Friday, November 30, 2012

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

Laura Buzo's Love and Other Perishable Items is an Australian import, originally published under the title Good Oil and let me just say that this might be one of my favorite reads of 2012. I haven't read the original version, but this book is infused with Aussie spirit and colloquialisms, yet it's never in a way that is distracting, frustrating, nor distancing for this thoroughly American reader. In fact, perhaps the strength of this book is just that: it's a great universal story about love, longing, and growing up.

Buzo's story is told through two distinct and unique voices. Amelia is a 15-year-old girl who is taking on her first job at Coles, a local grocery store. She lives at home with her mother and father, both of whom she finds emotionally distant. Amelia worries about her mother, particularly because of the way her father treats her. Amelia's a feminist and wears that badge proudly; knowing her mother works and still has to come home and clean up after her entire family makes her sad.

The second voice we get is Chris's -- he's a 21-year-old clerk at Coles, and he's become the guy who Amelia finds herself very interested in, even though he's much too old for her. Chris finds himself interested in Amelia, but in a very non-romantic way. He thinks she's the kind of girl worth being friends with, and their bond from the beginning of the story is sweet, in his eyes. Chris is struggling with a number of huge things in his life. His most recent relationship with Michaela was world-blowing for him. He believed they bonded in a way that people who were truly in love bonded. Sex with her wasn't sex; it as making a real emotional and physical connection with another person. The problem, though, was that Michaela moved back across the country. To the boy she'd been dating for a long time. Chris was just a toy to her, rather than anything serious. This shatters Chris's world. Along with figuring out what it means to love and be loved, though, Chris also struggles with what he wants out of his future since he's almost done with school. He's still living at home, but he's worried about how he'll ever afford to move out on his clerk salary, how he'll ever figure out what he wants to do for a career. How he'll ever be an adult, period. When he meets Amelia, he immediately recognizes a girl who will be someone with whom he can have a good and important friendship.

The bond between Chris and Amelia is strong, despite the fact they're both in this for very different reasons. The two of them have lengthy and interesting conversations about the meaning of life, about the purposes and goals of feminism (which helps Amelia reevaluate her feelings about her mother and her father), and perhaps my favorite, a long discussion about literature and books and what it means to have a satisfying ending (and oh, Amelia's hatred for Charles Dickens's Great Expectations spoke to my heart). Because the story is a dual perspective, we get the conversations from both sides. There's Chris's university- and worldly- educated side and Amelia's idealistic and romantic side. But what stands out and makes these characters sing is that Buzo never suggests one way of seeing things is the right way. Both of these characters are wrestling with what they want out of life and it's their particular places and moments that shade their perspectives entirely. The divergent approaches to life is amplified by their six-year age difference and as an adult readers, I found myself relating to both of these characters in equal measure.

Amelia is smart and intelligent and wants nothing more for the world to be right for everyone. She so longs for her first love, and she longs for it to be with Chris. He's the first person in a long time with whom she's opened up about what it's like to live at home and to struggle with her feelings about her mother and her father. He's the first person she's ever felt truly connected to and the first guy who she feels like she could love in the way she wants to. He's the intellectual dream boy she's always wanted. Chris, though, is exceptionally level-headed about this, and he does not in any way ever take advantage of Amelia, despite being aware she has a crush on him. His voice is that of a young adult, rather than a teen. He's had a lot more life experience than her, as well as a lot more intellectual experience. The thing is, though, he is never once pretentious and he never once talks down to her. Chris admires and respects Amelia as an individual -- as an equivalent and equally worthwhile human being -- in a way that made me so happy as a reader. Despite being a little bit of a pill at times (because he cannot pick himself up and act like an adult, even though he has the capability to do just that), I really liked Chris as a character. As much as I related to Amelia, I also related to Chris.

