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  • 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.


  • 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 | Comment?

    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.


  • Comedy, Environment, Espionage, Fantasy, Horror, Mysteries, New, Nicola, Real Problems, realistic fiction, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    New Books

    23.02.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on New Books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWildman, J.C. Geiger

    Lance Hendricks is just 400 miles from the best night of his life: an epic graduation party. When his ’93 Buick breaks down, Lance is sure he’ll be back on the road in no time. After all, he’s the high school valedictorian, first chair trumpet player, scholarship winner. Nothing can stop him. But afternoon turns to night, and Lance ends up stranded at the Trainsong Motel. The place feels ominous, even before there’s a terrible car wreck outside his room. When Lance goes to help, the townies take notice. They call him Wildman and it’s not long before he begins to live up to his new name. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The song skipped.
    A crackling beat, a brief tremor in the steering wheel-and Lance Hendricks noticed the gap in the music. He knew every last note of Classical Trumpet Ballads, which had been jammed the cassette player of his ’93 Buick since the unfortunate day his mother gave him the tape. Now it was his only option. No radio this far from the city.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFragments of the lost, Megan Miranda

    After months of mourning the death of her ex-boyfriend, Caleb, 16-year-old Jessa Whitworth is asked to pack up his room so that his mother and younger sister can move on. Witnesses say that the last time Caleb was seen-before driving off a bridge into a raging river-was at Jessa’s track meet. The two had an awkward moment there, and Caleb left angry. Jessa feels responsible for the accident, and her guilt mounts as she slowly packs away his belongings, each item bringing up a memory of their yearlong relationship. In addition to the memories dredged up by Caleb’s things, Jessa begins to piece together evidence that leads her to believe that Caleb was hiding a big secret. (Publisher Weekly Summary)

    First lines: There’s no light in the narrow stairway to the third floor. There’s no handrail, either. Just wooden steps and plaster walls that were probably added in an attic renovation long ago. The door above remains shut, but there’s a sliver of light that escapes from the bottom, coming from inside. He must have left the window uncovered.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCamp So-And-So, Mary McCoy

    Twenty five girls are invited to attend Camp So-and-So and work with their cabin mates to compete in the All-Camp Sports 7 Follies. But this is no ordinary camp. Cabin 1 must face off with the campers across the lake. Cabin 2 is being stalked by a murderous former camper. Cabin 3 must break and age-old curse. Cabin 4 will meet their soul-mates. Cabin 5… well, it might already be too late for Cabin 5. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The letters went out on mid-February, when the weather had been so cold and so gray, and everything been so buried in snow for so long, and the idea of riding a horse or rowing across a lake seemed so impossible, the brochures might as well have been promising magic.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGunslinger girl, Lyndsay Ely

    Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune at the Theater Vespertine in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. The Second Civil War fractured the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land, and there is a dark cost to the Theater– one that Pity may not be willing to pay. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: They dragged in the dead scrounger in the fade of the afternoon, tied to the last truck in the convoy. Dust clouds billowed after the vehicles like a fog, blanketing the compound’s entrance in ochre twilight. Pity squinted and pulled her bandana over her nose.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSparrow, Scot Gardner

    One, two, three, breath. When a juvenile detention exercise off the coast of the Kimberley goes wrong, sixteen-year-old Sparrow must swim to shore. There are sharks and crocs around him but the monsters he fears most live in the dark spaces in his mind. He’s swimming away from his prison life and towards a desolate, rocky coastland and the hollow promise of freedom. He’ll eat or be eaten, kill or be killed.With no voice, no family and the odds stacked against him, Sparrow has nothing left to lose. But to survive he’ll need something more potent than desperation, something more dangerous than a makeshift knife. (Publisher summary)

    First lines:The boy’s guts grew tight. The week of boot camp had been tense enough, especially after Ratcliffe, hyper at the best of times, stopped taking his meds. Now, on their way back to Derby, the boat had broken down and it felt like a flash point, The guards were on edge and the survival instructor, Maddox, was mutinous.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThunderhead, Neal Shusterman

