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  • Comedy, dystopia, Environment, Fantasy, Mysteries, Nicola, realistic fiction, Sci Fi, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    New books

    19.07.18 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEve of man, Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

    They had predicted the end of the world would be epic – a nuclear war, a plague, an asteroid. But it came with a whisper, not a bang. For over fifty years, no girls have been born – only boys. The youngest and last generation of women alive are now in their fifties. Not only are their looks fading, but these greying women are humanity’s only hope for survival. Until there is sudden hope- a girl is born. And in that moment, she instantly becomes the most important person in history. She is their saviour. Her name is Eve. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: On the first day no one really noticed. Perhaps there was a chuckle among the midwives at the sight of all of those babies wrapped in blue blankets, not a pink one in sight. They wouldn’t have known that this day of blue was only the beginning.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMercy point, Anna Snoekstra

    Emma knows that her parents are hiding a secret, and she’s sure she knows what it is: she’s adopted. Thanks to an online group of similarly minded teens, she’s gotten used to the idea. They chat all day and into the night, and Emma knows that when she meets the other members she’ll have a new family; a place where she truly belongs. When they finally meet, they are all horrified to discover the people they’ve been sharing their souls with are the people they hate. They decide to never speak again. But it’s tough to ignore each other when they’re determined to discover what their parents are hiding – something they soon find is much more sinister than just adoption. It is a secret that goes to the very heart of the town itself. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: They are all liars. He watches them from the shadows as they huddle together, arms folded against the cold. He hates them.
    “How long do you think they’ll be?” one of them asks, voice angry. “I’m not waiting here all night.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe boyfriend bracket, Kate Evangelista

    Stella has had a hopeless crush on Will, her older brother’s best friend FOREVER, but now that Cam and Will have graduated and are going off to college, this year is her chance to really strike out on her own. Without her overprotective brother and his sidekick around to distract her, she can focus on having all the typical high school experiences that she’s always dreamed of–starting with finding a boyfriend! With the help of her best friend, Franklin, she comes up with the perfect plan to have a boyfriend by Christmas: The Boyfriend Bracket. Or it seems like the perfect plan . . . right up until Will starts showing up again. How is she supposed to find the perfect boyfriend when none of her dates measure up to the one boy she can never have? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Big brothers suck, Stella thought as she pouted, scowled, and crossed her arms all throughout the ceremony. Not even the California sun and the scent of fresh-cut grass made a difference to her current mood. She should have been ecstatic that Cameron James Patterson, spawn of Satan sent to make her life a living hell, was graduating high school that day. Instead the seat reserved for her boyfriend of officially one week remained empty.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe life and death parade, Eliza Wass

    One year ago, Kitty’s boyfriend Nikki Bramley visited a psychic who told him he had no future. Now, he’s dead. She sets out to find the psychic who read Nikki his fate, but finds Roan, an enigmatic boy posing as a medium who belongs to the Life and Death Parade– a group of supposed charlatans that explore, and exploit, the thin veil between this world and the next. A group whose members include the psychic– and Kitty’s late mother. When they locate the psychic who made that fateful prophecy to Nikki, Kitty uncovers a secret about Roan that changes everything. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The Start of Summer party was a fairy-lit affair in the back garden of a historic estate. They had a pony ride for the kids, a lighted shooting range for the teens, and a bar for the adults – so they covered all the bases of food, old-fashioned country living.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCopycat, Hannah Jayne

    Everyone is dying to read the latest book in the popular Gap Lake mystery series, and Addison is no exception. As the novels biggest fan, she’s thrilled when the infamously reclusive author, R.J. Rosen, contacts her, giving her inside information others would kill for. Addison’s always dreamed of what it would be like if the books were real…But then she finds the most popular girl in school dead. Murdered. And realizes that life imitating fiction is more dangerous that she could have imagined. As other terrifying events from the books start happening around her, Addison has to figure out how to write her own ending–and survive the story. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: There was something inordinately creepy about being at school after dark. The place was deserted – the benches and picnic tables in the quad looked ominous and foreboding under the flickering yellow lights.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCourt of shadows, Madeleine Roux

    After the frightful events of last autumn, seventeen-year-old Louisa Ditton has settled into her role as a maid at Coldthistle House, but she has not settled into what that means for her humanity. As Louisa struggles to figure out whether she is worthy of redemption, the devilish Mr. Morningside plans a fete- one that will bring new guests to Coldthistle House. From wicked humans to Upworlders, angelic beings who look down upon Mr. Morningside’s monstrous staff, all are armed with their own brand of self-righteous justice. Even a man claiming to be Louisa’s father has a role to play, though what his true motive is, Louisa cannot tell. The conflicts will eventually come to a head on the grounds of Coldthistle House-and the stakes include Louisa’s very soul. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: They emerged from the tree like worms from the earth. More shadow than mass, they slithered out from between the cracks in the trunk before making their way to the clearing.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSummer of salt, Katrina Leno

    No one on the island of By-the-Sea would call the Fernweh women what they are, but if you need the odd bit of help, such as a sleeping aid concocted by moonlight, they are the ones to ask. Georgina Fernweh waits for the tingle of magic in her fingers– magic that has already touched her twin sister, Mary. But with her eighteenth birthday looming at the end of her last summer on the island, Georgina fears her gift will never come. She meets and falls in love with Prue Lowry, a visitor to the island. When a three-hundred-year-old bird, Annabella is found violently murdered, suddenly the island doesn’t seem so magical. Georgina turns to the Ouija board to discover the dark secrets of Annabella’s death. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: On the island By-the-Sea you could always smell two things: salt and magic. The first was obvious. It came crashing ashore in the blue waves; it sat heavy and thick in our hair and out clothes; it stained our bedsheets and made our pillows damp. The second – the scent of magic – was harder to pin down.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNot the girls you’re looking for, Aminah Mae Safi

    Lulu Saad doesn’t need your advice, thank you very much. She’s got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It’s all under control. Ish.Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can’t find her way out of this mess soon, she’ll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She’ll have to go looking for herself.Debut author Aminah Mae Safi’s honest and smart novel is about how easy it can be to hurt those around you even if –especially if–you love them. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Lulu swatted her way through the unfamiliar coat closet. After tearing down several of what felt like rather expensive fur coats and a couple of potentially cashmere jackets off their hooks, she managed to hit her head against a dangling light switch chain.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsClean, Juno Dawson

    When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she’s hit rock bottom. She’s wrong. Rock bottom is when she’s forced into an exclusive rehab facility. From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady. As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all…(Publisher summary)

    First lines: Face-down on leather. New car smell. Pine fresh.
    I can’t move.
    I’m being kidnapped.
    But I can’t move.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLittle do we know, Tamara Ireland Stone

    Next-door neighbors and ex-best friends Hannah and Emory haven’t spoken since the fight where they said things they couldn’t take back. Emory is trying to make the most of the months she has left with her boyfriend, Luke, before they head off to separate colleges. Hannah is dealing with her family’s financial problems, turning to unexpected people for answers while she questions her faith. Then Hannah finds Luke doubled over in his car outside her house– and a devastating secret about Hannah and Emory’s argument ultimately to light. In alternating chapters, they tell the story of their relationship with help from the boy caught somewhere in the middle. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: There were thirty-six steps between Emory’s bedroom window and mine.
    The first time we counted, we were six years old (forty-two steps). The second time, we were twelve (thirty-nine). The last time, we were fifteen.


