November 2018

The Archives




  • Deadly decadent courts, Espionage, Fantasy, Horror, Mysteries, New, Nicola, zombies

    New books

    30.11.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAnna and the apocalypse, Katherine Turner

    Anna Shepherd is a straight-A student with a lot going on under the surface: she’s struggling with her mom’s death, total friend drama, and the fallout from wasting her time on a very attractive boy. She’s looking forward to skipping town after graduation―but then a zombie apocalypse majorly disrupts the holidays season. It’s going to be very hard to graduate high school without a brain. To save the day, Anna, her friends, and her frenemies will have to journey straight to the heart of one of the most dangerous places ever known, a place famous for its horror, terror, and pain…high school. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDr Fuddle and the gold baton, Warren L. Woodruff

    When the dark musician Jedermann and fierce Seirens of Dis gain control of the legendary gold baton, Tyler, his sister Christina, and their friends are drawn into a perilous adventure foretold by an ancient prophecy. Guided by the mythical Dr. Fuddle, the explorers must leave Earth and journey to Orphea. Will the Messengers of Music be able to save the world of the immortal composers from chaos and destruction? For them to have even a chance at victory, they must master the most difficult instruments of all — themselves. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCrown of thunder, Tochi Onyebuchi

    Taj is headed west, but the consequences of leaving Kos behind confront him at every turn. Innocent civilians flee to refugee camps as Karima’s dark magic continues to descend on the city. Taj must return, but first he needs a plan. With Arzu’s help, Taj and Aliya make it to the village of her ancestors, home of the tastahlik-sin-eaters with Taj’s same ability to both battle and call forth sins. As Taj comes to terms with his new magic, he realizes there are two very different groups of tastahlik-one using their powers for good, the other for more selfish ends. Aliya is struggling with her own unique capabilities. She’s immersed in her work to uncover the secret to Karima’s magic, but her health begins to mysteriously deteriorate. With the help of a local western mage, Aliya uncovers her true destiny-a future she’s not sure she wants. As Taj and Aliya explore their feelings for each other and Arzu connects with her homeland, the local westerners begin to question Taj’s true identity. Karima is on his heels, sending dark warnings to the little village where he’s hiding. Taj will have to go back and face her before she sends her mostly deadly weapon-Taj’s former best friend, Bo. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAn assassin’s guide to love and treason, Virginia Boecker

    When Lady Katherine’s father is killed for being an illegally practicing Catholic, she discovers treason wasn’t the only secret he’s been hiding: he was also involved in a murder plot against the reigning Queen Elizabeth I. With nothing left to lose, Katherine disguises herself as a boy and travels to London to fulfill her father’s mission, and to take it one step further–kill the queen herself. Katherine’s opportunity comes in the form of William Shakespeare’s newest play, which is to be performed in front of Her Majesty. But what she doesn’t know is that the play is not just a play. It’s a plot to root out insurrectionists and destroy the rebellion once and for all. The mastermind behind this ruse is Toby Ellis, a young spy for the queen with secrets of his own. When Toby and Katherine are cast opposite each other as the play’s leads, they find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another. But the closer they grow, the more precarious their positions become. And soon they learn that star-crossed love, mistaken identity, and betrayal are far more dangerous off the stage than on. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe lost witch, Melvin Burgess

    Bea has started to hear and see things that no one else can — creatures, voices, visions. Then strangers visit Bea and tell her she is different: she has the rare powers of a witch. They warn her she is being hunted. Her parents think she is hallucinating and needs help. All Bea wants to do is get on with her life, and to get closer to Lars, the mysterious young man she has met at the skate park. But her life is in danger, and she must break free. The question is — who can she trust? (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNight Flights, Phillip Reeve

    In a dangerous future world where gigantic, motorized cities attack and devour each other, London hunts where no other predator dares. But Anna Fang — pilot, adventurer, spy — isn’t afraid. These three stories show gripping, moving, exciting moments in Anna Fang’s life: her childhood as a slave aboard the moving city Arkangel, a showdown against a robotic Stalker that is terrifyingly out of control, and her free life as an intelligence agent for the Anti-Traction league…(Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDance of Thieves, Mary E. Pearson

    A formidable outlaw family that claims to be the first among nations. A son destined to lead, thrust suddenly into power. Three fierce young women of the Rahtan, the queen’s premier guard. A legendary street thief leading a mission, determined to prove herself. A dark secret that is a threat to the entire continent. A dark secret that is a threat to the entire continent. When outlaw leader meets reformed thief, a cat-and-mouse game of false moves ensues, bringing them intimately together in a battle that may cost them their lives–and their hearts. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsShe is fierce: brave, bold and beautiful poems by women, collected by Ana Sampson

