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  • Mysteries, New, Nicola, Real Problems, realistic fiction, Sci Fi, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    New books

    18.09.18 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDon’t stop thinking about tomorrow, Siobhan Curham

    Fourteen-year-old Stevie lives in Lewes with her beloved vinyl collection, her mum … and her mum’s depression. When Stevie’s mum’s disability benefits are cut, Stevie and her mother are plunged into a life of poverty. But irrepressible Stevie is determined not to be beaten and she takes inspiration from the lyrics of her father’s 1980s record collection and dreams of a life as a musician. Then she meets Hafiz, a talented footballer and a Syrian refugee. Hafiz’s parents gave their life savings to buy Hafiz a safe passage to Europe; his journey has been anything but easy. Then he meets Stevie… As Stevie and Hafiz’s friendship grows, they encourage each other to believe in themselves and follow their dreams. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe 48, Donna Hosie

    Twins Charlie and Alex Douglas are the newest time travelers recruited to the Forty-Eight, a clandestine military group in charge of manipulating history. The brothers are tasked with preventing Henry VIII from marrying Jane Seymour and arrive in 1536 feeling confident, but the Tudor court is not all banquets and merriment: it is a deep well of treachery, torture, lust, intrigue, and suspicion. That makes it especially dangerous for young people who refuse to “know their place”–young women who might, say, want to marry for love instead of status, or young men who would feel free to love each other, if it weren’t forbidden. Told in alternating perspectives among Charlie, Alex, and sixteen-year-old Lady Margaret, a ladies’ maid to Queen Anne Boleyn, The 48 captures the sights, smells, sounds, and hazards of an unhinged Henry VIII’s court from the viewpoint of one person who lived that history–and two teens who have been sent to turn it upside down. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe buried ark, James Bradley

    Callie risked everything to get her little sister Gracie to the safety of the Zone. But Matt, the boy she loves, has been killed by Quarantine and Gracie has been absorbed into the Change. Now Callie must learn to survive in the alien landscape of the Zone, a place where the Change is everywhere, and nothing is what it seems. That is, until she stumbles on a secret from her past that may hold the key to defeating the Change. Hunted and alone, she finds refuge in the most unexpected of places. Only to find she is in more danger than ever. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe second life of Ava Rivers, Faith Gardner

    Before was hot Junes and ice cream trucks, dancing in sprinklers, loud Christmas mornings and pancakes on Saturdays. The after is everything else: police officers, investigators, tips, theories, leads, but never any answers. The case made headlines, shocked Vera’s Northern California community, and turned her family into tragic celebrities. Now, at eighteen, Vera is counting down the days until she starts her new life at college in Portland, Oregon, far away from the dark cloud she and her family have lived under for twelve years. But all that changes when a girl shows up at the local hospital. Her name is Ava Rivers and she wants to go home. Ava’s return begins to mend the fractures in the Rivers family. Vera and Ava’s estranged older brother returns. Vera reconnects with Max, the sweet, artistic boy from her childhood. Their parents smile again. But the questions remain: Where was Ava all these years? And who is she now?
    (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsProject Prometheus : an Assassin Fall novel, Aden Polydoros

    The Academy stole everything from Hades, their perfect assassin. Angry and leaving bodies in his wake, he finds two other ex-assassins doing the exact same thing.Tyler and Shannon once killed for The Academy and its now-defunct Project Pandora. Now they’re tracking and hunting down its scientists. So why is The Academy only after Hades? Shannon wants to flee and never look back. She knows that can’t happen, though, not with The Academy hot on their trail. Shannon will do whatever it takes to protect Tyler, even if it means teaming up with a former rival. While Shannon seeks answers to her past, Tyler wants to learn the truth about the mysterious white room, which no one has ever seen, except him. As for Hades? He simply wants revenge.They all seek answers, even if it means returning to the organization where it all started. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThat’s not what happened, Kody Keplinger

    In the three years since the Virgil County High School Massacre, a story has grown up around one of the victims, Sarah McHale, that says she died proclaiming her Christian faith–but Leanne Bauer was there, and knows what happened, and she has a choice: stay silent and let people believe in Sarah’s martyrdom, or tell the truth. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMirage, Somaiya Daud