  • Books, Comedy, Espionage, Fantasy, GLBT, New, Nicola, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    New books

    26.06.18 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe murderer’s ape, Jakob Wegekus

    Sally Jones is not only a loyal friend, she’s an extraordinary individual. In overalls or in a maharaja’s turban, this unique gorilla moves among humans without speaking but understanding everything. She and the Chief are devoted comrades who operate a cargo boat. A job they are offered pays big bucks, but the deal ends badly, and the Chief is falsely convicted of murder. For Sally Jones this is the start of a harrowing quest for survival and to clear the Chief’s name. Powerful forces are working against her, and they will do anything to protect their secrets. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: For those of you who don’t know me, the first thing I need to say is that I’m not a human being, I’m an anthropoid ape. I’ve learned from scientists that I belong to the subspecies Gorilla gorrila graueri. Most of my kind live in Africa, in the thick jungle along the banks of the Congo River, and that’s probably where I originally came from.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBring me their hearts, Sara Wolf

    Zera is a Heartless, the immortal, unaging soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger, Zera longs for freedom from the woods they hide in. With her heart in a jar under Nightsinger’s control, she serves the witch unquestioningly. The witch asks Zera for a prince’s heart in exchange for her own, with one addendum: if she’s discovered infiltrating the court, Nightsinger will destroy Zera’s heart rather than see her tortured by the witch-hating nobles. Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the royal court as much as it loves him: every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. When Zera arrives, the two begin a game between a girl with nothing to lose and a boy who has it all. Winner takes the loser’s heart. Literally. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: King Sref of Cavanos watches me with the deadened eyes of a raven circling a corpse – patient, waiting to devour me the second I let my guard down. I briefly debate telling him that humans don’t taste that good, until I remember that normal girls don’t eat people.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsShattered glass, Teresa Toten

    Toni has always had nightmares about fire, and she also has burn scars but no idea how she got them. So when fire destroys the orphanage she has grown up in, she is ready to make her way to Toronto, where she hopes to discover the truth about the mother she believes hurt and then abandoned her. Toronto proves to be both daunting and exciting for Toni, whose charm and innocence attract attention, not always positive, wherever she goes. Buoyed by the music she hears at the folk club where she finds a job, and encouraged by her glamorous landlady, Toni unearths shocking information that contradicts everything she believes and makes her re-evaluate what she feels for all the new people in her life. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Fire!!!
    It was the fire dream again, always the same dream. But this time it was different. This time, despite the fear that was worn and familiar as a threadbare shirt, I knew that I had to save Betty. Then I was washed in shame. How did shame sneak into my dread?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe colour of the sun, David Almond

    One hot summer morning, Davie steps boldly out of his front door. The world he enters is very familiar – the little Tyneside town that has always been his home – but as the day passes, it becomes ever more mysterious. A boy has been killed, and Davie thinks he might know who is responsible. He turns away from the gossip and excitement and sets off roaming towards the sunlit hills above the town. As the day goes on, the real and the imaginary start to merge, and Davie knows that neither he nor his world will ever be the same again. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: It’s an ordinary summer day, the day that Jimmy Killen dies and comes to life again. It’s the middle of the holidays, when it sometimes seems like time stands still, when it seems there’s nothing at all to do.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGeorgia peaches and other forbidden fruit, Jaye Robin Brown

    Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees. Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: “Come on Eileen” is a terrible song at any wedding. But when the wedding is being held at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta – the bride’s overpriced choice – one might expect better tunes, even if they are being spun for my dad’s evangelical masses.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSmoke in the sun, Renee Ahdieh

    After Okami is captured in the Jukai forest, Mariko has no choice–to rescue him, she must return to Inako and face the dangers that have been waiting for her in the Heian Castle. She tricks her brother, Kenshin, and betrothed, Raiden, into thinking she was being held by the Black Clan against her will, playing the part of the dutiful bride-to-be to infiltrate the emperor’s ranks and uncover the truth behind the betrayal that almost left her dead. With the wedding plans already underway, Mariko pretends to be consumed with her upcoming nuptials, all the while using her royal standing to peel back the layers of lies and deception surrounding the imperial court. But each secret she unfurls gives way to the next, ensnaring Mariko and Okami in a political scheme that threatens their honor, their love and the very safety of the empire.

    First lines: Somber clouds waited above, like specters.
    Most of the people had donned funereal grey. Their heads were lowered in respect, their voices hushed. Even the smallest children of children of children knew better than to ask why.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOut of darkness, Ashley Hope Pérez

    New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them. They know the people who enforce them. But sometimes the attraction between two people is so powerful it breaks through even the most entrenched color lines. And the consequences can be explosive. Ashley Hope Pérez takes the facts of the 1937 New London school explosion–the worst school disaster in American history–as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: From far off, it looks like hundreds of beetles ringed around a single dome of light. Then the shiny black backs resolve into pickups and cars and ambulances. The bright gloves divides into many lights. Work lamps. Spotlights. Strings of Christmas bulb. Stadium floodlights borrowed from the football field nearby.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLove and luck, Jenna Evans Welch

    Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt’s over-the-top destination wedding, and hoping she can stop thinking about the one horrible thing she did that left her miserable and heartbroken–and threatens her future. But her brother, Ian, isn’t about to let her forget, and his constant needling leads to arguments and even a fistfight between the two once inseparable siblings. Miserable, Addie can’t wait to visit her friend in Italy and leave her brother–and her problems–behind. So when Addie discovers an unusual guidebook, Ireland for the Heartbroken, hidden in the dusty shelves of the hotel library, she’s able to finally escape her anxious mind and Ian’s criticism.> And then their travel plans change. Suddenly Addie finds herself on a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle, trapped in the world’s smallest vehicle with Ian and his admittedly cute, Irish-accented friend Rowan. As the trio journeys over breathtaking green hills, past countless castles, and through a number of fairy-tale forests, Addie hopes her guidebook will heal not only her broken heart, but also her shattered relationship with her brother. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Dear Heartbroken,
    What do picture when you imagine travelling through Ireland? Belting out drinking songs in a dim, noisy pub? Exploring mossy castles? Running barefoot through a field of four-leaf clovers? Or maybe that old Johnny Cash song: green, green, forty shades of green.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA reaper at the gates, Sabaa Tahir

    The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power… the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance. Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight. And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. He has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias’s devotion– even at the cost of his humanity. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: You love too much, my king.
    My queen spoke the words often across the centuries we spent together. At first, with a smile. But in later years, with a furrowed brow. Her gaze settled on out children as they tore about the palace, their bodies flickering from flame to flesh, tiny cyclones of impossible beauty.