    She is Fierce is a powerful collection of 150 poems written by women – from classic, much loved poets to bold modern voices. Collected by poet Ana Sampson, this collection celebrates the centenary of women’s suffrage at a time when we are still having important conversations about women’s right to be treated as equals. It speaks of universal experiences and emotions. She is Fierce contains an inclusive array of voices, from modern and contemporary poets such as Maya Angelou and Grace Nichols to poets from previous centuries including Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti, Ella Wheeler Wilcox and Charlotte Bronte. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSalt to the sea, Ruth Septys

    World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom. When their paths converge in route to the ship that promises salvation, Joana, Emilia, and Florian find their strength, courage, and trust in one another tested with each step closer toward safety. When tragedy strikes the Wilhelm Gustloff, they must fight for the same thing: survival. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSeafire, Natalie C. Parker

    After her family is killed by corrupt warlord Aric Athair and his bloodthirsty army of Bullets, Caledonia Styx is left to chart her own course on the dangerous and deadly seas. She captains her ship, the Mors Navis , with a crew of girls and women just like her, who have lost their families and homes because of Aric and his men. The crew has one mission: stay alive, and take down Aric’s armed and armored fleet. But when Caledonia’s best friend and second-in-command barely survives an attack thanks to help from a Bullet looking to defect, Caledonia finds herself questioning whether to let him join their crew. Is this boy the key to taking down Aric Athair once and for all…or will he threaten everything the women of the Mors Navis have worked for? he first in a heart-stopping trilogy that recalls the undeniable feminine power of Wonder Woman and the powder-keg action of Mad Max: Fury Road , Seafire reminds us of the importance of sisterhood and unity in the face of oppression and tyranny. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEmpress of all seasons, Emiko Jean

    Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple: survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. Only the yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits, are not eligible to compete. Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress– but she is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. Her fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast. Their choices will ultimately decide the fate of Honoku. (Publisher summary)


  • Deadly decadent courts, dystopia, Fantasy, Mysteries, Nicola, realistic fiction

    New books

    19.11.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe healer, Donna Freitas

    Marlena Oliveira’s entire life has centered on her identity as a Healer. Her touch has the power to cure a variety of afflictions, but she has grown up sheltered, homeschooled, and friendless, forbidden to touch others lest it damage her ability. Her existence has consisted of portraying a saintly image and meeting with the weekly audiences her mother sets up. Now 18, she begins to visit a neuroscientist, Angela, who’s interested in studying her brain-visits that begin as small rebellions quickly give way to a world of text messaging, bikinis, and boys, including Finn, a young graduate student who captivates Marlena with his intelligence and his smile. Yet Marlena knows that her desire to live a normal life is completely at odds with the responsibilities of her gift. (Adapted from Publisher weekly.)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBright ruin, Vic James

    The rules are simple, the system cruel: the lower classes must give ten years in service to Britain’s powerfully gifted rulers. With one uprising crushed by the glittering elite, commoners and aristocrats alike now take sides for a final confrontation. At the center of it all are two ordinary siblings: Abi Hadley and her brother, Luke. Each has reason to hate the ruling Jardine family. Abi, who was once their servant, now seeks revenge for a terrible wrong. Luke was imprisoned on their whim–but his only hope may be an alliance with the youngest and most powerful of the clan, the cold and inscrutable Silyen Jardine. Risking everything to end a bright and shining tyranny, Abi, Luke, and Silyen find themselves bound by a single destiny. Their actions will change their fates–and change the world. But at a cost almost too terrible to contemplate. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDagger and coin, Kathy MacMillan

    Soraya Gamo was meant to be queen of Qilara, until an Arnath slave rebellion upended the social order and destroyed the capital city. Now, improbably, she sits on the new ruling council beside Mati, Raisa, and Jonis from Sword and Verse, and must work with her former enemies. She finally holds the political power she always wanted–but over a nation in ruins. As she helps to rebuild Qilara, she can, at last, use what everyone once told her to hide: her brain. But not everyone is ready to accept that the Arnathim are no longer enslaved to the Qilarites. So when a slave ship arrives in the city, full of Arnathim captured before Qilara fell, the civil unrest that has been bubbling since the rebellion erupts. Forced to confront her own prejudices, Soraya struggles to gain the trust of the Arnath people she once disregarded and establish peace in what has become chaos. With the threat of attacks high, Gelti, a former guard captain, trains Soraya in self-defense. As the two grow close, tension within the city ramps up, with danger, betrayal, and deception meeting Soraya everywhere she turns. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDonato and the cartege blade, Fiona Jordan

