Fresh Takes from the Teen Shelves
All the news, updates and gossip for the Young Adult — books, authors, movies and more!
Happy New Year! Lot’s of great books coming out this year, and some of the nicest people I know are kicking things off in January. I’ve been looking forward to some of these books for awhile, so it’s great to get to tell you about them.
Stacey Jay: It’s winter break in Carol, Arkansas and Zombie Settler, Megan Berry, finally has everything she ever wanted–a place on the pom squad, peace among the undead, and the boyfriend of her dreams. But life in Zombie-ville never stay drama-free for long.
Soon a cheerleader uprising threatens to ruin half time forever, an undead psychic hottie makes Megan question her commitment to Ethan, and super strong zombies that are immune to Settler magic land Megan and her Settler friends in a huge mess of trouble. Even worse, Megan herself is the prime evil-zombie-raising suspect and on the verge of being thrown in jail for working forbidden magic.
Now Megan and her best fr-enemy, Monica, must work together to quell the zombie uprising and prove Megan’s innocence, all while reclaiming half-time from conniving cheerleaders and sorting through some nasty family secrets.
RCM: I thought YOU ARE SO UNDEAD TO ME was so much fun, but do we need to read it first to enjoy UNDEAD MUCH?
Stacey Jay: Absolutely not. There is continuity in the story line, but UNDEAD MUCH? can be read alone. (That said, there are BIG spoilers for You Are So Undead to Me in UNDEAD MUCH? and even in the blurb Razorbill chose for the back cover copy. So if you haven’t read Book One and don’t like knowing who the bad guy is ahead of time, beware!)
RCM: Tell me a fun fact about writing UNDEAD MUCH?.
Stacey Jay: I was pregnant when I was writing this book and constantly starving. It really showed in the first draft. I had half a dozen scenes of people eating…usually pizza or chicken nuggets, my two favorite preggers foods. Needless to say, I had to go back and revise. Food is fun, but I know my readers enjoy more focus on the zombies and romance. Still, I left in a few pizza references, including a big zombie-smackdown in a pizza kitchen!
RCM: Well, I’m sold. My first job was making pizza at Chuck E. Cheese. I can confirm the place is full of zombies. Looks like I’ll be taking a walk down memory lane when UNDEAD MUCH? comes out from Razorbill on January 21st.
On the other end of the reality spectrum, there’s Eileen Cook. Eileen’s previous book WHAT WOULD EMMA DO? was both funny and genuine, full of real life dilemmas handled that we all go through, finding our footing in the place between what others expect of us, and what we want for ourselves. Perfect YA stuff. I anticipate more of the same from GETTING REVENGE ON LAUREN WOOD.
RCM: So, what’s the new book about?
Eileen Cook: In the final weeks of eighth grade, Lauren Wood betrayed her best friend, Helen, in a manner so publicly humiliating, so horrid, that Helen had to move to a new town just to save face. Now at the start of her senior year, Lauren’s the cheerleading captain, the quarterback’s girlfriend, and the undisputed queen bee. Lauren has everything she’s ever wanted, and she has forgotten all about her ex-best friend.
But Helen never forgot Lauren. After three years of obsessing, she’s moving back to her old town. She has a new name and a new look, but she hasn’t dropped her old grudges. Lauren won’t recognize her. She has a detailed plan to bring down her former BFF by taking away everything that’s ever been important to Lauren—starting with her boyfriend.
RCM: I admit, I’ve obsessed about insults WAY too much. But I’m sure you never have. So, what was your inspiration?
Eileen Cook: I was an English major in college and I still have a lot of my old books. I recently re-read The Count of Monte Cristo. It has everything: best friends, betrayal, secret identifies, revenge, romance. I started to think how the story might play out in a modern high school. The second inspiration came from the realization that almost everyone has been hurt by someone and dreamed of getting revenge. I think it is a universal experience.
RCM: I know a lot of authors include personal quirks in their books. Did any of your obsessions make it into the pages?
Eileen Cook: I made one of the characters, Christopher, someone who loves classic movies. I love old black and white films and the local theatre here shows them on the big screen one Saturday a month. Casablanca, anything with Audrey Hepburn- heaven.
Bouncing back to the paranormal side, there’s FIRESPELL by Chloe Neill. Chloe writes urban fantasy for adults in the Chicagoland Vampires series, which you should check out if you like vampire books. But I am hotly anticipating her YA debut: “A new series about a boarding school filled with something worse than homework.”
When Lily is sent to a fancy-pants boarding school in Chicago, she discovers a group of rebel teens who fight to protect Chicago from demons, vampires and dark magic users. Lily would love to help them out, but she doesn’t have any superpowers… or does she? Really high quality writing and interesting characters, not to mention a unique voice set Chloe’s books apart. Find out for yourself when Firespell comes out from Signet on January 5th.
From the other side of the pond, we have a book by a celebrated Welsh novelist, Catherine Fisher. INCARCERON has been out in the UK for awhile, but it’s being released in the US. Finn is a 17-year-old prisoner in a prison so huge it contains forests and ruined cities and terrifying wilderness. He makes psychic contact with Claudia, the warden’s daughter, who is trapped in different kind of prison. Helping each other escape, will be perilous indeed. This is a stretch from the real-world based paranormal, and more of a high concept fantasy along the lines of Garth Nix (SABRIEL) and Nancy Farmer (THE HOUSE OF THE SCORPION). You can read for yourself on January 26th.
Another fantasy getting buzz for being very different and well written is BLEEDING VIOLET, by debut author Dia Reeves. Hanna is an outcast, the ‘freak’, and she’s tired of it, so she runs away to Portero, Texas to live with her aunt. Only Portero is full of portals to other worlds, where there are monsters and things that would terrify any normal person. Fortunately, Hanna is nowhere near normal.
This one is very different. Dark, weird, sexy, it sort of plunges you into the tale and let’s you figure things out as you go along. Some people may not dig that, but it can make for a compelling read. BLEEDING VIOLET comes out from Simon Pulse on January 5th.
There are just a few of the awesome books to start your new year! I hope yours is full of happiness and great reads!
Until next time…Rosemary Clement-Moore
Rosemary Clement-Moore writes Young Adult books because she loves to read them. Visit her webpage or blog to find out more about her award winning Maggie Quinn: Girl vs. Evil series, and her gothic romance, THE SPLENDOR FALLS.