  • Books, Espionage, Horror, New, Nicola, realistic fiction, Sci Fi

    New books

    01.06.18 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStarry eyes, Jenn Bennett

    Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets. But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together. What could go wrong? With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely. And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Spontaneity is overrated. Movies and television shows would like us to believe that life is better for partygoers who dare to jump into pools with their clothes on. But behind the scenes, it’s all carefully scripted. The water is the right temperature. Lighting and angels are carefully considered. Dialogue is memorized. And that’s why it looks so appealing – because someone planned it all.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTradition, Brendan Kiely

    Fullbrook Academy is an elite, historic prep school– where some traditions are profoundly dangerous. Jules Devereux just wants to keep her head down, get into the right college, and leave Fullbrook’s old-boy social codes behind. Jamie Baxter’s hockey scholarship gives him a chance to escape his past and fulfill the dreams of his parents and coaches. At a school where girls in the student handbook are rated by their looks and school-sponsored dances push first year girls out into the night with senior boys, the stakes for safe sex, real love, and true friendship couldn’t be higher. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I’m fighting for breath and all I can do is look up and see the white flame of moonlight outlining each branch, every leaf. I’m in the dirt, again, shoulder against the tree, the shock of the air so cold it seizes my bones.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe exact opposite of okay, Laura Steven

    Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Look, you probably bought this book because you read the blurb about how I’m an impoverished orphan and also at the heart of a national slut-shaming scandal, and you though, Oh great, this is just the kind of heart-wrenching tale I need to feel better about my own life, but seriously, you have to relax.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLifel1k3, Jay Kristoff

    On an island junkyard beneath a sky that glows with radiation, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap. 17-year-old Eve isn’t looking for trouble, but her discovery of a handsome android named Ezekiel – called a “Lifelike” because they resemble humans, will bring her world crashing down and make her question whether her entire life is a lie. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: They kill my father first.
    Shiny boots ring on the stairs as they march into our cell, four of them all in a pretty row. Blank faces and perfect skin, matte gray pistols in red, red hands. A beautiful man with golden hair says they’re here to execute us. No explanations. No apologies.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe window, Amelia Brunskill

    Anna is outgoing and athletic, the opposite of her twin sister Jess. The same on the outside, so completely different inside– yet they tell each other everything. Or so Jess thought. After Anna falls to her death while sneaking out her bedroom window, Jess questions where Anna was going, who she was meeting. Jess soon discovers that her twin kept a lot of secrets. And as she digs deeper, she learns that the answers she’s looking for may be truths that no one wants her to uncover. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I was inspecting my socks when they called my name. It was first-period gym class, and I’d just realised that my socks were entirely wrong. They were long and pulled up straight to midcalf, while those of every other girl in the room, were short, barely visible above their sneakers. There were obviously unwritten sock protocols.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSky in the deep, Adrienne Young

    Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan, but when faced with her brother’s betrayal, and driven by a growing love for her brother’s friend Fiske, she attempts to unite the two clans. (Publisher information)

    First lines: “They’re coming.”
    I looked down the row of Aska hunched against each other, ducking behind the muddy hill. The fog sat on the field like a veil, but we could hear it. Yhe blades of swords and axes brushing against armour vests. Quick footsteps in sucking mud. My heart beat almost in rhythm with the sounds, pulling one breath and in and letting it touch before I let it go.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOrphan monster spy, Matt Killeen

    Germany, 1939. After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah finds herself on the run from a government that wants to see her, along with every other Jew, dead. Then she meets a mysterious man who needs Sarah to pull off a spy mission he can’t attempt on his own: infiltrate a boarding school attended by the daughters of Nazi top brass, befriend the girl whose father is a high-ranking scientist, and find the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. With years of training from her actress mother in the art of impersonation, Sarah thinks she’s ready. But nothing prepares her for her cutthroat classmates, and soon she’s embroiled in a battle for survival unlike any she’d ever imagined–and fighting to hold onto her true self. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Finally, the car came to a stop. With difficulty, Sarah opened her eyes, blinked to clear her vision, and looked up from her hiding place in the footwell. Her mother was slumped in the driver’s seat, her head against the top of the steering wheel.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLady Helen and the dark days pact, Alison Goodman

    Summer, 1812. After the scandalous events at her presentation ball in London, Lady Helen is training to be a Reclaimer with the covert Dark Days Club. As she struggles to put aside her genteel upbringing and take up the weapons of a warrior, Helen realizes that her mentor, Lord Carlston, is fighting his own inner battle. Has the foul Deceiver energy poisoned his soul, or is something else driving him towards violent bouts of madness? Either way, Helen is desperate to help the man with whom she shares a deep but forbidden connection. When Mr Pike, the hard bureaucratic heart of the Dark Days Club, arrives in Brighton, no one is prepared for the ordinary evil he brings in his wake. He has a secret task for Helen and Mr Hammond, and the authority of the Prince Regent. They have no choice but to do as he orders, knowing that the mission will betray everyone around them and possibly bring about Lord Carlston’s annihilation. (Publisher information).

    First lines: At Lord Carlston’s bidding, Lady Helen Wrexhall studied the gentleman walking rapidly towards them up the rise of Brighton’s Marine Parade. Even at such a distance she could see that he was a thin, bitter-faced man in a sober blue coat, rather badly cut across his stooped shoulders, and an unfashionable tricorn hat drawn low over his brow.


  • Classic novels, dystopia, Great Reads, Librarian's Choice, Nicola, You might like

    You might like…dystopias

    04.05.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on You might like…dystopias

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDystopias are a constant in YA fiction – what happens when imperfect humans try to create a perfect world. The dictionary defines it as “an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives.” But I think the idea that this was an attempt to make a perfect world is an important one. Of course one must ask: perfect for whom?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSeries like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner being among our most popular titles. Other notable titles include Sally Gardner’s Maggot Moon – which won the Carnegie Medal in 2013. The Giver by Lois Lowry is a classic of YA literature for good reason, although it has a subtler approach to the genre than others.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOf course we have the two “parents” of the genre. 1984 is the George Orwell classic. Later we have Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Another book that’s in the media a lot and – warning, it’s tough going – is The Handmaid’s tale by Margaret Atwood. Another favourite classic is Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower.


  • Comedy, dystopia, Environment, Fantasy, GLBT, Horror, Mysteries, New, Nicola, Sci Fi, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them, zombies

    New books

    02.05.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDread nation, Justina Ireland

    Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever. Now laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. But it’s not a life Jane wants. When families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy… and the restless dead are the least of her problems. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The day I came squealing and squalling into the world was the first time someone tried to kill me. I guess it should have been obvious to everyone right then that I wasn’t going to have a normal life.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe fates divide, Veronica Roth

    The lives of Cyra Noavek and Akos Kereseth were spoken by the oracles at their births. The fates are inescapable. Akos is in love with Cyra in spite of his fate. He knows he will die in service to Cyra’s family. When Cyra’s father, Lazmet Noavek– a soulless tyrant, thought to be dead– reclaims the Shotet throne, he ignites a barbaric war. Cyra and Akos are desperate to stop him at any cost– and in the process they discover an unexpected fate. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: “Why so afraid?” we ask ourself.
    “She is coming to kill us,” we reply.
    We were once alarmed by this feeling of being in two bodies since the shift occurred, since both our currentgifts dissolved into one.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe heart forger, Rin Chupeco

