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  • Comics, dystopia, GLBT, Mysteries, New, Nicola, Sci Fi

    New Books

    05.04.18 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSightwitch, Susan Dennard

    Set a year before Truthwitch, Sightwitch follows Ryber Fortiza, the last Sightwitch Sister as she treks deep underground to rescue her missing best friend. While there, she encounters a young Nubrevnan named Kullen Ikray, who has no memory of who he is or how he wound up inside the mountain. From the New York Times bestselling author of Windwitch Susan Dennard, an illustrated prequel novella set in the Witchlands setting up the forthcoming hotly anticipated Bloodwitch. (Publisher information)

    First lines: You don’t remember me, do you, Kullen?
    I’m familiar though. When I walked into the Cleaved Man, you squinted your eyes as if there was something in my face you knew. Something that made you rub that scar on your chest. Don’t you wonder how you got that scar?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDon’t cosplay with my heart, Cecil Castellucci

    Edan Kupferman’s life is coming apart: her father is being “sequestered” because the company he works for in Hollywood is in legal trouble, her best friend is in Japan for the summer, and the boy she has a crush on is just plain confusing, so she escapes into the world of comics, and her favorite character, Gargantua–but when Kirk, a boy from her high school, gets her into the sold out ComicCon it starts to look like she might, with a little help, be able to take control of her life after all. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: it’s no wonder when I see the cheap Gargantua mask I picked up on Free Comic Book Day this past spring on my desk, I put it on and leave it on when I am called down to dinner. Gargantua, my favorite character from Team Tomorrow, is ten feet tall and so is the size of my being pissed off at everything right now.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe price guide to the occult, Leslye Walton

    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. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: They have been called many things.
    Years ago, when their nomadic ways led them north to where the mountains were covered in ice and the winter nights were long, the villagers called to them , “Häxa, Häxa!” and left gifts of lutfisk and thick elk skins.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe fandom, Anna Day

    Violet’s in her element – cosplay at the ready, she can’t wait to feel part of her favourite fandom: The Gallow’s Dance, a mega-story and movie franchise. But at Comic Con, a freak accident transports Violet and her friends into the The Gallows Dance for real – and in the first five minutes, they’ve caused the death of the heroine. It’s up to Violet to take her place, and play out the plot the way it was written. But stories have a life of their own…(Publisher summary)

    First lines: I begin to stand, realize my maxi skirt has stuck to my thighs, and subtly unpeel the cotton from my skin.
    “Go for it,” Katie whispers.
    I don’t reply. Why did I volunteer to do this stupid presentation?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhat goes up, Katie Kennedy

    Rosa and Eddie are among hundreds of teens applying to NASA’s mysterious Interworlds Agency. They’re not exactly sure what the top-secret program entails, but they know they want in. Rosa has her brilliant parents’ legacies to live up to, and Eddie has nowhere else to go–he’s certainly not going to stick around and wait for his violent father to get out of jail. Even if they are selected, they have no idea what lies in store. But first they have to make it through round after round of crazy-competitive testing. And then something happens that even NASA’s scientists couldn’t predict…(Publisher summary)

    First lines: NASA stored the future in a hangar in Iowa. Rosa Hayashi’s future, anyway. The tryouts for a position with the Interworlds Agency would take two days, but they started now. Rosa stepped into the hangar and didn’t wait for her eyes to adjust. She found a seat and bounced a pencil on her leg while waited for the future to catch up with her.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA very, very bad thing, Jeffery Self

    Marley is one of the only gay kids in his North Carolina town — and he feels like he might as well be one of the only gay kids in the universe. Or at least that’s true until Christopher shows up in the halls of his high school. Christopher’s great to talk to, great to look at, great to be with-and he seems to feel the same way about Marley. It’s almost too good to be true. There’s a hitch (of course): Christopher’s parents are super conservative, and super not okay with him being gay. That doesn’t stop Marley and Christopher from falling in love. Marley is determined to be with Christopher through ups and downs-until an insurmountable down is thrown their way. Suddenly, Marley finds himself lying in order to get to the truth-and seeing the suffocating consequences this can bring

    First lines: I am not a bad person. I’m not a great person, either, but not bad. No matter what I did.
    Stupid? Yes.
    Desperate? Yes.
    Completely and totally lost beyond all belief? Abso-damn-lutely.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe extinction trials, S.M. Wilson

    Stormchaser wants to escape her starved, grey life. Lincoln wants to save his dying sister. Their only chance is to join an expedition to a deadly country to steal the eggs of vicious dinosaurs. If they succeed, their reward is a new life filled with riches. But in a land full of monsters – both human and reptilian – only the ruthless will survive. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: She couldn’t see him. She didn’t even know he was there. Lincoln pressed herself against the dark red walls of the cave. Maybe it was the artificial light that made her look so unwell. They’d been rushed out of their old home and moved into this one so quickly that he couldn’t even remember when he’d last seen his sister in natural daylight.


  • Comedy, Comics, Graphic Novels, Librarian's Choice, New, Nicola, Science!

