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  • Books, New, Simon

    New Books

    13.01.13 | Permalink | Comments Off on New Books

    Heppy new yur!

    Middle School : Get Me Out of Here!, by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts (257 pages) – Rafe Khatchodorian is in middle school, which I think must be intermediate? Is it? He gets to leave and go to an art school in the city, which isn’t the break from the existential horror of middle school that he’d hoped for. This is the sequel to Middle School : The Worst Years of My Life!.

    First lines: ‘Well, who’d have thought so much could change in one summer? Not me, that’s for sure. Not my best buddy, Leonardo the Silent.

    Beta, by Rachel Cohn (331 pages) – Elysia was born as a sixteen-year-old, as fresh as any cloned scientific creation thrown together in a lab could be. She is to serve the wealthy inhabitants of paradise island, Demesne, but Elysia isn’t the souless clone that her makers think she is, and when her only chance at happiness is booted off the island (literally!), she learns she needs to fight back.

    First lines: ‘It’s me she wants to purchase. The fancy lady claims she came into the resort boutique looking to buy a sweater, but she can’t take her eyes off me.

    Made on Earth, by Wolfgang Korn (184 pages) – This is the story of one item of clothing and the people it connects (a red polar fleece, if you can imagine such a thing) in the context of globalisation. ‘This is a story about people, their livelihoods and their life expectations.’ Its written as a short novel, but could almost be non-fiction I reckon.

    First line: ‘It was not love at first sight, no way! Bright red fleeces are for young girls, or Liverpool FC fans. They are definately not for tough journalists.

    The Turning, by Francine Prose (246 pages) – Jack gets a job on a private island, babysitting the orphaned niece and nephew of some rich guy. The kids are well-behaved (if a little odd), while the cook, Mrs Gross seems nice enough. BUT things are not what they seem – he keeps seeing people that no one else can see – and he begins to feel like he is losing his grip. This is based on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. By the way!

    First line: ‘Dear Sophie, I’m afraid this is going to sound crazy. But a very strange thing just happened.

    The Curiosities : A Collection of Stories, by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff (291 pages) – The three authors of this book are all published authors of paranormal fiction, and a few years ago they all got together and created a website called merryfates.com, where they each posted a small short story once a week. This book is a compilation of such stories, along with lots of annotations from the authors (similar to the website’s comments I guess?). I don’t think the website is a going concern anymore, but here’s the book anyway. It gets a nice 4 stars on Goodreads.

    Star-crossed : 18 Tales of Bittersweet Love, by Frances Kelly & Penny Murray (306 pages) – Like it says in the title! This is a collection of love stories. They are all retellings of classic romances from the olden days; Shakespeare, fable, myth, and fact are all covered, from Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor to Robin Hood and Maid Marian. Each has a little end-note explaining the romance preceding it and recommending more sources. So yeah, loads of romance.

    Speechless, by Hannah Harrington (268 pages) – Chelsea nearly got someone killed indirectly when she blabbed someone’s secret, so, as a consequence, she takes a vow of silence. Her old friends all still blame her, and by not talking she’s not necessarily endearing herself to them, but other people – people she wouldn’t have once had much to do with – soon come out of the woodwork. One boy she might even have a future with. The 500 people who have reviewd it on Goodreads really like it, so get cracking and read it okay

    First line: ‘Keping secrets isn’t my speciality.’

    Easy, by Tammara Webber (310 pages) – Jacqueline moves to a new city to study at college with her boyfriend, but he dumps her, leaving her stranded – friendless and alone in a place she’d rather not be at, and failing a paper for the first time in her life. However, she forms an attachment with her economics tutor by email, and also meets a guy who electrifies her with his dancing. She is also being stalked, and then her ex comes back into her life. What is a girl to do

    First lines: ‘I had never noticed Lucas before that night. It was as though he didn’t exist, and then suddenly, he was everywhere.

    Lullaby : A Watersong Novel, by Amanda Hocking (290 pages) – This is the second book in the series that started with Wake. They series is seemingly your usual teen supernatural novel featuring a specific creature from myth and legend; in this case, the monsters are Sirens. Not the plastic lights on top of police cars! Haha, imagine that

    First line: ‘Harper woke up when the sun was just beginning to set, and squinted at the dim orange light streaming in through her curtains.

    Struck by Lightning : The Carson Phillips Journal, by Chris Colfer (258 pages) – Chris Colfer is the same Chris Colfer who plays (played?) Kurt Hummel on Glee. This book is based on the screenplay he wrote for the movie he made, about a high school student who is desperate to leave his small town and become a hard-hitting journalist; and to achieve his goals he resorts to blackmailing his fellow students.

    First lines: ‘Dear Journal, one more school year with these $#!^heads and I’ll be free. It’s taken almost two decades of careful planning, but I’m proud to say my overdue departure from the town of Clover is only days away.

    The Twinning Project, by Robert Lipsyte (269 pages) – Tom has an imaginary twin named Eddie who, in actual fact, is real and lives on another Earth that mirrors our own, but 50 years earlier, engineered by aliens. Somehow they connect and join the fight against those same aliens who are set destroy both planets.

    First line: ‘I don’t fit in at school because I don’t do what I’m told if it’s stupid. I don’t keep my mouth shut when I have something to say.

    Someday Dancer, by Sarah Rubin (245 pages) – It is 1959! And somewhere in the rural hindquarters of South Carolina Casey Quinn plans on leaving for New York City, where she wants to be a ballet dancer. She has the talent, but unfortunately lacks the formal training – but is there hope with contemporary dance? yep

    First line: ‘Rat-a-tat-tat, my feet hit the ground, and the sound sings up like music. I am daning on the sidewalk, skipping home from school, free as a bird, and my feet are flying.

    Pinned, by Sharon G. Flake (228 pages) – Catalogue synopsis: ‘Adonis is smart, intellectually gifted and born without legs; Autumn is strong, a great wrestler, and barely able to read in ninth grade – but Autumn is attracted to Adonis and determined to make him a part of her life whatever he or her best friend thinks.’

    First lines: ‘You ever like a boy your friends thought you shouldn’t like? Maybe he short. Or his ears stick out. Or he got a face full of pimples. But you like him anyhow.

