But new years, and new releases, happen, and this First Half of January list is an especially appealing one. My top pick is Season of Secrets, by Sally Nicholls--it sounds so good that I will graciously forgive her for how much she made me cry with her first book (Ways to Live for Ever). I also have the two YA timeslip books on hand to review on forthcoming Tuesdays, which makes me happy!
(As usual my information comes from Teens Read Too, with blurbs from the publishers. Feel free to point out any errors or omissions!)
ALIEN ENCOUNTER: ALIEN AGENT by Pamela F. Service "Zack's back at work again, as an Alien Agent. His assignment: find an alien kid who hijacked a spaceship to Roswell, New Mexico. Sound easy? Not quite. Because Zack's dad is going too. And he's being chased by a man with a serious grudge against aliens. Can Zack find the missing alien and keep the truth from his dad while escaping the clutches of one Major Garrett? It's all in a day's work for Earth's Alien Agent."
A BOY AND HIS BOT by Daniel H. Wilson "When young Code falls down a hole while following a mysterious robotic insect, he lands in a world that defies all imagination. Everything in Mekhos is made from metal and circuitry, including the citizens-who happen to be robots. To find his way home, Code must first cross Mekhos's bizarre and dangerous landscape to reach the Beam Stalk. There, an artifact known as the Robonomicon is being guarded by an evil ruler who has plans to destroy Mekhos. Can Code free the Robonomicon, save the robots of Mekhos from impending doom, and still get himself back to Earth in time to catch the school bus? With its dazzling array of robots and futuristic gadgetry, this rollicking story will hold special appeal for boys and budding sci-fi lovers everywhere."
BUBBLE IN THE BATHTUB: DOCTOR PROCTOR'S FART POWDER by Jo Nesbo (I wasn't able to find a blurb for this sequel to Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder...)
THE DEADLY CONCH: TARA TRILOGY by Mahtab Narsimhan "After the conclusion of The Silver Anklet, Tara’s triumphant return to Morni is short-lived. Tara’s deceased former stepmother, Kali, seeks revenge through her daughter, Layla. And so begins a series of carefully orchestrated events to cast suspicion on Tara: a dead dog in the village temple, contaminated well water, and whispers that Tara is still possessed. Layla fuels the villagers’ blind superstitions and fears. Soon all of Morni is against Tara, even her own family. Death seems to be the only way to stop her evil stepsister. Tara turns to Lord Yama and his deadly conch for help. He takes her to the Underworld to seek advice, but when she returns, she has only 24 hours to prove her innocence and to save the village before she must go back to the World of the Dead. Forever. Can Tara believe in herself once more to defeat Layla, or will Lord Yama and his deadly conch claim their next victim? The harrowing conclusion to the thrilling Tara Trilogy answers these questions and more."
ENTER THE ZOMBIE: NATHAN ABERCROMBIE, ACCIDENTAL ZOMBIE by David Lubar "When Mr. Murphy finds out that evil organization RABID is using a student academic and athletic competition to recruit agents, he asks Nathan, Abigail, and Mookie to form a team and enter the contest. Things go terribly wrong when Nathan’s nemesis, Rodney the bully, forms his own team to go up against Nathan. Soon Rodney and his pals start to notice some very odd things about Nathan. Will they discover Nathan’s secret and expose his zombie identity to the entire world?"
FREEDOM STONE by Jeffrey Kluger. "Lillie's papa believed in freedom--for him, his family, and all the slaves on the Greenfog plantation. So when the Confederate Army promised freedom to the family of every slave who served in the Civil War--whether they came home or not--Lillie's papa decided he had to take the chance.
But when Lillie's family got the news that her papa was killed, they weren't freed. The army claimed that Lillie's papa was a thief. Lillie knew that couldn't be true! Even worse, the master started making plans to sell off Lillie's little brother, Plato. With the help of an old slave, Bett, who bakes bread that bends time, Lillie travels to the battle during which her father died to find out the true story. Using a little magic of her own, Lillie rights a few wrongs and buys her family their freedom."
MAGIC HEARTS: CANDY FAIRIES by Helen Perelman
"It's Heart Day in the Candy Fairies series"
THE MISSING MAGIC: B MAGICAL by Lexi Connor. "An enchanting new series about an eleven-year-old witch, Beatrix, will cast a S-P-E-L-L on readers! Eleven-year-old Beatrix just wants to be able to cast spells the way all the other witches can. But when B discovers that magic happens when she spells out a word, the C-H-A-O-S begins!"