    New graphic novel spotlight: The unbelievable Gwenpool

    14.03.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New graphic novel spotlight: The unbelievable Gwenpool

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe unbelievable Gwenpool, written by Chris Hastings, artists Danilo Beyruth, Gurihiru

    What happens when a comic book fan is suddenly blasted into the Marvel Universe? Utter chaos – imagine Deadpool as a teenage girl. Her costume is pink, she has no plans and for a for a while her closest ally is a talking duck. (That would be Howard the Duck, last seen in the post credits scene in Guardians of the Galaxy). Then she gets a job as a freelance assassin, then as a henchmen for a major player in the MU – encountering various other Marvel heroes and villains along the way. I’m looking forward to Gwen’s further adventures…


  • Art, Comedy, Comics, dystopia, Fantasy, Mysteries, New, Nicola, Real Life

    New books

    08.03.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSteeplejack, A.J. Hartley

    Seventeen-year-old Anglet Sutonga, makes a living repairing the chimneys, towers, and spires of Bar-Selehm. Dramatically different communities live and work alongside one another. The white Feldish command the nation’s higher echelons of society; the native Mahweni are divided between city life and the savannah. And then there’s Ang, part of the Lani community who immigrated there generations ago and now mostly live in poverty on Bar-Selehm’s edges. When Ang is supposed to meet her new apprentice, Berrit, she finds him dead. That same night the Beacon, an invaluable historical icon, is stolen. The Beacon’s theft commands the headlines, yet no one seems to care about Berrit’s murder—except for Josiah Willinghouse, an enigmatic young politician. When he offers Ang a job investigating the death, she plunges headlong into new and unexpected dangers.
    Meanwhile, crowds gather in protests over the city’s mounting troubles. Rumors surrounding the Beacon’s theft grow. More suspicious deaths occur. With no one to help Ang except Josiah’s haughty younger sister, a savvy newspaper girl, and a kindhearted herder, Ang must rely on her intellect and strength to resolve the mysterious link between Berrit and the missing Beacon before the city descends into chaos. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The last person up here never made it down alive, but there was no point thinking about that. Instead, I did what I always did-focused on the work, on the exact effort of muscle, the precise positioning of bone and boot that made it all possible. Right now, that meant pushing hard with my feet against the vertical surface of one wall while my shoulders strained against another, three feet away.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe bombs that brought us together, Brian Conaghan

    Fourteen-year-old Hamish Law has lived in Little Town, on the border with Old Country, all his life. He knows the rules: no going out after dark; no drinking; no litter; no fighting. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of the people who run Little Town. When he meets Pavel Duda, a refugee from Old Country, the rules start to get broken. Then the bombs come, and the soldiers from Old Country, and Little Town changes for ever. Sometimes, to keep the people you love safe, you have to do bad things. As Little Town’s rules crumble, Hamish is sucked into a dangerous game. There’s a gun, and a bad man, and his closest friend, and his dearest enemy.(Goodreads)

    First lines: It was hard to remain silent. I tried. I really did, but my breathing was getting louder as I gasped for clean air. My body was trembling, adding noise to the silence. Mum pulled me closer to her, holding tight. Dad cuddled us both. Three spoons under one duvet. With the summer heat and us huddled together the smell wasn’t amusing.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe geek’s guide to unrequited love, Sarvenaz Tash

    Graham met his best friend, Roxy, when he moved into her neighborhood eight years ago and she asked him which Hogwarts house he’d be sorted into. Graham has been in love with her ever since. But now they’re sixteen, still neighbors, still best friends. And Graham and Roxy share more than ever—moving on from their Harry Potter obsession to a serious love of comic books. When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic, The Chronicles of Althena, is making a rare appearance at this year’s New York Comic Con, he knows he must score tickets. And the event inspires Graham to come up with the perfect plan to tell Roxy how he really feels about her. He’s got three days to woo his best friend at the coolest, kookiest con full of superheroes and supervillains. But no one at a comic book convention is who they appear to be…even Roxy. And Graham is starting to realize fictional love stories are way less complicated than real-life ones.(Goodreads)

    First lines: “I know we’ve been friends for such a long time, Roxana. I only have about five years’ worth of memories without you in them. But…”
    Here’s where the next panel would come. And in an ideal world, I’d ask Roxy to help me figure it out. She would sketch something, sometimes just a ghost of a line, and on the best of days, a dying ember would ignite and suddenly I’d know exactly what came next.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAgent of Chaos, Kami Garcia

    How did Fox Mulder become a believer? How did Dana Scully become a skeptic? The X-Files Origins has the answers. The X-Files Origins: Agent of Chaos explores the teen years of Fox Mulder, the beloved character depicted in the cult-favorite TV show The X-Files. His story is set in the spring of 1979, when serial murder, the occult, and government conspiracy were highlighted in the news. The book will follow Mulder as he experiences life-changing events that set him on the path to becoming an FBI agent.(Goodreads)

    First lines: Packs of teenagers, pumped for the official start of spring break, rushed past the black sedan parked across from the high school, unaware they were being watched from behind the car’s tinted windows. Jocks wearing Wilson High jerseys carried pretty cheerleaders on their shoulders, enjoying the chance to final touch some thigh. Other guys horsed around in the road, showing off for girls in tight jeans who pretended not to notice them.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsKids of appetite, David Arnold

    Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell. It begins with the death of Vic’s father.It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle. The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it. But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.(Goodreads)

    First lines: Consider this: billions of people in the world, each with billions of I ams. I am a quiet observer, a champion wallflower. I am a lover of art, the Mets, the memory of Dad. I represent approximately one seven-billionth of the population; these are my momentous multitudes, and that’s just for starters.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIn the skin of a monster, Kathryn Barker

    Three years ago, Alice’s identical twin sister took a gun to school and killed seven innocent kids; now Alice wears the same face as a monster. She’s struggling with her identity, and with life in the small Australian town where everyone was touched by the tragedy. Just as Alice thinks things can’t get much worse, she encounters her sister on a deserted highway. But all is not what it seems, and Alice soon discovers that she has stepped into a different reality, a dream world, where she’s trapped with the nightmares of everyone in the community. Here Alice is forced to confront the true impact of everything that happened the day her twin sister took a gun to school … and to reveal her own secret to the boy who hates her most. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The night before you shot up our school, I slept like a baby. So much for twins having some kind of mysterious connection. I was probably dreaming of fluffy bunnies, or something stupid, when you crept out of our bedroom and nicked Dad’s gun.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAllegedly, Tiffany D. Jackson

    Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say. Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home. There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?(Goodreads)

    First lines: Some children are just born bad, plain and simple. These are the children that don’t live up to the statistics. One cannot blame their surroundings or upbringings for their behaviour. It’s not a scientifically proven inheritable trait. These children are sociological phenomena.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBefore you forget, Julia Lawrinson

    Year Twelve is not off to a good start for Amelia. Art is her world, but her art teacher hates everything she does; her best friend has stopped talking to her; her mother and father may as well be living in separate houses; and her father is slowly forgetting everything. Even Amelia. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Someone yelling wakes me up. I have no idea what time it is. I jump out of bed and head for the kitchen. I almost collide with Mum, who’s also coming out of her room.
    “Go back to bed,” she whispers.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPushing perfect, Michelle Falkoff

    Kara has the perfect life. She gets perfect grades. She never messes up. Until now. Because perfection is an illusion, and Kara has been struggling to maintain it for as long as she can remember. With so much pressure to succeed, it’s hard not to do whatever it takes. But when Kara takes a new underground drug to help her ace the SATs, she doesn’t expect to get a text from a blocked sender, telling her to follow a set of mysterious instructions—or risk her dark secret getting out. Soon she finds herself part of a group of teens with secrets of their own, who are all under the thumb of the same anonymous texter. And if they don’t find a way to stop the blackmailer, their perfect futures will go up in flames.(Goodreads)

    First lines: During the summer between eight and ninth grade, I turned into a monster. It didn’t happen overnight; it’s not like I woke up one day, looked in the mirror, and let out a dramatic scream. But it still felt like it happened really fast.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsValentine, Jodi McAlister

    Four teenagers – all born on the same Valentine’s Day – begin to disappear. As the bodies mount up, Pearl Linford has to work out what in the supernatural hell is going on, before it happens to her. Finn Blacklin is the boy with whom Pearl shares a birthday, the boy she has known all her life and disliked every second of it, the boy her subconscious has a totally annoying crush on. Finn is also the Valentine: a Seelie fairy changeling swapped for a human boy at birth. The Unseelie have come to kill the Valentine – except they don’t know who it is. And now both the Seelie and the Unseelie think Pearl is the Valentine, and if they find out she isn’t, she’ll disappear too. Pearl must use all her wits to protect herself. Finn must come to terms with his newfound heritage. And then there’s the explosive chemistry between them that neither of them know quite what to do about…(Goodreads)

    First lines: We might have been at the old stables, but the last thing any of us had expected to see was a horse. No one’s gone and changed the meaning of the word ‘abandoned’ on me, have they? Because I was pretty clear that it meant deserted, vacant, empty, assorted other shift+F7 adjectives. Abandoned stables = devoid of horses.


  • Art, Comedy, Comics, Graphic Novels, New, Nicola

    New graphic novels

    07.02.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New graphic novels

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPoison Ivy: cycle of life and death, Amy Chu, Clay Mann and Seth Mann

    Coming hot on the heels of Gotham City Sirens and Harley Quinn and Power Girl, it seems like more members of Batman’s rogue’s gallery (especially the female ones) are getting more attention. In this issue, Dr. Pamela Isley (one guess as to who she actually is) is working on a plant/human hybrid project for very personal reasons. However, someone is killing the other scientists…and Poison Ivy has to find out why.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe adventures of Supergirl, Sterling Gates and others

    This is a tie-in comic to the TV show, but it works great as a standalone. New villains, new friends…Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin, tries to make a life for herself in National City, keeping her identity and powers a secret. But mysterious forces are working against her, and Kara has to work out who her real family is and where her loyalties lie. I’

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPower Man and Iron Fist: the boys are back in town, David Walker, Sanford Greene and Flaviano

