UPDATE: To read more from Laura, here’s “The Snake Charm”, a prequel story set before the events of Pantomime: http://staticsplit.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/the-first-vestigial-tale-the-snake-charm-is-now-live/
I read Pantomime in a very different form for the first time in the summer of 2011. Laura had submitted to the original Open Door for Angry Robot, and I was (then) one of the readers to assist the editors of Angry Robot in making decisions. I put forward Pantomime because I thought that it was clever, brave and incredibly beautiful, even in what was a rougher form.
Laura eventually submitted a revised and even more stunning version of Pantomime to Strange Chemistry and we had the great honour of publishing it and seeing it garner rave reviews from people who were delighted to see such delicate treatment of what is an incredibly complex subject. On a personal level I learnt much from Laura’s novel. I no longer refer to hermaphrodites. I feel that I have a much more open mind about gender fluidity. And I’m proud that I have started to stand up in defence of a world where everyone is accepted. Laura Lam helped me to do that.
The reason for this blog post is to celebrate the fact that Pantomime has won the Bisexual Book Award for Speculative Fiction. We’ve seen Pantomime nominated for a number of awards now, but this is the first outright win and we are delighted for Laura.
Here is a snippet from her acceptance speech:
“When I wrote the book, I worried it wouldn’t find a home. I remember reading Malinda Lo’s number crunching of GLBT characters in YA, and how small a slice of the overall publishing pie GLBT characters had already, and how bisexual and transgender characters were an even smaller percentage of that tiny slice. There were no entries for intersex characters at all. But, wonderfully, the book was picked up. And, wonderfully, I have received messages from all around the world from people who connected with Micah and his story. It has been a privilege to hear from bisexual, genderfluid, and intersex readers who have identified with Micah. It has been a privilege to hear that others have said that they learned a little more about gender diversity and sexuality. Micah Grey has found a home in readers’ hearts and minds, and there’s no place I’d rather him be.”
We’d also like to celebrate with Laura the fact that, today, she has released the first of at least four stories/novellas that help to build the world and characters that you can find in Pantomime and its sequel, Shadowplay. Here is a link to everything you need to know about The Snake Charm. So go buy!
Amanda here, wanting to chat about covers and retaining the look to a series of books. Strange Chemistry has been running officially for a year and a half, and I’ve been working behind the scenes for over two years, so we’ve now had the experience of seeing sequels and follow-ups being published by authors on the list. And one of the things I have been incredibly keen to do is try to retain the look of a series across different covers. I’ve seen numerous comments from people about how they dislike when covers change mid-series, or when a paperback is very different from a hardback. As a reader, I feel the same. I adore seeing on my shelves a completed series that has the same look and format, so this was a principle I definitely wanted to bring to Strange Chemistry.
Since we recently released the stunning action-packed cover to DELETE – the final novel in Kim Curran’s twisty, turning, thrilling series about shifters, it seemed like the perfect time to show off some of those linked books covers we now have. Enjoy!
The covers for Shift, Control and Delete are by Larry Rostant, and show the hero, Scott Tyler. Each of the covers picks a specific scene from within the books, and we definitely wanted to achieve a very cinematic feel. What I like best about these covers is seeing Scott in action shots, but also seeing the way his character develops on the front of the books as well as within them. By Delete, you get a real sense of the danger and determination of this teen Shifter.
Poltergeeks and Student Bodies by Sean Cummings feature Julie, a red-headed witch girl who most definitely eschews ballgowns and fancy outfits. She is a jeans and t-shirt kind a gal. Again, the front covers feature scenes from each novel. My favourite part? The fact that Julie is rather sneakily wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt on the Student Bodies cover (yes, they might just be my fave band!) These covers were by Paul Young.
With the covers for Cassandra’s high fantasy novels, I wanted to evoke the feel of the world, as well as try to present the mystery and magic present in each book. Hence the more Eastern feel to the cover, with the filigree patterning around the edge. I was very determined that the covers for the first duology would be a little unusual, and definitely not show the characters so that the reader could imagine them his or herself. Personally I think that Sarah J Coleman did a stunning job with these.
The Katya books by Jonathan L Howard were, once again, a very different direction. At the time that this cover was commissioned, there was a definite move towards more symbols on covers (like Divergent, I suppose), especially to highlight that a novel was SF rather than any other genre. I followed this idea, but wanted to pull out the aspects of the novels that made it so original: the Russian background, the water planet, the military side of the story, and I love the way that Lee Gibbons captured this.
This duo of beautiful covers were done by Steve Wood – he has definitely been one of our go-to artists and produced some stunning and very different pieces of art. The author in this case – A E Rought – is incredibly visual and created a fantastic mood board on Pinterest that helped guide us towards the end result. I like the fact that the first novel is narrated by Emma, and features her on the cover, while the second is narrated by Alex and so features him on the cover in a scene directly from the book. I also like the switch in colours from Broken to Tainted, and think they look beautiful side by side.
Ah, Pantomime and Shadowplay! Tom Bagshaw was the chap behind this lovely pair of covers. Pantomime was one of those novels that required a lot of thought in terms of how to present the cover. I wanted to capture the secrets, the hiding, the mysteriousness of our protagonist. Putting Micah on the cover required looking at a whole lot of androgynous models, and one of those I liked the best was Tilda Swinton – a strong, beautiful and unusual face. It was Laura’s idea to feature Cyan on the cover of Shadowplay and this just seemed perfect. It also allowed us to put a non-Western face on the front of a Strange Chemistry book, and I particularly wanted this for Laura’s books since the inclusivity and diversity is part of what makes them such a stunning read.
I will confess that The Holders and The Seers were two of the very hardest covers to brief in the whole time I have been working up ideas. Once I decided that I wanted to represent some of the magical items that featured in the stories, Lee Gibbons seemed the perfect choice, especially when I saw the work he’d done on other book covers featuring gems. and jewelry. I wanted the green gem on the first cover to be something that absolutely draws the eye, so the background was kept plain by necessity. Julianna was the one to find the beautiful image of the crystal ball that we then included on the second cover. In both cases we tried to present a Celtic tinge to reflect the events in the books.
Oh, I love these covers! They so perfectly represent the books and were done so professionally by Amazing15. From the hardest covers to brief (The Holders and The Seers) to the very easiest. As soon as I read Emilie and the Hollow World I could absolutely envisage this style of cover, that showed the adventure, the travelling, the era. You will have seen that we quite often go from blue to orange across a series – this is because the colours work so perfectly alongside each other.
And finally (for now – over the next few months we’ll be presenting some more second in series) the gorgeous covers for the Zenn Scarlett series. These were done by our own incredibly talented Steven Meyer-Rassow – he has now worked on a few covers for Strange Chemistry, Angry Robot and Exhibit A, and I think they’ve all been exceptional pieces. These covers both say SF in a really beautiful way – I was guided a little by the way I’d seen other SF covers in the YA arena.
There you go – a quick look at some of our linked covers. You’ll see that we try to keep the same artist for the covers in a series, and that we use the same font and feel for the covers. To me it’s important that a person can identify the genre and the tone of a novel from the cover. It’s also important to have a cover that will feel both familiar but look just a little different to others around it. I enjoy identifying trends within YA covers, and then thinking about how to best utilise that trend, or possibly subvert it a little.
I would be very happy to answer any questions about the Strange Chemistry covers, and the process behind cover briefing – just leave your comments below and I will get to them as soon as I can. And it would be fab to hear from you which of these sets of covers speaks to you, and appeals to you the most!
Well, as usual with these things, the possibility and contracts have been rumbling along for months and then suddenly the news hits the US when us Brits are just thinking about going home and getting the dinner on *grins*. So we’re catching up now, and we’re over the moon and delighted to celebrate with Ann Rought the news that her novels with Strange Chemistry have been optioned for TV.
Here is the official announcement from Publishers Marketplace!
A.E. Rought’s BROKEN, pitched as a reimagining of the Frankenstein story in which a grieving girl falls in love with a boy not wholly himself, optioned for adaptation as an hour-long dramatic television series, for ABC Family by Junction Entertainment, by Nate Matteson at Gotham Group, on behalf of Gina Panettieri at Talcott Notch Literary Services.
Biggest congratulations, Ann – here’s keeping everything crossed that these fabulous books become the newest hit TV series!
One of these days we’re going to really surprise you, and have our YA Releases post go live on the 1st of the relevant month, rather than halfway through the month! But we figure that, whichever way we do it, it’s still simply awesome seeing the list of new books available to buy and stroke and covet. Here is the new batch for September!
1) The Woken Gods – Gwenda Bond
The more things change…
Five years ago, the gods of ancient mythology awoke all around the world.
The more things stay the same…
This morning, Kyra Locke is late for school because of an argument with her father.
