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Nicola




  • dystopia, Fantasy, Mysteries, Nicola, realistic fiction

    New books

    17.10.17 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSplinter, Sasha Dawn

    Sami’s mother disappeared ten years ago, and the police have always suspected that Sami’s father killed her. But they’ve never had any convincing evidence … until now. Sami’s sure her father’s innocent. Or is she? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: My feet hit the pavement in even cadence, keeping time with a song that’s been repeating in my head: “Photograph” by Def Leppard. I haven’t heard the song in a long time, maybe even since before my mother left. Glam bands on the late eighties were definitely her thing, not Dad’s.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEven the darkest stars, Heather Fawcett

    Kamzin dreamed of becoming one of the Emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. Then River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives and demands to hire Kamzin — not her older sister Lusha, as everyone had expected — for his next expedition. River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor; it means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. When Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer, Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I stretched my hands over the dragon eggs, focusing all my concentration on their indigo shells, and murmured the incantation. The air rippled and shimmered. I can do this. The thought was born of desperation rather than confidence.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMidnight at the electric, Jodi Lynn Anderson

    Adri’s, Catherine’s, and Lenore’s lives are intertwined but not in the way that one would think. Adri lives in 2065 Kansas, Catherine lives in 1930s Kansas, and Lenore lives in England in 1919. As Adri is preparing to go to Mars, she stays with her cousin in Kansas, where the training takes place. Upon settling in, she comes across letters written from Lenore to Beth. Through journals and, later, letters, Catherine narrates her own story of being in Kansas during the Dust Bowl. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: From above, Miami looked as if it were blinking itself awake; the rising sun reflected against the city’s windows. Adri-in fuzzy extra-large pajama pants, her messy black hair pulled back in a rubber band-had pulled over on the shoulder of the Miami bridge.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHow to disappear, Sharon Huss Roat

    Vicky Decker has perfected the art of hiding in plain sight, quietly navigating the halls of her high school undetected except by her best (and only) friend, Jenna. But when Jenna moves away, Vicky’s isolation becomes unbearable. So she decides to invent a social life by Photoshopping herself into other people’s pictures, posting them on Instagram under the screen name Vicurious. Instantly, she begins to get followers, so she adds herself to more photos from all over the world with all types of people. And as Vicurious’s online followers multiply, Vicky realizes she can make a whole life for herself without ever leaving her bedroom. But the more followers she finds online, the clearer it becomes that there are a lot of people out there who feel like her — #alone and #ignored in real life. To help them, and herself, Vicky must find the courage to face her fear of being “seen,” because only then can she stop living vicariously and truly bring the magic of Vicurious to life. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Standing by my locker, I can already feel the sweat circles forming on my T-shirt. Nobody can see that, I assure myself. Not through the enormous sweater I’m wearing, or beneath my nearly impenetrable wall-o-hair.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe hearts we sold, Emily Lloyd-Jones

    After Dee Moreno, seventeen, makes a deal with a demon, trading her heart for the chance of a good education, she becomes part of a group of “heartless” teens engaged in fighting a paranormal war. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: A demon was knitting outside the hospital. Dee Moreno froze. The smokers’ area was where she always took her lunch break; she didn’t smoke, but it made for a good place to eat- at least, when it wasn’t already occupied.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWild bird, Wendelin Van Draanen

    When her behaviour escalates out of control, fourteen-year-old Wren is taken away to a wilderness therapy camp where she is forced to develop new skills, including the courage to ask for help.

    First lines: “Wren…”
    My name is floating around me. Bouncing on the clouds in my mind.
    “Wren…wake up, Wren.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThere’s someone inside your house, Stephanie Perkins

    It’s been almost a year since Makani Young came to live with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska, and she’s still adjusting to her new life. And still haunted by her past in Hawaii. Then, one by one, the students of her small town high school begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, Makani will be forced to confront her own dark secrets. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The egg-shaped timer was on the welcome mat when she came home.
    Haley Whitehall glanced over her shoulder, as if expecting someone behind her. Far in the distance, a red combine rolled through the sallow cornfields. Her father. Harvest time.