    Power Man (aka Luke Cage, who really doesn’t like being called Power Man) and Iron Fist (aka Danny Rand, and it’s Iron Fist, not Iron face, and certainly not Iron Man) have definitely and absolutely split up. They’re still friends, but they’re not a team any more. Then their old boss gets out of jail, and the guys are agree to help her. Then they’re suddenly in way over their heads, and they have to fight together (but not as a team, because Power Man and Iron Fist are DEFINITELY not teaming up again) to get themselves out. There are a ton of Marvel Universe cameos, and every page is hilarious.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSecret wars too, a marvel comics non-event, various artists and writers

    I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book. It’s various strange and silly stories about the Marvel Universe, asking such important questions, such as what if Wolverine did appear in every comic? Then there’s the little vignettes about the secrets of various superheroes (Storm apparently dated a weatherman and then ruined his career when they broke up.) It’s funny, bizarre and sometimes a little gut churning (Galactus gets food poisoning) but it’s nice to see a studio happy to look at their work, tongue firmly in cheek.


  • Comics, dystopia, Environment, GLBT, Graphic Novels, Great Reads, Horror, Nicola, Sci Fi

    Summer reading: Best stories about survival

    08.12.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on Summer reading: Best stories about survival

    Whether in the face of the elements, climate change, mysterious conspiracies or zombies…here are my top picks for books about surviving (or not) against the odds. These aren’t easy reads, but they’re testament to the human spirit in challenging and overcoming.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHatchet, Gary Paulsen

    This is a classic and for good reason. After a plane crash, Brian finds himself alone with only the titular hatchet to help him survive in the middle of the wilderness. I haven’t read it for a while and I really appreciated it on the re-read. There are few other characters that appear but the majority of the book is Brian vs. nature. “One flip of the coin”, Brian thinks at one point, is all that stands between him and disaster. My heart was in my mouth until the very end.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNot a drop to drink, Mindy McGinnis

    “Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.” Lynn is lucky; she lives by a pond in a world where there is little water. She will defend it, even if it means killing to do so. But a stranger comes Lynn has to make some hard decisions about what to do about her water. Often these survival novels deal with people who are lacking something – this is one of the few that deals with the choices an individual has to make when they have control of the resources; when it’s not a question of your survival, but other people’s.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA drop of night, Stefan Bachmann

    Anouk is contacted by a mysterious corporation, asking her to apply for a spot on a team of “talented young people” to explore an archaeological site, unlike any other. This one is an underground palace dating from the French Revolution somewhere near Paris. Of course, not everything is what it seems. I really enjoyed this book; it’s an intriguing premise and the book’s pace doesn’t let up.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe girl who owned a city, by O.T. Nelson ; adapted by Dan Jolley ; illustrated by Joëlle Jones

    This is one of my favourite graphic novels ever. A plague has killed off everyone over the age of 12, leaving the children in a world where their main threat is each other. Is it survival of the fittest or is there an option to create a better world?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBleeding earth, Kaitlin Ward

    Lea and her girlfriend Aracely have enough to deal with in their lives, hiding their relationship from Aracely’s father. Then the earth starts bleeding, literally, and their struggle for survival begins. Quite apart from the representation of GLBTQ characters in genre fiction (which is great!), this a heartrending story of realising what the people you love are capable of when their lives are on the line.


  • Art, Comics, Graphic Novels, Great Reads, Internet, Library, Nicola

    Have you heard about Comics Plus?

    17.02.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on Have you heard about Comics Plus?

    As the token graphic novel/comic book geek on the Teen Blog, I was pretty excited to hear about our new service, Comics Plus! We’ve had it for a couple of months, but it’s taken me a while to mention it here (whoops, sorry!). Now you can get all the best new titles to read on your computer or your smartphone – check out the main blog to learn how to link it to the library app.

    It has titles from major publishers like Dynamite! and Archie, as well as smaller, indie publishers, which is great if you’re looking for new things to read which we may not have in our ‘dead tree’ collection.

    Here are my picks for the top reads:

    1) Jenny Finn, written and illustrated by Mike Mignola).

    “Finally collected in one volume for the first time! From the mind of Mike Mignola, creator of HELLBOY, comes this Lovecraftian tale of a mysterious girl who arrives in Victorian England with carnage in her wake. Is she evil incarnate or a misled child?” (Goodreads)

    2) A ninja named Stan, Mike Whittenberger (writer) and Delia Gable (Art )

    “Stan Kidderick, Ninja P.I. is not really a ninja at all. In fact, he’s not even a very good private investigator. He can’t actually use the sword he carries around and he only wears a ninja mask, which he never takes off. He seems quite strange, but he’s just a man who coped with having everything he loved in life taken away from him, by convincing himself he was meant to fight crime as a ninja detective. Yes, he’s lonely, and yes, he’s only hiding from the pain of his former life. But he’s busy working whatever cases he can get using his true calling and talent in life…computers.” (Goodreads).

    3) Abyss, Kevin Rubio, Nick Schley, Lucas Marangon

    “Eric Hoffman was your average son of a single-parent, eccentric billionaire, until the day he discovered a family secret — his dad is actually the world’s worst super-villain, Abyss! Now Eric tries to redeem his legacy and stop his father’s plot to destroy San Francisco with the help of a killer robot, and the City by the Bay’s greatest heroes, Arrow and Quiver. If only he could convince them he’s on their side…” (Goodreads).

