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

    My best picks for 2015

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

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

    1) The singing bones, Shaun Tan

    2) Baba Yaga’s assistant, Emily Carroll

    3) Nimona, Noelle Stevenson

    4) Part-time Princesses, Monica Gallagher

    5) Gotham by midnight, Ray Fawkes and Ben Templesmith

    6) Frozen Charlotte, Alex Bell

    7) Calvin, Martine Leavitt

    8) When Mr. Dog bites, Brian Conaghan

    9) Our endless numbered days, Claire Fuller

    10) Silver in the blood, Jessica Day George


  • Books, Librarian's Choice, realistic fiction

    Reality Bites

    23.07.15 | Permalink | Comments Off on Reality Bites

    Here are some gritty reads. About REAL STUFF. I thought you might like them because you’re serious people. All the characters in these books are tackling difficult, real-life situations. Some of you guys have been asking about interesting books for your NCEA reading log as well so this could be a helpful list for that too. All of these are well-loved books from our collection:

    Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

    This is also available as an e-book! “In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever. Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily. Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.” Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.”  (Goodreads)

    First lines: The white people are waiting for us. Chuck sees them first. He’s gone out ahead of our group to peer around the corner of the hardware store. From there you can see all of Jefferson High … the only thing between us and the school is the parking lot. And the white people.

    Last Night I sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

    “Zach is eighteen. He is bright and articulate. He’s also an alcoholic and in rehab instead of high school, but he doesn’t remember how he got there. He’s not sure he wants to remember. Something bad must have happened. Something really, really bad. Remembering sucks and being alive – well, what’s up with that?” (Goodreads)

    First lines: Some people have dogs. Not me. I have a therapist. His name is Adam. I’d rather have a dog. After our first session, Adam asked me a lot of questions. I don’t think he liked my answers.

    Bugs by Whiti Hereaka

    “Meet Bugs:  smart, sarcastic, sixteen and stuck in a small town without a driver’s license. Bugs has been best mates with Jez forever, they’ve always been Jez and Bugs, Bugs and Jez. That is until Stone Cold, the new girl, arrives in town … Why would anyone want to be mates with her? But things are never as they seem on the surface – not the picture perfect postcard views of Taupo, not the drama queen antics of Stone Cold, not the quiet brooding of Jez. Not even Bugs. Now as the future closes in, each will struggle with expectation; either trying to live up to them, or trying to live them down.” (Huia Publishing)

    First Lines: They call me Bugs. As in Bunny. Yeah, I know. When I started college I tried to change it to Rāpeti. Not because I’m a born again Māori or anything. Just that Rāpeti sounds hard. Harder than Bugs, anyway. But Bugs stuck.

    Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

    “Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens.” (Goodreads)

    First Lines: … Where to sit? I’ve never been a backseat wastecase. If I sit in the middle, a stranger could sit next to me. If I sit at the front, it will make me look like a little kid, but I figure it’s the best chance I have to make eye contact with one of my friends, if any of them have decided to talk to me yet.”

    Hate List by Jennifer Browne

    “Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets … Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year.” (Goodreads)

    First lines: FROM THE GARVIN COUNTY SUN TRIBUNE. The scene in Garvin High School cafeteria, known as the “Commons”, is being described as “grim” by investigators who are working to identify the victims of a shooting spree that erupted Friday morning.

    Sold by Patricia McCormick

    Also available as an e-book! “Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school, and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family’s crops, Lakshmi’s stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi journeys to India … but she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution.” (Goodreads)

    First lines: One more rainy season and our roof will be gone, says Ama. My mother is on the log ladder inspecting the thatch and I am on the ground, handing the laundry up to her so it can bake dry in the afternoon sun.


  • Books, Comedy, Crafts, Espionage, Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Horror, Librarian's Choice, Mysteries, Nicola

    New books

    19.05.15 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhat waits in the woods, Kieran Scott

    It’s a beautiful, sunny day. Callie Velasquez holds hands with her boyfriend Jeremy as they follow Callie’s new BFFs Penelope and Lissa up the trail. The four friends are embarking on a camping trip — a trip that immediately goes awry. They lose their way on the trail, and encounter a charismatic stranger with questionable motives. And when Callie stumbles upon a dead body, it becomes clear that the danger that lies in the woods is deadlier than she could have ever imagined. Tensions mount and friendships are tested as these teenagers try to survive the most sinister of circumstances. (Goodreads)