    A year has passed since Rowan had gone off grid, becoming an urban legend, a vigilante snuffing out corrupt scythes in a trial by fire. As Scythe Anastasia, Citra gleans with compassion and openly challenges the ideals of the ‘new order.’ But it is clear that not everyone is open to the change. Will the Thunderhead intervene… or simply watch the world of Scythedom unravel? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Peach velvet with embroidered baby-blue trim. Honorable Scythe Brahms loved his robe. True, the velvet became uncomfortably hot in the summer months, but it was something he had grown accustomed to in his sixty-three years as a scythe. He had recently turned the corner again, resetting his physical age back to a spry twenty-five – and now, in his third youth, he found his appetite for gleaning was stronger than ever.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRoyal bastards, Andrew Shvarts

    Tilla, the sixteen-year-old illegitimate daughter of Lord Kent, spends her days exploring the tunnels beneath the castle and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out in her half-brother’s room. When they witness a crime that is part of a brutal coup, Tilla and her fellow bastards band together with other outcasts in an attempt to prevent civil war and protect Lyriana, a sheltered, visiting princess whose life is in danger. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Princess Lyriana came to Castle Waverly two months after I turned sixteen. That meant fall was setting in: the trees were red, the roads were muddy, and when Jax and I sat in abandoned sentry tower on the eastern wall, passing a skin of wine back and forth, we could just barely see our breath in the air as we talked.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBetween the blade and the heart, Amanda Hocking

    As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. When she unearths a secret about her mother that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin must decide where her loyalties lie. Torn between her ex-girlfriend and blue-eyed Asher, she must decide if helping him enact his revenge is worth the risk to the world and her heart. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: In the vast emptiness of space, the gods grew restless, and so they created the heavens above and the worlds below. They filled the earth with every create imaginable, from the smallest fish in the sea to the largest dragon in the sky.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAmerican panda, Gloria Chao

    A freshman at MIT, seventeen-year-old Mei Lu tries to live up to her Taiwanese parents’ expectations, but no amount of tradition, obligation, or guilt prevent her from hiding several truths–that she is a germaphobe who cannot become a doctor, she prefers dancing to biology, she decides to reconnect with her estranged older brother, and she is dating a Japanese boy. Can she find a way to be herself, before her web of lies unravels? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The stench of the restaurant’s speciality walloped my sense as soon as I entered. Even with seventeen years of practice, I didn’t have a fighting chance against a dish named stinky tofu. I gagged.
    My mother sniffed and smiled. “Smells like home.”

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

    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)

    First lines: If you take photographs through a prism, you can turn people into ghosts. I’d taught Jamie that this year, my eighteenth year of life, and possibly my last. Whenever a bad memory crept into my brain, I held a prism up to it, and it would distort and soften. That way I could cope it a bit better.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDreamland burning, Jennifer Latham

    When Rowan finds a skeleton on her family’s property, investigating the brutal, century-old murder leads to painful discoveries about the past. Alternating chapters tell the story of William, another teen grappling with the racial firestorm leading up to the 1921 Tulsa race riot, providing some clues to the mystery. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Nobody walks in Tulsa. At least not to get anywhere. Oil built our houses, paved our streets, and turned us from a cow town stop on the Frisco Railroad into the heart of Route 66. My ninth-grade Oklahoma History joked that around these parts, walking is sacrilege. Real Tulsans drive.


  • dystopia, Environment, Espionage, Mysteries, New, Nicola, Real Problems, realistic fiction, Separated at Birth

    New books

    07.12.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFar from the tree, Robin Benway

    Grace, adopted at birth, is raised as an only child. At sixteen she’s just put her own baby up for adoption, and now is looking for her biological family. She discovers Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio twin sister who was also adopted ; and Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother after seventeen years in the foster care system. Grace struggles to between cautious joy at having found them, and the true meaning of family in all its forms. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Grace hadn’t really thought too much about homecoming. She knew that she’d go, though. She figured that she and her best friend, Janie, would get dressed together, get their hair done together. She knew that her mom would try to be cool about it and not get excited, and she’d make Grace’s dad charge the fancy, expensive camera-not the iPhone- and then Grace would take pictures with Max, her boyfriend of just over a year.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA short history of the girl next door, Jared Reck

