Synopsis (from GoodReads) –
Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks–and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.
But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.
It’s then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart–an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests–or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate
Why I can’t wait to read The Trials of Morrigan Crow:
- Morrigan Crow is blamed for all Misfortune. This reminds me of Peg O’Nell, the ghost said to haunts Waddow Hall in Lancashire, (no idea whether anybody told the Girl Guide Association when they took the property over.) Having listened to songs about Peg O’Nell, it will be lovely to read a book which thinks about what it might be like to be the person blamed for all misfortune, and what sort of trouble might come of it.
- It’s folksy. This is a continuation of my first thought. It is lovely to see more books which either draw on folk legend, or have a folksy atmosphere. Previous authors who have done this well include Alan Garner, Marcus Sedgwick and Michelle Harrison.
- The Wundrous Society trials set a specific objective. If Morrigan Crow fails, she will have to go back and confront her fears. I have a hunch that Morrigan will learn something about herself in Nevermoor which she will take back to her old life. I am intrigued about Morrigan’s connection to Nevermoor. Is there a past connection she is unaware of?
- Nevermoor and The Wundrous Society remind me of the quirky worlds of Sibeal Pounder. I like it when a magical world isn’t what we typically expect of magic. The front cover of the US edition shows people floating beneath umbrellas. I have a feeling the world will be a quirky, original take on magic.
- The book has been sold in multiple regions, everybody’s talking about it on Twitter, and it looks set to be all round wonderful. What can I say? I’m excited.
The Trials of Morrigan Crow
Orion Publishing (UK)
Synopsis (from Bloomsbury Website)
Valor is under arrest for the attempted murder of the crown prince. Her parents are outcasts from the royal court, her sister is banished for theft of a national treasure, and now Valor has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Demidova, a prison built from stone and ice.
But that’s exactly where she wants to be. For her sister was sent there too, and Valor embarks on an epic plan to break her out from the inside.
No one has escaped from Demidova in over three hundred years, and if Valor is to succeed she will need all of her strength, courage and love. If the plan fails, she faces a chilling fate worse than any prison …
Why I can’t wait to read A Prisoner of Ice and Snow:
- A chilling fate? From the way this is written, it sounds like a hint. Might Valor be turned to ice? This sounds a bit like the White Witch turning people to stone. I love Narnia as much as the next person, and think The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is a great book. I also want to know more about the reign of Jadis at the White Witch. LWW picks up her story at the end of her rule. There must have been so many great stories from the preceeding years which we were never told. (See – bookworms talk as if stories are real.)
- This new wave of ice settings? We’re seeing stories planned in the wake of Frozen. The tots who twirled around in Princess Elsa dresses are now Tweens, and their ice-magic is growing up with them. Reading the opening chapter of APoIaS, we have a glittering ice palace, hot chocolate vendors and even a Queen Ana. What’s changed is the stories. The stakes are higher, the situations are more interesting.
- I hope to see some folksy touches. Ice worlds are difficult to bring to life. The Trolls and their ancient books of magic made Frozen. The first thing everybody remembers about Narnia is the fauns and talking animals. I am interested to see what makes Lauren’s ice kingdom unique.
- Amy of GoldenBooksGirl is on the blog tour, and she raved about this book. Amy has impeccable taste in MG fiction. I can’t wait to see what got her so excited.
A Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren
Synopsis (from amazon.com):
Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther’s father is agoraphobic and hasn’t left the basement in six years, her twin brother can’t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck.
The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them.
Esther doesn’t know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.
Then Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate. Along with her phone, money and a fruit roll-up she’d been saving, Jonah also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn’t counted on: love.
Why I can’t wait to read A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares:
- Esther’s cursed family reminds me of The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman, about a family where the women have different gifts. A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares sounds like it has a similar kind of quirky magical-realism.
- How cute is the conflict? I want to know whether Alice and Jonah will be together, and what they need to learn about themselves before they are ready to overcome their fear of relationships. I love it when fantasy is used to explore real-world conflict.
