Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.


Media Round Up 07/03/14

Hello Strange Chemistry fans!

So it is time for another round up and following on from the exciting Goodreads giveaway earlier this week (good luck to all those who entered!) we’re taking a look at what everyone’s been saying about The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by M.G. Buehrlen.

The internet has been packed with readers raving about Alex and her time travelling adventures and it sounds like it could be an instant classic, but before I give too much away, lets get on with the reviews!

The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by M.G. Buehrlen

“I never expected The Fifty-Seven Lives of Alex Wayfare to be as good as it was. It took me completely by surprise and turned out to be quite possibly one of the best novels from Strange Chemistry books to date. Forget popular books like The Hunger Games & Twilight, M.G. Buehrlen’s debut novel is something that every young adult fan should read.” – The Founding Fields 


“This one was up there with one of the best YA novels I have read since starting online reviews. Alex Wayfare is a freakin’ gem of depth and color. You feel her angst, worry, anger, love…all of it. The author does a spectacular job of letting you into her psyche… I want more of this story and more of this author.” – Koeur’s Book Reviews 


“…a fun, fast paced read that is enjoyable for both a YA and adult audience. It is a wonderful debut novel, and I hope to see a sequel from this author soon.” – Avid Reviews 


“This is one book that has everything in it. Teen angst, romance, action, adventure, historical fiction, mystery, time travel, science-fiction, it has it all! I pretty much devoured this…I didn’t want this book to end, and I was trying to read slower because of it. I cannot wait for the next one!” – Book Nerd


“We’ve all read timetravel books before. But Buehrlen has come up with a really interesting new concept. It’s more like soul-traveling… All lovers of YA paranormal stories or timetravel stories will definitely love this book, I’m very sure of that.” – Challenging Reads 


Wow, after all that praise you could be forgiven for thinking that it doesn’t get much better than that, however, for all you Alex Wayfare fans I can tell it does get better as a sequel is already planned for next year! So make sure you stay glued to Strange Chemistry for more information as it happens. Don’t forget that M.G. Buehrlen is in the middle of her blog tour so keep an eye out on her website for new posts and a big thank you to everyone who has taken part so far!

A bit of reminiscing with NetGalley!

Hi guys! We’ve decided to do something a little different for this month on NetGalley. We’re going to be celebrating our favourite books that we’ve read from across the imprints and to give you guys a chance to join us in our gushing! We feel so strongly about these books (everyone should read them!) that we just had to give you guys a chance to get to reading them too.

The  first book was chosen by Caroline. Here’s a little about the book and why she chose it:

The Holders by Julianna Scott


17-year-old Becca has spent her whole life protecting her brother – from their father leaving and from the people who say the voices in his head are unnatural. When two strangers appear with apparent answers to Ryland’s “problem” and details about a school in Ireland where Ryland will not only fit in, but prosper, Becca is up in arms.

She reluctantly agrees to join Ryland on his journey and what they find at St. Brigid’s is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together information about their family’s heritage and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they’ve been waiting for—but, they are all, especially Becca, in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind. 


Caroline: ‘When I see a book set in Ireland and written by an American, I’m not going to lie, I panic. I instantly fear a world of begosh and begorra, leprechauns, people greeting each other with “top o’ the mornin”, fiery red heads, and dancing at the crossroads – oh no wait, that one’s true to life, but as for the rest? No, thank you. So it was with trepidation I approached Julianna Scott’s The Holders, but I was soon thankful I had!

There are no gaping Irish stereotypes, and at times I often felt homesick with Julianna’s wonderful descriptions of the countryside, but to her credit I stopped warily reading and found myself utterly immersed in, and enjoying, the story. Becca is a strong, independent, fierce character and I thoroughly enjoyed her growing relationship with Alex. Friendships, relationships, and the teenage spirit, are all fantastically explored in a book that I highly recommend. I can’t wait to see what happens in The Seers!’

Request The Holders on NetGalley here!

The second book was chosen by Amanda. Here’s a little about the book and why she decided to showcase it:

The Corpse-Rat King by Lee Battersby


Marius don Hellespont and his apprentice, Gerd, are professional looters of battlefields. When they stumble upon the corpse of the King of Scorby and Gerd is killed, Marius is mistaken for the monarch by one of the dead soldiers and is transported down to the Kingdom of the Dead.

