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  • Comedy, Environment, Espionage, Fantasy, Horror, Mysteries, New, Nicola, Real Problems, realistic fiction, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    New Books

    23.02.18 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWildman, J.C. Geiger

    Lance Hendricks is just 400 miles from the best night of his life: an epic graduation party. When his ’93 Buick breaks down, Lance is sure he’ll be back on the road in no time. After all, he’s the high school valedictorian, first chair trumpet player, scholarship winner. Nothing can stop him. But afternoon turns to night, and Lance ends up stranded at the Trainsong Motel. The place feels ominous, even before there’s a terrible car wreck outside his room. When Lance goes to help, the townies take notice. They call him Wildman and it’s not long before he begins to live up to his new name. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The song skipped.
    A crackling beat, a brief tremor in the steering wheel-and Lance Hendricks noticed the gap in the music. He knew every last note of Classical Trumpet Ballads, which had been jammed the cassette player of his ’93 Buick since the unfortunate day his mother gave him the tape. Now it was his only option. No radio this far from the city.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFragments of the lost, Megan Miranda

    After months of mourning the death of her ex-boyfriend, Caleb, 16-year-old Jessa Whitworth is asked to pack up his room so that his mother and younger sister can move on. Witnesses say that the last time Caleb was seen-before driving off a bridge into a raging river-was at Jessa’s track meet. The two had an awkward moment there, and Caleb left angry. Jessa feels responsible for the accident, and her guilt mounts as she slowly packs away his belongings, each item bringing up a memory of their yearlong relationship. In addition to the memories dredged up by Caleb’s things, Jessa begins to piece together evidence that leads her to believe that Caleb was hiding a big secret. (Publisher Weekly Summary)

    First lines: There’s no light in the narrow stairway to the third floor. There’s no handrail, either. Just wooden steps and plaster walls that were probably added in an attic renovation long ago. The door above remains shut, but there’s a sliver of light that escapes from the bottom, coming from inside. He must have left the window uncovered.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCamp So-And-So, Mary McCoy

    Twenty five girls are invited to attend Camp So-and-So and work with their cabin mates to compete in the All-Camp Sports 7 Follies. But this is no ordinary camp. Cabin 1 must face off with the campers across the lake. Cabin 2 is being stalked by a murderous former camper. Cabin 3 must break and age-old curse. Cabin 4 will meet their soul-mates. Cabin 5… well, it might already be too late for Cabin 5. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The letters went out on mid-February, when the weather had been so cold and so gray, and everything been so buried in snow for so long, and the idea of riding a horse or rowing across a lake seemed so impossible, the brochures might as well have been promising magic.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGunslinger girl, Lyndsay Ely

    Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune at the Theater Vespertine in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. The Second Civil War fractured the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land, and there is a dark cost to the Theater– one that Pity may not be willing to pay. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: They dragged in the dead scrounger in the fade of the afternoon, tied to the last truck in the convoy. Dust clouds billowed after the vehicles like a fog, blanketing the compound’s entrance in ochre twilight. Pity squinted and pulled her bandana over her nose.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSparrow, Scot Gardner

    One, two, three, breath. When a juvenile detention exercise off the coast of the Kimberley goes wrong, sixteen-year-old Sparrow must swim to shore. There are sharks and crocs around him but the monsters he fears most live in the dark spaces in his mind. He’s swimming away from his prison life and towards a desolate, rocky coastland and the hollow promise of freedom. He’ll eat or be eaten, kill or be killed.With no voice, no family and the odds stacked against him, Sparrow has nothing left to lose. But to survive he’ll need something more potent than desperation, something more dangerous than a makeshift knife. (Publisher summary)

    First lines:The boy’s guts grew tight. The week of boot camp had been tense enough, especially after Ratcliffe, hyper at the best of times, stopped taking his meds. Now, on their way back to Derby, the boat had broken down and it felt like a flash point, The guards were on edge and the survival instructor, Maddox, was mutinous.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThunderhead, Neal Shusterman

    A year has passed since Rowan had gone off grid, becoming an urban legend, a vigilante snuffing out corrupt scythes in a trial by fire. As Scythe Anastasia, Citra gleans with compassion and openly challenges the ideals of the ‘new order.’ But it is clear that not everyone is open to the change. Will the Thunderhead intervene… or simply watch the world of Scythedom unravel? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Peach velvet with embroidered baby-blue trim. Honorable Scythe Brahms loved his robe. True, the velvet became uncomfortably hot in the summer months, but it was something he had grown accustomed to in his sixty-three years as a scythe. He had recently turned the corner again, resetting his physical age back to a spry twenty-five – and now, in his third youth, he found his appetite for gleaning was stronger than ever.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRoyal bastards, Andrew Shvarts

    Tilla, the sixteen-year-old illegitimate daughter of Lord Kent, spends her days exploring the tunnels beneath the castle and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out in her half-brother’s room. When they witness a crime that is part of a brutal coup, Tilla and her fellow bastards band together with other outcasts in an attempt to prevent civil war and protect Lyriana, a sheltered, visiting princess whose life is in danger. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Princess Lyriana came to Castle Waverly two months after I turned sixteen. That meant fall was setting in: the trees were red, the roads were muddy, and when Jax and I sat in abandoned sentry tower on the eastern wall, passing a skin of wine back and forth, we could just barely see our breath in the air as we talked.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBetween the blade and the heart, Amanda Hocking

    As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. When she unearths a secret about her mother that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin must decide where her loyalties lie. Torn between her ex-girlfriend and blue-eyed Asher, she must decide if helping him enact his revenge is worth the risk to the world and her heart. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: In the vast emptiness of space, the gods grew restless, and so they created the heavens above and the worlds below. They filled the earth with every create imaginable, from the smallest fish in the sea to the largest dragon in the sky.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAmerican panda, Gloria Chao

    A freshman at MIT, seventeen-year-old Mei Lu tries to live up to her Taiwanese parents’ expectations, but no amount of tradition, obligation, or guilt prevent her from hiding several truths–that she is a germaphobe who cannot become a doctor, she prefers dancing to biology, she decides to reconnect with her estranged older brother, and she is dating a Japanese boy. Can she find a way to be herself, before her web of lies unravels? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The stench of the restaurant’s speciality walloped my sense as soon as I entered. Even with seventeen years of practice, I didn’t have a fighting chance against a dish named stinky tofu. I gagged.
    My mother sniffed and smiled. “Smells like home.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCatch me when you fall, Eileen Merriman

