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  • Classic novels, Comedy, dystopia, Fantasy, Great Reads, Mysteries, realistic fiction, Top 10, Top Ten, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    Our ten most popular YA books for September

    29.09.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on Our ten most popular YA books for September

    1. Girl Online, Zoe Sugg
    2. The fault in our stars, John Green
    3. Th1rteen r3asons why, Jay Asher
    4. Gone, Michael Grant
    5. The fall, Robert Muchamore
    6. Mortal Engines, Phillip Reeve
    7. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
    8. Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
    9. The Maze runner, James Dashner
    10. Everything, everything, Nicola Yoon


  • Comedy, dystopia, Espionage, Exclusive academies for rich kids who form cliques, Fantasy, GLBT, Mysteries, New, Nicola, Sci Fi, Space: The Final Frontier, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    New books

    22.09.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Marrow Thieves, Cherie Dimaline

    In a future world ravaged by global warming, people have lost the ability to dream, and the dreamlessness has led to widespread madness. The only people still able to dream are North America’s indigenous population – and it is their marrow that holds the cure for the rest of the world. But getting the marrow – and dreams – means death for the unwilling donors. Driven to flight, a 15-year-old and his companions struggle for survival, attempt to reunite with loved ones, and take refuge from the “recruiters” who seek them out to bring them to the marrow-stealing ‘factories.’ (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Mitch was smiling so big his back teeth shone in the soft light of the solar-powered lamp we’d scavenged from someone’s shed.
    “Check it out.” He held a bag of Doritos between us – a big bag, too.
    “Holy, Mitch! Where’d you get that?” I touched the air-pressurized bag to confirm it was real.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMoonrise, Sarah Crossnan

    Joe hasn’t seen his brother for ten years, and it’s for the most brutal of reasons. Ed is on death row. But now Ed’s execution date has been set, and Joe is determined to spend those last weeks with him, no matter what other people think … This poignant, stirring, huge-hearted novel asks big questions. What value do you place on life? What can you forgive? And just how do you say goodbye? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The green phone
    on the wall in the hall
    hardly ever rang.
    Anyone who wanted to speak to Mom called her cell.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWarcross, Marie Lu

    For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game–it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty-hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships–only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation. Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire. (Publisher Summary)

    First lines: It’s too damn cold of a day to be out on a hunt. I shiver, tug my scarf up higher over my mouth, and wipe a few snowflakes from my lashes. Then I slam my boot down on my electric skateboard. The board is old and used, like everything else I own, its blue paint almost entirely scraped off to reveal cheap silver plastic underneath – but it’s not dead yet, and when I push my heel down harder, it finally responds, jerking me forward as I squeeze between two rows of cars.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe loneliest girl in the universe, Lauren James

    Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. Their only communication is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean? Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone…(Publisher summary)

    First lines: Early yesterday morning, NASA successfully launched the first ever manned spacecraft destined to travel to a different star system. The spacecraft, named The Infinity, is projected to reach the star system Alpha Centauri in less than fifty years, where it will enter orbit around Plant HT 3485c. This exoplanet has a 99.999 percent probability of being habitable, making it the highest scored planet outside our solar system.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe traitor and the thief, Gareth Ward

    Discovered picking pockets at Coxford’s Corn Market, fourteen year old Sin is hunted across the city. Caught by the enigmatic Eldritch Moons, Sin is offered a way out of his life of crime: join the Covert Operations Group (COG) and train to become a spy. At Lenheim Palace, Sin learns spy craft while trying not to break the school’s Cast-Iron Rules. Befriended by eccentric Zonda Chubb, together they endeavour to unmask a traitor causing havoc within the palace. After an assassination attempt on the founder of COG, Sin realises that someone closest to him could be the traitor. With no other option, Sin is forced into an uneasy alliance with the school bully, Velvet Von Darque. But can he trust her? And will COG try to bury him with the secrets he discovers? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Sin shadowed the steamtram, hiding in the clouds of vapour spurting from the machine’s giant pistons. He couldn’t afford to get caught. Not now. Not today. The Fixer would never forgive him. He crouched lower. Built short and stocky like a put bull, with a temperament to match, he wanted to front up to the Red Blades, not run and hide. But the Fixer said you had to pick the fights you could win, and he was alone on the other gang’s turf.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA semi-definitive list of worst nightmares, Krystal Sutherland

    Each member of 17-year-old Esther Solar’s family is consumed by a different fear. Terrified to leave the house, her father has holed himself up in the basement for six years. Her mother, a believer in ghosts and bad luck, has become addicted to gambling. And due to Esther’s twin brother’s intense fear of the dark, their house is lit 24/7. Esther believes that her family’s propensity for these phobias stems from a curse bestowed on her grandfather years ago, and she dreads discovering a latent terror that will overtake her. Then Jonah, an elementary school acquaintance turned pickpocket, offers to help Esther confront and conquer 50 fears on a list she has assembled. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Esther Solar had been waiting outside Lilac Hill Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for half an hour when she received word that the curse had struck again. Rosemary Solar, her mother, explained over the phone that she would no longer, under any circumstances, be able to pick her daughter up. A cat black as night with demon-yellow slits for eyes had been found sitting atop the hood of the family car – an omen dark enough to prevent her from driving.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSaving Daisy, Phil Earle

    Teenage Daisy has lost both her parents, and is overwhelmed with a sense of guilt and isolation, leading her to self-mutilate. She is sent to Bellfield, a child institution, where she must cope both with the other inmates, and her own demons. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: You can tell how good a party is by the time that the walls start sweating. I’m not an expert or anything, far from it. It’s just something I’ve noticed. Probably because this is the eighth Friday in a row that someone from a school has opened their house to everyone on Facebook. You’d think after seeing the results once they’d think twice, but nope. Here we were again.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThey both die at the end, Adam Silvera

    On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure–to live a lifetime in a single day. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Death-Cast is calling with the warning of a lifetime-I’m going to die today. Forget that, “warning” is too strong a word since warnings suggest something can be avoided, like a car honking at someone who’s crossing the street when it isn’t their light, giving them the chance to step back; this is more of a heads-up. The alert, a distinctive and endless gong, like a church bell one block away, is blasting from my phone on the other side of the room.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe epic crush of Genie Lo, F.C. Lee

    The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie’s every waking thought. But when she discovers she’s a celestial spirit who’s powerful enough to bash through the gates of heaven with her fists, her perfectionist existence is shattered. Enter Quentin, a transfer student from China whose tone-deaf assertiveness beguiles Genie to the brink of madness. Quentin nurtures Genie’s outrageous transformation–sometimes gently, sometimes aggressively–as her sleepy suburb in the Bay Area comes under siege from hell-spawn. (Publisher summary).

