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  • Comicfest, Competition, Facebook, Graphic Novels, Happenings, Library, New Zealand, Nicola, Pencil it in your diaries

    Comicfest 2017!

    04.05.17 | Permalink | Comment?

    I hope you’ve heard about our amazing event Comicfest! It’s now a yearly event that celebrates free comic book day and puts the spotlight on some of our amazing local talent. There’s competitions, talks from said local talent, and of course, free comic books!

    Check out the Comicfest 2017 Facebook page for details.


  • 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, 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.


  • Comedy, Graphic Novels, Great Reads, Horror, Nicola, zombies

    Halloween countdown: werewolves and zombies and vampires, oh my!

    27.10.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on Halloween countdown: werewolves and zombies and vampires, oh my!

    We’ve all heard of Twilight. But perhaps it’s time to try something different…

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAfterlife with Archie, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla

    I know what you’re thinking. Archie, wholesome hero of almost 77 years of comics set in the all-American town of Riverdale, fighting against the Undead? It’s a strange concept, but a concept that works. The art’s not the usually cartoony Archie style, which is also good. I don’t want to give the plot away, but it’s well worth a look.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPrincess Decomposia and Count Spatula, Andi Watson

    This is a rather wacky take on your bog-standard supernatural romance. Princess Decomposia spends most of her life running the kingdom while her hypochondriac father lies in bed. On her to do list is to hire a new cook. Luckily, Count Spatula appears. He’s a charming chap with a knack for baking impressive meals. It’s hardly the most terrifying story of love between the undead, but Halloween is equally parts “treat” to “trick.”** A nice break from all the chewing on brains.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe forest of hands and teeth, Carrie Ryan

    What happens ten years after the zombie apocalypse? Twenty? This book is set in an undefined period of time after the zombies – here called “Unconsecrated” – have apparently taken over the world. It’s a wonderful blend of horror and dystopia and a really great look at how humanity copes with the undead after the initial attack. It’s also an interesting coming of age story about a young woman struggling with the traditions she’s grown up with and the promise of a world outside all that she’s ever known.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe abused werewolf rescue group, Catherine Jinks

    Tobias Richard Vandevelde begins his lycanthropic journey not howling under the moon on a deserted moor but naked in a dingo pen. After that rather inglorious start thing escalate, and the titular group comes into play. I’ve been a fan of Catherine Jinks for a long time, so I was pretty excited to find out she’d written something in my favourite genre. Fair warning, though: you won’t find handsome men with rippling abs brooding under the full moon in this book. Refreshing, really.

    **It took me a long time to think of this sentence and I refuse to apologise for it.


  • Classic novels, dystopia, Espionage, Graphic Novels, Horror, Nicola, Sci Fi

    New books

    09.09.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLong dark dusk, JP Smythe

    The moment she learned the horrible truth about her life on Australia, the derelict ship overrun with violent gangs, Chan Aitch made it her mission to save everyone she could from their fate worse than death. But her efforts were in vain. Now, everyone she cares about is dead or in prison, and Chan is more alone than ever before. As the only person to have escaped Australia’s terrible crash-landing back to Earth, Chan is now living in poverty on the fringes of a huge city. She believes Mae, the little girl she once rescued on the Australia, is still alive – but she has no idea where Mae is, or how to find her. Everything on Earth is strange and new, and Chan has never felt more lost. But she’ll do whatever it takes to find Mae, even if it means going to prison herself. She’s broken out of prison before. How hard could it be to do it again? (Goodreads)

    First lines: She says that her name is Alala, but I’m not sure if I believe her. She says that it has a meaning, that in the language her ancestors spoke it would carry some weight, but she doesn’t know what it is now. Nobody remembers. It’s a word that has been lost, from a language that went under the sea.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhat I couldn’t tell you, Faye Bird

    When love turns to jealousy, when jealousy turns to rage, when rage turns to destruction…Laura was head over heels in love with Joe. But now Laura lies in a coma and Joe has gone missing. Was he the one who attacked her? Laura’s sister Tessie is selectively mute. She can’t talk but she can listen. And as people tell her their secrets, she thinks she’s getting close to understanding what happened on that fateful night. (Goodreads)

    First lines:
    “I love you.”
    She said it.
    She just said it.
    She’d been waiting to say it, and there it was.

