This fall, we’re testing our general knowledge and hanging out with some of our fave authors in a three-part trivia series! Join us for part two on Wednesday, October 28th at 7pm EST on Zoom. We’ll be joined by Nina LaCour (Watch Over Me), Kate M. Williams (For Better or Cursed), and Renée Ahdieh (The Damned) who will be asking questions about ghosts, witches, and vampires. RSVP here and we’ll “see” you there!
Watch Over Me
By Nina LaCour
272 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267466 | Dutton BFYR
Mila is used to being alone. Maybe that’s why she said yes to the opportunity: living in this remote place, among the flowers and the fog and the crash of waves far below. But she hadn’t known about the ghosts. Newly graduated from high school, Mila has aged out of the foster care system. So, when she’s offered a job and a place to stay at a farm on an isolated part of the California Coast, she immediately accepts. Maybe she will finally find a new home, a real home. The farm is a refuge, but also haunted by the past traumas its young residents have come to escape. And Mila’s own terrible memories are starting to rise to the surface.
For Better or Cursed
By Kate M. Williams
384 Pages | 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525707417 | Delacorte BFYR
Esme Pearl’s life used to be all about bumming rides and babysitting. All that changed when Cassandra Heaven came to town, and they discovered their complicated, and connected, legacy: Esme and Cassandra are Sitters, supernaturally gifted teens armed with an ever-changing grimoire of Sitter witchcraft to help them protect the innocent and keep evil demons at bay. But just as Esme is starting to adjust to – and maybe even like – her new normal, life lobs another glitter bomb her way. The Synod – the Sitterhood’s governing circle – has called a Summit, a once-in-a-generation gathering that promises training, education, and whole lot of icebreakers. Esme should be excited – a Summit might mean she can finally get the answers she desperately wants – but she can’t shake a building sense of panic. Especially since Cassandra’s not acting like herself; Esme’s dad is MIA; Pig is out of dog food; Janis is scared to be alone; and there’s a guy who seems too good to be true, again. Worst of all, it soon becomes clear, there’s no one watching the kids. It’s obvious the Summit is a hot mess, but will it be a deadly one, too?
By Renée Ahdieh
416 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984812582 | Putnam BFYR
Following the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly. But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien. Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember; her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not ready to learn. Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart.
Halloween is just around the corner and this month we’ll be posting our recommended reads for all age ranges! Our YA list has something for everyone – hardcore horror fans, thriller enthusiasts, and scaredy-cats who just want something a little spine-tingly. Make sure to pick them up from your favorite bookstore for a sweet treat!
A Wicked Magic
By Sasha Laurens
368 Pages | 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593117255 | Razorbill
Dan and Liss are witches. The Black Book granted them that power. Harnessing that power feels good, especially when everything in their lives makes them feel powerless. During a spell gone wrong, Liss’s boyfriend is snatched away by an evil entity and presumed dead. Dan and Liss’s friendship dies that night, too. How can they practice magic after the darkness that they conjured? Months later, Liss discovers that her boyfriend is alive, trapped underground in the grips of an ancient force. She must save him, and she needs Dan and the power of the Black Book to do so. Dan is quickly sucked back into Liss’s orbit and pushes away her best friend, Alexa. But Alexa has some big secrets she’s hiding and her own unique magical disaster to deal with. When another teenager disappears, the girls know it’s no coincidence. What greedy magic have they awakened? And what does it want with these teens it has stolen?
Blood Will Out
By Jo Treggiari
256 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735262973 | Penguin Teen Canada
Ari Sullivan is alive — for now. She wakes at the bottom of a cistern, confused, injured and alone, with only the shadowy recollection of a low-pitched voice and a gloved hand. No one can hear her screams. And the person who put her there is coming back. The killer is planning a gruesome masterpiece, a fairy tale tableau of innocence and blood, meticulously designed. Until now, Ari was happy to spend her days pining for handsome, recent-arrival Stroud Bellows, fantasizing about their two-point-four-kids-future together. Safe in her small hometown of Dempsey Hollow. But now her community has turned very dangerous — and Ari may not be the only intended victim. Told in alternating perspectives of predator and prey, Blood Will Out is a gripping and terrifying read.