    4) Lumberjanes, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson (writers), Brooke A. Allen and Noelle Stevenson (Art)

    “At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here. ” (Goodreads).

    5)1000 comic books you must read, Tony Isabella

    “1000 Comic Books You Must Read is an unforgettable journey through 70 years of comic books. Arranged by decade, this book introduces you to 1000 of the best comic books ever published and the amazing writers and artists who created them.See Superman from his debut as a sarcastic champion of the people, thumbing his nose at authority, to his current standing as a respected citizen of the world. Experience the tragic moment when Peter Parker and a generation of Spider-Man fans learned that “with great power, there must also come great responsibility”
    Meet classic characters such as Archie and his Riverdale High friends, Uncle Scrooge McDuck, Little Lulu, Sgt. Rock, the kid cowboys of Boys’ Ranch, and more.
    Enjoy gorgeous full-color photos of each comic book, as well as key details including the title, writer, artist, publisher, copyright information, and entertaining commentary.
    1000 Comic Books You Must Read is sure to entertain and inform with groundbreaking material about comics being published today as well as classics from the past.” (Goodreads)


  • Comics, Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Horror, Librarian's Choice, Mysteries, Nicola

    My best picks for 2015

    12.01.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on My best picks for 2015

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThis year’s been a great year for graphic novels and horror, among other things. Here are my top ten picks for the best reads of 2015.

    1) The singing bones, Shaun Tan

    2) Baba Yaga’s assistant, Emily Carroll

    3) Nimona, Noelle Stevenson

    4) Part-time Princesses, Monica Gallagher

    5) Gotham by midnight, Ray Fawkes and Ben Templesmith

    6) Frozen Charlotte, Alex Bell

    7) Calvin, Martine Leavitt

    8) When Mr. Dog bites, Brian Conaghan

    9) Our endless numbered days, Claire Fuller

    10) Silver in the blood, Jessica Day George


  • Comics, DVDs, Sci Fi, William

    Have you seen the latest Star Wars footage?

    26.11.15 | Permalink | Comments Off on Have you seen the latest Star Wars footage?

    The Official trailer was released six weeks ago, but it looks like there has now been a new “TV Spot” (a fancy word for an ad) with some brand new footage in it.

     

    If you are someone like me who flicks through our Star Wars encyclopaedias, and hasn’t watched the movies in years, we have them all if you need to catch up.

    Or maybe you have already seen those 100 times, and want to delve deeper into the Star Wars galaxy? We have plenty of comic books detailing all sorts of backstories and side stories.

    I think that Star Wars : Darth Vader and the ghost prison by Blackman and Alessio sounds great: “Darth Vader and a crippled young Lieutenant must uncover secrets from Anakin Skywalker’s Jedi past in order to save the Emperor and defeat a coup from within the Empire’s own ranks.” (Syndetics)

    Am I missing any other great Star Wars resources? Let us know if there is something we have (or should have) that you really enjoy!


  • Comedy, Comics, dystopia, Environment, Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Grimm, Horror, New, Nicola, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    New books

    06.11.15 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThis broken wondrous world, Jon Skovron

    A year ago, Boy, the son of Frankenstein’s monster, had never even met a human. Now he’s living with his human “family,” the descendants of Dr. Frankenstein, in Switzerland. That is, until the maniacal genius Dr. Moreau, long-ago banished to a remote island for his crimes against humanity, asks for his aid. Moreau wants Boy to join his army of animal/human hybrid creatures and help him overthrow human society. Boy must choose: side with the twisted doctor and save his fellow monsters, or try to defend the humans who run the planet?Boy will do anything to save this broken, wondrous world from the war that threatens to split it in two. But how much will he have to give up? And is the world worth saving?(Goodreads).

    First lines: When I was a little boy, I had nightmares about them: mad scientists in lab coats and rubber gloves, hunched and wild-eyed, with bedhead hair and shrill voices that crackled like electricity. The Frankensteins.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe ultimate truth, Kevin Brooks

    When Travis Delaney’s parents die in a car crash, Travis is devastated. In a bid to pull himself out of his grief, he starts to look into the last case they were investigating at the private investigation agency they ran. What starts as a minor distraction soon becomes a sinister, unbelievable mystery – and Travis is determined to solve it. Why were his parents looking for a missing boy when the boy’s family says he isn’t missing? Where is the boy himself? And why would a man who is in surveillance photos taken by Travis’s parents turn up at their funeral?
    As Travis searches for answers, he starts to have the chilling realization that the question he should be asking is the one he most wants to avoid: Was the accident that killed his parents really what it seemed?(Goodreads).

    First lines: I only noticed the man with the hidden camera because I couldn’t bear to look at the coffins any more. I’d been looking at them for a long time now. From the moment the two wooden boxes had been brought into the church, to the moment they’d been carried out into the graveyard and lowered gently into their freshly dug graves, I’d never taken my eyes off them.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWolf by wolf, Ryan Graudin

    The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s ball. Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission? (Goodreads).

    First lines: There were five thousand souls stuffed into the train cars – thick and deep like cattle. The train groaned and bent under their weight, weary from all of their many trips. (Five thousand times five thousands. Again and again. So many, so many.)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDumplin’, Julie Murphy

    Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back. Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.(Goodreads).