    Matt Wainwright is constantly sabotaged by the overdramatic movie director in his head. He can’t tell his best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her, he implodes on the JV basketball team, and the only place he feels normal is in Mr. Ellis’s English class, discussing the greatest fart scenes in literature and writing poems about pissed-off candy-cane lumberjacks. If this were a movie, everything would work out perfectly. Tabby would discover that Matt’s madly in love with her, be overcome with emotion, and would fall into his arms. Maybe in the rain. But that’s not how it works. Matt watches Tabby get swept away by senior basketball star and all-around great guy Liam Branson. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough, but screwing up and losing her as a friend is even worse. After a tragic accident, Matt finds himself left on the sidelines, on the verge of spiraling out of control and losing everything that matters to him. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I know it’s over when Liam Branson’s black Accord pulls in front of Tabby’s house before the school. I’m shooting free throws in my driveway, like I do every morning, waiting for the bus to deliver me to another memorable day as a freshman at Franklin High. It’s late October, which means the weather is perfect for my before-school shootaround ritual.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThat inevitable Victorian thing, E.K Johnston

    It is a near-future Toronto where the British Empire never fell. Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the Empire, hoping for a summer of freedom before an arranged marriage. She meets Helena, daughter of a geneticist, and August, heir to a shipping firm. The trio is caught off-guard by the discovery of a love so intense they are willing to change the course of the monarchy to keep it. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Helena Marcus had given much thought to her marriage. She was no princess, whose wedding could change the nations, and neither was she a creature of high society, confident that suitors might come knocking on her door, eager to make first impressions with her door, eager to make first impressions with the hope of being remembered as a mutually beneficial option after the Computer did its work at genetic matchmaking.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTool of war, Paolo Bacigalupi

    Tool, a half-man/half-beast designed for combat, is capable of so much more than his creators had ever dreamed. He has gone rogue from his pack of bioengineered “augments” and emerged a victorious leader of a pack of human soldier boys. But he is hunted relentlessly by someone determined to destroy him, who knows an alarming secret: Tool has found the way to resist his genetically ingrained impulses of submission and loyalty toward his masters… The time is coming when Tool will embark on an all-out war against those who have enslaved him.
    First lines: The drone circled high of the wreckage of war. A week before, it hadn’t been there. A week before, the Drowned Cities hadn’t been worth mentioning, let alone committing drones to overwatch. The Drowned Cities: a coastline swamped by rising sea levels and political hatreds, a place of shattered rubble and eternal gunfire. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The drone circled high above the wreckage of war. A week before, it hadn’t been there. A week before, the Drowned Cities hadn’t been worth mentioning, let alone worth committing drones to overwatch. The Drowned Cities: a coastline swamped by rising sea levels and political hatreds, a place of shattered rubble and eternal gunfire.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSometimes we tell the truth, Kim Zarins

    Jeff boards the bus for the Civics class trip to Washington, DC, with a few things on his mind: Six hours trapped with his classmates sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. He somehow ended up sitting next to his ex-best friend, who he hasn’t spoken to in years. He still feels guilty for the major part he played in pranking his teacher, and the trip’s chaperone, Mr. Bailey. And his best friend Cannon, never one to be trusted and banned from the trip, has something “big” planned for DC. But Mr. Bailey has an idea to keep everyone in line: each person on the bus is going to have the chance to tell a story. It can be fact or fiction, realistic or fantastical, dark or funny or sad. It doesn’t matter. Each person gets a story, and whoever tells the best one will get an automatic A in the class. But in the middle of all the storytelling, with secrets and confessions coming out, Jeff only has one thing on his mind–can he live up to the super successful story published in the school newspaper weeks ago that convinced everyone that he was someone smart, someone special, and someone with something to say. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: My mother drives me to school like I’m little again, and I stir awake when she turns off the engine. it’s still nowhere close to sunrise, and my classmates huddle under the streetlamps in the parking lot, some staying warm by smoking. I pray to God my mom doesn’t notice them.
    No such luck.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBody parts, Jessica Kapp

