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  • Books, Comedy, dystopia, Great Reads, Mysteries, Nicola

    New books

    02.08.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRemade, Alex Scarrow

    Leon and his younger sister, Grace, have recently moved to London from New York and are struggling to settle into their new school when rumours of an unidentified virus in Africa begin to fill the news. Within a week the virus hits London. The siblings witness people turning to liquid before their eyes, and they run for their lives. A month after touching Earth’s atmosphere the virus has assimilated the world’s biomass. But the virus isn’t their only enemy, and survival is just the first step. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The girl was only ten. Her name was Camille. She was on her way to collect water from the drinking well, a large battered and dented tin jug dangling from each hand, when she spotted it just a few meters off the hard dirt track. A dead dog. Not an uncommon sight. Except the fact it was only half a dead dog.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhen Michael met Mina, Randa Abdel-Fattah

    When Michael meets Mina, they are at a rally for refugees – standing on opposite sides. Mina fled Afghanistan with her mother via a refugee camp, a leaky boat and a detention centre. Michael’s parents have founded a new political party called Aussie Values. They want to stop the boats. Mina wants to stop the hate. When Mina wins a scholarship to Michael’s private school, their lives crash together blindingly. (Goodreads)

    First lines: I know two things for a fact. My parents are good people. And ever since I can remember, they’ve been angry about almost everything. I scan the area and see my dad, draped in the Australian flag, talking to Li Chee, who’s wearing a flag top hat and holding up a Turn Back the Boats banner.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe monstrous child, Francesca Simon

    A stunning, operatic, epic drama, like no other. Meet Hel, an ordinary teenager – and goddess of the Underworld. Why is life so unfair? Hel tries to make the best of it, creating gleaming halls in her dark kingdom and welcoming the dead who she is forced to host for eternity. Until eternity itself is threatened. (Goodreads)

    First lines: You’d think after my brother the snake was born, they’d have stopped at one. But no. Next was the wolf, Fenrir. And then me. How Mum must have hoped, when my top half slithered out, that it was third time lucky. A human head. Praise the Blood Mother.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOne would think the deep, Claire Zorn

    It’s 1997 and seventeen-year-old Sam is mourning the sudden loss of his mum…Sam has always had things going on in his head that no one else understands, even his mum. And now she’s dead, it’s worse than ever. With nothing but his skateboard and a few belongings in a garbage bag, Sam goes to live with the strangers his mum cut ties with seven years ago: Aunty Lorraine and his cousins Shane and Minty. Despite the suspicion and hostility emanating from their fibro shack, Sam reverts to his childhood habit of following Minty around and is soon surfing with Minty to cut through the static fuzz in his head. But as the days slowly meld into one another, and ghosts from the past reappear, Sam has to make the ultimate decision … will he sink or will he swim. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Sam rang from the hospital. A social worker called Amanda gave him a dollar for the phone in the shop that sold teddy bears and balloons with the declarations of love. Sam plugged his ear with a finger to drown out the chaos in the corridor behind him. He didn’t know the voice of the guy who answered. He didn’t know any of them anymore.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe edge, Roland Smith

    The International Peace Ascent is the brainchild of billionaire Sebastian Plank: Recruit a global team of young climbers and film an inspiring, world-uniting documentary. The adventure begins when fifteen-year-old Peak Marcello and his mountaineer mother are helicoptered to a remote base camp in the Hindu Kush Mountains on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. When the camp is attacked and his mother taken, Peak has no choice but to track down the perpetrators to try to save her. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The snow leopard makes an impossible leap. Twelve feet. Maybe fifteen. Up the sheer rock face. Landing on a narrow shelf as if she is lighter than air. Her two cubs stand below, yowling for her to come back down.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAm I normal yet?, Holly Bourne

    All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

    First lines: It started with a house party. This wasn’t just any house party. I was also My First Date. Like first EVER date. In my entire life. Because, finally, following all the crap that had gone down, I was ready for boys.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGemini, Sonya Mukherjee

    Seventeen-year-old conjoined twins Clara and Hailey have lived in the same small town their entire lives—no one stares at them anymore. But there are cracks in their quiet existence, and they’re slowly becoming more apparent. Clara and Hailey are at a crossroads. Clara wants to stay close to home, avoid all attention, and study the night sky. Hailey wants to travel the world, learn from great artists, and dance with mysterious boys. As high school graduation approaches, each twin must untangle her dreams from her sister’s, and figure out what it means to be her own person.