Just like the living citizens, the dead need a King — after all, the King is God’s representative, and someone needs to remind God where they are.

And so it comes to pass that Marius is banished to the surface with one message: if he wants to recover his life he must find the dead a King. Which he fully intends to do.

Just as soon as he stops running away.



Amanda: ‘I wanted to put this book forward because I think it was woefully underread when released. It is wickedly funny with a side of epic fantasy, and a central duo that bring to mind classic buddy movies and capers. I love the style of writing and think it would appeal very much to those people who read Steven Erikson and wish they could have more of such characters as Tehol Beddict and Bugg. Lee writes with great heart and a sense of fun that embues this whole novel.’

Request The Corpse-Rat King on NetGalley here!

The third book was chosen by myself. Here’s a little about the book and why I chose it:

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

“Cat, this is Finn. He’s going to be your tutor.”

But when the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Finn struggles to find his place in the world.He looks and acts human, though he has no desire to be. He was programmed to assist his owners, and performs his duties to perfection. A billion-dollar construct, his primary task now is to tutor Cat. As she grows into a beautiful young woman, Finn is her guardian, her constant companion… and more.

Following her acclaimed Young Adult debut for our sister imprint Strange Chemistry, The Assassin’s Curse, the very talented Cassandra Rose Clarke moves on to more adult themes, in a heartbreaking story of love, loss … and robots.


Leah: ‘This was the very first book that I read by Angry Robot and it solidified my love of the company. I was a little weary because I had only bad experiences of Science-Fiction prior to reading this but it blew me away! I chose this to put back up on Net Galley because I definitely think that this book needs to be read by others that haven’t had the chance/ heard of it before. This book took me on a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute I was so happy, but then the next minute I felt like my heart had just broken into bits. I did not expect to feel so much emotion for a robot. It is fast-paced, exciting; a real page turner. The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is a mesmerizing, original retake on a romance novel and delves into so many real-life issues; it’s such a real book and I recommend it so much.’

Request The Mad Scientist’s Daughter on NetGalley here!

The fourth book was chosen by Lee. Here’s a little about the book and why he chose it:

Between  Two Thorns by Emma Newman

Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath’s secret mirror city. 

The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned with the task of finding him with no one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer.

There is a witness but his memories have been bound by magical chains only the enemy can break. A rebellious woman trying to escape her family may prove to be the ally Max needs.

But can she be trusted? And why does she want to give up eternal youth and the life of privilege she’s been born into?

Lee: ‘I’m a big fan of urban fantasy. I also love the pomp and glamour of Downton Abbey. Between Two Thorns (the first book in the Split Worlds trilogy) hits both those notes for me, and more! Beautifully-written, with a great storyline and some brilliantly-realised characters, Emma Newman’s debut urban fantasy series has been delighting readers the world over!’

Request Between Two Thorns on NetGalley here!

The final book was chosen by Suzannah. Here’s a little about the book and why she chose it:

The Cambodian Book of the Dead by Tom Vater

Cool crime in a hot climate…

Private eye and former war reporter, Maier is sent to Cambodia to track down the missing heir to a Hamburg coffee empire.

His search leads him into the darkest corners of the country’s history, through the Killing Fields of the communist revolution, to the White Spider, a Nazi war criminal who reigns over an ancient Khmer temple deep in the jungle.

But the terrifying tale of mass murder that Maier uncovers is far from over. And soon Maier realises that, if he is to prevent more innocent lives from being destroyed, he will have to write the last horrific chapter himself.

The Cambodian Book of the Dead – it’s where Apocalypse Now meets The Beach…

Suzannah: ‘I think this book is great because it so vividly portrays the location and has some brilliantly written action scenes. I also think the cover is excellent!’

Request The Cambodian Book of the Dead from NetGalley here!

YA You Should Be Reading – Zombies

So zombies! Are you a fan? We’re not *shudders* They’re so squicky and undead! We are among the few who don’t dig zombies, though, if you consider the amount of YA novels written about them. They are merciless killers. They are Victorian gentle-zombies. They are fast and slow. They are apocalyptic diseases and the conventional raising the dead. Here we present ten of the best!

1) The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

Read a review HERE!

2) Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn’t want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash—but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.

Read a review HERE!

3) Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

Phoebe Kendall is just your typical Goth girl with a crush. She’s strong and silent…and dead.