Seventeen-year-old Kyra lives in a transformed Washington, D.C., dominated by the embassies of divine pantheons and watched over by the mysterious Society of the Sun that governs mankind’s relations with the gods. But when rebellious Kyra encounters two trickster gods on her way home, one offering a threat and the other a warning, it turns out her life isn’t what it seems. She escapes with the aid of Osborne “Oz” Spencer, a young Society field operative, only to discover that her scholar father has disappeared with a dangerous Egyptian relic. The Society needs the item back, and they aren’t interested in her protests that she knows nothing about it or her father’s secrets.
Now Kyra must depend on her wits and the suspect help of scary Sumerian gods, her estranged oracle mother, and, of course, Oz–whose first allegiance is to the Society. She has no choice if she’s going to recover the missing relic and save her father. And if she doesn’t? Well, that may just mean the end of the world as she knows it. From the author of Blackwood comes a fresh, thrilling urban fantasy that will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman, Cassandra Clare, and Rick Riordan.
2) When the World was Flat (And We Were in Love) – Ingrid Jonach
Looking back, I wonder if I had an inkling that my life was about to go from ordinary to extraordinary.
When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it’s like fireworks — for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general.
But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind — memories of the two of them, together and in love.
When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger — and much more terrifying and beautiful — than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.
An epic and deeply original sci-fi romance, taking inspiration from Albert Einstein’s theories and the world-bending wonder of true love itself.
3) Student Bodies – Sean Cummings
Whoever said being a teenage witch would be easy? For fifteen-year-old Julie Richardson and the city’s resident protector from supernatural evil, the Left Hand Path doesn’t give a damn if you’ve found true love for the first time in your life. There’s someone lurking the halls of Crescent Ridge High School with enough malice to unleash an epidemic of Soul Worms – supernatural larvae that feed on the very fabric of a victim’s humanity.
After witnessing the death of one of the most popular kids at school, Julie and über genius boyfriend Marcus are in a race against time to find out who is behind the attacks. All the evidence points to a horrifying plot at the City Weir during the Winter Solstice; the place where icy waters of the Bow River and a thunderous spillway will mean the deaths of more than a hundred of Julie’s classmates.
If she has any hope of saving their lives, she’ll need a little help from a coven of white witches and an Aboriginal mage whose snarky attitude is matched only by her magical prowess.
4) Split Second – Sophie McKenzie
Bound together by the devastating consequences of a terrorist attack on a London market, teenagers Charlotte (Charlie) and Nat appear at first to have much in common. But, as Charlie gets closer to Nat and his family, she begins to wonder if perhaps he knows more about the attack than he has let on. Split Second is an action-packed thriller that shifts between the perspectives of its two main characters as their courage and their loyalties are tested to the limit.
5) The Fallen – Charlie Higson
The Enemy #5
First the sickness rotted the adults’ minds. Then their bodies. Now they stalk the streets, hunting human flesh.
The Holloway crew are survivors. They’ve fought their way across London and made it to the Natural History Museum alive – just. But the fight will never end while the Enemy lives, unless there’s another way. . .
The kids at the museum are looking for a cure. All they need are medical supplies. To get them means a journey down unknown roads. Roads where not only crazed, hungry sickos hide in the shadows.
SUDDENLY IT’S NOT SO CLEAR WHO – OR WHAT – THEY’RE FIGHTING.
6) The Burning Sky – Sherry Thomas
The Elemental Trilogy #1
It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning…
Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she’s being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.
Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he’s also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.
But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.
7) Shadows – Robin McKinley
Maggie knows something’s off about Val, her mom’s new husband. Val is from Oldworld, where they still use magic, and he won’t have any tech in his office-shed behind the house. But—more importantly—what are the huge, horrible, jagged, jumpy shadows following him around? Magic is illegal in Newworld, which is all about science. The magic-carrying gene was disabled two generations ago, back when Maggie’s great-grandmother was a notable magician. But that was a long time ago.
Then Maggie meets Casimir, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. He’s from Oldworld too—and he’s heard of Maggie’s stepfather, and has a guess about Val’s shadows. Maggie doesn’t want to know . . . until earth-shattering events force her to depend on Val and his shadows. And perhaps on her own heritage.
In this dangerously unstable world, neither science nor magic has the necessary answers, but a truce between them is impossible. And although the two are supposed to be incompatible, Maggie’s discovering the world will need both to survive.
8) Battle Magic – Tamora Pierce
On their way to the first Circle temple in Gyongxi, mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy pay a visit to the emperor’s summer palace. Although treated like royalty when they first arrive, the mages soon discover that the emperor plans to invade Gyongxi, posing a fatal threat to the home temple of the Living Circle religion. Accompanied by one of the emperor’s prize captives, the three mages rush to Gyongxi to warn its citizens of the impending attack. With the imperials hot on their trail, Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy must quickly help the country prepare for battle. But even with the help of new allies, will their combined forces be enough to fight the imperial army and win the war?
9) Monsters – Ilsa J Bick
Ashes Trilogy #3
The Changed are on the move. The Spared are out of time. The End…is now.
When her parents died, Alex thought things couldn’t get much worse-until the doctors found the monster in her head.
She headed into the wilderness as a good-bye, to leave everything behind. But then the end of the world happened, and Alex took the first step down a treacherous road of betrayal and terror and death.
Now, with no hope of rescue-on the brink of starvation in a winter that just won’t quit-she discovers a new and horrifying truth.
The Change isn’t over.
The Changed are still evolving.
And…they’ve had help.
With this final volume of The Ashes Trilogy, Ilsa J. Bick delivers a riveting, blockbuster finish, returning readers to a brutal, post-apocalyptic world where no one is safe and hope is in short supply.
A world where, from these ashes, the monsters may rise.
10) The Falconer – Elizabeth May
The Falconer #1
Heiress. Debutant. Murderer. A new generation of heroines has arrived.
Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844
Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.
Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.
But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?
11) Kinslayer – Jay Kristoff
The Lotus War #2
A SHATTERED EMPIRE
The mad Shōgun Yoritomo has been assassinated by the Stormdancer Yukiko, and the threat of civil war looms over the Shima Imperium. The Lotus Guild conspires to renew the nation’s broken dynasty and crush the growing rebellion simultaneously – by endorsing a new Shōgun who desires nothing more than to see Yukiko dead.
A DARK LEGACY
Yukiko and the mighty thunder tiger Buruu have been cast in the role of heroes by the Kagé rebellion. But Yukiko herself is blinded by rage over her father’s death, and her ability to hear the thoughts of beasts is swelling beyond her power to control. Along with Buruu, Yukiko’s anchor is Kin, the rebel Guildsman who helped her escape from Yoritomo’s clutches. But Kin has his own secrets, and is haunted by visions of a future he’d rather die than see realized.
A GATHERING STORM
Kagé assassins lurk within the Shōgun’s palace, plotting to end the new dynasty before it begins. A waif from Kigen’s gutters begins a friendship that could undo the entire empire. A new enemy gathers its strength, readying to push the fracturing Shima imperium into a war it cannot hope to survive. And across raging oceans, amongst islands of black glass, Yukiko and Buruu will face foes no katana or talon can defeat.
The ghosts of a blood-stained past.
12) The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.
One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
13) Frozen – Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston
Heart of Dread #1
Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.
At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she’s heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.
But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.
14) Antigoddess – Kendare Blake
Goddess War #1
Old Gods never die…
Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.
Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.
These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.
Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.
Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.
The Goddess War is about to begin.
15) Fractured – Teri Terry
How do you know where to go when you don’t remember where you came from?
Kyla’s memory has been erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost for ever.
Or so she thought.
Kyla shouldn’t be able to remember anything. But she can – and she’s beginning to realise that there are a lot of dark secrets locked away in her memories. When a mysterious man from her past comes back into her life, she thinks she’s on her way to finding the truth. But the more she learns about her history, the more confusing her future becomes…
16) The Darkest Path – Jeff Hirsch
A civil war rages between the Glorious Path–a militant religion based on the teachings of a former US soldier–and what’s left of the US government. Fifteen-year-old Callum Roe and his younger brother, James, were captured and forced to convert six years ago. Cal has been working in the Path’s dog kennels, and is very close to becoming one of the Path’s deadliest secret agents. Then Cal befriends a stray dog named Bear and kills a commander who wants to train him to be a vicious attack dog. This sends Cal and Bear on the run, and sets in motion a series of incredible events that will test Cal’s loyalties and end in a fierce battle that the fate of the entire country rests on.
17) The Waking Dark – Robin Wasserman
They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn’t even know why she killed—or whether she’ll do it again.
Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander’s, Kansas—something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself. Jule, the outsider at war with the world; West, the golden boy at war with himself; Daniel, desperate for a different life; Cass, who’s not sure she deserves a life at all; and Ellie, who believes in sacrifice, fate, and in evil. Ellie, who always goes too far. They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town—and in themselves.