    Seventeen-year-old Alex Byrd is about to have the worst day of her life, and the best. A routine blood test that will reveal her leukaemia has returned, but she also meets Jamie Orange. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: If you take photographs through a prism, you can turn people into ghosts. I’d taught Jamie that this year, my eighteenth year of life, and possibly my last. Whenever a bad memory crept into my brain, I held a prism up to it, and it would distort and soften. That way I could cope it a bit better.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDreamland burning, Jennifer Latham

    When Rowan finds a skeleton on her family’s property, investigating the brutal, century-old murder leads to painful discoveries about the past. Alternating chapters tell the story of William, another teen grappling with the racial firestorm leading up to the 1921 Tulsa race riot, providing some clues to the mystery. (Publisher information)

    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 joked that around these parts, walking is sacrilege. Real Tulsans drive.


  • Comedy, dystopia, Fantasy, Horror, Mysteries, New, Nicola, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    New books

    30.01.18 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAfter the fire, Will Hill

    The things I’ve seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade. Father John controls everything inside The Fence. And Father John likes rules. Especially about never talking to Outsiders. Because Father John knows the truth. He knows what is right, and what is wrong. He knows what is coming. Moonbeam is starting to doubt, though. She’s starting to see the lies behind Father John’s words. She wants him to be found out. What if the only way out of the darkness is to light a fire? (Publisher information)

    First lines: I sprint across the yard, my eyes streaming, my heart pounding in my chest.
    The noise of the gunfire is still deafening, and I hear – I actually hear – bullets whizzing past me, their low whines like the speeded-up buzz of insects, but I don’t slow down, and I don’t change course.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA jigsaw of fire and stars, Yaba Badoe

    Sante was a baby when she was washed ashore in a sea-chest laden with treasure. It seems she is the sole survivor of the tragic sinking of a ship carrying refugees. Her people. Fourteen years on she’s a member of Mama Rose’s unique and dazzling circus. But, from their watery grave, the unquiet dead are calling Sante to avenge them: A bamboo flute. A golden band. A ripening mango which must not fall … if Sante is to tell their story and her own. (Publisher information)

    First lines: There’s only one thing that makes any sense when I wake from my dream. I’m a stranger and shouldn’t be here. Should my luck run out, a black-booted someone could step on me and crush me, as if I’m worth less than an ant. This I know for a fact. And yet once or twice a week, the dream seizes me and shakes me about:
    “Kill ’em! Kill ’em! Take their treasure!”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIt only happens in the movies, Holly Bourne

    Audrey is over romance. Since her parents’ relationship imploded her mother’s been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn’t mean things are easy. Because real love isn’t like the movies…(Publisher information)

    First lines: I wasn’t expecting candles.
    They lit the whole cinema – tea lights, the stout white candles you get in churches, thin ones stuffed into candlesticks. My skin itched in their heat.
    I blinked and shook my head. “What the hell?”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFacing the flame, Jackie French

    There have been fires before,but not like this. In 1978, as the hot wind howls and the grass dries, all who live at Gibber’s Creek know their land can burn. But when you love your land, you fight for it. For Jed Kelly, an even more menacing danger looms: a man from her past determined to destroy her. Finding herself alone, trapped and desperate to save her unborn child, Jed’s only choice is to flee – into the flames. (Publisher summary)

    Jed risked a terrified glance at the mirror. It showed a bride in a parchment-coloured dress made of vintage lace tablecloths, her make-up perfect, her hair held in place with half a can of hairspray. That couldn’t be her. It couldn’t!

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCharlotte says, Alex Bell

    Following the death of her mother in a terrible fire, Jemima flees to the remote Isle of Skye, to take up a job at a school for girls. There she finds herself tormented by the mystery of what really happened that night. Then Jemima receives a box of Frozen Charlotte dolls from a mystery sender and she begins to remember – a séance with the dolls, a violent argument with her step-father and the inferno that destroyed their home. And when it seems that the dolls are triggering a series of accidents at the school, Jemima realizes she must stop the demonic spirits possessing the dolls – whatever it takes. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: “Don’t be frightened yet,” the voice says. “I’ll tell you when it’s time to be frightened…”
    I turn, looking over my shoulder, but there is nobody there and I am alone once again at Whiteladies – that house of confused spirits and cracked china dolls and slaughtered horses. From somewhere downstairs a grandfather clock counts down the six in deep, melancholy tools, and, like a magnetic force, my eyes are drawn with a terrible irresistibility to to the door at the end of the corridor.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe hanging girl, Eileen Cook

    Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and now her psychic visions are helping the police find the town’s missing golden girl. It’s no challenge—her readings have always been faked, but this time she has some insider knowledge. The kidnapping was supposed to be easy—no one would get hurt and she’d get the money she needs to start a new life. But a seemingly harmless prank has turned dark, and Skye realizes the people she’s involved with are willing to kill to get what they want and she must discover their true identity before it’s too late. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Destiny is like a boulder. Bulky and hard to move. It’s easier to leave it alone than to try to change it. But that never kept anyone from trying. Trust me: I’m a professional.
    Reading people is a talent. I’ve always been a good observer, but as with any natural ability, if you want to be any good, you’ve got to work at it. When I talk to people, I size them up. I listen to what they say, and, more important, to what they don’t.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe hundred lies of Lizzie Lovett, Chelsea Sedotti

    A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn’t mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life. That includes taking her job… and her boyfriend. It’s a huge risk — but it’s just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The first thing that happened was Lizzie Lovett disappeared, and everyone was all “How can someone like Lizzie be missing?” and I was like, “Who cares?” A few days later, there was talk about Lizzie maybe being dead, and it was still kinda boring, but not totally boring, because I’d never known a dead person before. After that, I started to get fascinated by the whole situation, mostly because I noticed a bunch of weird stuff. Which was how I figured out Lizzie Lovett’s secret.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRules of rain, Leah Scheier

    Rain has taken care of Ethan all of their lives. Before she even knew what autism meant, she was her twin brother’s connection to the world around him. Each day with Ethan is unvarying and predictable, and Rain takes comfort in being the one who holds their family together. It’s nice to be needed–to be the center of someone’s world. If only her longtime crush, Liam, would notice her too…Then one night, her life is upended by a mistake she can’t undo. Suddenly Rain’s new romance begins to unravel along with her carefully constructed rules. Rain isn’t used to asking for help–and certainly not from Ethan. But the brother she’s always protected is the only one who can help her. And letting go of the past may be the only way for Rain to hold onto her relationships that matter most. (Publisher information)

    First lines: There’s a gigantic hologram of a human colon sitting where the refrigerator once stood. I stare at it for a moment and lean my head back to appreciate the flickering image. With veins, with veins…it’s almost hypnotic, the tilting shift of images on the shiny board. I’m not surprised to find it there.