All over the country, a strange phenomenon is occurring. Some teenagers who die aren’t staying dead. But when they come back to life, they are no longer the same. Feared and misunderstood, they are doing their best to blend into a society that doesn’t want them.

The administration at Oakvale High attempts to be more welcoming of the “differently biotic.” But the students don’t want to take classes or eat in the cafeteria next to someone who isn’t breathing. And there are no laws that exist to protect the “living impaired” from the people who want them to disappear—for good.

When Phoebe falls for Tommy Williams, the leader of the dead kids, no one can believe it; not her best friend, Margi, and especially not her neighbor, Adam, the star of the football team. Adam has feelings for Phoebe that run much deeper than just friendship; he would do anything for her. But what if protecting Tommy is the one thing that would make her happy?

Read a review HERE!

4) Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

A zombie who yearns for a better life ends up falling in love—with a human—in this astonishingly original debut novel.

R is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He doesn’t enjoy killing people; he enjoys riding escalators and listening to Frank Sinatra. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.

Not just another zombie novel, Warm Bodies is funny, scary, and deeply moving.

Read a review HERE!

5) The Enemy by Charlie Higson

They’ll chase you. They’ll rip you open. They’ll feed on you…When the sickness came, every parent, policeman, politician – every adult – fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry. Only children under fourteen remain, and they’re fighting to survive. Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city – down alleyways, in deserted houses, underground – the grown-ups lie in wait. But can they make it there – alive?

Read a review HERE!

6) Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

Read a review HERE!

7) Dust by Joan Frances Turner

Nine years ago, Jessie had a family. Now, she has a gang.

Nine years ago, Jessie was a vegetarian. Now, she eats very fresh meat.

Nine years ago, Jessie was in a car crash and died. Nine years ago, Jessie was human.

Now, she’s not.

After she was buried, Jessie awoke and tore through the earth to arise, reborn, as a zombie. Jessie’s gang is the Fly-by-Nights. She loves the ancient, skeletal Florian and his memories of time gone by. She’s in love with Joe, a maggot-infested corpse. They fight, hunt, dance together as one—something humans can never understand. There are dark places humans have learned to avoid, lest they run into the zombie gangs.

But now, Jessie and the Fly-by-Nights have seen new creatures in the woods—things not human and not zombie. A strange new illness has flamed up out of nowhere, causing the undeads to become more alive and the living to exist on the brink of death. As bits and pieces of the truth fall around Jessie, like the flesh off her bones, she’ll have to choose between looking away or staring down the madness—and hanging onto everything she has come to know as life…

Read a review HERE!

8) Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux

“One woman’s story as she blogs – and fights back – the zombie apocalypse”

Allison Hewitt and her five colleagues at the Brooks and Peabody Bookstore are trapped together when the zombie outbreak hits. Allison reaches out for help through her blog, writing on her laptop and utilizing the military’s emergency wireless network (SNET). It may also be her only chance to reach her mother. But as the reality of their situation sinks in, Allison’s blog becomes a harrowing account of her edge-of-the-seat adventures (with some witty sarcasm thrown in) as she and her companions fight their way through ravenous zombies and sometimes even more dangerous humans.

Read a review HERE!

9) The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker

3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since I’d seen daylight. One-fifth of my life. 98,409,602 seconds since the heavy, steel door had fallen shut and sealed us off from the world

Sherry has lived with her family in a sealed bunker since things went wrong up above. But when they run out of food, Sherry and her dad must venture outside. There they find a world of devastation, desolation…and the Weepers: savage, mutant killers.

When Sherry’s dad is snatched, she joins forces with gorgeous but troubled Joshua – an Avenger, determined to destroy the Weepers.

But can Sherry keep her family and Joshua safe, when his desire for vengeance threatens them all?

Read a review HERE!

10) Ashes by Ilsa J Bick

An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.

Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP.

For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.

Read a review HERE!

Those are our ten – now your turn to contribute!

Are you a zombie book fan? If so, which are your favourites? Have we missed any key YA zombie reads?

YA Novels You Should Be Reading: Fantasy

At first we thought we would struggle to come up with a proper list of YA fantasy – true, epic fantasy, rather than paranormal fantasy – and would have to rely on old-time series like David Eddings’ Belgariad (which we still do urge you to check out). However, once we started working our brains, we came up with plenty and could have added even more. The fantasy side of YA is thriving, for sure! Here are our top ten picks of what to read – as is usual, if you agree, disagree or have more to add, then leave us comments – we luuuuuurve comments! *grin*

1) Kristin Cashore

First up is the series of books by Kristin Cashore – start with Graceling, move onto Fire and then join us all in waiting feverishly for Bitterblue, which is due out this year.