    First lines: There’s no question things could have gone differently out there in those woods. One zipper more tightly zipped, one foot more carefully placed on a rotting wood plank and I might not be here today. I might be roaming free instead of sitting locked up in this hole, sucky my every meal through a straw, staring at a padded wall.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWe all looked up, Tommy Wallach

    Before the asteroid we let ourselves be defined by labels:The athlete, the outcast, the slacker, the overachiever. But then we all looked up and everything changed.
    They said it would be here in two months. That gave us two months to leave our labels behind. Two months to become something bigger than what we’d been, something that would last even after the end. Two months to really live. (Goodreads)

    First lines: “It’s not the end of the world,” Stacy said.
    Peter looked down. He ‘d been staring vacantly at the sky, replaying his brief conversation with Mr. McArthur in his head. He still wasn’t sure of what to make of it.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBlack Dove, white raven, Elizabeth Wein

    Emilia and Teo’s lives changed in a fiery, terrifying instant when a bird strike brought down the plane their stunt pilot mothers were flying. Teo’s mother died immediately, but Em’s survived, determined to raise Teo according to his late mother’s wishes-in a place where he won’t be discriminated against because of the color of his skin. But in 1930s America, a white woman raising a black adoptive son alongside a white daughter is too often seen as a threat. Seeking a home where her children won’t be held back by ethnicity or gender, Rhoda brings Em and Teo to Ethiopia, and all three fall in love with the beautiful, peaceful country. But that peace is shattered by the threat of war with Italy, and teenage Em and Teo are drawn into the conflict. Will their devotion to their country, its culture and people, and each other be their downfall or their salvation? (Goodreads)

    First lines: Sindu told me I should aim for the sun. I still have a plane. There must be some way I can get Teo out safely. I think Momma’s hoard of Maria Theresa dollars is enough to pay for the travel. I am hoping my new passport is waiting for me in Addis Ababa. But Teo…Teo is trapped.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAlong the river, Adeline Yen Mah

    After a fall, CC is whisked away to a hospital. As she drifts in and out of consciousness, she is haunted by vivid dreams that seem strange—yet somehow familiar. Thus begins CC’s emotional journey back to a privileged life lived eight hundred years ago during the Song dynasty. CC is the daughter of a wealthy and influential man, but she finds herself drawn to a poor orphan boy with a startling ability to capture the beauty of the natural world. As the relationship between these two young people deepens, the transforming power of art and romantic love comes into conflict with the immovable rules of Chinese society. (Goodreads)

    First lines: CC first noticed the woman in black when she stopped at the spice booth to buy salt and soya sauce. The market was packed with people. They crowded the narrow aisles between the stalls, jostling each other and bargaining for better value.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA Court of thorns and roses, Sarah J. Maas

    When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world. As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

    First lines: The forest had become a labyrinth of snow and ice. I’d been monitoring the parameters of the thicket for an hour, and my vantage point in the crook of a tree branch had turned useless. The gusting wind blew thick flurries to sweep away my tracks, but buried along with them any signs of potential quarry.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIn a split second, Sophie McKenzie

    Charlie’s life is torn apart by a terrorist bomb in a London market. Months later, she meets Nat, whose family was devastated by the same explosion. But as Charlie gets closer to Nat she uncovers secrets and a whole cast of shady characters that lead her to believe Nat knows more about the attack than he is letting on. (Goodreads)

    First lines: I glanced at my phone. It was almost 3pm. Three pm was when the bomb would go off. I raced along the street, my heart banging against my ribs. I had to find Lucas. Canal Street market. That’s what the text had said. That was where Lucas would be.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBoys don’t knit, T.S. Easton (Librarian’s choice)

    Ben Fletcher must get to grips with his more ‘feminine’ side following an unfortunate incident with a lollipop lady and a stolen bottle of Martini Rosso from Waitrose. All a big misunderstanding of course. To avoid the Young Offenders unit, Ben is ordered to give something back to the community and develop his sense of social alignment. Take up a hobby and keep on the straight and narrow. The hot teacher he likes runs a knitting group so Ben, reluctantly at first, gets ‘stuck in’. Not easy when your dad is a sports fan and thinks Jeremy Clarkson is God. To his surprise, Ben finds that he likes knitting and that he has a mean competitive streak. If he can just keep it all a secret from his mates…and notice that the girl of his dreams, girl-next-door Megan Hooper has a bit of a thing for him…(Goodreads)

