, where they encounter the Horae, an underground group of women who have spent centuries scheming to destroy Adam Rosier. Only they can help Haven uncover the secret to Beau’s whereabouts in one of her past lives. But their help comes at a price: Haven must infiltrate the Ouroboros Society, charm Adam Rosier, and lure him into a trap. It’s a plan the Horae believe will save the world-but Haven and Iain fear that it may destroy the happiness they’ve been chasing for two thousand years.

48) The Bloodline Cipher – Stephen Cole

Jonah and the rest of the elite team of teenage thieves have been sent on a mission by Coldhardt to retrieve an ancient grimoire. He believes it to be a magical book of the law of the dead. Something like that could fetch a very good price in the right market. But when they go in to get it, the discover another team of thieves has beaten them to it. Even more disturbingly, this team is better trained, and better informed. It seems Coldhardt’s old mentor, a man he thought was dead, is not only very alive, but has a highly efficient rival organisation, and a devilish plan to wipe out Coldhardt. Only the best will make it. In a thrilling adventure with brilliant plotting and fiendish twists, join Jonah faces his toughest challenge yet – but will it be his last?

49) Seraphina – Rachel Hartman

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

50) Drain You – M Beth Bloom

Every night I’d lie there in bed and look out at the hills behind our house, listening. I knew there’d be consequences.

Actions meant reactions. Sunrises meant sunsets. My fear was too permanent, lasting longer than eyeliner, something I wore every day and didn’t wash off.

Quinlan Lacey’s life is a red carpet of weird fashions, hip bands, random parties, and chilling by the pool with her on-and-off BFF Libby. There’s also her boring job (minimum wage), a crushed-out coworker (way too interested), her summer plans (nada), and her parents (totally clueless). Then one night she meets gorgeous James, and Quinn’s whole world turns crazy, Technicolor, 3-D, fireworks, whatever.

But with good comes bad and unfortunately, Quinn’s new romance brings with it some majorly evil baggage. Now, to make things right, she has to do a lot of things wrong (breaking and entering, kidnapping, lying, you name it).

There’s normal, and then there’s paranormal, and neither are Quinlan’s cup of Diet Coke. Staying sane, cool, in love, and alive isn’t so easy breezy.

All done! Which of these are catching your eye and screaming ‘BUY ME! BUY ME!’ *grins*

Five Star Goodness

Okay, we don’t like to blow our own trumpets all the time, but today is a little special for us. It marks the first review of our fifth title, Katya’s World – we have five books in our launch package, and today all five have now received five star reviews! We are completely delighted and blown away by the support shown to our fledgling imprint.

1) BLACKWOOD by Gwenda Bond

I was privileged to be given the opportunity to read and review BLACKWOOD by Gwenda Bond from Strange Chemistry, the new YA imprint of Angry Robot books. BLACKWOOD is the debut book released by Strange Chemistry, and they are off to an AMAZING start.

To be honest, even before I opened BLACKWOOD, I was intrigued by the premise. It was so fresh, so unique that I HAD to get my hands on this book.

And when I read the first sentence, then first paragraph, I was completely hooked. When I’m hooked, I tend to devour entire books in one sitting. This book was no different. The pace was perfect, keeping me turning the pages, anxious to see what happened next.

The only thing, and it’s minor, that jarred me, was the shift between Miranda and Phillips’ point of view. I am unsure if it was just because I was reading on my Kindle, which sometimes creates funky formatting, but there didn’t seem to be any indication that the point of view was shifting. The shift jarred me the first few times it happened, but then I got used to it and expected it. Like I said, not sure if it was my format and there IS an indication that I wasn’t seeing on my Kindle, but just something to think about as you start reading so that you are prepared for the shifting POV’s.

With that said, I LOVED the dual point of views. I loved Miranda. Same with Phillips. I don’t want to get spoilery, so I am not going to talk about plot, but I loved the characters and I love what Gwenda did with them. The pace was perfect and kept me turning the pages frantically from beginning to end.