  • Books, dystopia, Espionage, Library, Mysteries, New, Nicola, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    New books

    03.10.17 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMoxie, Jennifer Mathieu

    Vivian Carter is fed up with a high school administration that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv is fed up with always following the rules. Her mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: My English teacher, Mr. Davies, rubs a hand over his military buzz cut. There’s sweat beading at his hairline, and he puffs out his ruddy cheeks. He looks like a drunk porcupine. The drunk part may be true. Even if it is before lunch on a Tuesday.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe warrior, Joseph Delaney

    This is the third exhilarating installment in the Arena 13 series by Joseph Delaney, author of The Spook’s Apprentice. After everything Leif has been through in Arena 13, it’s finally time for him to fulfill his destiny and accompany his father’s people beyond the barrier that imprisons all mankind. Meanwhile, Kwin, the girl he loves, is making waves in the arena as the first woman ever to grace its fighting floor. In their own ways, each of them is fighting to bring down the superhuman monsters that threaten the last people on earth. They might have picked fights they can’t win. But freedom could be something worth dying for. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: When Math glimpsed the west bank of the River Medie, his heart soared. He was almost home. Ahead, in the far distance, was the Barrier that enclosed Midgard, a black mass of cloud and mist that reached from the ground high into the sky, writhing and churning as if it were alive.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe arsonist, Stephanie Oakes

    Molly Mavity doesn’t believe her mother killed herself three years ago– or that her father is about to be executed for his crimes. Pepper Yusef is a Kuwaiti immigrant with a seizure dog, and is about to fail out of school. They are tasked with solving the decades-old murder of Ava Dryman, an East German teenager resistance fighter whose death led to the destruction of the Berlin Wall. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Dear Pepper,
    Do you have any idea how depressing it is in this room right now> Your dad can’t look at you for longer than a couple of minutes before falling into tears. You’re not breathing on your own, and I can’t see your bandaged head without remembering you were recently punched in the brain by the bottom of a swimming pool. They say you might never wake up.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsInvictus, Ryan Graudin

    Farway Gaius McCarthy is the son of a time traveler from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in ancient Rome. His very existence defies the laws of nature. All he’s ever wanted was to explore history for himself, but after failing his entrance exam into the government program, Far will have to settle for a position on the black market: captaining a time-traveling crew to steal valuables from the past. During a routine heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl named Eliot who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Eliot has secrets and, armed with the knowledge that history is not as steady as it seems, she leads Far and his team on a race through time to set things right before the clock runs out. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Recorder Empra McCarthy sat in the bleachers of the Ampitheatrum Flavium, her pregnant belly as round as a globe under her indigo stola. The Colosseum -not that it was called that, not yet – was a frenzy of life around her. Nearly fifty thousand souls had come to watch the day’s bloodbath, filling the seats with earth toned togas, popping salted peas and chunks of bread into their mouths, screaming last-minute bets and Latin slang as the gladiators marched through the Porta Sanavivaria into the arena below.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsJane, unlimited, Kristin Cashore

    Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia–an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions. Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash–a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family’s island mansion called Tu Reviens. Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.” With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn’t know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The house on the cliff looks like a ship disappearing into fog. The spire a mast, the trees whipping against its base, the waves of a ravening sea. Or maybe Jane just has ships on the brain, seeing as she’s inside one that’s doing all it can to consume her attention. A wave rolls the yacht, catches her off balance, and she sits down, triumphantly landing in the general vicinity of where she aimed.


  • Books, Fantasy, Mysteries, Nicola, Real Problems, Sci Fi

    New books

    28.09.17 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLittle and lion, Brandy Colbert

    Suzette returns home to Los Angeles from boarding school and grapples with her bisexual identity when she and her stepbrother Lionel fall in love with the same girl. As Lionel’s bipolar disorder begins to spin out of control, it forces Suzette to confront her own demons. Can she save Lionel from himself– and will he trust her enough to do so? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: It’s bizarre to be so nervous about seeing the person who knows me best, but the past year hasn’t been so kind to Lionel and me. I’m standing outside LAX on a sun-soaked afternoon in early June when my brother’s navy-blue sedan screeches to a halt a few feet away. Part of me doesn’t mind that he’s thirty minutes late, because I needed time to get used to the idea of being back home. But now he’s here and my heart is thumping like it’s going to jump out of my mouth and there’s nowhere to go.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGenuine fraud, e. lockhart

    Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat. Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.A bad romance, or maybe three. Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains. A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her. A girl who refuses to be the person she once was. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: It was a bloody great hotel. The minibar in Jule’s room stocked potato chips and four different chocolate bars. The bathtub had bubble jets. There was an endless supply of fat towels and liquid gardenia soap. In the lobby, an elderly gentleman played Gershwin on a grand piano at four each afternoon. You could get hot clay skin treatments, if you didn’t mind strangers touching you. Jule’s skin smelled like chlorine all day.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThese things I’ve done, Rebecca Phillips