    First lines: About four years ago, when I was thirteen and still prone to crying spells, my mother liked to show off her so-called wisdom by telling me that every teenage girl sometimes feels like a freak of nature.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsP.S. I like you, Kasie West

    While Lily is spacing out in Chemistry one day, she picks up her pencil and scribbles a line from one of her favorite songs on the desk. The next day, someone else has written back to her on the desk! Soon enough Lily and the mystery student are exchanging notes, and lyrics, and even sharing secrets. When Lily finds out that her anonymous pen pal is a guy, she’s flustered — and kind of feels like she’s falling for him. She and her best friend set out to unravel the identity of the letter writer — but when the truth is revealed, the guy is the LAST person Lily could have ever imagined it to be. Now that Lily knows the truth, can she untangle her feelings and gather the courage to listen to her heart?

    First lines: A lightning strike. A shark attack. Winning the lottery. No I lined through all the words. Too cliché. I tapped my pen against my lips. Rare. What was rare? Meat, I thought with a small laugh. That would go really well in a song.


  • 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.


  • Adrienne, Books, Great Reads, Reviews

    Love NZ books?

    22.03.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on Love NZ books?

    Hooked On NZ Books is all about YA books written by New Zealanders. You talk about movies, music, fashion and apps, and now some clever people have come up with a way for you to talk about books too.

    You can get recommendations for what’s new and what others are reading and enjoying. If you want free copies of books to review, then you can get that too. And there’s even the opportunity to interview YA authors. Your opinions will feed directly into New Zealand’s publishing market, influencing what types of books are written and published in the future.

    Not sure what to review? Grab a copy of our Top Teen Reads booklet from your local library for some inspo.

     

     


  • 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)


  • Adrienne, Books, Great Reads, realistic fiction

    My Top Teen Reads: Speak

    07.10.15 | Permalink | Comments Off on My Top Teen Reads: Speak

    The newly released Top Teen Reads has inspired this librarian to take on a reading challenge – to read all 80 titles on the list. Whew! Here we go…

    1. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFirst line: It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomach ache.

    This award winning book, and Anderson’s first novel, was very moving and powerful. Her narrative and writing successfully pulls you inside the head of Melinda – a high school junior trying to come to terms with a horrific event that happened to her over the summer holidays.

    Melinda is an intelligent and witty observer of high school life, seen from her point of view as a hated and mute outcast. Melinda struggles through the school year; wanting to participate and engage with school life but finding herself unable to do so due to her loss of faith and trust in her friends, family and other students. Eventually circumstances force her to break her silence and speak out about the traumatic summer holiday events, unveiling the mystery behind her selective muteness, in order to protect others from suffering the same fate.

    Speak is a fairly quick and easy read – the book is short and the story engaging, and will make you wonder what is really going on in other people’s lives that you have no idea about.

    Highly recommended – 4 stars

     

    Reading Wheel

    Pick up your copy of the Top Teen Reads from any Wellington City Library, and start your own reading challenge

     


  • Fantasy, Great Reads, Grimm, New, Nicola, zombies

    New books

    26.02.15 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsZomburbia, Adam Gallardo

    My name is Courtney Hart, and I’m here to tell you about things that suck. Being born in a podunk town like Salem, Oregon, for one. Living in a world infested with zombies? That, too. And the meat heads I go to school with? I think I’d actually take the undead over them most days. But I have a plan to get out of here and move to New York. I just have to keep selling Vitamin Z along with your fries at The Bully Burger. The secret ingredient? Zombie brains. I’ve noticed things are getting even worse lately, if that’s even possible. The zombies seem to be getting smarter and faster. If I can avoid being arrested, eaten by shufflers, or catching the eye of some stupid boy, I should be able to make it through finals week still breathing…(Goodreads)