Five stars is not enough for this book. I would give it ten if I could. Seriously. It’s a brilliant premise, and executed beautifully. (And, I mean, look at that cover, isn’t it gorgeous???) When this book comes out in September, if you were intrigued by the book’s description, you HAVE to pick it up.

—– Shelley Watters

2) SHIFT by Kim Curran

SHIFT first and foremost to me is about youth and choice (obviously), and what’s interesting here is that Kim has put her protagonist Scott (great name that…) Tyler directly into the fire. He barely gets a chance to hang out with his friend, be indoctrinated into the cool crowd, and have those first panging’s of youthful desire before the wheels come flying off. Within a few chapters Scott is educated about “choice” and just what it is he can do with his new Shifting powers. He’s understandably baffled, intrigued, and damned scared from the outset of this revelation. His initiation into the Shifter way of life is VIA Aubrey who works for an arm of the government that has managed Shifter’s for over 150 years called ARES. Through a series of events Scott quickly realizes that all is not as it seems, every choice he makes can lead to really bad things, and most especially there are now people who want him caught or dead.

Blogger’s Note: I’m of course not giving away any more of the plot to you, you will need to read the book yourself when it comes out to find out what happens.

Kim’s prose is easy, and fast. It has a paced ebb and flow while still being realistic to the teenager vibe of speech and thought, which can be erratic at the best of times. So when it is called for Scott can reference popular culture like any teen would. Kim has also found the balance that IS the male teenage psyche. Basically, she’s intuitive to the fact that young men (if there is a girl around) will automatically be thinking about how jealous they are of the guy standing next to her, or how much they’d like to kiss her…while the villain is rankly breathing down their neck. Priorities of teenage boys might be a tad out of whack. Kim gets that, and it ended up on the page. That brought realism to the character that I found quite refreshing. On the whole, I never found ANY of the young cast of characters rang falsely, and never found a moment where I groaned in disbelief. They were fleshed out well (especially for a 300 page book), and they act exactly as you might expect them to. One of the things I noticed is how easily Kim could make me care about a newly introduced character past the halfway mark of the book. She would introduce someone new, and I would end up as emotionally invested in him or her as I did the main protagonists. I liked that quite a lot, and it speaks of her skill as a storyteller.

Clever. Sweet gods this book is clever. Within the first 50 pages or so Kim had already touched on Quantum Physics, the double slit experiment, and Schrödinger’s Cat. The integration of Shifting and how it works was pretty seamless and even the most baffled person when it comes to science will be able to get an easy handle on the system. Shifting is intelligently realized and offers up a myriad of potential for storylines. The fighting is especially interesting… since what would you do if you could anticipate and redo moves to top the other guy and brute power reserves is all that matters to win a fight? The science itself throughout is quite sound and researched, and it never gets to the “techno-babble” “info-dump” position a lot of novels find themselves in during the course of explaining. Shifting is complex, but it is also quite easy to get to grips with and that made it fun from the outset.

The world building is quite well executed and is done with a light brush, and I actually love when that happens. We get smatterings of information about the past and how Shifting came about and was regulated and by whom…but I could sense there were a great many things either were known and kept secret, or were yet to be discovered at all. Again, this opens Kim and readers up for a thick backstory down the line that will only fill out the world of SHIFT further, without the need to drown the reader in too many facts. We got enough this time to not overload the book, but there are still tantalizing mysteries dangling for future plumbing.

The pacing is rocket fast. I started it on the way to work yesterday, and when I got home last night I disappeared into the guest room, clicked on the light and read till I was finished it. There is no slowdown in the narrative whatsoever, and there is even a line midway through where Scott says something along the lines of “I won’t bore you with the montage”, and I laughed out loud. What a great line and speaks of an author who knows we didn’t need anything superfluous in the story.