    No one know death like Tea. A bone witch who can resurrect the dead, she has the power to take life … and return it. And she is done with her self-imposed exile. Her heart is set on vengeance, and she now possesses all she needs to command the mighty daeva. With the help of these terrifying beasts, she can finally enact revenge against the royals who wronged her–and took the life of her one true love. But there are those who would use Tea’s dark power for their own nefarious ends. Because you can’t kill someone who can never die … War is brewing among the kings, and when dark magic is at play, no one is safe. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: She wore the corpses for show. They trailed behind her, grotesque fabrics of writhing flesh and bones, spreading across the plain for miles around us. Those bereft of legs and feet used hands and elbows; those lacking jaws and tongues moaned from the hollows of their throats. Those onlookers who drew close grasped at the train of her gown until I was no longer certain where her dress ended and they began.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStormcaster, Cinda Williams Chima

    Vagabond seafarer Evan Strangward can move wind, waves, and weather, but his magical abilities can’t protect him forever from the brutal Empress Celestine. As Celestine’s relentless bloodsworn armies grow, Evan travels to the Fells to warn the queendom that an invasion is imminent. If he can’t convince the Gray Wolf queen to take a stand, he knows that the Seven Realms will fall, and his last sanctuary will be destroyed. Among the dead will be the one person Evan can’t stand to lose. Meanwhile, the queen’s formidable daughter, Princess Alyssa ana’Raisa, is already a prisoner aboard the empress’s ship, sailing east. Lyss may be the last remaining hope of bringing down the empress from within her own tightly controlled stronghold. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Evan of Tarvos stood at the stern rail, his eyes fixed on the ship had been following them for the better part of a day. The sleek three-master stayed just at the horizon, neither approaching nor losing ground. Strange. Most ships fled in a hurry when they spotted Captain Latham Strangward’s stormlord standard.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMisfit, Charli Howard (non-fiction)

    So, how did a slightly bonkers misfit with anorexia, bulimia and anxiety decide to solve their problems? I became a model. As you do. Charli Howard had always wanted to be normal – but for some reason, she couldn’t quite find out how to do it. As a teenager, she felt like the only one who struggled with anxiety and self-esteem issues when everyone around her seemed to fit in. So she tried to embrace standing out: by becoming a model. Believing it would make her happy and envied, she set out single-mindedly to make it – and she achieved her dream. But the reality wasn’t quite as glamorous as she’d hoped. The pressure on Charli to look a certain way took an extreme toll on her body and self-image, and no matter how thin she got, she was never thin enough. When Charli, though medically underweight, was fired by her modelling agency for being too big, she decided she’d had enough. She used her platform for good and spoke out about the insane standards of the modelling industry, whose images influence young women and girls all over the world. Now, Charli is comfortable in her skin for the first time ever, working happily as a plus sized model in New York. Here, she shares her journey, from anorexic and bulimic teenager to happy, healthy twenty-something. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I am not normal.
    From the ages of four to six, I though I was a dog. A German shepherd to be precise, though I could also be a Dalmatian, depending on my mood. The dogs I grew up with were spoiled and loved, and played around all day, so that’s what I decided I wanted to become.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAs she fades, Abbi Glines

    On the night of her high school graduation, Vale McKinley and her boyfriend Crawford are in a terrible car accident that leaves Crawford in a coma. They were supposed to spend the summer planning for college, for a bright future full of possibility. Together. Instead, Vale spends long days in the hospital, hoping Crawford will awaken. Slate Allen, a college friend of Vales brother, has been visiting his dying uncle at the same hospital. When he and Vale meet, she cant deny the flutter of an illicit attraction. She tries to ignore her feelings, but she’s not immune to Slate’s charm. Slowly, they form a cautious friendship. Then, Crawford wakes up . . . with no memory of Vale or their relationship. Heartbroken, Vale opts to leave for college and move on with her life. Except now, she’s in Slate’s territory, and their story is about to take a very strange turn. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved fairy tales. And I’ve believed in true love. It was easy for me, though, because I feel in love at six years old. Not many people find love so young. Crawford and I believed we were special. That fate shined on us and gave us each other early so we’d have a lifetime together. He was my very own Prince Charming.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDefy the worlds, Claudia Gray

    Shunned after a trip through the galaxy with Abel, the most advanced cybernetic man ever created, Noemi Vidal dreams of traveling through the stars one more time. When a deadly plague arrives on Genesis, Noemi is the only soldier to have ever left the planet. It’s up to her to save its people — if only she wasn’t flying straight into a trap. On the run to avoid his creator, Burton Mansfield, Abel hears that Noemi has been captured — by Mansfield. Abel knows he must go to her, no matter the cost. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Noemi Vidal walks through the two long lines of starfighters in the hangar, helmet under one arm, head held high. She doesn’t wave to her friends like she always used to – until six months ago. Now no one would wave back.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe continent, Keira Drake

    For her sixteenth birthday, Vaela Sun receives the most coveted gift in all the Spire–a trip to the Continent. It seems an unlikely destination for a holiday: a cold, desolate land where two nations remain perpetually locked in combat. Most citizens lucky enough to tour the Continent do so to observe the spectacle and violence of battle, a thing long vanished in the peaceful realm of the Spire. For Vaela, the war holds little interest. As a talented apprentice cartographer and a descendant of the Continent herself, she sees the journey as a dream come true: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve upon the maps she’s drawn of this vast, frozen land. But Vaela’s dream all too quickly turns to nightmare as the journey brings her face-to-face with the brutal reality of a war she’s only read about. Observing from the safety of a heli-plane, Vaela is forever changed by the sight of the bloody battle being waged far beneath her. And when a tragic accident leaves her stranded on the Continent, Vaela finds herself much closer to danger than she’d ever imagined–and with an entirely new perspective as to what war truly means. Starving, alone and lost in the middle of a war zone, Vaela must try to find a way home–but first, she must survive. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: This must be the most magnificent party in the history of the Spire.
    I’ve never felt quite like this before; my mind is awhirl, my senses dazzled, and there’s a bounding joy spiraling up within me. I wonder where it’s coming from, this feeling of inexhaustible delight?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsI have lost my way, Gayle Forman

    Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. When a fateful accident draws these three strangers together, their secrets start to unravel as they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in helpƯing the others out of theirs. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I have lost my way.
    Freya stares at the words she just typed into her phone.
    I have lost my way. Where did that come from?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhite night, Ellie Marney

    In Bo Mitchell’s country town, a ‘White Night’ light-show event has the potential to raise vital funds to save the skate park. And out of town, a girl from a secretive off-the-grid community called Garden of Eden has the potential to change the way Bo sees the world. But are there too many secrets in Eden? As Bo is drawn away from his friends and towards Rory, he gradually comes to believe that Eden may not be utopia after all, and that their group leader’s goal to go off the grid may be more permanent – and more dangerous – than anyone could have predicted. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Three things are all over my feed on the first day of school: the skate park’s being shut down, Mr Showalter is losing his nut, and the new girl is a feral skank. Teo saw Mr. S talking to himself at the I.G.A. Lozzie’s avatar is a dancing tulip.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSal, Mick Kitson