    First lines: The night shifts at Bully Burger are the absolute worst. It’s like sitting through a five-hour History lecture from Mr. Chanders, only you have to wear a festively colored polyester uniform while you do it. Maybe a car an hour comes through the drive-thru, and you get really tired of that fearful look people have in their eyes after dark.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOf metal and wishes, Sarah Fine

    There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally. Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her…for a very long time.
    As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it. (Goodreads)

    First lines: If I believed in the devil, I’d give him credit for the shift whistle at the Gochan One factory. Its shriek rips me from a dream of the wind whispering through flowering dogwood trees. I fold the pillow over my ears, crush it down, and think of my mother singing me to sleep.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCircus of the unseen, Joanne Owen

    After an accident at her grandmother’s house, Rosie is transported to a strange and sinister world populated by a cast of carnivalesque characters who reside in the Circus of the Unseen. They are reigned over by an old woman called Madam Matushka, who guards the threshold between life and death and has extraordinary powers over all around her.
    This is an in-between world, a bizarre and trapped existence, but Rosie is not like the others here. She seems to be hovering between the worlds of the living and the dead, and she is a challenge to Madam Matushka. Can Rosie escape Madame Matushka’s malevolent rule and a world in limbo? And can she help resolve another mystery – one at the heart of her grandmother’s life?(Goodreads)

    First lines: Long ago, when the world was young and people still though of the marsh and the mists and the witch in the woods, there lived a girl called Vasilia, whose mother fell gravely ill. On her deathbed, Vasilia’s mother called for her daughter.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOh yeah, Audrey! Tucker Shaw

    It’s 5:00 a.m. on Fifth Avenue, and 16-year-old Gemma Beasley is standing in front of Tiffany & Co. wearing the perfect black dress with her coffee in hand—just like Holly Golightly. As the cofounder of a successful Tumblr blog—Oh Yeah Audrey!—devoted to all things Audrey Hepburn, Gemma has traveled to New York in order to meet up with her fellow bloggers for the first time. She has meticulously planned out a 24-hour adventure in homage to Breakfast at Tiffany’s; however, her plans are derailed when a glamorous boy sweeps in and offers her the New York experience she’s always dreamed of. Gemma soon learns who her true friends are and that, sometimes, no matter where you go, you just end up finding yourself.(Goodreads)

    First lines: It’s not like I officially ran away. Actual running away is when you just can’t take it anymore – your family or school or life in general- and you hop on a bus to some big city, change your name, and find a job clearing plates or checking coats at a restaurant.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMonstrous affections: an anthology of beastly tales, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant

    Fifteen top voices in speculative fiction explore the intersection of fear and love in a haunting, at times hilarious, darkly imaginative volume.
    Predatory kraken that sing with – and for – their kin; band members and betrayed friends who happen to be demonic; harpies as likely to attract as to repel. Welcome to a world where humans live side-by-side with monsters, from vampires both nostalgic and bumbling, to an eight-legged alien who makes tea. Here you’ll find mercurial forms that burrow into warm fat, spectral boy toys, a Maori force of nature, a landform that claims lives, and an architect of hell on earth. Through these, and a few monsters that defy categorization, some of today’s top young-adult authors explore ambition and sacrifice, loneliness and rage, love requited and avenged, and the boundless potential for connection, even across extreme borders.(Goodreads)

    First lines: Let’s be honest. We have questions about monsters. That’s why we put this book together. That’s why you’re reading this book right now. On old maps, cartographers would draw strange beasts around the margins and wrote phrases such as “Here there be dragons.” That’s where monsters exist: in the unmapped spaces, in the places where we haven’t filled in all the gaps, in outer space or the deepest parts of the ocean.