Both of these characters are selfish and needy at times, but because we get both perspectives, their desires and their methods of achieving them make these flaws believable and maybe even a bit charming. But what stood out to me most in Buzo's Love and Other Perishable Items was that neither of these characters are having huge problems. Their problems are huge in their own minds, and their barriers are completely self-imposed. Chris and Amelia are their own worst enemies in the way that all people are their own self-inhibitors. But it's through one another -- through talking, sharing, relating -- they realize they have the opportunity to forge ahead and change things. Of course, this is the climax of the story, and what happens shatters Amelia. It's here when she not only realizes the sort of pain Chris was dealing with in terms of losing love, but it's here when Chris offers Amelia the best kind of gift possible: himself. Before he moves himself forward on his new life plan, he leaves his collection of notebooks to her. It's through these notebooks we're offered his story and it's through these notebooks he'll give Amelia much more to consider. There's also a great subplot in this book about Amelia's friend Penny and the hurt she feels dealing with her parents' divorce. Amelia is able to really put her life in perspective thanks to Penny, but never does it deny Amelia her own pain. It just helps her think about it a little differently.

Because this book does share a story from both the perspective of a 15-year-old and from the perspective of a 21-year-old, it's not shy. I appreciated how Buzo was unafraid to be raw and unshy in her depiction of these characters and their situations, particularly when it came to Chris. The pain he felt upon losing Michaela more than once (because he'll lose her more than once throughout the course of the story) tore at me in the same way that Amelia's realization she'll never have Chris the way she wants to also tore at me. Lost love hurts the most, but it's also an amazing impetus for growth. But the truth is in this story, no one actually loses love. Both Amelia and Chris find a whole lot more of it.

Love and Other Perishable Items is a story about love and friendship, and the writing and storytelling reminded me a lot of CK Kelly Martin's contemporary titles. Fans of Martin will absolutely eat this title up. I was also reminded quite heavily of Lia Hills's The Beginner's Guide to Living, especially when it came to portraying intelligent characters with strong voice. Because this book features an older character, it will appeal easily to teens (both because Amelia is a teen and because it allows a glimpse into "older" life) and it will appeal to 20-something readers looking for an easy-to-relate-to character (Chris goes as far as to muse about how he'll ever afford a mortgage knowing he's sunk under student debt and more -- that's to say, the stresses are pretty spot-on for this age group). Despite the fact the ending isn't straight-forward nor necessarily easy to take  -- it's open-ended without a firm resolution for either character -- this book was satisfying and left me feeling really happy at the end. The ride through the entire story with both of these characters was worthwhile, and I loved that I got to know and got to "get" them both wholly.

Review copy from the publisher. Love and Other Perishable Items will be available December 11.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Asunder by Jodi Meadows

Warning: Spoilers for Incarnate ahead!

I felt pretty tepid toward Incarnate, despite its intriguing premise. Still, I was interested to see where Meadows would take the story, so I decided I would give Asunder a shot.

I'm so glad I did. Asunder is a marked improvement over Incarnate, with stronger world-building, characterization, and writing. It's just overall much better in nearly all ways.

Ana and the other residents of Heart are still reeling from the events of Templedark, which killed off dozens of souls permanently, never to be reborn. Despite the fact that Ana saved many souls during the tragedy, some still blame her, as the only newsoul in existence.

While Ana fights for her right to exist and live in Heart, she also begins to investigate the secrets the temple and Janan hold. What she discovers is astonishing - the reason for the reincarnations, for the newsouls, for the existence of the temple.

I loved what Meadows did with her world in this installment. What Ana discovers about reincarnation is completely shocking but also completely plausible. Meadows also builds upon the sylph, which I felt were pretty weak in Incarnate. Here, we learn more of what they look like, whether they're sentient or not, and even some hints as to their origin.

The romance here kills, and I mean that in a good way. In Incarnate, I felt the blossoming romance between Sam and Ana was a bit of a stretch, and Sam was drawn so sketchily I couldn't believe in his feelings. But we get a much better idea of Sam's character here, and he's appealing while also being flawed. Ana, too, is developed more fully, beyond just her desire to be accepted as a newsoul. The development of the two characters makes for a more believable and nuanced romance. They also grapple believably with the age gap and the fact that Sam has loved deeply before, which I really appreciated reading about: it's acknowledged and dealt with, not just brushed aside in the name of true love. There are a couple of scenes that are just this side of steamy, too, which doesn't hurt.