    Raised in an elite foster center off the California coast, sixteen-year-old Tabitha has been protected from the outside world. Her trainers at the center have told her she’ll need to be in top physical condition to be matched with a loving family. So she swims laps and shaves seconds off her mile time, dreaming of the day when she’ll meet her adoptive parents. But when Tabitha’s told she’s been paired, instead of being taken to her new home, she wakes up immobile on a hospital bed. Moments before she’s sliced open, a group of renegade teenagers rescues her, and she learns the real reason she’s been kept in shape: PharmPerfect, a local pharmaceutical giant, is using her foster program as a replacement factory for their pill-addicted clients’ failing organs. Determined to save the rest of her friends at the center, Tabitha joins forces with her rescuers, led by moody and mysterious Gavin Stiles. As they race to uncover the rest of PharmPerfect’s secrets, though, Tabitha finds herself with more questions than answers. Will trusting the enigmatic group of rebels lead her back to the slaughterhouse? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Ten seconds. That’s how much air I have left. I peek at Paige, her body submerged next to me. Stray hairs float around her face. She looks peaceful like she found a way to sleep underwater. The chlorine stings my eyes so I shut them, letting my mind fill with fuzz until all I hear is the cadence of my heart – the sluggish beat coursing all the way to my fingertips.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe first to know, Abigail Johnson

    Dana Fields’s father never knew his parents. When Dana secretly does a DNA test for her dad, hoping to find him some distant relatives for his birthday, her entire world implodes. Instead of a few third cousins, Dana discovers a half brother her age whose very existence means her parents’ happy marriage is a lie. Dana’s desire to know her half brother, Brandon, and the extent of her dad’s deception, clashes with her wish not to destroy her family. When she sees the opportunity to get to know Brandon through his cousin, the intense yet kind Chase, she takes it. But the more she finds out about Brandon, her father’s past and the irresistible guy who’ll never forgive her if he discovers the truth, the more she sees the inevitable fallout from her own lies. With her family crumbling around her, Dana must own up to her actions and find a way to heal the breach–for everyone–before they’re torn apart for good. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The swing was so smooth and effortless I barely felt it. Adrenaline slammed through my body as I hit a screamer into right center, knowing it would find the gap. I dropped my bat and bolted for first, picking up speed as I rounded to second. I had at least a triple. I made the split-second decision to ignore the stop sign from my coach, kicking up dust as I passed third and charged for home.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHere we are now, Jasmine Wanga

    Taliah Sahar Abdallat lives and breathes music. Songs have always helped Tal ease the pain of never having known her father. Her mother, born in Jordan and very secretive about her past, won’t say a word about who her dad really was. But when Tal finds a shoebox full of old letters from Julian Oliver–yes, the indie rock star Julian Oliver–she begins to piece the story together. She writes to Julian, but after three years of radio silence, she’s given up hope. Then one day, completely out of the blue, Julian shows up at her doorstep, and Tal doesn’t know whether to be furious or to throw herself into his arms. Before she can decide, he asks her to go on a trip with him to meet her long-estranged family and to say good-bye to his father, her grandfather, who is dying. Getting to know your father after sixteen years of estrangement doesn’t happen in one car ride. But as Tal spends more time with Julian and his family, she begins to untangle her parents’ secret past, and discovers a part of herself she never recognized before. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: There are people that you never expect to show up on your doorstep. For me, this list begins with the pope, the president and my second-grade teacher, Mrs. Jenkins, because she absolutely hated me. He wouldn’t been somewhere on my Most Unlikely List. Probably top ten. But there was a time, not so long ago, when he wouldn’t have been on that list. There wwas actually a time when I would camp out by the window, willing him to pull up into the driveway.