    First lines: So I didn’t handle the mugging as well as I could have. I would have known what to do if I’d been the victim. Hand over everything quietly. Run away as fast as possible. Go for the eyes if I was cornered. I’d passed the optional SafeStrong girl’s defense seminar at school with flying colors. But we’d never covered what to do when you see six grown men stomping the utter hell out of a boy your age in broad daylight.


  • dystopia, Espionage, Fantasy, Mysteries, New, Nicola, Sci Fi

    New books

    30.08.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLittle monsters, Kara Thomas

    Kacey is starting a new life in Broken Falls with her father, stepmother, a stepbrother and– strangest of all– an adoring younger half sister. She’s even welcomed into a tight new circle of friends: Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them. Then they start acting distant, and don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year. Bailey never makes it home from that party– and everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: They fire off a round of texts at me five minutes after midnight:
    We’re coming.
    Get ready.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe land of 10,000 Madonnas, Kate Hattemer

    Five teens backpack through Europe to fulfil the mysterious dying wish of their friend in this heartwarming novel from the author of The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy. Jesse lives with his history professor dad in a house covered with postcards of images of the Madonna from all over the world. They’re gotten used to this life: two motherless dudes living among thousands of Madonnas. But Jesse has a heart condition that will ultimately cut his life tragically short. Before he dies, he arranges a mysterious trip to Europe for his three cousins, his best friend, and his girlfriend to take after he passes away. It’s a trip that will forever change the lives of these young teens and one that will help them come to terms with Jesse’s death. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: My Dad! No one could mistake Arnold for a normal human being. Let’s start with the fact that he’s wallpapered our apartment with postcards of Mary. The collection is famous on campus. Visiting luminaries get tours. So does Arnold’s senior seminar. The invasion was gradual, of course, but I imagine it happening it all at once.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDuels and deception, Cindy Anstey

    1800’s London. Lydia Whitfield plans to run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father’s choosing, spending the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Law clerk Robert Newton is tasked with drawing up the marriage contracts. Then Lydia is kidnapped, and Robert along with her. Someone is after her fortune and won’t hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. As the two strive to keep her family’s name unsullied and expose the one behind this devious plot, their affections for each other grow. Is a carefully planned future what Lydia really wants?(Publisher summary)

    First lines: Had Miss Lydia Whitfield of Roseberry Hall been of a skittish nature, the sound of a rapidly approaching carriage would have caused considerable anxiety. As it was, the clatter behind her did nothing to stay her steps. Besides, she recognised the bells on Esme’s harness and Turnip’s nicker of protest – poor creature hated to canter. The vehicle could be none other than the family landau.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTowards a secret sky, Heather Maclean

    Shortly after 17-year-old Maren Hamilton is orphaned and sent to live with grandparents she’s never met in Scotland, she receives an encrypted journal from her dead mother that makes her and everyone around her a target. It confirms that her parents were employed by a secret, international organization that’s now intent on recruiting her. As Maren works to unravel the clues left behind by her mother, a murderous madness sweeps through the local population, terrorizing her small town. Maren must decide if she’ll continue her parents’ fight or stay behind to save her friends. With the help of Gavin, an otherworldly mercenary she’s not supposed to fall in love with, and Graham, a charming aristocrat who is entranced with her, Maren races against the clock and around the country from palatial estates with twisted labyrinths to famous cathedrals with booby-trapped subterranean crypts to stay ahead of the enemy and find a cure. Along the way, she discovers the great truth of love: that laying down your life for another isn’t as hard as watching them sacrifice everything for you. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I was okay until they started my mom’s casket into the ground. Up to that point, the funeral had felt like an out-of-body experience. I walked around inside my own thick-walled aquarium. My motions were slow. My thoughts bogged down. I knew I was on display- everyone craning their necks to catch the slightest ripple of my movement.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsProject Pandora, Aden Polydoros

    Tyler Bennett trusts no one. Just another foster kid bounced from home to home, he’s learned that lesson the hard way. Cue world’s tiniest violin. But when strange things start happening–waking up with bloody knuckles and no memory of the night before or the burner phone he can’t let out of his sight–Tyler starts to wonder if he can even trust himself. Even stranger, the girl he’s falling for has a burner phone just like his. Finding out what’s really happening only leads to more questions, questions that could get them both killed. It’s not like someone’s kidnapping teens lost in the system and brainwashing them to be assassins or anything, right? And what happens to rogue assets who defy control? In a race against the clock, they’ll have to uncover the truth behind Project Pandora and take it down–before they’re reactivated. Good thing the program spent millions training them to kick ass. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Tyler Bennett stood in front of the white marble vanity, staring at the mirror – or rather, what was left of it. A few large shards bristled like teeth from the frame. The rest of the broken glass was scattered across the counter among lipstick tubes, broken eye shadows palettes, and other cosmetics. A woman’s arsenal.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe last magicians, Lisa Maxwell

    In an alternate version of present-day Manhattan, magic is dying, and Esta, a Mageus with a talent for manipulating time, travels back to 1901 to stop the destruction of a book that can possibly restore magic, but in Old New York, Esta must navigate gangs, secret societies, and her feelings for another magician in order to save the future of magic. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The Magician stood at the edge of his world and took one last look at the city. The spires of churches rose like jagged teeth, and the sightless windows of tumbled buildings flashed in the rising sun. He loved it once. In those lawless streets, a boy could become anything – and he had. But in the end, the city had been nothing but a prison. It had borne him and made him and now it would kill him just the same.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHolding smoke, Elle Cosimano

    John “Smoke” Conlan is serving time for two murders-but he wasn’t the one who murdered his English teacher, and he never intended to kill the only other witness to the crime. A dangerous juvenile rehabilitation center in Denver, Colorado, known as the Y, is Smoke’s new home and the only one he believes he deserves. But, unlike his fellow inmates, Smoke is not in constant imprisonment. After a near death experience leaves him with the ability to shed his physical body at will, Smoke is able to travel freely outside the concrete walls of the Y, gathering information for himself and his fellow inmates while they’re asleep in their beds. Convinced his future is only as bright as the fluorescent lights in his cell, Smoke doesn’t care that the “threads” that bind his soul to his body are wearing thin-that one day he may not make it back in time. That is, until he meets Pink, a tough, resourceful girl who is sees him for who he truly is and wants to help him clear his name. Now Smoke is on a journey to redemption he never thought possible. With Pink’s help, Smoke may be able to reveal the true killer, but the closer they get to the truth, the more deadly their search becomes. The web of lies, deceit, and corruption that put Smoke behind bars is more tangled than they could have ever imagined. With both of their lives on the line, Smoke will have to decide how much he’s willing to risk, and if he can envision a future worth fighting for. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: It’s been weeks since the last yard brawl, and the every one of us is twitchy, ready to jump our skins. I check out the scattered pockets of orange jumpsuits under the guard tower, listening as Six screws with the new kid. The concrete walls are smooth, twenty feet high, and looped with razor wire. The guard posted in the tower scans the grounds, his head moving in slow rotations you could set a watch by.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFor love and honor, Jody Hedlund