    Before: Dara and Aubrey have been inseparable since they became best friends in sixth grade. Dara is the fearless one, Aubrey the prodigy, yet despite their differences they support each other unconditionally. However, as they begin their sophomore year of high school, cracks in their friendship begin to form, testing the bond they always thought was unbreakable.
    After: It’s been fifteen months since the accident that killed Aubrey, and not a day goes by that Dara isn’t racked with guilt over her role in her best friend’s death. Now, after spending a year away from home in order to escape the constant reminders of what happened, Dara is back at her old high school to start her senior year. Dara thought the worst thing about coming home would be confronting the memories of Aubrey that relentlessly haunt her, but she soon realizes it’s not half as difficult as seeing Ethan, Aubrey’s brother, every day. Not just because he’s a walking reminder of what she did, but because the more her feelings for him change, the more she knows she’s betraying her best friend one final time. (Publisher information)

    First lines: I am a statue.
    “Dara.” My mother touches my arm. Gently, of course, the same way she’s been doing pretty much everything since I got back last week. “Mr. Lind asked you a question.”
    I shift my gaze to Mr. Lind, Hadfield High’s principal and yet another addition to the long line of concerned adults in my life.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsShimmer and burn, Mary Taranta

    Faris grew up fighting to survive in the slums of Brindaigel while caring for her sister, Cadence. But when Cadence is caught trying to flee the kingdom and is sold into slavery, Faris reluctantly agrees to a lucrative scheme to buy her back, inadvertently binding herself to the power-hungry Princess Bryn, who wants to steal her father’s throne.Now Faris must smuggle stolen magic into neighboring Avinea to incite its prince to alliance–magic that addicts in the war-torn country can sense in her blood and can steal with a touch. She and Bryn turn to a handsome traveling magician, North, who offers protection from Avinea’s many dangers, but he cannot save Faris from Bryn’s cruelty as she leverages Cadence’s freedom to force Faris to do anything–or kill anyone–she asks. Yet Faris is as fierce as Bryn, and even as she finds herself falling for North, she develops schemes of her own.With the fate of kingdoms at stake, Faris, Bryn, and North maneuver through a dangerous game of magical and political machinations, where lives can be destroyed–or saved–with only a touch. (Publisher of summary)

    First lines: My mother tried to kill me the night the guards arrested her. Only six years old at the time, I remember her earnest face bent over mine, a hand laced through my own. She smelled strange that night, like damp stone and cold earth, and wondered where she’d been to smell so unfamiliar.
    “What are you doing?” I finally asked.
    “Saying good-bye,” she whispered back. “I love you, Faris. Remember that.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGirls made of snow and glass, Melissa Bashardoust

    At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone–has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother. Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do–and who to be–to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all. Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything–unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Lynet first saw her in the courtyard. Well, the girl was in the courtyard. Lynet was in a tree. The juniper tree in the central courtyard was one of the few trees still in leaf at Whitespring, and so it was one of the best hiding place was especially helpful on afternoons like these, when she had decided to skip her lessons without telling her tutors. The young woman who walked briskly across the courtyard did not pass directly under the tree, so she didn’t notice Lynet watching.

    In the dark spaces, Cally Black

    Tamara has been living on a star freighter in deep space, and her kidnappers are terrifying Crowpeople – the only aliens humanity has ever encountered. No-one has ever survived a Crowpeople attack, until now – and Tamara must use everything she has just to stay alive. But survival always comes at a price, and there’s no handbook for this hostage crisis. As Tamara comes to know the Crowpeople’s way of life, and the threats they face from humanity’s exploration into deep space, she realises she has an impossible choice to make.

    First lines: Gub’s silent giggles escape in little puffs. Tiny hands wrap around my neck too tight, his dinosaur toy digging into my skin. Gub’s legs cling at my hips as mama-monkey him up and down the cabin on my back. I keep his feet tucked in with my hands so we can dance without bumping the walls, never mind how hard that is in a cabin this small.

    Gap year in ghost town, Michael Pryor

    The Marin family are outcasts of the ghost hunting world. They run a to-man operation in inner city Melbourne. Anton has the Ghost-sight, but his father does not. Rani Cross is supremely skilled in hand-to-hand combat, with enhanced speed and strength thanks to her magical initiation into the Company of the Righteous. When it comes to ghost-hunting methodology, Anton and Rani don’t see eye to eye – Anton likes to ‘ease their passage’ to the next world, while Rani’s all about the slashing. But Melbourne is under threat; with a massive spike in violent ghost manifestations, Anton and Rani must find a way to work together to keep supernatural forces at bay. And what with all the blindingly terrifying brushes with death, Anton must decide if he really wants in on the whole ghost hunting biz anyway. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Let’s get this straight-ghosts are everywhere. I can see them. You can’t. And, see them or not, they’re dangerous. This is why my family has hunted ghosts for hundreds of years: to protect people like you. And don’t forget that this whole thing is abso-freaking-lutely serious, so whatever you do, don’t mention any of those movies. Or sing the song. Especially don’t ask me who you gonna call.