    In a world dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated home. But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place. As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty–and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.(Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAre we all lemmings and snowflakes? Holly Bourne

    Welcome to Camp Reset, a summer camp with a difference. A place offering a shot at “normality” for Olive, a girl on the edge, and for her new friends, who are all dealing with their own battles. But as Olive settles in, she starts to wonder – maybe it’s this messed up world that needs fixing, and not them. And so she comes up with a plan. Because together, snowflakes can form avalanches . . . A trailblazing and painfully honest novel about mental health, friendship and making this crazy world a kinder place.(Publisher summary)


  • Espionage, Fantasy, Horror, Mysteries, New, Nicola

    New books

    03.08.18 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFawkes, Nadine Brandes

    Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England. Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th-century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death. But what if death finds him first? Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot–claiming it will put an end to the plague–Thomas is in. The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King. The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other. No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I wasn’t ready to turn to stone.
    I leaned so close to the small wall mirror that my nose left a great spot on the glass, but held still. Or tried to. I couldn’t control the trembling. The grease spot smeared.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBright we burn, Kiersten White

    Haunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever . . . and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed . . . and would he even want it? Lada’s rule of absolute justice has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won’t rest until everyone knows that her country’s borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed’s peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince. But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister’s indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before–including her relationships–can Lada truly build the country she wants. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Lada Dracul had cut through blood and bones to get the castle.
    This did not mean she wanted to spend time in it. It was a relief to escape the capital. She understood the need for a seat of power, but she hated that it was Tirgoviste. She could not sleep in those stone rooms, empty and yet still crowded with the ghosts of all the princes who had come before her.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBodyguard: fugitive, Chris Bradford

    After a mission goes tragically wrong, Connor Reeves returns in disgrace to Buddyguard HQ, only to find the covert facility has been attacked and his fellow recruits abducted. Summoned urgently to China, Connor arrives in Shanghai to discover he’s the target for an assassination by Equilibrium, the clandestine organization that has plagued his life as a bodyguard. With a mark on his head, Connor goes on the run through an alien country and from an enemy he knows even less about. With his chances of rescuing his fellow Buddyguards fading, Connor must go on the offence. With the odds stacked against him, he faces down Equilibrium once and for all. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Gripping the stick tightly, Connor Reeves smashed the silver-masked wrestler in the belly as hard as he could. The wrestler spun round, reeling from the blod.
    “Dale! Dale! Dale!” screamed the crowd in Spanish, urging him to hit him again.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAWOL : agent without license, Andrew Lane

    When Kieron Miller finds a pair of sunglasses and a wireless earpiece in a shopping mall, he thinks he can sell them to make some quick cash. In fact they are a next-generation virtual-reality kit and a vital lifeline to Bex Wilson, secret agent on a desperate mission. Bex’s friend and handler has been abducted by the bad guys, and Kieron is suddenly her last best hope for survival in a world that wants her – and now him – dead…(Publisher summary)

    First lines: “So how are we going to get past security?”
    Kieron Mellor grimaced. That was going to be the really tricky part.
    “We could…pretend to be roadies,” he said, hesitantly. “Go in round the back.”


  • Mysteries, New Magazines, Nicola, NZ Post Book Awards, Real Problems

    NZ Post book awards – YA

    31.07.18 | Permalink | Comment?

    It’s that time of year! The NZ Post book awards have posted their shortlist. Here the ones in our collection.