    Arise : A Hereafter Novel, by Tara Hudson (408 pages) – This comes after Hereafter, book one in the series (which is also new to the collection). Amelia and Joshua are an item, but sadly Amelia is stuck between the worlds of the living and the dead. Threatened by dark spirits, the couple attempt a Voodoo ritual in a cemetery in an attempt at some protection, but the ceremony will change things. FOREVERRRRRR

    First line: ‘The entire world had gone dark, and I had no idea why.

    Eternally Yours : An Immortal Beloved Novel, by Cate Tiernan (455 pages) – Nastasya is 450-years old, but hasn’t spent all that time too wisely, so she spends five months at a special rehab for troubled immortals. In addition to learning about her family and their past, she also falls for a hot immortal viking boy, and utilises her special kind of magic to fight against the dark forces determined to wipe out all immortals around the world.

    First lines: ‘Uppsala, Sweden, 1619. “Vali! Vali! Where is the girl?” I heard my employer’s voice and scrambled up the from the storage cellar.

    A World Away, by Nancy Grossman (394 pages) – Eliza is sixteen, and Amish, so she’s led as sheltered a life as it’s probably possible to lead in the modern world. No Internet! Let that sink in. Anway, Eliza gets to go to Chicago as a nanny, and she’s scared. And excited! What will the world have for her? Will she return to her family back on the farm?

    First line: ‘The strangers were coming, as they did every Thursday night, to bring a burst of color into our plain home. I circled the dining room, checking each lantern to be sure there was enough fuel inside.

    Speed of Light : A Meridian Novel, by Amber Kizer (525 pages) – This is the third book in a series too complex for me to easily summarise. ‘Meridian and Tens continue to grow closer and explore their relationship of Protector and Fenestra, while sixteen-year-old Juliet Ambrose, grasping at any hope of finding her parents, considers acepting the help offered by Ms. Asura, a proven Nocti.’

    First lines: ‘What if a young woman was both a girl to the living and a portal to the dying? I know the answer because I am.

    My Life Next Door, by Huntley Fitzpatrick (394 pages) – Samantha Reed is the daughter of a successful US Senator, and she leads a typically proper and organised life. However, in the evenings, she watches the family next door, and is envious of their fairly disorganised, messy, and happy life. She and the eldest son, Jase, fall for each other, and the relationship remains their little secret. Until there’s a surprise twist to the story! It’s a popular book on Goodreads, if that sways you.

    First lines: ‘The Garretts were forbidden from the start. But that’s not why they were important. We were standing in our yard that day ten years ago when their battered sedan pulled up to the low-slung shingled house next door, close behind the moving van.

    The Evolution of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin (527 pages) – Mara Dyer has powers that only one other person – Noah – believes she has. Everyone else reckons she is has a developing mental disorder. What is truth? ‘This will have readers doubting Mara’s sanity, trusting the mental health professionals, and suspicious of Noah’s intentions.’

    First lines: ‘You will love him to ruins. The words echoed in my mind as I ran through clots of laughing people. Blinking lights and delighted screams bled together in a riot of sound and color.


  • Internet, Simon

    Best Viral Videos 2012

    20.12.12 | Permalink | Comments Off on Best Viral Videos 2012

    Here’s a mashup of this year’s best viral videos, as edited by Videogum. Enjoy! Laugh along with me


  • Books, New, Simon

    New Books

    18.12.12 | Permalink | Comments Off on New Books

    Bound, by Erica O’Rourke (353 pages) – This is the third book in the Torn series. Wow have you ever thought that there are so many series in teen fiction? This one is about mortals and magic, and Mo Fitzgerald, who has to choose between the two worlds or else lose everything and everyone.

    First lines: ‘The problem with terrible ideas is that the people who have them don’t recognize how truly awful they are until it’s too late. After all, nobody deliberately chooses the worst possible course of action.

    Stormdancer : The Lotus War book one, by Jay Kristoff (324 pages) – Well here it is! Feudal Japanese steampunk. Yukiko, the book’s heroine, and her flightless griffin pal must take on the Shogun and his empire. There are also chainsaw swords in this book, a little blurb tells me.

    First line: ‘As the iron war club scythed toward her head, Yukiko could help wishing she’d listened to her father. She rolled aside as her cover was smashed to kindling, azalea petals drifting over the oni’s shoulders like perfumed snowflakes.

    Bitter Blood : The Morganville Vampires book 13, by Rachel Caine (538 pages) – For ages vampires and humans have co-existed in Morganville, getting up to at least twelve books-worth of adventure and intrigue. Now that the draug – the creatures that kept the vampires in check – have been defeated, the vampires are becoming a little excessive, and the humans want to fight back! Also a reality television show threatens to reveal all to the world.

    First lines: ‘Morganville, Texas, isn’t like other towns. Oh, it’s small, dusty, and ordinary, in most ways, but the thing is, there are these – well, let’s not be shy about it. Vampires.’

    Break My Heart 1,000 Times, by Daniel Waters (342 pages) – After the Event, everyone could see ghosts. Creepy! Man. Veronica sees the ghost of a teenaged boy in her mirror each morning, but isn’t too worried. However, the ghosts seem to becoming more powerful, and Veronica and chum Kirk uncover a creepier plot of their teacher, whose dead daughter hasn’t come back; he’s now convinced that by killing a living host (i.e., Veronica) his kid might resurface.

    First lines: ‘I walk through walls. I whisper at the window when I watch her leave our home. I flicker at the edges of my own memory.

    Rivals and Retribution : A 13 to Life Novel, by Shannon Delany (308 pages) – This is the conclusion (and book number five) to the 13 to Life series, about two werewolf families battling it out for the town of Junction. It receives what they call ‘mixed reviews’ on Goodreads, now accessible directly through the library catalogue! Handy

    First line: ‘The girl enters the barn, slipping between hay bales and a stack of buckets.

    Butter, by Erin Jade Lange (296 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Butter is morbidly obese, and feels alone. So he gets a website – butterslastmeal.com – and decides that he will broadcast his own death by over-eating. As he carries out his (somewhat macabre) plan he discovers that the attention he receiving, though not exactly positive, feels like popularity, and as the deadline approaches, does he still want to go through with it? Very tense with an amazing character is what I distill from the reviews I just read.