So there it is folks. First time author Kim Curran has crafted a tale that is both realistic and fantastical. A compelling and clever premise that is about as fresh as it gets in a genre that consists of mostly vampires, werewolves, and apocalypses. Here we have a book that more often than not is about choice. Not just about choice as we know it from day to day, but also about the cascade effect and how even the tiniest choices made by one person can affect the world at large. Dealing with that can sometimes be a very raw undertaking and Kim doesn’t shy away from that.

SHIFT is a smart, page-turning thriller of a novel that challenges you to be brave, embrace science and knowledge, but most of all to make the right choices. The protagonists are fallible, yet still heroic and the villains are suitably nasty. The world is both bright with possibility and still dark with the machinations of evil that needs to be kept at bay. Filled with action and adventure, and a significant amount of emotion I really found myself unable to stop reading until I read the final page. SHIFT is the type of debut that Kim should be exceedingly proud of. It has already made me ask her (and she graciously answered) if there were to be more books in the SHIFT world on the way. She told me there indeed were, and that’s great news. I look forward to the next volume in the series with anticipation.

—– Scott Willis (Iceberg Ink)

3) POLTERGEEKS by Sean Cummings

This is my first experience reading a book by Mr. Cummings, and I’m beyond thrilled by it.

A fantastic opening, I have to say. It drew me right in. (After all, a poltergeist kicking a person out of their home doesn’t happen every day!) I absolutely had to find out what happened next. What happened was that I held onto the book a little tighter and refused to put it down. This book has a place on my small list of single-sitting reads.

I’m in love with the characters. Julie is phenomenal, and you seriously care what happens to her. And Marcus? Well, let me just say that it’s clear from the start that he’s interested in Julie, and that he’ll be there for her even if she has no clue (or doesn’t feel the same). Julie’s mother, while a key element of the book, is a background character for much of the story, but that didn’t stop Cummings from making her a great character.

The conflict could have been made melodramatic, but it was handled so well that I never got that “overdone” feeling.

An absolute MUST read! Mr. Cummings, once on your reader radar, should never be removed. I can’t wait for the next installment.

—– Rebecca McKinnon (Goodreads)

4) THE ASSASSIN’S CURSE by Cassandra Rose Clarke

When I first read the synopsis for Cassandra Rose Clarke’s The Assassin’s Curse, I was very intrigued. Pirates? Assassins? Magic? Curses? Yes, please! Who wouldn’t want to read a novel that seems like what might have happened if someone like Tamora Pierce had written Pirates of the Caribbean? As often as I’ve been burned by false promises in novel synopses, I need not have worried with this novel: The Assassin’s Curse fulfilled its promises and managed to soar above and beyond my expectations.

In a world where a Pirate’s Confederation rules the seas and assassins stalk the shadows, Ananna of the Tanarau finds herself in a precarious position: she is engaged to marry Tarrin, son of the Hariri, yet she has no plans to play wife to a pirate captain’s son. Rather, she wants to be the pirate captain, leading her own ship and crew. Even though Tarrin promises that his family will send an assassin after her if she were to leave, Ananna takes her chance and escapes her arranged marriage…but her goals are put on hold when she finds herself faced with the assassin hired by the Hariri. Through a series of magical mishaps, the unthinkable happens: pirate princess and assassin end up journeying to find a way to break a curse that binds them together. What good can come of these happenings?

The first thing that really struck me about this novel was how subtle yet fascinating the world-building was. For one, I don’t think I’ve read a novel recently that managed to contain so many culture cues and nods without being overwrought or feeling too authorially maneuvered for diversity’s sake. Here everything felt natural, even with the shadow-traveling assassins (who reminded me of ninjas at times) and blood magic and mentions of mystical creatures. It was one of those worlds I never wanted to leave because it seemed so full of possibility.

Of course, Ananna herself really stole my attention. Recently, I’ve found myself really admiring narratives that manage to capture a character’s specific voice (Moira Young’s Blood Red Road and A.C. Gaughen’s Scarlet come to mind), and I can add The Assassin’s Curse to the list because this novel also bears quite a distinctive voice in Ananna. Beyond that, though, she’s the kind of heroine who’s really fun to follow because she does things. Ananna doesn’t wait for people to do things for her or protect her (instead, she’s usually very opposed to these things because she was raised to take care of herself in dangerous situations), and she’s a whole spectrum away from passive.