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPieces of you, Eileen Merriman

    Fifteen-year-old Rebecca McQuilten moves with her parents to a new city. Lonely but trying to fit in, she goes to a party, but that’s when things really fall apart. Things look up when she meets gregarious sixteen-year-old Cory Marshall. Cory helps Rebecca believe in herself and piece her life back together; but that’s before he shatters it all over again…(Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSticking with pigs, Mary-Anne Scott

    Uncle Jeremy has been helping the family out for a while now, by dropping off meat he’s shot. The offer to go hunting sounds great to fourteen-year-old Wolf…a chance to get away from the family stress. But this hunting trip proves to be more than he bargained for. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIn the dark spaces, Cally Black

    A hostage drama about 14-year-old Tamara, who’s faced with an impossible choice when she falls for her kidnappers. Yet this is no ordinary kidnapping. Tamara has been living on a star freighter in deep space, and her kidnappers are terrifying Crowpeople – the only aliens humanity has ever encountered. No-one has ever survived a Crowpeople attack, until now – and Tamara must use everything she has just to stay alive. But survival always comes at a price, and there’s no handbook for this hostage crisis. As Tamara comes to know the Crowpeople’s way of life, and the threats they face from humanity’s exploration into deep space, she realises she has an impossible choice to make. (Publisher summary)

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

    A moving novel about learning to find happiness in the face of uncertainty and discovering a love that transcends the boundary between life and death. Seventeen-year-old Alex Byrd is about to have the worst day of her life, and the best. A routine blood test that will reveal her leukaemia has returned, but she also meets Jamie Orange. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBecause everything is right but everything is wrong, Erin Donohue

    Can you be lost and not know it? Can other people stop you from being lost? Seventeen-year-old Caleb¿s world is disintegrating, his walls are closing in, his sky is threatening to fall. He¿s barely holding on. To deadlines. To friends. To family. To mum. To Pat. But he has Casey. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDawn Raid, Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith

    Like many 13-year-old girls, Sofias main worries are how to get some groovy go-go boots, and how not to die of embarrassment giving a speech at school! But when her older brother Lenny starts talking about marches and protests and overstayers, and how Pacific Islanders are being bullied by the police for their passports and papers, a shadow is cast over Sofias sunny teenage days. Through her heartfelt diary entries, we witness the terror of being dawn-raided and gain an insight into the courageous and tireless work of the Polynesian Panthers in the 1970s as they encourage immigrant families across New Zealand to stand up for their rights. (Publisher summary)


  • Classic novels, dystopia, Fantasy, Mysteries, New, Nicola, realistic fiction, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    New books

    27.07.18 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStorm-wake, Lucy Christopher

    Moss has lived with her pa on a remote island for as long as she remembers. The Old World has disappeared beneath the waves – only Pa’s magic, harnessing the wondrous stormflowers on the island, can save the sunken continents. But a storm is brewing, promising cataclysmic changes. Soon, two strange boys wash up on the shore. As the clouds swell and the ocean churns, Moss learns to open her eyes to the truth about her isolated world … (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The story starts with a dream, and its dreamer.
    He was younger then, rolling in the belly of his boat, on rougher waters than expected inside those harbour walls. The first day of spring, and he felt at the end of the world. And still, the storms stayed.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOne small thing, Erin Watt

    Beth’s life hasn’t been the same since her sister died. Her parents try to lock her down, believing they can keep her safe by monitoring her every move. When Beth sneaks out to a party one night and meets the new guy in town, Chase, she’s thrilled to make a secret friend. It seems like a small thing, just for her. Only Beth doesn’t know how big her secret really is… Fresh out of juvie and determined to start his life over, Chase has demons to face and much to atone for, including his part in the night Beth’s sister died. Beth, who has more reason than anyone to despise him, is willing to give him a second chance. A forbidden romance is the last thing either of them planned for senior year, but the more time they spend together, the deeper their feelings get. Now Beth has a choice to make–follow the rules, or risk tearing everything apart… again. (Amazon summary)

    First lines: “Hey there, pupster.” I laugh as Morgan, the Rennicks’ dog, races across the lawn and jumps up on my khaki pants.
    “Sorry, Lizzie,” she says, rushing over to pull the big black mutt off without much success. She’s small and he’s so big that they’re about the same size.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsArthur: the seeing stone, Kevin Crossley-Holland

    In late twelfth-century England, a thirteen-year-old boy named Arthur recounts how Merlin gives him a magical seeing stone which shows him images of the legendary King Arthur, the events of whose life seem to have many parallels to his own. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Tumber Hill! It’s my clamber-and-tumble-and-beech-and-bramble hill! Sometimes, when I’m standing on the top, I fill my lungs with air and I shout. I shout.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAscension, Victor Dixen