    First lines: ‘Most people would say the website is where this wild ride began. But for me is started two days earlier, on a Tuesday night in front of the TV in my living room.

    Passenger, by Andrew Smith (465 pages) – This is a sequel to The Marbury Lens, about a pair of boys who run away to London and find a lens that transports them to an war-stricken alternate reality. Now they try to destroy the lens, but there is an evil that won’t let them run away so easily, especially when it has their friends. Full of coolness.

    First lines: ‘This is it. Of course it wasn’t over. Things like this never end. It has been two and a half months since Freddie Horvath kidnapped some dumb kid who was too drunk to find his way home.

    Unwholly, by Neal Shusterman (402 pages) – Book one of the Unwind trilogy. Here is book one! Teens can be harvested – ‘unwound’ – for body parts, which is of course not ideal, but it is the future and it is dystopian. Thrilling, affecting, and really good, I reckon, after skimming through Goodreads.

    First line: ‘He’s fighting a nightmare when they come for him. A great flood is swallowing the world, and in the middle of the it all, he’s being mauled by a bear.

    For Darkness Shows the Stars, by Diana Peterfreund (407 pages) – This is a sci-fi post-apocalyptic romance strongly inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion. FINALLY. Elliot North reunites with Kai, the boy she loved but refused to elope with, when she’s forced to rent land from the mysterious Cloud Feet group to which he now belongs. He’s got secrets! He’s also kind of unpleasant, but it’s justified (because of the secrets).

    First lines: ‘Elliot North raced across the pasture, leaving a scar of green in the silver, dew-encrusted grass. Jeff followed, tripping a bit as his feet slid inside his too-big shoes.

    Ashen Winter, by Mike Mullin (576 pages) – This is set in the US, six months after the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupted, as depicted in the first book, Ashfall. (You know that part in that film 2012 when Yellowstone explodes? Well there actually is a supervolcano there! There is one under Taupo and 26,000 years ago it plunged the earth into a volcanic winter and invented pumice.) So in this book, Yellowstone has gone up and the country is pretty post-apocalyptic; protaganist Alex must return to Iowa to find his parents.

    First line: ‘Ten months had passed since I’d last seen the sun. The rich blue of that final August sky was fading from my memory.

    Son, by Lois Lowry (393 pages) – The conclusion the series begun in The Giver. It is a utopian future! But, sadly, it comes with a heavy cost; a society where regimented eugenics dictates almost every aspect of interpersonal interactions. In this book, Claire, who’d been a Vessel, can not forget her son. She is desperate to get him back, and will stop at nothing to do so.

    First lines: ‘The young girl cringed when the buckled the eyeless leather mask around the upper half of her face and blinded her. It felt grotesque and unnecessary, but she didn’t object. It was the procedure.‘ 

    Vessel, by Sarah Beth Durst (424 pages) – Liyana’s reason to be is to become the vessel for her tribe’s goddess; she will dance and summon the goddess, who will then bring the rain that her people desperately need. However! It doesn’t work, and Liyana is exiled. She meets a boy reportedly possessed by the trickster god, Korbyn, who seeks Liyana’s help to find five other vessels; the gods are going missing, and they’re needed.

    First lines: ‘On the day she was to die, Liyana walked out of her family’s tent to see the dawn. She buried her toes in the sand, cold from the night, and she wrapped her father’s goatskin cloak tight around her shoulders.


  • Books, Reviews, Simon

    Best of 2012: MY pick

    13.12.12 | Permalink | Comments Off on Best of 2012: MY pick

    Radiant Days : A Novel, Elizabeth Hand

    This is a book about Merle, a young artist who goes homeless in the late ’70s after her heart is broken. It is also about the nineteenth-century French poet Arthur Rimbaud, who, at the age of 16, was already on the way to becoming an established writer. He and Merle meet up via time travel, but this is not a science-fiction novel; this is about the isolation and transcendence of art. Arthur Rimbaud (a real person!) was a hero of mine when I was a teen and so I was thrilled to read a story in which he is a character. AND furthermore the book is beautifully written, something you’d always hope for but is especially appropriate in this case.

    Here are more reviews and information.


  • Books, New, Simon

    New Books

    10.12.12 | Permalink | Comments Off on New Books

    Pirate Cinema, by Cory Doctorow (384 pages) – In near-future England, the law has become really tight with digital downloads. If you’re caught three times your household’s internet is blocked for a year. Which is actually not too dissimilar to NZ, actually. Anyway, sixteen-year-old Trent, moviemaker and downloader, gets banned, nearly destroying his family – they all rely on the internet for work. He runs away to London and joins up with like-minded people who are fighting the wealthy media conglomerates that control the government.

    First line: ‘I will never forget the day my family got cut off from the Internet, I was hiding in my room as I usually did after school let out, holed up with a laptop I’d bought thirdhand and that I nursed to health with parts from here and there and a lot of cursing and sweat.

    Burning Blue, by Paul Griffin (293 pages) – Rich, popular, and pretty Nicole is attacked by someone who throws acid on her face, disfiguring her. Quiet hacker Jay, who goes to her school, decides that he will find out who it was that attacked Nicole, and in the process he begins to fall for Nicole, whose personality is pretty attractive also, evidently.

    First lines: ‘I was at the cemetery when it happened. I didn’t even know Nicole at the time. Well, I knew of her. Everybody did.

    All You Never Wanted, by Adele Griffin (225 pages) – Alex is super-pretty, and her parents are rich, so she lives the life. Her sister, Thea, doesn’t quite have the looks, however, and she’s jealous of Alex’s boyfriend, Joshua. They have the house to themselves one weekend and plan a party; Thea also plans to sabotage Alex’s relationship, and she will do anything to get the life that Alex wants. ANYTHING

    First line: ‘She gets into the car and then she can’t drive it. Can’t even start the engine for the gift of the air conditioner. She is a living corpse roasting in sun-warmed leather.

