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

    New books

    30.08.17 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLittle monsters, Kara Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDuels and deception, Cindy Anstey

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTowards a secret sky, Heather Maclean

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsProject Pandora, Aden Polydoros

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe last magicians, Lisa Maxwell

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHolding smoke, Elle Cosimano

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFor love and honor, Jody Hedlund

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

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

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

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSeeker, Veronica Rossi

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThief’s cunning, Sarah Ahiers

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

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


  • Fashion Friday, Style Catalogue

    Fashion Friday

    25.08.17 | Permalink | Comment?

    Home sewers; get in! This book celebrates the ethics and charms of the homemade garment.

    Syndetics book coverFolk fashion : understanding homemade clothes / Amy Twigger Holroyd.
    “Amy Twigger Holroyd draws on ideas of fashion, culture and craft to explore makers’ lived experiences of creating and wearing homemade clothes in a society dominated by shop-bought garments. Using the innovative metaphor of fashion as common land, Folk Fashion investigates the complex relationship between making, well-being and sustainability. Twigger Holroyd combines her own experience as a designer and knitter with first-hand accounts from folk fashion makers to explore this fascinating, yet under-examined, area of contemporary fashion culture.” (adapted from syndetics summary)


  • Fashion Friday, Style Catalogue

    Fashion Friday

    18.08.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on Fashion Friday

    If you like books and clothes, you’re probably gonna love this particular book. It chronicles the lives and outfits of famous authors including Sylvia Plath, Patti Smith, Oscar Wilde, Zadie Smith and Hunter S Thompson, as well as the ways they write about clothing and fashion (which is way more interesting than it sounds, just fyi).

    Syndetics book coverLegendary authors and the clothes they wore / Terry Newman.
    “Discover the signature sartorial and literary style of fifty men and women of letters, including Maya Angelou; Truman Capote; Colette; Bret Easton Ellis; Allen Ginsberg; Patti Smith; Karl Ove Knausgaard; and David Foster Wallace; in this unique compendium of profiles–packed with eighty black-and-white photographs, excerpts, quotes, and fast facts–that illuminates their impact on modern fashion.” (adapted from syndetics summary)


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

    New books

    17.08.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWant, Cindy Pon

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhen Dimple met Rishi, Sandhya Menon

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

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

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

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTash hearts Tolstoy, Kathryn Ormsbee

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNerve, Jeannie Ryan

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSlave power, Raewyn Dawsom

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

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

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

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWreck, Fleur Ferris

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsKid got shot, Simon Mason

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe book of heroes, Miyuki Miyabe

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBecoming Aurora, Elizabeth Kashmer

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBoone Shepard, Gabriel Bergmoser

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

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

    Moon boy, Kathy Sutcliffe

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

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

    Freedom swimmer, Wai Chim

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

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


  • Nicola, Real Life

    New books

    02.08.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

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

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLiving on Hope Street, Demet Divaroren

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

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

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

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGirl saves boy, Steph Bowe

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe possible, Tara Altebrando

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

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

    Convergence, Marita Smith

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

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


  • Fashion Friday, Style Catalogue

    Fashion Friday

    28.07.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on Fashion Friday

    This book is full of the most gorgeous watercolour illustrations EVER. The pretty pages are reason enough to take this book out, but it also celebrates great design, simplicity and timeless style with a “the magic is in your mix” ethos.

    Syndetics book coverClassic style : hand it down, dress it up, wear it out / [interviews and text by] Kate Schelter ; foreword by Andy Spade.
    “A gorgeously illustrated guide to “the classics”: the essential clothes, accessories, beauty products, and timeless everyday objects that define your personal style. In CLASSIC STYLE, fashion expert and illustrator Kate Schelter curates a collection of more than 150 iconic, essential classics– clothes, accessories, beauty products, objects, and travel items that exemplify great design, simplicity, and timeless style. Balancing the trend toward minimalism with a dose of charm and personality, Kate shows you how to develop (and celebrate!) your own style by following an easy mantra: buy less, buy better, reinvent what you already have, and own your look.” (adapted from syndetics summary)


  • Fashion Friday, Style Catalogue

    Fashion Friday

    14.07.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on Fashion Friday

    Get your Parisienne vibes on lock with this gorgeous new book. Parisian Chic Look Book tells you how to nail a number of looks including ‘Garden party, without going full bloom’ and ‘My ex has invited me to dinner’. Très helpful, non?

    Syndetics book coverParisian chic look book : what should I wear today? / Ines de la Fressange, Sophie Gachet ; photographs, Benoît Peverelli ; direction, Jeanne Le Bault ; Jeanne B. Cheynel, translator.
    “In this sequel to her best seller Parisian Chic , the world’s favorite style icon demonstrates how to achieve her quintessentially Parisian look throughout the year. Her style secrets start with the building blocks of wardrobe staples–an LBD that can be dressed up or down, timeless riding boots you’ll wear for a lifetime, or the perfect pair of jeans–which she combines with panache to suit every situation, adding seasonal items like costume bangles, a top in this season’s on-trend color, or the right shade of lip color.” (Syndetics summary)


  • Books, Comedy, Mysteries, New, Nicola

    New books

    12.07.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPhantom limbs, Paula Garner

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

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

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

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHouse of furies, Madeline Roux

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBang, Barry Lyga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStraight outta Crongton, Alex Wheattle

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

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

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

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

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe pearl thief, Elizabeth Wein

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

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


  • Fashion Friday, Style Catalogue

    Fashion Friday

    07.07.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on Fashion Friday

    This babe of a book is a style manifesto, put together by the mother-daughter duo behind StyleLikeU. Hit this up to see how self acceptance and self expression achieves personal style.

    Syndetics book coverTrue style is what’s underneath : the self-acceptance revolution / a style like u manifesto by Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum.
    “A new kind of style book with the inspiring and empowering message that “true style is self-acceptance,” profiling stylish influencers and celebrities who defy the cookie-cutter looks of today’s fashion magazines. The mother-daughter team behind the enormously popular websites StyleLikeU and What’s Underneath profile trendsetting artists and creatives of all ages, body types, races, and genders to embrace how self-expression and self-acceptance are the most important means of achieving personal style. A wealth of photographs reflects each person’s unique look, while interviews reveal how their journey affects and informs their style.” (adapted from syndetics summary)


  • Fashion Friday, Style Catalogue

    Fashion Friday

    30.06.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on Fashion Friday

    Nail your lipgloss, lipstick and lipliner application and lift your lip game.
    L I P S advises on how to pick the best colours and brands for achieving a range of different looks, and also has really useful stuff like removing lipstick stains and fixing a broken lippy.

    Syndetics book coverLips : how to wear lipstick, lip gloss and lift your lip game / by Natasha Devedlaka-Price ; photography by Mick Ackland and Casey Moore.
    “Around two-thirds of women count lipstick among their essential luxuries, one in three saying they won’t go without. And with Kylie Jenner’s lip kits almost breaking the internet, it seems women of all ages are crazy about their lips! In Lips, make-up artist Natasha Devedlaka shows you how a little bit of lipstick can build your confidence, boost your mood, and completely change your look. Nothing makes a girl pop like a bright burst of color! And it takes just minutes to apply. Natasha starts with lip care – exfoliating and prepping – and the basics of applying lipstick. She teaches readers how to pick the best red for their skin tone, make lips look thinner or plumper, choose lipstick that lasts all day, and much more. Tutorials feature topics like how to wear matt lipstick, gloss, as well as trends like ombre, nude, contouring lips, and more. This is a fun, stylish book for anyone who loves lipstick.” (Syndetics summary)


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