    First lines: Mum and Dad are at it again. They’re doing that thing where they make food-based double entendres all the time, thinking it goes over our heads. It goes over Molly’s head; she’s only six and she never listens to Mum or Dad anyway.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSaint Anything, Sarah Dessen

    Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident? Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time. (Goodreads)

    First Lines: “Would the defendant please rise.”
    This wasn’t an actual question, even though it sounded like one. I’d noticed that the first time we’d all been assembled here, in this way. Instead, it was a command, an order. The “please” was just for show.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRead between the lines, Jo Knowles

    Thanks to a bully in gym class, unpopular Nate suffers a broken finger—the middle one, splinted to flip off the world. It won’t be the last time a middle finger is raised on this day. Dreamer Claire envisions herself sitting in an artsy café, filling a journal, but fate has other plans. One cheerleader dates a closeted basketball star; another questions just how, as a “big girl,” she fits in. A group of boys scam drivers for beer money without remorse—or so it seems. Over the course of a single day, these voices and others speak loud and clear about the complex dance that is life in a small town. They resonate in a gritty and unflinching portrayal of a day like any other, with ordinary traumas, heartbreak, and revenge. But on any given day, the line where presentation and perception meet is a tenuous one, so hard to discern. Unless, of course, one looks a little closer—and reads between the lines. (Goodreads)

    First lines: I step out of the mass of stinking bodies and get ready to catch the ball.
    “Granger’s open!” someone yells.
    Ben Mead has it. He pivots on one foot, trying to find an opening among the hands blocking his vision. He sees me and pauses doubtfully, then looks around for someone else. Anyone else.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFooter Davis is probably crazy, Susan Vaught (Librarian’s choice)

    “Bless your heart” is a saying in the South that sounds nice but really isn’t. It means, “You’re beyond help.” That’s what folks say about fifth grader Footer Davis’s mom, who “ain’t right” because of her bipolar disorder. She just shot a snake in Footer’s yard with an elephant gun, and now she’s been shipped off to a mental hospital, and Footer is missing her fiercely yet again.
    “Bless their hearts” is also what folks say about Cissy and Doc Abrams, two kids who went missing after a house fire. Footer wants to be a journalist and her friend Peavine wants to be a detective, so the two decide to help with the mystery of the missing kids. But when visiting the crime scene makes Footer begin to have “episodes” of her own, she wonders if maybe she’s getting sick like her mom, and that’s a mystery that she’s not at all sure she wants to solve. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The day my mother exploded a copperhead snake with an elephant gun, I decided I was genetically destined to become a felon or a big-game hunter. That was good, since I had tried being a ballerina, poet, artist and musician, and I sucked at all of those.

    Graphic Novels

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPart-time Princesses, Monica Gallagher (Librarian’s Choice)

    Working as costumed princesses at the local amusement park is a nice gig, but it’s not what Courtney, Amber, Tiffany, and Michelle want to do with their lives. These queens of high school have their own plans for life post-graduation, and they do not involve fixed games and fried pickles. But when all their plans fall apart, what are the girls to do? Left with no other options, they decide to keep their part-time jobs as princesses–for the moment. But even that plan is threatening to fall apart, thanks to the sudden and increasing muggings plaguing the park and chasing away customers. With their back-up jobs in peril, the girls have no choice but to take matters into their own hands and fight back. But the more they work to save the park, the more their part-time jobs become full-time, and the more their carefully-planned futures get pushed to the wayside. Will these princesses ever get their lives back on track?
    Will they even want to? (Goodreads)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPrincess Decomposia and Count Spatula, Andi Watson (Librarian’s choice)

    Princess Decomposia is overworked and underappreciated. This princess of the underworld has plenty of her own work to do but always seems to find herself doing her layabout father’s job, as well. The king doesn’t feel quite well, you see. Ever. So the princess is left scurrying through the halls, dodging her mummy, werewolf, and ghost subjects, always running behind and always buried under a ton of paperwork. Oh, and her father just fired the chef, so now she has to hire a new cook as well. Luckily for Princess Decomposia, she makes a good hire in Count Spatula, the vampire chef with a sweet tooth. He’s a charming go-getter of a blood-sucker, and pretty soon the two young ghouls become friends. And then…more than friends? Maybe eventually, but first Princess Decomposia has to sort out her life. And with Count Spatula at her side, you can be sure she’ll succeed. (Goodreads)


  • Classic novels, Comedy, Fantasy, Librarian's Choice, Shakespeare

    Will Shakespeare was a boss

    16.03.15 | Permalink | 1 Comment

    Hey cool cats – school’s back which is great because knowledge is important. I mean Herminone Granger was the true hero of the Harry Potter series.