  • Books, dystopia, Fantasy, GLBT, Mysteries, New, Nicola, Sci Fi

    New books

    05.12.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe body market, Donna Frietas

    In this thoughtful sequel to Unplugged, Skylar has failed to save her best friends, Inara and Sylvia, from the App World, where they’ve been unplugged from virtual apps. They’ll soon be sold to the highest bidders at the Body Market unless Skylar can rescue them. Still reeling from her sister Jude’s betrayal, Skylar doesn’t trust Rain, the boy she likes, because he’s lied to her. When Skylar is kidnapped and held in a remote cabin by Kit, a motorcycle-riding teen bounty hunter, she convinces him not to turn her in. Instead, Skylar persuades Kit to help her overthrow Jude and promises to rescue his sister. In this second book in a planned trilogy, Skylar also finds out that she has a brother, who helps her figure out a coding glitch that will allow them to create an app that would override the plugs and wake up all the bodies. Skylar’s brain is the only one that can make that possible, but there’s a chance it won’t work. (Publisher information)

    First lines: I adjusted the scarf around my head. Only my eyes were visible. I stepped into the crush of tourists heading inside. I stepped into the crush of tourists heading inside. A great canopy stretched over us, blocking out the cold winter sun.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAmong the red stars, Gwen C. Katz

    World War II has erupted in Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She’s a pilot–and a good one–so she eagerly joins an all-female bomber regiment. Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German targets is something else entirely. The raids are dangerous, but as Valka watches her fellow pilots putting everything on the line in the face of treachery, she learns the true meaning of bravery. As the war intensifies, though, and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home. Inspired by the true story of a famous all-female Russian bomber regiment, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, of learning to fight for yourself, and of the perils of a world at war. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The voice on the radio spat out a few intelligence words before melting back into static. “…large crowd here in the City of Youth, despite the gloomy weather. They are all hoping to catch the first glimpse of…”
    “You’re messing it up,” I told Pasha, who knelt by his radio, fiddling with its wire innards. “We’ll miss it.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsKaleidoscope song, Fox Benwell

    Neo loves music, and all she ever wanted was a life sharing this passion, on the radio. When she meets Tale, the lead singer in a local South African band, their shared love of music grows. So does their love for each other. But not everyone approves. Then Neo lands her dream job of working at a popular radio station, and she discovers that using your voice is sometimes harder than expected, and there are always consequences. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: South Africa is loud. Listen. Footsteps, engines, radio. The lazy buzzing heat and the singing laughing joy. The slap of palms when business strikes. The dance of it. The movement and the bustle, the spring of the young and creaking of the old. The bars. Street corners. Schools. It has an energy in everything, a song all of its own.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSovereign, April Daniels

    Only nine months after her debut as the superhero Dreadnought, Danny Tozer is already a scarred veteran. Protecting a city the size of New Port is a team-sized job and she’s doing it alone. Between her newfound celebrity and her demanding cape duties, Dreadnought is stretched thin, and it’s only going to get worse. When she crosses a newly discovered billionaire supervillain, Dreadnought comes under attack from all quarters. From her troubled family life to her disintegrating friendship with Calamity, there’s no lever too cruel for this villain to use against her. She might be hard to kill, but there’s more than one way to destroy a hero. Before the war is over, Dreadnought will be forced to confront parts of herself she never wanted to acknowledge. And behind it all, an old enemy waits in the wings, ready to unleash a plot that will scar the world forever. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: “Don’t let your wife hear you say that,” he says. A late-night talk show is joking with someone offscreen. A smattering of laughter leaks of the crowd. “Yeah we’re gonna hear all about it at Thanksgiving. Anyway, moving on. I’m really excited about our next guest.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBerserker, Emmy Laybourne

    Are Hanne’s powers a gift from the old Norse gods, or a curse? Hanne’s brother Stieg swears their powers are a gift from the old gods, but Hanne Hemstad knows she is truly cursed. It’s not Stieg’s fault that their father is dead, their mother has left, and their brother Knut has been accused of a crime he didn’t commit. No, the fault lies with Hanne and her inability to control her murderous “gift”–she is a Berserker. When someone she loves is threatened, she flies into a killing state. Now the siblings must leave Norway for the American frontier or risk being brought to justice. Aided by Owen Bennett, a young cowboy who agrees to be their guide, Hanne and her siblings use their powers to survive the perilous trail, where blizzards, wild animals, and vicious bounty hunters await. The thrills of the journey sweep Hanne and Owen together in romance, but their new love means nothing unless they can escape the ruthless men chasing them down. Can they reach Hanne’s uncle, the one man who can teach her how to control her drive to kill? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The hog snorted at the two young trespassers in his pen. He kept his massive flank pressed to the oaks beams of the fence, staying as far away from them as he could. The girl, Hanne, kept her eyes on the boar, hiding the knife she held against the folds of her skirt.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe book jumper, Mechthild Glaser