Lastly, the writing is much better, with tighter plotting and much less exposition. Meadows has some very nice turns of phrase, lifting her writing above merely serviceable. It's a lovely book to read, with no parts that lag and none that feel rushed.

I was pretty impressed with Asunder, and I'm definitely looking forward to the third book (as yet untitled), to be published in 2014.

Review copy provided by the publisher. Asunder will be published January 29, 2013.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Prophecy by Ellen Oh

Prophecy has, in theory, everything I want in a fantasy: a female warrior protagonist, magic, political intrigue, romance. Unfortunately, the execution falls short.

Kira is a demon fighter, blessed (or cursed) with the ability to see the demons that have killed humans and overtaken their bodies for their own evil ends. To everyone else, though, it just seems like Kira is attacking innocent people, especially since the king, Kira's uncle, has commanded her to keep the presence of the demons secret.

Due to her talents, Kira's uncle has tasked her with protecting her twelve year old cousin, Taejo, the heir to the throne, from the demons and others who wish to do him harm. Her job not only puts her in harm's way from the demons, but also from normal people, who don't understand when she attacks people who resemble their friends. She also has yellow (or golden, depending on who you ask) eyes, which lead some people to think she is a demon herself. Unfortunately, all of her skills cannot prevent a traitor from striking the kingdom, and soon Kira is on the run with the prince and a few other warriors, hoping to eventually return and rescue their country from the traitor's clutches - with the help of a mysterious and ancient prophecy.

The book is set in a version of Korea, which is interesting and makes it pretty unique in this aspect. Unfortunately, it still seemed a bit too much like the world of Graceling, a similarity that was enhanced by the plot parallels (warrior girl with strange eyes and special abilities must work for her uncle the king). 

I'm always kind of wary of books with a prophecy as a main plot point. Too often, it's used as a lazy storytelling technique. Why must our brave heroes embark upon this journey? Because there is a prophecy that decrees it! I found that the prophecy in Prophecy fell into this category. It's the driving force behind Kira seeking out a certain powerful item, a quest that seems a bit extraneous when the rest of the plot (demons, coups, etc.) is considered. The prophecy also involves a major secret that is rather obvious to the reader but takes ages to be revealed, making much of the book seem tedious.

Much of the story is told in dream/vision sequences, which often allow Kira to gain new information about the prophecy or a demon attack. I really dislike reading dream sequences (even the ones in Harry Potter didn't make me a fan, and I'm a fan of almost anything Harry Potter). I tend to skip them, sometimes not even bothering to skim the text. I don't think I'm alone in this.

So there were a few things that I didn't care for personally, but I also felt that the writing was a bit weak, making this a below average book for most people. It tells the story, sure, but in a bit of a juvenile way, like the book is being written for a middle grade or younger audience (which it isn't, considering the content and marketing). It couldn't make up for the flaws in the story, as good writing often can.

I think Prophecy will still circulate among readers hungry for high fantasy, but it won't be among their favorites.

Review copy received from the publisher. Prophecy will be available January 2.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

2013 Cover Trends: Part One

I've been watching the cover reveals and digging through the publisher catalogs over the last couple of months, looking at what's in store for 2013. I've taken notes on some of the trends I've noticed and thought I'd do a series of posts over the next couple of weeks showcasing some of them. 

It's hard to write about cover trends when there are still plenty of covers not yet revealed, but with what's already available, I've found a bunch of similarities. Since I'm imperfect and will likely miss many titles fitting any of these trends, I'd love to hear of other books fitting any of the categories I'm going to talk about, so please, feel free to drop a title or link to an image in the comments. This is the first post of what will be either two or three posts, and I'm going to divvy them up into broad categories. I'll include descriptions -- all via WorldCat and/or Goodreads -- for those interested in bulking up 2013 book lists. 