18) Rose Under Fire – Elizabeth E Wein
While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?
Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.
19) Allies and Assassins – Justin Somper
They killed his brother. Now they’re coming for him. . .
As the second prince of Archenfield, Jared never expected to rule. But behind the walls of the castle is a dark and dangerous court where murder and intrigue are never far below the surface.
Now his older brother is dead. The kingdom is his. And the target is on his back. Can he find the assassin before the assassin finds him?
20) Picture Me Gone – Meg Rosoff
Mila is on a roadtrip across the USA with her father. They are looking for his best friend but Mila discovers a more important truth. Sometimes the act of searching reveals more than the final discovery can. Adults do not have all the answers. It all depends what questions you ask.
21) Knife Edge – Andrew Lane
Young Sherlock Holmes #6
Young Sherlock Holmes is in Ireland to solve his sixth intriguing mystery
Something sinister is afoot in the house in the west of Ireland in which Sherlock is staying. There are frightened whisperings among the servants and the house’s owners are clearly scared. But who – or what? – has terrified them so much that nobody will speak out? Young Sherlock must bring all his powers of deduction to unravelling his greatest mystery yet.
Another fast-paced, brilliantly plotted adventure as teenage Sherlock investigates a new crime and comes up against a fresh crop of sinister, clever criminals.
22) More Than This – Patrick Ness
A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this. . .
23) 3.59 – Gretchen McNeil
Josie Byrne’s life is spiraling out of control. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend Nick has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she’s betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can’t get worse.
Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time—3:59 a.m.
Jo’s life is everything Josie wants: she’s popular, her parents are happily married, and Nick adores her. It all seems real, but they’re just dreams, right? Josie thinks so, until she wakes one night to a shadowy image of herself in the bedroom mirror – Jo.
Josie and Jo realize that they are doppelgängers living in parallel universes that overlap every twelve hours at exactly 3:59. Fascinated by Jo’s perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to jump through the portal and switch places for a day.
But Jo’s world is far from perfect. Not only is Nick not Jo’s boyfriend, he hates her. Jo’s mom is missing, possibly insane. And at night, shadowy creatures feed on human flesh.
By the end of the day, Josie is desperate to return to her own life. But there’s a problem: Jo has sealed the portal, trapping Josie in this dangerous world. Can she figure out a way home before it’s too late?
24) The Wicked Within – Kelly Keaton
Gods and Monsters #3
Ancient lore leads to present danger in the final book in the dark and sexy paranormal romance trilogy about a descendent of Medusa, set in a richly reimagined New Orleans.
Her fate is not set in stone.
Having temporarily defeated Athena, Ari races to break the gorgon curse that has plagued the women in her family for centuries. Her one lead sends her on a quest for the Hands of Zeus, an ancient relic last seen in the charge of New 2’s ruling elite, the Novem. But if there is one thing that Athena desires as much as revenge, it’s the Hands of Zeus—and Athena always gets what she wants.
Before either can locate the Hands, the statue goes missing, and a trail of blood follows those who once protected the relic’s secrets. Ari knows that her city, her friends, Sebastian—her life—depend upon her finding the statue before Athena. And with rumors an ancient power is on the rise, that may not be her only concern…
25) Scorched – Mari Mancusi
Don’t leave me here… It starts with a whisper. At first Trinity thinks she’s going crazy. It wouldn’t be a big surprise—her grandpa firmly believes there’s a genuine dragon egg in their dusty little West Texas town. But this voice is real, and it’s begging for her protection. Even if no one else can hear it…
He’s come from a future scorched by dragonfire. His mission: Find the girl. Destroy the egg. Save the world.
He’s everything his twin brother Connor hates: cocky, undisciplined, and obsessed with saving dragons.
Trinity has no idea which brother to believe. All she has to go by is the voice in her head—a dragon that won’t be tamed.
26) The Final Descent – Richard Yancey
The Monstrumologist #4
Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop have encountered many horrors together—but can Will endure a monstrumological terror without his mentor?
Will Henry has been through more that seems possible for a boy of fourteen. He’s been on the brink of death on more than one occasion, he has gazed into hell—and hell has stared back at him, and known his face. But through it all, Dr. Warthrop has been at his side.
When Dr. Warthrop fears that Will’s loyalties may be shifting, he turns on Will with a fury, determined to reclaim his young apprentice’s devotion. And so Will must face one of the most horrific creatures of his monstrumology career—and he must face it alone.
Over the course of one day, Will’s life—and Pellinor Warthrop’s destiny—will lie in balance. In the terrifying depths of the Monstrumarium, they will face a monster more terrible than any they could have imagined—and their fates will be decided.
27) Until It Hurts To Stop – Jennifer Hubbard
When you can’t trust anyone, how can you ever feel safe?
In seventh grade, Maggie Camden was the class outcast. Every day, the other girls tripped her, pinched her, trapped her in the bathroom, told her she would be better off dead. Four years have passed since then, and Maggie’s tormentors seem to have moved on. The ringleader of them all, Raleigh Barringer, even moved out of town. But Maggie has never stopped watching for attacks, and every laugh still sounds like it’s at her expense. The only time Maggie feels at peace is when she’s hiking up in the mountains with her best friend, Nick. Lately, though, there’s a new sort of tension between the two of them—a tension both dangerous and delicious. But how can Maggie expect anything more out of Nick when all she’s ever been told is that she’s ugly, she’s pathetic, she’s unworthy of love? And how can she ever feel safe, now that Raleigh Barringer is suddenly—terrifyingly—back in town?
28) A Radiant Sky – Jocelyn Davies
A Beautiful Dark #3
Since the night of her seventeenth birthday, Skye has been torn between two opposites: Light and Dark, the Order and the Rebellion, Devin and Asher.
But her decision shocked both sides—because she chose neither.
With the help of her friends, Skye forges her own path, setting out to gather an uprising of Rogues. The treacherous and elusive half-angels may be the key to maintaining the balance of fate and free will. But completing the mission her parents left unfinished is more difficult—and dangerous—than she could have imagined. And doing so comes at a cost: Her greatest love may now be a lethal enemy. Because it’s not just the Order that sees her as a threat who must be eliminated. The Rebellion does, too.
And both sides will do whatever it takes to win.
Dark days lie ahead, and if Skye is to survive, she’ll need to rely on her extraordinary powers and the strength of her will. Because she has a future—and a love—that’s worth fighting for.
29) Takedown – Allison Van Diepen
Darren took the fall for Diamond Tony, the notorious head of the city’s drug cartel. Two years later, Darren’s finally out of juvie—and determined to get even.
Working as an informant for the police, Darren infiltrates Diamond Tony’s operation. But falling for sweet, innocent Jessica was not part of that plan. She’s a distraction—and a liability. She’s also everything Darren dreamed about while he was locked up, and with her, he has the promise of a fresh start.
When a deadly turf war breaks out between Diamond Tony and the Bloods, Darren gets caught in the crossfire. The cops think he’s playing both sides, and any mistake could be his last. Darren has to stay on his game if he’s going to protect Jessica—and if he’s going to stay alive.
30) QB1 – Mike Lupica
Jake Cullen is a freshman quarterback playing high school football in the high-pressure land of Friday Night Lights (Texas). He is also the brother of Wyatt Cullen, who quarterbacked his team to the Texas State Championship last season–not to mention the son of former NFL quarterback and local legend, Troy Cullen. To be a Cullen in Texas is to be royalty . . . and a quarterback. All of which leaves 14-year-old Jake in a Texas-sized shadow, a tall order for any boy, especially one who’s merely a freshman.
While his teammates assume the starting job will be handed to Jake on a silver platter, the truth is that he has to fight for every snap and every ounce of respect. Jake may be a Cullen and he may play quarterback, but he is not his brother or his father. Being a good teammate comes naturally to Jake; being a winner and a celebrity does not. He’s just like every other boy–awkward around a pretty girl, in awe of his famous family, and desperate to simultaneously blend in and cast his own shadow.
31) Inheritance – Malinda Lo
The triangular spaceship hovered motionless in the sky above Reese Holloway’s house, as inscrutable as a black hole. It had seemed like a good idea when they were inside: to tell the truth about what happened to them at Area 51. It didn’t seem like such a good idea now.
Reese and David are not normal teens—not since they were adapted with alien DNA by the Imria, an extraterrestrial race that has been secretly visiting Earth for decades. Now everyone is trying to get to them: the government, the Imria, and a mysterious corporation that would do anything for the upper hand against the aliens.
Beyond the web of conspiracies, Reese can’t reconcile her love for David with her feelings for her ex-girlfriend Amber, an Imrian. But her choice between two worlds will play a critical role in determining the future of humanity, the Imria’s place in it, and the inheritance she and David will bring to the universe.