  • Classic novels, Great Reads, Horror, Librarian's Choice, Nicola, Nostalgia

    Nik’s Picks: Ghost stories for Christmas

    16.12.14 | Permalink | Comments Off on Nik’s Picks: Ghost stories for Christmas

    Reading ghost stories at Christmas was a bit of a tradition in Victorian England. As a lover of all things horror I am keen to see this revived; there’s nothing like sitting down with a chilling tale, although I must admit reading ghost stories in the middle of an English winter is very different to reading them in the height of Summer! Be warned: these are not for those of a delicate constitution.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe time of the ghost, Diana Wynne Jones

    Ghost stories told from the perspective of the ghost themselves aren’t a rare trope in supernatural fiction, but this book is a cut above the rest. The ghost doesn’t know who she is; she suspects that she is one of four sisters and that she has travelled back in time to prevent something terrible from happening. Something that stems from a not-so-innocent game that the girls play. It also deals with a degree of real-life horror: the girls are actively neglected by their own parents, and their futures seem grim if the evil force cannot be quieted. It’s a subtle, creepy book, rather different from the author’s usual work. I read it again, recently, and found it as disturbing as it was when I read it as a teenager.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsScary stories – short story collection

    This is a group of creepy stories from some of the greats of horror literature: Stephen King, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe and H.P Lovecraft. There are also some more obscure writers, but each story is excellent and a worthy introduction to each writers’ work. What lifts this above other collections is the haunting illustrations by Barry Moser. They’re simple, black and white drawings that chillingly depict some faucet of the story.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe turning, Francine Prose

    This book is based off The Turn of the Screw, a novella written in 1898 by Henry James. Like the original, the narrator is sent to a strange house to look after some children. It’s been updated, however: the narrator is now male, a teenager and the story has a contemporary setting. I don’t want to give too much away, but the book asks interesting questions about just how reliable the narrator is – is he actually seeing ghosts, or are they something more sinister from something deep within his own mind? Read this and then read the original, which is here.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOn the day I died, Candace Fleming

    Mike Kowalski decides to pick up a strange girl on his way home, only for her to take him to a nearby cemetery. He is greeted by nine teenage ghosts, each with their own story to tell. This book is haunting not just because of the poignant, strange or downright terrifying tales of each of the ghosts, but the fact that many are based on real incidents from Chicago’s history – the setting for this story and almost a character in its own right.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

    I couldn’t go past the one that started it all, of course! A Christmas Carol was published in 1843, and has undergone many productions and reinterpretations since then. My favourite film version is The Muppet Christmas Carol, and my favourite book is the one pictured here: sure, Quentin Blake isn’t the scariest of artists, but his art’s gorgeous and suits the story very well. You’re never too old to enjoy a story well told, I think!


  • Books, Comedy, dystopia, Fantasy, GLBT, Great Reads, Horror, Mysteries, Nicola, Sci Fi

    New Fiction

    26.08.14 | Permalink | Comments Off on New Fiction

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCreature of Moonlight, Rebecca Hahn
    As the only heir to the throne, Marni should have been surrounded by wealth and privilege, not living in exile-but now the time has come when she must choose between claiming her birthright as princess of a realm whose king wants her dead, and life with the father she has never known: a wild dragon who is sending his magical woods to capture her. (Goodreads)

    First lines: All Summer long the villagers have been talking of the woods. Even those living many hills away can see it: their crops are disappearing; their land is shrinking by the day. We hear story after story.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGifts, Ursula K. Le Guin
    Scattered among poor, desolate farms, the clans of the Uplands possess gifts. Wondrous gifts: the ability–with a glance, a gesture, a word–to summon animals, bring forth fire, move the land. Fearsome gifts: They can twist a limb, chain a mind, inflict a wasting illness. The Uplanders live in constant fear that one family might unleash its gift against another. Two young people, friends since childhood, decide not to use their gifts. One, a girl, refuses to bring animals to their death in the hunt. The other, a boy, wears a blindfold lest his eyes and his anger kill. (Goodreads)