    The fail safe, Jack Heath

    Everyone seems to know who Fero is – except Fero. Is he a ruthless boy soldier from Besmar, or an innocent teen recruit from Kamau? He’s running out of time to decide. If he doesn’t help a renegade spy steal a politician’s briefcase, his two countries could end up in a full blown nuclear war – the kind that no one wins. (Goodreads)

    First lines:
    “Why are we doing this?” Fero asked.
    “Because potassium iodide stops radiation from-”
    “From reaching the thyroid gland. You said. But won’t the shelter protect us.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStreet soldier, Andy McNab

    Sean Harker is good at two things: stealing cars and fighting. One earns him money, the other earns him respect from the gang that he calls family.
    A police chase through the city streets is just another rite of passage for Sean . . . as is getting nicked. But a brutal event behind bars convinces him to take charge, and turn his life around. Now he must put his street skills to the ultimate test: as a soldier in the British Army. And the battlefield is London, where innocent people are being targeted by a new and terrifying enemy. Undercover, under threat – only Sean Harker can save the streets from all-out war. (Goodreads)

    First lines: A helicopter roared in enemy airspace. Its searchlight speared out of the warm night and swept over the rooftop. Sean Harker swore and ducked into the shadow of an air vent.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe last descendants, Matthew J. Kirby

    Nothing in Owen’s life has been right since his father died in prison, accused of a crime Owen is certain he didn’t commit. Monroe, the IT guy at school, might finally bring Owen the means to clear his father’s name by letting him use an Animus — a device that lets users explore the genetic memories buried within their own DNA. The experience brings Owen more than he bargained for. During a simulation, Owen uncovers the existence of an ancient and powerful relic long considered legend — the Trident of Eden. Now two secret organizations will stop at nothing to take possession of this artefact — the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar Order. It soon becomes clear to Owen that the only way to save himself is to find the Trident first. Under the guidance of Monroe, Owen and a group of other teenagers enter a simulation of memories they all share within their DNA: the 1863 draft riots in New York City. Owen and his companions will find themselves tested on the gritty streets of New York, and their experiences in the past will have far-reaching consequences in the present. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The informant cleared his throat across the dinner table, his long frock coat unbuttoned, his hair greased and curled at his temples. Evening had quickly overtaken the townhouse, and the man had emptied his plate before delivering his message.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAn unexpected hero, L.P Hansen

    What could be worse, Matt Turner wonders, than having to leave your parents, friends and the buzz of big city life for a remote rural school that’s so small it only has two classrooms, and two teachers who are married to each other? The twelve-year old soon finds out that worse things can happen. A school project plunges him into his worst nightmare – he has to make a speech in public. Matt decides to speak about New Zealand’s First World War pacifist, Archibald Baxter. But is that a good idea in a district where almost every family has lost someone to war?” (Back cover)

    First lines: Matt rummaged in his backpack, pretending to be looking for something so he could be the last one getting on the bus. It was his first morning at this country school, so he could be the last one getting on the bus.

    Addendum:

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIt was with a heavy heart that I discovered that, a week after my post on Mary Shelley, a graphic adaptation of Frankenstein – “Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein” appeared on the new books shelf. Bad timing! But then this has to be one of the best graphic adaptations of any classic novel I’ve ever read. It takes text directly from Frankenstein, and the illustrator/editor, Gris Grimly, is an amazing artist. The art itself has a gothic, vaguely steampunk vibe; Boris Karloff eat your heart out, because this is the best depiction of the ‘monster’ I’ve ever seen. Please, please, if you’ve got any interest in Frankenstein, pick this one up.


  • Graphic Novels, Movies, Nicola

    Graphic novels and films

    18.08.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on Graphic novels and films

    There have been a lot of comic book movies coming out, so here’s a list of titles related to the movies that have come out recently! All can be found in our YA collection.

    Suicide Squad

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMost of our Suicide Squad comics are in the adult section, but there are a bunch of great titles related to the individual characters. Harley and Ivy follows Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy on various capers. Gotham City Sirens follows the same two characters, as well as Catwoman, on their attempts to go straight.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEl Diablo’s not a well known character in the DC canon but he’s the star of a standalone title, El Diablo: the haunted horseman. I don’t want to go too much into the plot, as it would give too much away, but it’s well worth picking up.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsKiller Croc’s part of Batman’s rogues’ gallery, so you’ll find him in many of our Batman titles. Captain Boomerang is one of The Flash’s reoccurring foes, so he pops up there frequently. Three titles that might interest you are: The Flash: Rogue war, The Flash: dastardly death of the Rogues and Forever Evil: Rogues rebellion.