    Six girls, six boys. Each in the two separate bays of a single spaceship. They have six minutes each week to seduce and to make their choices, under the unblinking eye of the on-board cameras. They are the contenders in the Genesis programme, the world’s craziest speed-dating show ever, aimed at creating the first human colony on Mars.
    Leonor, an 18 year old orphan, is one of the chosen ones.
    She has signed up for glory.
    She has signed up for love.
    She has signed up for a one-way ticket.
    Even if the dream turns to a nightmare, it is too late for regrets. (Goodreads summary)

    First lines: “Léonor, how does it feel to be leaving the Earth for ever?
    “Léonor, are you looking forward to it?”
    “Léonor, are you scared?”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWereworld: nest of serpents, Curtis Jobling

    War grips the seven realms. Young Werewolf Drew Ferran, rightful king of Westland, has rushed to the aid of the besieged Staglords, whose mountain stronghold is surrounded by the forces of the Werelion Prince Lucas. And deep in the haunted Dyrewood forest the Wereladies Gretchen and Whitley seek sanctuary within the city of Brackenholme. As Lyssia’s greatest war rumbles towards a thunderous climax, the lines between friend and foe are blurred. What if the enemy is one of their own? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: “Did you hit him, master?”
    The Lionguard scout lowered his bow, ignoring his apprentice. He stared out across the Longridings, squinting through the twilight at the evading Greencloak.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFugitive six, Pittacus Lore

    he Human Garde Academy was created in the aftermath of an alien invasion of Earth. It was meant to provide a safe haven for teens across the globe who were suddenly developing incredible powers known as Legacies. Taylor Cook was one of the newest students and had no idea if she’d ever fit in. But when she was mysteriously abducted, her friends broke every rule in the book to save her. In the process, they uncovered a secret organization that was not only behind Taylor’s kidnapping but also the disappearance of numerous teens with abilities. An organization that has dark roots in the Loric’s past, untold resources, and potentially even a mole at their own school. Now these friends, who have become known to other students as the “Fugitive Six,” must work together to bring this mysterious group to an end before they can hurt anyone else. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Duanphen watched the beggar as he scurried through traffic with his bucket and rag. The boy couldn’t have been more than twelve, small, with a mop of greasy black hair. He picked his cars smartly – shiny ones with tinted with windows and drunk passengers.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAfrika, Colleen Craig

    Thirteen-year-old Kim, travels to South Africa with her journalist mother and must come to terms with the country’s diverse and often shocking history with the realization that she is not as removed from this powerful story as she thought. (Publisher information)

    First lines: “Let’s go,” said Kim as the plane came to complete stop on the runway,
    Her mom, the sort who could not stay still for a moment, sat like a statue beside her.
    “I can’t,” she said.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAdam and Eve and Pinch-Me, Julia Johnston

    “If you don’t want your heart broken, don’t let on you have one.” Sara Moone is an expert on broken hearts. She is a foster child who has been bounced from home to home, but now she is almost sixteen and can not live in the system forever. She vows that she will live in a cold, white place where nobody can hurt her again. But there is one more placement in store for Sara. She is sent to live with the Huddlestons on their sheep farm. There, despite herself, Sara learns that there is no escape from love. It has a way of catching you off guard, even when you try to turn your back. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Just shut up. I’d like to tell my brain to just shut up. Have you ever noticed how you can’t make your mind stop thinking even though you try to think about absolutely nothing?


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

    New books

    26.06.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    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 | Comments Off on New books

    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.


  • Art, Great Reads, Librarian's Choice, New Zealand, Nicola, You might like

    You might like…books about art and artists (Part 1 of ? )

    24.05.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on You might like…books about art and artists (Part 1 of ? )

    Book cover courtesy of the SyndeticsI’ve been inspired to write this post by a visit to our neighbour, the City Gallery, and their excellent exhibition This is New Zealand, which is based around how New Zealand artists convey national identity. But this post isn’t just looking art, it’s looking at artists as well. I’m sticking with drawing and painting this time – there may be more entries on this subject. Artists’ lives can be as interesting as the work they produce…of course this isn’t an exhaustive list, but these are some top picks. Think of this selection like a jumping off point: find something you like, and investigate further!