    First lines: He was lost when he came to us, and I fear the silver spoons he stole from us didn’t save him when he ran away and went up into the high domains. Yet in the end the lost man, the runaway man, was our guide.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe end or something like that, Anne Dee Ellis
    Emmy’s best friend Kim had promised to visit from the afterlife after she died. But so far Kim hasn’t shown up even once. Emmy blames herself for not believing hard enough. Finally, as the one-year anniversary of Kim’s death approaches, Emmy is visited by a ghost—but it’s not Kim. It’s Emmy’s awful dead science teacher. Emmy can’t help but think that she’s failed at being a true friend. But as more ghosts appear, she starts to realize that she’s not alone in her pain. Kim would have wanted her to move forward—and to do that, Emmy needs to start letting go. (Goodreads)

    First lines: One day my best friend named Kim died. Before she died, Kim made me promise to contact her. I didn’t want to. But she made me promise. So then I tried. And tried. And tried. And tried. And tried. Turns out I suck at talking to dead people.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCalypso Summer, Jared Thomas
    After failing to secure employment in sports retail, his dream occupation, Calypso finds work at the Henley Beach Health Food shop where his boss pressures him to gather native plants for natural remedies. This leads him to his Nukunu family in southern Flinders Ranges and the discovery of a world steeped in cultural knowledge. The support of a sassy, smart, young Ngadjuri girl, with a passion for cricket rivalling his own, helps Calypso to reconsider his Rastafarian façade and understand how to take charge of his future.(Goodreads)

    First lines: It was thirty-nine degrees, my boss hadn’t paid me and I was too broke to fix my piece of shit ten-speed. A woman in skirt and bathers walked around the corner and quickly sidestepped out the way. People are always doing that type of thing to me.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsScan, Sarah Fine and Walter Jury
    Tate and his father don’t exactly get along. As Tate sees it, his father has unreasonably high expectations for Tate to be the best—at everything. Tate finally learns what he’s being prepared for when he steals one of his dad’s odd tech inventions and mercenaries ambush the school, killing his father in the process and sending Tate on the run from aliens who look just like humans. All Tate knows–like how to make weapons out of oranges and lighter fluid–may not be enough to save him as he’s plunged into a secret inter-species conflict that’s been going on for centuries. Aided only by his girlfriend and his estranged mother, with powerful enemies closing in on all sides, Tate races to puzzle out the secret behind his father’s invention and why so many are willing to kill for it. (Goodreads)

    First lines: In my world, things are simple. At least, they are right now, The hard, pulsing beat of my music is all my head contains. My muscles are loose. My bare feet are flat on the hardwood. My ass is on this metal bench, but not for long. Any second now, they’re going to call me. I am ready.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSeptember 17, Amanda West Lewis
    September 17 is a novel that tells the story of three of the children that were on board the City of Benares, as they experience and survive the disaster and wait to be rescued. One lifeboat was not picked up by the destroyer sent to make the rescue, and was at sea with 46 passengers, children and adults for eight days until it was picked up near the Irish coast. Two teenaged girls held onto an overturned lifeboat for 18 hours before they were picked up, while another family, including two children not on the CORB program, floated on a tiny raft for hours before being rescued. The characters whose adventures are described are all real, though some conversations and encounters have been fictionalized by author Amanda Lewis. (Goodreads)

    First lines: A heavy clod of wet earth fell on Ken’s head. His hands began to shake. It wasn’t the hideous and sickening lurch of the ground. It wasn’t the overwhelming, deafening crash. It wasn’t even the thought of death. No, it was the idea of being buried alive that most terrified Ken.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHouse of Ivy and Sorrow, Natalie Whipple
    Josephine Hemlock has spent the last 10 years hiding from the Curse that killed her mother. But when a mysterious man arrives at her ivy-covered, magic-fortified home, it’s clear her mother’s killer has finally come to destroy the rest of the Hemlock bloodline. Before Jo can even think about fighting back, she must figure out who she’s fighting in the first place. The more truth Jo uncovers, the deeper she falls into witchcraft darker than she ever imagined. Trapped and running out of time, she begins to wonder if the very Curse that killed her mother is the only way to save everyone she loves.(Goodreads)