By Maren Stoffels
224 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593175941 | Underlined
Alissa, Sky, Miles and Mint are ready for a night of fun at the Escape Room.
Choose their game.
Get locked in a room.
Find the clues.
Solve the puzzles.
And escape the room in 60 minutes.
But what happens if the Game Master has no intention of letting them go?
By Michelle Knudsen
352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780763676407 | Candlewick
When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He’s really young, super cute, and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact, a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend — and, it seems, the entire student body — from the clutches of the evil librarian. Multitalented author Michelle Knudsen has crafted the perfect novel for teens who like their horror served up with a bit of romance, plenty of humor, and some pretty hot guys (of both the good and evil varieties).
Girls Save the World in This One
By Ash Parsons
432 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525515326 | Philomel BFYR
Mega-fan June Blue’s whole life has been leading up to this moment: ZombieCon! The Ultimate in Undead Entertainment has finally come to her hometown. She and her two best friends — gorgeous, brilliant Imani and super-sweet, outrageously silly Siggy — plan on hitting all the panels and photo ops, and meeting the heartthrob lead of their favorite zombie apocalypse show, Human Wasteland. It’s going to be the best time of their lives — and one of their last adventures before they all split up for college. When they arrive, everything seems perfect. June’s definitely not going to let anything get in the way of the flawless con experience — even though she’s endlessly anxious about the SATs and college admissions, and she can’t seem to avoid her ex-best friend Blair, whose VIP badge lets her walk straight to the front of every single line. No matter what, June is determined to make the best of her dream day at ZombieCon! But something’s not quite right at the con — there are strange people in hazmat suits running around, enthusiastic cosplayers taking their shambling a little too far, and someone actually biting a cast member. Then, at a panel gone wrong, June and her friends discover the truth: the zombie apocalypse is here. Now June, Imani, and Siggy must do whatever it takes to survive a horde of actual flesh-eating zombies — and save the world.
By Kat Ellis
304 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984814531 | Dial BFYR
Lola Nox is the daughter of a celebrated horror filmmaker — she thinks nothing can scare her. But when her father is brutally attacked in their New York apartment, she’s quickly packed off to live with a grandmother she’s never met in Harrow Lake, the eerie town where her father’s most iconic horror movie was shot. The locals are weirdly obsessed with the film that put their town on the map and there are strange disappearances, which the police seem determined to explain away. And there’s someone — or something — stalking her every move. The more Lola discovers about the town, the more terrifying it becomes. Because Lola’s got secrets of her own. And if she can’t find a way out of Harrow Lake, they might just be the death of her.
House of Salt and Sorrows
By Erin A. Craig
416 Pages | 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781984831958| Delacorte BFYR
Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor with her sisters, their father and stepmother. Once there were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last — the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge — and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods. Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that her sister’s deaths were no accidents. The girls have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who — or what — are they really dancing with? When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family — before it claims her next.
I Know You Remember
By Jennifer Donaldson
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781595148551 | Razorbill
Zahra Gaines is missing. After three long years away, Ruthie Hayden arrives in her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska to this devastating news. Zahra was Ruthie’s best friend — the only person who ever really understood her — and she vows to do whatever it takes to find her. Zahra vanished from a party just days before Ruthie’s return, but the more people she talks to, the more she realizes that the Zahra she knew disappeared long before that fateful night. Gone is the whimsical, artistic girl who loved books and knew Ruthie’s every secret. In her place is an athlete, a partier, a girl with secrets of her own. Darker still are the rumors that something happened to Zahra while Ruthie was gone, something that changed her forever . . . As Ruthie desperately tries to piece together the truth, she falls deeper and deeper into her friend’s new world, circling closer to a dangerous revelation about what happened to Zahra in the days before her disappearance — one that might be better off buried.