    Lady Sabine is harboring a skin blemish, one, that if revealed, could cause her to be branded as a witch, put her life in danger, and damage her chances of making a good marriage. After all, what nobleman would want to marry a woman so flawed? Sir Bennet is returning home to protect his family from an imminent attack by neighboring lords who seek repayment of debts. Without fortune or means to pay those debts, Sir Bennet realizes his only option is to make a marriage match with a wealthy noblewoman. As a man of honor, he loathes the idea of courting a woman for her money, but with time running out for his family’s safety, what other choice does he have? As Lady Sabine and Sir Bennet are thrust together under dangerous circumstances, will they both be able to learn to trust each other enough to share their deepest secrets? Or will those secrets ultimately lead to their demise? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: “You have one month to pay the debt,” Captain Foxe stated, his tone as rigid as the plate armor he wore. “Or we will attack Maidstone and claim what you owe by force.”
    My backbone stiffened and pushed me to my full height.
    “Your master can’t expect me to come up with the funds in one month. I need at least two.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe evaporation of Sofi Snow, Mary Weber

    Sofi battles behind the scenes of Earth’s Fantasy Fighting arena helping her younger brother, Shilo. When a bomb destroys part of the arena, she dreams Shilo survives on the forbidden ice-planet. Miguel is from Earth, but his career as Ambassador to the Delonese is build on secrets. Now he’s a target for blackmail– and it may be more than the Earth can afford. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The ice-planet arrived in the dusky heat of summer twilight during the Earth’s Fourth World War. Just when the moon’s jewelled fingers were slipping through that one broken slat in the barn roof that Papa always said he’d fix but never did. The same slat through which he’d pointed out Ella’s favourite star to Sofi and her brother, Shilo.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSeeker, Veronica Rossi

    When Daryn claimed she was seeing “visions” during her sophomore year of high school, no one believed the truth. She wasn’t losing her mind, she was gaining the Sight–the ability to see the future. If she just paid attention to the visions, they’d provide her with clues and show her how she could help people. Really help them. Daryn embraced her role as a Seeker. The work she did was important. She saved lives. Until Sebastian. Sebastian was her first–and worst–mistake. Since the moment she inadvertently sealed him in a dark dimension with Samrael–the last surviving demon in the Kindred–guilt has plagued her. Daryn knows Sebastian is alive and waiting for help. It’s up to her to rescue him. But now that she needs the Sight more than ever to guide her, the visions have stopped. Daryn must rely on her instincts, her intelligence, and on blind faith to lead the riders who are counting on her in search of Sebastian. As they delve into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems and where Samrael is steadily amassing power, Daryn faces the ultimate test. Will she have to become evil to destroy evil? The very fate of humankind rests in the answer. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: You don’t know what anger is until you’ve spent time with a mare in a truly foul mood. Shadow is livid. I’ve been back for two days now but she’s still mad at me – and determined to let me know it. Usually I can sense what she’s feeling by intuition. No need for that right now, with the tantrum she’s throwing. Twelve hundred pounds of black mare ripping the earth open with her hooves isn’t exactly tough to read.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThief’s cunning, Sarah Ahiers

    All her life, Allegra, niece of the infamous assassin Lea Saldana, has had to keep her identity hidden. She and her family are constantly watching their backs for an attack from the Da Vias, a rival family whose thirst for retaliation has lasted for almost two decades. But what really happened the night Lea made the Da Vias pay for murdering her family? Allegra wants to know–just like she wants to know her parents’ identity, another secret Lea and Uncle Les are keeping from her. When Allegra finally learns the truth, her world crumbles. She is a Da Via. Feeling betrayed by the people she trusted most, Allegra turns to Nev, an intoxicating Traveler boy who makes her feel alive in ways she’s only dreamed of. But Nev has secrets too, and when Allegra is kidnapped by his group and taken to their desert home, she soon learns their pasts are tangled in ways she couldn’t have guessed. And if she can’t escape back to Yvain soon, her life and that of her family’s could be forever changed. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I didn’t fit. The night moon glowed overhead, cool and soft and bright. I’d slipped off the dark roof and into the darker room through the window, but my hips had gotten wedged, and try as I might, I couldn’t pull my way through. I was stuck, half in and half out the bedroom before me.


  • Books, Comedy, dystopia, Espionage, GLBT, Māori literature, New, New Zealand, Nicola, realistic fiction, Science!

    New books

    17.08.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWant, Cindy Pon

    Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost. With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I watched the two you girls from the corner of my eye as the crowds surged around me. Eleven o’clock on a balmy June evening and the Shilin Night Market in Taipei was spilling over with mei shoppers looking for a way to cool themselves. Stores lined both sides of the narrow street, and music blared in Mandarin, Taiwanese, and English.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhen Dimple met Rishi, Sandhya Menon

    Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now , they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right? Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him–wherein he’ll have to woo her–he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not? Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Dimple couldn’t stop smiling. It was like two invisible puppeteers, standing stage left and stage right, were yanking on strings to lift up the corners of her mouth. Okay, or maybe something less creepy. The point was, the urge to grin felt irresistible. Dimple clocked on the email again and read it. Standford. She was going to Standford.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSaints and misfits, S.K. Ali

    There are three kinds of people in my world: 1. Saints, those special people moving the world forward. Sometimes you glaze over them. Or, at least, I do. They’re in your face so much, you can’t see them, like how you can’t see your nose. 2. Misfits, people who don’t belong. Like me–the way I don’t fit into Dad’s brand-new family or in the leftover one composed of Mom and my older brother, Mama’s-Boy-Muhammad. Also, there’s Jeremy and me. Misfits. Because although, alliteratively speaking, Janna and Jeremy sound good together, we don’t go together. Same planet, different worlds.But sometimes worlds collide and beautiful things happen, right? 3. Monsters. Well, monsters wearing saint masks, like in Flannery O’Connor’s stories. Like the monster at my mosque.People think he’s holy, untouchable, but nobody has seen under the mask. Except me. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I’m in the water. Only my eyes are visible, and I blow bubbles to ensure the rest of me stays submerged until the opportune time. Besides the lifeguard watching from his perch, there’s a gaggle of girls my age patrolling the beach with young siblings in tow. They pace in their flip-flops and bikinis, and I wait.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTash hearts Tolstoy, Kathryn Ormsbee