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

    New books

    22.09.17 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Marrow Thieves, Cherie Dimaline

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMoonrise, Sarah Crossnan

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWarcross, Marie Lu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSaving Daisy, Phil Earle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Books, Fantasy, Nicola

    New books

    19.09.17 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWicked like a wildfire, Lana Popovic

    Twins Iris and Malina have been born with a gleam– a unique way of using magic to manipulate beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, while Malina interprets moods as music. They must keep their gifts a secret, and are not allowed to share their magic with anyone. Above all, they are forbidden from falling in love. When their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters discover a wicked curse that haunts their family line. And the very magic that bonds them together may be destined to tear them apart forever. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: My sister and I were born all tangled up together, both tiny enough that our unruly descent just narrowly missed killing our mother. I like to think there would have been a fair bit screaming on Mama’s part in the ruckus that followed, but that’s just my wicked fancy. Maybe she was stoic and flawless as ever, Snow White giving birth under glass. Either way, tending to her, no one spared the time to note which one of us had arrived first.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsApex, Mercedes Lackey

    In the Elite Hunter Command’s latest clash with Othersiders, the army of monsters nearly wiped them out. Apex City is safe– for now. But within the city barriers, the corrupt and powerful PsiCorps is determined to usurp the Hunters as chief defenders of Apex City and Joy is now squarely in their crosshairs. There are few she can trust– not even Josh. But Abigail Drift, the head of PsiCorps, is testing experiments designed to empower PsiCorps and render Hunters superfluous– a scheme that’s already killed off dozens of Psimons. Joy manages to smuggle Josh to safety, but he cannot evade Drift forever. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: A year ago-
    A year ago, I was a different person., just one of the Hunters at the Monastery on the Mountain. A Hunter who kept our area free of monsters, under the tutelage and direction of my Masters. A Hunter who’d lived in a place so different from Apex and the other big cities it might just as well have been on another planet.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWilder country, Mark Smith

    Finn, Kas and Willow have survived the winter of storms. Severe winds and cold have kept the Wilders at bay. Now that spring has come, everything has changed. They’re being hunted again, and they won’t be safe while Ramage wants their blood.But Finn and Kas made a promise to Rose – to find her baby and bring her back. And finding Hope means finding Ramage…And Finn will face the toughest decision of his life. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The morning air is cold but the storm last night cleared and the wind is feathering the peak at the river mouth. Rowdy waits patiently on the lookout platform while I change into my wetsuit and pull my board out from its hiding place in the tea trees.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTower of Dawn, Sarah J. Maas

    Following the shattering of the glass castle and the deaths of his men, Chaol pursues recovery by searching for healers in the southern continent while trying to convince Dorian and Aelin to ally with him and Nesryn in order to avoid war. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Chaol Westfall, former Captain of the Royal Guard and now Hand to the newly crowned King of Adarlan, had discovered that he hated one sound above all others. Wheels. Specifically, their clattering along the planks of the ship on which he’d spent the past three weeks sailing through storm-tossed waters.

    After the game, Abbi Glines

    After being away for two years, Riley Young returns to Lawton, Alabama, with her fifteen-month-old daughter to help take care of her grandmother who has Alzheimers, even though it means she has to face the lies that forced her to leave town in the first place and a blossoming friendship with the high school football star Brady Higgens, who is dealing with his own family problems. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The crash from the kitchen jerked me out of my dreams and into reality. Something was burning and Bryony wasn’t in bed beside me. Her sweet blond curls and big blue eyes were normally what met me when I opened my eyes. Jumping up, I ran through the already open door of my bedroom and sprinted towards the kitchen. A million things ran through my mind as I went the short distance.