Here is the blurb for Graceling:

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.
When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

We loved this review of Graceling and this review of Fire!

2) Alison Goodman

Be warned that Goodman’s series came out with two different titles in the US and the UK – in the US, you’ll be picking up Eon and Eona, while in the UK it is The Two Pearls of Wisdom and The Necklace of the Gods (got any preference over title?)

Here is the blurb for Eon:

Twelve-year old Eon has been studying the ancient art of the Dragoneyes for two years. But he is playing a dangerous game: Eon is actually Eona, 16 years old and a girl. Her true identity must remain hidden at all costs: it is forbidden for women to practise the Art, and to be discovered would be punishable by death.

Let down by her injured leg, it seems that Eon is destined to fail in her quest, until a spectacular twist in events catapults her into the opulent but treacherous world of the Imperial court. Without a master to guide her, Eon must learn to harness her unprecedented natural power, while protecting the secret that could cost her everything…

We loved this review of Eon and this review of Eona.

3) Tamora Pierce

Tamora Pierce has written a whopping 27 novels – we want to particularly highlight her Tortall series of books. This has been published over various quartets and duologies, and we still think it is best to start with Alanna: The First Adventure (from there read In the Hand of the Goddess, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man and Lionness Rampant. You’re welcome).

Here is the blurb for Alanna:

Call it fate, call it intuition, or just call it common sense, but somehow young Alanna knows she isn’t meant to become some proper lady cloistered in a convent. Instead, she wants to be a great warrior maiden–a female knight.But in the land of Tortall, women aren’t allowed to train as warriors. So Alanna finds a way to switch places with her twin, Thom, and take his place as a knight in training at the palace of King Roald. Disguising herself as a boy, Alanna begins her training as a page in the royal court.Soon, she is garnering the admiration of all around her, including the crown prince, with her strong work ethic and her thirst for knowledge. But all the while, she is haunted by the recurring vision of a black stone city that emanates evil… somehow she knows it is her fate to purge that place of its wickedness. But how will she find it? And can she fulfill her destiny while keeping her gender a secret?

We loved this review of Alanna!

4) Megan Whalen Turner

We first heard about this series (The Queen’s Thief) after the championing of The Book Smugglers, and now we want to become champions ourselves! Start with The Thief, moving on to The Queen of Attolia, then The King of Attolia and finally A Conspiracy of Kings.

We loved these reviews of The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia and A Conspiracy of Kings.

5) Philip Pullman

It is quite likely that you have already read His Dark Materials, the trilogy that comprises Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. These books have become a phenomena, held up as one of the finest examples of fantasy writing for young people.

Here is the blurb for Northern Lights:

Lyra and her animal daemon live half-wild and carefree among the scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. But the destiny that has awaited her since birth takes her on a dangerous journey to the frozen North in search of a kidnapped friend. It is a journey that will have immeasurable consequences for her own world…

We love these reviews of Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass!

6) Melina Marchetta

We include this author even though she is most famous for her contemporary YA, since it demonstrates that many fine authors have turned their hand to fantasy and achieved great success. The novel we are talking about here is Finnikin of the Rock.

Here is the blurb for the novel:

At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar’s cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere.But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock—to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she’ll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin’s faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

We loved this review of Finnikin of the Rock.

7) Cinda Williams Chima

Cinda Williams Chima has written two fantasy series that will be enjoyed thoroughly by teens. The first is The Heir Chronicles (comprising The Warrior Heir, The Wizard Heir and The Dragon Heir) and the second is the Seven Realms quartet (comprising The Demon King, The Exiled Queen, The Gray Wolf Throne and The Crimson Crown).

The blurb for The Warrior Heir is:

Before he knew about the Roses, 16-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity.  Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high-schoolers.  Then one day Jack skips his medicine.  Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before.  And it feels great—until he loses control of his own strength and nearly kills another player during soccer team tryouts.Soon, Jack learns the startling truth about himself:  He is Weirlind; part of an underground society of magical people who live among us.  At the head of this magical society sit the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing The Game—a magical tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death.  The winning house rules the Weir.As if his bizarre magical heritage isn’t enough, Jack finds out that he’s not just another member of Weirlind—he’s one of the last of the warriors—at a time when both houses are scouting for a player.