With the assassin/would-be hero, Naji, there was quite a role reversal. In some ways, I think he actually took on some of the characteristics usually attributed to YA heroines (mind, I thought this was a *very good* thing). Despite being a capable assassin, Naji mucks things up quite a bit through some impulsive decisions over the course of the novel and, even with his magic, he’s far from “invincible.” (Rather, he often ends up drained due to his magic use, leaving Ananna in a bind to drag him to safety somehow.) It’s also quite interesting that Naji seems to bear quite a bit of insecurity, all born from people and happenings in his past. Too often in YA novels I see the insecure “I’ll never believe I’m beautiful”/”I’m too ugly to be loved” heroines, so it was very refreshing to read about a hero who, despite capability and intelligence, seems to think very little of himself on a person-to-person level. Usually in various media (not just YA novels) we see male characters who are confident, most oftentimes bordering on arrogant, yet rarely do we ever see the ones who bear self-esteem issues and quite a bit of uncertainty. In that respect, Naji seemed very “real” to me as a character, especially in how he acted and interacted with others.

Though the novel undoubtedly had flaws, I’m probably too close to it right now as far as “book infatuation” to point them out and note them in this review. The ending came far too abruptly for my liking, though that’s likely due to the fact that I really, really wanted a resolution…only to reach the end and think, “Nononono, don’t end, don’t end… Oh, crap, now I have to wait for the sequel.” (Don’t we all hate when that happens?) I guess my reaction only gives more testament to how much I really enjoyed this novel and how much I look forward to the sequel, The Pirate’s Wish.

Needless to say, I feel that The Assassin’s Curse is definitely a notable addition to YA fantasy and one that I hope fantasy fans will flock to read and devour come October. It’s a fun novel that should quench any reader’s thirst for magic, pirates, assassins, and a world where the possible and impossible twine together. Here’s hoping that Ananna and Naji’s journey will enchant other readers as much as it did me.

—– Jillian (Goodreads)

5) KATYA’S WORLD by Jonathan L Howard

I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to read an advance copy of Jonathan L. Howard’s Katya’s World from new publishing imprint Strange Chemistry from Angry Robot Books.

Like their elder brother, Strange Chemistry titles will principally be SF and Fantasy works, with plenty of cross-over and genre-bending novels too from the looks of their forthcoming publications. However SC will be focusing on young adult works.

Katya’s World is a really great book. I know we should never judge a book by its cover, but this is a beautiful cover! It also immediately establishes, before a word has been read, some of the background setting to the novel. Now, I hate spoilers in reviews so I will try my hardest not to give too much away here. But as all of the following can be gleaned from the back cover I reckon I’m fairly safe in revealing it!

The novel is set on the colony world of Russalka, a planet with no land masses. As such the action takes place almost entirely in sub-marine settings. This allows for the author to imperil the characters in several interesting and unusual ways. Mr Howard’s attention to detail is evident in his descriptions of setting, action, and behaviour and it is clear that he has invested a great deal of time in ensuring believability for his technology and the world in which it functions.

His writing style is flowing and very easy to follow, with dialogue that rarely feels stilted and helps add to the realism of the overall setting. Mr Howard manages to avoid the pitfalls of the ‘info dump’ in a number of very clever and subtle ways, giving the reader enough information to understand the plot while not overburdening the text with too much unnecessary detail.

One of the biggest problems that faces YA writers is how to construct, and then tell, a story that is engaging for the target audience and does not patronise them. Mr Howard is very successful in these regards and has created a story which is engaging for the reader (I found it very absorbing).