  • Espionage, Fantasy, Mysteries, New, Nicola, Real Problems, realistic fiction

    New books

    06.09.17 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOrangeboy, Patrice Lawrence

    Not cool enough, not clever enough, not street enough for anyone to notice me. I was the kid people looked straight through. NOT ANY MORE. NOT SINCE MR ORANGE. Sixteen-year-old Marlon has made his mum a promise – he’ll never follow his big brother, Andre, down the wrong path. So far, it’s been easy, but when a date ends in tragedy, Marlon finds himself hunted. They’re after the mysterious Mr Orange, and they’re going to use Marlon to get to him. Marlon’s out of choices – can he become the person he never wanted to be, to protect everyone he loves? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Man, I couldn’t stop looking at her. When I closed my eyes, I still saw her. Her hair was thick and blonde, and a curl looped over her ear to her shoulder. She wore black mascara and green eyeliner and her lips looked shiny and stick. Sonya Wilson was right there next to me and it made my brain buzz.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDon’t tell the bridesmaid, Katy Birchall

    Romance is in the air! Preparations for the Wedding of the Century between Anna’s dad and super famous actress Helena Montaine is in full swing (all Anna needs to do is escape having to wear the biggest meringue of a bridesmaid dress that EVER existed.) And not only that but Anna, her friends and her ACTUAL BOYFRIEND (definitely requires shouting), Connor, are about to go on a school trip in romantic Rome. So as long as Anna can avoid doing something like falling face first in the Trevi Fountain, nothing could spoil this perfect pasta-filled moment. Could it? (Publisher summary)

    First lines:”You can’t keep me trapped up here forever!”
    Jess folded her arms, looking very pleased with herself.
    “Sure I can.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSuperpowerless, Chris Priestly

    David is sixteen. A pretty ordinary boy, in most ways – he just wants to hang out in his bedroom, reading his dad’s old comics. Comics that are full of his heroes – those figures whose lives are charmed, special, unique. Life hasn’t been easy recently for David, though. His father died just a couple of years ago, he has a fractious relationship with his mum, and he has fallen out with his best friend. But, David has a secret, which he hasn’t told anyone. He has superpowers. He can soar through the air, he has superhearing, he feels and hears everything super-keenly. So life should be easier, then, shouldn’t it? But somehow it’s not – and when David gets involved with the girl next door, gorgeous Holly Hunter, he begins to realise just how very complicated it can get. David’s harbouring another secret, a deeper darker one, and on this journey from boyhood to manhood, will he have the courage to face up to it? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: David is halfway to the shop when he spies a group of girls he knows from school. He doesn’t usually employ his superpowers for such trivial things, but as they draw near he engages his power of invisibility and they walk on past as though he doesn’t even exist.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLabyrinth lost, Zoraida Cordova

    Alex is a bruja and the most powerful witch in her family. But she’s hated magic ever since it made her father disappear into thin air. When a curse she performs to rid herself of magic backfires and her family vanishes, she must travel to Los Lagos, a land in-between as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland, to get her family back. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The second time I saw my dead aunt Rosaria, she was dancing.
    Earlier that day, my mom had warned me, pressing a long, red fingernail on the tip of my nose,
    “Alejandra, don’t go downstairs when the Circle arrives.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe girl in between, Sarah Carroll

    A homeless girl and her Ma, always hiding from the authorities, take shelter in an abandoned mill in the center of a big city, but when developers make plans to knock the mill down, everything changes, prompting the girl to wonder what kind of ghosts are haunting both the mill and her mother. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I’m invisible. Ma says I’m supposed to be so the Authorities don’t get me. She goes out into the streets almost every day but I’m not allowed. I’ve got to stay inside the mill so they don’t see me.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCity of saints and thieves, Natalie C. Anderson

    After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrive in Kenya. Her mother quickly finds work as a maid for the Greyhills, a prominent family. When her mother is found shot to death in Mr. Greyhill’s personal study, Tina knows exactly who’s behind it. Tina spends the next four years surviving on the streets alone, working as a master thief for the Goondas, Sangui City’s local gang. Finally, Tina gets a chance for vengeance but as soon as she steps inside the lavish home, she’s overtaken by the pain of old wounds and the pull of past friendships, setting into motion a dangerous cascade of events that could, at any moment, cost Tina her life. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: If you’re going to be a theif, the first thing you need to know is that you don’t exist. And I mean, you really have to know it. You have to own it. Bug Eye taught me that. Because if you do exist, you might snag someone’s eye who will frown and wonder who you are.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSolo, Kwame Alexander

    Seventeen-year-old Blade endeavors to resolve painful issues from his past and navigate the challenges of his former rockstar father’s addictions, scathing tabloid rumors, and a protected secret that threatens his own identity. (Publisher summary)


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

    New books

    30.08.17 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLittle monsters, Kara Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDuels and deception, Cindy Anstey

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTowards a secret sky, Heather Maclean