    For those of you who are wanting to extend your mega minds – I’ve got a list of epic Shakespearean-themed stories.

    If you’re feeling like the cleverest kid in town don’t limit yourself to just reading retellings of the classic plays. Shakespeare’s own writing is moving and hilarious. Just check out how mad he was with writing insults:

    “Thou art as loathsome as a toad!” Titus Andronicus

    “Away you three-inch-fool!” Taming of the Shrew

    “Thou art a boil, a plague sore!” King Lear

    “You, minion, are too saucy,” The Two Gentlemen of Verona

    “Thou art as fat as butter!” Henry IV Part One

    Here’s a list of retellings for all you Shakespearean fiends:

    “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope” by Ian Doescher.
    Star Wars meets Shakespeare – I can’t think of anything better. “The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ’Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearsome Stormtroopers, signifying…pretty much everything.” (Goodreads)

    “As You Wish” by Jackson Pearce.
    “Ever since Viola’s boyfriend broke up with her, she has spent her days silently wishing—to have someone love her again and, more importantly, to belong again—until one day she inadvertently summons a young genie out of his world and into her own. He will remain until she makes three wishes. Jinn is anxious to return home, but Viola is terrified of wishing, afraid she will not wish for the right thing, the thing that will make her truly happy. As the two spend time together, the lines between master and servant begin to blur, and soon Jinn can’t deny that he’s falling for Viola. But it’s only after Viola makes her first wish that she realizes she’s in love with Jinn as well . . . and that if she wishes twice more, he will disappear from her life—and her world—forever.” (Goodreads)

    “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead” by Tom Stoppard.
    This comedic play would be ideal if you were looking for something cool to do in Drama class. “Hamlet told from the worm’s-eye view of two minor characters, bewildered Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Echoes of Waiting for Godot resound, reality and illusion mix, and where fate leads heroes to a tragic but inevitable end.” (Goodreads)

    “Ophelia” by Lisa M Klein.
    This looks awesome. “In this re-imagining of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, it is Ophelia who takes centre stage. A rowdy, motherless girl, she grows up at Elsinore Castle to become the queen’s most trusted lady-in-waiting. She catches the attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, and their love blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of madness, and ultimately, Ophelia must choose between her love for Hamlet and her own life.” (Goodreads)

    “Wondrous Strange” by Lesley Livingston.
    “17 year-old Kelley Winslow doesn’t believe in Faeries. Not unless they’re the kind that you find in a theatre, spouting Shakespeare—the kind that Kelley so desperately wishes she could be: onstage, under lights, with a pair of sparkly wings strapped to her shoulders. But as the understudy in a two-bit, hopelessly off-off-Broadway production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, wishing is probably the closest she’s going to get to becoming a Faerie Queen. At least, that’s what she thinks… In this fun, urban fantasy, Kelley’s off-stage life suddenly becomes as complicated as one of Shakespeare’s plot twists when a nighttime trip to Central Park holds more than meets the mortal eye.” (Goodreads) Also available for download from OverDrive! eBooks are cool as.

    “King of Shadows” by Susan Cooper.
    “Only in the world of the theatre can Nat Field find an escape from the tragedies that have shadowed his young life. So he is thrilled when he is chosen to join an American drama troupe traveling to London to perform “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in a new replica of the famous Globe theater. Shortly after arriving in England, Nat goes to bed ill and awakens transported back in time four hundred years — to another London, and another production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Amid the bustle and excitement of an Elizabethan theatrical production, Nat finds the warm, nurturing father figure missing from his life — in none other than William Shakespeare himself. Does Nat have to remain trapped in the past forever, or give up the friendship he’s so longed for in his own time?” (Goodreads)


  • Books, Librarian's Choice, Ligia

    Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry

    18.02.15 | Permalink | Comments Off on Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry

    I love books in a series. I got addicted to them when I was a kid and read Harry Potter. Basically when I see a book that has a sequence I will try to read all of them 🙂

    I started the series Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry a while back and I really like the way she can make a Young Adult romance look so mature, in a good way, without losing innocence, and at the same time she puts the characters through really tough situations. What intrigues me the most is the way that she decided to carry on the series with a different main character in each book.