  • dystopia, Environment, Fantasy, GLBT, Horror, Mysteries, New, Nicola, realistic fiction

    New books

    18.01.18 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAll the wind in the world, Samantha Mabry

    Sarah Jac Crow and James Holt have fallen in love working in the endless fields that span a bone-dry Southwest in the near-future–a land that’s a little bit magical, deeply dangerous, and bursting with secrets. To protect themselves, they’ve learned to work hard and–above all–keep their love hidden from the people who might use it against them. Then, just when Sarah Jac and James have settled in and begun saving money for the home they dream of near the coast, a horrible accident sends them on the run. With no choice but to start over on a new, possibly cursed ranch, the delicate balance of their lives begins to give way–and they may have to pay a frighteningly high price for their love. (Publisher information)

    First lines: The goal is to get to the heart:
    Slash off the spines,
    Sever the bulb from the roots.
    Move down the row.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOff the ice, Julie Cross

    Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business―a hockey bar beside the ice rink―afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again. Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good. It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love. For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Something cold and wet hits the side of my face. My braces clank against Haley’s, and we both jump apart. I hear giggling coming from several feet away. When I turn my head, my sister, Jody, is sitting on a log, a clear plastic cup of ice in her hand. Her friend Claire O’Connor smacks her on the arm. “You are so mean.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBeing fishkill, Ruth Lehrer

    Born in the backseat of a moving car, Carmel Fishkill was unceremoniously pushed into a world that refuses to offer her security, stability, love. At age thirteen, she begins to fight back. Carmel Fishkill becomes Fishkill Carmel, who deflects her tormenters with a strong left hook and conceals her secrets from teachers and social workers. But Fishkill’s fierce defenses falter when she meets eccentric optimist Duck-Duck Farina, and soon they, along with Duck-Duck’s mother, Molly, form a tentative family, even as Fishkill struggles to understand her place in it. This fragile new beginning is threatened by the reappearance of Fishkill’s unstable mother and by unfathomable tragedy. (Publisher information)

    First lines: My mother named me after a New York highway sign, passing through, passing be, not even stopping to squeeze out my blue body. Going north on the Taconic Parkway, she lay on the back seat and pushed. As I gushed onto the gray vinyl, she caught a glimpse of the Carmel/Fishkill exist sign and decided it was not just a highway sign but a cosmic sign, and I was Carmel Fishkill.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDaughter of the pirate king, Tricia Levenseller

    Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map – the key to a legendary treasure trove – seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship. Alosa only has one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King. (Publisher information)

    First lines: I hate having to dress like a man.
    The cotton shirt is too loose, the breeches too big, the boots too uncomfortable. My hair is bound on the top of my head, secured in a bun underneath a small sailor’s hat. My sword is strapped tightly to the left side of my waist, a pistol undrawn on my right.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEverless, Sara Holland

    In the kingdom of Sempera, time is extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocrats like the Gerling family tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries. No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember; she and her father were once servants at their estate, Everless, until an accident drove them away. After discovering her father is dying, Jules is desperate to earn more time for him, and returns to Everless amidst preparations for the wedding of Roan Gerling and the Queen’s daughter. Caught in a tangle of violent secrets, Jules must change her fate– and perhaps the fate of time itself. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Most people find the forest frightening, believing the old tales of fairies who will freeze the time in your blood, or witches who can spill your years out over the snow with only a whisper. Even the spirit of the Alchemist himself is said to wander these woods, trapping whole eternities in a breath.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWatched, Marina Budhos

    Naeem is a Bangledeshi teenager living in Queens who thinks he can charm his way through anything. But then mistakes catch up with him. So do the cops, who offer him an impossible choice: spy on his Muslim neighbors and report back to them on shady goings-on, or face a police record. Naeem wants to be a hero–a protector. He wants his parents to be proud of him. But as time goes on, the line between informing and entrapping blurs. Is he saving or betraying his community? (Publisher information)

    First lines: I’m watched.
    There’s a streetlight near my parents’ store, and I hear the click, a shutter snapping as I round the corner. My gaze swivels up, but there’s nothing. Just a white-eyed orb, a lamp, ticking. The dim sky floating behind. I shiver, tell myself it’s all my head. Nothing.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTimekeeper, Tara Sim

    Debut novelist Sim creates an alternate Victorian England in which every town, regardless of size, has a clock tower that controls the local flow of time. If a town’s clock runs slow, time runs slow as well, and the town goes out of sync with its surroundings. Mechanics, who can feel the flow of time and keep the clocks running, are vitally important, but Danny, the youngest mechanic in England at age 17, has been devastated by twin tragedies: his father was trapped, along with the citizens of Maldon, when its clock stopped, and Danny himself nearly died when another clock tower exploded for reasons unknown. Working on Colton Tower, which has apparently been sabotaged, Danny meets and falls for a mysterious apprentice, a boy who, it turns out, isn’t human. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Two o’clock was missing.
    Danny wanted it to be a joke. Hours didn’t just disappear. But the clock tower before him and the silver timepiece in his hand read 3:06 in the afternoon, when not fifteen minutes before they had read 1:51.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStrange fire, Tommy Wallach

    They said that the first generation of man was brought low by its appetites: for knowledge, for power, for wealth. They said mankind’s voracity was so great, the Lord sent his own Daughter to bring fire and devastation to the world. The survivors were few, but over the course of centuries they banded together to form a new civilization–the Descendancy–founded on the belief that the mistakes of the past must never be repeated. Brothers Clive and Clover Hamill, the sons of a well-respected Descendant minister, have spent their lives spreading that gospel. But when their traveling ministry discovers a community intent on rediscovering the blasphemous technologies of the past, a chain of events will be set in motion that will pit city against city…and brother against brother. Along with Gemma Poplin, Clive’s childhood sweetheart, and Paz Dedios, a revolutionary who dreams of overthrowing the Descendancy, Clive and Clover will each play a pivotal role in determining the outcome of this holy war, and the fate of humanity itself. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Florian Parks was sitting in the gantry watchtower, whittling a wooden doll for his little sister, when he first spotted the travelers over the pointed tips of the palisade. He was so surprised that he cut the figurine’s nose clean off.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe November girl, Lydia King