- According to a couple of reviews I read, the novel is about mental illness. Not only is this fab in itself, the characters are definitely rounded. They do not appear to be defined by their illness, although their illness might form a big part of their journey. It is really important to see realistic portrayals of people with different health conditions.
- I’m loving contemporary YA this year. Before 2017, I hadn’t read much contemporary YA. When I was a teen, nearly all titles for young people were contemporary, and a huge number of them were about love triangles. How the world moves on. Wing Jones opened my eyes to what I was missing. After Wing Jones I vowed to read at least one novel with a contemporary setting every month. The family curse adds a touch of fantasy to put me in my comfort zone.
A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares
Hot Key Books (UK)
Sold? Not certain? Advance copies of A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares are available to win on ReadersFirst. Better still, you can read an excerpt from the start of the book and decide whether or not you’re hooked.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
A gripping and powerfully relevant thriller set in a future London where constant survelliance is the norm, We See Everything simmers with tension and emotion. From internationally bestselling author William Sutcliffe, this is perfect for fans of Patrick Ness and Malorie Blackman.
Lex lives on The Strip – the overcrowded, closed-off, bombed-out shell of London. He’s used to the watchful enemy drones that buzz in the air above him.
Alan’s talent as a gamer has landed him the job of his dreams. At a military base in a secret location, he is about to start work as a drone pilot.
These two young men will never meet, but their lives are destined to collide. Because Alan has just been assigned a high-profile target. Alan knows him only as #K622. But Lex calls him Dad.
Why I can’t wait to read We See Everything:
- I love political dystopia. This sounds part 1984, (surveillance) and part Mortal Engines, (the ruins of London.) It also sounds as if Alan will meet Lex, and come into a version of the story different from that sold to him by the government/organisation who set him to assassinate Lex’s Dad.
- The Wall used a fictional setting to explore political unrest which is all too real, (and might become realer if Trump builds his famous wall…) Many people are unaware of the surveillance and data gathering which already occurs in the modern world. This will provoke interesting discussion about modern issues.
- I am interested in Alan’s gaming. I want to know the extent to which it comes into the novel, and how it shapes his character. Is there something he needs to learn about the real world which gaming hasn’t taught him? These questions make me think about ways to shape characters in my own writing. What sort of questions might make an interesting character conflict?
- The Wall was shortlisted for the 2014 Carneige, and longlisted for the guardian prize. Sutcliffe is a strong writer. Experience will have made him stronger. I look forward to seeing how his work has developed.
We See Everything
Innis Munro is walking home across the bleak wilderness of Nin Island when he hears the chilling howl of a wolf. But there are no wolves on the island – not since they were hunted to extinction, centuries ago. He decides to investigate his island home and accepts an ancient challenge: he who jumps the Bonnie Laddie’s Leap wins a fortune. As the wolves rise from the darkness of history, and long-buried secrets resurface, Innis’s adventure truly begins …
Why I can’t Wait to read The Rise of Wolves:
- I love the concrete challenge – to jump Bonnie Laddie’s Leap. My theory is Innis will jump the gap in the form of a wolf. How cool would that story be? If this isn’t the story, I’m writing it. My imagination is going wild, and I’ve only read a short synopsis.
- Done badly, they’re a cliché. Think drooling, snapping wolves, or princesses made brave by the first sight of a bushy tail. Wolves have been in stories since time began. As I said in my review of The Wildings, the best animal stories respect animal behaviour as equally as they anthropomorphise their characters. The setting makes me feel The Rise of Wolves will be in the second category.
- I love stories where the protagonist learns about their environment by learning about its past. Think Kit’s Wilderness, Wolf Hollow or The Crowfield Curse. The history of the wolves, hunted to extinction and the ‘ancient challenge’ sound promising.
- Kerr Thomson won the 2014 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction competition with The Sound of Whales. Chicken House have a great reputation for knowing a good story, and the competition has unearthed some fantastic authors. It’s not only an accolade, it’s an indication of a great author.