Over the course of these posts there will be a number of repeats, since some covers will hit a number of the trends I've picked up on. Likewise, some of these trends will be much bigger and more noticeable than other ones, which may only include a handful of titles. 

Titles As Art / Titles Across the Cover

It looks like 2013 is the year of the title becoming the cover's art. So many book covers are using the title -- usually a lengthier title -- as the "image" of the book. I've also noticed the number of book covers that have either long titles or are using the titles to take up more than half of the book's cover. It sort of seems like for a long time that titles were given a design and worked around an image; next year, it seems like the title is getting a bigger billing. But I have to say that some of these are going to be easy to confuse next year since they look quite similar to one another. 

I kind of dig this trend where the title is the art (it's simple and yet in many cases, it's still pretty memorable). In the later covers below, where the title is more about taking up real estate than being the art, there are some that do it better than others. I think a lot of it has to do with how well the image works with the title and, maybe more importantly, the font and color choices for the title. 

Dear Life, You Suck by Scott Blagden: In this emotionally powerful, funny debut, Cricket Cherpin needs to figure out what to do with his life before he turns eighteen. But life sucks--so why not just give up?

Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy: Eighteen-year-old Nikki's unconditional love for Dee helps her escape from her problems, but when he involves her in a murder Nikki winds up in prison, confronted with hard facts that challenge whether Dee ever loved her, and she can only save herself by telling the truth about Dee.

Empty by KM Walton: Deeply depressed after her father cheated on and divorced her mother, seventeen-year-old Adele has gained over seventy pounds and is being bullied and abused at school--to the point of being raped and accused of being the aggressor.

Frozen by Melissa de la Crus and Michael Johnston: More than a century after a catastrophic disaster wiped out most of humanity and covered much of the earth with ice, fifteen-year-old Cass yields to the voice in her head urging her to embark on a dangerous journey across a poisoned sea to the mythical land, Blue.

How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller: A teenaged pickpocket, haunted by the ghost of his brother killed by his father, is recruited for Mandel Academy, a school for criminals where only one student survives each semester.

In the After by Demitria Lunetta: In a post-apocalyptic world where nothing is as it seems, seventeen-year-old Amy and Baby, a child she found while scavenging, struggle to survive while vicious, predatory creatures from another planet roam the Earth.

Before I get into the descriptions of these books, can I point out how confusing they're going to be? I can just see people asking for the book with the big title and blue cover. Not to mention that the first two are titles with only four letters. 

Rush by Eve Silver: Rochester, New York, high schooler Miki Jones is pulled into a sort of a game in which she and other teens battle real-life aliens and the consequences of each battle could be deadly.

Prey by Andrew Fukuda: For Gene and the remaining humans—or hepers—death is just a heartbeat away. On the run and hunted by society, they must find a way to survive in The Vast... and avoid the hungry predators tracking them in the dark. But they’re not the only things following Gene. He’s haunted by the girl he left behind and his burgeoning feelings for Sissy, the human girl at his side. When they discover a refuge of exiled humans living high in the mountains, Gene and his friends think they’re finally safe. Led by a group of intensely secretive elders, the civilisation begins to raise more questions than answers. A strict code of behaviour is the rule, harsh punishments are meted out, young men are nowhere to be found—and Gene begins to wonder if the world they’ve entered is just as evil as the one they left behind. As life at the refuge grows more perilous, he and Sissy only grow closer. In an increasingly violent world, all they have is each other... if they can only stay alive.

The Lives We Lost by Megan Crewe: In the second installment in this dystopian trilogy, the virus has spread beyond Kaelyn's island, and she and her friends must head to the mainland, carrying with them hopes for a cure. 

Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg: Everybody loves Lexi. She's popular, smart, funny...but she's never been one of those girls, the pretty ones who get all the attention from guys. And on top of that, her seven-year-old sister, Mackenzie, is a terror in a tiara, and part of a pageant scene where she gets praised for her beauty (with the help of fake hair and tons of makeup). Lexi's sick of it. She's sick of being the girl who hears about kisses instead of getting them. She's sick of being ignored by her longtime crush, Logan. She's sick of being taken for granted by her pageant-obsessed mom. And she's sick of having all her family's money wasted on a phony pursuit of perfection. The time has come for Lexi to step out from the sidelines. Girls without great personalities aren't going to know what hit them. Because Lexi's going to play the beauty game - and she's in it to win it.

