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  • Books, Library Serf

    Best of 2013: Bridget’s Picks

    19.12.13 | Permalink | Comments Off on Best of 2013: Bridget’s Picks

    Mortal Fire, Elizabeth Knox

    “Sixteen-year-old Canny Mochrie’s vacation takes a turn when she stumbles upon a mysterious and enchanting valley, occupied almost entirely by children who can perform a special type of magic that tells things how to be stronger and better than they already are. As Canny studies the magic more carefully, she realizes that she not only understands it–she can perform the magic, too, so well that it feels like it has always been a part of her. With the help of an alluring seventeen-year-old boy who is held hostage by a spell that is now more powerful than the people who first placed it, Canny figures out the secrets of this valley and of her own past.” (goodreads.com)

    This is another highly original fantasy story featuring a strong and unique female hero, from New Zealander Elizabeth Knox.

    I also really liked:

    Dark Triumph, Robin LaFevers

    Rose Under Fire, Elizabeth Wein

    The Dream Thieves, Maggie Stiefvater

    Picture Me Gone, Meg Rosoff

  • Books, Library Serf

    Best of 2013: Vanessa’s Picks Part 2

    18.12.13 | Permalink | Comments Off on Best of 2013: Vanessa’s Picks Part 2

    Curse Workers trilogy, Holly Black

    Cassel Sharpe’s family are curse workers, who can use magic to change others, manipulate memories and feelings just by touch. Cassel, on the other hand, doesn’t appear to have the gift. Or does he? A supernatural series set in a mob/magic world of gangsters and con artists.

    And also (some older goodies):

    Free as a Bird, Gina McMurchy-Barber

    Jolt, Bernard Beckett

    Mockingbird, Katherine Erskine

  • Books, Grimm, Most Wanted

    Most Wanted: September 2013

    03.09.13 | Permalink | Comments Off on Most Wanted: September 2013

    These are the top 10(ish) most requested items in the young adult collection so far this month. Allegiant, the final (but who knows?) in the Divergent trilogy has toppled John Green off his perch. Great scott. Also noteworthy, Into the River was the overall winner of the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards this year. Nice to see a New Zealand book in the list!

    YA movie trivia: both Hazel and Augustus from the Fault in our Stars movie (2014) also star in Divergent (also 2014).

    1. Allegiant, Veronica Roth [up 1]
    2. The Fault in Our Stars, John Green [down 1]
    3. Light, Michael Grant [no change]
    4. The Fall of Five, Pittacus Lore [up 2]
    4. Black Friday, Robert Muchamore [up 2]
    6. 1D: One Direction: Forever Young [down 2]
    7. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins [up 2]
    8. Divergent,Veronica Roth [up 1]
    8. Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins [no change]
    10. Into the River, Ted Dawe (New Zealand author) [new]
    10. Insurgent, Veronica Roth [back]

  • Books, New, Rebecca

    New Books

    08.07.13 | Permalink | Comments Off on New Books

    The New Zealand authors edition:

    book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSinking, David Hill (175 pages) – Conrad is on his way to swimming training in the pre-dawn darkness. As he hurries through a park, a terrified old man bursts out of the trees at him, before running away. On his way home later, Con sees the same old man, perfectly at ease this time, with his grand-daughter, an edgy, aggressive, solitary girl who has just arrived at Con’s school. The girl, Becks is a horse enthusiast. Con hates horses almost as much as she hates swimming. The old man holds a terrible secret, which is driving him almost mad. Becks is fiercely protective of him, and reacts explosively against the group of school bullies who mock him. But she can’t cope by herself, and slowly, she and Con are drawn into the full details of the secret

    First lines: “It was still dark when I came out of our driveway. I mean really dark. Quarter past five on Tuesday morning dark. The soft dark when you should be asleep in bed.”

    book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMortal Fire, Elizabeth Knox (434 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Canny Mochrie has always been a little different. She’s never known her father, she’s always had a calculating, mathematical mind, and she’s always been able to see something Extra. When she begrudgingly joins her older stepbrother on a trip to research a strange coal mine disaster that happened thirty years earlier, she stumbles into a mystery with long buried secrets, that may just be her own secrets too.