We love this review of The Warrior Heir and this review of The Demon King.

8) Garth Nix

It could be argued that The Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix – currently Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen (with a handful of short stories and companion novels) – is more for middle grade. However, when we read it we felt that teen readers would gain just as much from the reading experience. Besides, it’s damn brilliant *grins*

The blurb for Sabriel is:

Who will guard the living when the dead arise? Sabriel is sent as a child across the Wall to the safety of a school in Ancelstierre. Away from magic; away from the Dead. After receiving a cryptic message from her father, 18-year-old Sabriel leaves her ordinary school and returns across the Wall into the Old Kingdom. Fraught with peril and deadly trickery, her journey takes her to a world filled with parasitical spirits, Mordicants, and Shadow Hands — for her father is none other than The Abhorson. His task is to lay the disturbed dead back to rest. This obliges him — and now Sabriel, who has taken on her father’s title and duties — to slip over the border into the icy river of Death, sometimes battling the evil forces that lurk there, waiting for an opportunity to escape into the realm of the living. Desperate to find her father, and grimly determined to help save the Old Kingdom from destruction by the horrible forces of the evil undead, Sabriel endures almost impossible challenges whilst discovering her own supernatural abilities — and her destiny.

We loved these reviews of Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen!

9) Trudi Canavan

We realise that Trudi Canavan is also shelved under adult fantasy in bookstores, but we think her books fit better in the YA section. Read the Black Magician trilogy, starting with The Magicians’ Guild, then The Novice and finally The High Lord.

The blurb for The Magicians’ Guild is:

Each year the magicians of Imardin gather together to purge the city streets of vagrants, urchins and miscreants. Masters of the disciplines of magic, they know that no one can oppose them. But their protective shield is not as impenetrable as they believe. Sonea, angry, frustrated and outraged by the treatment of her family and friends, hurls a stone at the shield, putting all her rage behind it. To the amazement of all who bear witness, the stone passes unhindered through the barrier and renders a magician unconscious. The guild’s worst fear has been realised …There is an untrained magician loose on the streets. She must be found before her uncontrolled powers unleash forces that will destroy both her, and the city that is her home.

We loved these reviews of The Magicians’ Guild, The Novice and The High Lord.

10) Sherwood Smith

Sherwood Smith is our last entry – she has written a large number of YA fantasy books, but we’ll concentrate here on the Inda quartet, comprising Inda, The Fox, The King’s Shield and Treason’s Shore.

The blurb for Inda is as follows:

Indevan Algara-Vayir is the second son of a powerful prince, destined to stay at home and defend his family’s castle. Inda is sent to the Royal Academy where he learns the art of war and finds that danger and intrigue don’t only come from outside the kingdom—and that one can find oneself on the outside, fighting the dangers that do exist there.

We loved these reviews of Inda, The Fox, The King’s Shield and Treason’s Shore!

So there you have our ten!

 – What do you think of our choices?
 – Which books would you add to the list for YA Fantasy You Should Be Reading?

YA Novels You Should Be Reading: Dystopia

Dystopian fiction for a teenage market is definitely not a new concept. From Z for Zachariah by Robert C O’Brien to Brother in the Land by Robert Swindells, there have been novels written about a dystopian future. In the past couple of years – particularly since the publication of such landmark series as the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness and the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins – dystopian fiction has exploded onto the shelves, and this looks set to continue well into 2012.

Here are some of the novels we think that you should be including in a YA dystopian wishlist:

Suzanne Collins

I would be surprised if you hadn’t heard of the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins! It has been a rampaging success, giving rise to sales into the millions and a movie adaptation (released March 201). All three novels in the trilogy have been New York Times bestsellers.

Set in a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called The Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed. When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdee steps forward to take her younger sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

Check out some reviews by The Diary of a Bookworm, The Novel World and Books 4 Teens.

Ally Condie


Matched exploded onto the scene in 2010, with Disney snapping up the film rights before the book had even been published, and Crossed following a year later.

In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one… until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow — between perfection and passion.

Check out some reviews by Chicklish and Heaven Hell and Purgatory.