    First lines: All the best things in my life have started with a Dolly Parton song. Including my friendship with Ellen Dryver. The song that sealed the deal was “Dumb blonde” from her 1967 debut album, Hello, I’m Dolly. During the summer before my first grade, my aunt Lucy bonded with Mrs. Dryver over their mutual devotion to Dolly.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDead upon a time, Elizabeth Paulson

    It’s a fairy-tale nightmare…One girl is kept in a room where every day the only food she’s given is a poisoned apple. Another is kept in a room covered in needles — and if she pricks her finger, she’ll die. Then there are the brother and sister kept in a cell that keeps getting hotter and hotter…A sinister kidnapper is on the loose in Kate’s world. She’s not involved until one day she heads to her grandmother’s house in the woods — and finds her grandmother has also been taken. Already an outcast, Kate can’t get any help from the villagers who hate her. Only Jack, another outsider, will listen to what’s happened. Then a princess is taken, and suddenly the king is paying attention – even though the girl’s stepmother would rather he didn’t. It’s up to Kate and Jack to track down the victims before an ever after arrives that’s far from happy.(Goodreads).

    First lines: Not for the first time while trekking up the steepest part of Birch Hill, Kate Hood wished her boots had been sewn onto slightly thicker soles. She stuck to the center of Woodson Road, the part most travelled by carriage and coach, but still felt every pebble and puddle beaneth her feet. She knew that, by the time she kicked loose the boots and peeled off her woollen socks in the crackling hearth at Nan’s house, her toes would be blue and numb.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsShadow of the wolf, Tim Hall

    Robin Loxley is seven years old when his parents disappear without trace. Years later the great love of his life, Marian, is also taken from him. Driven by these mysteries, and this anguish, Robin follows a darkening path into the ancient heart of Sherwood Forest. What he encounters there will leave him transformed, and will alter forever the legend of Robin Hood.(Goodreads).

    First lines: First, forget everything you’ve heard. Robin Hood was no prince, and he was no disposed lord. He didn’t fight in the Crusades. He never gave a penny to the poor. In fact, all of those Sherwood legends, only one holds true: Robin was blind.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBattlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo, Brian Falkner

    This alternative history re-imagines the 1815 Battle of Waterloo as a victory for the French emperor Napoléon Bonaparte, when he unleashes a terrible secret weapon – giant carnivorous survivors from pre-history – on his unsuspecting British and Prussian adversaries. In this world, smaller “saurs” are an everyday danger in the forests of Europe, and the Americas are a forbidden zone roamed by the largest and most deadly animals ever to walk the earth. But in his quest for power, Napoléon has found a way to turn these giant dinosaurs into nineteenth century weapons of mass destruction. Only Willem Verheyen, an outsider living in hiding in the tiny village of Gaillemarde, has the power to ruin the tyrant’s plans. And Napoléon will stop at nothing to find him. War is coming, and young Willem is no longer safe, for Gaillemarde is just a stone’s throw from the fields of Waterloo — fields which will soon run red with blood.(Goodreads).

    First lines: The boy who brings the bread is Willem Verheyen. This is not true. His name is Pieter Geerts, but neither he, nor his mother, no anyone in the world has used that name in so long that it is just a distant reflection of a life that once was. Willem was born on the first day of the first month of a new century. When he was just seven years old, he saved the life of a village girl from a bloodthirsty raptor.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCarry on: the rise and fall of Simon Snow, Rainbow Rowell

    Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen. That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.
    Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up. (Goodreads).

    First lines: I walk to the bus station by myself. There’s always fuss over my paperwork when I leave. All summer long, we’re not allowed to walk to Tescos without a chaperone and permission from the Queen – then, in the autumn, I just sign myself out of the children’s home and go.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDaughters unto devils, Amy Lukavics

    When sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner’s family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly Ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries. When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn’t right on the prairie. She’s heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can’t be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul.(Goodreads).

    First lines: The first time I lay with the post boy was on a Sunday, and I broke three commandments to do it. Honor thy father and they mother, thou shalt not lie, and remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Why couldn’t I stop counting all of my sins? it was if I was craving the wrath that was to follow them, challenging it, if only to make certain that I was indeed, alive.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe trouble in me, Jack Gantos

    Fourteen-year-old Jack is sick of his old self. When his family moves to a new rental home in Fort Lauderdale, he wants to become everything he’s never been before. Then in an explosive encounter, he meets his new neighbor, Gary Pagoda, just back from juvie for car theft. Instantly mesmerized, Jack decides he will do all it takes to be like Gary. As a follower, Jack is desperate for whatever crazy, hilarious, frightening thing might happen next. But he may not be as ready as he thinks when the trouble inside him comes blazing to life.(Goodreads).