RESCUE ON TANKIUM3: MISSILE MOUSE by Jake Parker "Missile Mouse is back in action for an amazing new adventure!
The daring agent Missile Mouse must help free a planet forced into slavery by evil King Bognarsh. But things get dicey when Bognarsh hires the Blazing Bat to take Missile Mouse out before he can shut the operation down."
SEASON OF SECRETS by Sally Nicholls "Molly and Hannah have just lost their mother, and while Dad "figures things out", they're sent to stay with their grandparents in a quiet country town. Everything is different: there are only ten kids in their entire school; they have to walk home by themselves every day; and a phone call from Dad just isn't the same as a hug. In fact, they're not even sure when, or if, their dad will be back for them.
One night Hannah decides to run away, and Molly follows her out into the storm. Suddenly, Molly is surrounded by dogs and strange men on horseback, and they're all chasing a man in the road. Molly rushes to find someone to help him, but when she returns, he's nowhere to be seen. She finds him again the next day, and he's badly injured. As he heals, Molly befriends him and realizes that there's something magical about him. He can make a flower blossom in the palm of his hand; he can make a sapling grow in the dead of winter. Molly wants desperately to figure out who he is and just how much power he has. If he can make the trees come to life again, is there still hope for Molly's mother?"
THE TROUBLE WITH SECRETS: B MAGICAL by Lexi Connor "An enchanting new series about an eleven-year-old witch, Beatrix, will cast a S-P-E-L-L on readers!
Eleven-year-old Beatrix is thrilled -- she can finally cast spells just like the rest of her family. When her non-magical best friend George finds out her secret, however, the result is T-R-O-U-B-L-E!"
XVI by Julia Karr. "Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world - even the most predatory of men - that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past - one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer."
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis "Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules. Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone--one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship--tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming."
ALL JUST GLASS by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. "Sarah Vida has given up everything for love. From a legendary family of vampire-hunting witches, Sarah was raised to never trust a vampire, to never let her guard down, and to avoid all tricky attachments of the heart. But now Sarah IS a vampire—changed by the boy she thought she loved. Her family has forsaken her, and Sarah herself is disgusted by her appetite for blood. Aida Vida is Sarah's older sister, the good, reliable sibling who always does her family proud. But when Aida's mother insists that Sarah be found and killed, Aida is given the one assignment that she may not be able to carry out.
Taking place over just twenty-four hours, ALL JUST GLASS tells the story of a game-changing battle that will forever change the world of the Den of Shadows. And at its center is the story of two sisters who must choose between love and duty."
AWAKENED: HOUSE OF NIGHT by P.C & Kristin Cast "Exonerated by the Vampyre High Council and returned to her position of High Priestess at Tulsa’s House of Night, Neferet has sworn vengeance on Zoey. Dominion over Kalona is only one of the weapons she plans to use against Z. But Zoey has found sanctuary on the Isle of Skye and is being groomed by Queen Sgiach to take over for her there. Being Queen would be cool, wouldn’t it? Why should she return to Tulsa? After losing her human consort, Heath, she will never be the same – and her relationship with her super-hot-warrior, Stark, may never be the same either…And what about Stevie Rae and Rephaim? The Raven Mocker refuses to be used against Stevie Rae, but what choice does he have when no one in the entire world, including Zoey, would be okay with their relationship? Does he betray his father or his heart?
In the pulse-pounding 8th book in the bestselling House of Night series, how far will the bonds of friendship stretch and how strong are the ties that bind one girl’s heart?"
THE FAEMAN QUEST: THE FAERIE WARS CHRONICLES by Herbie Brennan "....with The Faeman Quest, Brennan returns to the world of Faerie to introduce a new character - Mella, the daughter of King Consort Henry and Queen Holly Blue. When Mella accidentally travels to the country of Haleklind, she discovers rebel forces preparing an invasion using a terrifying new magical weapon. This novel features old favorites-Brimstone, Pyrgus, and Lord Hairstreak's head-but readers will identify immediately with Mella, whose stubborn streak and fiesty daring must save the Faerie realm from mass destruction."