    Tash is a gifted filmmaker and dramatic arts student with her own vlog, and she and her best friend Jacklyn have a YouTube series titled Unhappy Families, based on Anna Karenina. Tash and Jack are consigned to relative obscurity until a prominent online celebrity praises Unhappy Families, but with the accolades and attention comes the pressure to live up to the image. Additionally, Tash is struggling with her older sister’s growing distance, a surprise announcement from her parents, her understanding of her own identity as a romantic asexual, and her long-distance flirtation with fellow vlogger Thom. As a result, Ormsbee’s story comes close to feeling overstuffed with issues, but her attention to the depth of Tash’s thoughts and feelings, as well as a spot-on narrative voice, make this a compassionate and frank look into challenges that can seem to fly at teenagers from all directions. (Publisher information).

    First lines: Isn’t it funny how something can be a joke for so long until one day it isn’t? You laugh at an awful new pop song until the fateful day you end up playing it twenty times on repeat, totally un-ironically. You laugh at the idea of deep-fried okra until the fateful afternoon your family stops at some boondocks diner and, as a joke, you order deep-friend okra, and it is suddenly your new favourite snack.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNerve, Jeannie Ryan

    When Vee is picked to be a player in NERVE, an anonymous game of dares broadcast live online, she discovers that the game knows her. They tempt her with prizes taken from her ThisIsMe page and team her up with the perfect boy, sizzling-hot Ian. At first it’s exhilarating–Vee and Ian’s fans cheer them on to riskier dares with higher stakes. But the game takes a twisted turn when they’re directed to a secret location with five other players for the Grand Prize round. Suddenly they’re playing all or nothing, with their lives on the line. Just how far will Vee go before she loses NERVE. (Publisher summary).

    First lines: It took three days of waiting, but at four a.m. on a Sunday, the street in front of Abigail’s home finally emptied of all the Watchers. Maybe even crazies needed to sleep once in a while. She could use some rest, too, but more than that, she craved freedom. It had been almost a week since she’d left her house.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSlave power, Raewyn Dawsom

    East of the Black Sea, c.300 BC: Fifteen-year-old Melo is one of the most gifted Riders in the Wild Horse Tribe, destined to become a leader in her female warrior clan. Her old rival Mithrida, however, has cunning plans of her own. But when city slave traders cut a violent path through the Plains, all the Amazon Tribes are under threat. Far, far away on the Holy Island, Sofia, a young priestess-intraining, wonders why these strangers have landed on their isolated shore. Can she find the answers from the Black Rock? When the worlds of traders, slaves and warriors collide, new alliances come from unexpected sources and new powers are harnessed. But is it enough for the Peace Way to succeed? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: “Aaarghh! Hold on, everyone!” Melo staggered and stabbed her spear into the ground as it bucked and groaned beneath them like a furious wild horse. A second big quake so soon? The night’s first shattering terror had been bad enough – she would be needed to extend her guard duty – but where?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGirls can’t hit, T.S. Easton

    Fleur Waters never takes anything seriously until she turns up at her local boxing club one day, just to prove a point. She’s the only girl there, and the warm-up alone is exhausting but the workout gives her an escape from home and school, and when she lands her first uppercut on a punching bag she feels a rare glow of satisfaction. So she goes back the next week, determined to improve. Fleur’s overprotective mum can’t abide the idea of her entering a boxing ring. Her friends don’t get it either and even her boyfriend, ‘Prince’ George, seems concerned by her growing muscles and appetite but it’s Fleur’s body, Fleur’s life, so she digs her heels in and carries on with her training. When she finally makes it into the ring, her friends and family show their support and Fleur realises that sometimes in life it’s better to drop your guard and take a wild swing. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I groaned inwardly. It was a cold Tuesday morning in May and my parents were arguing about the dishwasher again.
    “Honestly, Liz,” Dad said, “you don’t need to rinse the plates before putting them in. That’s the whole point of a dishwasher.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWreck, Fleur Ferris

    Tamara Bennett is going to be the first journalist to strictly report only good news. Finished with high school, Tamara is ready to say goodbye to her sleepy little town and part-time job at the local paper. But things take an unexpected turn when Tamara arrives home to find her house ransacked and her life is danger. What is the mysterious note her attacker wants and why is he willing to kill for it? A tragic boating accident five years ago holds the clue that could keep Tamara alive. But how can she find the truth when she can’t tell who’s lying? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Tomorrow morning, at ten thirty-two, my train will pull away from the station and take me to my exciting new city-dwelling grown-up life. This chapter of my existence will be called ‘Deliriously happy university student.’ The chapter after that will be called ‘Journalist changes the world one good-news story at a time.’ I am going to be the first journalist, probably on the planet, who strictly reports good news.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsKid got shot, Simon Mason

    Meet Garvie Smith. Reprobate, genius, waster, and sometime detective. Right in the middle of revision hell – until now. A boy from Marsh Academy has been shot, with no clear motive and no clues. Disgraced DI Singh is on the case, and he’s determined to keep Garvie away. But Garvie knows he’s the only one who has any idea where to look for the answers. Starting with his best friend’s girlfriend. And it’s going to take more than pointless revision or flunking his exams to stop him getting involved. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The others were already there, waiting in the darkness, and Garvie Smith went through the park gate and across the slippery grass towards them. Haphazardly arranged on the tiny swings and miniature roundabout of Old Ditch Road kiddies’ playground, dim, low-slung and damp, Smudge, Felix, Dani and Tiger raised hands and touched knuckled with him, one by one, and he settled down among them, yawning.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe book of heroes, Miyuki Miyabe

    When her brother Hiroki disappears after a violent altercation with school bullies, eleven-year-old Yuriko finds a magical book in his room which leads her to another world where she learns that Hiroki has been possessed by a spirit from The Book of Heroes. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Halfway up the long slope to the Threshing Hill, the youth heard the sound of a tolling bell. He stopped and looked around. The sound came thickly through the chilled ashen-blue mist that rose all around him, yet he heard it as sure as he felt the vibrations in the ground beneath his feet.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBecoming Aurora, Elizabeth Kashmer