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsProject Pandora, Aden Polydoros

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe last magicians, Lisa Maxwell

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHolding smoke, Elle Cosimano

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFor love and honor, Jody Hedlund

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

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

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

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSeeker, Veronica Rossi

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThief’s cunning, Sarah Ahiers

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

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


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

    New books

    17.08.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWant, Cindy Pon

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhen Dimple met Rishi, Sandhya Menon

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

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

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

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTash hearts Tolstoy, Kathryn Ormsbee

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNerve, Jeannie Ryan

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSlave power, Raewyn Dawsom

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

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

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

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWreck, Fleur Ferris

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsKid got shot, Simon Mason

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe book of heroes, Miyuki Miyabe

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBecoming Aurora, Elizabeth Kashmer

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBoone Shepard, Gabriel Bergmoser

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

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

    Moon boy, Kathy Sutcliffe

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

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

    Freedom swimmer, Wai Chim

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

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


  • Nicola, Real Life

    New books

    02.08.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMy life as a hashtag, Gabrielle Williams

    What’s a girl to do when her parents have split up; her mum’s trawling Tinder; and one of her best friends has decided not to invite her to the biggest party of the year, which she then has to watch unfold on everyone else’s social media? If you’re a girl called MC, you get mad as hell, that’s what you do. But what begins as one girl’s private, no-holds-barred rant soon snowballs in the most public way possible. (Publisher information).

    First lines: Yumi’s house was strictly back-door only. The front door was for electricians, plumbers, and religious freaks rummaging in the shrubs for converts. It meant someone inside the house had to get up from what they were doing to let you in. The back door required no more heavy lifting than an arm raised in a wave. The back door was friendlier. Which is why I always went through it.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLiving on Hope Street, Demet Divaroren

    We all love someone. We all fear something. Sometimes they live right next door – or even closer. Kane will do everything he can to save his mother and his little brother Sam from the violence of his father, even if it means becoming a monster himself. Mrs Aslan will protect the boys no matter what – even though her own family is in pieces. Ada wants love that she can count on, while she faces new questions about herself. Mr Bailey is afraid of the refugees next door, not knowing that his worst fear will strike in another form. And Gugulethu is just trying to make a life away from terror. On this street, everyone comes from different places, but to find peace they will have to discover what unites them. (Publisher information).

    First lines: The lamb roast looked like a giant fist. Sam eyeballed it. He sat at the dinner table sniffing the air.
    “Smells so yum!” He said, scooping a ball of mashed potato with his finger and shoving it in his mouth. “Can we eat now, Mum? Please?”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHow to make a wish, Ashley Herring Blake

    Grace, tough and wise, has nearly given up on wishes, thanks to a childhood spent with her unpredictable, drinks-too-much mother Maggie. Then Grace meets Eva, a girl who believes in dreams despite her own difficult circumstances. One fateful evening Eva climbs through a window in Grace’s room, setting off a chain of stolen nights on the beach. When Eva tells Grace that she likes girls, Grace’s world opens up and she begins to believe in happiness again. When Grace must choose between Maggie and Eva, will she give up the future for the life she has? (Publisher information).

    First lines: She waits until we’re driving over the bridge to tell. This is a strategic move. Wait until your temperamental daughter is suspended over the Atlantic Ocean to drop the bomb, thereby decreasing the chance that she’ll fling open the car door and hurl herself over the edge.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGirl saves boy, Steph Bowe

    Isn’t it enough having your very own terminal disease, without your mother dying? Or your father dating your Art teacher? No wonder Sacha Thomas ends up in the lake that Saturday evening…
    But the real question is: how does he end up in love with Jewel Valentine? With the help of quirky teenage prodigies Little Al and True Grisham, Sacha and Jewel have a crazy adventure, with a little lobster emancipation along the way. But Sacha’s running out of time, and Jewel has secrets of her own. (Goodreads summary)

    First lines: There was a boy in the lake. At first, I thought he was my brother, but then I realised he was way to big to be a ten year old boy. Even in my mind my brother will never get any older. That’s scary. isn’t it? To realise you’ve lived a whole eight years longer than your older brother ever could.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe possible, Tara Altebrando

    Kaylee lives a normal life with her adoptive parents, and almost never thinks of her birth mother, Crystal, who is serving a life sentence in prison. But the woman at the front door is producing a podcast about Crystal that is about to blow Kaylee’s forgotten past wide open. What if strange things have been happening Kaylee’s entire life, things she could not explain? What if she’s more like her mother than she ever imagined? What if the podcast is about to put her on a collision course with Crystal—and her darkest self? (Goodreads summary)

    First lines: I realised in the fourth inning that I hadn’t given up a hit yet. The whispers of a no-hitter started when I headed for the mound to pitch the sixth.
    You think she can do it? I bet she’s going to do it.
    Has anyone at school ever done that? No, not ever.