Lucy Crisp and the Vanishing House
By Janet Hill
240 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770499249 | Tundra Books
It has been a year since Lucy Crisp graduated from high school and she still hasn’t found her calling. That is, until she discovers an exclusive arts college called Ladywyck Lodge. On a whim, she applies and is thrilled to be accepted into their program. Lucy moves to Esther Wren, the charming little town where it’s based, and stays in the house her father buys as an investment: a magnificent building built by a sea captain in 1876. The house has history and personality — perhaps too much personality. . . Strange things start happening. Lucy hears voices and footsteps in empty rooms. She sees people and things that should not be there. Furniture disappears and elaborate desserts appear. What’s worse is that the strange events are not restricted to her house. Lucy begins to understand that the town and its inhabitants are hiding many secrets, and Ladywyck is at the heart. As the eerie happenings escalate, Lucy fears she is being threatened — but she is determined not to let fairy potions, spells and talk of witchcraft scare her away.
Rules for Vanishing
By Kate Alice Marshall
416 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984837011 | Viking BFYR
Once a year, a road appears in the forest. And at the end of it, the ghost of Lucy Gallows beckons. Lucy’s game isn’t for the faint of heart. If you win, you escape with your life. But if you lose . . . Sara’s sister disappeared one year ago — and only Sara knows where she is. Becca went to find the ghost of Lucy Gallows and is trapped on the road that leads to her. In the sleepy town of Briar Glen, Lucy’s road is nothing more than local lore. But Sara knows it’s real, and she’s going to find it. When Sara and her skeptical friends meet in the forest to search for Becca, the mysterious road unfurls before them. All they have to do is walk down it. But the path to Lucy is not of this world, and it has its own rules. Every mistake summons new horrors. Vengeful spirits and broken, angry creatures are waiting for them to slip, and no one is guaranteed safe passage. The only certainty is this: the road has a toll and it will be paid. Sara knows that if she steps onto the road, she might not come back. But Becca needs her. And Lucy is waiting.
Some Kind of Animal
By Maria Romasco-Moore
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984893543 | Delacorte BFYR
Jo lives in the same Appalachian town where her mother disappeared fifteen years ago. Everyone knows what happened to Jo’s mom. She was wild, and bad things happen to girls like that. Now people are starting to talk about Jo. She’s barely passing her classes and falls asleep at her desk every day. She’s following in her mom’s footsteps. Jo does have a secret. It’s not what people think, though. Not a boy or a drug habit. Jo has a twin sister. Jo’s sister is not like most people. She lives in the woods — catches rabbits with her bare hands and eats them raw. Night after night, Jo slips out of her bedroom window and meets her sister in the trees. And together they run, fearlessly. The thing is, no one’s ever seen Jo’s sister. So when her twin attacks a boy from town, everyone assumes that it was Jo. Which means Jo has to decide — does she tell the world about her sister, or does she run?
The Babysitters Coven
By Kate M. Williams
368 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780525707400 | Delacorte BFYR
Seventeen-year-old Esme Pearl has a babysitters club. She knows it’s kinda lame, but what else is she supposed to do? Get a job? Gross. Besides, Esme likes babysitting, and she’s good at it. And lately Esme needs all the cash she can get, because it seems like destruction follows her wherever she goes. Let’s just say she owes some people a new tree. Enter Cassandra Heaven. She’s Instagram-model hot, dresses like she found her clothes in a dumpster, and has a rebellious streak as gnarly as the cafeteria cooking. So why is Cassandra willing to do anything, even take on a potty-training two-year-old, to join Esme’s babysitters club? The answer lies in a mysterious note Cassandra’s mother left her: “Find the babysitters. Love, Mom.” Turns out, Esme and Cassandra have more in common than they think, and they’re about to discover what being a babysitter really means: a heroic lineage of superpowers, magic rituals, and saving the innocent from seriously terrifying evil. And all before the parents get home.
By Renée Ahdieh
448 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524738174 | Putnam BFYR
In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans is a safe haven after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent in the middle of the carnival season, Celine is quickly enraptured by the vibrant city, from its music to its fancy soirées — and even its danger. She becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s enigmatic leader, Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in Sébastien’s own lair — the second dead girl to turn up in recent weeks — Celine battles her attraction to Sébastien and suspicions about his guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret. After a third murder, New Orleans becomes gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose — one who has now set Celine in his sights. As the murderer stalks her, Celine finally takes matters into her own hands, only to find herself caught in the midst of an age-old feud between the darkest creatures of the night, where the price of forbidden love is her life.