    The Blood Keeper, by Tessa Gratton (422 pages) – Mab Prowd is a blood witch, and spends her time practising blood magic on the remote Kansas farm where she and other blood witches hang out, doing their thing (i.e., blood magic) and avoiding non-blood magic studies. Mab accidently activates a long-dead and powerful curse, which messes with her magic. It does result in her meeting Will Sanger, a local boy, for whom she develops an attachment. Ooooh

    First line: ‘The last thing the Deacon said to me before he died was “Destroy those roses.”

    The Lost Prince, by Julie Kagawa (395 pages) – This is book five of The Iron Fey series. It’s about fairies! But not Rainbow Magic fairies, that’s for sure. In this volume Ethan Chase, whose dislike of the Faery realm is such that he ignores them all, has to break his own rules when the Fey start to disappear and his family is endangered.

    First lines: ‘My name is Ethan Chase. And I doubt I’ll live to see my eighteenth birthday. That’s not me being dramatic; it just is.

    Illumination, by Karen Brooks (664 pages) – This is book III of The Curse of the Bond Riders, following on from Tallow and Votive. Now Tallow ‘sets in motion forces beyond her control. From Serenissima to Farrowfare, enemies – as well as those she has always trusted – plot to ensure her compliance and, ultimately, destruction. But in doing so, they make a fatal mistake – they underestimate her and the power she can wield.’ Yes I just copied and pasted that

    First lines: ‘Dawn infused the glade with a sickly light. In the distance, an owl gave a tired hoot and a gentle wind stirred the trees.

    The Assassin’s Curse, by Cassandra Rose Clarke (298 pages) – Ananna is told that she has to marry some dude from another pirate clan. She’s not keen so abandons ship, only to have an assassin sent after her. She accidently misuses her magic, cursing them both – her and the assassin – and binding them together. To break the curse they must complete three tasks, and soon romance blossoms betwixt them, yarrr.

    First line: ‘I ain’t never been one to trust beautiful people, and Tarrin of the Hariri was the most beautiful man I ever saw.

    99 Flavours of Suck, by Tania Hutley (237 pages) – Kane’s mother is a dog-whisperer with her own television show, and together they track down a sheep-killing dog for her show. He gets bitten and transforms into some kind of werewolf, which results in nonstop itching (among other things). The only way to break the curse is a kiss from his soulmate, Pippa, who unfortunately hates his guts.

    First line: ‘On my babe-scale, Pippa Jensen shoots past infinity.

    The Dark Unwinding, by Sharon Cameron (318 pages) – Katherine is told to sort out her uncle, who is reportedly insane and squandering the family fortune. However, she finds that he’s a genius with clockwork who has employed an entire village of people rescued from London workhouses, and his apprentice is hot. She’s torn between the family she’s part of, the people he’s helping, and the hot apprentice in this romantic gothic adventure.

    First lines: ‘Warm sun and robin’s-egg skies were inappropriate conditions for sending one’s uncle to a lunatic asylum. I had settled this point four hours earlier, while miles of road slipped beneath the carriage wheels.

    Regine’s Book : A Teen Girl’s Last Words, by Regine Stokke (329 pages) – Regine Stokke was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008, and started a blog in which she  wrote about the last year of her life (she died a year later). This book is reproduction of her blog and many of the comments she received from the hundreds of followers she had, and is full of photos, and you might need a box of tissues with you when you read it.

    First line: ‘Tuesday, Nov 4 2008 – Disclaimer; I’ve decided to start a blog about what it’s like to get a life-threatening disease. Some of the content will therefore be too heavy for some people.

    The Shadow Society, by Marie Rutkoski (408 pages) – At the age of five, Darcy Jones was abandoned outside a firestation in Chicago. She doesn’t remember much but the new boy – Conn – at her high school awakens old memories. She discovers that she’s in fact from an alternate timeline where the Great Chicago Fire never happened and where Shades prey on humans. She must infiltrate the Shadow Society to reveals what the Shades have planned.

    First line: ‘Knowing what I know now, I’d say my foster mother had her reasons for throwing a kitchen knife at me.

    Game Changer, by Margaret Peterson Haddix (250 pages) – KT Sutton is the star pitcher of her softball team, and so her life is pretty much softball-centred. However, she blacks out during a game and awakens in a world where sports and academia have reversed roles. Sports is taught all day long, with hours of tedious practice, while everyone obsesses over after-school academic competition.

    First lines: ‘KT Sutton swung her arm in a phantom arc. Her hand released a phantom ball. The perfect pitch.


  • Books, New, Simon

    New Books

    03.12.12 | Permalink | Comments Off on New Books

    Viva Jacquelina!, by L. A. Meyer (360 pages) – The full title for this entry in the continuing tale (this is the tenth!) of Jacky Faber, cabin boy/girl and spy for the Crown, is Viva Jacquelina! Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Over the Hills and Far Away. She’s off to Spain in this adventure, meeting Goya, the Inquisition, and battling Napoleon’s army – among other similar adventures.

    First lines: ‘“It is time to cut it off, Higgins,” I announce firmly, seating myself in front of my mirror. “If you would be so good. I do not think it would serve me well here in Portugal.”

    Agent 21 : Reloaded, by Chris Ryan (341 pages) – This is the second Agent 21 book. Zak Darke is the agent, and with a name like that you would probably have to be some sort of action hero. Zak has snuck on board an enemy ship to gather information and then to sink it.  It seem pretty straight-forward. How could that go wrong? WELL, you see, GUNS probably

    First lines: ‘There are good times and bad times to do almost everything in life. Everything, that is, except visit a grave.

    The Far West, by Patricia C. Wrede (378 pages) – Eff is keen to go to the unexplored Far West with her twin, her best friend, and other scientiests, magicians, and soldiers. There she encounters new magical creatures, develops her own magical skills, and uncover a major, serious threat to the rest of the continent. Not too different to travelling west from Wellington, haha. Just joking

    First lines: ‘It is a true thing that the Far West is a strange and dangerous place. Everybody knows that, which is a little odd. In my experience, the things everybody knows are just exactly the ones that are most likely to be mistaken in some important way or other, if they’re not flat-out wrong right from the start.