32) Thousand Words – Jennifer Brown
Ashleigh’s boyfriend, Kaleb, is about to leave for college, and Ashleigh is worried that he’ll forget about her while he’s away. So at a legendary end-of-summer pool party, Ashleigh’s friends suggest she text him a picture of herself — sans swimsuit — to take with him. Before she can talk herself out of it, Ashleigh strides off to the bathroom, snaps a photo in the full-length mirror, and hits “send.”
But when Kaleb and Ashleigh go through a bad breakup, Kaleb takes revenge by forwarding the text to his baseball team. Soon the photo has gone viral, attracting the attention of the school board, the local police, and the media. As her friends and family try to distance themselves from the scandal, Ashleigh feels completely alone — until she meets Mack while serving her court-ordered community service. Not only does Mack offer a fresh chance at friendship, but he’s the one person in town who received the text of Ashleigh’s photo — and didn’t look.
33) Once We Were – Kat Zhang
The Hybrid Chronicles #2
“I’m lucky just to be alive.”
Eva was never supposed to have survived this long. As the recessive soul, she should have faded away years ago. Instead, she lingers in the body she shares with her sister soul, Addie. When the government discovered the truth, they tried to “cure” the girls, but Eva and Addie escaped before the doctors could strip Eva’s soul away.
Now fugitives, Eva and Addie find shelter with a group of hybrids who run an underground resistance. Surrounded by others like them, the girls learn how to temporarily disappear to give each soul some much-needed privacy. Eva is thrilled at the chance to be alone with Ryan, the boy she’s falling for, but troubled by the growing chasm between her and Addie. Despite clashes over their shared body, both girls are eager to join the rebellion.
Yet as they are drawn deeper into the escalating violence, they start to wonder: How far are they willing to go to fight for hybrid freedom? Faced with uncertainty and incredible danger, their answers may tear them apart forever.
34) The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness and Perfection – Megan McCafferty
Jessica Darling’s It List #1
I hadn’t even gotten to homeroom yet and I’d already discovered five hard truths about junior high:
1. My best friend had turned pretty.
2. She didn’t know it yet.
3. It wouldn’t be long before she did.
4. That knowledge would change everything between us.
5. And there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.
It’s the first day of seventh grade. Is Jessica Darling doomed for dorkdom?
New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty’s hilarious series opener will have you laughing, cringing, and cheering for Jessica Darling as she learns that being herself beats being popular, pretty & perfect any day.
35) The Outside – Laura Bickle
The Hallowed Ones #2
One girl. One road. One chance to save what remains…
After a plague of vampires is unleashed in the world, Katie is kicked out of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. Now in exile, she enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two “English” friends and a horse by her side. Together they seek answers and other survivors—but each sunset brings the threat of vampire attack, and each sunrise the threat of starvation.
And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can these new people be trusted, and are they even people at all?
In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to leave behind in return?
36) Hurt – Tabitha Suzuma
At seventeen, Mathéo Walsh appears to have it all. He is a champion diver and a hot prospect for the upcoming Olympics. He is a heartthrob, a straight A student and lives in one of the wealthiest areas of London. He has great friends and is the envy of many around him. And most importantly of all, he is deeply in love with his girlfriend, Lola. He has always been a stable, well-adjusted guy . . .
Until one weekend. A weekend he cannot seem to remember. All he knows is that he has come back a changed person. One who no longer knows how to have fun, no longer wants to spend time with his friends, no longer enjoys diving. Something terrible happened that weekend – something violent and bloody and twisted. He no longer knows who he is. He no longer trusts himself around people: he only wants to hurt, wound and destroy. Slowly, he begins to piece back the buried, fragmented memories, and finds himself staring at the reflection of a monster.
Tormented, Mathéo suddenly finds himself faced with the most devastating choice of his life. Keep his secret, and put those closest to him in terrible danger. Or confess, and lose Lola forever . . .
37) Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .
But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
38) The Dream Thieves – Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven Cycle #2
Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…
39) The Chaos of Stars – Kiersten White
Isadora’s family is seriously screwed up.
Of course, as the human daughter of Egyptian gods, that pretty much comes with the territory. She’s also stuck with parents who barely notice her, and a house full of relatives who can’t be bothered to remember her name. After all, they are going to be around forever—and she’s a mere mortal.
Isadora’s sick of living a life where she’s only worthy of a passing glance, and when she has the chance to move to San Diego with her brother, she jumps on it. But Isadora’s quickly finding that a “normal” life comes with plenty of its own epic complications—and that there’s no such thing as a clean break when it comes to family. Much as she wants to leave her past behind, she can’t shake the ominous dreams that foretell destruction for her entire family. When it turns out there may be truth in her nightmares, Isadora has to decide whether she can abandon her divine heritage after all.
40) Rogue – Gina Damico
Lex is a teenage Grim Reaper with the power to Damn souls, and it’s getting out of control. She’s a fugitive, on the run from the maniacal new mayor of Croak and the townspeople who want to see her pay the price for her misdeeds. Uncle Mort rounds up the Junior Grims to flee Croak once again, but this time they’re joined by Grotton, the most powerful Grim of all time. Their new mission is clear: Fix his mistakes, or the Afterlife will cease to exist, along with all the souls in it.
The gang heads for Necropolis, the labyrinth-like capital city of the Grimsphere. There, they discover that the Grimsphere needs a reboot. To do that, the portals to the Afterlife must be destroyed…but even that may not be enough to fix the damage. Things go from bad to worse, and when at last the fate of the Afterlife and all the souls of the Damned hang in the balance, it falls to Lex and her friends to make one final, impossible choice.
Any of these caught your eye? Have you read any of them already? Link us your reviews and recommendations!
Today we are delighted to bring you the simply gorgeous cover for the sequel to Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon. Coming in April 2014, it is called Under Nameless Stars, and takes Zenn into new adventures across the known universe and beyond.
Here is the blurb:
Zenn Scarlett’s novice year of exoveterinarian training on Mars isn’t quite going to plan…
After facing a plot to destroy her school and its menagerie of alien patients, could things get worse? Yes, they could: her absent father has been kidnapped.
Desperate to find him, Zenn stows away aboard the Helen of Troy, a starliner powered by one of the immense, dimension-jumping beasts known as Indra. With her is Liam Tucker, a Martian boy who is either very fond of her, very dangerous to her, or both. On the verge of learning the truth about her father, Zenn’s quest suddenly catapults her and Liam thousands of light years beyond known space, and into the dark heart of a monstrous conspiracy.
Braving a gauntlet of lethal environments and unearthly life forms, Zenn’s courage is tested as never before. With the fate of entire worlds in the balance, she is racing headlong into trouble… again.
And here… *drumroll*… is the simply beautiful cover, once more done by our own very talented Steven Meyer-Rassow:
Here is the first Zenn Scarlett cover as well, so that you can see how stunning they are as a pair:
We would love to know your thoughts on it, and please do spread the word!
This time last year I was already on my way to London. I was planning my speech and hoping all the fun items for the goody bags I’d arranged would have arrived at the British Library. It was the day of Strange Chemistry’s official launch. And here we are, a year later. It’s been a crazy wonderful year, with so many fantastic things having happened. It’s been busier than I like to think! And I have a few thank yous to dish out…
First and foremost, to the authors and agents who have allowed their novels to make a home with Strange Chemistry – without you, this imprint would be terribly lacking! I have the most awesome family of authors, who support one another (and me!) behind the scenes and really make this job the utmost fun.
Secondly, to all the bloggers who helped spread the word about Strange Chemistry, especially in this first year.
Thirdly, to all the readers who took a chance on a Strange Chemistry book in a bookstore.
Fourthly, to my colleagues here and in the States, who make each day such a joy.
Happy Birthday to Strange Chemistry – and look out for a post soon about OUR present to YOU.
(also, have a cute picture of a crochet hippo, because it’s too cute and I want this to be ALL MINE!)
What do you mean, we’re already halfway through August? *blinks* Seriously?! I’m guessing that many of you have already been out and about picking up new August books. In case you have some money spare, or a librarian on the case, here is a handy dandy guide to the best of YA coming atcha in August!
1) The Weight of Souls – Bryony Pearce
Sixteen year old Taylor Oh is cursed: if she is touched by the ghost of a murder victim then they pass a mark beneath her skin. She has three weeks to find their murderer and pass the mark to them – letting justice take place and sending them into the Darkness. And if she doesn’t make it in time? The Darkness will come for her…
She spends her life trying to avoid ghosts, make it through school where she’s bullied by popular Justin and his cronies, keep her one remaining friend, and persuade her father that this is real and that she’s not going crazy.