    Sal planned it for almost a year before they ran. She nicked an Ordnance Survey map from the school library. She bought a compass, a Bear Grylls knife, waterproofs, and a first aid kit from Amazon using credit cards she’d robbed. She read the ‘SAS Survival Handbook’ and watched loads of YouTube videos. And now Sal knows a lot of stuff. Like how to build a shelter and start a fire. How to estimate distances, snare rabbits, and shoot an airgun. And how to protect her sister, Peppa. Because Peppa is ten, which is how old Sal was when Robert started on her. Told in Sal’s distinctive voice, and filled with the silent, dizzying beauty of rural Scotland, ‘Sal’ is a disturbing, uplifting story of survival, of the kindness of strangers, and the irrepressible power of sisterly love; a love that can lead us to do extraordinary and unimaginable things. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Peppa said “Cold” and then she went quiet for a but. And then she said “Cold Sal. I’m cold.” Her voice was low and quiet and whispery. Not like normal. I started to worry she had hypothermia. I saw a thing about how it makes you go all slow and quiet.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNice try, Jane Sinner, Lianne Oelke

    The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out. Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange , a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother , but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don’t know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she’ll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight. As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She’ll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world–or at least viewers of substandard TV–that she has what it takes to win.(Publisher summary)

    First lines: I’m not a particularly good daughter, but I sat through a month of therapy for my parents’ sake. I’d like to think they got more out of it than I sis. Couldn’t have been too hard. Any system that requires the patient’s family to pay someone else to care about her is fundamentally flawed. But I digress. If my decision to stop attending therapy means James Fowler High School no longer welcomes me as a student, I guess that’s on me.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLeah on the offbeat, Becky Alberti

    When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat–but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. She’s an anomaly in her friend group: the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends–not even her openly gay BFF, Simon. So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting–especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

    First lines: I don’t mean to be dramatic, but God save me from Morgan picking our set list. That girl is a suburban dad’s midlife crisis in a high school senior’s body.


  • Comics, dystopia, GLBT, Mysteries, New, Nicola, Sci Fi

    New Books

    05.04.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on New Books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSightwitch, Susan Dennard

    Set a year before Truthwitch, Sightwitch follows Ryber Fortiza, the last Sightwitch Sister as she treks deep underground to rescue her missing best friend. While there, she encounters a young Nubrevnan named Kullen Ikray, who has no memory of who he is or how he wound up inside the mountain. From the New York Times bestselling author of Windwitch Susan Dennard, an illustrated prequel novella set in the Witchlands setting up the forthcoming hotly anticipated Bloodwitch. (Publisher information)

    First lines: You don’t remember me, do you, Kullen?
    I’m familiar though. When I walked into the Cleaved Man, you squinted your eyes as if there was something in my face you knew. Something that made you rub that scar on your chest. Don’t you wonder how you got that scar?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDon’t cosplay with my heart, Cecil Castellucci

    Edan Kupferman’s life is coming apart: her father is being “sequestered” because the company he works for in Hollywood is in legal trouble, her best friend is in Japan for the summer, and the boy she has a crush on is just plain confusing, so she escapes into the world of comics, and her favorite character, Gargantua–but when Kirk, a boy from her high school, gets her into the sold out ComicCon it starts to look like she might, with a little help, be able to take control of her life after all. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: it’s no wonder when I see the cheap Gargantua mask I picked up on Free Comic Book Day this past spring on my desk, I put it on and leave it on when I am called down to dinner. Gargantua, my favorite character from Team Tomorrow, is ten feet tall and so is the size of my being pissed off at everything right now.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe price guide to the occult, Leslye Walton

    When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred-some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it. In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide ‘s malevolent author — Nor’s own mother — looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: They have been called many things.
    Years ago, when their nomadic ways led them north to where the mountains were covered in ice and the winter nights were long, the villagers called to them , “Häxa, Häxa!” and left gifts of lutfisk and thick elk skins.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe fandom, Anna Day

    Violet’s in her element – cosplay at the ready, she can’t wait to feel part of her favourite fandom: The Gallow’s Dance, a mega-story and movie franchise. But at Comic Con, a freak accident transports Violet and her friends into the The Gallows Dance for real – and in the first five minutes, they’ve caused the death of the heroine. It’s up to Violet to take her place, and play out the plot the way it was written. But stories have a life of their own…(Publisher summary)

    First lines: I begin to stand, realize my maxi skirt has stuck to my thighs, and subtly unpeel the cotton from my skin.
    “Go for it,” Katie whispers.
    I don’t reply. Why did I volunteer to do this stupid presentation?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhat goes up, Katie Kennedy

    Rosa and Eddie are among hundreds of teens applying to NASA’s mysterious Interworlds Agency. They’re not exactly sure what the top-secret program entails, but they know they want in. Rosa has her brilliant parents’ legacies to live up to, and Eddie has nowhere else to go–he’s certainly not going to stick around and wait for his violent father to get out of jail. Even if they are selected, they have no idea what lies in store. But first they have to make it through round after round of crazy-competitive testing. And then something happens that even NASA’s scientists couldn’t predict…(Publisher summary)

    First lines: NASA stored the future in a hangar in Iowa. Rosa Hayashi’s future, anyway. The tryouts for a position with the Interworlds Agency would take two days, but they started now. Rosa stepped into the hangar and didn’t wait for her eyes to adjust. She found a seat and bounced a pencil on her leg while waited for the future to catch up with her.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA very, very bad thing, Jeffery Self

    Marley is one of the only gay kids in his North Carolina town — and he feels like he might as well be one of the only gay kids in the universe. Or at least that’s true until Christopher shows up in the halls of his high school. Christopher’s great to talk to, great to look at, great to be with-and he seems to feel the same way about Marley. It’s almost too good to be true. There’s a hitch (of course): Christopher’s parents are super conservative, and super not okay with him being gay. That doesn’t stop Marley and Christopher from falling in love. Marley is determined to be with Christopher through ups and downs-until an insurmountable down is thrown their way. Suddenly, Marley finds himself lying in order to get to the truth-and seeing the suffocating consequences this can bring

    First lines: I am not a bad person. I’m not a great person, either, but not bad. No matter what I did.
    Stupid? Yes.
    Desperate? Yes.
    Completely and totally lost beyond all belief? Abso-damn-lutely.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe extinction trials, S.M. Wilson

    Stormchaser wants to escape her starved, grey life. Lincoln wants to save his dying sister. Their only chance is to join an expedition to a deadly country to steal the eggs of vicious dinosaurs. If they succeed, their reward is a new life filled with riches. But in a land full of monsters – both human and reptilian – only the ruthless will survive. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: She couldn’t see him. She didn’t even know he was there. Lincoln pressed herself against the dark red walls of the cave. Maybe it was the artificial light that made her look so unwell. They’d been rushed out of their old home and moved into this one so quickly that he couldn’t even remember when he’d last seen his sister in natural daylight.