    Book courtesy of SyndeticsLet’s take a look about our fiction first. The guy, the girl, the artist and his ex by Gabrielle Williams is a great look at love, death, human emotion and, of course, art. Then we have Dear Vincent, from New Zealand’s own Mindy Hager. This is a heart-wrenching novel about a young woman who finds comfort – and similarities – in the life and art of Vincent Van Gough. Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older has a more fantastical integration of art into the narrative; in Brooklyn, Sierra Santiago notices that the murals that are a feature of her neighbourhood start to change, revealing a strange and dangerous new world. Finally, we have another testament to the saving power of art; Draw the line, which is written and illustrated by Laurent Linn, deals with a young artist who uses his obsession with superheroes to work through a hate crime that happens in his small town.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThen there’s our non-fiction collection. For the sake of brevity, we’ll leave graphic novels aside. For a look at the creative process of one of my favourite artists, Shaun Tan, pick up The bird king : an artist’s notebook. One of my other favourites is Subway Art, which is huge, so bring your bag if you want to take it out!

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMoving on to the adult collection now: there’s certainly not shortage of amazing books here. Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring deals not only with art, but the artist, his model and the historical and social context in which this famous painting was created. An artist of the floating world by Kazuo Ishiguro deals with similar themes, but also asks harder questions of complicity and integrity – not just artistic, but personal. Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood focuses on the female artist and her own past feeds into her development.
    Finally, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt examines the theft of a famous painting by a teenager and the impact it has on his life. Like I keep saying, this is by no means an exhaustive list. If you’re looking for a more thorough booklist, here are some: female artists from Electric Literature, a top ten list from the Guardian and this utterly insane (667 books) list on Goodreads.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAnd now, on to the non-fiction section. Try to pick a selection from this would be an act of madness, so here’s a few (and I mean A FEW) call numbers for you to investigate:
    1) 704.03994 : Maori art and artists
    2) 709.45 : Renaissance Art
    4) 751.73 : Graffiti
    5) 741.5 : Comic book art (I couldn’t resist, after all!)

    If you’re looking for some great documentaries and movies, we have some of those as well!

    I recommend:

    1) Jean-Michel Basquiat: the radiant child (documentary)
    2) Maudie (film)
    3) Exit through the gift shop: a Banksy film (documentary)
    4) Simon Schama’s Power of art (documentary)
    5) Séraphine (film)

    That’s all for now. I think my next one will be on photography! Stay tuned.


  • Comedy, dystopia, Fantasy, Mysteries, New, Nicola

    New books

    16.05.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBrightly burning, Alexa Donne

    Stella Ainsley leaves poverty behind when she quits her engineering job aboard the Stalwart to become a governess on a private ship. On the Rochester , there’s no water ration, more books than one person could devour in a lifetime, and an AI who seems more friend than robot. But no one warned Stella that the ship seems to be haunted, nor that it may be involved in a conspiracy that could topple the entire interstellar fleet. Surrounded by mysteries, Stella finds her equal in the brooding but kind nineteen-year-old Captain Hugo. When several attempts on his life spark more questions than answers, and the beautiful Bianca Ingram appears at Hugo’s request, his unpredictable behavior causes Stella’s suspicions to mount. Without knowing who to trust, Stella must decide whether to follow her head or her heart. (Publisher information)

    First lines: The gravity stabilisers were failing again. I glanced up my sketchpad to see globules of liquid dancing up from drinking glass. They shimmered red, like droplets of blood, though I knew it was just cherry-flavoured nutri-drink. Dammit, that’s my protein ration for the day wasted.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSuitors and sabotage, Cindy Anstey

    Shy aspiring artist Imogene feels conflicted about marrying the young man her father has chosen for her, but she is willing to at least give him a chance for her family’s sake. That is, until she meets Ben, a charming architect’s apprentice . . . and her suitor’s younger brother.Unbeknownst to Imogene, Ben feels the same way about her, but he can never let his true feelings be known without betraying his brother. So he resigns himself to merely a friendship with her, enlisting her to teach him how to draw. But hiding their true feelings for each other becomes the least of their problems when, after a series of unfortunate “accidents,” it becomes apparent that someone means Ben serious harm. And as their affection for each other grows, so does the danger…(Publisher information)