    Amy Lennox doesn’t know quite what to expect when she and her mother leave Germany for Scotland, heading to Lennox House, her mother’s childhood home on the island of Stormsay. Amy’s grandmother insists that Amy must read while she resides at Lennox House — but not in the usual way. Amy learns that she is a book jumper, able to leap into a story and interact with the world inside. As thrilling as her new power is, it also brings danger: someone is stealing from the books she visits, and that person may be after her life. Teaming up with fellow book jumper Will, Amy vows to get to the bottom of the thefts — at whatever cost. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Will ran. He ran and ran.
    The island seemed bigger than usual, and he’d been running for so long his chest hurt. Across the moor, through the fields, down to the beach, past the graveyard and Lennox House, into the village, up to the stone circle, through the library, back to his cottage, and in and out of the last wisps of fog that hung over Macalister Castle.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBeasts made of night, Tochi Onyebuchi

    In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts–lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt. Taj is the most talented of the aki , young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family. When Taj is called to eat a sin of a member of the royal family, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves–and his own life. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I make sure to sit where they can’t see me. From where I’m perched, tucked just out of sight on a pile of rubble, I have a pretty good view of the other sin-eaters, the aki. They’re gathered in the small clearing below, ringed by the rubble of what used to be someone’s home.


  • dystopia, Espionage, Fantasy, New, Nostalgia, Sci Fi, zombies

    New books

    08.11.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDear Martin, Nic Stone

    Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League–but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up– way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: From where he’s standing across the street, Justyce can see her: Melo Taylor, ex-girlfriend, slumped over beside her Benz on the damp concrete of the FarmFresh parking lot. She’s missing a shoe, and the contents of her purse are scattered around her like the guts of a pulled party popper. He knows she’s stone drunk, but this is too much, even for her.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCrash landing, Robert Muchamore

    Jay, Summer and Dylan are fresh out of the biggest reality show there is. But they’re about to discover what fame and fortune are really about. Jay’s brother Theo is young, rich and famous: but is it making him happy? Summer’s got to weather her one-star reviews and take her career back into her own hands. And Dylan might soon be seeing the world of show-business from the four walls of a prison cell. They’ve got everything to play for. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Edinburgh youth court was part of a drab precinct, sandwiched between a boarded-up children’s library and Jobcentre Plus. Scottish law bans British media from reporting on the trial of anyone who is under sixteen at the time of their arrest, but international media faced no restrictions and the drizzled pavement was populated by correspondents from more than a dozen countries.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsShow stopper, Hayley Barker

    A dazzling, high-octane read filled with death-defying acrobatics, circus crowds with an appetite for disaster, and two forbidden teenage lovers trying to escape the shackles of their very different lives. Set in a near-future England where the poorest people in the land must watch their children be taken by a travelling circus – to perform at the mercy of hungry lions, sabotaged high wires and a demonic ringmaster. The ruling class visit the circus as an escape from their structured, high-achieving lives – pure entertainment with a bloodthirsty edge. Ben, the teenage son of a draconian government minister, visits the circus for the first time and falls instantly in love with Hoshiko, a young performer. They come from harshly different worlds – but must join together to escape the circus and put an end to its brutal sport. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The cries of the audience pound in my head as I stand, poised, above them. I’m a hundred feet off the ground floor but, if I try, I can make out individual faces in the sea of books below me. I begin swinging. Backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. There is only me now; only the arc and the fall. If I let go too soon I won’t reach the wire; too late and I’ll loop right over it.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMy side the diamond, Sally Gardener