    First lines: “Canny and her teammates stood on platform nine of Castlereagh Station and watched everything they’d seen the night before in Founderston play again in reverse. Passengers from the overnight express were met, kissed and led away into the concourse – or set off by themselves heads down into the hot wind.”

    book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhen Our Jack Went to War, Sandy McKay (180 pages) – It’s 1916 and the Great War has been going on in Europe for nearly three years when Jack McAllister enlists. Jack’s younger brother, thirteen-year-old Tom, is at first envious, but Tom soon changes his mind as the reality of war becomes more apparent through the letters Jack sends home. Tom writes to Jack about life at home in New Zealand, while in turn Jack writes of his first-hand experience in Trentham, the troop ship, Britain, France, the Battle of Messines and finally, Passchendaele.

    First lines: “When our Jack went to war our mother cried and cried. Poor Ma – she really didn’t want him to go.”

    book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCattra’s Legacy, Anna Mackenzie (348 pages) – Thirteen-year-old Risha is living a simple life in the mountains with her father when he suddenly dies. Risha is left alone and discovers she is no longer welcome in her village. Disguised as a boy, Risha, leaves the village with a group of traders on a quest to find out the truth about her mother and her true heritage.

    First lines: “The villagers came to witness the burial, but only out of custom and curiosity, drifting away as soon as the first clod of earth fell. Ganny lingered longest, touching Risha’s arm before she left. Risha didn’t notice.”

    book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMurder at Mykenai, Catherine Mayo (389 pages) – Friendship vs. Treachery in Ancient Greece, a decade before the Trojan War. Menelaos, teenage son of the assassinated High King of Greece, is tumbling ever deeper into danger. Odysseus, his best friend, tries to help – but Odysseus’s great ideas have a tendency to backfire…

    First lines: “This had to be the strangest thing he’s ever seen. Odysseus stared at it, caught between laughter and amazement, and it glared right back, its tiny head swaying snake-wise at the end of a long, scrawny neck.”

    book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFelix and the Red Rats, James Norcliffe (245 pages) – When David’s uncle comes to visit he sets off a bizarre series of events. Things become complicated when the pet rats turn bright red. David senses that somehow the red rats are connected to the story he is reading, and he becomes more convinced when the colour red becomes contagious. The parallel story sees Felix and his friend Bella inadvertently shifted into a strange land where they must solve a riddle. But this puts them into great danger. How will they escape and find their way home?

    First lines: “‘But why?’ demanded Martha. ‘He’s such a weirdo,’ said Gray. ‘He’s such a fake,’ said Martha. I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t upset that Mum’s uncle was coming to stay. I was younger and I’d only met him once before and, to tell the truth, I’d kind of liked him.”

  • Books, Library Serf, News

    New Zealand Post Book Awards

    28.06.13 | Permalink | Comments Off on New Zealand Post Book Awards

    This week the winners of the New Zealand Post Book Awards were announced, and a YA book took out the main prize. Well done that book!

    Winner of the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award, and the Best Young Adult Fiction Award:

    Into the River, Ted Dawe. “When Te Arepa Santos is dragged into the river by a giant eel, something happens that will change the course of his whole life. The boy who struggles to the bank is not the same one who plunged in, moments earlier. He has brushed against the spirit world, and there is a price to be paid; an utu to be exacted. Years later, far from the protection of whanau and ancestral land he finds new enemies. This time, with on-one to save him, there is a decision to be made.. he can wait on the bank, or leap forward into the river.” (goodreads.com)

  • Books, Grimm, New

    Looking forward to:

    24.04.13 | Permalink | Comments Off on Looking forward to:

    Allegiant! The title of the new book in the popular Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth was announced last week, and unhappily it is not ‘Detergent’ as suggested. They’re not as forthcoming with the book cover – this (on the right) is all we’ve got at the moment. We’ll let you know as soon as we’ve ordered it – the book is due to be published at the end of October, so watch this space. Here’s Veronica Roth’s title announcement.

    In the mean time, we’ve been ordering other interesting things:

    Scarlet in the snow, Sophie Masson. “A deserted mansion. Empty picture frames. A perfect red rose in a snowy garden. There is rich and powerful magic here, and a mystery to unravel… When Natasha is forced to take shelter from a sudden, terrible blizzard, she is lucky to see a mansion looming out of the snow. Inside it’s beautiful: the fire lit, the table set. But there is no one there. And on the walls, instead of paintings, are empty frames. In the garden, she finds one perfect red rose about to bloom, a vivid splash of scarlet against the snow. Dreamily she reaches out a hand… Only to have the master of the house appear – a terrifying, gigantic creature who looks like a cross between a bear and a man – and demand vengeance on her for taking his rose. So begins an extraordinary adventure that will see Natasha plunged deep into the heart of a mystery… Inspired by two beautiful Russian fairytales – The Scarlet Flower (the Russian version of Beauty and the Beast) and Fenist the Falcon, Scarlet in the Snow is a beguiling mix of magic, romance, adventure and mystery.” (goodreads.com)