But then Justin is murdered and everything gets a whole lot worse. Justin doesn’t know who killed him, so there’s no obvious person for Taylor to go after. The clues she has lead her to the V Club, a vicious secret society at her school where no one is allowed to leave… and where Justin was dared to do the stunt which led to his death.
Can she find out who was responsible for his murder before the Darkness comes for her? Can she put aside her hatred for her former bully to truly help him?
And what happens if she starts to fall for him?
2) Control – Kim Curran
Scott Tyler/Shifters #2
Scott Tyler is not like other teenagers. With a single thought he can alter reality around him. And he can stop anyone else from doing the same.
That’s why he’s so important to ARES, the secret government agency that regulates other kids like him: Shifters.
They’ve sent him on a mission. To track down the enigmatic Frank Anderson. An ex-Shifter who runs a project for unusual kids – as if the ability to change your every decision wasn’t unusual enough. But Anderson and the kids have a dark secret. One that Scott is determined to discover.
As his obsession with discovering the truth takes him further away from anyone he cares about, his grip on reality starts to weaken. Scott realises if he can’t control his choices, they’ll control him.
3) The Fall of Five – Pittacus Lore
Lorien Legacies #4
The Garde are finally reunited, but do they have what it takes to win the war against the Mogadorians?
John Smith—Number Four—thought that things would change once the Garde found each other. They would stop running. They would fight the Mogadorians. And they would win.
But he was wrong. After facing off with the Mogadorian ruler and almost being annihilated, the Garde know they are drastically unprepared and hopelessly outgunned. Now they’re hiding out in Nine’s Chicago penthouse, trying to figure out their next move.
The six of them are powerful, but they’re not strong enough yet to take on an entire army—even with the return of an old ally. To defeat their enemy, the Garde must master their Legacies and learn to work together as a team. More importantly, they’ll have to discover the truth about the Elders and their plan for the Loric survivors.
And when the Garde receive a sign from Number Five—a crop circle in the shape of a Loric symbol—they know they are so close to being reunited. But could it be a trap? Time is running out, and the only thing they know for certain is that they have to get to Five before it’s too late.
The Garde may have lost battles, but they will not lose this war.
Lorien will rise again.
4) Crown of Midnight – Sarah J Maas
Throne of Glass #2
After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.
Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon — forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.
Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?
5) Earthfall – Mark Walden
Sam awakens to see strange vessels gathered in the skies around London. As he stares up, people stream past, walking silently toward the enormous ships, which emit a persistent noise. Only Sam seems immune to the signal. Six months later, he is absolutely alone.
Or so he thinks. Because after he emerges from his underground bunker and is wounded by a flying drone, a hail of machine-gun fire ultimately reveals two very important truths: One, Sam is not, in fact, alone. And two, the drone injury should have killed him—but it didn’t.
With his home planet feeling alien and the future unstable and unclear, Sam must navigate a new world in this gripping adventure.
6) Winter Damage – Natasha Carthew
On a frozen Cornish moor, a fifteen-year-old girl lives in a trailer with her dad and little brother. Ennor’s mother left years ago, when things started to go wrong – and gradually their world has fallen apart. Now her father’s gravely ill, school has closed, and Ennor knows they’re going to take her brother away if things don’t pick up soon. So three days before Christmas, when the wind is cold and her dad’s health takes a turn for the worse, Ennor packs a blanket, a map, a saucepan and a gun into her rucksack, and sets off to find her mum and bring her home. Ennor thinks she knows where she’s going. But this journey will change her life for ever – it becomes a battle for survival, a heartbreaking story of love and friendship, and a fable about not finding what you were looking for, but finding something more important instead . . .
7) Elegy – Amanda Hocking
Now that Gemma holds the key to breaking the siren curse, the stakes have never been higher. At last, a future with those she loves—and a romance with Alex—is close enough to touch…but not if Penn has anything to say about it. Penn is more determined than ever to have Daniel for her own and to destroy Gemma and Harper along the way, and Penn always gets what she wants. Now a final explosive battle is about to begin, and the winner will take everything Gemma holds dear.
8) The Bitter Kingdom – Rae Carson
Fire and Thorns #3
The epic conclusion to Rae Carson’s Fire and Thorns trilogy. The seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.
Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she’s never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion-a champion to those who have hated her most.
9) Deception – C J Redwine
Baalboden has been ravaged. The brutal Commander’s whereabouts are unknown. And Rachel, grief stricken over her father’s death, needs Logan more than ever. With their ragged group of survivors struggling to forge a future, it’s up to Logan to become the leader they need—with Rachel by his side. Under constant threat from rival Carrington’s army, who is after the device that controls the Cursed One, the group decides to abandon the ruins of their home and take their chances in the Wasteland.
But soon their problems intensify tenfold: someone—possibly inside their ranks—is sabotaging the survivors, picking them off one by one. The chaos and uncertainty of each day puts unbearable strain on Rachel and Logan, and it isn’t long before they feel their love splintering. Even worse, as it becomes clear that the Commander will stop at nothing to destroy them, the band of survivors begins to question whether the price of freedom may be too great—and whether, hunted by their enemies and the murderous traitor in their midst, they can make it out of the Wasteland alive.
10) The Twice Lost – Sarah Porter
Lost Voices #3
Mermaids have been sinking ships and drowning humans for centuries, and now the government is determined to put an end to the mermaid problem—by slaughtering all of them. Luce, a mermaid with exceptionally threatening abilities, becomes their number-one target, hunted as she flees down the coast toward San Francisco.
There she finds hundreds of mermaids living in exile under the docks of the bay. These are the Twice Lost: once-human girls lost first when a trauma turned them into mermaids, and lost a second time when they broke mermaid law and were rejected by their tribes. Luce is stunned when they elect her as their leader. But she won’t be their queen. She’ll be their general. And they will become the Twice Lost Army—because this is war.
11) Fire and Ash – Jonathan Maberry
Benny Imura #4
Benny Imura and his friends have made it to Sanctuary, they’ve found the jet and they’ve discovered that civilization is struggling to regain its foothold in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. Scientists are on the verge of finding a cure for the zombie plague. It should be time for celebration, but it’s not. Benny’s best friend, Chong, has been infected by an arrow dipped in the flesh of a zombie and he hovers between life and death and Dr McReady, a researcher who may have the critical formula for a cure, has gone missing. So Benny convinces Captain Ledger to mount a search and rescue mission to find the doctor and help Chong. But with the Reapers still pursuing their plan to turn all zombies into super-fast shock troops even if they can save Chong, can they save themselves? In the fourth book of the thrilling and emotionally charged Rot & Ruin series, the battle to end all battles is about to begin…
12) Consume – Melissa Darnell
The Clann #3
Tristan Coleman has survived the change from Clann magic user to vampire, much to Savannah Colbert’s joy—and despair. By changing the Clann’s golden boy and newly elected leader, even to save him from death, she has unleashed a fury of hatred and fear that they cannot escape.
As the Clann and the vampire council go to war, Tristan and Sav face a new threat—a fracturing of the all-consuming bond they share. To fight for peace, they must forge a new trust and risk everything to take down their deadliest enemy, even as they must run for their lives. Soon they will learn that some bonds are stronger than love—and some battles cannot be won without sacrifice.
13) Descendant – Lesley Livingston
The last thing Mason Starling remembers is the train crossing a bridge. An explosion . . . a blinding light . . . then darkness. Now she is alone, stranded in Asgard—the realm of Norse legend—and the only way for her to get home is to find the Spear of Odin, a powerful relic left behind by vanished gods.
The Fennrys Wolf knows all about Asgard. He was once trapped there. And he’ll do whatever it takes to find the girl who’s stolen his heart and bring her back—even if it means a treacherous descent into the Underworld. But time is running out, and Fenn knows something Mason doesn’t: If she takes up the Spear, she’ll set in motion a terrible prophecy. And she won’t just return to her world . . . she’ll destroy it.
In this pulse-pounding sequel to Starling, Lesley Livingston delivers another electrifying blend of nonstop action and undeniable romance that will leave readers breathless.
14) The Deepest Night – Shana Abé
The Sweetest Dark #2
It’s 1915, and sixteen-year-old Lora Jones is finishing up her first year as a charity student at Iverson, a prestigious, gothic boarding school on England’s southern coast. While she’s always felt different from everyone around her, now she finally knows why: She is a drákon, a rare, enchanted being with astonishing magical abilities.
As war hits Britain’s shores, and Lora reels from an unimaginable loss, she finds that her powers come with grave and dangerous responsibilities. At the request of Armand Louis, the darkly mysterious boy whose father owns Iverson, Lora will spend her summer at his lavish estate. To help the war effort—and to keep Lora by his side—Armand turns his home into a military hospital, where Lora will serve as a nurse. For Armand is inescapably drawn to her—bound to her by heart-deep secrets and a supernatural connection that runs thicker than blood.