    Dr. Strange

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHere’s the trailer for the upcoming Dr. Strange film. Our latest Dr. Strange title is Dr Strange: the way of the weird. He makes plenty of appearances in other titles too, which

    Wonder Woman

    I’m so excited for the Wonder Woman movie! It looks like they’ve stayed true to the spirit of the comics, and it’s great to see her pre-Justice League. Hopefully it lives up to the hype. It’s hard to recommend individual titles for a character who’s been around for 75 (!) years, but her New-52 series are pretty great.

    Comics I’d love to see made into films:

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNimona (Noelle Stevenson): I’ve talked about this comic before. A mysterious shapeshifter turns up on the doorstep of the villainous Lord Ballister Blackheart, offering her services. It manages to be funny and heartbreaking at the same time, and nothing is quite what it seems.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTemplar (written by Jordan Mechner, illustrated LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland)

    This reads part historical epic, part heist story and part medieval romance. After the slaughter of their fellow knights, a small group of the surviving Templars set out to find the lost treasure of their order.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGotham by midnight (written by Ray Fawkes, art by Ben Templesmith)

    Sometimes there are cases that are too weird for even Batman to handle. So he turns to Jim Corrigan and the mysterious Midnight Shift, a department in the Gotham City Police. It’s creepy and atmospheric; something quite different to the usual DC output, but well worth investigating. Perhaps not a film; a tv show would be even better!

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSuperman: Red son

    What if Superman had landed into the Soviet Union instead of the USA? A fantastic alternate look at Superman and the Justice League mythos.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMarvel 1602 (written by Neil Gaiman, art by Andy Kubert)

    This is another “what if” comic, transporting many of the characters from the Marvel Universe into the year of 1602: Queen Elizabeth is dead, the Spanish Inquisition are a constant danger and England has begun its colonisation of America. It seems like a strange premise at first reading, but this is Neil Gaiman at his best.


  • Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Great Reads, Horror, Librarian's Choice, Nicola

    Librarian’s choice : Graphic Novels

    15.07.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on Librarian’s choice : Graphic Novels

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFaith Erin Hicks has been one of my favourite graphic novelists for a while; she wrote and drew both Friends with boys and Nothing can possibly go wrong, both slightly offbeat stories about high school and growing up. But I think her latest work, The Nameless City, is her most standout title so far. The titular city has been squabbled over for centuries by three “great” nations. It’s located in the only gap in the mountains, and whoever controls the city controls the wealth of this world. It has been invaded and conquered so many times that it no longer has a name. Or at least, no one can agree on one. The book follows Kai and Rat; one a dreamy military recruit from the current occupiers of the city, the Dao; Rat is a street urchin with every reason to hate the invaders. Of course, they strike up an uneasy friendship, but a fraught one, between the occupier and the occupied. By it’s more than just a story of two conflicting peoples; it’s a great adventure story as well. It’s funny and poignant. And the art, as always with Hicks, is incredible. She manages to convey a rich, lush world without being cluttered or busy. It’s a historically inspired world,

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOn the very opposite end of the spectrum, we have Through the woods, by Emily Carroll. I first discovered her through her magnificently creepy website, which she updates yearly with a terrifying story. I’m not kidding about the “terrifying” by the way – this is the stuff of nightmares. But it’s not Freddy Kruger jump scares – the stories that Carroll writes are just as visceral, but subtle. Gory, sometimes – but they’re equally about psychological terror. Her stories often don’t have neat and tidy endings, which I like, and I personally find all the more creepy. I honestly can’t pick a favourite among the five short stories that appear in this collection.


  • 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)


  • Comedy, dystopia, Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Grimm, Horror, Mysteries, New, Nicola, Sci Fi, Science!, Space: The Final Frontier, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    New books

    12.02.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsForbidden, Eve Bunting

    Sixteen-year-old Josie Ferguson has just lost both her parents. She is sent to live with an unknown aunt and uncle in a town on the stormy northwest coast of Scotland. But the townspeople, including her relatives, are as cold and hostile as the sea. Josie has never felt so alone. Then Eli appears. Mysterious but kind—and handsome—he sparks a desire in Josie unlike anything she has ever experienced. Even though she’s been warned that Eli is forbidden, she can’t stop thinking about him. And the locals are harboring a secret. When curious, determined Josie sets out to uncover it, the truth is more horrific than she could have imagined. (Goodreads).