    Sinking, David Hill – the new novel by the New Zealand author of See Ya Simon and Duet. “A grim secret. A life in danger. When a crazy old man leaps out of the bushes at Conrad on his way to swimming training, he gets the fright of his life. And when he discovers the man’s granddaughter is that weird horse-riding girl from school, he decides to steer clear of them. But fate has other ideas… and he is drawn into a grim secret. What’s the old man’s connection to a death from long ago? And whose life is in danger now…” (Children’s Bookshop, Kilbirnie)

    Ghostheart, Ananda Braxton-Smith – the next in the Secrets of Carrick series after Merrow and Tantony. “Her brothers and sisters are fearless, light as scuds, quick as hoppers. Not Mally. She knows too many secrets, that one. She is frighted, all right. Frozen at the edge of the shore, lonely as a cornstalk in a saltmarsh. But in Carrick things are changing and Mally needs to change too. Out of nowhere has come Dolyn Craig – a sneak and a bully but that’s not the worst of it. He’s also unexpected with it. What could he want with poor frightened Mally?” (goodreads.com) These books have fantastic covers!

  • New Zealand, NZ Book Month, Rachel and Rebecca

    A short post about short stories

    28.03.13 | Permalink | Comments Off on A short post about short stories

    We promise, absolutely and completely, that this is our last post about New Zealand Book Month. For this year at least. We hope you’ve read something New Zealand related this month or better yet, been to an event! If you haven’t, never fear, there’s still time (and a long weekend) to do so. Why not check out some New Zealand short stories, it will take mere minutes and the library has some great collections!

    book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEssential New Zealand Short Stories, edited by Owen Marshall

    The contents page of this collection reads as a who’s who of New Zealand writing greats including Katherine Mansfield, Janet Frame, Patricia Grace, Joy Cowley, Maurice Gee, Frank Sargeson and many, many more. The collected works span 80 years which demonstrates the way short stories, as a genre, have changed over time (or not). In his introduction Owen Marshall says the reason short stories can be found right through New Zealand writing history is because “they form a resilient genre with its own idiosyncratic pulse of literary energy.” We have to agree! There’s a certain charming idiosyncrasy right through this collection and all the others as well.

    book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEarthless Trees, edited by Pauline Frances

    This collection features the work of several young refugees who came to New Zealand seeking security and freedom with their families. From an escape through mountains on an overloaded truck, to living through an explosion in urban Kabul, these stories touch on universal themes: survival, family, home and friends. We love that this collection gives a poignant and, at times, heartbreaking, insight into the lives of some of our refugees.

    book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLike Wallpaper, edited by Barbara Else

    The authors featured in this collection are a combination of established like David Hill or Fleur Beale and stunning newcomers like Natasha Lewis and Samantha Stanley. The settings are New Zealand homes and flats, local schools and roads, beaches, rivers, cities. There is a mixture of tone, voice, and form. Issues addressed in the stories range across aspects of peer pressure and friendship. Parents and family relationships feature as do young romance, sexuality, and death. All in all, it’s a capacious collection with several quirky stories you’re bound to love. Hopefully ponder as well.

    book cover courtesy of Syndetics50 short short stories by young New Zealanders edited by Graeme Lay

    Tandem Press invited New Zealanders aged 18 and under to submit a short story (no more than 500 words) for a writing competition. This collection is the 50 best entries they received. They provide a much broader overview than Earthless Trees of what being a teenager is like in New Zealand and over the course of fifty stories, the themes covered include all the joys and concerns of daily life: peer pressure, rivalry, first love, and questions of identity and belonging; of moving or subtle relationships with friends and family. These are great to read if you’re an aspiring writer yourself because they give an idea of the kind of style and content that one publishing house consider to be good.

    Think you can do better? Then a list of writing competitions in New Zealand can be found here including details about the Re-Draft competition. The winners of that are published annually, several collections of which the library has here, here and here. However they don’t get a blurb of their own because they include poetry and because we promised a short post. So there you have it. Short stories are the best! They get to the point within the time of my attention span, they’re often strange and quirky and, best of all, they leave you wondering. And there we will end our very last post about New Zealand Book Month. May you now dazzle your friends and family with your knowledge of homegrown literary talent!