    Syndetics book coverPushing the limits / Katie McGarry.
    “Told in alternating chapters, this intriguing novel delves into the psyches of Echo, whose own mother tried to kill her, and Noah, an orphaned bad boy. When Mrs. Collins, the school counselor and keeper of their sought-after files, suggests that good-student Echo tutor Noah, neither is receptive to the idea. But as they come to lean on and trust one another, tension starts to burn up the pages. Romance readers will likely embrace the love story of two troubled teens who, together, find a path toward healing.” (adapted from Booklist)

    Syndetics book coverDare you to / Katie McGarry.
    “Narrated from alternating viewpoints, this contemporary novel tells the story of 17-year-old Beth, a troubled “skater girl” with a hard past, and Ryan, a high school jock with a seemingly perfect life. It all starts when Ryan’s friends dare him to get Beth’s phone number, and she turns him down. Their lives become intertwined after she is uprooted from her abusive home and is forced to move to a small town and transfer to Ryan’s school. At first he sees it as an opportunity to win the dare, but she resists his offers of friendship. Nonetheless, the two gradually fall in love and learn to trust each other with their secrets.” (adapted from School Library Journal)

    Syndetics book coverCrash into you / Katie McGarry.
    “A good girl with a reckless streak, a street-smart guy with nothing to lose, and a romance forged in the fast lane. The girl with straight As and the perfect life, that’s who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy family, and she’s just added two more to the list. One involves drag racing in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker, a guy she has no business even talking to but when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they’ll go to save each other.” (adapted from publisher’s web site)

    Syndetics book coverTake me on / Katie McGarry.
    “Bottling up her emotions has become Haley’s way to deal with her problems from her dad losing his job, to the family living under authoritarian rule at her Uncle’s house. West, on the other hand, has problems controlling his emotions while dealing with his tumultuous relationship with his parents. Haley and West’s lives and narratives intertwine after West nearly hits Haley with his SUV and a conflict with her ex-boyfriends younger brother results. To protect West and her family from retaliation, Haley trains West to battle it out with her ex in the octagon.” (adapted from School Library Journal)

    I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 🙂


  • Books, Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Horror, Librarian's Choice, Lish

    For Those Who Love the Strange and Unusual

    16.02.15 | Permalink | Comments Off on For Those Who Love the Strange and Unusual

    Weird Fiction is my jam. And when I’m talking about weird fiction I’m not talking about slightly odd werewolves who own an infinite number of jean shorts. I’m talking about the highly unusual – as in surfer messiahs, a buffalo who know exactly what you should do in any given situation, people sentenced to die by sinking slowly into a tar pit, teenagers who discover the edge of the world and toddlers who escape murderers by hiding in graveyards. If you’re keen to have your brain blasted by some strange and unusual tales here are a couple you may well love:

    Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
    “Through the lens of Link’s vivid imagination, nothing is what it seems, and everything deserves a second look. From the multiple award-winning The Faery Handbag, in which a teenager’s grandmother carries an entire village (or is it a man-eating dog?) in her handbag, to the near-future of The Surfer, whose narrator (a soccer-playing skeptic) waits with a planeload of refugees for the aliens to arrive, Links stories are funny and full of unexpected insights and skewed perspectives on the world.” (Goodreads)

    Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
    “Anya could really use a friend. But her new BFF isn’t kidding about the “Forever” part. Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century. Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya’s normal life might actually be worse. She’s embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she’s pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend—even a ghost—is just what she needs. Or so she thinks. Spooky, sardonic, and secretly sincere, Anya’s Ghost is a wonderfully entertaining debut from author/artist Vera Brosgol.” (Goodreads)

     Black Juice by Margo Lanagan
    I can’t even begin to explain how much I love this book – the stories are so bizarre with ugly angels fighting one another in unreal lands. “In this extraordinary short story collection, human frailty is put to the test by the relentless forces of dark and light, man and beast. Each tale offers glimpses into familiar, shadowy worlds that push the boundaries of the spirit and leave the mind haunted with the knowledge that black juice runs through us all.” (Goodreads)