The S Word by Chelsea Pitcher: Angie's quest for the truth behind her best friend's suicide drives her deeper into the dark, twisted side of Verity High.

Wise Young Fool by Sean Beaudoin: A teenaged guitarist in a rock band deals with loss and anger as he relates the events that landed him in a juvenile detention center.

A Matter of Days by Amber Kizer: In the not-too-distant future when a global pandemic kills most of humanity, a teenaged girl and her younger brother struggle to survive.

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry: A sort-of retelling of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice set in 1990s Seattle, with teenagers. * I found no description on WorldCat, GoodReads, nor the author's website, except for this little tidbit. 

Being Henry David by Cal Armistead: Seventeen-year-old 'Hank,' who can't remember his identity, finds himself in Penn Station with a copy of Thoreau's Walden as his only possession and must figure out where he's from and why he ran away.

 Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke: Violet is in love with River, a mysterious seventeen-year-old stranger renting the guest house behind the rotting seaside mansion where Violet lives, but when eerie, grim events begin to happen, Violet recalls her grandmother's frequent warnings about the devil and wonders if River is evil.

Coda by Emma Trevayne: Ever since he was a young boy, music has coursed through the veins of eighteen-year-old Anthem—the Corp has certainly seen to that. By encoding music with addictive and mind-altering elements, the Corp holds control over all citizens, particularly conduits like Anthem, whose life energy feeds the main power in the Grid. Anthem finds hope and comfort in the twin siblings he cares for, even as he watches the life drain slowly and painfully from his father. Escape is found in his underground rock band, where music sounds free, clear, and unencoded deep in an abandoned basement. But when a band member dies suspiciously from a tracking overdose, Anthem knows that his time has suddenly become limited. Revolution all but sings in the air, and Anthem cannot help but answer the call with the chords of choice and free will. But will the girl he loves help or hinder him?

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick: A day in the life of a suicidal teen boy saying good-bye to the four people who matter most to him.

Formerly Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham: It’s been a year since the shark attack that took Jane’s arm, and with it, everything she used to take for granted. Her dream of becoming an artist is on the line, and everything now seems out of reach, including her gorgeous, kind tutor, Max Shannon. While a perfectly nice guy from her science class is clearly interested in Jane — removing her fear that no one ever would want a one-armed girl — Jane can’t stop thinking about Max. But is his interest romantic? Or does he just feel sorry for her?

How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski: Placed under a temporary retstraining order for torching her former boyfriend's car, seventeen-year-old Rosie embarks on a cross-country car trip from New Jersey to Arizona while waiting for her court appearance.

Icons by Margaret Stohl: After an alien force known as the Icon colonizes Earth, decimating humanity, four surviving teenagers must piece together the mysteries of their pasts--in order to save the future. 

Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan: To break his curse of invisibility, a boy is helped by a girl, who is the only one who can see him.

Nine Days by Fred Hiatt: Tenth-graders Ethan and Ti-Anna go to Hong Kong seeking her father, an exiled Chinese democracy activist who has disappeared, and follow his trail to Vietnam and back, also uncovering illegal activity along the way. Includes author's note and the history behind the novel written by the girl who inspired it.

OCD, The Dude, & Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn: Danielle Levine stands out even at her alternative high school--in appearance and attitude--but when her scathing and sometimes raunchy English essays land her in a social skills class, she meets Daniel, another social misfit who may break her resolve to keep everyone at arm's length.

 Out of This Place by Emma Cameron: Luke spends his days hanging out at the beach, working shifts at the local supermarket, and trying to stay out of trouble at school. His mate Bongo gets wasted, blocking out memories of the little brother social services took away and avoiding the stepdad who hits him. And Casey, the girl they both love, dreams of getting away and starting a new life in a place where she can be free. 