    A few months before his eighteenth birthday, Hector runs away to the remote Isle Royale on Lake Superior. In the spring, when he’ll be legally free from his brutal uncle, he can go back to the mainland. Until then, he’ll have to weather the vicious autumn storms and find a way to survive the hostile, uninhabited island. But he’s not as alone as he thinks. Anda is the Witch of November, the daughter of the lake itself, and she thirsts for storms and shipwrecks. When she finds Hector on her island, she should run him off for his own safety–but she’s fascinated by him and his unusual ability to see her. For the first time, she might have found a reason to fight her bloodthirsty nature. Hector is running away from violence; Anda has violence running in her veins. Together, they could save–or destroy–each other. (Publisher information)

    First lines: There’s a foolproof method to running away. I know the wrong ones all to well. This time there’ll be no mistakes. I’d left my cell phone, fully charged, duct-taped beneath a seat on a Duluth city bus. If they track it, they’ll think I’ve never left town.


  • dystopia, Fantasy, GLBT, Horror, Mysteries, New, Real Life, realistic fiction, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    New books

    12.01.18 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsYou bring the distant near, Mitali Perkins

    Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story. You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture–for better or worse. Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve her Bengali identity–award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The swimmers have finished their races and are basking in the sun. It’s almost time for the beginners’ event. Tara kneels at the shallow edge, giving her little sister last-minute instructions. Floating inside her ring, Sonia pretends to listen. Their mother stands alone by the deep end, sari-clad under the red monsoon umbrella she carries as a portable shade from the West African sun.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIn other lands, Sarah Rees Brennan

    The Borderlands aren’t like anywhere else. There are elves, harpies, and — best of all as far as Elliot is concerned — mermaids. Elliot is thirteen years old. He’s smart and just a tiny bit obnoxious. Sometimes more than a tiny bit. When his class goes on a field trip and he can see a wall that no one else can see, he is given the chance to go to school in the Borderlands. It turns out that on the other side of the wall, classes involve a lot more weaponry and fitness training and fewer mermaids than he expected. On the other hand, there’s Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, an elven warrior who is more beautiful than anyone Elliot has ever seen, and then there’s her human friend Luke: sunny, blond, and annoyingly likeable. There’s the chance Elliot might be able to change the world. In Other Lands is the exhilarating book about surviving four years in the most unusual of schools, about friendship, falling in love, diplomacy, and finding your own place in the world — even if it means giving up your phone. (Publisher information)

    First lines: So far magic school was total rubbish. Elliot sat on the fence bisecting two fields and brooded tragically over his wrongs. He had been plucked from geography class, one of his most interesting classes, to take some kind of scholarship test out in the wild. Elliot and three other kids from his class had been picked into a van by their harassed-looking French teacher and driven outside the city. Elliot objected because after an hour in a moving vehicle he would be violently sick. The other kids objected because after an hour in a moving vehicle they’d be violently sick of Elliot.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe day the angels fell, Shawn Smucker

    It was the summer of storms and strays and strangers. The summer that lightning struck the big oak tree in the front yard. The summer his mother died in a tragic accident. As he recalls the tumultuous events that launched a surprising journey, Samuel can still hardly believe it all happened.
    After his mother’s death, twelve-year-old Samuel Chambers would do anything to turn back time. Prompted by three strange carnival fortune-tellers and the surfacing of his mysterious and reclusive neighbor, Samuel begins his search for the Tree of Life–the only thing that could possibly bring his mother back. His quest to defeat death entangles him and his best friend Abra in an ancient conflict and forces Samuel to grapple with an unwelcome question: could it be possible that death is a gift? (Goodreads)

    First lines: I am old now. I still live on the same farm where I grew up, the same farm where my mother’s accident took place, the same farm that burned for days after the angels fell. My father rebuilt the farm after the fire, and it was foreign to me then, a new house trying to fill an old space. The trees he planted were all fragile and small, and the inside of the barns smelled like new wood and fresh paint. I think he was glad to start over, considering everything that summer was taken from us.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWater in May, Ismée Williams

    Fifteen-year-old Mari Pujols believes that the baby she’s carrying will finally mean she’ll have a family member who will love her deeply and won’t ever leave her—not like her mama, who took off when she was eight; or her papi, who’s in jail; or her abuela, who wants as little to do with her as possible. But when doctors discover a potentially fatal heart defect in the fetus, Mari faces choices she never could have imagined. Surrounded by her loyal girl crew, her off-and-on boyfriend, and a dedicated doctor, Mari navigates a decision that could emotionally cripple the bravest of women. But both Mari and the broken-hearted baby inside her are fighters; and it doesn’t take long to discover that this sick baby has the strength to heal an entire family. (Goodreads)

    First lines: “His name ain’t Dr. Lobe. Coño. You’re messing with me, right?”
    Yaz smacks me in the shoulder. She’s doubled over, fingers clamping her mouth shut. Her purple silver-studded nails press dimples into her cheek. She’s trying not to laugh.
    “What?” I ask her. My cell slips as I shrug my shoulders. “They expect me to believe this guy’s name is Cr. Love? A heart doctor? How stupid do they think I am?”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBrooding YA hero, Carrie Diriso, illustrated by Linnea Gear