    First lines:”Jasper!”
    Imogene Chively shouted as she jumped to her feet, flinging her sketch into the grass.
    “Don’t move! Stay exactly where you are!”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSmall bones, Vicki Grant

    Dot, whose name reflects her stature, has always had big dreams–but her dreams have to be put on hold while she searches for the truth about her parents. She gets a job as a seamstress at a lakeside resort in rural Ontario and falls hard for Eddie, a charming local boy who is equal parts helpful and distracting as Dot investigates her past. Searching for answers to questions about her birth, Dot learns more than she ever wanted to about the terrible effects of war, the legacy of deceit–and the enduring nature of love. (Publisher information)

    First lines: It was dark and he didn’t know where he was going. He pulled over to check the map she’d drawn for him, but a lot of good that did. She hadn’t been there in years. She’d scribbled vague lines on the back of a soup label and said, “The turn is right before the gas station, or maybe right after,” then she’d drawn a long squiggle and, at the edge of the label, a box with a roof on it.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsInnocent, Eric Walters

    After the orphanage she lives in is destroyed by fire, Betty, an innocent and trusting teen, takes a job as a maid in Kingston, Ontario. Welcomed into the household of the wealthy Remington clan, Betty makes friends with the staff at the house and soon discovers that her mother had also been a maid there–and that her father is in a nearby jail, convicted of murdering her mother. When she meets her father, she is taken aback by his claims of innocence, and she decides to try to uncover the truth about her mother’s murder and her father’s conviction. A friendly young policeman assists her in her investigation (and shows an interest in Betty that is more romantic than professional). But all is not well in the Remington household, and someone doesn’t want Betty to learn the truth.(Publisher information)

    First lines: The sun was beat down on me so brightly that I had to keep my eyes tightly closed. It felt so good. I was like a cat basking in the sun, drinking in the warmth, letting it soak in and fill me up. I could lie here all day.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStones on a grave, Kathy Kacer

    Sara has never been out of the tiny town of Hope, Ontario, where she has been in an orphanage all her life. After a fire destroys the orphanage, clues about her parentage–a medical certificate and a Star of David–lead her to Germany. Despite her fears–she doesn’t speak the language, she knows no one in Germany, and she’s never been on an airplane–Sara arrives in Germany determined to explore her newly discovered Jewish heritage and solve the mystery of her parentage. What she encounters is a country still dealing with the aftermath of the Holocaust. With the help of a handsome, English-speaking German boy, she discovers the sad facts of her mother’s brief existence and faces the horrible truth about her father. Ultimately, the knowledge she gains opens up her world and leads her to a deeper understanding of herself. (Publisher information)

    First lines: The smoke was choking Sara, sucking the air out of her lungs. It billowed in massive clouds from the orphanage roof, exploding like lava and pouring across the sky. Sara stood on the lawn facing the disintegrating building, shaking uncontrollably. She pulled a blanket around her shoulders, wondering briefly briefly how it had gotten there. Had she grabbed it when she ran from her room? Everything was a blur.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTruly, wildly, deeply, Jenny McLachlan

    Annie is starting college. She can’t wait. No more school, no more uniform, and no one telling her what to do. It’s the start of a new adventure and Annie’s not going to let anyone or anything get in the way of that. Freedom matters to Annie. She has cerebral palsy and she’s had to fight hard to get the world to see her for who she truly is. Then she meets Fab. He’s six foot two, Polish and a passionate believer in, well, just about everything, but most of all Annie and good old fashioned romance. The moment Fab sees Annie, he’s wildly drawn to her and declares she must be his girl. Annie’s horrified. She doesn’t want to be anyone’s anything, especially if it means losing her independence. But then Annie finds herself falling for Fab. As things go deeply wrong, Annie realises that love can make you do wild, crazy things, and so she sets out to win his heart with a romantic gesture of truly epic proportions! (Publisher information)