    First lines: They say a witch lives in the old house under the interstate bridge. Always in the shadows, draped in ivy and sorrow, the house waits for child too daring for his own good. And inside, the witch sits with her black eyes and toothless sneer.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsResurrection, Amy Carol Reeves
    When she catches Edmund Wyatt following her through the streets of London, Abbie Sharp learns that every British monarch for hundreds of years has known about—and financially supported—the Conclave. Furious that the monarchy would cooperate with such a nefarious group, Abbie refuses Wyatt’s request for help in catching the person who is blackmailing Queen Victoria with this secret information. But a far greater threat emerges when the Ripper, Max, returns and brings a string of new murders with him. Abbie must choose whether to help the Queen she now despises or stop Max from succeeding at his most diabolical plan yet—the creation of a whole new Conclave aimed at usurping the British throne. (Goodreads)

    First lines: By the time he stepped outdoors to escape the stifling billiard game conversation, young Lionel Millbrough the Third’s head swam from the three brandies he had unwisely consumed.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA time to dance, Padma Venkatraman
    Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance—so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. For a girl who’s grown used to receiving applause for her dance prowess and flexibility, adjusting to a prosthetic leg is painful and humbling. But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, taking beginner classes with the youngest dancers. Then Veda meets Govinda, a young man who approaches dance as a spiritual pursuit. As their relationship deepens, Veda reconnects with the world around her, and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her.

    First lines:
    Clinging to the free end of Ma’s sari,
    I follow the tired shuffle of other pilgrims’ feedt
    into the cool darkness of the temple,
    where sweat-smell mingles with the fragrance of incense.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOne man guy, Michael Barakiva
    Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshman year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan. Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Alek stared at the menu suspiciously. He smelled mrinara sauce and a trap.
    “Welcome to Trattori dell’Arte. My name is Lizzy. Can I start you off with something to drink?” The waitress was young, maybe a college student alreadt home for the summer, with a kind, round face framed by bangs the curled up at the bottom. Alek pitied her. She had no idea what she was in for.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe drowned Forest, Kristopher Reisz
    Losing Holly is the hardest thing Jane has ever had to endure … until Holly comes back.
    Best friends Jane and Holly have jumped off the bluff over their Alabama reservoir hundreds of times. But one day, Holly’s jump goes wrong. Her body never comes up, yet something else does—a sad creature of mud, full of confusion and sorrow. It’s Holly, somehow, trapped and mixed up with the river. And if Jane can’t do something to help, Holly will take everybody down with her—even the people they love the most. (Goodreads)

    First lines: But it’s a beautiful day, Holly, It’s the most beautiful day. Pastor Wesley stands in the river, frog-green water swirling around his thighs. Sunlight ripples in his outstretched hands and across the robes of those about to be baptised.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAlways, Emily Michaela MacColl
    Emily and Charlotte Brontë are about as opposite as two sisters can be. Charlotte is practical and cautious; Emily is headstrong and imaginative. But they do have one thing in common: a love of writing. This shared passion will lead them to be two of the first published female novelists and authors of several enduring works of classic literature. But they’re not there yet. First, they have to figure out if there is a connection between a string of local burglaries, rumors that a neighbor’s death may not have been accidental, and the appearance on the moors of a mysterious and handsome stranger. The girls have a lot of knots to untangle—before someone else gets killed. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The minister pronounced the final benediction for Elizabeth Bronte, aged 10. The funeral was finally over. The surviving Brontes huddled in the family pew. Charlotte, the eldest child at nine, sat stiffly, her back perfectly straight. She frowned at her younger sister, Emily, who had fidgeted unconscionably during the long service. Then she clutched her eight year old brother Branwell’s hand.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsI have a bad feeling about this, Jeff Strand
    Henry Lambert would rather play video games than spend time in the great outdoors–but that doesn’t make him a wuss. Skinny nerd? Fine. But wuss is a little harsh. Sadly, his dad doesn’t agree. Which is why Henry is being shipped off to Strongwoods Survival Camp. Strongwoods isn’t exactly as advertised. It looks like the victim of a zombie apocalypse, the “camp director” is a psycho drill sergeant, and Henry’s sure he saw a sign written in blood…(Goodreads)