    Jazmin has been shunned ever since her best friend Becky disappeared. But what happened to Becky? Because she didn’t simply disappear – she jumped off a tall building and was never seen again, almost as if she had vanished into thin air – but of course that couldn’t be possible. Was the disappearance something to do with Jazmin? Or was it more to do with Ishmael, so beguiling and strangely ever youthful, with whom Becky was suddenly besotted…(Publisher summary)

    First lines:Judge me, hate me, find me unforgiven. You won’t be the first. I have lived with it long enough. It changes nothing. Becky Burns was my best friend. My soul sister, my blood. I knew her better than anyone else- or I thought I did.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMonster, Michael Grant

    It’s been four years since a meteor hit Perdido Beach and everyone disappeared. Everyone, except the kids trapped in the FAYZ–an invisible dome that was created by an alien virus. Inside the FAYZ, animals began to mutate and teens developed dangerous powers. The terrifying new world was plagued with hunger, lies, and fear of the unknown. Now the dome is gone and meteors are hitting earth with an even deadlier virus. Humans will mutate into monsters and the whole world will be exposed. As some teens begin to morph into heroes, they will find that others have become dangerously out of control…and that the world is on the brink of a monstrous battle between good and evil. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: “It’s the monster!” Shade Darby cried out, speaking to no one in particular.
    The monster was a girl who appeared to be in her teens but was in reality mere days old. She was known the world over from her first recorded appearance, during which she had torn off a man’s arm and eaten it.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsElites of Eden, Joey Graceffa

    Yarrow is an elite: rich, regal, destined for greatness. She’s the daughter of one of the most powerful women in Eden. At the exclusive Oaks boarding school, she makes life miserable for anyone foolish enough to cross her. Her life is one wild party after another…until she meets a fascinating, lilac-haired girl named Lark.Meanwhile, there is Rowan, who has been either hiding or running all her life. As an illegal second child in a strictly regulated world, her very existence is a threat to society, punishable by death…or worse. After her father betrayed his family, and after her mother was killed by the government, Rowan discovered a whole city of people like herself. Safe in an underground sanctuary that also protected the last living tree on Earth, Rowan found friendship, and maybe more, in a fearless hero named Lachlan. But when she was captured by the government, her fate was uncertain. When these two girls discover the thread that binds them together, the collision of memories means that their lives may change drastically–and that Eden may never be the same. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: We move through the world like a pack of wolves, striding on long legs, bright-eyed, ravenous. We are beautiful, and a casual observer might think us soft because of that beauty. But we have teeth no one can imagine.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBefore the devil breaks you, Libba Bray

    After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that early claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough of lies. They’re more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward’s Island, far from the city’s bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten–ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows. With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over, and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them face-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they’ve ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation–a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves. (Publisher summary)

    First lines:Thick evening fog clung to the forlorn banks of Ward’s Island, turning it into a ghost of itself. Across the dark calm of the East River, the glorious neon whirl of Manhattan was in a full jazz-age bloom- glamorous clubs, basement speakesies, illegal booze, all of it enjoyed by the live-fast-forget-tomorrow flappers and Dapper Dons and eager to throw off their cares and Charleston their way into tomorrow’s hangover.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe weirdstone of Brisingamen, Alan Garner

    The Weirdstone of Brisingamen is one of the greatest fantasy novels of all time. When Colin and Susan are pursued by eerie creatures across Alderley Edge, they are saved by the Wizard. He takes them into the caves of Fundindelve, where he watches over the enchanted sleep of one hundred and forty knights. But the heart of the magic that binds them – Firefrost, also known as the Weirdstone of Brisingamen – has been lost. The Wizard has been searching for the stone for more than 100 years, but the forces of evil are closing in, determined to possess and destroy its special power. Colin and Susan realise at last that they are the key to the Weirdstone’s return. But how can two children defeat the Morrigan and her deadly brood? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: At dawn one still October day in the long ago of the world, across the hill of Alderley, a farmer Mobberley was riding to Macclesfield fair. The morning was dull, but mild; light mists bedimmed his way; the woods were hushed; the day promised fine.


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