Ally Carter – Only The Good Spy Young
Fourth instalment of the Gallagher Girls series, and jumps straight into action, adventure, and drama. The stakes get higher, and more about Cammie’s father’s background is revealed. I would have liked more about the school and the lessons though – it’s a little like the last Harry Potter, with a lot of action outside the school, a lot of emphasis on the world beyond the classroom, and one does tend to get a little nostalgic for spy classes. Still. A fast-paced and intriguing read.
Emily Horner – A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend
I adored this book. Completely and utterly. Squealed over it, got teary-eyed over it. It’s about friendship and love and life and death and musicals and ninjas and coming-of-age and bicycles and forgiveness, without ever feeling overcrowded or over-complicated. There are two timelines, ‘Now’ and ‘Then’, but the switching between the two works well and it all comes together gorgeously – the ‘Then’ stuff isn’t kept from the reader but isn’t referenced in too much detail, either, so there’s still room for surprises there. Also, Cass and Heather’s relationship is just about the niftiest thing ever – a dynamic I don’t think I’ve ever seen in YA fiction before – it’s sort of like what might happen if Regina and Janis from Mean Girls got together. Only cuter.
Megan Crane – Names My Sisters Call Me
Another funny, smart, insightful and moving novel about a woman finding her identity. Courtney is the youngest of the three Cassel girls. Her older sisters – super-organised Norah and the artistic-creative-y Raine – haven’t spoken since Raine ruined Norah’s wedding, six years previously, and then left for California. But Courtney misses the sister she always felt closest to, and when her boyfriend Lucas proposes, she’s determined to bring the family back together. The characterisation of Raine is particularly good – someone who is that specific breed of manipulative and controlling in sneakier ways than Norah’s Type-A methods, all drenched in self-indulgence and claims of artistic-ness, and is thus someone who Courtney does really and truly want to have in her life. And Lucas is just lovely…
Holly Cupala – Tell Me A Secret
Rand (Miranda) lives in the shadow of a dead girl, she tells us – her older sister, Xanda (Alexandra) who died five years ago. Now starting to approach ages her sister will never see, Rand finds herself pregnant, alone, and caught up in a labyrinth of secrets and half-truths and lies. Well-written, layered, and ultimately hopeful.
Jeri Smith-Ready – Shade
Aura can see ghosts – but then again, so can everyone born in the last sixteen and three-quarter years, post-Shift. She works with her aunt to translate for ghosts in court cases, to help them move on peacefully, rather than stay around on Earth – or worse, turn bitter and angry and go ‘shade’. It all gets a little too personal when her boyfriend, Logan, dies and comes back as a ghost – and when the new guy at school, Zachary, seems to know something about the Shift that no one else does… I loved the world of this novel, the supernatural but also looking at how technology would evolve to deal with the supernatural, as well as the references to megaliths (Newgrange! Yay!) and the stars, and of course the terrific premise that at the point of the story, it’s only the young – the under-17s – who can see ghosts. The ending was particularly gripping and I’m looking forward to the sequel, Shift, out in 2011.