    Feedback, by Robison Wells (312 pages) – This is the sequel to Variant, a sci-fi thriller (with a super twist) about Benson Fisher, who was trapped in a brutal academy/prison. Now he’s escaped but he finds himself in a new kind of weird prison; outside the walls, in a town that may also be under the control of the academy he’d just escaped from.

    First lines: ‘Jane stared back at me, motionless. She was older than I remembered – older than the Jane I knew.

    Breathe, by Sarah Crossan (370 pages) – All the trees have gone, and since trees make oxygen (it is SCIENCE) the world is slowly suffocating. Everyone will die, except for the lucky few who are able to live in the Pod, where there’s air. However, not everyone can afford enough oxygen to live a normal life, and those who rebel against the authority are thrown out of the Pod. Alina, a rebel, to flee her captors escapes (with a little help) from the Pod with only two days of oxygen. A nail-biting dystopic yarn!

    First lines: ‘I squeeze Abel’s hand and he looks at me. ‘Now?’ he asks. He puts his other hand in his pocket.

    Task Force, by Brian Falkner (355 pages) – This is the second Recon Team Angel book (the other is Assault). The world is at war with an alien race, and humanity’s fate depends on Recon Team Angel, a group of teens who have learnt the alien language, familiarised themselves with their weaponry, and now have to infiltrate behind enemy lines.

    First lines: ‘The army camped on the Chukchi Peninsula in far north-east Russia was the largest assembled in the Bzadian War, poised for the greatest invasion in Earth’s history.

    Lemonade Mouth Puckers Up, by Mark Peter Hughes (291 pages) – This is the continuing tale of the band Lemonade Mouth, who were once high school nobodies but are now household names. This is how it all happened! How they became the world’s most famous (fictional in case you wondered) band from Rhode Island. There is a Disney film as well, based on the first book.

    First lines: ‘Dear Naomi, Looking back, I can honestly say that I felt the trouble coming before it even arrived. As you know, I sometimes get feelings about these things, and I guess a part of me realised that summer vacation was starting off too well.

    A World Between Us, by Lydia Syson (272 pages) – During the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Felix, a nurse (and a she!) travels from England to aid the Republicans (and also to follow a young guy named Nat). George also comes along behind in pursuit of Felix, for whom he holds a candle. A war of the heart + an actual war = epic historical drama.

    First lines: ‘Crowds had never bothered Felix before, so she was surprised to find herself shaking. She really shouldn’t have come this way, not when the Fascists were marching.

    The Rosie Black Chronicles : Dark Star, by Lara Morgan (393 pages) – This is the third and final book in a series about Rosie Black. Rosie lives 500 years in the future, in an Earth that has beem overwhelmed by centuries of global warming and rising oceans, and the inevitable conflicts between the rich and the poor. DO have a look at the official website, where there’s an outline of the series and a book trailer.

    First lines: ‘It was night and moonlight came through the high slit windows, lighting the corridor with pale rectangles like stepping stones in the dark. The air reeked of lemon antiseptic.


  • Books, New, Simon

    New Books

    22.11.12 | Permalink | Comments Off on New Books

    The Voyage of the Unquiet Ice, by Andrew McHagan (384 pages) – This is book two of the Ship Kings series. I haven’t read the first one, sorry! You should though. BECAUSE. In this volume, Dow Amber has at last a ship, but he does he – an outsider! – belong with the Ship Kings? Also he has to travel to the frozen north to save the empire from rebellion and treachery.

    First line: ‘In the beginning – at least as Ship Kings scholars would tell the tale – there was only inhabitated land in all the world, and that was Great Island.

    The Girl with Borrowed Wings, by Rinsai Rossetti (290 pages) – Frenenqer Paje feels trapped by the desert she lives in, and the rules set by her father. She meets a boy who happened to be a shapechanger – a ‘Free’ – who has no obligations and not attachments. He shows her the freedom she wants and is that a little romance? Why yes, the blurb seems to hint at it.

    First line: ‘I am unlike most other people because I began, not in the body of my mother, but in the brain of my father.

    Oblivion, by Anthony Horowitz (667 pages) – This is book five (and the last book!) in the Power of Five series. It has a lot of pages! Just over 666, which would sort of seem appropriate as it’s about earth getting (almost) destroyed by the powers of darkness. There’s an app you can download that makes the cover ‘come alive’ when you hold your cellular telephone in front of it. I am trying it! Well hey that’s pretty cool

    First lines: ‘It was the week before my sixteenth birthday when the boy fell out of the door and eveything changed. Is that a good start? Miss Keyland, who taught me at the village school, used to say that you have to reach out and grab the reader with the first sentence.

    The Paladin Prophecy, by Mark Frost (549 pages) – This is the first in a series. Will West has always been encouraged by his parents to NOT do his best but to stay in the middle of his class. When he mistakenly reveals that he’s some kind of genius he is recruited by a secret organisation with super technology, and he begins to notices that men in dark hats and cars are following him and his family everywhere. Also there is a centuries-old war between secret societies that he’s now a part of, alarmingly. 

    First line: ‘“The Importance of an Orderly Mind” – Will West began each day with that thought even before he opened his eyes. When he did open them, the same words greeted him on a banner across his bedroom wall: “#1: THE IMPORTANCE OF AN ORDERLY MIND.”

    Deadwater Lane, by Stephen Barker (290 pages) – When Christopher (Christo) was younger he was in a car accident that killed an elderly man and left him with a slight brain injury that has reduced his memory. He also got blamed, and as part of his community service he must help a lonely old man. His best friend has betrayed him with his girlfriend and so Christo seeks revenge (inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo). The best revenge is classical, usually.

    First lines: ‘When I think back carefully I can see now that Ferdy was smiling. The dash threw up an eerie blue light and I remember a cold twinkle in his eyes as the grin began to spread across his face; teeth picked out ultra-white amongst purple shadows.

    The Crimson Crown : A Seven Realms Novel, by Cinda Williams Chima (598 pages) – This is the last book in the series. Which is just as well because 1. you can read them all now and  be satisfied with a conclusion, and 2. we are literally running out of room on the shelves to accomodate them. They are big books! So, 3. imagine relaxing on a beach (or wherever) while on holiday reading them. Don’t get sand in them though.