Yet while Lora tries to sort out her own feelings toward Armand, fate offers an unexpected surprise. Lora discovers there is another drákon, a prisoner of war being held in Germany. And that only she, with her newly honed Gifts, will be able to rescue him.
With Armand, Lora will cross enemy lines on an incredible mission—one that could bond her to Armand forever, or irrevocably tear them apart.
15) Unfed – Kirsty McKay
The good news: Bobby survived her Undead school trip. Bad news: her best mate, Smitty, is missing. Bobby knows she’s got to find him even if it means risking it all and going out into the starving-zombie-infested wastelands again. Even if it means taking fellow survivors including a couple of old frenemies along for the ride. And even if the zombies are not the only ones who are chasing them this time.
16) Fire With Fire – Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
Burn for Burn #2
Lillia, Kat, and Mary had the perfect plan. Work together in secret to take down the people who wronged them. But things didn’t exactly go the way they’d hoped at the Homecoming Dance.
Not even close.
For now, it looks like they got away with it. All they have to do is move on and pick up the pieces, forget there ever was a pact. But it’s not easy, not when Reeve is still a total jerk and Rennie’s meaner than she ever was before.
And then there’s sweet little Mary…she knows there’s something seriously wrong with her. If she can’t control her anger, she’s sure that someone will get hurt even worse than Reeve was. Mary understands now that it’s not just that Reeve bullied her—it’s that he made her love him.
Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, burn for a burn. A broken heart for a broken heart. The girls are up to the task. They’ll make Reeve fall in love with Lillia and then they will crush him. It’s the only way he’ll learn.
It seems once a fire is lit, the only thing you can do is let it burn…
17) Just Like Fate – Cat Patrick & Suzanne Young
Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline’s been at Gram’s bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape–both her family and the reality of Gram’s failing health. So when Caroline’s best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram’s side, or go to the party and live her life.
The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline’s fate into two separate paths–and she’s about to live them both.
Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she’s ever wanted.
Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending…
18) Two Boys Kissing – David Levithan
New York Times bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS.
While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.
This follow-up to the bestselling Every Day showcases David’s trademark sharp-witted, warm-hearted tales of teenage love, and serves as a perfect thematic bookend to David’s YA debut and breakthrough, Boy Meets Boy, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2013.
19) Counting by 7s – Holly Goldberg Sloan
In the tradition of Out of My Mind, Wonder, and Mockingbird, this is an intensely moving middle grade novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family.
Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.
Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.
20) Shadowlark – Meagan Spooner
Ever since she escaped the city within the Wall, Lark Ainsley’s wanted one thing: to find her brother Basil. She’s always believed he would be the one to put an end to the constant fear and flight. And now, hidden underground in the chaotically magical city of Lethe, Lark feels closer to him than ever.
But Lethe is a city cowering in fear of its founder, the mysterious Prometheus, and of his private police force. To get the truth about what happened to Basil, Lark has no choice but to face Prometheus.
Facing her fears has become second nature to Lark. Facing the truth is another matter.
Lark never asked to be anyone’s savior. She certainly never wanted to be anyone’s weapon. She might not have a choice.
21) Love in the Time of Global Warming – Francesca Lia Block
Seventeen-year-old Penelope (Pen) has lost everything—her home, her parents, and her ten-year-old brother. Like a female Odysseus in search of home, she navigates a dark world full of strange creatures, gathers companions and loses them, finds love and loses it, and faces her mortal enemy.
In her signature style, Francesca Lia Block has created a world that is beautiful in its destruction and as frightening as it is lovely. At the helm is Pen, a strong heroine who holds hope and love in her hands and refuses to be defeated.
22) Texting the Underworld – Ellen Booraem
Perpetual scaredy-cat Conor O’Neill has the fright of his life when a banshee girl named Ashling shows up in his bedroom. Ashling is–as all banshees are–a harbinger of death, but she’s new at this banshee business, and first she insists on going to middle school. As Conor attempts to hide her identity from his teachers, he realizes he’s going to have to pay a visit to the underworld if he wants to keep his family safe.
“Got your cell?”
“Yeah . . . . Don’t see what good it’ll do me.”
“I’ll text you if anything happens that you should know.”
“Text me? Javier, we’ll be in the afterlife.”
“You never know. Maybe they get a signal.”
23) To Be Perfectly Honest – Sonya Sones
Her friends have a joke about her: How can you tell if Colette is lying?
Her mouth is open.
Fifteen-year-old Colette is addicted to lying. Her shrink says this is because she’s got a very bad case of Daughter-of-a-famous-movie-star Disorder—so she lies to escape out from under her mother’s massive shadow. But Colette doesn’t see it that way. She says she lies because it’s the most fun she can have with her clothes on. Not that she’s had that much fun with her clothes off. At least not yet, anyway…
When her mother drags her away from Hollywood to spend the entire summer on location in a boring little town in the middle of nowhere, Colette is less than thrilled. But then she meets a sexy biker named Connor. He’s older, gorgeous, funny, and totally into her. So what if she lies to him about her age, and about who her mother is? I mean, she has to keep her mother’s identity a secret from him. If he finds out who she really is, he’ll forget all about Colette, and start panting and drooling and asking her for her mother’s autograph. Just like everyone always does.
But what Colette doesn’t know is that Connor is keeping a secret of his own…
24) Infinityglass – Myra McEntire
The Hourglass is a secret organization focused on the study of manipulating time, and its members — many of them teenagers -have uncanny abilities to make time work for them in mysterious ways. Inherent in these powers is a responsibility to take great care, because altering one small moment can have devastating consequences for the past, present, and future. But some time travelers are not exactly honorable, and sometimes unsavory deals must be struck to maintain order.
With the Infinityglass (central to understanding and harnessing the time gene) at large, the hunt is on to find it before someone else does.
But the Hourglass has an advantage. Lily, who has the ability to locate anything lost, has determined that the Infinityglass isn’t an object. It’s a person. And the Hourglass must find him or her first. But where do you start searching for the very key to time when every second could be the last?
25) The Glass Republic – Tom Pollock
The Skyscraper Throne #2
Pen’s life is all about secrets: the secret of the city’s spirits, deities and monsters her best friend Beth discovered, living just beyond the notice of modern Londoners; the secret of how she got the intricate scars that disfigure her so cruelly – and the most closely guarded secret of all: Parva, her mirror-sister, forged from her reflections in a school bathroom mirror. Pen’s reflected twin is the only girl who really understands her.
Then Parva is abducted and Pen makes a terrible bargain for the means to track her down. In London-Under-Glass looks are currency, and Pen’s scars make her a rare and valuable commodity. But some in the reflected city will do anything to keep Pen from the secret of what happened to the sister who shared her face.
26) The Infinite Moment of Us – Lauren Myracle
For as long as she can remember, Wren Gray’s goal has been to please her parents. But as high school graduation nears, so does an uncomfortable realization: Pleasing her parents once overlapped with pleasing herself, but now… not so much. Wren needs to honor her own desires, but how can she if she doesn’t even know what they are?
Charlie Parker, on the other hand, is painfully aware of his heart’s desire. A gentle boy with a troubled past, Charlie has loved Wren since the day he first saw her. But a girl like Wren would never fall for a guy like Charlie—at least not the sort of guy Charlie believes himself to be.
And yet certain things are written in the stars. And in the summer after high school, Wren and Charlie’s souls will collide. But souls are complicated, as are the bodies that house them…
27) Cast in Sorrow – Michelle Sagara
Chronicles of Elantra #9
The Barrani would be happy to see her die. So Kaylin Neya is a bit surprised by her safe arrival in the West March. Especially when enemies new and old surround her and those she would call friends are equally dangerous…
And then the real trouble starts. Kaylin’s assignment is to be a “harmoniste”-one who helps tell the truth behind a Barrani Recitation. But in a land where words are more effective than weapons, Kaylin’s duties are deadly. With the wrong phrase she could tear a people further asunder. And with the right ones…well, then she might be able to heal a blight on a race.
If only she understood the story…
28) Replica – Jenna Black
Replica Trilogy #1
Sixteen-year-old Nadia Lake comes from a high-class Executive family in the Corporate States. Her marriage has been arranged with the most powerful family in her state, which means she lives a life of privilege but also of public scrutiny, followed everywhere by photographers, every detail of her private life tabloid fodder. But her future is assured, as long as she can maintain her flawless public image — no easy feat when your betrothed is a notorious playboy.
Nathan Hayes is the heir of Paxco — controller of the former state of New York, and creator of human replication technology, science that every state and every country in the world would kill to have. Though Nadia and Nate aren’t in love, they’ve grown up close, and they (and the world) are happy enough with their match.