    First lines: We had arrived.
    I’d taken two traps, a coach, and a carriage to get here from my old, beloved home in Edinburgh. It was sad and strange to think of myself as an orphan now that my parents had died. But that was what I was. Sorrow threatened to overwhelm me. But I told myself to be brave and to consider myself fortunate to have an aunt and an uncle to go to. Though an orphan, I would have a family again.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThicker than water, Brigid Kemmerer

    Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.
    Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years. The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers. Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden… (Goodreads).

    First lines: I hate this suit. Mom bought it two weeks ago, and I hated it then. But she started with the whole please and for me and just this once and I gave in. Because she knows my buttons. Knew. She knew my buttons. I hate the past tense. I’m definitely not a suit guy. She knows that. Damn it.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHide and seek, Jane Casey

    It’s Christmas in Port Sentinel, the tiny English town where Jess Tennant has been living for more than a year now. Jess wasn’t sure how she felt about moving to Port Sentinel when her mom dragged her there right in the middle of high school, but even Jess has to admit the town has completely outdone itself for the holidays. There’s a Christmas market complete with mini ice-rink and fairy lights, and the bare trees stand stark against the sky. But for Gilly Poynter, one of Jess’s classmates, the Christmas season is anything but magical. She’s disappeared, leaving behind only her diary and a lot of questions. Has she run away from her unhappy home, or has something more sinister happened? And will Jess be able to find her before it’s too late?(Goodreads).

    First lines: As parties went, it was a fairly typical Port Sentinel night out: too many people crammed into a large, expensive house, most of them determined to have fun. If there was one thing I’d learned in the five months I’d been living in Port Sentinel, it was that any excuse for a party would do. The mere fact it was Friday night counted.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBlack widow: forever red, Margaret Stohl

    Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives. Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments—until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type. Until now.
    When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned—and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams…(Goodreads).

    First lines: Natasha Romanoff hated pierogies – but more than that, she hated lies. Lying she was fine with. Lying was a necessity, a tool of her tradecraft. It was being lied to that she hated, even if it was how she had been raised.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTruthwitch, Susan Dennard

    On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others. In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well. Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.
    Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness. Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.(Goodreads).

    First lines: Everything had gone horribly wrong. None of Safiya fon Hasstrel’s hastily laid plans for this hold up were unfolding as they ought. First, the black carriage with the gleaming gold standard was not the target Safi and Iseult had been waiting for. Worse, this cursed carriage was accompanied by eight rows of city guards blinking midday sun from their eyes.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSound, Alexandra Duncan

    As a child, Ava’s adopted sister Miyole watched her mother take to the stars, piloting her own ship from Earth to space making deliveries. Now a teen herself, Miyole is finally living her dream as a research assistant on her very first space voyage. If she plays her cards right, she could even be given permission to conduct her own research and experiments in her own habitat lab on the flight home. But when her ship saves a rover that has been viciously attacked by looters and kidnappers, Miyole—along with a rescued rover girl named Cassia—embarks on a mission to rescue Cassia’s abducted brother, and that changes the course of Miyole’s life forever. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The butterflies keep dying. Their gossamer corpses line the back wall of Dr. Osman’s office -spotted swallowtails and the dark-tinged bird-wings-all suspended in squat acrylic resin cylinders behind her desk.
    “It has to be a genetic disorder.” I hold the latest casualty, a common blue, out to Dr. Osmani in my gloved hand. “They can’t handle the atmosphere.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsYoung man with camera, Emil Sher

    T– is used to getting grief. He gets it from his mom, who blames herself for his accident years earlier. He gets it from Mr. Lam, who suspects every kid of stealing from his shop. Worst of all, he gets it from Joined at the Hip, a trio of bullies so vicious that they leave T– terrified of even using his entire name. But T– has his own strength too: his camera, which captures the unique way he sees the world. His pictures connect him to Ms. Karamath, the kind librarian at school; his friend Sean, whose passion for mysteries is matched only by his love for his dog; and especially Lucy, a homeless woman who shares his admiration for the photographer Diane Arbus. When Lucy is attacked by Joined at the Hip, T– documents the assault on film. But the bullies know he has the photographs, and their anger could be deadly. What’s the right thing for T– to do? Do pictures ever tell the whole truth? And what if the truth isn’t always the right answer? (Goodreads)