    First lines: “Hi everybody. This is Rad rad Roger here at the world premiere of I Have a Bad Feeling About This, and let me tell you, this par-taaay is wild! You can’t spit without hitting a celebrity! Watch – I’m gonna try it right now! Hoccccccccchhhhh-patoo!”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNowhere boys, Elise McCredie
    Four teenage boys are hiking in the bush when they are caught in a freak storm. After surviving the night, the boys expect a hero’s welcome, but instead they find that nobody knows who they are. Not their family. Not their friends. They are faced with a town of blank faces and are trapped in a world where they don’t exist. Sam, Jake and Andy are desperate to right their lives. They need to figure out how to make things go back to the way they used to be. Only Felix is conflicted: there are certain things about this new world that he likes. But as they grapple with their situation, it becomes clear that other things have been disturbed. A dark force has been unleashed and suddenly the situation becomes desperate. The boys must find a way to right their lives before evil destroys them. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Felix’s fingers thrashed at the strings of his electric guitar as if he were trying to do it damange. The chords screeched out of his amp in ragged harmony with his vocals.
    “Water, fire, earth and air
    Elements that we all share.”


  • Books, Great Reads, New Zealand, Rachel

    NZ Post Children’s (and YA) Book Award WINNERS!

    25.06.14 | Permalink | Comments Off on NZ Post Children’s (and YA) Book Award WINNERS!

    Well that crept up on us – the winners of the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards have just been announced! The overall winner of the Margaret Mahy Book of the year prize went to The Boring Book by Vasanti Unka! The Boring Book also won its category of Best Picture Book.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe winner of the young adult category was Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox! I know we have a number of Elizabeth Knox fans among our readers – hurrah!

    “Mortal Fire is an incredibly well-written and engaging book. The story is like a jigsaw that slowly slots together and leaves the reader satisfied but haunted by the events and the characters. It is a book that operates on a supernatural, fantastical level, while still containing the core young adult material about finding out who you are,” says Barbara Else.

    The other winners were Dunger by Joy Cowley (Junior Fiction), The Beginner’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing in New Zealand by Paul Adamson (Non-fiction), A Necklace of Souls by R L Stedman (Best Debut) and The Three Bears…Sort Of by Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley (Children’s Choice). We have all of the winners in our collection – click on the links above to reserve them!


  • dystopia, Fantasy, Great Reads, New, Nicola

    New fiction

    12.06.14 | Permalink | Comments Off on New fiction

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Mark of the Dragonfly, Jaleigh Johnson (386 pages)Piper has never seen the Mark of the Dragonfly until she finds the girl amid the wreckage of a caravan in the Meteor Fields. The girl doesn’t remember a thing about her life, but the intricate tattoo on her arm is proof that she’s from the Dragonfly Territories and that she’s protected by the king. Which means a reward for Piper if she can get the girl home. The one sure way to the Territories is the 401, a great old beauty of a train. But a ticket costs more coin than Piper could make in a year. And stowing away is a difficult prospect–everyone knows that getting past the peculiar green-eyed boy who stands guard is nearly impossible. Life for Piper just turned dangerous. A little bit magical. And very exciting, if she can manage to survive the journey. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Micah brought the music box to her on the night of the meteor storm. Piper never slept on these nights, when debris from other worlds feel from the sky. Restlessness kept her awake in bed, staring at the slanted ceiling of her tiny house.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe ring and the crown, Melissa De La Cruz (372 pages)Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?
    Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. But even with the aid of Emrys’ magic, Eleanor’s extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen’s Guard. Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie’s face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she’s always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she’s always dreamed of–the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor’s court: trust no one. (Goodreads)