    Tales From Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan
    Please read this – please, oh please! This would have to be my favourite collection of weird stories that I read in 2014. “Breathtakingly illustrated and hauntingly written, Tales from Outer Suburbia is by turns hilarious and poignant, perceptive and goofy. Through a series of captivating and sophisticated illustrated stories, Tan explores the precious strangeness of our existence …. Whether it’s discovering that the world really does stop at the end of the city’s map book, or a family’s lesson in tolerance through an alien cultural exchange student, Tan’s deft, sweet social satire brings us face-to-face with the humour and absurdity of modern life.” (Goodreads)

     The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
    “After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own. Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family…” (Goodreads)


  • Author Spotlight, Librarian's Choice, Ligia

    Silver Shadow and Richelle Mead series

    27.01.15 | Permalink | Comments Off on Silver Shadow and Richelle Mead series

    I recently finished reading Silver Shadow. This book is part of the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead. I really like the way she writes and could find a way of going beyond the idea of vampires and actually create a whole new hidden society of humans and put some magic together, I guess it makes it more interesting than your average vampire story.

    Syndetics book coverSilver shadows / Richelle Mead.
    “In the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.” (Syndetics)

     

     

    This is the 5th in the series, if you want to check out the series from the beginning, Bloodlines is the first one.

    Syndetics book coverBloodlines / Richelle Mead.
    “The first book in Mead’s brand-new teen fiction series–set in the same world as Vampire Academy. When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.” (Syndetics summary)

    Richelle Mead has also written a bunch of other series including the Vampire Academy and some Adult Sci-Fi as well.

    Syndetics book coverVampire Academy / Richelle Mead.
    “After two years on the run, best friends Rose, half-human/half-vampire, and Lissa, a mortal vampire princess, are caught and returned to St. Vladimir’s Academy. Up until then, Rose had kept Lissa safe from her enemies; school, however, brings both girls additional challenges and responsibilities. How they handle peer pressure, nasty gossip, new relationships, and anonymous threats may mean life or death.” (Booklist)

    This book has also been made into a movie which you can reserve here. Have fun checking out all of them!


  • Grimm, Librarian's Choice, Lists, Rachel

    Librarians’ choices of 2014 – the best of the best!

    16.12.14 | Permalink | Comments Off on Librarians’ choices of 2014 – the best of the best!

    Lots of neat books have been released in the past 12 months, and we’ve rounded up our very favourites of the bunch just for you. If you’re going to read anything from this year, give these a go.

    Read right to the bottom for a chance to WIN!

    Book cover from SyndeticsGrimm:

    Mortal Heart, Robin LaFevers – I have gone on a lot about the assassin nun books, but they are really good, honestly. In Mortal Heart Annith – who has taken a back seat in the previous two books – is desperately keen to prove herself as an assassin, but she’s foiled by the abbess’ plans for her to take over as the new convent seer. Annith must choose between being locked in a room in the convent for the rest of her life, or going against her vows and striking out on her own in search of the truth (which would you rather?).

    Book cover from SyndeticsI noticed my favourite book of last year was Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox, so I have a theme going now.

    I also liked:

    Blue lily, lily blue, Maggie Stiefvater – can’t say a lot about this book without ruining everything and spoiling things, except to say you should definitely read it, having first read The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves. Don’t let the title (which I’m not a huge fan of) put you off.

    Book cover from SyndeticsRachel:

    I too loved Blue Lily, Lily Blue and I highly, highly recommend The Raven Cycle series as a whole.

    I also loved Noggin by John Corey Whaley which I picked up because I loved his first book Where Things Come Back. Noggin is about 16-year-old Travis Coates who dies, but is reanimated 5 years later with his cryogenically frozen head attached to a new body. Sounds goofy, but it’s really rather lovely and insightful.

    Book cover from SyndeticsA huge hit for me was Half Bad by Sally Green! I love a good unreliable narrator, and boy was Nathan unreliable. Nathan is a half-black, half-white (good/bad) witch, and is treated abysmally for it by everyone in the magical world. Largely because his black witch father is the most dark and terrible witch the world has ever known. And Nathan must find his father before his birthday, or he may lose his powers forever. It’s the first in a trilogy, and the next book, Half Wild, is due out in 2015.

    Book cover from SyndeticsMax:

    I really enjoyed Atlantia by Ally Condie! Rio lives in the underwater city of Atlantia, but has always dreamed of leaving. But her sister makes a decision unexpectedly which leaves Rio stranded and forced to find a way to save Atlantia from destruction.