HEART OF GOLD: THE LAWS OF MAGIC by Michael Pryor At a loss after finishing their end-of-year exams, Aubrey and George travel to the Gallian capital, Lutetia, where it so happens that the lovely Caroline is studying natural history. Aubrey wants to pursue a cure for his condition—though his family has other ideas, and he's soon burdened with a royal mystery to solve, old letters to procure, a missing ornithologist to locate, and a spot of diplomatic espionage. These tasks should keep Aubrey occupied—but that would be underestimating his sense of curiosity and uncanny knack of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Someone is stealing people's souls and turning them into mindless monsters, and the country's magical lifeline, the Heart of Gold, has been stolen, leaving the city in chaos. Aubrey, George, and a somewhat reluctant Caroline are on the case in this engaging read.
HEXBOUND: DARK ELITE by Chloe Neill Lily Parker is new to St. Sophia's School for Girls, but she's already learned that magic can be your best friend-or your worst enemy. That's why Lily has to learn how to control her newly discovered paranormal abilities while fighting the good fight with her best friend Scout as they take on Chicago's nastiest nightlife-including the tainted magic users known as Reapers...
INVASION: A CHAOS NOVEL by Jon S. Lewis Colt McAlister is drawn into a war against things he thought only existed in comic books. After a car wreck takes the lives of his parents, Colt moves to Arizona to stay with his grandfather. There, an informant tells him that his parents were actually murdered because his mom, a journalist, was getting ready to write a story exposing Trident Industries. Along with Oz and Danielle, his new comrades at Chandler High, Colt vows to uncover the truth. But the more they learn, the more bizarre reality becomes. Mind control, jet packs, and flying motorcycles only scratch the surface of what they discover. Colt is recruited by a secret organization called the Central Headquarters Against the Occult and Supernatural. But the battle isn't just against an out-of-control giant corporation. A gateway to another world is opening, and the invasion has already begun.
THE JUDAS CODE: MONSTER REPUBLIC by Ben Horton. "The explosion at the Prime Minister's visit to Long Harbour means the cover of the Monster Republic is blown, and they are forced deep into hiding. Lazarus Fry turns his tactics to infiltration, and is confident of their swift crushing. Plus his new pets, the Blood Hawks, are hungry to get their talons into some fresh kill...But Fry hasn't counted on this band of rebel kids' awesome will for survival. When your back is against the wall, the only option is to come out fighting..."
THE LEGACY by Gemma Malley When a Pincent Pharmaceutical van is ambushed by the rebel group known as the Underground, its contents come as a huge surprise-not drugs, but corpses in a horrible state. It appears that the pharmaceutical company's top drug, Longevity-which is supposed to eradicate disease and ensure eternal life-isn't living up to its promises. Now a virus is sweeping the country, killing hundreds in its wake, and Longevity is powerless to fight it. But when the unscrupulous head of Pincent claims that the Underground is responsible for releasing the virus, it's up to Peter, Anna, and their friends to alert the world to the terrifying truth behind Longevity before it's too late.
THE LEGEND OF WARAWA: CHOSEN BY DESTINY TO FIGHT THE EVILS OF THE EXTREMES
by Robert C. Powers (couldn't find a blurb, but I guess it could be fantasy...)
MAD LOVE by Suzanne Selfors "When you're the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can't write it. Alice needs a story for her mother-and she needs one fast.
That's when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol's voice in her head and see things she can't explain, she must face the truth-that she's either inherited her mother's madness, or Errol is for real."
THE NASCENZA CONSPIRACY: THE CASSAFORTE CHRONICLES by V. Briceland . "Petro Divetri—younger brother of famed sorceress Risa Divetri—just wants to be left alone. His status as one of the seven ruling families in Cassaforte has saddled him with unwanted attention, from bullies as well as from those seeking favors. So when Petro and his best friend Adrio are sent to far-off Nascenza for the Midsummer High Rites, they swap identities. Their prank goes awry when Adrio, mistaken for Petro, is kidnapped by rebels determined to overthrow the king. With the help of Emilia, a palace guard who wants to prove her worth, Petro must rescue his friend and defeat a political plot that threatens to wipe out all of Cassaforte."