    Sixteen-year-old Rory is at a crossroads in her life. While her gang plans its next move in a racially motivated turf war, Rory is sentenced to spend her summer at an aged care facility. She’s proud of taking the rap for a crime her gang committed and reading to a feisty old boxing champion isn’t going to change that. But what happens when Rory’s path intersects with migrant boxer Essam’s and she becomes the victim, not the perpetrator? Can she find the courage to face her past and become the girl her dad called Aurora? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Tonight we are wolves. Our pack moves as one, past empty shop fronts and faded billboards. On the corner we gather in the shadows of the Royal George Hospital. Last drinks were served hours ago, but the stink of stale beer lingers.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBoone Shepard, Gabriel Bergmoser

    Boone is taking a break from writing for The Chronicle newspaper to hunt down and destroy every last copy of a very rare, very dangerous book. But then his editor calls to demand he investigate a missing persons case deep in the Scottish Highlands – in the company of his rival, photographer Promethia Peters – and he is forced to abandon his personal goals and get back to work. Restless and begrudging, Boone is unprepared when this hunt leads him back to the one story that won’t stop chasing him – his own. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I always take the time to appreciate the rolling green fields and pretty woods of the English countryside, whether I am viewing them from the seat of my motorbike, or, as I found myself on the day this story begins, hanging one handed from the side of a speeding training. But it is hard to appreciate nature when you’re viewing it at an angle with your eyes full of soot and the wind throwing you around like the world’s strangest flag.

    Moon boy, Kathy Sutcliffe

    Kat and Eru are new in town and trying to find their way. Not easy when her mum’s in a relationship with his mum, and he’s not your usual sort of guy: Māori with the palest skin and blond dreads and – strangest of all – no ears. More moon than boy. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: “Hey.” A guy walking past my towel flashes me a white-toothed grin, his eyes sparkling blue beneath a floppy fringe. He’s carrying an armload of driftwood and staggering a bit on the soft sand. “My family’s having a bonfire tonight to see in the New Year. You can come if you like.”

    Freedom swimmer, Wai Chim

    Ming survived the famine that killed his parents during China’s ‘Great Leap Forward’, and lives a hard but adequate life, working in the fields with his fellow villagers…When a group of city boys come to the village as part of a government re-education program, Ming and his friends aren’t sure what to make of the new arrivals. They’re intellectuals not used to hard labour and village life. But despite his reservations, Ming befriends a charming city boy called Li. The two couldn’t be more different, but slowly they form a bond over evening swims and dreamlike discussions… But as the bitterness of life under the Party begins to take its toll on both boys, they begin to imagine the impossible: freedom. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Ma is gone. I fought back tears, gripping the handle of the wheelbarrow tighter so her body wouldn’t tip out too soon. I was taking her to the river to join the other villagers who passed. I didn’t dare look around- what if one of those bodies had surfaced, caught on a rock instead of being swept away by the current after the last rains? I could almost picture the head of some weeks-dead villager bobbin up beside me, all sunken cheeks and lifeless eyes behind paper-thin lids.


  • Art, Books, Comedy, dystopia, Fantasy, Great Reads, New, Nicola

    New books

    28.06.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsUnder Rose-tainted skies, Louise Gornall

    Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did. Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I’m going to kill the damn blackbird sitting on my windowsill, chirping and squeaking at the top of its lungs. It hops back and forth, wings spread and flapping, but has zero intention of taking off.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe careful undressing of love, Corey Ann Haydu

    The girls of Devonairre Street in Brooklyn, who have always been told that they are cursed to cause the deaths of anyone who falls in love with them, do not regard the curse as real until the sudden, violent death of a boy they all loved. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: When the Minute of Silence hits, I have a glass vase in my hands and I almost drop it. We have been doing it for years, at 10:11 every Tuesday morning, but it takes me by surprise sometimes, still.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAnd we’re off, Dana Schwartz

    Seventeen-year-old Nora Holmes is an artist, a painter from the moment she could hold a brush. She inherited the skill from her grandfather, Robert, who’s always nurtured Nora’s talent and encouraged her to follow her passion. Still, Nora is shocked and elated when Robert offers her a gift: an all-expenses-paid summer trip to Europe to immerse herself in the craft and to study history’s most famous artists. The only catch? Nora has to create an original piece of artwork at every stop and send it back to her grandfather. It’s a no-brainer: Nora is in! Unfortunately, Nora’s mother, Alice, is less than thrilled about the trip. She worries about what the future holds for her young, idealistic daughter and her opinions haven’t gone unnoticed. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Stop it, Nora. You have more self control than this. My fingers twitch on the keyboard, but my eyes don’t move from the screen. It’s not even that Nick’s Facebook profile is that interesting. It’s just…he changed his profile picture.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRoyce Rolls, Margaret Stohl

    After five seasons on her family’s reality show, Rolling with the Royces, and a lifetime of dealing with her narcissistic sister, Porsche, media-obsessed mother, Mercedes, and somewhat clueless brother, Maybach, Bentley wants out. Luckily for her cancellation is looming and freedom is nigh. With their lifestyle on the brink, however, Bentley’s family starts to crumble, and one thing becomes startlingly clear– without the show, there is no family. And since Bentley loves her family, she has to do the unthinkable– save the show. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: On May 4, 2016, in the early hours of the morning on one of the better streets of the Huntington Palisades, Talullah Kyong-Grunsburg (thirteen-year-old daughter of Lifespan Network president and chronic insomniac Jeff Grunburg) saw the news on her tumblr feed @AllHailMemeOverlord.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGenius: the game, Leopoldo Gout

    Three underprivileged young prodigies from across the world with incredible skills in technology and engineering team up to become the heroes the world never knew they could be. As 200 geniuses from around the world go head to head in a competition hand-devised by India’s youngest CEO and visionary, the stakes are higher than anyone can imagine. Like life and death. Welcome to the revolution… and get ready to run. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Albert Einstein said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” He’s right. The people I know, they always led with their creativity. And they don’t let age stop them, either.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFour weeks, five people, Jennifer Yu

    Obsessive-compulsive teen Clarissa wants to get better, if only so her mother will stop asking her if she’s okay. Andrew wants to overcome his eating disorder so he can get back to his band and their dreams of becoming famous. Film aficionado Ben would rather live in the movies than in reality. Gorgeous and overly confident Mason thinks everyone is an idiot. And Stella just doesn’t want to be back for her second summer of wilderness therapy. As the five teens get to know one another and work to overcome the various disorders that have affected their lives, they find themselves forming bonds they never thought they would, discovering new truths about themselves and actually looking forward to the future. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: A few word of advice for those attending Camp Ugunduzi for the first time: Contrary to what the brochure may have told your parents, siblings, grandparents, estranged uncles, teachers, psychiatrists, well-meaning friends, not-so-well meaning friends, and distant relations who “care about you” and therefore shipped you to the middle of upstate New York (read: out of their lives) for one month of summer while everyone else goes kayaking and eats hot dogs, you will probably not discover a way to change your life at this camp.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsUnplugged, Donna Freitas