    First lines: I was still in my white Junior Sea Cadet uniform and was marching stiff-legged like a windup toy across the golden carpet of scorched lawn behind our new rental house. Each splinter of dead grass had once been a soft green blade, but the summer heat had baked them into tanned quills that now crackled like trophy pelts beneath the hard rubber of my shoes.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThese shallow graves, Jennifer Donnelly

    Set in gilded age New York, These Shallow Graves follows the story of Josephine Montfort, an American aristocrat. Jo lives a life of old-money ease. Not much is expected of her other than to look good and marry well. But when her father dies due to an accidental gunshot, the gilding on Jo’s world starts to tarnish. With the help of a handsome and brash reporter, and a young medical student who moonlights in the city morgue, Jo uncovers the truth behind her father’s death and learns that if you’re going to bury the past, you’d better bury it deep.(Goodreads).

    First lines: Josephine Montfort stared at the newly mounded grave in front of her and at the wooden cross marking it.
    “This is the one you’re after. Kinch.” Flynn, the gravedigger, said, pointing at the name painted on the cross. “He died on Tuesday.”
    Tuesday, Jo thought. Four days ago. Time enough for the rot to start. And the stink.

    Gotham by midnight, Ray Fawkes and Ben Templesmith

    Spinning out of Batman Eternal, Detective Jim Corrigan aka The Spectre stars in his very own series Gotham By Midnight! Normally Batman and the other caped protectors of Gotham have the streets of the city covered. But when monsters, ghosts and other supernatural beings enter the mix, even the Dark Knight needs help. Enter Detective Jim Corrigan to prowl the streets of Gotham, solving the unsolvable supernatural crimes the city can muster. (Publisher summary).


  • Books, Comedy, Comics, dystopia, Espionage, Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Mysteries, Nicola

    New books

    15.07.15 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThis is not a love story, Keren David

    Kitty dreams of a beautiful life, but that’s impossible in suburban London where her family is haunted by her father’s unexpected death. So when her mum suggests moving to Amsterdam to try a new life, Kitty doesn’t take much persuading. Will this be her opportunity to make her life picture perfect? In Amsterdam she meets moody, unpredictable Ethan, and clever, troubled Theo. Two enigmatic boys, who each harbour their own secrets. In a beautiful city and far from home, Kitty finds herself falling in love for the first time. (Goodreads)

    First lines:Love is not necessarily a good thing. You generally end up getting hurt, or hurting someone else. Or both. Like last night. I’m talking about emotional stuff, just to be clear. Maybe actual physical injury would be a lot easier. Not in a Fifty Shades kind of way, obviously. Just, well, if Kitty had punched me in the jaw last night, I wouldn’t feel so guilty.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe summer of chasing mermaids, Sarah Ockler

    The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak. Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one. Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life. When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them. (Goodreads)

    First lines: This is the part where I die. Don’t panic; it isn’t unexpected. The sea is prideful, after all, and Death never goes back on a deal. Granna always believed that the d”Abreau sisters were immortal, even after her daughter-in-law died delivering the last of us (me.) But among our six bodies, she said, there were only five souls. Twins were special. A single soul dwelling in two bodies.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBomb, Sarah Mussi

    When Genesis goes on a blind internet date, she just wants to get over her ex-boyfriend Naz. She just wants someone to like her again. But when Genesis wakes up the morning after the date, she can’t remember a thing. She doesn’t know where she is, or how she got there. And she can hardly move because she is strapped into some kind of body armour. Before she has time to figure it out, she receives an order through an earpiece stuck in her ear. And then a voice sounds in her head: ‘You have been chosen for an assignment. The vest you’re wearing is packed with high explosives. And with one mobile call we can detonate it.To her horror Genesis has become an agent of mass destruction, a walking weapon in the hands of a terrorist cell.
    The countdown to detonation has begun: Genesis must re-examine everyone and everything she loves and make terrifying choices in the face of certain death.(Goodreads)

    First lines: They held the girl face down. The man knelt on her legs. The teenage boy sat on her back.
    “Pass the straps under her chest,” said the man.
    The boy lifted her limp form, passed the webbed belts beneath her breasts.
    “Careful. Don’t use the clip.” The man’s voice, sharp.
    The boy hesitated.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe game of love and death, Martha Brockenbrough

    For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always.
    Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance? Meet Flora Saudade, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming the next Amelia Earhart by day and sings in the smoky jazz clubs of Seattle by night. Meet Henry Bishop, born a few blocks and a million worlds away, a white boy with his future assured—a wealthy adoptive family in the midst of the Great Depression, a college scholarship, and all the opportunities in the world seemingly available to him. The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone’s guess. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The figure in the fine gray suit materialised in the nursery and stood over the sleeping infant, inhaling the sweet, milky night air. He could have taken any form, really: a sparrow, a snowy owl, even a common housefly. Although he often travelled the world on wings, for this work he always preferred a human guise.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDime, E.R Frank

    As a teen girl in Newark, New Jersey, lost in the foster care system, Dime just wants someone to care about her, to love her. A family. And that is exactly what she gets-a daddy and two “wifeys.” So what if she has to go out and earn some coins to keep her place? It seems a fair enough exchange for love. Dime never meant to become a prostitute. It happened so gradually, she pretty much didn’t realize it was happening until it was too late. But when a new “wifey” joins the family and Dime finds out that Daddy doesn’t love her the way she thought he did, will Dime have the strength to leave? And will Daddy let her? (Goodreads)