By Katie Alender
448 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780399545917 | Putnam BFYR
The other orphans say Margot is lucky. Lucky to survive the horrible accident that killed her family. Lucky to have her own room because she wakes up screaming every night. And finally, lucky to be chosen by a prestigious family to live at their remote country estate. But it wasn’t luck that made the Suttons rescue Margot from her bleak existence at the group home. Margot was handpicked to be a companion to their silent, mysterious daughter, Agatha. At first, helping with Agatha — and getting to know her handsome older brother — seems much better than the group home. But soon, the isolated, gothic house begins playing tricks on Margot’s mind, making her question everything she believes about the Suttons . . . and herself. Margot’s bad dreams may have stopped when she came to live with Agatha — but the real nightmare has just begun.
The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim
By Shane Peacock
368 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735263116 | Penguin Teen Canada
Edgar Brim is a sensitive orphan who, exposed to horror stories from his father as a young child, is afraid of almost everything and suffers from nightly terrors. His stern new guardian, Mr. Thorne, sends the boy to a gloomy school in Scotland where his dark demons only seem to worsen, and he is bullied and ridiculed for his fears. But years later, when sixteen-year-old Edgar finds a journal belonging to his novelist father, he becomes determined to confront his nightmares and the bullies who taunt him. After the horrific death of a schoolmate, Edgar becomes involved with an eccentric society at the urging of a mysterious professor who believes that monsters from famous works of literature are real and whose mandate is to find and destroy these creatures. With the aid of a rag-tag crew of friends, the fear-addled teen sets about on his dark mission, one that begins in the cemetery on the bleak Scottish moors and ends in a spine-chilling climax on the stage of the Royal Lyceum Theatre in London with Henry Irving, the infamous and magnetic actor, and his manager, Bram Stoker, the author of the most frightening and sensational novel of the day, Dracula. Can Edgar Brim truly face his terror and conquer his fears?
By Linsey Miller
240 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593179789 | Underlined
Every year the senior class at Lincoln High plays assassin. Lia Prince has been planning her strategy for years and she’s psyched that not only does she finally get to play, she’s on a team with Devon Diaz. But this year, the game isn’t any fun — it’s real. Abby Ascher, Ben Barnard, and Cassidy Clarke have all turned up . . . dead. Can Lia stop the ABC killer before he reaches D?
By Danielle Vega
272 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780451481481 | Razorbill
Clean slate. That’s what Hendricks Becker-O’Malley’s parents said when they moved their family to the tiny town of Drearfield, New York. Hendricks wants to lay low and forget her dark, traumatic past. Forget him. But things don’t go as planned. Hendricks learns from new friends at school that Steele House — the fixer upper her parents are so excited about — is notorious in town. Local legend says it’s haunted. But Hendricks isn’t sure if it’s the demons of her past haunting her . . . or of the present. Voices whisper in her ear as she lays in bed. Doors lock on their own. And, then, one night, things take a violent turn. With help from the mysterious boy next door, Hendricks makes it her mission to take down the ghosts . . . if they don’t take her first.
The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand
By Nathan Page
Illustrated by Drew Shannon
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525646761 | Knopf BFYR
Pete and Alastair Montague are just a couple of mystery-solving twins, living an ordinary life. Or so they thought. After a strange storm erupts on a visit to the beach, they discover there is more to their detective skills than they had thought. Their guardian, David Faber, a once prominent professor, has been keeping secrets about their parents and what the boys are truly capable of. At the same time, three girls go missing after casting a mysterious spell, which sets in motion a chain of events that takes their small town down an unexpected path. With the help of David’s daughter, Charlie, they discover there are forces at work that they never could have imagined, which will impact their lives forever.
The Price Guide to the Occult
By Leslye Walton
288 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781536204254 | Candlewick
When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred-some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it. In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author — Nor’s own mother — looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness.
By Natasha Preston
384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593124963 | Delacorte BFYR
After their parents divorced, ten-year-old twins Ivy and Iris were split up — Ivy lived with Dad, Iris with Mom. Now, after a tragic accident takes their mom’s life, the twins are reunited and Iris moves in with Ivy and their dad. Devastated over Mom’s death, Iris spends the first few weeks in almost total silence — the only person she will speak to is Ivy. Iris feels her life is over and she doesn’t know what to do. Ivy promises her twin that she can share her life now. After all, they’re sisters. Twins. It’s a promise that Iris takes seriously. And before long, Ivy’s friends, her life at school, and her boyfriend, Tyler, fall under Iris’s spell. Slowly, Ivy realizes she’s being pushed out of her own life. But she’s just being paranoid, right? And Mom’s accident was . . . just an accident. Right? It’s not like she or Dad — or Tyler — are in any danger. . .