    Donato has spent most of his life in a monastery, helping Cook in the kitchen, serving the monks at mealtimes and trying to avoid the abbot, Brother Benito. His only comfort is time spent with his protector, Brother Francesco, and trips to the top of the church spire. It is the only life he knows, but it is not the one he wants. Donato dreams of castles and adventure, where he is certain he would matter; that his life would somehow have greater meaning. When the monks travel into Dhogra’s city centre to celebrate the Spring Festival, Donato is permitted to go too, but when he gets separated from Brother Francesco, he finds himself inside the castle walls. Spying an unguarded entrance, his fascination pulls him deep into the castle’s dark passages, but he’s not alone. An overheard conversation convinces Donato the King’s life is at risk and he is the only one who can stop the assassin. This decision plunges Donato into a new and unfamiliar world of rivalry and deception. He is set on a path of new friendships and new enemies, and to a destiny he could never have imagined. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLast seen, Sara Shephard

    Shy and musically gifted nine-year-old Damien Dover went missing from his home in the Catskills two months ago. The trail has gone cold, with no new leads. When the killer they know all too well tasks Seneca, Maddox, and Madison with solving the case and finding the boy, they can’t imagine what his interest in the tragedy could be. But with Aerin kidnapped and at the twisted mastermind’s mercy, her friends have no choice but to play his game and try to solve the puzzle. As the three amateur sleuths hit the Jersey Shore to gather clues, they begin to uncover the true background of the killer, and the horrors that shaped him into who he is. The scavenger hunt leads them to a serial criminal, a former victim, and dark secrets they could never have seen coming. Aerin struggles to play nice with the person who killed her sister while her friends work feverishly against the ticking clock to save her life. Every clue they uncover leads them closer to Aerin–and to the killer. But will he really let Aerin go… or does he have one more murderous surprise in store?(Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsArchenemies, Marissa Meyer

    Nova’s double life is about to get a lot more complicated:As Insomnia, she is a full-fledged member of the Renegades, a syndicate of powerful and beloved superheroes. She works with Adrian’s patrol unit to protect the weak and maintain order in Gatlon City. As Nightmare, she is an Anarchist – a group of of villains who are determined to destroy the Renegades. Nova wants vengeance against the so-called heroes who once failed her when she needed them most. But as Nova, her feelings for Adrian are deepening, despite the fact that he is the son of her sworn enemies and, unbeknownst to Nova, he has some dangerous secrets of his own. In this second installment of the Renegades trilogy, Nova, Adrian, and the rest of their crew – Ruby, Oscar, and Danna — are faced with escalating crime in Gatlon City, while covert weapons and conflicting missions have Nova and Adrian questioning not only their beliefs about justice, but also the feelings they have for each other. The line between good and evil has been blurred, but what’s clear to them both is that too much power could mean the end of their city – and the world – as they know it. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGirls of paper and fire, Natasha Ngan

    Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire. In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest. Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.


  • Graphic Novels, Nicola

    Remembering Stan Lee (1922-2018)

    13.11.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on Remembering Stan Lee (1922-2018)

    Comic book legend Stan Lee died today. He’s responsible (either alone or in collaboration with various artists and writers) for Marvel luminaries such as the X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Black Panther and Spiderman. Try to imagine the past ten years without a MCU movie – it almost doesn’t bear thinking about! Stan Lee not only created these characters, he created a sandbox for other writers and artists to present their own unique takes on each character. Some comic fans may notice that the characters featured in the display aren’t in their original incarnations. As the years have gone by, these characters have changed too, reflecting societal change and new ideas. But Stan Lee started it. The literary world (and comics are literature, fight me) is much poorer with his loss but all the greater for his influence.


  • Classic novels, GLBT, Great Reads, Librarian's Choice, New, Nicola, realistic fiction, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    YA classics (part one)

    12.11.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on YA classics (part one)

    I tend to feature a lot of new books on this blog but perhaps it’s time to highlight some YA “classics”.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Outsiders, S.E Hinton (1967)

    This is the archetypal story of young men living on the wrong side of the tracks, as defined by an often hostile society. Told from the perspective of Ponyboy, a member of a gang of Greasers who details their rivalry with the “socs” another gang, and the disaster and violence their conflict causes. There are plot elements which would be familiar to readers today; abusive or neglectful parents, class differences, crime and the strength people draw from their friends.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsI am the cheese, Robert Cormier (1977)