    First lines: This is not a fire hydrant. And the truth is, a hydrant isn’t always a hydrant. Sometimes it’s a perch. I stood on my perch to take a picture of Ruby. Ruby is Mr. Lam’s daughter. Mr. Lam is the owner of McCreary’s Corner Store, which is a lie, since the store is in the middle of the block and should be called McCreary’s Nowhere-Near-the-Corner Store.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGathering deep, Lisa Maxwell

    When Chloe Sabourin wakes in a dark, New Orleans cemetery with no memory of the previous days, she can hardly believe the story her friends tell her. They say Chloe was possessed by a witch named Thisbe, who had used the darkest magic to keep herself alive for over a century. They tell her that the witch is the one responsible for the unspeakable murders that nearly claimed the life of Chloe’s friend, Lucy. Most unbelievable of all, they say that Thisbe is Chloe’s own mother. As she struggles with this devastating revelation and tries to rebuilt her life, Chloe wants nothing to do with the magic that corrupted her mother…especially since she feels drawn to it.
    Now, a new series of ritualistic killings suggests that Thisbe is plotting again, and Chloe is drawn unwillingly back into the mystical underworld of the French Quarter. To stop Thisbe before she kills again, Chloe and her friends must learn what they can from the mysterious Mama Legba. But when her boyfriend Piers vanishes, Chloe will have to risk everything and embrace her own power to save the one person she has left… even if that means bringing down her mother. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Hair don’t weigh no more than a soul, but taken all together, it’s got the sort of gravity that anchors a person. Shh. Shh. The scissors whispered their sharp commands, and pieces of who I was fell all around me. I wanted to scream, to tell them I’d changed my mind. But I couldn’t seem to make my mouth form the words.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe suffering, Rin Chupeco

    Seventeen-year-old Tark knows what it is to be powerless. But Okiku changed that. A restless spirit who ended life as a victim and started death as an avenger, she’s groomed Tark to destroy the wicked. But when darkness pulls them deep into Aokigahara, known as Japan’s suicide forest, Okiku’s justice becomes blurred, and Tark is the one who will pay the price… (Goodreads)

    First lines: I’m no hero, believe me. I’ve never rescued babies from burning buildings. I’ve never volunteered to save humpback whales or the rain forest. I’ve never been to protest rallies, fed the hungry in Africa, or righted any of the eighty thousand things that are wrong with the world these days. Heroism isn’t a trait commonly found in teenage boys.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe rosemary spell, Virginia Zimmerman

    Best friends Rosie and Adam find an old book with blank pages that fill with handwriting before their eyes. Something about this magical book has the power to make people vanish, even from memory. The power lies in a poem—a spell. When Adam’s older sister, Shelby, disappears, they struggle to retain their memories of her as they race against time to bring her back from the void, risking their own lives in the process.(Goodreads)

    First lines:For ten years, my father’s furniture and books lurked in the study he abandoned. I don’t remember a time when we thought he might come back, but his belongings were like a bookmark, holding a place in our lives, until Mom found out he’d moved to London.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThis raging light, Estelle Laurie

    Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she’s about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend’s brother.(Goodreads)

    First lines: Mom was supposed to come home yesterday after her two-week vacation. Fourteen days. Said she needed a break from everything (See also: Us) and that she would be back before the first day of school.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThrough the woods, Emily Carroll (Graphic novel)

    Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss. These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll. Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there…(Goodreads)

    First lines: When I was little I used to read before I slept at night. And I read the light of a lamp clipped to my headboard. Stark white and bright, against the darkness of my room. I dreaded turning it off. What if I reached out…just past the edge of bed and something waiting there, grabbed me and pulled me down, into the dark-

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe mystery of hollow places, Rebecca Podos

    All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when Imogene was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as “troubled waters.”
    Now Imogene is seventeen, and her father, a famous author of medical mysteries, has struck out in the middle of the night and hasn’t come back. Neither Imogene’s stepmother nor the police know where he could’ve gone, but Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. And she decides it’s up to her to put to use the skills she’s gleaned from a lifetime of reading her father’s books to track down a woman she’s only known in stories in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she’s carried with her for her entire life.
    (Goodreads).

    First lines: The bedtime story my dad used to tell me began with my grandmother’s body. Back when my dad wasn’t yet my dad, but a young forensic pathologist at Good Shepherd Hospital the city, a dead woman landed on his table. She was middle-aged and unremarkable, her hair colourless, her face like a vacant moon.


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