    Have you ever wished you could receive a little guidance from your favorite book boyfriend? Ever dreamed of being the Chosen One in a YA novel? Want to know all the secrets of surviving the dreaded plot twist? Or maybe you’re just really confused about what “opal-tinted, luminous cerulean orbs” actually are?
    Well, popular Twitter personality @broodingYAhero is here to help as he tackles the final frontier in his media dominance: writing a book. Join Broody McHottiepants as he attempts to pen Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me, a “self-help” guide (with activities–you always need activities) that lovingly pokes fun at the YA tropes that we roll our eyes at, but secretly love. As his nefarious ex, Blondie DeMeani, attempts to thwart him at every turn, Broody overcomes to detail, among other topics, how to choose your genre, how to keep your love interest engaged (while maintaining lead character status), his secret formula for guaranteed love triangle success, and how to make sure you secure that sequel, all while keeping his hair perfectly coiffed and never breaking a sweat. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Alone in his room, Broody McHottiepants contemplated his future. He was the best of all fictional characters ever created- that he knew. His phone never stopped ringing (playing his theme song, from his latest hit movie adaptation, of course) with Authors begging him to star in their latest novels. An endlessly talented man, he’d been everything from a vampire to a quarterback. Into each novel he brought his incredibly adjective-filled beauty; his gemstone-coloured gaze; his strong, strong arms; and his potent blend of wish fulfillment and slightly toxic masculinity.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDisappeared, Francisco X. Stork

    Four months ago: Sara Zapata’s best friend disappeared, kidnapped by the web of criminals who terrorize Juàrez.
    Four weeks ago: Her brother, Emiliano, fell in love with Perla Rubi, a girl whose family is as rich as her name.
    Four hours ago: Sara received a death threat…and her first clue her friend’s location.
    Four minutes ago: Emiliano was offered a way into Perla Rubi’s world—if he betrays his own.
    In the next four days, Sara and Emiliano will each face impossible choices, between life and justice, friends and family, truth and love. But when the criminals come after Sara, only one path remains for both the siblings: the way across the desert to the United States. (Goodreads)

    First lines: On the morning of November 14, the day she was kidnapped, Linda Fuentes opened the door to my house and walked into the kitchen, where my family was having breakfast. As usual, I wasn’t ready. Linda and I had an ongoing argument: She said I was always late, and I said she got to my house early to bask in the adoration of my younger brother, Emiliano.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAll about Mia, Lisa Williamson

    One family, three sisters. GRACE, the oldest: straight-A student. AUDREY, the youngest: future Olympic swimming champion. And MIA, the mess in the middle.
    Mia is wild and daring, great with hair and selfies, and the undisputed leader of her friends – not attributes appreciated by her parents or teachers.
    When Grace makes a shock announcement, Mia hopes that her now-not-so-perfect sister will get into the trouble she deserves. But instead, it is Mia whose life spirals out of control – boozing, boys and bad behaviour – and she starts to realise that her attempts to make it All About Mia might put at risk the very things she loves the most. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Everyone in Rushton knows the Campbell-Richardson sisters. Grace is the oldest and destined for a first from Cambridge. Signature scent: grapefruit shampoo, secondhand books, and perfection. Audrey is the youngest and destined for the Olympics. Signature scent: chlorine, Lucozade Sport, and discipline. Then there’s me, Mia. I’m in the middle. I have no idea what my destiny is. Signature scent: coconut oil, Haribo, and TROUBLE.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe hollow girl, Hillary Monahan

    Bethan is the apprentice to a green healer named Drina in a clan of Welsh Romanies. Her life is happy and ordered and modest, as required by Roma custom, except for one thing: Silas, the son of the chieftain, has been secretly harassing her. One night, Silas and his friends brutally assault Bethan and a half-Roma friend, Martyn. As empty and hopeless as she feels from the attack, she asks Drina to bring Martyn back from death’s door. “There is always a price for this kind of magic,” Drina warns. The way to save him is gruesome. Bethan must collect grisly pieces to fuel the spell: an ear, some hair, an eye, a nose, and fingers. She gives the boys who assaulted her a chance to come forward and apologize. And when they don’t, she knows exactly where to collect her ingredients to save Martyn. (Goodreads)

    First lines: My chin rested in my palm. My eyelids were heavy. Gran’s arm darted out, her liver-spotted hand whacking in the inside of my elbow to knock it off the table. It pulled me out of my stupor, but almost cost me my teeth.
    “I am not saying this twice.” She reached for a cluster of herbs hanging from a hook in the ceiling and snapped off two sprigs of green with dusky-purple flowers. “Dwayberry.”
    “Nightshade,” I said, fairly certain I had it right.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe grave keepers, Elizabeth Byrne

    Lately, Athena Windham has been spending all her spare time in her grave. Her parents—owners of a cemetery in Upstate New York—are proud of her devoutness, but her younger sister, Laurel, would rather spend her time exploring the forest that surrounds the Windham’s’ property than in her own grave. The Windham girls lead secluded lives—their older sister died in a tragic accident and their parents’ protectiveness has made the family semi-infamous. As the new school year begins, the outside world comes creeping in through encounters with mean girls, a new friend, and a runaway boy hiding out in the cemetery. Meanwhile, a ghost hangs around the Windham property—the only grave keeper never to cross over—plotting how to keep the sisters close to home and close to her…forever. (Goodreads)

    First lines: You should know that I died a long time ago, and that I was young when I died. But that doesn’t matter much to me anymore. I’ve been in the Catskills far longer than Rip Van Winkle. I’ve seen a town flooded for a reservoir. I’ve watched beetles chew leaves all the summer until the mountain’s scalp showed. I’ve seen people step out of second-storey windows in snowshoes and walk down the middle of Main Street; I’ve found a lost child hours before the authorities and waited with him until the first ranger arrived.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIt’s not like it’s a secret, Misa Sugiura

    Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like that fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself — the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend. When Sana and her family move to California she begins to wonder if it’s finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana’s ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana’s new friends don’t trust Jamie’s crowd; Jamie’s friends clearly don’t want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore anymore. Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, telling the truth is easy … what comes after it, though, is a whole lot more complicated. (Publisher information)

    First lines: “Sana, chotto…hanashi ga arun-ya kedo.”
    Uh-oh.
    Something big was about to go down.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA line in the dark, Malinda Lo

    Jess Wong is Angie Redmond’s best friend. And that’s the most important thing, even if Angie can’t see how Jess truly feels. Being the girl no one quite notices is OK with Jess anyway. While nobody notices her, she’s free to watch everyone else. But when Angie begins to fall for Margot Adams, a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess can see it coming a mile away. Suddenly her powers of observation are more curse than gift. As Angie drags Jess further into Margot’s circle, Jess discovers more than her friend’s growing crush. Secrets and cruelty lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of wealth and privilege, and when they come out, Jess knows Angie won’t be able to handle the consequences. When the inevitable darkness finally descends, Angie will need her best friend. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The air conditioner at the creamery is going full blast but it doesn’t make much of a dent in the sticky heat. Every time Angie opens the freezer case to scoop another cone I want to duck my head inside to cool off. She’s been opening the case a lot today. It’s the first Friday after Labour Day, and the shop is full of students from West Bedford High. When Angie has a break between customers, she glances at me, where I’m sitting on a stool on the corner. There’s a little counter back there where I’ve propped up my history textbook, pretending to study.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWe are okay, Nina La Cour

    Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Before Hannah left, she asked if I was sure I’d be okay. She had already waited an hour past when the doors were closed for winter break, until everyone but the custodians were gone. She had folded a load of laundry, written an email, searched her massive psychology textbook for answers to the final exam questions to see if she had gotten them right. She had run out of ways to fill time, so when I said, “Ye, I’ll be fine,” she had nothing left to do but believe me.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNow is everything, Amy Giles

    The McCauleys look perfect on the outside. But nothing is ever as it seems, and this family is hiding a dark secret. Hadley McCauley will do anything to keep her sister safe from their father. But when Hadley’s forbidden relationship with Charlie Simmons deepens, the violence at home escalates, culminating in an explosive accident that will leave everyone changed. When Hadley attempts to take her own life at the hospital post-accident, her friends, doctors, family, and the investigator on the case want to know why. Only Hadley knows what really happened that day, and she’s not talking. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Emergency first responders scramble up and down the hill around me like ants, trying to see what can be salvaged. We’re on different frequencies. Theirs is manic and frenzied, searching for life, while I watch without seeing. What I escaped below eclipses everything. Blank eyes. A blood-soaked Cornell sweatshirt. Necks bent unnaturally. Angry fists of heat pounding at my back as I crawled away from the wreckage.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDevils and thieves, Jennifer Rush

    In Jemmie Carmichael’s Hawthorne, New York, magic users are called “kindled,” and Jemmie would count herself among them if only she could cast a simple spell without completely falling apart. And she’s been snubbed by Crowe, the dangerous and enigmatic leader of the Black Devils kindled motorcycle gang and the unofficial head of their turf. During an annual festival, a rumor begins spreading that someone is practicing forbidden magic. Then people start to go missing. Jemmie and Crowe will have to put aside their tumultuous history to find their loved ones. And the only thing that might save them is the very flaw that keeps Jemmie from fully harnessing her magic. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I hated the mall. I hated the smell of fast, cheap food. I hated the windowless walls, the cavernous space that makes me feel trapped. Most of all, I hated the echoing cacophony of a thousand voices. There was already enough noise in my own head.
    “Jemmie?” Alex called. “What do you think?” She spun around in the tenth dress she’d on in the past hour.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAlone, Cyn Balog

    When her mom inherits an old, crumbling mansion, Seda’s almost excited to spend the summer there. The grounds are beautiful and it’s fun to explore the sprawling house with its creepy rooms and secret passages. Except now her mom wants to renovate, rather than sell the estate—which means they’re not going back to the city…or Seda’s friends and school. As the days grow shorter, Seda is filled with dread. They’re about to be cut off from the outside world, and she’s not sure she can handle the solitude or the darkness it brings out in her.Then a group of teens get stranded near the mansion during a blizzard. Seda has no choice but to offer them shelter, even though she knows danger lurks in the dilapidated mansion—and in herself. And as the snow continues to fall, what Seda fears most is about to become her reality…

    First lines: Sometimes I dream I am drowning.
    Sometimes I dream of bloated faces, bobbing on the surface of misty waters.
    And then I wake up, often screaming, heart racing, hands clenching fistfuls of my sheets.


  • dystopia, Exclusive academies for rich kids who form cliques, GLBT, Grimm, Horror, Mysteries, New

    New books

    06.10.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsI believe in a thing called love, Maurene Good

    A disaster in romance, high school senior Desi Lee decides to tackle her flirting failures by watching Korean television dramas, where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. She goes after moody artist Luca Drakos– utilizing boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: When I was seven, I thought I moved a pencil with my mind. I heard this story about a man who taught himself how to see through objects so that he could cheat at card games. The idea was that if he reached a state of complete concentration and focus, he could do things with his mind that normal humans were incapable of, like levitate, walk on coals, and move objects. All of which he learned to do.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAfter the fall, Kate Hart

    Raychel relies on the support of her overachieving best friend Matt while secretly sleeping with his slacker brother Andrew. Matt tries to play hero and hide how much he loves her. He helps her deal with a sexual assault at a party, and her fading dream of attending college. But when Andrew dies in a fall when the three go out hiking, Matt and Raychel must deal with the gossip and the guilt. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: It’s entirely possible Matt can see up my shorts. I don’t really care-my best friend has never shown any interest whatsoever in my underwear – but the only ones clean this morning were black and lacy. Not ideal for rock climbing, and not ideal for a photo shoot, especially one for his school assignment. I shift my position on the cliff face, trying to cover up.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsInto white, Randi Pink

    Stuck in a mostly white high school in Montgomery, Alabama, bullied by black students who should be her allies, Toya Williams prays to Jesus one night to be white. Lo and behold, she wakes up “white as a Bing Crosby Christmas,” though the change is invisible to her family. Blond, blue-eyed Toya (posing as an exchange student) is befriended by the white alpha girls and lusted after by the quarterback. It’s great until she realizes that being white means starving herself (size six is fat in her new world), hearing casual racial slurs, being expected to be available to popular guys, and betraying her beloved older brother. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: On the way to first period, the cheap plastic strap on my book bag broke. The single pink thread that held on for the first six months of school had finally freed itself, dropping hefty textbooks onto Deante’s spanking-new Air Jordan basketball sneakers. With only a handful of black kids at 96 percent-white Edgewood High School, God let my textbooks fall at the feet of the cruellest one.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMask of shadows, Linsey Miller

    Gender fluid Sallot Lean is a thief who wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class, and the nobles who destroyed their home. Sal auditions to become a member of The Left Hand, the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears, in order to infiltrate the court and get revenge. But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The thick, briny scent of sweat-soaked leather seeped through my cloth mask. A guarded carriage rattled down the road upwind of me. I leaned out of my tree and caught a flicker of light from a carriage lamp. The carriage’s blue paint shone, gilded and mud-splattered.
    I groaned. “Nobles.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWonder Woman: Warbringer, Leigh Bardugo