    I’ve never read a book quite like I am the cheese. It’s a twisting, complex tale of identity and corruption, told through the eyes of a young boy who has witnessed something truly traumatic and must deal with the consequences. To describe it any further would spoil the plot, so if you are intrigued, I suggest you pick it up. I think the only book that comes vaguely close is E. Lockhart’s We were liars, although the stakes are much, much higher in Cormier’s book.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSkellig, David Almond (1998)

    Magical realism is a common genre for YA fiction at the moment but Skellig was a pioneer in the genre. It manages to capture the soaring heights of the “magical” whilst also effectively depicting the realism; the two are beautifully balanced. The main character, Michael, is struggling to cope in a new home and with a baby sister who is dangerously ill. Then he finds a strange creature – possibly angelic, but never defined- in his shed, the titular Skellig. The two plots interweave and it’s a particular favourite of mine.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAnnie on my mind, Nancy Garden (1982)

    LGBTQ fiction has come along way since 1982 but Annie on my mind was groundbreaking when it was first published. That being said, the themes of love, heartbreak and identity are still being written about. It’s worth reading anyway, if only to see how far writing on these themes have come. It’s also 48 on the ALA’s most challenged books from 1990 – 2000.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNoughts and Crossses, Malorie Blackman (2002)

    Examinations of race and racism are coming to the forefront of YA fiction; The Hate u give by Angie Thomas is probably the most recent and most well-known of these books. But before then, the Noughts and Crosses series examined race relations with a twist – in this alternate universe, noughts (people with white skin) are disadvantaged and crosses (people of colour) occupy positions of ultimate privilege. It’s also a love story, thriller, and a brilliant read. It’s also the first book in a series.


  • Art, Books, Exclusive academies for rich kids who form cliques, Fantasy, Mysteries, New, New Zealand, Nicola, realistic fiction

    New books

    09.11.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIt ends with you, S.K. Wright

    Everyone loves Eva. Beautiful, bright, fun, generous – she’s perfect. So when her dead body is found in a ditch in the local woods the only thing anyone wants to know is: Who could have done this? It has to be Luke, her boyfriend. He has the motive, the means, the opportunity and he’s no stranger to the police. Even though the picture is incomplete, the pieces fit. But as time passes, stories change. Told from six narrative strands, this cleverly woven and utterly compulsive novel challenges preconceptions; makes you second, third and fourth guess yourself; and holds an uncomfortable mirror up to the way societies and systems treat those they perceive to be on the outside. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMuse of nightmares, Laini Taylor

    Neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep. Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice: save the woman he loves, or everyone else. Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of. As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, as forgotten doors are opened, the question arises: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead? (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTruly devious, Maureen Johnson

    Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.” Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history. True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWe’ll fly away, Bryan Bliss

    Best friends since childhood, Luke and Toby have dreamed of one thing: getting out of their dead-end town. Soon they finally will, riding the tails of Luke’s wrestling scholarship, never looking back. If they don’t drift apart first. If Toby’s abusive dad, or Luke’s unreliable mom, or anything else their complicated lives throw at them doesn’t get in the way. Tense and emotional, this hard-hitting novel explores family abuse, sex, love, and friendship, and how far people will go to protect those they love. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBlood water paint, Joy McCullough

    Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice- a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father’s paint. She chose paint. By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome’s most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice- a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe summoner’s handbook, Taran Matharu

    Summoner: One who is gifted with the ability to summon demonic creatures that are emotionally connected to their human counterparts. As brought to life in the bestselling Summoner series, the magic of summoning is also an art, with a story of its own. The Summoner’s Handbook reveals the epic journal of James Baker, who inspired the series hero, Fletcher, to discover his own summoning abilities. Along with a complete illustrated demonology, a guide to the basics of summoning and glorious artwork from the world of the Hominum Empire, you’ll learn everything a Summoner should know, and more. Beautifully rendered in two tone colours and full of detailed sketches, this hardback is the perfect treat for new and old fans. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFlight of the fantail, Steph Matuku

    A busload of high school students crashes in the bush in a remote part of Aotearoa, New Zealand. Only a few of the teenagers survive; they find their phones don’t work, there’s no food, and they’ve only got their wits to keep them alive. There’s also something strange happening here. Why are the teenagers having nosebleeds and behaving erratically, and why is the rescue effort slow to arrive? To make it out, they have to discover what’s really going on and who or what is behind it all. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhat the night sings, Vesper Stamper

    Liberated from Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp in 1945, Gerta has lost her family and everything she knew. Without her Papa, her music, or even her true identity, she must move past the task of surviving and onto living her life. Gerta meets Lev, a fellow teen survivor, and Michah, who helps Jews reach Palestine. With a newfound Jewish identity she never knew she had, and a return to the life of music she thought she lost forever, Gerta must choose how to build a new future.(Publisher summary)