Veronica Roth

In our series of posts that highlight the Best YA Books of 2011, chosen by the bloggers who have been supporting Strange Chemistry from day one, Divergent is chosen time and again. It recently took the title of Favourite Book of 2011 in a Goodreads vote, sweeping aside such fantasy giants as A Dance With Dragons by George R R Martin and The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. It has shown genuine crossover appeal, and now many thousands of people are eagerly awaiting the next instalment.

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.

Check out this review by My Favourite Books.

Lauren Oliver

Delirium is another New York Times bestseller – as many of the YA novels on this list have ended up being – and has already been optioned for film.

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing.

They didn’t understand that once love — the deliria — blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Check out this review by YA Reads.

Lauren DeStefano

Wither is a 2011 young-adult dystopian novel written by Lauren DeStefano. It was originally published on March 22, 2011, by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. It is set in a future where scientists succeeded in engineering a perfect generation of humans, free of illness and disorders, but as a consequence, also created a virus that plagues that generation’s children and their children’s children, killing females at age 20 and males at age 25. The fallout from this disaster drastically set apart the poor, who scavenge for food in a society that has few to no workers, from the rich, who celebrate each new building built as the continuance of the human race. It is the first book of The Chemical Garden Trilogy. The second book, Fever, has a planned release date of February 2012.

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape–before her time runs out?

Check out this review by The Book Butterfly.

Scott Westerfeld

Uglies is a 2005 science fiction novel by Scott Westerfeld. It is set in a future post-scarcity dystopian world in which everyone is turned “Pretty” by extreme cosmetic surgery upon reaching age 16. It tells the story of teenager Tally Youngblood who rebels against society’s enforced conformity, after her new found friends Shay and David show her the downsides to becoming a “Pretty”. They show Tally how being a “Pretty” can change not only your look but your personality. Written for young adults, Uglies deals with adolescent themes of change, both emotional and physical. The book is the first installment in what was originally a trilogy, the Uglies series, which also includes Pretties, Specials, and Extras

Under the surface, Uglies speaks of high profile government conspiracies and the danger of trusting the omnipresent Big Brother. While the underlying story condemns war and all the side effects thereof, the true thrust of the story proves that individual freedoms are far more important than the need for uniformity and the elimination of personal will.

Check out these reviews by Peeking Between the Pages, Teen Reads, Bart’s Bookshelf and Becky’s Book Reviews.

Tahereh Mafi

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war– and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice:

Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

Check out this review by We Fancy Books.

Patrick Ness

The Chaos Walking trilogy – what an immense triumph. All three novels have had awards showered on them – from the Costa Children’s Fiction Prize to the Carnegie Medal. Monsters of Men was also shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke award, one of the very rare YA novels to garner this honour.

“The Noise is a man unfiltered, and without a filter, a man is just chaos walking.” From this, the title of the trilogy was derived.

The books are centered around Prentisstown boy, Todd Hewitt, and companion Viola Eade, with the first volume beginning a month before Todd’s thirteenth birthday. The story follows his journey through New World, where he searches for answers and opposes the plans of Prentisstown’s Mayor, David Prentiss.

Check out these reviews by Book Chilla, The Book Smugglers and Writing from the Tub.


Now we have deliberately left out some of the authors that we know have written dystopian novels because we want YOU to tell us your favourites that don’t feature on this list!

Also, how about discussing with us why a subset of science fiction i.e. dystopia has become so popular while other areas of science fiction, like time travel and space opera, are not receiving so much attention from YA authors? What do you think?

YA Novels You Should Be Reading: Angels

Following an interesting discussion on our @strangechem Twitter feed (come follow us! We like to do the talking thing!) today’s YA Novels You Should be Reading post concentrates on angels.

Led by some of the authors listed below, angels became an incredibly hot property in the world of YA fiction. Immortal bad boys – vampire equivalents for those who wanted a more celestial and less blood-sucking version. Characters such as Patch have become just as longed-for as Edward Cullen!

Interestingly, some of our Twitter followers mentioned the religion angle of angels (hmm, angle and angel need to be written very carefully when they’re side by side!) and how that has put them off picking up books that focus on heavenly beings. However, other people argued that very few of the angel novels include religion at all.

Here are our top ten angel-featuring novels!