    In the App World, Skye is a sixteen-year-old virtual girl without any glamorous downloads or fancy effects. She joined the App World for the promise of a better, virtual life, but she’s looking forward to her seventeenth birthday, when she gets to unplug, see her mother and sister again, and decide which world she belongs in once and for all. Without warning, the border between worlds suddenly closes. Skye is trapped, and her only chance to unplug and see her family again is to find and help Rain Holt, the son of the most powerful leader in App World, who was also left behind when the border closed. But when Skye unplugs, she discovers that the reasons for the border closing are much bigger than anyone in the App World knows, and that she somehow has a part to play–a part that will turn friends into traitors and strangers into followers. And the only person she can trust–in either world–is herself. (Publisher summary).

    First lines: I’ll never forget the day the news rang through the App World. It was early June and I was just a virtual girl looking forward to unplugging on her seventeenth birthday.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGrace and the fever, Zan Romanoff

    Still obsessed with the boy band Fever Dream long after her friends lose interest, Grace unexpectedly meets band member Jes and embarks on an unlikely romance that leads her to confront complex truths about herself and the realities of stardom. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Heyyy girl u up?
    That chatbox window blinks from gray to blue, pulsing like a heartbeat. Grace taps her fingertips against the keyboard, listening to the tiny sounds they make, like raindrops hitting glass, plink plink plink.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBreak me like a promise, Tiffany Schmidt

    When new legislation threatens to destroy her family’s operations in the black-market organ trade, Maggie finds herself falling in love with Alex, a computer whiz who makes a shocking revelation. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: A long, long time ago, back when I had hair as long and shiny as any of the fairy-tale princesses Mama was always shoving down my throat, I made a promise to run away with the boy I’d chosen to be my prince.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe end of fun, Sean McGinty

    Seventeen-year-old Aaron is hooked on FUN, a new augmented reality experience that is as addictive as it is FUN. But when he sets off on a treasure hunt, left by his late grandfather, Aaron must navigate the real world and discover what it means to connect–after the game is over. (Publisher information.)

    First lines: Dear To Whom It May Concern or Whatever. This is Aaron O’Faolain and I’ve got some Issues. The directions say I’m supposed to briefly discuss reasons for the Application for Termination of Fun.


  • Classic novels, dystopia, New, Nicola, Sci Fi

    New books

    06.06.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWait for me, Caroline Leech

    On her father’s farm in Scotland in 1945, Lorna Anderson’s life consists of endless chores, rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Laura is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country? But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him — from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany — the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate. (Publisher information).

    First lines: Lorna Anderson was ankle deep in muck and milk. And she was late. Again. She really didn’t have time to clean up yet another of Nellie’s messes and still make it to school before the bell. Of course, this wasn’t the first time Lorna had somewhere important to be, yet here she was, broom in hand.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSeeking Mansfield, Kate Watson

    Sixteen-year-old Finley Price has perfected two things: how to direct a world-class production, and how to fly way, way under the radar. The only person who ever seems to notice Finley is her best friend and godparents’ son, Oliver Bertram. Since Finley moved in with her godparents after the death of her father, she and Oliver have grown close. If Finley could just take Oliver’s constant encouragement to heart and step out of the shadows, she’d finally chase her dream of joining the prestigious Mansfield Theater. But when teen movie stars Emma and Harlan Crawford move across the street from the Bertrams, they shake up Finley and Oliver’s stable friendship. As Emma and Oliver grow closer, Finley realizes that Harlan’s attention is shifting to her. She discovers she might have feelings for him too. Or, is she only interested in Harlan because Oliver is taken? Finley doesn’t want to be won, and she doesn’t want to see Oliver with anyone else. To claim Oliver’s heart – and keep her own – she’ll have to find the courage to do what she fears most: step into the spotlight. (Publisher information).

    First lines: Finley Price was a fool. She stared at her computer screen with a dry mouth, absent-mindedly rubbing one of the small, circular scars branded into her right shoulder. The words “Mansfield Theatre Youth Application” mocked her in bold font, as if they knew she didn’t deserve the spot.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsContagion, Teri Terry

    An epidemic is sweeping the country. There is no cure; and you cannot be permitted to infect others. The very few of the infected who survive are dangerous and will be taken into the custody of the army. Young runaway Callie survived the disease, but not the so-called treatment. Her brother Kai is still looking for her. And his new friend Shay may hold the key to uncovering what truly happened. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Erooo…Erooo…Erooo…
    Alarms reverberate through my skull, high-pitched and insistent. I scramble out of bed. Disbelief fights reality; how do you think the unthinkable? The fail-safes have failed. This is really happening.
    Run.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThick as thieves, Megan Whalen Turner

    Kamet, a secretary and slave to his Mede master, has the ambition and the means to become one of the most powerful people in the Empire. But with a whispered warning the future he envisioned is wrenched away, and he is forced onto a very different path. (Publisher information).

    First lines: It was midday and the passageway quiet and cool. The stone walls kept out the heat while the openings near the high ceilings admitted some of the sun’s fierce light. Midday, and the houseboy was gone on an errand, probably stealing a nap somewhere, so I was alone at the door, to my master’s apartments, holding my head my hand and cursing myself for an idiot.


  • Books, Comedy, dystopia, Espionage, GLBT, Library, Mysteries, New

    New Books

    28.03.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New Books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTo catch a killer, Sheryl Scarborough

    Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father’s identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother’s best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past. Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother’s killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she’s secretly doing on her own. Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she’s close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it’s too late. (Goodreads)

    First lines: I soothe my forehead against the icy car window and breathe out a path of fog. If I squint one eye, the neon splashed across the rain-slicked street forms a wide, cruel mouth. It’s after 2:00 a.m. and we’re just now pulling up the police station. They took me to the hospital first, even though I swore that not a single drop of the blood all over me was mine.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAmerican Street, Ibi Zoboi

    On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own. Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream? (Goodreads)

    First lines: If only I could break the glass separating me and Manman with my thoughts alone. On one side of the glass doors are the long lines of people with their photos and papers that prove they belong here in America, that they are allowed to taste a bit of this free air. On the other side is me, pressing my forehead against the thick see-though wall.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsJust kill me, Adam Selzer