Check out our #HalloweenAtHome page for more ideas to celebrate including bookish costumes and activities!
Need some plans this long weekend? Join us for our first ever HerStory Tea Time on Monday, October 12 at 12pm PST/3pm EST! We’ll be chatting all things historical fiction with some incredible YA authors including Elizabeth Wein (The EnigmaGame), Sherri L. Smith (The Blossom and the Firefly), Virginia Frances Schwartz (Among the Fallen), and Stacey Lee (The Downstairs Girl). Make sure to RSVP here to get the link!
The Enigma Game
By Elizabeth Wein
448 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735265288 | Penguin Teen Canada
A German soldier risks his life to drop off the sought-after Enigma Machine to British Intelligence, hiding it in a pub in a small town in northeast Scotland, and unwittingly bringing together four very different people who decide to keep it to themselves. Louisa Adair, a young teen girl hired to look after the pub owner’s elderly, German-born aunt, Jane Warner, finds it but doesn’t report it. Flight-Lieutenant Jamie Beaufort-Stuart intercepts a signal but can’t figure it out. Ellen McEwen, volunteer at the local airfield, acts as the go-between and messenger, after Louisa involves Jane in translating. The planes under Jamie’s command seem charmed, as Jamie knows where exactly to go, while other squadrons suffer, and the four are loathe to give up the machine, even after Elisabeth Lind from British Intelligence arrives, even after the Germans start bombing the tiny town.
The Blossom and the Firefly
By Sherri L. Smith
320 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524737900 | Putnam BFYR
Japan 1945. Taro is a talented violinist and a kamikaze pilot in the days before his first and only mission. He believes he is ready to die for his country . . . until he meets Hana. Hana hasn’t been the same since the day she was buried alive in a collapsed trench during a bomb raid. She wonders if it would have been better to have died that day . . . until she meets Taro. Here, with achingly beautiful prose, Smith weaves a tale of love in the face of death, of hope in the face of tragedy, set against a backdrop of the waning days of the Pacific War.
Among the Fallen
By Virginia Frances Schwartz
304 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823441020 | Holiday House
Though haunted by nightmarish flashbacks and withering in the miserable conditions of Tothill prison, an infamous Victorian workhouse, Orpha perseveres, doing what she can to befriend and protect the other girls imprisoned alongside her. She doesn’t speak about what happened – no one would listen. No one would believe her. But then a mysterious letter arrives, offering her a place at Urania cottage. This experimental home aims to rehabilitate so-called fallen women – many of them victims of sexual abuse, suffering not only the trauma of their experiences, but the blame and loss of reputation and livelihood. It sounds too good to be true – but with nowhere else to go, Orpha decides to take her chance. Soon she discovers her unknown savior is none other than Charles Dickens, whose writing deals extensively with the plight of the lower class, and whose friendship and guidance offers Orpha a new way to express herself. With the support of the other women of Urania and the promise of a real future, Orpha will have to confront the darkest parts of her past – and let go of her secrets.
The Downstairs Girl
By Stacey Lee
384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524740955 | Putnam BFYR
By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light. With prose that is witty, insightful, and at times heartbreaking, Stacey Lee masterfully crafts an extraordinary social drama set in the New South.
Happy Friday! We have a very special treat for you today – we’re revealing the stunning cover for Rising Like a Storm, the epic sequel to Tanaz Bhathena’s Hunted by the Sky! It comes out on June 22, 2021 and we’re already dying for it. Scroll down to see Gul in all her glory, plus a Q&A with Tanaz and BookRiot contributor (and librarian!) Lucas Maxwell!
Q&A with Tanaz Bhathena and Lucas Maxwell
Lucas: Did designing this book cover during the pandemic present any challenges?