Until Nate turns up dead, and as far as everyone knows, Nadia was the last person to see him alive.
When the new Nate wakes up in the replication tanks, he knows he must have died, but with a memory that only reaches to his last memory backup, he doesn’t know what killed him. Together, Nadia and Nate must discover what really happened without revealing the secrets that those who run their world would kill to protect.
29) Origin – Jennifer L Armentrout
Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.
After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.
All Katy can do is survive.
Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?
Together, they can face anything.
But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on?
And will they even be together?
30) Angel Fever – L A Weatherly
In the devastated remains of the world, millions of people live in “refugee” camps provided by the angels who have all but enslaved humanity. As this angelic stranglehold tightens, Willow and Alex are recruiting and training new Angel Killers while struggling to hold ground on the celestial battlefield. But Willow continues to have feelings for Seb, and her love and resolve are tested as a shattering revelation sends Alex on a separate journey. Now that the final battle versus the angels is about to begin-and the fate of the world hangs in the balance-each of them must face the consequences of their own choices. Will love endure? Will the human race survive?
31) Asylum – Madeleine Roux
For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it’s a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.
As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it’s no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.
32) The Sound – Sarah Alderson
When aspiring music journalist Ren Kingston takes a job nannying for a wealthy family on the exclusive island of Nantucket, playground for Boston’s elite, she’s hoping for a low-key summer reading books and blogging about bands. Boys are firmly off the agenda.
What she doesn’t count on is falling in with a bunch of party-loving private school kids who are hiding some dark secrets, falling (possibly) in love with the local bad boy, and falling out with a dangerous serial killer…
33) Earth Star – Janet Edwards
Earth Girl #2
18-year-old Jarra has a lot to prove. After being awarded one of the military’s highest honours for her role in a daring rescue attempt, Jarra finds herself – and her Ape status – in the spotlight. Jarra is one of the unlucky few born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Derided as an ‘ape’ – a ‘throwback’ – by the rest of the universe, Jarra is on a mission to prove that Earth Girls are just as good as anyone else.
Except now the planet she loves is under threat by what could be humanity’s first ever alien contact. Jarra’s bravery – and specialist knowledge – will once again be at the centre of the maelstrom, but will the rest of the universe consider Earth worth fighting for?
34) Soul Storm – Kate Harrison
Someone is stalking Alice Forster. She’s sure it’s her sister’s murderer, but her parents think she’s cracking under the stress of Meggie’s death. Only in the virtual world of Soul Beach – an online paradise for the young, the beautiful and the dead – can Alice feel truly free. But there’s trouble in paradise . . .
Clouds are gathering.
A storm is brewing.
The killer is about to strike.
35) Crash – Lisa McMann
Jules lives with her family above their restaurant, which means she smells like pizza most of the time and drives their double-meatball-shaped food truck to school. It’s not a recipe for popularity, but she can handle that.
What she can’t handle is the recurring vision that haunts her. Over and over, Jules sees a careening truck hit a building and explode…and nine body bags in the snow.
The vision is everywhere—on billboards, television screens, windows—and she’s the only one who sees it. And the more she sees it, the more she sees. The vision is giving her clues, and soon Jules knows what she has to do. Because now she can see the face in one of the body bags, and it’s someone she knows. Someone she has been in love with for as long as she can remember.
36) Fracture – C J Daugherty
Night School #3
Devastated by the loss of her friend and under constant threat from an unknown spy at Cimmeria Academy, Allie Sheridan is finding it hard to cope.
In Fracture, the third book in the Night School series, she’s not the only one losing it – everything is falling apart. And when Nathaniel begins to reveal his game plan, Isabelle starts to lose control.
As the school slides into a deadly morass of paranoia and suspicion, everyone is guilty until proved innocent. Anyone can be held without proof, and convicted without a trial. No one is safe.
This time Nathaniel doesn’t need to hurt them. This time they’re hurting themselves.
37) All Our Yesterdays – Cristin Terrill
“You have to kill him.” Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.
Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.
Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.
38) Untold – Sarah Rees Brennan
The Lynburn Legacy #2
It’s time to choose sides… On the surface, Sorry-in-the-Vale is a sleepy English town. But Kami Glass knows the truth. Sorry-in-the-Vale is full of magic. In the old days, the Lynburn family ruled with fear, terrifying the people into submission in order to kill for blood and power. Now the Lynburns are back, and Rob Lynburn is gathering sorcerers so that the town can return to the old ways.
But Rob and his followers aren’t the only sorcerers in town. A decision must be made: pay the blood sacrifice, or fight. For Kami, this means more than just choosing between good and evil. With her link to Jared Lynburn severed, she’s now free to love anyone she chooses. But who should that be?
39) The Liberator – Victoria Scott
Dante Walker #2
Dante has a shiny new cuff wrapped around his ankle, and he doesn’t like that mess one bit. His new accessory comes straight from Big Guy himself and marks the former demon as a liberator. Despite his gritty past and bad boy ways, Dante Walker has been granted a second chance.
When Dante is given his first mission as a liberator to save the soul of seventeen-year-old Aspen, he knows he’s got this. But Aspen reminds him of the rebellious life he used to live and is making it difficult to resist sinful temptations. Though Dante is committed to living clean for his girlfriend Charlie, this dude’s been a playboy for far too long…and old demons die hard.
With Charlie becoming the girl she was never able to be pre-makeover and Aspen showing him how delicious it feels to embrace his inner beast, Dante will have to go somewhere he never thought he’d return to in order to accomplish the impossible: save the girl he’s been assigned to, and keep the girl he loves.
40) Rolling Dice – Beth Reekles
They say that the higher you climb, the harder you fall – and Madison Clarke will do anything to keep her new life from crumbling to pieces. Moving from a small town in Maine to Florida, Madison grasps the opportunity to reinvent herself, to forget about those days of being a lonely, loser outcast, and jumps at the chance when the popular kids decide to take her under their wing. A hot boyfriend, parties, friends… If only there wasn’t the slight problem by the name of Dwight, a cute, funny and totally nerdy guy in Madison’s physics class who she can’t help but enjoy spending time with. Running from her past and stumbling through the present, who knows what lies ahead in this new life in Florida?
41) Cruel Summer – James Dawson
A year after Janey’s suicide, her friends reunite at a remote Spanish villa, desperate to put the past behind them. However, an unwelcome guest arrives claiming to have evidence that Jane was murdered. When she is found floating in the pool, it becomes clear one of them is a killer. Only one thing is for certain, surviving this holiday is going to be murder…
I think we’re probably missing a whole swathe of releases this time! But do, as usual, let us know what you’re planning to pick up or have already read. Share your recommendations!
As some of you are no doubt aware, at Strange Chemistry we’re very keen to find new writing talent, and, as such, we have opened to unagented submissions for the second year running. The Open Door is something that Angry Robot began a couple of years back and they enjoyed enormous success, signing some immensely talented authors. We caught up with a few of them to ask them what the Open Door has meant for them and how their lives have changed.
Hi! I’m Freya Robertson and my first book with Angry Robot—an epic fantasy called Heartwood—comes out on October 29th this year.
My story starts in 2011. I’d finished Heartwood and touted it around a few agents, but had little interest. Then in April 2012 I saw that Angry Robot had an Open Door submission policy for two weeks. Bloggers were full of praise for the publisher, so I decided to take the plunge.
I read the first 10,000 words, polished, and worked hard on the two-sentence summary and synopsis. Then I emailed it off, put it to the back of my mind and carried on writing other things.
In September Amanda sent an email saying she’d enjoyed what she’d read and would like to read more. This is about when my head exploded. I had a request for a full! I read through the whole manuscript in two days, polishing and tweaking, and sent it off.
In October Amanda returned to say she had enjoyed the full and passed it onto Lee Harris. She said “You’ve basically reached the final stage – he’ll either reject or make an offer.”
Any writer will tell you that the hardest part of the submission process (apart from actually pressing Send!) is the waiting. I managed to make it until February before I queried. Lee came back to me to say he liked it and was taking the book to his colleagues, and could I send any plans I had for a follow-up novel please. After picking myself off the floor, I wrote up my ideas for a sequel and emailed it off. A week later Lee emailed back to offer me a two book contract with an option on a third.
Apart from my wedding day and the birth of my son, that was the happiest day of my life. A good friend announced it in the staff meeting of the school where I work, and all day people came in to congratulate me. That night we had a party and it’s possible I may have drunk too much :-)
I’d already had twenty digital romances published. But fantasy and sci-fi are my first love, and I put my heart and soul into Heartwood. To think it is going to be on the shelves soon as a real book is a dream come true.
I thank AR for the opportunity to submit without an agent from the bottom of my heart. The process now of seeing my cover, the map I drew by hand translated by a proper cartographer, and my story tightened and made better by Lee’s careful touch is just wonderful.