The Rise of Wolves by Kerr Thomson
Eleven-year-old ace detective Laura Marlin is back for her next exciting adventure in the fifth mystery from award-winning author Lauren St John.
‘Anyone ever told you that you’re too clever for your own good, Laura Marlin?’
With her arch-nemesis, Mr A, safely behind bars, Laura Marlin can’t wait to relax on a school trip to Australia. But hours after arriving, a seemingly supernatural message makes her fear for her safety. As the group tours the Northern wilderness, mysteries and near-disasters haunt them, but only Laura believes they’re connected. Can she figure out what’s real and what’s an illusion … before it’s too late?
Why I can’t wait to read The Secret of Supernatural Creek:
- Favourite series alert! I’ve been with Laura Marlin since 2011. My first impression of Dead Man’s Cove was ‘modern Famous Five’ – from the seaside setting to the faithful dog. It was when Kidnap in the Caribbean came out that I realised Lauren St John was something special. Not only are her mysteries A1, she includes enough of an ‘issue’ to get her message across without it overwhelming her young audience. The adventure takes precedence to the message.
- I’ve been an animal lover since I could toddle. I turned vegetarian before my fifth birthday, and have spent the years since trying to figure out why people fail to live peacefully alongside other species. Lauren St John is the author I needed in my childhood. Her work examines ethical issues about animals, and she has written some touching relationships between human and animal characters.
- Supernatural? I love it when there is some question as to whether events are caused by supernatural forces. I want to know whether it is possible in the realms of the story, and if so how. If it isn’t possible, why would another character go to great lengths to pretend it is? From the short synopsis, I’ve already got a sense Laura might be in danger. I want to know the outcome.
- Laura Marlin has been around for seven years. I have already spoken to my blogging friend Amy about growing up with Laura Marlin. Amy is fifteen, and has read the series from her pre-teen years. For the first time, Laura Marlin offers interesting discussion about growing up alongside a fictional character.
The Secret of Supernatural Creek by Lauren St John
Orion Children’s Books
Synopsis (from Bloomsbury Website):
From his seat in the tiny aeroplane, Fred watches as the mysteries of the Amazon jungle pass by below him. He has always dreamed of becoming an explorer, of making history and of reading his name amongst the lists of great discoveries. If only he could land and look about him.
As the plane crashes into the canopy, Fred is suddenly left without a choice. He and the three other children may be alive, but the jungle is a vast, untamed place. With no hope of rescue, the chance of getting home feels impossibly small.
Except, it seems, someone has been there before them …
Why I can’t wait to read The Explorer – [nb. I have The Explorer on Netgalley. This is NOT a review. This is my regular exposition of upcoming books.]
- It builds on a tradition. From Moby Dick to Walkabout, from Lord of the Flies to Kensuke’s Kingdom, British writers seem to get castaway narratives spot on. Perhaps it is in the water which surrounds our small island? Building on a tradition must be daunting, but I have read enough of Rundell’s work to believe she will add to the cannon.
- Katherine Rundell is gaining accolades. Rightfully so – like Lauren Wolk, she has found the perfect balance between ‘literary’ and ‘readable’ (inverted commas, as regular readers know, indicate I am resorting to quick terms. I acknowledge this. In depth discussion is for another article.) I notice she is included in the Aarhus 39 Middle Grade anthology. More about this over the coming month – basically, some of the greatest new voices in children’s fiction from across Europe were invited to contribute to one of two anthologies. Rundell was one of the British writers who took part.
- The plane on the jacket reminds me of the early era of aviation. I can find nothing to confirm the book is set in the early 1900s, although Katherine Rundell has set fiction in this era before. I love that era of ‘real’ exploration, of great female aviators like Amelia Earhart. Like many people, I don’t know HUGE amounts of history, but my imagination has been captured by fiction and film and song. (And Lego. Any 90s Kids remember Lego Explorers? More recently, there was Pharaoh’s Quest. Epic stuff.)