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff: It’s a heartrending future classic, soon to be a major motion picture, not to mention a thoughtful, insanely sophisticated exploration of the relationship between adults and children. It contains a gigantic easter egg, lots of French toast and a weed whacker. *This is via the GoodReads description, which is via the author's website. 

Return to Me by Justina Chen: Always following her parents' wishes and ignoring her psychic inner voice takes eighteen-year-old Rebecca Muir from her beloved cottage and boyfriend on Puget Sound to New York City, where revelations about herself and her family help her find a path to becoming the architect she wants to be.


Shadow Lands by Kate Brian: Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived… and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection with her father and sister, Darcy, leaving their friends and family without so much as a goodbye. Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children, but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. But just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?

The Loop by Shandy Lawson: In New Orleans, Louisiana, star-crossed teens Ben and Maggie try to find a way to escape the time loop that always ends in their murder.

 The Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Robin Palmer: Sixteen-year-old Annabelle Jacobs never asked to be famous, but as the daughter of Janie Jacobs, one of the biggest TV stars in the world, she is. Growing up is hard enough. Having to do it in public because your mother is a famous actress? Even harder. When your mom crashes and burns after her DUI mug shot is splashed across the internet? Definitely not fun. Then your mom falls for a guy so much younger than she that it would be more appropriate for you to be dating him? That’s just a train wreck waiting to happen.

Then You Were Gone by Lauren Strasnick: Adrienne and Dakota's long-term best friendship has been over for two years, but when Dakota goes missing, a presumed suicide, Adrienne is overwhelmed, leading to problems at school and with her boyfriend.

Truth or Dare by Jacqueline Green: In the affluent seaside town of Echo Bay, Massachusetts, mysterious dares sent to three very different girls--loner Sydney Morgan, Caitlin "Angel" Thomas, and beautiful Tenley Reed--threaten both their reputations and their lives.

When We Wake by Karen Healey: In 2027, sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl--playing the guitar, falling in love, and protesting the wrongs of the world with her friends. But then Tegan dies, waking up 100 years in the future as the unknowing first government guinea pig to be cryogenically frozen and successfully revived. Appalling secrets about her new world come to light, and Tegan must choose to either keep her head down or fight for a better future

You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle: The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There’d be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star. Now sixteen, Justine doesn’t feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film "Five at Sixteen," all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, just feels like a disappointment. But these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what’s on film. They’ve all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else’s eyes.

Purple Titles

I'm not sure this is the biggest trend in cover font color choices in 2013, but it's one I picked up on because it's different. I would almost argue red is a bigger color next year, but there's something about purple font that's standing out to me. I tend to like purple so maybe that's why it keeps catching my eye. There's quite a few of them! Note that these all look purple on my screen and resolution, but I could see good argument that a couple might be more in the dark pink arena. 

All I Need by Susane Colasanti: When Skye, a hopeless romantic, meets Seth, hurt by a recent break-up, at an end-of-summer party they connect instantly, but their love is tested when she returns high school and he begins to work his way through an Ivy-League college.

Also Known As by Robin Benway: As the active-duty daughter of international spies, sixteen-year-old safecracker Maggie Silver never attended high school so when she and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, Maggie is introduced to cliques, school lunches, and maybe even a boyfriend.

Catherine by April Lindner: In this retelling of "Wuthering Heights," Catherine explains how she fell in love with a brooding musician and left her family to return to him, and her daughter describes searching for her mother many years later.

Empty by KM Walton: See above under "titles as art."

Furious by Jill Wolfson: After becoming the Furies of Greek mythology, three angry high school girls take revenge on everyone who deserves it.

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson: After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Devereaux is back in London to help solve a new string of inexplicable deaths plaguing the city. 

OCD, The Dude, & Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn: See above under "titles as art."

The Language Inside by Holly Thompson: Raised in Japan, American-born tenth-grader Emma is disconcerted by a move to Massachusetts for her mother's breast cancer treatment, because half of Emma's heart remains with her friends recovering from the tsunami.