    Although it didn’t come out this year, I also really enjoyed reading the Uglies series by Scott Westerfield.

    Monty:

    Once again, all predictably comics, not that I don’t read other stuff, really, y’know, books with print and all that, but these are some of my favourites from this year!

    Book cover from SyndeticsSilver Surfer 1: new dawn by Dan Slott

    Gently pokes fun at the po-faced Silver Surfer we know and respect with whacked out illustration by talented iZombie and Madman illustrator Michael Allred . Maybe, we can actually enjoy his silver headed company now?

    Afterlife with Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

    This particular episode of the Archie stable of stories convincingly combines Riverdale’s famous teens, grubby colours with noir shading and… Zombies. Maybe cashing in on the undead thing somewhat but much better than it sounds.

    Book cover from SyndeticsDaredevil volume 2 by Mark Waid

    Mark Waid’s recent run on Daredevil has been like taking an uncomplicated step back in time. To when super heroes had best friends named Foggy, where Ant-man might guest star and fight for the brain of a dangerously sick DD and where danger and gloom might appear, but only fleetingly, to be cleverly resolved in an optimistic and rounded conclusion. Ah, old fashioned comic satisfaction.

    Book cover from SyndeticsFF Vol. 2: Family freakout by Matt Fraction

    “As the kids in the FF start growing apart, their adult supervision seems to be having some issues of their own. And when Dr. Doom ascends and the Council of Dooms girds for battle, it’s the eve of a war between the Future Foundation and Latveriaa. But is it also the beginning of the end for the fractious FF?” (Syndetics)

    Check out volume 1 if you haven’t already!

    Book cover from SyndeticsThis one summer by Mariko Tamaki

    Every summer Rose and her parents go to a beach house, and Rose gets to hang out there with her friend Windy. But this summer Rose’s parents won’t stop fighting, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other, because this summer won’t be like all the others.

    Ligia:

    Book cover from SyndeticsBook cover from SyndeticsI had a few favourites this year, including Minders by Michele Jaffe, Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano, The winners curse by Marie Rutkoski, The geography of you and me by Jennifer E. Smith & Nil by Lynne Matson.

    Book cover from SyndeticsMinders by Michele Jaffe

    “Sadie Ames has been accepted to the prestigious Mind Corps Fellowship program, where she’ll spend six weeks as an observer inside the head of Ford, a troubled boy with a passion for the crumbling architecture of the inner city. There’s just one problem: Sadie’s fallen in love with him. Ford Winters is haunted by the murder of his older brother, James. As Sadie begins to think she knows him, Ford does something unthinkable. Now, back in her own body, Sadie must decide what is right and what is wrong… and how well she can really ever know someone…” (Syndetics)

    Book cover from SyndeticsThe geography of you and me by Jennifer E. Smith

    “Sparks fly when sixteen-year-old Lucy Patterson and seventeen-year-old Owen Buckley meet on an elevator rendered useless by a New York City blackout. Soon after, the two teenagers leave the city, but as they travel farther away from each other geographically, they stay connected emotionally, in this story set over the course of one year.” (Syndetics)

    Book cover from SyndeticsNil by Lynne Matson

    “On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have one year. Exactly 365 days to escape, or you die. Lost and alone, Charley finds no sign of other people until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought… and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that to save their future, Charley must first save him. And on an island rife with dangers, their greatest threat is time.” (Goodreads)

    Book cover from SyndeticsBook cover from SyndeticsRaissa:

    Although they didn’t come out in 2014, I really enjoyed the Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork.

    Book cover from SyndeticsRaewyn:

    Julie Kagawa is one of my favourite authors and I have just finished reading Talon (could one of your closest friends be a dragon in disguise?). I liked it and would probably say loved it, except that I had read a series by Sophie Jordan about the same subject and similar scenarios (Firelight series) so it already felt a little familiar. Both were very good though!

    Book cover from SyndeticsOttilie:

    It wasn’t released this year (in fact, it came out in 1989!) but I absolutely adored Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block. It is so dreamy and fairy-tale-like, but so contemporary and doesn’t firmly cement itself in the 80s. The book has such a dreamy, hazy yet vibrant atmosphere and I lived in the haze of it for a few weeks after finishing it!

    Debbie:

    Book cover from SyndeticsBook cover from SyndeticsI just finished The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey and I thought it was great! Plus, it’s being made into a movie soon, so I’m excited about that. I also enjoyed the Shadowfell series by Juliet Marillier — Shadowfell, Raven Flight and The Caller.

