Title: Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined is basically Twilight but with reversed gender roles. Beaufort takes over as Bella while Edyth is Edward. The storyline is similar to that of the original Twilight as the two meet and Beaufort becomes wrapped up in Edyth’s world of vampirism.
While I do feel that this novel is good, I do not think that it comes anywhere close to the original novel, and it felt odd to see a story I know so well flipped. With that said, I still think that this is a book that is a must-read for fans of the Twilight saga.
– Kassidy, grade 12
Author: Lucy Keating
Dreamology is a lovely novel about a girl named Alice who moves to a new town only to meet the boy of her dreams – literally. Ever since she was young, Alice has dreamt of her dream boy, Max, to escape the pain after her mother left her and her father. Through her dreams they fell in love and had awesome adventures together. Max soon recognizes Alice, and the book follows their journey as they try to figure out why they dream of each other.
Dreamology is a must-read for any romance lover as it shows that sometimes it’s better to have more than just dreams.
-Kassidy, grade 12
Title: Silver in the Blood
Author: Jessica Day George
Dacia and Lou are cousins and best friends. Dacia is bold and outgoing, while Lou is more cautious and not remotely a thrill-seeker. The two are very close, though, and depend on each other for love and support. The book begins as they are traveling separately from Gilded Age Manhattan to their mothers’ ancestral home in Romania. Dacia and her chaperone arrive in Bucharest under a certain cloud of scandal because of her shenanigans in England, and Lou arrives soon after with her mother, father, and twin brothers.
All sorts of mystery surrounds the family’s plans for introducing the girls to their shared heritage, and the girls quickly realize that All Is Not As It Seems with their Romanian relatives.
The narrative switches perspective between the two young women, and there are letters, diary entries, and telegrams interspersed throughout the text. The girls start out as pawns in a larger story, but wind up taking control of their shared destiny. This is a sprawling story with loads of characters to keep track of, but everything ties together so neatly. Mystery! Magic! Romance! Yum!
I’m pretty sure I’ve read everything Jessica Day George has written. I’d be surprised if there’s a book of hers that has escaped me, whether YA or middle grade. This one steps out of the retold fairytales trope (Twelve Dancing Princesses, Cinderella, etc) that she has used in her previous YA books and shifts sideways into retold fantasy trope. I’m being cagey to avoid spoilers, but All Shall Be Revealed should you choose to read Silver in the Blood.
P.S. I love this cover! It’s a real throwback to the gothic romances of the sixties and early seventies.
–Lisa, Teen Librarian
Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
An Ember in the Ashes is an epic story. It’s Game of Thrones set in the Roman Empire. The story is narrated in turn by Laia and Elias. Laia is a slave and Elias is a soldier, but no one is truly free in the Martial Empire.
When Laia’s brother was taken by soldiers, she went to the Resistance and offered her services in exchange for their help in freeing him. She risks her life daily as a slave, a spy, and a saboteur in Blackcliff Military Academy.
Elias is one of the elite. trained from an early age at the Academy. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce, but in the Empire, defiance means death.
An Ember in the Ashes is a first novel that is bold, thought-provoking, and pulse-pounding. Book two, A Torch Against the Night, comes out August 2016.
Title: Carry On
Author: Rainbow Rowell
In 2013, Rainbow Rowell published Fangirl, a book about Cath, a young woman who is deeply immersed in the Simon Snow book series she’s grown up with. In fact, Cath is famous for the vast quantities of fan fiction she has written about her 2 favorite characters, Simon and Baz. Simon, by the way, shares many similarities with Harry Potter, and Baz might remind many people of Draco Malfoy.
Anyhow, Fangirl was about a girl writing about a book series that didn’t really exist, but Rowell kept thinking about that fictional world within her fictional world, and about all the Chosen One stories – from Lord of the Rings to Star Wars and Harry Potter – and she decided to write her own. Carry On is the result, and it’s about Simon Snow, the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.
Author: Michael Buckley
Three years ago, Lyric Walker’s life changed forever when she witnessed the Alpha, or First Men, walk out of the ocean and onto the beaches of Coney Island. Now, Coney Island is a military zone, the Alpha live in containment camps on the beach, and an uneasy truce is barely holding up.
When the school year starts, six of the Alpha youth are integrated into Lyric’s high school amid violent protests from the locals. Lyric is unwillingly recruited to help their prince, Fathom, adjust to life as an American teenager. The thing is, Lyric has secrets of her own, and she’s afraid the unwanted attention will expose them.