    Happy Easter!

    R n R

  • New Zealand, NZ Book Month, Rachel and Rebecca

    It’s still New Zealand Book Month

    14.03.13 | Permalink | Comments Off on It’s still New Zealand Book Month

    Did you know? In fact, we’re almost half way through New Zealand Book Month! Exciting stuff! So have you read any homegrown authors? Been to any events? If you answered no to both questions then never fear, there’s plenty more happening and you can find out about it here. Perhaps that seminar on writing YA fiction at the Children’s Bookshop in Kilbirnie  on Sunday 24th of March is for you. In the meantime we bring you a spotlight on the wonderful Karen Healey. If you’re an aspiring writer yourself then I urge you to check out her website FAQ page which is full of useful hints and tips. And then read her books for inspiration!

    book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGuardian of the Dead is her debut novel and won a whole lot of awards. It’s easy to understand why because there is so much to love about this book! The heroine, Ellie Spencer, is just like any other teenager at her boarding school. She hangs out with her best friend Kevin, she obsesses over Mark, a cute and mysterious bad boy, and her biggest worry is her paper deadline. But then everything changes. The news headlines are all abuzz about a local string of serial killings that all share the same morbid trademark: the victims were discovered with their eyes missing. Soon, Ellie finds herself plunged into a haunting world of vengeful fairies, Maori mythology, romance, betrayal, and an epic battle for immortality. Throughout all of this Ellie remains one of the most calm and collected heroine’s we’ve ever encountered. She’s on a mission to save the world which drastically changes her life clearly, but it doesn’t derail it. Instead, Ellie keeps going, gets excited about going to university and majoring in Classics. She simply takes all that she’s learned from these life-changing events with her, because that’s what smart girls do. And we love her for it.

    book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Shattering introduces us to another fantastic heroine. Keri is still in shock from her older brother’s suicide when her former bff Janna suggests that perhaps it wasn’t suicide but murder. Sceptical but hopeful, Keri agrees to meet with her and Sione to talk about this possibility (apparently Janna’s older brother Schulyer’s suicide started a pattern of one male per year killing himself, the link being age and that they were in Summertown for New Year’s Eve). The three start to investigate and discover something’s Not Quite Right with the town, and some of the townspeople. While some of the reveals were obvious, there were enough surprises to keep us interested. What we loved in both these book is that Karen Healey addresses issues of race but it’s not the focus. Somehow along the way she gets us to consider the context of Maori myths. Did the colonials impact their written recording for example? Mostly though, The Shattering, is an incredibly engaging mystery with a New Zealand flavour.

    book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhen We Wake is set in Australia but we’ll forgive it because this book is, quite simply, stunning. As well as shifting in setting When We Wake falls into a different genre. Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027 – she’s happiest when playing the guitar, she’s falling in love for the first time, and she’s joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice. But on what should have been the best day of Tegan’s life, she dies–and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened. Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity – even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn’t all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?

    If you still don’t believe us then check out the book trailer here although you’ll have to look past the American accent. That handy link will take you to Karen Healey’s website, did we mention that you should check it out already? Yes, yes we did and we’ll do it some more because it’s that good.

    Hope you’re reading some New Zealand authors this month!

    R n R

  • Books, New Zealand, Rachel and Rebecca

    R ‘n’ R’s guide to (a few) New Zealand authors

    28.02.13 | Permalink | Comments Off on R ‘n’ R’s guide to (a few) New Zealand authors

    Hello! As of tomorrow, it will be (drum roll please) New Zealand Book Month! There’s heaps of cool events happening around Wellington and all over the country. Here in the Central Library we’re hosting a Three Bears Breakfast at 10.30am on Saturday the 9th of March to celebrate a new take on a favourite fairy tale. If that’s not your cup of tea then check out our guide to a few of our favourite New Zealand authors! In compiling this list we realized what an extraordinary range of genres and topics are covered by our homegrown authors. They’re also quite prolific and if you enjoy one, chances are you’ll find some more…

    We begin with the names you’ve probably heard:

    book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe magnificent and marvellous Margaret Mahy. My personal favourite novel of hers is The Tricksters which is about the classic Kiwi family Christmas at the beach. Harry (real name, Ariadne) Hamilton is seventeen years old and caught between her two older, more exciting (she feels) siblings and two much younger ones. Feeling alone in a large family she spends her time writing. This Christmas however, the family is joined by three fascinating but rather sinister brothers and Harry finds her stories and reality blurring together in an alarmingly complex way. This is one of my favourite summer reads and will be pulled out again this year.