    Convergence, Marita Smith

    Robyn Greene searches for the ancient gene that is supposed to enable humans to communicate with animals. After years of failure, she’s beginning to wonder if the gene is a myth. But when she stumbles across a strange genetic mutation, Robyn’s world turns upside down. The man posing as her boss is, in fact, an operative of the mysterious international organisation, MRI. Worse, they have dark plans to exploit her discovery. In a race against time, Robyn must track down individuals with this rare gene before the MRI turns them into lab rats (Publisher information).

    First lines: “The program has come under scrutiny. Some of the directors think it is unnecessary now we’ve found the boy.”
    “You mean Vulcan wants to axe it.”
    “It’s not about Vulcan. It’s about the objectives of the Institute. It’s been eighteen months, Brock. They’ve found nothing.”


  • Books, Comedy, Mysteries, New, Nicola

    New books

    12.07.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPhantom limbs, Paula Garner

    Otis and Meg were inseparable until her family abruptly moved away after the terrible accident that left Otis’s little brother dead and both of their families changed forever. Since then, it’s been three years of radio silence, during which time Otis has become the unlikely protégé of eighteen-year-old Dara–part drill sergeant, part friend–who’s hell-bent on transforming Otis into the Olympic swimmer she can no longer be. But when Otis learns that Meg is coming back to town, he must face some difficult truths about the girl he’s never forgotten and the brother he’s never stopped grieving (Amazon.com)

    First lines: When I finally heard from Meg, it was May, historically her month of choice for upending my universe. It was ungodly hour of swim o’clock – I was checking my messages in the dark with one eye half open, synapses barely firing, when the sight of Meg’s name in my inbox jolted me awake.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe names they gave us, Emery Lord

    Everything is going right for Lucy, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job. Instead Lucy lands at a camp as a counselor for kids who have been through tough times. There Lucy discovers more than one old secret. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.
    When her perfectly planned summer of quality time with her parents, her serious boyfriend, and her Bible camp unravels and long-hidden family secrets emerge. (Publisher information).

    First lines: The first prom crisis is manageable. I’m reapplying my lip color in the ladies’ room when one of the swim team girls bursts on, sobbing. Our senior captain, Mallory, is right behind her.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHouse of furies, Madeline Roux

    After escaping a harsh school where punishment was the lesson of the day, seventeen-year-old Louisa Ditton is thrilled to find employment as a maid at a boarding house. But soon after her arrival at Coldthistle House, Louisa begins to realize that the house’s mysterious owner, Mr. Morningside, is providing much more than lodging for his guests. Far from a place of rest, the house is a place of judgment, and Mr. Morningside and his unusual staff are meant to execute their own justice on those who are past being saved. Louisa begins to fear for a young man named Lee who is not like the other guests. He is charismatic and kind, and Louisa knows that it may be up to her to save him from an untimely judgment. But in this house of distortions and lies, how can Louisa be sure whom to trust? (Publisher information).

    First lines: My name is Louisa Rose Ditton. I work and live at Coldthistle House, a house for boarders and wanderers. A house owned by the devil. The usual reaction, and my own once upon a time, is to give a gasp of outrage if you are one of a moral persuasion, a guffaw of scepticism if you’re another.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBang, Barry Lyga

    Sebastian Cody did something horrible, something no one — not even Sebastian himself — can forgive. At the age of four, he accidentally shot and killed his infant sister with his father’s gun. Now, ten years later, Sebastian has lived with the guilt and horror for his entire life. With his best friend away for the summer, Sebastian has only a new friend — Aneesa — to distract him from his darkest thoughts. But even this relationship cannot blunt the pain of his past. Because Sebastian knows exactly how to rectify his childhood crime and sanctify his past. It took a gun to get him into this. Now he needs a gun to get out. (Publisher information)

    First lines: My sister is in the memory hole. She has been disappeared, vanished, eliminated, eradicated. The memory hole is a conceit from a book they made us read in school, 1984. Even though the story takes place in the past, it feels very much like the present or the near future.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBallad for a mad girl, Vikki Wakefield