NIGHT SCHOOL: BLOOD COVEN by Mari Mancusi "After their parents' shocking revelation about their fae heritage and an attack on their lives, the McDonald twins are forced to hide out deep in the Swiss Alps at Riverdale Academy, a secret vampire slayer training facility. And with no way to contact their vampire boyfriends for rescue, they're going to have to play nice with the locals. But when Sunny starts acting strange, Rayne realizes that there's more to fear at Riverdale than getting staked by the student body-leading to a showdown in Fairyland that may cost the twins their lives"
SHADOWSPELL: FAERIEWALKER by Jenna Black "On top of spending most of her time in a bunkerlike safe house and having her dates hijacked by a formidable Fae bodyguard, Faeriewalker Dana Hathaway is in for some more bad news: the Erlking and his pack of murderous minions known as the Wild Hunt have descended upon Avalon. With his homicidal appetite and immortal powers, the Erlking has long been the nightmare of the Fae realm. A fragile treaty with the Faerie Queen, sealed with a mysterious spell, is the one thing that keeps him from hunting unchecked in Avalon, the only place on Earth where humans and Fae live together. Which means Dana’s in trouble, since it’s common knowledge that the Faerie Queen wants her – and her rare Faeriewalker powers – dead. The smoldering, sexy Erlking’s got his sights set on Dana, but does he only seek to kill her, or does he have something much darker in mind?"
SHANTORIAN: TRACKERS by Patrick Carman "In the 21st century landscape of bits and bytes, everyone leaves a digital footprint ... even the most advanced cyber criminals. And that's where the Trackers come in. Four tech-savvy kids armed with high-tech video cameras and esoteric coding skills, the Trackers can find almost anyone, anywhere. Told through a collage of videos, text, and websites, Trackers #1 follows Adam, Finn, Lewis, and Emily as they become entangled in a high-tech, high-stakes game of cat and mouse with Shantorian, the world's most dangerous hacker. At least, that's who they think they're tracking....
As the four dig deeper into the shadowy world of online crime, they soon learn that things aren't always as they seem."
TIMELESS by Alexandra Monir "When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.
Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives."
TRICKSTER'S GIRL by Hilari Bell "In the year 2098 America isn't so different from the USA of today. But, in a post-9/11 security-obssessed world, "secured" doesn't just refer to borders between countries, it also refer to borders between states. Teenagers still think they know everything, but there is no cure for cancer, as Kelsa knows first-hand from watching her father die. The night Kelsa buries her father, a boy appears. He claims magic is responsible for the health of Earth, but human damage disrupts its flow. The planet is dying. Kelsa has the power to reverse the damage, but first she must accept that magic exists and see beyond her own pain in order to heal the planet."
UNEARTHLY by Cynthia Hand "Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy. Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side. As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?"
THE WATER WARS by Cameron Stracher "Welcome to a future where water is more precious than oil or gold...Hundreds of millions of people have already died, and millions more will soon fall-victims of disease, hunger, and dehydration. It is a time of drought and war. The rivers have dried up, the polar caps have melted, and drinkable water is now in the hands of the powerful few. There are fines for wasting it and prison sentences for exceeding the quotas.
As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?"WARPED by Maurissa Guibord "Tessa doesn't believe in magic. Or Fate. But there's something weird about the dusty unicorn tapestry she discovers in a box of old books. She finds the creature woven within it compelling and frightening. After the tapestry comes into her possession, Tessa experiences dreams of the past and scenes from a brutal hunt that she herself participated in. When she accidentally pulls a thread from the tapestry, Tessa releases a terrible centuries old secret. She also meets William de Chaucy, an irresistible 16th-century nobleman. His fate is as inextricably tied to the tapestry as Tessa's own. Together, they must correct the wrongs of the past. But then the Fates step in, making a tangled mess of Tessa's life. Now everyone she loves will be destroyed unless Tessa does their bidding and defeats a cruel and crafty ancient enemy."
But Kai didn't seem to care about any of this. He stood in the open road drinking water from a plastic cup, then spilled the remaining drops into the dirt. He didn't go to school, and he traveled with armed guards. Kai claimed he knew a secret-something the government is keeping from us... And then he was gone. Vanished in the middle of the night. Was he kidnapped? Did he flee? Is he alive or dead? There are no clues, only questions. And no one can guess the lengths to which they will go to keep him silent. We have to find him-and the truth-before it is too late for all of us."
WISHFUL THINKING by Alexandra Bullen "If you could wish for a different life, would you? What if that life changed everything you thought was real? Adopted as a baby, Hazel Snow has always been alone. She's never belonged anywhere--and has always yearned to know the truth about where she comes from. So when she receives three stunning, enchanted dresses--each with the power to grant one wish--Hazel wishes to know her mother. Transported to a time and place she couldn't have imagined, Hazel finds herself living an alternate life--a life with the mother she never knew.
Over the course of one amazing, miraculous summer, Hazel finds her home, falls in love, and forms an unexpected friendship. But will her search to uncover her past forever alter her future?"