1) Fallen by Lauren Kate

There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

2) Angel by L A Weatherly

In a world where angels are beyond redemption, Alex thinks he’s found one that might deserve mercy. Alex is a ruthless assassin – of angels. Forget everything you’ve heard about them before. Angels are not benign celestial creatures, but fierce stalkers whose irresistible force allows them to feed off humans, draining them of their vitality until there is barely anything left. As far as Alex is concerned, the only good angel is a dead angel…until he meets Willow. She may look like a normal teenager but Willow is no ordinary girl. Half-angel, half-human, Willow may hold the key to defeating the evil angels. But as the hunter and the hunted embark on an epic and dangerous journey and Willow learns the dark and terrifying secrets of her past, Alex finds himself drawn to Willow…with devastating consequences.

3) Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along.

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

4) Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Three angels are sent down to bring good to the world: Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, a teenage girl who is the least experienced of the trio. But she is the most human, and when she is romantically drawn to a mortal boy, the angels fear she will not be strong enough to save anyone – especially herself – from the Dark Forces.

Is love a great enough power against evil?

5) Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

6) Mercy by Rebecca Lim

A fallen angel haunted by her past. Yearning for her immortal beloved. Forever searching for answers. Who will show her Mercy?

Mercy has lost herself. She can’t count how many times she’s ‘woken up’ in a new body, and assumed a new life, only to move on again and again. During the day she survives in the human world on instinct and at night her dreams are haunted by him. Mercy’s heart would know him anywhere. But her memory refuses to cooperate

But this time is different. When Mercy wakes up she meets Ryan, an eighteen year old reeling from the loss of his twin sister who was kidnapped two years ago. Everyone else has given up hope, but Ryan believes his sister is still alive. Using a power she doesn’t fully comprehend, Mercy realizes that Ryan is right. His sister is alive and together they can find her. For the first time since she can remember, Mercy has a purpose; she can help. So she doesn’t understand why the man in her dreams cautions her not to interfere. But as Ryan and Mercy come closer to solving the dark mystery of his sister’s disappearance, danger looms just one step behind.

Will Mercy be able to harness her true self and extraordinary power in time?

7) Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Clara has known she is part-angel since she turned fourteen two years ago. But only now, through fragmented visions of a terrifying bush fire, is her Purpose – the crucial rite of passage for every part-angel – becoming clear to her. When Clara meets Christian, the boy in her visions, he is everything she could wish for – so why does she also have feelings for her enigmatic classmate, Tucker? Clara discovers that her Purpose is only a small part of a titanic struggle between angels and their destructive counterparts, the Black Wings. And when the fire of her vision erupts and both Christian and Tucker are in danger, who will she choose to save?

8) City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder — much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing — not even a smear of blood — to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . .

9) The Fallen by Thomas E Sniegoski

Aaron Corbet isn’t a bad kid — he’s just a little different. On the eve of his eighteenth birthday, Aaron dreams of a darkly violent landscape. He can hear the sounds of weapons clanging, the screams of the stricken, and another sound he cannot quite decipher. But gazing upward at the sky, he suddenly understands. It is the sound of great wings, angels’ wings, beating the air unmercifully as hundreds of armored warriors descend on the battlefield. Orphaned since birth, Aaron is suddenly discovering newfound — and sometimes supernatural — talents. But not until he is approached by two men does he learn the truth about his own destiny, and his role as a liaison between angels, mortals, and Powers both good and evil, some of whom are hell-bent on his own destruction….

10) Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

Sister Evangeline was just a young girl when her father left her at St. Rose Convent under the care of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Now a young woman, she has unexpectedly discovered a collection of letters dating back sixty years – letters that bring her deep into a closely guarded secret, to an ancient conflict between the millennium-old Society of Angelologists and the monstrously beautiful Nephilim, the descendants of angels and humans.

Right! Those are our 10 angel novels. Now, over to you:

- Have you read any/all of the above? Did you enjoy them? Did you dislike them?

 – What is it about angels that appeals to you?

 – Which glaring omissions have we made? Make your suggestions in the comments!

YA Novels You Should Be Reading: Vampires

The reason for starting with vampires in YA fiction is two-fold – the impact of Twilight and the influence it has had on YA, and vampires are a classic “monster” in YA fiction. From soulless killers, to vampires that sparkle, to high school vampires – as a literary trope, they have been explored and celebrated.

Adult fiction that has led to the adoption of vampires in YA novels must include such authors as Anne Rice, Laurell K Hamilton, Bram Stoker and Richard Matheson.

The TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer introduced teenagers to the idea of, not only slaying the undead, but falling in love with them. The Lost Boys film gave us the slogan “Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It’s fun to be a vampire.”