    First lines: In 1429, the English army and its formidable magicians were led to victory by their Merlin, Emrys Myrddyn, defeating Charles VI of France and his dark Witch, Jeanne of Arkk. Henry VI was crowned King of England and France. Since the fifteenth century, the sun has never set on the Franco-British Empire.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAfterlife: Book 3 in the Parallon series, Dee Shulman (427 pages)Eva is on the brink of death. Ripped from her own world she’s woken in another, only to discover the devastating truth about the lethal fever she’s been fighting – and the enemy that’s chased her and Seth through time. Now the reckless twenty-first century girl and the fearless Roman gladiator must face the final battle. But it’s not just their love at stake; the fate of the universe is in their hands. (Goodreads)

    First lines: “No!” Zackary stared at the cage in horror. How could this be happening to him now? He thought he’d finally cracked this thing. In fact he was so sure this time that he’d virtually written his Nobel Prize acceptance speech. So what the hell was happening to that rat? It was definitely sick.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBurn: Book 3 of the Pure trilogy, Julianna Baggot (418 pages)Inside the Dome, Patridge has taken his father’s place as leader of the Pures. His struggle has led him here, intent upon bringing down the Dome from the inside, with the help of a secret resistance force. But things are not as simple from his new position of power and he finds himself tempted by his father’s words: perhaps if the world is to survive it needs the Dome – and Partridge – to rule it…As Partridge’s resolve weakens, Pressia and Bradwell continue piecing together the clues left to them from the time before the Detonations. It is their hope that they will be able to heal the Wretches, and free them from their monstrous fusings and the Dome’s oppression once and for all. But everything depends, too, on Partridge. Separated by distance and history, can they still trust their friend and ally? Or is the world doomed to an eternity of war and hardship?

    First lines: He knows the ending. He can see it almost as clearly as he saw the beginning.
    “Start there,” he whispers into the wind. His wings are bulky. The quills ruffle; some drag behind him. He has to tighten his wings against the wind as he walks through the stubble fields toward the stone cliff. He wants to go backward, to tunnel and dig to the little boy he once was.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFat Boy vs. the cheerleaders, Geoff Herbach (311 pages)When the high school cheerleading team takes over a soda vending machine’s funds, which were previously collected by the pep band, Gabe Johnson, an overweight “band geek” tired of being called names and looked down on, declares war. (Publisher’s summary)

    First lines: Ripping off the pop machine last night wasn’t meant to be funny. It was my duty to all the geeks, burners and oddballs in the school because that machine sucks. Robbing it was serious business, okay? Why are you laughing, Mr. Rodriguez?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWe were liars, e. Lockhart (225 pages)A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family. No one is a criminal. No one is an addict. No one is a failure. The Sinclairs are athletic, tall and handsome. We are old-money Democrats. Our smiles are wide, our chins square, and our tennis serves aggressive.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFree to fall, Lauren Miller (469 pages) Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision making for the best personal results. Just like everyone else, sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn knows the key to a happy, healthy life is following what Lux recommends. When she’s accepted to the elite boarding school Theden Academy, her future happiness seems all the more assured. But once on campus, something feels wrong beneath the polished surface of her prestigious dream school. Then she meets North, a handsome townie who doesn’t use Lux, and begins to fall for him and his outsider way of life. Soon, Rory is going against Lux’s recommendations, listening instead to the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore — a choice that leads her to uncover a truth neither she nor the world ever saw coming. (Goodreads)

    First lines: It came in a plain white envelope, which made both more and less of its significance. More, because their decision was printed in ink, on thick cotton paper, which felt a little like they’d carved it in stone. Less, because there was nothing about that nondescript rectangle to imply there was life-changing information inside.


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