  • dystopia, Mysteries, New, Nicola, poetry, Real Life, Real Problems, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    New books

    20.03.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo

    Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems. (Publisher information)

    First lines: The summer is made for stoop-sitting
    and since it’s the last week before school starts,
    Harlem is opening its eyes to September.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTo kill a kingdom, Alexandra Christo

    Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. Hearts are power, and with the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. When a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own, the Sea Queen transforms Lira a human as punishment. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever. Hunting sirens is Prince Elian’s calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good– but can he trust her? (Publisher information)

    First lines: I have a heart for every year I’ve been alive.
    There are seventeen hidden in the sand of my bedroom. Every so often, I claw through the shingle, just to check they’re still there. Buried deep and bloody. I count each of them, so I can be sure none were stolen in the night. It’s not such an odd fear to have. Hearts are power, and if there’s one thing my kind craves more than the ocean, it’s power.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRestore me, Tahereh Mafi

    It’s been sixteen days since Juliette Ferrars killed the supreme commander of North America and took over as ruler of the Reestablishment on the continent … Juliette thought she’d won. She took over sector 45 and now has Warner by her side. But she’s still the girl with the ability to kill with a single touch–and with so much power in her young hands, the world is watching her every move, waiting to see what happens next. (Publisher information)

    First lines: I don’t wake up screaming anymore. I do not feel ill at the sight of blood. I do not flinch before firing a gun.
    I will never again apologize for surviving.
    And yet-

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe case for Jamie, Britanny Cavallaro

    A year after August’s death, Jamie and Charlotte are manipulated into reforming their detective team by someone who wants to see them suffer. Jamie is going through the motions at Sherringford, trying to finish his senior year without incident, with a nice girlfriend he can’t seem to fall for. Charlotte is on the run, from Lucien Moriarty and from her own mistakes. No one has seen her since that fateful night on the lawn in Sussex—and Charlotte wants it that way. She knows she isn’t safe to be around. She knows her Watson can’t forgive her. Holmes and Watson may not be looking to reconcile, but when strange things start happening, it’s clear that someone wants the team back together. Someone who has been quietly observing them both. Making plans. Biding their time. Someone who wants to see one of them suffer and the other one dead. (Publisher information)

    First lines: It was January in Connecticut, and the snow hadn’t stopped falling in what felt like forever. It gathered in the windows wells, in the hollows between the bricks of the rebuilt sciences building. It hung from the boughs of trees, tucked itself up the root systems below. I shook it from my wool cap before every class, ruffled it out of my hair, pulled it from my socks.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsInto exile, Joan Lingard

    Catholic Kevin and Protestant Sadie have married and escaped to London to start a new life together, away from their disapproving families and the fighting on the streets. But news from Belfast brings loneliness and heartache – will they ever really be free of the Troubles back home? (Publisher information)

    First lines: Sadie McCoy stood by the window looking out into the dingy street. It was Sunday morning, early, and few people were about, which made the street look even worse than usual. She was used to dingy streets, it was not that in itself that was bothering her, but the streets she had known were Belfast ones, with rows red-bricked houses built back to back. This was a London street, and even after a month it still looked foreign to her.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA girl like that, Tanaz Bhathena

    In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, sixteen-year-old half-Hindu/half-Parsi Zarin Wadia is the class troublemaker and top subject for the school rumor blogs, regularly leaving class to smoke cigarettes in cars with boys, but she also desperately wants to grow up and move out of her aunt and uncle’s house, perhaps realizing too late that Porus, another non-Muslim Indian who risks deportation but remains devoted to Zarin, could help her escape. When the two end up dead in a car on a highway in Jeddah, it becomes clear she was far more than a “girl like that.” (Publisher information)

    First lines: The wails Masi let out were so heart-wrenching you would think I was her only daughter lying dead before her instead, of the parasite from her sister’s womb, as she once called me. She should have been a professional funeral crier.


  • dystopia, Nicola, Sci Fi, You might like

    You might like…alternate histories

    15.03.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on You might like…alternate histories

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAlternate histories can be best be described as “what if but ” There’s often crossover into fantasy or they involve some fantastic elements. This is particularly true of my top picks for alternate history fiction: Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy (what if the Great War but one side had giant monsters and the other side had enormous machines) and Brian Falkner’s Battlesaurus series (what if the Napoleonic Wars but the French ride dinosaurs).

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOn a more serious note, I think Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series is the pre-eminent title in this genre. It falls outside my formula but it’s a YA classic and for good reason. Noughts and Crosses deals with a reversal: People of colour occupy a place of privilege, whilst the others are oppressed. It is much more complex than that; it deals with love, family ties and the ethics of oppression and resistance. I cannot recommend this book enough.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe big lie by Julie Mayhew is a newer book with a common trope in alternate history fiction; what if the Nazis won World War Two? This book examines this from the perspective of the daughter of an English Nazi officer. To describe this book as chilling is a massive understatement; it’s a startling vision of a world made unfamiliar right down to the smallest detail. A massive political change through the eyes of one person.

    Now for other items in our collection. It’s interesting to note that is a popular theme in non-fiction as it is in fiction. There are plenty of historians interested in the possibilities. More what if? : eminent historians imagine what might have been (edited by Robert Cowley) is my top pick.

    In adult fiction, we have The mammoth book of alternate histories, edited by Ian Watson and Ian Whates. It’s a collection of short stories, so it’s not a heavy tome with lots of lore. On the more fantastic side of things, we have Anno Dracula – what if Dracula was real and turned Queen Victoria into a vampire.

    It’s interesting when looking at alternate history novels; especially in regards to who writes them and what gets told and what differences are emphasised. Something to keep in mind while investigating the genre.


  • Comedy, dystopia, Espionage, Fantasy, Horror, Mysteries, New, Nicola, Real Life, Sci Fi

    New books

    06.03.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe last to let go, Amber Smith

    Junior year for Brooke Winters is supposed to be about change. She’s transferring schools, starting fresh, and making plans for college so she can finally leave her hometown, her family, and her past behind. But all of her dreams are shattered one hot summer afternoon when her mother is arrested for killing Brooke’s abusive father. No one really knows what happened that day, if it was premeditated or self-defense, whether it was right or wrong. And now Brooke and her siblings are on their own. In a year of firsts–the first year without parents, first love, first heartbreak, and her first taste of freedom–Brooke must confront the shadow of her family’s violence and dysfunction, as she struggles to embrace her identity, finds her true place in the world, and learns how to let go. (Publisher information)

    First lines: It’s the end of June. A Friday. Like any other day, except hotter. I take my usual shortcut home from school through the alley, where the air is dense and unbreathable, saturated with the raw smell of overheated dumpster garbage. I can taste it in the back of my throat like an illness coming on.