1) Stephenie Meyer

The series of vampire novels written by Stephenie Meyer – comprising Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn – have been a literary phenomenon. The love story of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen has captured the minds of teens everywhere, leading to film adaptations, bestseller status and a swathe of imitations.

2) L J Smith

This is the author of the Vampire Diaries, which has been televised, but a couple of her other lesser-known series also involve vampires. One is the Nightworld series that kicks off with Secret Vampire, and the other is the trilogy called Dark Visions which involves psychic vampirism.

3) Darren Shan

Shan’s novels take us away from vampires as romantic leads and back into the realms of creatures of the night. They have been enormously popular with both boys and girls, and are perhaps directed at middle grade through to YA, rather than the older readers attracted into vampire fiction by Twilight. A movie (called Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant) based on the first three books in the series was released.

4) P C and Kristin Cast

The Casts are a mother and daughter writing team, who have produced the House of Night series about Zoey Redbird. She is Marked by a vampire and heads off to the House of Night, a boarding school for all those who have been Marked and will be undergoing the Change into fully-fledged vampires. The House of Night novels are loaded with teen speak, and tap into those readers who enjoyed the school aspect of Harry Potter. As with the Twilight books, these have been reissued with coloured pages and have proved enormously popular, with over seven million printed in the States alone.

5) Annette Curtis Klause

We include this author, even though she has written only one vampire novel, to our knowledge – but it is a rather beautiful book and is often recommended to those seeking YA vampire tales. This novel is The Silver Kiss.

6) Will Hill

This gent exploded onto the scene in 2011 with Department 19, a book which combined vampires  with an official (and secret!) government department that aims to combat their threat. These vampires are deadly and rather terrifying! The second novel is due in 2012, building on the success of the first which was the best-selling YA hardback for a debut author in 2011.

7) Rachel Caine

Caine is absolutely prolific, and her work includes the Morganville Vampire series, which begins with Glass Houses. The novels feature Claire Danvers, a student at Texas Prairie University, and her housemates in the vampire-controlled city of Morganville, Texas. There are currently 11 novels in print, and Caine is contracted for a further four, bringing the total in the series to 15. The rights have also been sold for TV/film.

8) Christopher Pike

Pike’s series of novels about Sita, the last vampire, was first published in the early 90s – there are six in the series, which begins with The Last Vampire. Some of the individual novels can be a little hard to source now, since they have been out of print, but the omnibus editions are readily available and well worth a read.

9) Richelle Mead

Mead (as with Caine) is also known for her adult urban fantasy novels. She has written the six volume series Vampire Academy: “Two races of vampires walk our world. One, the Moroi, are alive and wield elemental magical. The other, the Strigoi, are undead and evil–feeding on the innocent to survive.” There is also a spin-off series, the first of which is called Bloodlines.

10) Melissa de la Cruz

Our last author on this list wrote the ongoing Blue Bloods series: “Within New York City’s most elite families, there lurks a secret society of celebrated Americans whose ancestors sailed on the Mayflower. They are the powerful and the wealthy—and in fact, they are not human. They are the Blue Bloods, an ancient group of vampires. ” This has a different approach to vampires, and combines them with high society, in a series that would appeal to anyone who has enjoyed TV shows such as Gossip Girls.

There is our list of ten authors who have or are writing vampire YA novels.

Now we would love some input from our readers:

– Which of the authors above have you read? Which did you enjoy the most?

– Which authors have we missed from our ten that you think is a glaring omission?

– Do you still enjoy YA novels about vampires or do you think that this literary trope is a little tired?

YA Novels You Should Be Reading…

This is a little bit of an introduction post to a series of blog posts that Strange Chemistry shall be writing and publishing over the next few weeks.

We’re aware that a number of the people who are now following Strange Chemistry (both through this website and through Twitter) are more accustomed to reading adult novels, and so might appreciate a guide to some of the recent trends that have appeared within YA, and which authors are writing YA novels.

The tentative list is as follows:

1) Vampires

2) Werewolves

3) Zombies

4) Angels

5) Fae

6) Dystopian

7) High School Paranormal

8) Historical

9) Fantasy

10) Steampunk

11) Contemporary

12) Timeless Authors

If there are any other genres within YA that you would be keen to see, then just drop us a note in the comments! Look out for the first post on Vampire YA Fiction soon…