    First lines: I am sitting on train waiting for my adult life to begin. If my mum wasn’t standing on the platform watching me this would be a really kick-ass moment.
    “Go away,” I mouth through the glass, but she just smiles, sips at her frappuccino and stays exactly where she is. So I stick my tongue at her and she sticks her middle finger back at me. For an infant-school teacher, she can be very ride.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe traitor’s game, Jennifer A. Nielsen

    Nothing is as it seems in the kingdom of Antora. Kestra Dallisor has spent three years in exile in the Lava Fields, but that won’t stop her from being drawn back into her father’s palace politics. He’s the right hand man of the cruel king, Lord Endrick, which makes Kestra a valuable bargaining chip. A group of rebels knows this all too well — and they snatch Kestra from her carriage as she reluctantly travels home. The kidnappers want her to retrieve the lost Olden Blade, the only object that can destroy the immortal king, but Kestra is not the obedient captive they expected. Simon, one of her kidnappers, will have his hands full as Kestra tries to foil their plot, by force, cunning, or any means necessary. As motives shift and secrets emerge, both will have to decide what — and who — it is they’re fighting for. (Publisher information)

    First lines: The truth of where I’d been for the past three years wasn’t anyone believed. It wasn’t exile, as my father claimed. The Lava Fields were barren and unforgiving, and charming in the way that discovering a thorn with one’s bare foot might be charming. But I’d gladly choose to live there before sacrificing my happiness for my father’s political demands.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStumped, Kate Larkindale

    Seventeen-year-old Ozzy has a super-hot girlfriend who’s ready to take their relationship to the next level. Tonight. At the lake. But a missing condom scuttles his plans for seduction. Furious, Ozzy takes his girlfriend home and drives off – into the path of an oncoming truck. He wakes up with both legs amputated above the knees. When his girlfriend runs out gagging after one look at him, Ozzy knows he’s a hideous freak. He’s convinced he’s blown any chance of having a real relationship with a girl. Determined to prove he can still be a man despite his disability, Ozzy throws himself into dumping his virginity, but finds there’s a limited number of people willing to touch legless dudes in wheelchairs. His obsession takes him into an underworld of brothels and escort services where he discovers the difference between sex and intimacy, and that sometimes the price is much higher than a sex worker’s fee. (Publisher information).

    First lines: The sunlight bouncing off the water is blinding. To keep from dazzled, I stare down at my toes. Three dark hairs coil across the big toe on my left foot. Only one hair adorns the right. I puzzle over this whole the other swimmers line up. Will Lainey think I’m a freak for having mismatched toe hair. Do girls notice that kind of thing?


  • Fantasy, Mysteries, New, New Zealand, realistic fiction, Sci Fi, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them, Western

    New books

    24.04.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsVengeance Road, Erin Bowman

    When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there’s room for love in a heart so full of hate. In the spirit of True Grit , the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: It weren’t no secret Pa owned the best plot of land ‘long Granite Creek, and I reckon that’s why they killed him. I was down at the water, yanking a haul ‘cus the pump had gone and stuck dry again, when I saw the smoke.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDawn raid, Pauline Vaeluaga Smith

    Like many 13-year-old girls, Sofia’s main worries are how to get some groovy go-go boots, and how not to die of embarrassment giving a speech at school! But when her older brother Lenny starts talking about marches and protests and overstayers, and how Pacific Islanders are being bullied by the police for their passports and papers, a shadow is cast over Sofia’s sunny teenage days. Through her heartfelt diary entries, we witness the terror of being dawn-raided and gain an insight into the courageous and tireless work of the Polynesian Panthers in the 1970s as they encourage immigrant families across New Zealand to stand up for their rights.(Publisher summary)

    First lines: Dear Diary,
    I can’t believe the first McDonald’s in the WHOLE country is here – in Porirua! – at the shopping centre in Cobham Court. They had all sorts of problems with the date for the official opening though. Dad said it was because of ‘red tape’ and had to do with them putting in the wrong benches or something. So it just had its opening ceremony last Saturday, and Mum said when she drove past, there were people lined up out the door and down the footpath!