    Diana, Princess of the Amazons, longs to prove herself to her warrior sisters. When the opportunity comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law to save a mere mortal. Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer– a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, Diana and Alia will have to stand side by side against the tide of war. (Publisher summary)

    First lines:You do not enter a race to lose.
    Diana bounced lightly on her toes at the starting line, her calves as taut as bowstrings, her mother’s words reverberating in her ears. A noisy crowd had gathered for the wrestling matches and javelin throws that would mark the start of the Nemeseian Games, but the real event was the footrace, and now the stands were buzzing with word that the queen’s daughter had entered the competition.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBreaking, Danielle Rollins

    Charlotte has always been content in the shadow of her two best friends at the prestigious Weston Preparatory Institute. Ariel is daring and mysterious. Devon is beautiful and brilliant. Although Charlotte never lived up to the standards of the school–or her demanding mother, Dr. Gruen–her two best friends became the family she never had. When Ariel and Devon suddenly commit suicide within a month of each other, Charlotte refuses to accept it as a coincidence. But as the clues point to a dangerous secret about Weston Prep, Charlotte is suddenly in over her head. There’s a reason the students of Weston are so exceptional, and the people responsible are willing to kill to protect the truth…(Publisher summary)

    First lines: I still think about the blocks.
    Their smell seeps into my head – the smell of swadust and chemicals and paint. They used to give me headaches, until, finally, Mother scrubbed them down with bleach and dish soap and left them to dry in the sun. I can feel their weight in my hands. I hear clicks of wood hitting wood as Mother stacked them into their precise, angular tower.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe dazzling heights, Katharine McGee

    New York, 2118. Leda is haunted by memories of what happened on the worst night of her life. Watt wants to put everything behind him– until Leda forces him to start hacking again. Rylin wins a scholarship to an upper-floor school, but being there means seeing the boy who broke her heart. Avery is tormented by her love for the one person in the world she can never have. Calliope arrives determined to cause a stir.– and knows exactly where to begin. But someone is watching their every move, someone with revenge in mind. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: It would be several hours before the girl’s body was found. It was late now; so late that it could once again be called early- that surreal, enchanted, twilight hour between the end of a party and the unfurling of a new day. The hours when reality grows dim and hazy at the edges, when nearly anything seems possible.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStalking Jack the Ripper, Kerri Maniscalco

    Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life. Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

    First lines: I placed my thumb and forefinger on the icy flesh, spreading it taut and Uncle has showed me. Getting the preliminary incision correct was imperative. I took my time eye the placement of metal on skin, ensuring proper angling for the cleanest cut. I felt Uncle hovering behind me, studying my every move, but had my view set entirely on the blade in my hand.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe language of thorns, Leigh Bardugo

    Travel to Grishnaverse, a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price. Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love. (Publisher summary)


  • Horror, Mysteries, New, Nicola

    New books

    17.01.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLost girls, Merrie Destefano

    Yesterday, Rachel went to sleep listening to Taylor Swift, curled up in her grammy’s quilt, worrying about geometry. Today, she woke up in a ditch, bloodied, bruised, and missing a year of her life. She doesn’t recognize the person she’s become: she’s popular. She wears nothing but black.
    Black to cover the blood. And she can fight. Tell no one. She’s not the only girl to go missing within the last year…but she’s the only girl to come back. She desperately wants to unravel what happened to her, to try and recover the rest of the Lost Girls. But the more she discovers, the more her memories return. And as much as her new life scares her, it calls to her. Seductively. The good girl gone bad, sex, drugs, and raves, and something darker…something she still craves—the rush of the fight, the thrill of the win—something she can’t resist, that might still get her killed…The only rule is: There are no rules. (Goodreads)

    First lines: I remember last night perfectly. I know what we ate for dinner. I know my little brother didn’t do his homework. I know Dad drove me to my ballet lessons, then waited for me in the Starbucks across the street. I know that, later in the evening, I fell asleep when I was supposed to be studying geometry, my earbuds in while I listened to Taylor Swift’s latest album. That was my yesterday.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFreeks, Amanda Hocking

    Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…
    Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night. When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing. But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodies are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.(Goodreads)

    First lines: Behind me, the branches and trees crunched and snapped as the creature tore through them. I didn’t scream- there was no one who could come to help me, nothing that could stop the monster that lurched behind me. The only thing I could do was run faster.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe secret of a heart note, Stacey Lee

    Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.(Goodreads)

    First lines: Most people that heartache smells like blueberries. It’s not the only scent, but it’s the main one, and if someone comes to us smelling like blueberry pie, Mother and I turn them away. The heartbroken need time to heal before we can work our magic.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOne was lost, Natalie D. Richards

    Murder, justice, and revenge were so not a part of the plan when Sera set out on her senior camping trip. After all, hiking through the woods is supposed to be safe and uneventful. Then one morning the group wakes up groggy, confused, and with words scrawled on their wrists: Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Their supplies? Destroyed. Half their group? Gone. Their chaperone? Unconscious. Worst of all, they find four dolls acting out a murder—dolls dressed just like them. Suddenly it’s clear; they’re being hunted. And with the only positive word on her wrist, Sera falls under suspicion… (Goodreads)

    First lines: No one said anything about rain in the brochures. Not that there were brochures. There was a handwritten sign-up sheet in the cafeteria, followed by permissions slips recycled from ghosts of field trips past. I’m not really sure why I was expecting a world-class production. Must be the director in me.


  • Environment, GLBT, Horror, Mysteries, Nicola, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    New Books

    20.12.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on New Books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe girl I used to be, April Henry

    When Olivia’s mother was killed, everyone suspected her father of murder. But his whereabouts remained a mystery. Fast forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia’s father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there’s a killer still at large. It’s up to Olivia to uncover who that may be. But can she do that before the killer tracks her down first? (Goodreads)

    First lines: The only sound I can hear is my own panicked breathing. I’m running flat out through the forest. Then my toe catches a root, and suddenly I’m flying. Until I’m not. I come down hard. With my hands cuffed in front of me, I can’t even really break my fall. Despite the plastic boot on my left leg, I’m again in a crazy scrambling second, spitting out dirt and pine needles as I start sprinting again.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBlood red snow white, Marcus Sedgwick

    Russia wakes from a long sleep and marches to St Petersburg to claim her birthright. Her awakening will mark the end for the Romanovs, and the dawn of a new era that changed the world. Arthur Ransome, a journalist and writer, was part of it all. He left his family in England and fell in love with Russia and a Russian woman. This is his story. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The years slip away. Outside, down at the lake, I can hear the water lapping and the geese calling. From the woods above the house comes the soft roar of a shotgun – someone hunting in the dusk. In here, the fire flickers brightly, and my chair is old and comfortable. Surely this is home. And yet, the years slip away. Opposite me, the chair by the fire is empty.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGirl mans up, M-E Girard

    All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she’s trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she’s not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty. But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth–that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.