Tanaz: There were definite challenges as the cover for HUNTED BY THE SKY was based off a photoshoot with a model (Tara Gupta) and we couldn’t safely do that during a pandemic. Thankfully my cover designer at Macmillan, Beth Clark, is a genius! She used a photo from the old shoot and designed it to perfectly capture the themes of RISING LIKE A STORM.
Lucas: The Wrath of Ambar duology is inspired by stories from medieval India, what attracted you to them and what impact do these stories have on you as a writer?
Tanaz: I was always drawn to medieval India as a kid, whether it came to TV shows or even history class. I was fascinated by stories about the Mughals, Rajputs, and the Marathas, the opulent medieval courts, the wars for succession, the many kingdoms rising and falling. My research also led me to powerful women (warriors and politicians) during this time period and I felt a deep sense of pride and joy in discovering these historical figures. India has such a rich pre-colonial history and I really wanted to showcase some of that by writing this historical fantasy.
Lucas: What do you enjoy most about creating a world like Svapnalok?
Tanaz: Just getting immersed into this world which is so closely intertwined with my culture and who I am as a person.
Lucas: Did writing this duology help you reconnect with your past?
Tanaz: It did! I’m a Parsi (Indian Zoroastrian) and I discovered several interesting anecdotes about Parsis across Indian history during my research.
Lucas: What do you hope readers take away from the Wrath of Ambar duology?
Tanaz: I hope they find a world they can escape to – especially during this pandemic – and enjoy spending time with these characters as much as I did!
Thanks Tanaz and Lucas for joining us today!
P.S. Head to this form to sign up for a chance to get an e-ARC of Rising Like a Storm as soon as it’s available!
By Tanaz Bhathena
384 Pages | Ages 12+| Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267022 | Penguin Teen Canada
Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul’s mark is what caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge.
Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets a mysterious girl – Gul – in the capital’s bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance – and discovers a magic he never expected to find.
Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king’s domain in Ambar Fort . . . a world with secrets deadlier than their own. Exploring identity, class struggles, and high-stakes romance, Hunted by the Sky is a gripping adventure set in a world inspired by medieval India.
We asked author Jennifer Niven (All the Bright Places, Holding Up the Universe) for a guest post today and she delivered! Not only did she provide an excellent dream cast for an adaptation of her upcoming novel, Breathless, but she also gave us an inside look at how personal Breathless is to her – and how sometimes art seems to imitate life.
I almost always write my books with actors in mind for the characters. Particularly when the book is so personal—as Breathless is—it helps give me enough objectivity to write the character. Hopefully we will see Breathless on the big screen. If so, my dream is to cast the actors I had in mind while writing the book—assuming, of course, I’d have an unlimited budget and ultimate power to make those decisions!
For Claude Henry, I envision the amazing Sophia Lillis (I Am Not Okay With This). To me, she is Claude— freckles, short red hair, fire, emotional depth, attitude, and all. For the dreamy and charismatic Jeremiah Crew (who was inspired by my own dreamy and charismatic husband), I picture the magnetic Rudy Pankow (Outer Banks) or multi-talented Luke Eisner (Tall Girl).
For Claude’s no-nonsense best friend, Saz, I imagine someone like Maitreyi Ramakrishnan (Never Have I Ever). For Claude’s mom, Lauren, I see Alicia Silverstone or Drew Barrymore.
For her dad, Neil, I picture Michael Sheen. For Wyatt Jones, her hometown crush, Reece King or Chance Perdomo (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina).
Keith L. Williams
And as for the young people she befriends on the island—Sofia Hasmik (All the Bright Places) as Wednesday, Ross Lynch (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) as Grady, and an older Keith L. Williams (Good Boys) as Emory. And as Jared I see the person who inspired the character—a real-life reader and friend named Jared whom I wrote into the story. 🙂
At the end of my senior year of high school, days after I turned eighteen, my dad told me that he and my mom were splitting up. All my life, it had been the three of us—Mom, Dad, me. My parents were everything. And suddenly, my world turned upside down.
Years later, I visited an island off the coast of Georgia to write this book and met my now husband. He is that barefoot boy of nature who inspired Jeremiah Crew. The one who taught me how to find shark teeth. The adventures in the book are adventures my husband and I had while we were falling in love.