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe wicked deep, Shea Ernshaw

    Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town. Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under. Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into. Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters. But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.(Publisher summary)

    First lines: Three sisters arrived in Sparrow, Oregon, in 1822 aboard a fur trading ship named the Lady Astor, which sank later that year in the harbour just beyond the cape. They were among the first to settle in the newly founded costal town, and they strode onto the new land like thin-legged birds with wavy caramel hair and pastel skin. They were beautiful – too beautiful, the townspeople would later say.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHonor 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 summary)

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIda, Alison Evans

    How do people decide on a path, and find the drive to pursue what they want?Ida struggles more than other twentysomethings to work this out. She can shift between parallel universes, allowing her to follow alternative paths. One day Ida sees a shadowy, see-through doppelganger of herself on the train. She starts to wonder if she’s actually in control of her ability, and whether there are effects far beyond what she’s considered.How can she know, anyway, whether one universe is ultimately better than another? And what if the continual shifting causes her to lose what is most important to her, just as she’s discovering what that is, and she can never find her way back? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: My shift is finally over and I want to scream. The thing about hospitality is that you always have to be switched on, always nice, welcoming, smiling. Even when someone’s yelling at you because their three-quarter soy latte is too cold.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe sacrifice box, Martin Stewart

    Never come to the box alone. Never open it after dark. Never take back your sacrifice… Sep, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley: five friends thrown together one hot, sultry summer. When they discover an ancient stone box hidden in the forest, they decide to each make a sacrifice: something special to them, committed to the box for ever. And they make a pact: they will never return to the box at night; they’ll never visit it alone; and they’ll never take back their offerings. Four years later, the gang have drifted apart. Then a series of strange and terrifying events take place, and Sep and his friends understand that one of them has broken the pact. As their sacrifices haunt them with increased violence and hunger, they realise that they are not the first children to have found the box in their town’s history. And ultimately, the box may want the greatest sacrifice of all: one of them. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Sep knelt beside the box. The forest was tight with heat, and sweat prickled on his skin. The clearing around him was a blanket of root and stone, caged by silent trees and speckled by dark, leaf-spinning pools that hid the wriggling things of the soil.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsUnveiling Venus, Sophia Bennett

    In the gossip-fuelled world of Victorian London, Persephone Lavelle is the name on everyone’s lips. As Mary’s secret identity is exposed and rumours fly, she flees the scandal by escaping to Venice. Lost among the twisting alleyways and shadowy canals she encounters a mysterious, masked young man. He offers her the world, but at what price? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: My dearest Persephone,
    Oh, how you must curse me, and how sorry I am! I haven’t written to you in an age. All I can say is I have been so busy! And I have much news. More of which in a minute…

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe diminished, Kaitlyn Sage Patterson

    In the Alskad Empire, nearly all are born with a twin, two halves to form one whole…yet some face the world alone. The singleborn A rare few are singleborn in each generation, and therefore given the right to rule by the gods and goddesses. Bo Trousillion is one of these few, born into the royal line and destined to rule. Though he has been chosen to succeed his great-aunt, Queen Runa, as the leader of the Alskad Empire, Bo has never felt equal to the grand future before him. The diminished. When one twin dies, the other usually follows, unable to face the world without their other half. Those who survive are considered diminished, doomed to succumb to the violent grief that inevitably destroys everyone whose twin has died. Such is the fate of Vi Abernathy, whose twin sister died in infancy. Raised by the anchorites of the temple after her family cast her off, Vi has spent her whole life scheming for a way to escape and live out what’s left of her life in peace. As their sixteenth birthdays approach, Bo and Vi face very different futures–one a life of luxury as the heir to the throne, the other years of backbreaking work as a temple servant. But a long-held secret and the fate of the empire are destined to bring them together in a way they never could have imagined. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The first queen built the Alskad Empire from scorched earth and ash after the goddess Dzallie split the moon and rained fire from the sky. The god Hamil called the sea to wash away most of what was left of humanity, but the people who managed to survive gathered in the wild, unforgiving north, calling on Rayleane the Builder to help them shape an idyllic community that would be home and have to descendants of the cataclysm.


  • 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.


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