    Everyone knows seventeen-year-old Grace Foley is a bit mad. She’s a prankster and a risk-taker, and she’s not afraid of anything except losing. As part of the long-running feud between two local schools in Swanston, Grace accepts a challenge to walk the pipe. That night she experiences something she can’t explain. The funny girl isn’t laughing anymore. She’s haunted by voices and visions – but nobody believes a girl who cries wolf. As she’s drawn deeper into a twenty-year-old mystery surrounding missing girl Hannah Holt, the thin veil between this world and the next begins to slip. She can no longer tell what’s real or imagined – all she knows is the ghosts of Swanston, including that of her own mother, are restless. It seems one of them has granted her an extraordinary gift at a terrible price. Everything about her is changing – her body, her thoughts, even her actions seem to belong to a stranger. Grace is losing herself, and her friends don’t understand. Is she moving closer to the truth? Or is she heading for madness? (Publisher information).

    First lines: I’ve been having hateful thoughts again. I wish I could cast them out like an airbourne curse or summon a superpower through sheer will. I’d choose telekinesis over flying any day-slam some saucepans, smash a few ornaments, shatter a window. I’d drag my dad across the floor, slide him up a wall, pin him to the ceiling, and laugh like a maniac as I stroll out the front door.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMy fairy godmother is a drag queen, David Clawson

    Seventeen-year-old Chris’s stepmother wants her daughter, Kimberly, to marry wealthy J. J. Kennerly to save the family from financial ruin, but J. J. is gay and Chris has caught his eye. Loosely based on Cinderella. (Publisher information).

    First lines: It’s really weird to see yourself on the cover of tabloid. I mean, you go into the convenience store at the corner to get an energy drink because you need something to help you stay awake so that you can study for your calculus exam the next day, and there’s your entire family on the cover.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRocks fall, everyone dies, Lindsay Ribar

    Aspen Quick can reach inside you with his mind and steal anything he wants — knowledge, memories, sobriety, even love. It’s a powerful skill he’s always taken for granted. He doesn’t care how it affects you; you’ll never know what he’s doing, so you’ll never catch him. Besides, it’s his family’s centuries-old ritual that prevents the cliff above his town from collapsing and killing everyone below, so isn’t he entitled to some kind of reward for keeping everyone safe? But Aspen’s not the only Quick with the ability to steal, and this summer he becomes a target, which finally forces him to take a closer look at his family’s abilities and the secret they’ve kept hidden for so many generations. (Publisher information).

    First lines: Brandy and Theo were about to break up. They just didn’t know it yet. They were fighting about this movie they’d seen last week, and Theo was going,
    “What’s the point? The whole plot was just an excuse for explosions!”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStraight outta Crongton, Alex Wheattle

    Life’s a constant hustle for Mo. Her mum’s boyfriend Lloyd is just another man who likes to beat down women; the South Crong streets are fraught with hazards and nasty G’s; and when it comes to matters of the heart . . . she’s still hung up on Sam. (Publisher information).

    First lines: “Mum! Why d’you let him take my dinner money?”
    She was sitting on her bed, tying her dressing gown belt around her waist – it needed washing but I had used the last of the bio capsules to clean my PE kit the previous evening. Sleep clogged up the corners of her eyes. Her mascara now looked as if she’d applied it with a mop.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsJuniper Lemon’s happiness index, Julie Israel

    Sixty-five days after the death of her older sister, sixteen-year-old Juniper Lemon discovers the break-up letter addressed to “You” Camilla wrote the day she died. Juni is shocked–she knew nothing of this You, and now the gaping hole in her life that was her sister feels that much bigger. She’s determined to uncover the identity of You and deliver the letter. Maybe that would help fill the hole, even if only a bit. But what Juniper doesn’t expect is that in searching for You she will unearth other notes and secrets–and that may be just what she needs to sort out her own mess. (Publisher information.)

    First lines: The girl in the picture doesn’t look any different. Things you see: brown eyes. Hair to the shoulders. Natural eyeliner. Things you don’t: stitches. A neck brace. The sleep rings hidden beneath her makeup. I lower my new student ID card. My throat is tight with all the changes I carry, but don’t find there.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe pearl thief, Elizabeth Wein

    When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she’d imagined won’t be exactly like she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather’s estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family’s employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital. Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scottish Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister, Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she experiences some of the prejudices they’ve grown used to firsthand, a stark contrast to her own upbringing, and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation. Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime. (Publisher information)

    First lines: “You’re a brave lassie.”
    That’s what my grandfather told me as he gave me his shotgun.”
    “Stand fast and guard,” he instructed. “If this fellow tries to fight, you give him another dose.”


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