    First lines: ‘It was the largest gathering of the Spirit clans Raisa had ever seen. They came from all over the Fells – from Demonai Camp to the west, from Hunter’s Camp to the east, and from the rugged northern reaches and the river valleys near the West Wall.’

    Dustlands : Rebel Heart, by Moira Young (424 pages) – This is book two in the Dustlands trilogy, and is, according to the cover, better than The Hunger Games. Truly a claim to test (by reading them all). Anyway, here’s the synopsis from Amazon: ‘Saba has rescued her kidnapped brother and defeated the fanatical Tonton. But the price to be paid for her violent victory is terible. Jack has disappeared – and can no longer be trusted. A new and formidable enemy is on the rise in the dustlands. No one is safe. And Saba must confront the terrible secret hidden in the darkest depths of her soul.’

    First lines: ‘It’s late afternoon. Since morning, the trail’s been following a line of light towers. That is, the iron remains of what used to be light towers, way back in the Wrecker days, time out of mind.

    Zom-B, by Darren Shan (217 pages) – B. Smith has a racist dad, nightmares about killer babies, and a lot of other things to deal with. He finds it easier to agree with his father, rather than argue, especially since his dad is abusive as well as a bigot. However, when there’s a zombie apocalypse, and B’s school is attacked, B must ally himself with anyone he can if he wants to survive. Serious real-world issues + addition of supernatural gore, and the first in a series (of three I think).

    First line: ‘It was the darkest, most wretched hour of the night when the dead came back to life and spread like a plgue of monstrous locusts through the village of Pallaskenry.

    Cuttlefish, by Dave Freer (299 pages) – This is alternative-history fiction! And I leave it to the catalogue to explain. ‘In an alternate 1976 dominated by coal power and the British Empire, Clara Calland and her mother, an important scientist, embark on a treacherous journey toward freedom in Westralia aboard a smugglers’ submarine, the Cuttlefish, pursued by Menshevik spies and Imperial soldiers.’

    First lines: ‘It was after midnight, and London’s lights shimmered on the waters that had once been her streets. Something dark moved down there, in the murky depths.’

    Poison Tree, by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (219 pages) – Might copy & paste this one as well, since its blurb is pretty oblique and difficult to summarise: ‘Alysia has quickly moved to a position of responsibility in SingleEarth, working among shapeshifters and witches who fight against vampires, but she is hiding secret alliances that could put her fellow mediators at risk.’

    First lines: ‘There was blood on her hands, congealing slowly. The body in her arms was cold, its once-vibrant cheer forever vanished from the world.

    Starstruck, by Lauren Conrad (293 pages) – The latest Fame Game novel, about a bunch of people in Hollywood who star in a reality show about a bunch of people in Hollywood, written by someone who was in a (slightly-scripted, apparently?) reality show about a bunch of people in Hollywood. So somewhat authentic. In this book Madison does time, Kate has a hit single, and Carmen is overshadowed by her mother.

    First line: ‘Madison Parker stood in the echoing marble foyer of the Beverly Hills Courthouse, her back pressed against the wall and he purse clutched tightly in her freshly manicured fingers.

    Shadows, by Ilsa J. Bick (518 pages) – Book two of the Ashes trilogy. An apocalyptic thriller full of horror and gore and a love triangle, according to (the somewhat mixed) reviews on Amazon.com. If that sounds like your cup of tea, read the first book, er, first.

    First line: ‘FUBAR: that was Jed’s name for it. Once a Marine, always a Marine. He didn’t know what to call the kids. Some said zombies, but that wasn’t right.

    Yesterday, by C. K. Kelly Martin (355 pages) – This is about sixteen-year-old Freya Kallas, who lives in a future (2063) where climate change has left the world a bit of a dystopic nightmare. It is also about a Freya Kallas who lives in Toronto in 1985 and whose memory is a bit fuzzy. If that makes sense? To explain further might spoil things! Noooo

    First line: ‘When I’ve wailed for so long and so hard that my throat is in shreds and my fingernails ripped and fingertips bloody from clawing at the door, I collapse in front of it curled up like a dead cat I saw on an otherwise spotless sidewalk as a child once.

    Black Spring, by Alison Croggan (286 pages) – This story is inpired by Wuthering Heights, which is, if you’ve not read it, a gothic classic. However, this has – judging from the cover’s synopsis  –  witchcraft thrown in to make it even more gothic. Gothicky? You know.

    First line (I wanted to add the excellent second line but it’s too long): ‘After the last long winter, I needed to get as far away from the city as I possibly could.


  • Books, New, Simon

    New Books

    15.11.12 | Permalink | Comments Off on New Books

    Here are some of the new books we’ve got in the library! Just some, mind you. This is not a representative sample. Oh no no

    Time Between Us, by Tamara Ireland Stone (368 pages) – This book is set in 1995, which, incredibly for some of us, was nearly eighteen years ago. I am almost too depressed to continue. Haha ha. Anna, who lives back then, meets Bennett, who is from the now (2012) but can travel through time. They fall in love, but their relationship is complicated by the whole time travel thing. You might say it is literally tested by time.  

    First line: ‘Even from this distance I can see how young he looks. Younger than the first time I saw him.

    Crewel : A Novel, by Gennifer Albin (360 pages) – Crewel is not a mispelling of ‘cruel’*, as I thought, but it is a type of embroidery, and teen Adelice is able to embroider the very fabric of reality. She is manipulated by the Manipulation Services into becoming a Spinster, which means living apart from her home and family. Part one of the ‘Crewel World’ series.
    * the pun still stands though

    First lines: ‘They came in the night. Once, families fought them, neighbours coming to their aid. But now that peace has been established, and the looms proven, girls pray to be retrieved.

    My Book of Life by Angel, by Martine Leavitt (246 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Angel is taken in by Call, who soon has her addicted to drugs and working on the streets. It’s when her best friend disappears and she has an innocent to save that she finds she has the strength to do what she couldn’t for herself. Told entirely as a long, kind of depressing poem.

    First line: ‘When Serena went missing
    I look in all the places she might go

    A Corner of White, by Jaclyn Moriarty (413 pages) – This is the first in a series called ‘The Colours of Madeleine.’ Madeleine lives in Cambridge, and discovers a crack in reality between our world and the Kingdom of Cello, just large enough for her and Elliot to exchange letters. Can Madeleine help Elliot solve the mystery of his father’s whereabouts and his mother’s illness?