Central to the plot, of course, are the characters and it will probably come as no surprise that the main protagonist for Katya’s World is the titular heroine, Katya Kuriakova. Katya is drawn very much in the mould of the current crop of female teenage leads but bears far more in common with, say, Katniss Everdeen, than Bella Swan – this is a very good thing! Katya is exactly the kind of heroine who takes the plot and helps guide the reader through it. She is brave but is still a teenager and Mr Howard has pitched her perfectly. Following her progress and development throughout the novel is as rewarding as the plot itself.

And what a plot it is. Twisting and turning just as you think you’ve figured out what it’s going to be. This reads like a very fast-paced action film and this is to the credit of the story. Developments keep you turning the pages and I honestly found the book very hard to put down.

Overall then, I highly recommend this title. If you liked The Hunger Games I suspect this will be just the cup of tea. I’d also happily give it as a gift to a teenage reader. Mr Howard does not shy away from dealing with difficult and challenging concepts and I believe that this will broaden its appeal to a wide audience.

Strange Chemistry are to be commended for publishing this title and I, for one, will be eagerly scouting out future titles from this new imprint.

—– Simon (Goodreads)

Thank you so much to the five reviewers above – and to everyone else who has taken the time to read and review Strange Chemistry titles. Without you, we couldn’t spread the word about these wonderful authors.

Another One Joins the Family!

Strange Chemistry, the YA imprint of Angry Robot Books, is delighted to announce the signing of seriously talented debut science fiction author Christian Schoon.

Christian has been signed in a two book deal for World English Rights, negotiated between Strange Chemistry’s Amanda Rutter and Adam Schear of DeFiore & Co. in New York. The first of these two novels will be called Zenn Scarlett and will be published in the Spring of 2013, with a second book in the same series to follow.

About Zenn Scarlett

Zenn Scarlett is a bright, determined, occasionally a-little-too-smart-for-her-own-good 15-year-old girl training hard to become an exoveterinarian. She’s specializing in the treatment of exotic alien life forms, mostly large and generally dangerous.

Her novice year of training at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic on Mars will find her working with alien patients: from whalehounds the size of a hay barn to a baby Kiran Sunkiller, a colossal floating creature that will grow up to carry a whole sky-city on its back.

After a series of inexplicable animal escapes from the school and other near-disasters, the Cloister is in real danger of being shut down by a group of alien-hating officials. If that happens, Zenn knows only too well the grim fate awaiting the creatures she loves.

Now, she must unravel the baffling events plaguing her school, before someone is hurt or killed, before everything she cares about is ripped away from her and her family forever. To solve this mystery – and live to tell about it – Zenn will have to put her new exovet skills to work in ways she never imagined, and in the process learn just how powerful compassion and empathy can be.

About Christian Schoon

Christian has a life-long affection for animals and deep appreciation for science (fictional and actual) and says he’s constantly surprised to find himself living a universe where he gets to spend his time thinking and writing about exactly those subjects.

His writing career includes several years as an in-house copywriter/scriptwriter for Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, followed by freelance copywriting for the entertainment industry and scriptwriting for live-action and animated T.V.
Currently, he writes from his 150-year-old farmstead in Iowa, which he shares with a fluctuating number of horses (generally less than a dozen, but not always), 30 or so cats, an Aussie mix canine, three ferrets and “…a surprisingly patient wife.”

Christian is represented by Adam Schear of DeFiore & Co. in New York.

When Adam informed him that Strange Chemistry, daughter-spawn of the almighty Angry Robot, was interested in publishing his work, Christian reports his pleasant sense of incredulity concerning the universe was ratcheted up several notches.

He can be found online at his blog:

Strange Chemistry’s Amanda Rutter says: “When I read Zenn Scarlett I was astonished at the depth and breadth of imagination on display. Even better, Christian has written a breathtaking story about compassion and truth, featuring a teen character that people will really take to their hearts.”

All About the Books Meme – with Sean Cummings

Right, now it’s the turn of one of the gents! Sean is here to take part in All About the Books, so please do let him know your thoughts on his choices!