AR continues to go from strength to strength gaining spectacular reviews and praise, and I’m thrilled to be a part of the team. So if you’re wondering whether to push that Send button, I urge you to go for it! And may the luck of the ‘Verse be with you :-)
Cassandra Rose Clarke
I hate writing queries. Hate them, hate them, hate them. Moreover, I’m apparently bad at them, as evidenced by
the fact that I sent out almost a hundred of the things and only had two or three agents look at my work. The AR Open Door was a miracle to me.
The Mad Scientist’s Daughter was the second book I wrote and the first that I queried, which got me nowhere. I was about to give up on the whole writing professionally thing (yes, really) when I decided to submit The Mad Scientist’s Daughter to the first Open Door Month. I expected my submission to be rejected as my queries had, and every time it moved up the chain was a pleasant surprise.
I’ve written about and GIF-ified my experience on the day that I learned the novel had been accepted, so I won’t repeat that here. But I will say this: I received that initial Yes, we’ll take it! email in October 2011. In the not-quite-two years since, I’ve published three novels. Two more are on the way. And one of my novels, the first one, was nominated for YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults list.
Not bad for someone who was ready to throw it all to the wayside and expend her creative energy on Harry Potter fanfiction, huh?
I’m still not convinced I’d have an agent, much less a publishing contract, if it weren’t for the Open Door Month. That one little decision to submit, made with the expectation of failure, completely opened up my writing career. Now, the process hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows and starred Kirkus reviews—the increased anxiety in particular hasn’t been what I’d call fun—but at the same time, I’m fulfilling a dream I’ve had since elementary school, when I took a future career test on my school’s computer and got “novelist” as my top result (again, really). I know there aren’t a lot of people out there who get to say that, and I’m incredibly grateful for the team at Angry Robot and Strange Chemistry for giving me that opportunity.
When I submitted to Angry Robot’s Open Door Month on March 30, 2011, I had no idea how much my life would change. I’d been writing for several years, but I knew nothing about the publishing industry. I was woefully ignorant, but learned from my mistakes (eventually). After subbing a manuscript that needed more editing than I knew how to give it at the time, I settled down for the wait. A few months later, I flew to the East Coast to meet my extended family and had a request for a full manuscript, which made me realise—hey, maybe I don’t suck at this writing thing. After the full manuscript was called in, I started learning more about the publishing industry, making friends via the forum Absolute Write. Then I found out I was going to the editors of AR. It was another AR author, Anne Lyle, who gave me the confidence to go to my first convention, and I angsted with the other people who had their full manuscripts called in (we dubbed ourselves the Anxious Appliances, though now we call ourselves the Inkbots). It was there I became friends with AR author Wesley Chu, who’s now one of my closest friends.
When I sent off that manuscript, I’d daydreamed about getting through the various rounds and getting a book deal, and sometimes I’m still amazed it happened. It wasn’t a bumpless road—that manuscript needed more work and so I had a revision request. They also thought it was more YA, and luckily they were deciding to go that way anyway, and my reader Amanda was promoted to the editor of Strange Chemistry. It was almost a year before I had my final decision about Pantomime, but that gave me time to grow. I learned so much more about writing by gutting Pantomime, re-arranging it, and making it shine. Now I’ve written a sequel, and I’m writing other books, and Pantomime is on the shelf, a real physical book. And that’s awesome.
Oh great Angry Robot Open Submission of 2011, you were a sneaky punk-ass bastard. I shall fondly remember you for the sources of my upset stomachs, mild cases of syphilitic crazed episodes (without the syphilis of course—I swear), and extended struggles with insomnia, but you were so fucking worth it you little sweet, sweet pain in the life-changing ass you.
I know what’s going through your head. If you think syphilis and insomnia sound like a crappy time, you’d be right. I mean, not that I know or anything about syphilis being unpleasant. I’m only assuming it ranks down there somewhere between getting tickled and getting kicked in the gut. Wait, what am I talking about again? Oh yes, back to the great Angry Robot Open Submission of 2011.
Hi, I’m Wesley Chu and I like to write, and through the gentle grace and heavily anodized fist of the mighty robot overlords, I’m the published author of The Lives of Tao and the upcoming The Deaths of Tao (October 29th).
How has the open sub changed my life? There’s something about that first time you make the bookstore pilgrimage to see your little newborn baby sitting on the shelf in its punch-you-in-the-face yellow glory right next to Arthur C. Clarke (because Ch is next to Cl) that you realize that “shit just got real.”
To be honest, I can barely remember what my life was like before the open submission. I was just a squatter who spent countless hours abusing the bottomless cup of coffee policies at cafes chasing a dream. Now…wait, that hasn’t change. What has changed is that now I have a career doing what I love. Someone actually pays me to write! I mean, how ridiculous is that?
So what’s the open door process like? Not gonna lie; it’s going to be long. You’re going to be excited. You’re going to have to wait. You’re going to lose sleep, then you’re going to wait some more. And then maybe, like I did, you’ll seek out others who have also submitted to the open sub as well. You’ll commiserate with them and maybe form an online social group. Maybe they become your writing besties as you all eagerly hit F5 on your inbox every few seconds. Some of you will get rejected, some will be fortunate enough to move on to the next level. The numbers of rejections will eventually begin to pile up and people you grow to care about will drop out one by one.
In the end though, after you’re exhausted from the wait and the many nights of insomnia, when you’re least expecting it, you might get an email from the awesome Ms. Amanda Rutter, telling you how much she enjoys your book and how she wants to share it with the rest of the world.
Then you might suddenly need to sit down as you think to yourself “shit just got real.”
Has everybody else been experiencing major thunderstorms today? We have – so to take our minds off it we are here to show you the WONDERFUL cover for Skulk by Rosie Best, which is coming to you in October 2013.
Here is the blurb:
To some, Meg Banks’ life might look perfect – she lives in a huge house in West London, goes to a prestigious school and has famous parents. Only Meg knows the truth: her tyrannical mother rules the house and her shallow friends can talk about nothing but boys and drinking. Meg’s only escape is her secret life as a graffiti artist.
While out tagging one night, Meg witnesses the dying moments of a fox… a fox that shapeshifts into a man. As he dies, he gives Meg a beautiful and mysterious gemstone. Soon Meg realises that she’s also inherited his power to shift and finds an incredible new freedom in fox form.
She is plunged into the shadowy underworld of London, the territory of the five warring groups of shapeshifters – the Skulk, the Rabble, the Conspiracy, the Horde, and the Cluster. Someone is after her gemstone, someone who can twist nature to his will. Meg must discover the secret of the stone and unite the shapeshifters before her dream of freedom turns into a nightmare.
And here is the cover by Steven Meyer-Rassow.
Do let us know what you think and please feel free to share this cover far and wide!
And here are a handful of words about this fantastic book!
“One part Real Genius and one part War Games, Playing Tyler has voice for miles, two damaged yet driven main characters who will simultaneously shatter your heart and send your pulse into overdrive, and disturbing plot twists that could too easily be real. The emotionally riveting prose and genuine relationships draw you in and won’t let go until the final satisfying sentence. Costa is on my auto-buy list from this day forward!”
– A. G. Howard, author of Splintered
“Katniss Everdeen, Harry Potter, Ponyboy Curtis … add another name to the list of unforgettable teenage heroes: Tyler MacCandless. Ty will break your heart and make your cheer on this fast and furious thrill-ride. A breathtaking new voice in young adult fiction, TL Costa weaves realistic adventure, heartache and first love in this amazing, fast-paced story. Fresh. Thrilling. Heartfelt. I’m running out of adjectives, but trust me. You will love this book.”
- Kristan Higgins, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Best Man
“I read Playing Tyler in a state of breathless excitement. The chapters switch between the unique voices of player Tyler and game designer Ani, yet Costa keeps the tension high and the reader wholly engaged with both viewpoints. But I didn’t love Playing Tyler simply because the extremely filmic story kept me on the edge of my seat. In addition to increasing my heart-rate and making me miss the children’s tea, Costa made me laugh and cry. Tyler and his brother, Brandon will remain with me long after I have closed the final page. I miss them already.”
- Bryony Pearce, author of Angel’s Fury, winner of the Leeds Book Award
“Wildly original storytelling that is as authentic as it is engaging. Playing Tyler is one of the best YA books of 2013.”
– Sean Cummings
“Costa updates War Games for the 21st century, asking teens to consider the ethics of private contractors, drone warfare, and collateral damage…Costa adeptly gets inside the heads of two idealistic but conflicted teenagers trying to balance the personal, familial, and national responsibilities that have been dumped on them.”
– Publishers Weekly
Congratulations to Tracy on the publication of PLAYING TYLER!