    For more Mahy, check out Alchemy, (which won the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Award for best young adult novel), the post-apocalyptic adventure Maddigan’s Fantasia (re-released as Maddigan’s Quest) which also became a tv series and finally, and for slightly younger readers, the Cousin’s Quartet (also about large families, this time without the sinister component); The Good Fortunes Gang, A Fortunate Name, A Fortune Branches Out and Tangled Fortunes.

    book cover courtesy of SyndeticsKate de Goldi is far less prolific than Mahy but is also incredible. Her latest novel, The 10pm Question, has won a number of prestigious awards and with very good reason. It’s one of those books that is very difficult to put down, it’s hugely compelling. But at the same time, if I had cheated, if I had read the ending first, then the pleasure I got from reading it would have been destroyed. The 10pm Question introduces us to the eccentric but endearing family of Frankie Parsons. With every detail we’re given, there are more questions raised about Frankie’s world. Difficult questions that Frankie doesn’t want to think about but that he knows someone, the new girl Sydney, is going to ask him. The 10pm Question is an expert combination of poignant storytelling and subtle humour that gives the novel a broad appeal. According to GoodReads it “will touch everyone who has ever felt set apart.”

    book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAnd back to the prolific: Maurice Gee. You may have read Under The Mountain or the Land of O books when you were younger (which are still awesome when re-read by the way). If you enjoyed them then check out the Salt series which is set entirely in a fantasy universe where one group of citizens, Company, exploit everyone else. However, Hari – one of the exploited groups – has a secret gift: he can communicate with animals. With this and his own smarts he sets out to rescue his father from Deep Salt, the mysterious mines from which no one returns. With him is the beautiful Pearl, born into Company, she runs from a life of subservience as a married woman and has learned forbidden things from her mysteriously gifted maid Tealeaf.

    If you like Maurice Gee but not fantasy then check out In My Father’s Den and Crime Story which are decisively set in our world but are also for older readers.

    And now the slightly less well known:

    book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBernard Beckett has written in an extraordinarily wide range of genres. From the deeply philosophical August to the historically set Home Boys to the thriller Jolt to the comedic Malcolm and Juliet. The New Zealand Book Council praises Malcolm and Juliet for combining “quirky humour with a sophisticated literary and theatrical style elevating the story into something more than simply farce or satire. Cleverly and tightly plotted with strong dialogue reflecting the novel’s origins in a stage-play, this book challenges readers and keeps them guessing. Loose ends are tied up in an appropriately stylised, Shakespearean way.” Don’t let the reference to Shakespeare put you off, Malcolm and Juliet is very easy to read and my favourite of Beckett’s work. It’s funny and fast paced making it very easy to read. If you like this one then check out some of Beckett’s plays.

    book cover courtesy of SyndeticsJoanna Orwin’s latest book Sacrifice was a finalist in the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. The book follows Taka and Matu on a quest to find the kumara (called “kuma”) which has died out (along with all the other crops) in their post-apocalyptic world. It is these such details that set this story apart from your typical quest storyline, giving the book a distinctly New Zealand flavour. Owl is based on the Maori myth of Pouakai, a brutal man-eater bent on destruction. It’s about Tama the city kid, and Owl the country kid. They couldn’t be more different, until the discovery of some ancient Maori cave paintings releases the aforementioned monster and brings them together in order to defeat the creature and save themselves. In Out of Tune, a much earlier novel, the link to New Zealand is much less evident. Out of Tune is about Jaz, a teenage girl desperate to fit in with the cool kids at school and get her parents attention. As she spins out of control, the only person she feels she can confide in is her great-grandmother Gi-Gi. Like so many other New Zealand authors, Joanna Orwin explores several genres and by all accounts does so very well.

    book cover courtesy of SyndeticsV. M. Jones’ Juggling with Mandarins is a really sweet coming-of-age story about Pip (named because his mum’s favourite author is Charles Dickens) who is a boy who can’t seem to please his overly-competitive father, and learns that he must please himself instead. It is a story about finding the thing that you love, and knowing why you’re doing it. For Pip, that is rock-climbing, not soccer (as his father and brother pressure him into). Juggling is used as a challenge (real and metaphorical) to learn a new skill, to focus, and to stick with it for the right reasons. Pip’s final realization about the differences between himself and his father are profound. It’ll leave you emotional and wanting to know what happens next in which case there is the follow up Shooting the Moon.