    Book cover courtesy of Syndetics36 questions that changed my mind about you, Vicki Grant

    Hildy and Paul each have their own reasons for joining the university psychology study that asks the simple question: Can love be engineered? The study consists of 36 questions, ranging from “What is your most terrible memory?” to “When did you last sing to yourself?” By the time Hildy and Paul have made it to the end of the questionnaire, they’ve laughed and cried and lied and thrown things and run away and come back and driven each other almost crazy. They’ve also each discovered the painful secret the other was trying so hard to hide. But have they fallen in love? (Publisher information)

    First lines: There were three rapid knocks, then the door opened and a girl stumbled in, out of breath.
    “Sorry. Sorry I’m late. I had to talk to my English teacher about my term paper and he wasn’t in his office and…”
    Jeff jiggled his head like no problem.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRosemarked, Livia Blackburne

    When Zivah falls prey to the deadly rose plague, she is destined to live her last days in isolation. Dineas, broken by torture at the hands of the Amparan Empire, thirsts for revenge against his captors; he’ll do anything to free his tribe from Amparan rule– even if it means undertaking a plan that risks not only his life but his very self. The two are thrust together on a high-stakes mission to spy on the capital, and must find common ground to protect those they love– while grappling with a mutual attraction that could break both of their carefully guarded hearts. (Publisher information)

    First lines: A bitter film of ziko root coats the inside of my mouth. I run my tongue over my palate to rub out the taste, though I know it won’t work. Nothing dislodges ziko bitterness – not water, not bread, nor goat’s milk. If I’d been planning ahead, I might have brought a mint leaf to chew, but I’ve had more important things on my mind.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAkata warrior, Nnedi Okorafor

    A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book. Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Greetings from the Obi Library Collective of Leopard Knocks’ Department of Responsibility. We are a busy organisation with more important things to do. However, we’ve been ordered to write you this brief letter of information. It is necessary that you understand what you understand what you understand what you are getting into before you begin reading this book. If you already understand, then feel free to skip this warning and jump right into the continuation of Sunny’s story and Chapter 1.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAll that was, Karen Rivers

    Piper and Sloane were best friends. They grew up together, from childhood to first love, and in spite of how different they were, their friendship was supposed to last forever. That is, until Piper caught Sloane kissing her boyfriend–and just days later, Piper was found dead, washed ashore on a beach. Sloane was torn with grief and guilt. How do you make amends for hurting someone you love if that person is no longer around? And how can you ever move on and love again? (Publisher information)

    First lines: What do I do now?
    I’m under.
    I’m gone.
    I’m below.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe chaos of standing still, Jessica Brody

    Ryn has one unread text message on her phone. And it’s been there for almost a year. She hasn’t tried to read it. She can’t. She won’t. Because that one message is the last thing her best friend ever said to her before she died. But as Ryn finds herself trapped in the Denver International Airport on New Year’s Eve thanks to a never-ending blizzard on the one-year anniversary of her best friend’s death, fate literally runs into her. And his name is Xander. When the two accidentally swap phones, Ryn and Xander are thrust into the chaos of an unforgettable all-night adventure, filled with charming and mysterious strangers, a secret New Year’s Eve bash, and a possible Illuminati conspiracy hidden within the Denver airport. But as the bizarre night continues, all Ryn can think about is that one unread text message. It follows her wherever she goes, because Ryn can’t get her brialliantly wild and free-spirited best friend out of her head. Ryn can’t move on. But tonight, for the first time ever, she’s trying. And maybe that’s a start. (Publisher information)

    First lines: The view from the window of seat 27F is like trying to look through a snow glove after you’ve shaken it so hard the artificial white flakes don’t know which way is down.
    “Restless” is a word that comes to mind.
    Is it safe to land a plane in a snowstorm?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBetween us, Clare Atkins

    Between Us is the story of two teenagers – Jono and Anahita – falling in love for the first time. There’s just one thing standing between them: twenty kilometres of barbed wire fence. Anahita lives in the Wickham Point Immigration Detention Centre, where asylum seekers are detained while they wait to be ‘processed’ by the Australian government. The two teenagers meet at Darwin High School. Anahita travels from Wickham Point to school each day, passing through metal detectors, checkpoints and enduring multiple roll calls on the detention centre bus. Jono has no idea about any of this. All he knows is that there’s a beautiful new girl with dark eyes, who keeps looking over in his direction … is it possible she likes him? (Publisher information)

    First lines: I start again.
    I lift my right foot off the ground, and place it on the lowest step of the bus. My nerves are an electric lightning storm inside me, fraught and fiery.
    The officer waves from me to get on. Her voice cracks with impatience. “Hurry up!”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNobody real, Steven Camden

    Marcie is seventeen and under pressure. Pressure from Mum to go to University. Pressure from Dad to rebel and find her passion. Everyone seems to know what’s best for her. Nobody just listens. Not like her imaginary friend Thor Baker used to. When Tara’s older brother Morgan comes home from university, Marcie thinks she might have someone who understands. Then Thor Baker shows up. In the real world. Still strong, still handsome, still made to protect her and to love her. But Thor has his own ideas of what love and protection mean. And what Thor wants might not be what’s best for Marcie either. As the story builds, seen through Marcie’s eyes and Thor’s, the stakes continue to grow, until both find themselves having to choose – between what they have always wanted, and what they really need…(Publisher summary)

    First lines: You’re almost twelve.
    Staring through the fire at Sean. The tips of the flames lick the top branches of the bush you’ve both spent all day hollowing out.
    You’re holding the stolen aerosol can. Sean’s nervous smile. Your willing apprentice.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSecond best friends, Non Pratt

    Jade and Becky are best friends, but when Jade’s ex-boyfriend lets on that everyone thinks Becky is the better of the two, Jade finds herself noticing just how often she comes second to her best friend. There’s nothing Jade is better at than Becky. So when Jade is voted in as Party Leader ahead of her school’s General Election only to find herself standing against Becky, Jade sees it as a chance to prove herself. If there’s one thing she can win, it’s this election – even if it means losing her best friend. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Rules for breaking up with hottest guy in school.
    1. Know your reasons
    2. Look fierce
    3. Take your best friend for moral support (even if she puts up a fight)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsI never, Laura Hopper

    Janey King’s priorities used to be clear: track, school, friends, and family. But when seventeen-year-old Janey learns that her seemingly happy parents are getting divorced, her world starts to shift. Back at school, Luke Hallstrom, an adorable senior, pursues Janey, and she realizes that she has two new priorities to consider: love and sex. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Happy freaking’ New Year. Did they really think this was a good time to do this? Really? Here we are in beautiful Cabo San Lucas, where I’m enjoying a much-needed break from the stress that junior year of high school brings. At out supposedly celebratory New Year’s Eve dinner, they drop the bomb.
    “Separating.” “Splitting up.” We all know those are euphemisms for the dreaded D word.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe breathless, Tara Goedjen

    No one knows what really happened on the beach where Roxanne Cole’s body was found, but her boyfriend, Cage, took off that night and hasn’t been seen since. Until now. One year–almost to the day–from Ro’s death, when he knocks on the door of Blue Gate Manor and asks where she is. Cage has no memory of the past twelve months. According to him, Ro was alive only the day before. Ro’s sister Mae wouldn’t believe him, except that something’s not right. Nothing’s been right in the house since Ro died. And then Mae finds the little green book. The one hidden in Ro’s room. It’s filled with secrets–dangerous secrets–about her family, and about Ro. And if what it says is true, then maybe, just maybe, Ro isn’t lost forever. (Publisher information)

    First lines: It isn’t a night for raising. It isn’t night yet at all. It’s a hazy gray afternoon, with the promise of rain. A layer of fog covers Blue Gate and the woods that surround it, but we can se inside the windows. Here a family gathers near a girl with hair that gleams. Her green eyes have a hint of gold, and she is a pretty thing. The kind of girl everyone points to and says: something big is going to happen to her one day.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHonour among thieves, Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

    Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell. Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan–a race of sentient alien ships–to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers. Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight. (Publisher information)

    First lines: I feel the stars.
    Energy pulses against my skin, murmuring secrets about this small galaxy, about orbits and alignments and asteroids streaming in space. Impulse makes me want to dive and cruise those currents, but I control urges. I shift my attention to the flutters of life within my skin.