    First line: ‘Madeleine Tully turned fourteen yesterday, but today she did not turn anything at all.

    Origin, by Jessica Khoury (393 pages) – Pia has been genetically breed to produce a new race of humans who will never die. She lives in a compound deep in the Amazon rainforest, but when she finds a secret way out she meets Eio, a nearby village with whom she forms an attachment. The pair of them begin to work out the details of Pia’s life, and she discovers that there is much more to life than living forever.

    First lines: ‘I’m told that the day I was born, Uncle Paolo held me against his white lab coat and whispered, “she’s perfect.” Sixteen years later, they’re still repeating the word.

    Glass Heart, by Amy Garvey (310 pages) – Wren Darby has powers that are actually quite impressive, but when she uses them she risks losing control. She forms an attachment with Gabriel, who warns her not to go overboard on the reality altering, and she discovers things about her family that are shocking revelations. Yikes, Wren!

    First line: ‘I’m flying, soaring, swooping, dizzy with power and the sharp bite of the December air on my cheeks.

    Call The Shots, by Don Calame (457 pages) – This is a follow on from Swim the Fly and Beat the Band. Sean is jealous that his two best friends have awesome girlfriends. His parents are going to have a baby soon, and his sister is convinced that he’s gay. SO to remedy all this he plans to make their own horror film, and then enter it in a competition. But making a film isn’t easy!

    First lines: ‘“It’s my best idea yet.” Coop’s got a huge grin on his face as he wrestles his ice skate onto his left foot. “It came to me last night while I was launching a mud missile.”

    Eve & Adam, by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate (291 pages) – Eve (short for ‘Evening’) is in a nasty car crash, and rushed to her mother’s research facility to recuperate. Bored, she gets the chance to create a boy using an ‘amazing simulation’ that teaches human genetics – it makes eyes, hair, even personality. WILL he be perfect?

    First line: ‘I am thinking of an apple when the streetcar hits and my leg severs and my ribs crumble and my arm is no longer an arm but something unrecognisable, wet and red.

    Flock, by Wendy Delsol (394 pages) – Here’s what the catalogue has to say. ‘Katla’s hopes of dodging unfinished business during her senior year are dashed by the arrival of two “Icelandic exchange students,” Marik and Jinky, who have come to collect Katla’s frail baby sister and take her to the water queen.’ The sequel to Frost.

    First line: ‘Spending the morning ball-and-chained to a new kid was not my idea of a good kickoff to our senior year.

    Be My Enemy, by Ian McDonald (269 pages) – Everett Singh continues his search of the multiverse for his missing father, who could be anywhere – there are billions of parallel universes out there. Here he must visit three Earths: one that is frozen and barren; one that has had aliens occupying the moon since the 60s; and the third where nanotechnology has cornered what remains of humanity in the ruins of London. Sequel to Planesrunner.

    First line: ‘The car came out nowhere. He thought it might have been black in the split second that he saw it.


  • Books, New, Simon

    New Books!

    17.10.12 | Permalink | Comments Off on New Books!

    I am typing this in Wadestown library! Sort of like New Books on Tour. Haha. Haaa.

    Blink Once, by Cylin Busby (290 pages) – West wakes up in a hospital bed, strapped down. He is paralyzed. The girl in the neighbouring bed, Olivia, is the only one who can communicate to him. But why? Why is she in hospital? How is she connected to all his nightmares? What is going on here, guys.  Publishers Weekly says that readers rush to the end to answer these questions, and ‘they won’t be disappointed by what they discover’, which is frankly very appealing.

    First lines: ‘Someone is crying. A girl. Not a pretty kind of crying, like actresses do, tears delicately streaming down a beautiful face. This is sobbing, sniffling, gasping for air.

    The Demon Catchers of Milan, by Kat Beyer (278 pages) – Mia’s distant family from Italy have come to visit. Just in the nick of time! As she has been possessed by a powerful demon, and they are actually all demon hunters. Once her cousins have exorcised her, she heads back to Italy with them to learn Italian, get more involved with the family business (i.e. killing demons) and fall in love with Italians. Not her cousins though! I don’t know.

    First line: ‘I used to be the kind of girl who would check under the bed and in the closet every night before going to sleep.

    Embers & Echoes, by Karsten Knight (461 pages) – This is the follow-up to Wildefire, about a bunch of gods who have reincarnated as teens. Ashline Wilde is the reincarnation of Pele, a Polynesian volcano goddess, and when her sister is taken by some evil gods she must join up with Wes, a reincarnated Aztec god, who has his own vendetta to hash out. ‘More X-Men than Clash of the Titans,’ says the Library School Journal, which is really quite a compliment.

    First line: ‘Ashline Wilde lay battered on the side of the Pacific Coast Highway and watched her boyfriend emerge from the fiery car wreck, back from the dead.

    Unfed, by Kirsty McKay (307 pages) – This follows on from Undead, about a zombie apocalypse during Bobby’s school trip. She survived it! Unfortunately, he best pal is missing and it’s up to her to find him in the zombie-infected wastelands AND and find an antidote before it’s all over for the human race. ‘Hysterically funny,’ says The Times.

    First line: ‘When you’re staring into the jaws of death at the age of fifteen, there’s not a whole lot of life to flash before your eyes.

    So Close To You, by Rachel Carter (313 pages) – Lydia’s great-grandfather disappeared, along with others, it is rumoured, because of some weird army experiment called the Montauk Project which occurred at the spooky abandoned military base near her home. When a portal opens up and takes her back to 1945, six days before her great-grandad disappears, she becomes part of the experiment. The first in a planned trilogy.

    First line: ‘The bonfire in the clearing spits out flames and smoke. Red, yellow, orange sparks fly up into the night sky.

    Tiger Lily, by Jodi Lynn Anderson (292 pages) – Before Peter Pan met Wendy there was Tiger Lily, who faced all kinds of hurdles to be with Peter (and not this guy her family and tribe wanted her to marry). And then of course Wendy comes along to Neverland on an English boat and things get messy. A clever retelling of the Peter Pan story, as narrated by Tinkerbell. ‘Perplexing’ to those familiar only with the Disney version, which of course doesn’t include any Teen Blog readers.