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr: Sixteen-year-old San Franciscan Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. Her chance at a career has passed, and she decides to help her ten-year-old piano prodigy brother, Gus, map out his own future, even as she explores why she enjoyed piano in the first place.

Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown: Talked into sending a nude picture of herself to her boyfriend while she was drunk, Ashleigh became the center of a sexting scandal and is now in court-ordered community service, where she finds an unlikely ally, Mack.

Undone by Cat Clarke: Jem Halliday is in love with her gay best friend. Not exactly ideal, but she's learning to live with it. Then the unspeakable happens. Kai is outed online ... and he kills himself. Jem knows nothing she can say or do will bring him back. But she wants to know who was responsible. And she wants to take them down. 

What the Spell by Brittany Geragotelis: When Brooklyn, a witch, turns sixteen, her conservative parents finally unbind her powers, bringing her newfound popularity and the attention of her long-time crush, Asher, but using spells may endanger her and, unless she uses her special ability to magically match couples, she may lose Asher.

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney: When his mother dies three weeks before his high school graduation, Danny goes to Tokyo, where his mother had been going for cancer treatments, to learn about the city his mother loved and, with the help of his friends, come to terms with her death.

White Lines by Jennifer Banash: In 1980s New York City, seventeen-year-old Caitlin tries to overcome her mother's abuse and father's abandonment by losing herself in nights of clubbing and drugs, followed by days of stumbling aimlessly through school.

Faces in Pieces

These girls are broken up either in pieces or behind glass or they're being put back together after being torn into pieces. This is an interesting trend. I kind of think a couple of them would be really easy to confuse with one another. I noted all of them are girls with their faces in pieces, though the cover of Chris Lynch's Pieces features the body of a boy in pieces (his face is missing entirely from the cover). 

Fox Forever by Mary Pearson: Before he can start a life with Jenna, seventeen-year-old Locke, who was brought back to life in a newly bioengineered body after an accident destroyed his body 260 years ago, must do a favor for the resistance movement opposing the nightmarish medical technology.

Imposer by Susanne Winnacker: Tessa is a Variant, able to absorb the DNA of anyone she touches and mimic their appearance. Shunned by her family, she’s spent the last two years training with the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, a secret branch of the FBI. When a serial killer rocks a small town in Oregon, Tessa is given a mission: she must impersonate Madison, a local teen, to find the killer before he strikes again. Tessa hates everything about being an impostor—the stress, the danger, the deceit—but loves playing the role of a normal girl. As Madison, she finds friends, romance, and the kind of loving family she’d do anything to keep. Amid action, suspense, and a ticking clock, this super-human comes to a very human conclusion: even a girl who can look like anyone struggles the most with being herself.

Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza: Sixteen-year-old Mila discovers she is not who--or what--she thought she was, which causes her to run from both the CIA and a rogue intelligence group.

The Originals by Cat Patrick: Seventeen-year-olds Lizzie, Ella, and Betsy Best are clones, raised as identical triplets by their surrogate mother but living as her one daughter, Elizabeth, until their separate abilities and a romantic relationship force a change.

Things Change by Patrick Jones: Sixteen-year-old Johanna, one of the best students in her class, develops a passionate attachment for troubled seventeen-year-old Paul and finds her plans for the future changing in unexpected ways. *This is actually a recover of a book originally published in 2006. This redesign is much more appealing than the original

Red Heads

This is the last trend I'll talk about in this post, since I think I might have two more posts' worth of material and I don't want to make this too long. 

Now, if you buy Wikipedia as a reliable source, you'll note that only 1-2% of the world consists of red heads. But man, do they get quite a bit of play in YA books. And they'll be getting plenty of cover time in 2013. 