    Book cover from SyndeticsBelinda:

    I really enjoyed Like No Other by Una LaMarche from this year. Set in Brooklyn, it’s about a comedy/drama about a disapproved-upon teenage romance between a Hasidic Jew girl and a Black boy set contemporarily. There is a history of race riots between the two communities which adds another layer beyond the religious conflict. Both main characters could be described as Manic Pixie Dream Girl/Boys. I’d highly recommend it!

    Sylvia:

    Book cover from SyndeticsI Am Rebecca, by Fleur Beale was very good. It’s the follow up to her novel I Am Not Esther which came out 10 years ago.

    “When she turns 14, Rebecca will find out who she is to marry. All the girls in her strict religious sect must be married just after their 16th birthday. Her twin sister Rachel is delighted when Saul, the boy she loves, asks to marry her. Malachi asks for Rebecca. She believes him to be a good and godly man. But will Rebecca find there is a dark side to the rules which have kept her safe? What does the future hold? Can the way ahead be so simple when the community is driven by secrets and hidden desires?” (Syndetics)

    So that’s our roundup of 2014 favourites! It is by no means complete, just some of our faves that sprung to mind. We would love for you to share with us your favourite books of 2014, whether they were actually released this year or not. Let us know in the comments below! We will pick a commenter on this post to win an audiobook of Cassandra Clare’s City of Heavenly Fire so tell us your top picks!


  • 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!


  • Classic novels, eLibrary, Librarian's Choice, Lists, Rachel

    Write to me, won’t you?

    19.08.14 | Permalink | Comments Off on Write to me, won’t you?

    Following on from my last post, you may remember that I mentioned Jaclyn Moriarty often writes in an epistolary style, meaning the narrative is constructed of letters, emails, memos, newspaper clippings, blogs, text messages… You get the idea. Books written in this style can be very quick reads because they can be very casual and conversational, particularly with diary entries. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite epistolary novels (I read quite a lot of them…)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSloppy Firsts, Megan McCafferty

    Sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated when her best friend Hope leaves their hometown of Pineville, New Jersey. Jessica is hyper-observant and without Hope to communicate with, Jessica feels more out of her depth than ever. Now she has to work out how to deal with the craziness of her classmates, her dad’s obsession with Jessica’s track meets and her mother’s obsession with Jessica’s sister Bethany’s lavish wedding – all without any help from Hope, bar the occasional email. And then Jessica begins to strike up an unlikely friendship with the biggest rebel in school Marcus Flutie… Jessica’s diary entries are hilarious, but balance out the humour well by dealing with serious issues, such as death and family drama. And it’s the first in a series of 5!

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAngus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison

    Georgia Nicholson is vain, a bit hysterical and boy-crazy. She has a lot of wild tales to tell about her mad little sister Libby, her feral cat Angus and the time she shaved her eyebrows and dressed up as a stuffed olive. Georgia’s just trying to be a regular 14-year-old girl but it’s not so easy. Set in England, this book (the first in a series) is fabbity fab fab and you’ll be speaking in Georgia’s completely made up slang and bent over in stitches by the time you’re finished with it! We also have this as an Overdrive eBook.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie

    Junior is a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Junior has never felt like the rez life fitted him, so he takes matters into his own hands and leaves the rez school in order to go to the all-white local high school. Being Indian makes him stand out enough in the school, but he also has “an enormous head, gigantic feet, crazy eyes, ten more teeth than normal, a stutter, and a lisp” but Junior is not a complainer! He just wants to get through school and break away from the life he has been destined to live. The novel is interspersed with drawings and is based partly on the author’s own experiences. It’s a must read!

    Letters From The Inside, John Marsden

    “Mandy wants a pen-pal. Tracey answers the ad. The two girls write to each other about their families, their lives, their ambitions and their fears. But there are dark secrets surrounding Mandy and Tracey – secrets they can hardly bear to confront, let alone share.” Goodreads

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsI Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith

    Seventeen-year-old Cassandra lives with her family in a ramshackle castle in England. Over a turbulent six months, Cassandra attempts to hone her writing skills by chronicling in her diary the changes within the castle and her own first experience in love. I Capture the Castle is a “classic” novel that is timeless and the humour stands up today just as it did when it was first published.


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