    This is just a very small collection of some of our favourite authors. There are many, many more gems just waiting to be discovered and what better time than New Zealand Book Month! If you’re an aspiring author yourself then this month is an excellent opportunity to get tips and hints from other authors so check out that events page!

    Until next time,

    R n R

  • Books, Grimm, New

    New Books

    23.02.13 | Permalink | Comments Off on New Books

    Ketchup Clouds, Annabel Pitcher (293 pages) – Zoe has a terrible secret that she can’t share with anyone, but secrets need to be shared. She learns about a prisoner on death row in Texas, who would seem to be the ideal recipient of a letter from Zoe, confessing her secret. “These are the letters that she wrote” announces the inside cover of the book, which just makes you extremely curious, right?

    First sentence: Dear Mr S Harris, Ignore the blob of red in the top left corner.

    Creepy & Maud, Dianne Touchell (202 pages) – Creepy and Maud (not their real names) live next door to each other, indeed their bedroom windows are practically opposite. A perfect scenario for the romance of the century perhaps, but Creepy and Maud (as the names suggest) are both social misfits, for different reasons. Will love conquer all, we wonder? Goodreads.com puts it like so: “Creepy & Maud is a blackly funny and moving first novel that says; ‘You’re ok to be as screwed up as you think you are and you’re not alone in that.'” Nice.

    First sentence: My dad has trained our dog, Dobie Squires, to bite my mum.

    The Cup and the Crown, Diane Stanley (344 pages) – Handsome King Alaric asks Molly to go in search of one of her grandfather’s loving cups, which bind people together (we think emotionally rather than literally). This quest takes Molly and her friends to the hidden city of Harrowsgode, which – like Hotel California – is hard to leave once you’ve entered. If you’ve read The Silver Bowl, then you’ve probably met Molly.

    First sentence: The Great Hall was much as she remembered it: the tapestries, the massive iron candle stands, the enormous fireplace, the great gilt screen behind the dais.

    The Wrap-up List, Steven Arnston (236 pages) – Gabriela, out of the blue, receives a letter from Death announcing that she’s got a week to live. She’s shocked and unprepared, but it’s possible that Death has a weakness that, if exploited, could mean he’ll have to let her go.

    First sentence: Some people die from heart attacks, and some from falling off ladders.

    Colin Fischer, Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz (229 pages) – Colin Fischer is a freshman who has Aspergers Syndrome. He notices every little detail. So, when a gun goes off in the cafeteria, and everyone thinks it’s the school bully who is responsible, Colin turns detective, following the leads that don’t occur to others, even if the school bully is Colin’s especial tormentor.

    First sentence: Colin clutched his precious, dog-eared Notebook to his chest.

    A Girl Named Digit, Annabel Monaghan (187 pages) – Farrah “Digit” Higgins is a bit of a geek genius. This might mean being not so popular at high school, but it also means being extremely handy at unlocking ecoterrorist codes. The fact that she knows maths is not lost on John, the hot FBI guy. But the world of espionage is a serious place – is Digit up for the challenge? We think she probably is.

    First sentence: On the morning of my kidnapping, my mom’s makeup was perfect.

    Hostage Three, Nick Lake (368 pages) – Amy is on a luxury yacht with her family in the Indian Ocean – the Maldives, the Seychelles, Comoros… Somali pirates. When their yacht is over run by said pirates, the family is taken hostage, her father Hostage One… Amy Hostage Three. Just like that, their lives are tradeable commodities. A tense thriller!

    First sentence: We stand on the diving platform of our yacht, in the brutal sunlight.

    Into the River, Ted Dawe (New Zealand author, 279 pages) – Here’s the way the cover excellently puts it: “When Te Arepa Santos is dragged into the river by a giant eel, something happens that will change the course of his whole life. The boy who struggles to the bank is not the same one who plunged in, moments earlier. He has brushed against the spirit world, and there is a price to be paid; an utu to be exacted. Years later, far from the protection of whanau and ancestral land he finds new enemies. This time, with no-one to save him, there is a decision to be made.. he can wait on the bank, or leap forward into the river” .

    First sentence(s): There was a tap on the window. Te Arepa sat up.

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