    Megan Henske isn’t one to heed warnings…When the last letters in her alphabet cereal are D, I, and E, she doesn’t crawl right back into bed. When her online girlfriend won’t text a photo, she just sends more of herself. And when she realizes that Cynthia, her boss at a Chicago ghost tour company, isn’t joking about making stops more haunted by killing people there, she doesn’t quit her job—she may even help. But who is responsible for the deaths of prominent figures in the murdermonger industry? Could it be the head of the rival tour company? Or could it be someone near and dear to Megan? Soon after she learns that she has an uncanny resemblance to a flapper who disappeared in 1922, Megan receives a warning she can’t ignore: the next ghost on the tour might be her… (Goodreads)

    First lines: When you were little and watching Disney movies, did you ever sort of wish that the villains would win? I totally did. They had cooler outfits, much better outfits, and all the best songs.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWintersong, S. Jae-Jones

    The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride… All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away. But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Once there was a little girl who played her music for a little boy in the wood. She was small and dark, he was tall and fair, and the two of them made a fancy pair as they danced together, dancing to the music the little girl heard in her head.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOptimists die first, Susin Nielsen

    Sixteen-year-old Petula De Wilde is anything but wild. A family tragedy has made her shut herself off from the world. Once a crafting fiend with a happy life, Petula now sees danger in everything, from airplanes to ground beef. The worst part of her week is her comically lame mandatory art therapy class. She has nothing in common with this small band of teenage misfits, except that they all carry their own burden of guilt. When Jacob joins their ranks, he seems so normal and confident. Petula wants nothing to do with him, or his prosthetic arm. But when they’re forced to collaborate on a unique school project, she slowly opens up, and he inspires her to face her fears. Until a hidden truth threatens to derail everything. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The first time I saw the Bionic Man I was covered in sparkles. It was a typical Friday afternoon at Youth Art Therapy, YART for short. I was trying to help Ivan the Terrible with our latest, lamest project. As per usual, Ivan refused to focus.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDreamland burning, Jennifer Latham

    When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past, the present, and herself. One hundred years earlier, a single violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what’s right the night Tulsa burns. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Nobody walks in Tulsa. At least not to get anywhere. Oil built our houses, paved our streets, and turned us from a cow town stop on the Frisco Railroad into the heart of Route 66. My ninth-grade Oklahoma History teacher joked that around these parts, walking is sacrilege. Real Tulsans drive.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe cruelty, Scott Bergstrom

    When her diplomat father is kidnapped and the U.S. Government is unable to help, 17 year-old Gwendolyn Bloom sets off across the sordid underbelly of Europe to rescue him. Following the only lead she has—the name of a Palestinian informer living in France—she plunges into a brutal world of arms smuggling and human trafficking. As she journeys from the slums of Paris, to the nightclubs of Berlin, to the heart of the most feared crime family in Prague, Gwendolyn discovers that to survive in this new world she must become every bit as cruel as the men she’s hunting. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The boys are waiting for the beheading. They sit raptly, like impatient jackals, waiting for the blade to fall. But if they’d bothered to read the book, they’d know it wasn’t coming. Like a movie clicked off before the last scene. Or like life, really. You almost never see the blade coming, the one that gets you.


  • 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.


  • dystopia, Espionage, GLBT, Mysteries, Nicola, realistic fiction, Sci Fi

    New books

    02.03.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDark Horses, Cecily Von Ziegesar

    Merritt Wenner has been self-destructing ever since the tragic deaths of her grandmother and her horse, and after an epic all-night bender she walks out of the SAT and disappears. Her parents, looking for a quick fix, ship her off to a residential equine therapy program. At Good Fences, Merritt meets Red—a failed racehorse and a terror in the barn. Red has never bonded with anyone, but Merritt is not afraid of him, which makes all the difference. Soon they’re sneaking rides after curfew, which catches the attention of Red’s owner. Recognizing their potential, he funds their launch into the competitive hunter/jumper circuit. Against the cutthroat backdrop of competitive riding, Merritt and their groom, Beatrice, develop an attraction. Merritt also finds herself drawn to Carvin, a rival rider. But in Red’s mind, Merritt belongs to him alone. Anyone else poses a threat. And Merritt can’t foresee what he’ll do to keep her to himself.(Goodreads)

    First lines: I’m dying. Whatever I drank from those boxes has made me very, very sick. I can’t find my stall. The ground lists and sways beneath my hooves as I stagger around in the dark, looking for.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe home-coming, Stacie Ramey

    It’s been a year since John lost his girlfriend, Leah, to suicide. Living with his uncle keeps his mind from the tragedy and his screwed up family-until he gets into trouble and a judge sends him back home. With a neglectful mother and abusive brother, John’s homecoming is far from happy. As he tries to navigate and repair the relationships he abandoned years ago, Emily, the girl next door, is the only bright spot. She’s sweet and smart and makes him think his heart may finally be healing. But tragedy isn’t far away, and John must soon face an impossible decision: save his family or save himself. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Standing on the high school’s lacrosse field in the town I never thought I’d go back to, I wait for my turn to do suicides. The sun blazes, and I take a drink from my water bottle and try not to chew myself out for landing here instead of getting to stay in Chicago with Uncle Dave.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsProperty of the state, Bill Cameron

    Joey Getchie has been property of the state longer than he was in parental custody. But he’s a survivor, and he has a Plan: graduate high school and get out of the foster care system before it eats him alive. He bonds with Trisha, another foster, who seems to have lucked out when it comes to foster parents. A false accusation leads to a physical clash with his foster father, so Joey flees to Huntzel Manor, where he works part time. He takes up unauthorized residence and keeps a low profile, hoping to avoid attention. But attention arrives in the worst possible way: a classmate is seriously injured in a hit and run accident, and Joey becomes the focus of the investigation. Why shouldn’t he be? He had a violent confrontation with the same classmate just last year. And of course, he’s a kid with a criminal record. Except of course, he isn’t.(Goodreads)

    First lines: “Joseph. Don’t sit down.”
    I’m barely through the door of Moylan’s sixth period Trigonometry dungeon but he’s already on my ass. “You’re required in the office.”
    My therapist says I should count to ten before I open my mouth. With Moylan, I seldom make it past one.
    “My name isn’t Joseph.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLucky strikes, Louis Bayard

    With her mama recently dead and her pa sight unseen since birth, fourteen-year-old Amelia is suddenly in charge of her younger brother and sister, and of the family gas station. Harley Blevins, local king and emperor of Standard Oil, is in hot pursuit to clinch his fuel monopoly. To keep him at bay and her family out of foster care, Melia must come up with a father, and fast. And so when a hobo rolls out of a passing truck, Melia grabs opportunity by its beard. Can she hold off the hounds till she comes of age? (Goodreads)