1) One Book That Changed My Life

This is a tough one because I’m often torn between some brilliant fiction novels, memoirs and non-fiction. I think the one book that changed my life was probably The Drowned and the Saved by Italian holocaust survivor Primo Levi. It’s a collection of essays – a serious examination of Levi’s experiences during that terrible time in human history. The writing simply can’t not move you – it is of the highest literary quality (as all of Levi’s books are, frankly) and gives the reader an utterly spirit wrenching contemplation on the very worst of humanity and in some rare cases, the very best. It is a must read for anyone with the courage to confront and acknowledge that we did this to each other – we’re still doing it to each other right up to this day.

2) One Book I’ve HAD to Read More Than Once

The Stand by Stephen King – it is the benchmark for post apocalyptic. Period. End of story. It is surreal, it is survival, it is even a tiny bit of hope. It’s good versus unspeakable evil and a dark and terrifying read. I re-read it every five years or so and ask myself if I could be even one tenth as good a writer as King, what would my books look like.

3) One Book I’d Want on a Desert Island

Niagara by Pierre Berton. I’m fiercely proud of my country even though our politics drives me nuts most days. I love Canadian history and Pierre Berton was one of Canada’s premier historians during his life. His books were written in such a way that historical figures jumped off the page. This particular book takes you back to a time when one of the most densely populated sections of North America (and now one of the most industrialized and thus, the most polluted) was nothing but forest, wildlife and First Nations peoples. This book is written so damned well that you can actually hear the scream of an eagle or the chattering of finches in the trees as you tread across unspoiled land that no white person had ever set foot on. A wonderful, wonderful read.

4) One Book That Made Me Laugh

Monster by A. Lee Martinez – This guy is an incredible writer. He’s quirky, he’s a geek (like me) and in this book we have a pest control agency run by Monster – a guy whose girlfriend as a mean streak a mile long and all hell breaks loose when a Yeti is found in the freezer section of the local grocery store. Hijinks ensue not to mention a mystery filled with laughs and thrills at ever turn. I highly recommend this book. (Or anything written by A. Lee Martinez)

5) One Book That Made Me Cry

I’m not one for crying when I read a book but one book that leaves you with a bittersweet feeling is Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon. Published in 1991, this is a coming of age story about 12 year old Cory Mackenson who witnesses a car driving straight into a lake. It turns out the driver is a murder victim and Cory along with his friends come to the faith-shattering realization there is evil out there, even in the tiny town of Zephyr Alabama. There’s magic in this story too. And a message about growing up that leaves you pining a little bit for your childhood. From the book:

“We all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get it the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.”

6) One Book I Wish I’d Written

Robert R. McCammon again and this time it’s Swan Song. This is up there with The Stand as one of the benchmark novels for anyone who wants to write post-apocalyptic fiction. It was the first novel I’d read by McCammon and like The Stand, this is a novel that is epic in scope. There has been a nuclear war and the last survivors of the cataclysm – the future of humanity rests on the shoulders of a former professional wrestler known in his day as “Black Frankenstein”. A little girl with a gift, Swan, a girl whose home life fairly resembles the apocalypse in its own little way, must survive at all costs for within her is the ability to heal the blasted lands and poisoned earth. It’s Black Frankenstein’s mission to protect her from an unspeakable evil and so begins an epic journey through the wasteland of what once was the United States of America. It’s a brilliant novel, I read it again last year for the first time in more than twenty years and it still sent a chill down my spine.

7) One Book I’m Currently Reading

I’m currently reading Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis. A different take on urban fantasy where the main character doesn’t possess any magical qualities but as a cop, he’s got to deal with a string of murders where the victims are supernatural beings. Very procedural type of story and a unique take on urban fantasy.

8) One Book I’m Intending to Read

On my TBR list is vN by Madeline Ashby. This looks like a hell of a read from the book blurb and the cover art absolutely must win an award. I honestly can’t see anyone who loves science fiction not picking up this book to read the back cover blurb based on the cover art alone. Really looking forward to this one.

Thanks Sean!

Some great answers, I think you’ll agree? Any of these books now jumping onto your to-read list?