    First lines: There are four of us dudes sitting here right now, and I kick all of their butts when it comes to video games – and I’m not even a dude in the first place. Maybe I’m being a little cocky here, but it’s true. My brother says I’m a little psycho, loading my gun and rushing for the middle of the battle, and yeah, sometimes I end up getting my butt kicked. But usually he’s there, covering me with his sniper skills, so we both come out on top.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSpontaneous, Aaron Starmer

    Mara Carlyle’s senior year is going as normally as could be expected, until—wa-bam!—fellow senior Katelyn Ogden explodes during third period pre-calc. Katelyn is the first, but she won’t be the last teenager to blow up without warning or explanation. As the seniors continue to pop like balloons and the national eye turns to Mara’s suburban New Jersey hometown, the FBI rolls in and the search for a reason is on. Whip-smart and blunt, Mara narrates the end of their world as she knows it while trying to make it to graduation in one piece. It’s an explosive year punctuated by romance, quarantine, lifelong friendship, hallucinogenic mushrooms, bloggers, ice cream trucks, “Snooze Button™,” Bon Jovi, and the filthiest language you’ve ever heard from the President of the United States. (Goodreads)

    First lines: When Katelyn Ogden blew up in third period pre-calc, the janitor probably figured he’s only have to scrub guts off one whiteboard this year. Makes sense. In the past, kids didn’t randomly explode. Not in pre-calc, not at prom, not even in chem lab, where explosions aren’t exactly unheard of. Not one kid. Not one explosion. Ah, the good old days.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe rains, Gregg Hurwitz

    In one terrifying night, the peaceful community of Creek’s Cause turns into a war zone. No one under the age of eighteen is safe. Chance Rain and his older brother, Patrick, have already fended off multiple attacks from infected adults by the time they arrive at the school where other young survivors are hiding. Most of the kids they know have been dragged away by once-trusted adults who are now ferocious, inhuman beings. The parasite that transformed them takes hold after people turn eighteen—and Patrick’s birthday is only a few weeks away. Determined to save Patrick’s life and the lives of the remaining kids, the brothers embark on a mission to uncover the truth about the parasites—and what they find is horrifying. Battling an enemy not of this earth, Chance and Patrick become humanity’s only hope for salvation. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The document you are reading does not -cannot- exist. If you’re reading this, your life is at risk. Or I should say, your life is at even greater risk than it was already. I’m sorry to burden you with this. I don’t wish you the harm that came to me and the others from Creek’s Cause. This is what I’ve managed to piece together since it all began.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe blood between us, Zac Brewer

    Growing up, Adrien and his sister, Grace, competed viciously for everything. It wasn’t easy being the adopted sibling, but Adrien tried to get along; it was Grace who didn’t want anything to do with him. When their scientist parents died in a terrible lab fire, there was nothing left to hold them together.Now, after years apart, Adrien and Grace are forced to reunite at the elite boarding school where their parents were teachers. Being back around everyone he used to know makes Adrien question the person he’s become, while being back around Grace makes him feel like someone he doesn’t want to be. For as much as Adrien wants to move on, someone seems determined to reopen old wounds. And when Adrien starts to suspect that Grace knows more about their parents’ deaths than she let on, he realizes there are some wounds no amount of time can heal. If Adrien isn’t careful, they may even kill him. (Goodreads)

    First lines: There’s nothing like the acrid smell of a building on fire. Even once the flames have been extinguished and the smoke has withered into the nothingness, the smell permeates everything. The burned remains that the fire didn’t claim. The air that hangs above the hollowed blackened walls. The clothing of anyone who was unfortunate enough to be nearby. The fire doesn’t just smell, either.


  • 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.


  • Great Reads, Grimm, halloween countdown, Horror, Librarian's Choice, Mysteries, Nicola

    Halloween series: Hauntings

    11.10.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on Halloween series: Hauntings

    Everyone loves a good ghost story, right? We’ve got so many that it was hard to pick my favourites.

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

    This was Diana Wynne Jones’ thirteenth book ever published; a Goodreads commenter pondered if this was an accident. Even if it wasn’t, it’s a genuinely creepy story told from a ghost’s perspective, as she tries to work out which of four sisters she is and how to prevent an “accident” she knows is coming. Then there’s a strange malevolent force that the sisters seem to have called up…

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFrozen charlotte, Alex Bell

    A drowning, a fire and a series of mysterious deaths at linked to a closed school; all are connected through a group of mysterious dolls known as Frozen Charlottes. Frozen Charlottes are a real type of doll by the way and their backstory is just as (if not more) morbid than the one in the book.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLong lankin, Lindsey Barraclough

    An ancient evil stirs when two sisters are sent to live with their reclusive Aunt Ida. This book’s a bit of a slow burn; the terror and unease slowly growing as Cora, the elder of the two, discovers more and more about the mysteries of the old family home. This is not only a terrifying story of a ghost, but an interesting look at how a whole community can be haunted by the spectres of the past.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe graveyard book, Neil Gaiman

    This is a warm, witty and sometimes outright terrifying retelling of the Jungle Book. The young hero, Nobody Owens, is raised in a graveyard by its mysterious and ghostly denizens. But a mysterious stranger threatens his home and himself, and he must find the courage to fight back. Chris Riddell – one of my favourite artists – provides some amazing illustrations as well.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticssJohnny and the Dead, Terry Pratchett

    Johnny, an ordinary guy, meets a bunch of dead people in the cemetery, which is facing destruction at the hands of a local business. They’re not ghosts and get very offended when you suggest that they are, but they’re certainly not keen on being moved from their graves. Johnny decides he has to help. Unlike the others, this is more funny than scary – but well worth reading after if the other titles are keeping you awake…


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