    First lines: Mama died hard, you should know that. Nearly died alone, too. Now, most nights, she’d so much as groan, I’d come running, but this was late March, ten days shy of Easter and spring barely a thought, and a dream come and snatched me.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe X-Files: origins, Devil’s advocate, Jonathan Maberry

    How did Fox Mulder become a believer? How did Dana Scully become a skeptic? The X-Files Origins has the answers in this young adult origin story. The X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate will explore the teen years of Dana Scully, the beloved character depicted in the cult-favorite TV show The X-Files. Her 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 Scully as she experiences life-changing events that set her on the path to becoming an FBI agent.(Goodreads)

    First lines: “I want to believe,” said Dana Scully.
    Melissa Scully looked at her sister. Dana sat a few feet away, red hair tangled by the wind, blue eyes foxed on darkening sky. Above the canopy of leaves, the first starts of a brand-new April were igniting. The waxing crescent moon was low, slicing its way into the steeple of the empty church across the street.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe one memory of Flora Banks, Emily Barr

    Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life. With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The music is too loud, the room too crowded, and it feels as though there are more people in this house than any human being could possibly know. The low notes vibrate through my body. I have been standing in the corner for a while: I take a deep breath and start to push my way between strangers. I look at my hand. PARTY, it tells me, in thick black letters.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAll we have left, Wendy Mills

    Now:
    Sixteen-year-old Jesse is used to living with the echoes of the past. Her older brother died in the September 11th attacks, and her dad has filled their home with anger and grief. When Jesse gets caught up with the wrong crowd, one momentary hate-fueled decision turns her life upside down. The only way to make amends is to face the past, starting Jesse on a journey that will reveal the truth about how her brother died.
    Then:
    In 2001, sixteen-year-old Alia is proud to be Muslim… it’s being a teenager that she finds difficult. After being grounded for a stupid mistake, Alia is determined to show her parents that that they must respect her choices. She’ll start by confronting her father at his office in downtown Manhattan, putting Alia in danger she never could have imagined. When the planes collide into the Twin Towers Alia is trapped inside one of the buildings. In the final hours she meets a boy who will change everything for her as the flames rage around them…(Goodreads)

    First lines: Travis draws my face into his chest as the smoke engulfs us. The other tower fell, it fell straight down like a waterfall of concrete and steel, and oh God, please help me, because is this one going to fall too? Travis tightens his arms around me, shielding me as parts of the ceiling fall. It doesn’t feel like it will ever end, and I hold on to him with all my strength.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDreadnought, April Daniels

    Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl. It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with “curing” her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head. She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer—a cyborg named Utopia—still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction. (Goodreads)

    First lines: This is taking too long. I just want to pay for the shit and go. It’s not like I’m breaking the law or anything-except it totally feels like I’m breaking the law. It’d be really cool to be able to do this without shame, without hopping on a train to ride halfway across the city first. Finally, I get to the front of the line and drop the nail polish on the counter.


  • dystopia, Fantasy

    New books

    24.01.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWindwitch, Susan Dennard

    After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.
    When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first? After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Blood on the floor. It weeps sideways, pooling in a moonbeam before the gentle roll of the ship sends it trickling back the other way. The prince releases the sword’s hilt and rocks back two steps, heart banging against his ribs. He’s never taken another man’s life before. He wonders if this will change him. The blade stays upright, lodged in the wood, even as the young man swekered beneath it tries to stand.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRebel Magisters, Shanna Swendson

    The Rebel Mechanics aren’t the only group plotting revolution against the magical British Empire. There are rebel magisters, as well, and Verity Newton and her magister employer, Lord Henry, know that the only way for the revolution to succeed is if both groups work together. A diplomatic mission seems like the perfect opportunity for them to meet with rebels in other colonies and gather support—right under the governor’s nose. From drawing rooms, ballrooms, and the harbor in Boston to the streets of Charleston, Verity and Henry find themselves up against stubborn factions of both magisters and Mechanics and increasingly aware that they can only really count on each other as their relationship deepens. It may take a real crisis to unite the rebel movements and rally them to the cause—but could such a crisis also tear them apart? (Goodreads)

    First lines: The Rebel Mechanics made a daring last minute escape from a magister sweep, safely removing all of their machines from the city, one step ahead of the redcoats. Acting on a tip from a well-placed source, the rebels vanished as if by magic, leaving the authorities baffled.

    Book cover courtesy of Syndetics…And a happy new year? Holly Bourne

    Evie, Amber and Lottie are having a new year party to remember. For the first time since leaving college, all three girls are back together. It’s time for fun and flirting, snogs and shots.
    (And not tears or tantrums or terrible secrets) Because everything’s going great for these girls – Spinster Club for ever! Right? (Goodreads)

    First lines: “I can’t believe I’m actually going to have someone to kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve.” I took two ornamental vases off the mantlepiece, ready to hide them in the airing cupboard. All the breakables were going into lockdown. Kyle made his aww baby face and wrapped his arms around my waist. I had to put the vases down on the carpet.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCrongton knights, Alex Wheatle

    Living on the South Crongton council estate has its worries – and life for McKay has been even tougher since his mum died. His dad has been working all hours to keep the bailiffs from their door.
    His brother is always out riding the streets at night, tempting trouble. And now, having strayed off his turf on a ‘heroic’ (if misguided) mission to help out a girl, McKay finds himself facing a friend’s crazy ex-boyfriend, some power-tripping hood-rats and a notoriously violent gangster with a vendetta which hits too close to home. Poor McKay. He never asked for trouble . . . But during one madcap night of adventure and danger, he will find out who his true friends are and what it means to stick with your family. (Goodreads)

    First lines: My mum told me I was named after her Scottish granddad, Danny McKay. Apparently, once a year, he served food to the best golfers in the world in some top-ranking hotel by the sea. I don’t love gold but Mum was proper proud of her grandpops. She wanted to keep his surname so I was branded McKay Medgar Tambo. It’s not the coolest of the names but it smacks the insults of the Gateau Kid, Slop Bag and Dumpling-Butt which I had to put up with in primary school.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCarve the mark, Veronica Roth

    On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?
    Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows. Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Hushflowers always bloomed when the night was longest. The whole city celebrated the day the bundle of petals peeled apart into rich red-partly because hushflowers were their nation’s lifeblood, and partly, Akos thought, to keep them all from going crazy in the cold.


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