    First lines: The problem is the note. It has to be perfect or else my entire plan will be ruined. It has to be so perfect that its reader will have no choice but to do the right thing, see it all the way through. I’ve been in a lot of dilemmas in my life, but never one as complicated as this. I’ve though up more versions of the note than I can count. There is so much that needs to be said.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe sacred lies of Minnow Bly, Stephanie Oakes

    The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust. And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.
    Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it’s clear that Minnow knows something—but she’s not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past. (Goodreads)

    First lines: I am a blood-soaked girl. Before me, a body. Pulped. My boots drenched with his blood. I search out his eyes, but they’re gone, hidden away behind pale lids.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe world within, Jane Eagland

    Emily Brontë loves her sisters, responsible Charlotte and quiet Anne, and her brother, tempestuous Branwell. She loves the moors that stretch all around her home and the village of Haworth, and she loves wandering over them even in the worst of weather. Most of all, she loves the writing that she and her siblings share, creating imaginary kingdoms, vivid characters, and exciting adventures. But change comes to the family when their beloved father falls ill, and Emily’s happy, isolated world crumbles. Charlotte is sent away to school, where she meets new friends and new ideas. Branwell is growing up and becoming absorbed in his own concerns, with no time for little sisters. And even dependable Anne, in the end, lets Emily down. She is left alone to face her enemies—old insecurities from the past that haunt Emily, and threaten to overwhelm her. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Though it is night, the sun cats an eerie light over these regions, forlorn indeed. The snow is so yielding that at every step I plunge up to my knees and can barely make any headway. A cry from behind freezes my blood.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLouis Lane: Fallout, Gwenda Bond

    Lois Lane is starting a new life in Metropolis. An Army brat, Lois has lived all over—and seen all kinds of things. (Some of them defy explanation, like the near-disaster she witnessed in Kansas in the middle of one night.) But now her family is putting down roots in the big city, and Lois is determined to fit in. Stay quiet. Fly straight. As soon as she steps into her new high school, though, she can see it won’t be that easy. A group known as the Warheads is making life miserable for another girl at school. They’re messing with her mind, somehow, via the high-tech immersive videogame they all play. Not cool. Armed with her wit and her new snazzy job as a reporter, Lois has her sights set on solving this mystery. But sometimes it’s all a bit much. Thank goodness for her maybe-more-than-a friend, a guy she knows only by his screen name, SmallvilleGuy. (Goodreads)

    First lines: “Remember the plan,” I muttered
    I sped up as the school came into view, a telltale yellow bus lumbering away from the curb. The soles of my knee high boots clicked against the concrete sidewalk. Fit in. Don’t make waves. A small herd of stragglers were still dragging their feet toward the three-story, pristine brick structure of East Metropolis High. I made it before the first bell, then – barely.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsScarlett Undercover, Jennifer Latham

    Meet Scarlett, a smart, sarcastic, kick-butt, Muslim American heroine, ready to take on crime in her hometown of Las Almas. When a new case finds the private eye caught up in a centuries-old battle of evil genies and ancient curses, Scarlett discovers that her own family secrets may have more to do with the situation than she thinks — and that cracking the case could lead to solving her father’s murder. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The kid was cute. Her bare, knobby legs swung back and forth like pendulums between the chipped legs of my client chair. Plastic safety googles rested on her forehead, held tight by en elastic band that circle her head and pooched her bobbed brown hair up at the crown. She was thin. Delicate, even. But her eyes were clear and blue and smart.
    “I think my brother killed someone.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOut of control, Sarah Alderson

    When 17 year old Liva witnesses a brutal murder she’s taken into police custody for her own protection. But when the police station is attacked and bullets start flying it becomes clear that Liva is not just a witness, she’s a target. Together with a car thief called Jay, Liva manages to escape the massacre but now the two of them are alone in New York, trying to outrun and outwit two killers who will stop at nothing to find them. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The policeman is looking at me, his head tilted to one side, a deep line etched between his eyebrows. He taps his pen in a slow staccato rhythm on the edge of the desk.
    “What were you doing on the roof?” he asks.
    I take a breath and try to unknot my cramping fingers, which are stuffed in the front pocket of the NYPD sweater I’m wearing.
    “I was getting some air,” I say.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe girl who soared over fairyland and cut the moon in two, Catherynne M. Valente

    September misses Fairyland and her friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. She longs to leave the routines of home, and embark on a new adventure. Little does she know that this time, she will be spirited away to the moon, reunited with her friends, and find herself faced with saving Fairyland from a moon-Yeti with great and mysterious powers. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Once upon a time, a girl named September told a great number of lie. The trouble with lies is that they love company. Once you tell a single lie, that lie gets terribly excited and calls all its friends to visit. Soon you find yourself making room for them in every corner, turning down beds and lighting lamps to make them comfortable, feeding them and tidying them and mending them when they start to wear thin.

    The Darwin Faeries, William Geradts, Richard Fairgay and Gonzalo Martinez (graphic novel)

    Survival of the fittest doesn’t work unless there are a few accidents along the way. This is the story of one such accident, creating Charles Darwin’s legacy, and the Faeries that will stop at nothing to ensure it. (Goodreads)


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