A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz: It is 1903, and the world is divided between light and shadow. On the side of light is a wondrous science that has transformed everyday life by harnessing magical energies to ingenious new technologies. But each advance of science has come at the expense of shadow—the traditional realm of the supernatural. Now two ancient powers are preparing to strike back. Blood-sucking immortal Nightwalkers and their spellcasting Alchemist allies have a plan to cover the whole world in shadow. All they require is the sacrifice of a certain young woman whose past conceals a dangerous secret. But when they come after Elle, they get more than they bargained for. This enterprising young woman, the daughter of a scientific genius, has reserves of bravery and determination that even she scarcely suspects. Now she is about to meet her match in more ways than one: a handsome yet infuriating Warlock named Hugh Marsh, whose agenda is as suspect as his charms are annoyingly irresistible.

 Death, Doom, and Detention by Darynda Jones: The normal part of Lorelei MacAlister’s life didn’t just slip away quietly the day Jared Kovach came to town. Nope. The normal part of her life shattered. It exploded. It burst into a gazillion shards of fleeting light. It went out with a bang. Goodbye normal. Hello dark and eerie. While her best friend, Brooklyn, is focusing all of her energy on helping Lorelei hone her abilities, Lorelei is dealing with the reality that Satan’s second in command has taken up residence inside her body. Oh, and the fact that she has a crush on the Angel of Death. But what a beautiful death it is. If those weren’t bad enough, something sinister has come to town and it wants nothing more than to hear Lorelei’s dying breath as it strangles it out of her. Thank goodness the gang has a supernatural champion. But what happens when the only being who can save them switches sides midstream? How can a group of misfits capture one of the most powerful beings ever created? And will they find out how to bring Jared back to them before it’s too late?

Delusion by Laura L Sullivan: Two beautiful teenage sisters, Phil and Fee Albion, descendents of a long line of stage illusionists, are sent from London to the countryside during World War II, only to discover a hidden college of real magicians who just might help them save England from the Nazis. 

The Gathering Dark by Christine Johnson: A gifted pianist discovers that she and the mysterious boy she's falling for are part of an alternate world made from dark matter, and in a race of love against fear, she must somehow save her life without losing herself. 

Me, Him, Them, and It by Caela Carter: Playing the "bad girl" at school to get back at her feuding parents, sixteen-year-old Evelyn becomes pregnant and faces a difficult decision.

Naturals by Tiffany Truitt: Tess is finally safe from the reach of the Council, now that she is living in the Middlelands with the rebel Isolationists. With James having returned to Templeton, she easily falls back into her friendship with Henry, though her newfound knowledge of Robert’s chosen one status still stings. Even surrounded by people, Tess has never felt more alone. So she’s thrilled when James returns to the settlement, demanding to see Tess — until she finds out that it’s because her sister, Louisa, has been recruited into Tess’s old position at Templeton, and that the dangerously sadistic chosen one George has taken an interest in her. 

OCD, The Dude, & Me by Laura Roedy Vaughn: See description above.

Red by Alison Cherry:  Felicity St. John has it all—loyal best friends, a hot guy, and artistic talent. And she’s right on track to win the Miss Scarlet pageant. Her perfect life is possible because of just one thing: her long, wavy, coppery red hair. Having red hair is all that matters in Scarletville. Redheads hold all the power—and everybody knows it. That’s why Felicity is scared down to her roots when she receives an anonymous note: I know your secret. Because Felicity is a big fake. Her hair color comes straight out of a bottle. And if anyone discovered the truth, she’d be a social outcast faster than she could say "strawberry blond." Her mother would disown her, her friends would shun her, and her boyfriend would dump her. And forget about winning that pageant crown and the prize money that comes with it—money that would allow her to fulfill her dream of going to art school. Felicity isn’t about to let someone blackmail her life away. But just how far is she willing to go to protect her red cred?

The Grass is Always Greener by Jen Calonita: Amid preparations for their preppy Southern town's Founders Day celebration and their own shared sweet sixteen, sisters Isabelle Scott and Mirabelle Monroe long to break free from the tight constraints that come with being the daughters of a prominent public figure.

This Strange and Familiar Place by Rachel Carter: Lydia Bentley will do anything to fix the mistakes she made in the past, like losing her grandfather in time--and the only way she knows how to begin is by time traveling to 1980s New York with Wes, posed as a Montauk Project recruit. 

Look for part two of this series next week (and there are some good ones).

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