    First line: ‘She stands on the cliffs, near the old crumbling stone house. There’s nothing left in the house but an upturned table, a ladle, and a clay bowl.

    What’s Left of Me : The Hybrid Chronicles, by Kat Zhang (343 pages) – Eva and Addie were born in the same body, but are two distinct souls, or hybrids. However in this alternate reality, hybrids are against the law, so they must keep their dual existence a secret from the government and their family. Reviews say this is very well written, with a great ending, so go on reserve it why don’t you.

    First lines: ‘Addie and I were born into the same body, our souls’ ghostly fingers entwined before we gasped our very first breath.

    Don’t Turn Around, by Michelle Gagnon (310 pages) – Noa, a rebellious teen orphan, has woken on an operating table with no memory. She joins with Peter, a computer hacker from a wealthy background, to take down a large and evil corporation. ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for teens’, a reviewer writes, if that’s a good thing?

    First line: ‘When Noa Torson woke up, the first thing she noticed was that her feet were cold. Odd, since she always wore socks to bed.

    Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo (358 pages) – Gonna let the catalogue describe this one – ‘Orphaned by the Border Wars, Alina Starkov is taken from obscurity and her only friend, Mal, to become the protegé of the mysterious Darkling, who trains her to join the magical elite in the belief that she is the Sun Summoner, who can destroy the monsters of the Fold.’

    First line: ‘The servants called the malenchki, little ghosts, because the haunted the Duke’s house like giggling phantoms, darting in and out of rooms, hiding in cupboards to eavesdrop, sneaking into the kitchen to steal the last of the summer peaches.

    The Broken Lands, by Kate Milford (455 pages) – This is the prequel to steampunky The Boneshaker, and is set in New York, 1877. Two teenaged orphans – Sam and a pyromaniac girl named Jim – must battle ancient dark forces from turning the city into Hell.

    First line: ‘A crossroads can be a place of gerat power; this should not come as any surprise. It is a place of choosing, of testing, of transition, and there is power in all of those things.


  • Books, New, Simon

    New Books

    08.10.12 | Permalink | Comments Off on New Books

    The Crown of Embers, by Rae Carson (410 pages) – This is the sequel to The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Elisa has led her people to victory, but now she must harness the power of the Godstone. This can only be done by following the clues found in ancient scripture, hidden catacombs and similary dangerous places. A nice thick fantasy book for this apparently eternal winter, I reckon.

    First line: ‘My entourage of guards struggles to keep pace as I fly down the corridors of my palace. Servants in starched frocks and shined shoes line the way, bowing like dominoes as I pass.

    Small Damages, by Beth Kephart (293 pages) – Kenzie is eighteen and pregnant to her boyfriend, the ambitious Kevin who is headed for Yale. Kenzie is sent to Spain to stay so that she’s closer to her baby’s adoptive parents. She has to cope with the culture shock, a stubborn old cook, and the young and mysterious Esteban with his Hyberian charm and gentle way with horses.

    First line: ‘The streets of Seville are the size of sidewalks, and there are alleys leaking off from the streets.

    Something Strange and Deadly, by Susan Dennard (388 pages) – Victoria-era Philadelphia has a zombie problem, and Eleanor Fitt’s brother has gone missing in New York. He was able to send a cryptic letter via zombie, and for Eleanor to find him she will need the help of the Spirit-Hunters, who defend the city from the weird. This is the first book in a planned trilogy.

    First line: ‘“Dead!” a woman screamed. “It’s the Dead!” My heart shot into my throat, and shocked cries rippled through the station.

    Pushing the Limits, by Katie McGarry (403 pages) – Echo and Noah are both teens whose lives are marred by tragedy and secrets, and both are struggling to regain some semblance of normalcy. They are drawn together, and fall in love. If you like  a “suspenseful plot, dramatic conflicts, and tragic characters” you will like this, a review says.

    First line: ‘“My father is a control freak, I hate my stepmother, my brother is dead and my mother has … well … issues. How do you think I’m doing?”

    Enshadowed : A Nevermore Book, by Kelly Creagh (429 pages) – Book two in a series about a dreamworld inhabited by Edgar Allan Poe’s stories that have come to life. Varen is trapped there, and Isobel is the only person who can save him. Will she save him before he becomes her greatest and most lethal enemy? I don’t knoooooow

    First line: ‘“Edgar?” Speaking softly, Dr. Moran leaned over his patient. His eyes traced the wan and pallid countenance of the famous poet, Edgar Poe.

    Unspoken : The Lynburn Legacy, by Sarah Rees Brennan (373 pages) – This blurb is incredibly complex and difficult, so just read this summary written by Grimm back in July. It is the first in a series, but according to Goodreads there are a couple of short stories in ebook form that are prequels to this book. Get them from her site, maybe.

    First line: ‘Every town in England has a story. One day I am going to find out Sorry-in-the-Vale’s.

    Dead Embers : A Valkyrie Novel, by T. G. Ayer (380 pages) – This is book 2 in a series. (Here’s book 1!) Bryn is a Valkyrie (the Norse angels of death who carry heroes to Valhalla (imagine one of the sets from LoTR but with vikings)). She is in training still! Loki (Norse god of mischief) has somehow stuck her boyfriend in Hel (Hel is the Norse underworld! Boo) and Ragnorok (the Norse apocalypse!) is on its way. So yeah, not much to look forward to.

    First line: ‘Cold burrowed into my knees, digging icy claws deep into bone. Despite the pain, I didn’t move.’

    Between You and Me, by Marisa Calin (243 pages) – Phyre is sixteen and wants to be an actress. She falls in love with the student teacher  of drama class, Mia, which leaves her best friend (who loves Phyre) feeling blue. This book is written as a screenplay, with the best friend never described further than just  the role of “you” in the script. Phyre is “me”, if that makes sense?

    First line: ‘FADE IN

    ‘MY BEDROOM. SEPTEMBER. EVENING.

    ‘Close-up. Heart-shaped pink sunglasses.’


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