So Breathless is personal both to the teenage Jennifer and the adult Jennifer in ways I never saw coming when I first began working on the story of a girl named Claude whose parents separate days after her high school graduation.
Here’s a little breakdown of just some of the ways in which it’s personal…
Then (teen Jennifer):
I grew up in a small Midwestern town with a gay best friend. We constantly dreamed of leaving that town and going out into the world together in pursuit of our big dreams.
My parents and I moved there from somewhere else when I was ten.
Like Claude, I’m an only child.
The Joy Ann Cake Shop was the bakery in our town. Their specialty was thumbprint cookies. J
A week before my high school graduation, my dad came into my room to tell me that he and my mom were splitting up. He also asked me not to tell anyone about the impending separation, not even my best friend.
Five days after graduation, my mom and I moved away from my hometown, my best friend, all my friends, the boy I liked, my dad, my dog, and my home. Whereas Claude and her mom go to a remote GA island for the summer, my mom and I went to the remote NC mountains.
That was the summer I had sex for the first time.
It was also the summer I really started writing seriously and began finding my voice. (Although instead of a novel, it was a play about Zelda Fitzgerald.)
Now (adult Jennifer):
I traveled to Cumberland Island—one of the islands that inspired the setting for the book—and met my husband, Justin Conway. The real-life Jeremiah Crew. (I had named the character long before I met my husband.) The only notable difference—apart from being older than Claude and Miah— is that there was no Wednesday, he didn’t pull me from the water after I’d swum out too far, and we’ve never actually argued.
I wrote Jeremiah Crew before I even knew my husband, but in addition to having the same initials, there are so many eerie similarities, almost as if I conjured him—walking barefoot all over the island, similar backstory in terms of family troubles and having to raise his siblings, becoming sober, having to grow up too fast and be responsible at a young age.
Every adventure we have in the book (except for the bike riding one) is an adventure my husband and I had while we were falling in love. The fireflies guiding our way through the dark. Wandering the grounds of the ruins at night. Long beach walks under a blood moon. Waiting for the turtles to appear. Sinking into the pluff mud (me in my sundress and rain boots, him in his Ranger Panties, the same shorts Jeremiah wears in the book). Getting trapped in a basement with the ghost of a woman who loves jewelry. All the things we shared with each other when no one else was listening.
We agreed from the first day we met to always, always share everything about ourselves, just like Claude and Miah do.
He taught me how to hunt for shark teeth by making circles in the sand.
He carried me through the creek when the tide came in and the water was too high.
There is an inn on Cumberland and ruins on Cumberland, but a lot of the setting—including the Geechee culture— is also inspired by Sapelo Island, where we’ve spent some time as well.
Jared is a real person—a devoted reader of All the Bright Places who works at the inn on Cumberland Island.
Wednesday is a reader who won an auction to appear as a character in the book.
Claude’s relationship with her mom is very similar to mine with my mom. All my life we’ve always been Penny and Jennifer, Jennifer and Penny. The Niven women.
Much of the family history of the Blackwoods comes from my own Niven family history.
Now my husband and I live part-time in Los Angeles and part-time in coastal Georgia, just fifteen minutes from Cumberland Island by boat. We still go over and hunt for treasure and wade through the pluff mud and walk the beach under blood moons whenever we can. <3
By Jennifer Niven
400 Pages | Ages 14+
ISBN 9781524701963 | Knopf Books for Young Readers Before: With graduation on the horizon, budding writer Claudine Henry is making plans: college in the fall, become a famous author, and maybe–finally–have sex. She doesn’t even need to be in love. Then her dad drops a bombshell: he’s leaving Claude’s mother. Suddenly, Claude’s entire world feels like a lie, and her future anything but under control. After: Claude’s mom whisks them away to the last place Claude could imagine nursing a broken heart: a remote, mosquito-infested island off the coast of Georgia. But then Jeremiah Crew happens. Miah is a local trail guide with a passion for photography–and a past he doesn’t like to talk about. He’s brash and enigmatic, and even more infuriatingly, he’s the only one who seems to see Claude for who she wants to be. So when Claude decides to sleep with Miah, she tells herself it’s just sex, nothing more. There’s not enough time to fall in love, especially if it means putting her already broken heart at risk.