Turns out, though, that while the world sees the Alpha as an invading army, Lyric discovers that they may be humanity’s only hope of survival because there is something much more terrifying than the Alpha out there, and it’s on its way…
Undertow by Michael Buckley is the first in a trilogy.
–Lisa, Teen Librarian
Title: The Shadowy Horses
Author: Susanna Kearsley
The mystery of the Ninth Legion of the Roman army has inspired several novels and a couple of films, too (Centurion, The Eagle). Stationed in Britain in the second century AD, the legion – more than 3,000 strong – marched north into Scotland and completely vanished, presumably wiped out by the Picts whom they were sent to defeat. Some scholars believe that really was their fate; others believe the legion left Britain for other parts of the Roman Empire. Regardless, it’s fun to speculate about what happened.
In The Shadowy Horses, archeologist Verity Grey has been hired onto a dig in Scotland. Her boss has spent his life chasing after the Ninth, and the academic community regards him as anything from an eccentric to a complete laughingstock. This time, though, he’s sure he’s found their remains. Why? Because a young local boy has “seen” a Roman soldier walking in the fields.
When I was a teen, I absolutely adored romantic suspense novels by Mary Stewart, Daphne DuMaurier, and Barbara Michaels. I’m happy to report that The Shadowy Horses provided the same wonderful reading experience. Verity is a witty, capable heroine, and there’s no wishy-washy hand-wringing or angsting going on here. The setting is vividly rendered, and of course, there’s the delicious romantic tension.
The Shadowy Horses was written 15 years ago (how did I miss it back then?), but it is being rereleased along with several other romantic suspense novels by Susanna Kearsley. I’ll definitely be looking for the others.
–Lisa, Teen Librarian
Title: The Last Dragonslayer
Author: Jasper Fforde
Jennifer Strange is a 16-year-old orphan who manages an employment agency for magicians. Business is slow because magic has been drying up over the last few decades. Once-powerful magicians have been reduced to attempting modest home improvements and delivering pizzas via magic carpet, until one of the magicians starts having visions of Big Magic. In the visions, someone is going to kill the last dragon, and it looks as though that someone is Jennifer. Is Jennifer really the last dragonslayer?!
Jasper Fforde is best known for his fantastical mystery series featuring literary detective Thursday Next. This is his first book for teens and also the first in a trilogy. The approach is very matter-of-fact; I mean, is there a more pedestrian name than Jennifer? And yet our practical, responsible young heroine does indeed turn out to play a major role in the upheaval facing her country. It’s a fun, quirky book with plenty of slapstick, puns and wordplay, and the best sort of dry British humor. And a dragon, of course.
–Lisa, Teen Librarian
Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
I’ve struggled with how to summarize this, so I’m throwing up my hands and posting the publisher’s summary:
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 has 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?
After I finished reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I alternated between hugging the book to my chest and stomping around in a fit because I had to wait for the second in the trilogy. The story elements are familiar (angels, romance, star-crossed lovers, etc.), but Taylor puts such a fresh spin on them. Her writing is so richly descriptive, you feel like you’re right there on the streets of Prague or Marrakesh, and the romance is absolutely swoontastic. Days of Blood and Starlight comes out November 8, 2012 – hooray!
–Lisa, Teen Librarian
Author: Neal Shusterman
Tennyson and Bronte are 16-year-old twins, and while they’re not super-close, Tennyson is annoyed that his sister has started dating the school loner Brewster, aka Bruiser, aka “the kid most likely to go to jail.” Bronte convinces her lacross-playing brother that Brewster is just misunderstood, and eventually the boys become friends, too.
Soon, the twins realize that whenever they’re around Brewster, their cuts and bruises disappear, and that he’s covered in new hurts. Somehow he takes on the physical and emotional pain of the people he cares for. Clearly, being a loner is easier for him to handle, but that’s out the window now.
The story is narrated in turn by Tennyson, Bronte, Brewster, and his little brother, Cody, and Shusterman juggles the different voices very well. Tennyson is particularly witty, and it’s a pleasure to follow his transformation from borderline bully to a more sympathetic young man. It’s difficult to describe Bruiser in a nutshell, but the story is compelling, and your heart goes out to each of the characters in the book (except, of course, for Brewster and Cody’s horrible uncle).
–Lisa, Teen Librarian