  • dystopia, Environment, GLBT, Horror, Mysteries, Nicola, Real Problems, Space: The Final Frontier

    New books

    01.02.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsReign of the fallen, Sarah Glenn Marsh

    Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised: the Dead must remain shrouded. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation begins, turning the Dead into terrifying, blood thirsty Shades. A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa’s necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own leaves Odessa shattered, and reveals a disturbing conspiracy in Karthia: Someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is forced to contemplate a terrifying question: What if her magic is the weapon that brings the kingdom to its knees? Fight alongside her follow necromancers–and a powerful girl as enthralling as she is infuriating–Odessa must untangle the gruesome plot to destroy Karthia before the Shades take everything she loves. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Today, for the second time in mt life, I killed King Wylding. Killing’s the easy part of the job, though. He never even bleeds when a sword runs through him. It’s what comes after that gets messy.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSay you’ll remember me, Katie McGarry

    Drix and Elle come from different backgrounds and different worlds. He was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit; she’s the governor’s daughter. They try to find what connects them and break past the odds to, maybe, be together while finding their own independence from their pasts and their families’ expectations. (Publisher summary)

    First lines:”Everyone says you have a blank slate.”
    My brother, Axle, sits beside me on the ground, arms resting on his bent knees, and he stares at the bonfire I built with my own two hands with only flint and sticks. It’s one of the many tricks I learned over the last three months. That and how to survive on my own in the middle of nowhere.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMarkswoman, Rati Mehrotra

    Kyra is the youngest Markswoman in the Order of Kali, a highly trained sisterhood of elite warriors armed with telepathic blades. Guided by a strict code of conduct, Kyra and the other Orders are sworn to protect the people of Asiana. But to be a Markswoman, an acolyte must repudiate her former life completely. Kyra has pledged to do so, yet she secretly harbors a fierce desire to avenge her dead family. When Kyra’s beloved mentor dies in mysterious circumstances, and Tamsyn, the powerful, dangerous Mistress of Mental Arts, assumes control of the Order, Kyra is forced on the run. Using one of the strange Transport Hubs that are remnants of Asiana’s long-lost past, she finds herself in the unforgiving wilderness of desert that is home to the Order of Khur, the only Order composed of men. Among them is Rustan, a young, disillusioned Marksman whom she soon befriends. Kyra is certain that Tamsyn committed murder in a twisted bid for power, but she has no proof. And if she fails to find it, fails in her quest to keep her beloved Order from following Tamsyn down a dark path, it could spell the beginning of the end for Kyra–and for Asiana. But what she doesn’t realize is that the line between justice and vengeance is razor thin. thin as the blade of a knife. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: None may take a life but those who carry a kalishium blade and are sworn to the Orders of Peace. This is the law – the Kanun of Ture-asa- whoich binds all the clans in the valley, the mountains, and the desert beyond.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe hazel wood, Melissa Albert

    Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: My mother was raised on fairy tales, but I was raised on highways. My first memory is the smell of hot pavement and the sky through the sunroof, whipping by in a river of blue. My mom tells me that’s impossible – out car doesn’t have a sunroof. But I can still close my eyes and see it, so I’m holding on to it.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe dangerous art of blending in, Angelo Surmelis

    Evan Panos’s strict immigrant Greek mother sees him as a disappointment. His workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. And his best friend, Henry, has somehow become distractingly attractive over the summer. His only escape is drawing, in an abandoned monastery that feels as lonely as he is. And Henry makes Evan believe that he deserves more than his mother’s harsh words and terrifying abuse. As things escalate, Evan has to decide how to find his voice in a world where he has survived so long by being silent. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I should have guessed something was up when I was walking home. There were cars parked all down my street. My mother’s Bible study group is usually on Wednesday. Today is Tuesday. I walk up to my house and open the door very quietly. “May the devil of lust and disobedience be cast out of his sinful shell.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAs you wish, Chelsea Sedoti

    Madison is a small town in the Mojave desert on the road between nothing and nowhere. The town has a secret: in Madison, everyone can make one wish on their eighteenth birthday– and that wish always comes true. Eldon has seen how wishing has hurt the people around him. His parents’ marriage is strained, his sister is a virtual ghost in their house, his ex-girlfriend is dating his ex-friend…. Now he has only twenty-five days to figure out what to wish for– and the rest of his life to live with the consequences. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The trick is to be boring.
    No one likes being bored, yeah? If a place is boring, you’re not gonna stick around. You’re not going to ask any questions.
    That’s the way we like it.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPlague Land, Alex Scarrow

    Leon and his younger sister, Grace, have recently moved to London from New York and are struggling to settle into their new school when rumors of an unidentified plague in Africa begin to fill the news. Within a week, the virus hits London. The siblings witness people turning to liquid before their eyes, and they run for their lives. A month after touching Earth’s atmosphere, the virus has wiped out most of the population. Desperate to stay alive, Leon and Grace are reluctantly taken in by a tight-knit group of survivors. But as they struggle to win their trust, the siblings realize that the virus isn’t their only enemy, and survival is just the first step…(Publisher summary)

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

    Book courtesy of SyndeticsA conspiracy of stars, Olivia A. Cole

    Octavia has always dreamed of becoming a whitecoat, one of the prestigious N’Terra scientists who study the natural wonders of Faloiv. So when the once-secretive labs are suddenly opened to students, she leaps at the chance to see what happens behind their closed doors. However, she quickly discovers that all is not what it seems on Faloiv, and the experiments the whitecoats have been doing run the risk of upsetting the humans’ fragile peace with the Faloii, Faloiv’s indigenous people. As secret after disturbing secret comes to light, Octavia finds herself on a collision course with the charismatic and extremist new leader of N’Terra’s ruling council. But by uncovering the mysteries behind the history she’s been taught, the science she’s lived by, and the truth about her family, she threatens to be the catalyst for an all-out war.

    First lines: My father and I live under different suns. In reality, it is the same: red and hungry, an intense crimson eye that sends the sweat fleeing from my skin. It’s as beautiful as it is harsh, but my father sees none of the beauty. The past has dulled his wonder, and so the light of this planet shines differently on each of us.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLove, hate, and other filters, Samira Ahmed

    Maya Aziz is caught between her India-born parents’ world of college and marrying a suitable Muslim boy, and her dream world of film school and dating her classmate, Phil. In the aftermath of a terrorist attack hundreds of miles away, the community she’s known since birth is transformed by fear, bigotry, and hatred. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Destiny sucks.
    Sure, it can be all heart bursting and undeniable and Bollywood dance numbers and meet me at the Empire State Building. Except when someone else wants to decide who I’m going to sleep with for the rest of my life. Then destiny is a bloodsucker, and not the swoony, sparkly vampire kind.


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