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  • dystopia, Fantasy, New, New Zealand, Nicola

    New books

    14.11.17 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe book of Dust: volume one, Philip Pullman

    Malcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who notices everything but is not much noticed himself. And so perhaps it was inevitable that he would become a spy…Malcolm’s parents run an inn called the Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his daemon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue. He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust–and the spy it was intended for finds him . When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, he sees suspicious characters everywhere: the explorer Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a daemon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl–just a baby–named Lyra. Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. And Malcolm will brave any danger, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Three miles up the river Thames from the center of Oxford, some distance from where the great colleges of Jordan, Gabriel, Balliol, and town dozen others contended for mastery in the boat races, out where the city was only a collection of towers and spires in the distance over the misty levels of Port Meadow, there stood the Priory of Godstow, where the gentle nuns went about their holy business; and on the opposite bank from the priory there was an inn called The Trout.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsComing up for air, Miranda Kenneally

    Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat. All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships–she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team, and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic tryout, so Maggie feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool. No one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to sacrifice in the water to win at love? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: When I’m not in the pool, I’m counting the minutes until I can dive back in, so most of the time my bushy, light-brown hair is wet and reeks of chlorine. This is the story of my life. But Fridays nights are different because my friends and I have a tradition. We always meet for dinner at Jiffy Burger to talk about our lives. (okay, mostly our love lives).

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe captive twin, R.J. Francis

    While everyone else prepares for war, Elaina is on a divine mission to restore peace. She grew up believing she was an orphan, but Elaina now knows who and what she is, and she’s learning how to use her new powers over nature, life, and death to achieve her goals.

    Heavy snow is falling in Arra, and its army and royal court are hiding in caves from the Destaurian invaders. Elaina, her mentor Alessa, and Queen Alethea have journeyed northward to secure allies for a counterstrike. Meanwhile, Elaina’s love Prince Jaimin learns how to inspire his people, and Jaimin’s best friend and advisor Nastasha struggles with her feelings for him.

    Even if the counterstrike succeeds, peace is not assured. Ultimately, Elaina must travel far into a hostile land to find and heal the enemy king. And she will need the help of a family she never knew she had. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Dearest Jaimin,
    We’ve just sailed past a rock that Alessa says marks the border. They’ve let us come up on deck to watch the moon rise, but we’re to scramble below at the slightest hint of trouble. It’s a clear night here. All the mist is back towards Arra.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe last namsara, Kristen Ciccarelli

    In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness — and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer. These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari — a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl. Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend — a slave boy from her betrothed’s household –Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Asha lured the dragon with a story.
    It was an ancient story, older than the mountains at her back, and Asha had to dredge it up from where it lay deep and dormant inside her.
    She hated to do it. Telling such stories was forbidden, dangerous, even deadly.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFortissima, Sara Kingsley

    In Raven Araroa’s kingdom, firstborn royal daughters are destined to rule, the woman kings of Nadir. A thousand years before she was born, a malevolent regime decreed there would be no more woman kings, by ordering firstborn daughters to immediately be put to death. But the last daughter born to rule is still alive. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: When I hear the song of the redbird outside my window I’m not going to make it. Or maybe I can. If I hurry. I jump out of bed and swing out my window, legs first. I’ve got to move fast if I’m going to beat Tui to the other wise of the tree village.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSatellite, Nick Lake

    Leo has lived his entire life on Moon 2. Born on the space station along with a set of twins, he is anxious to finally visit Earth so he can meet his beloved grandfather in person and see the ranch where Grandpa lives. Leo is a bit of a space prodigy-his mom is a renowned astronaut and scientist, and Grandpa was among the elite crew that last visited the Moon. Leo, excited to bond with his mother, is disappointed with her calculated and distant professionalism. When Leo finally makes it to the ranch, Grandpa is everything the teen had hoped. Leo has a new dog waiting for him and his grandfather is eager for him to learn ranching skills. Meanwhile, the protagonist is frustrated that he can’t contact the twins and then finds a flyer indicating that outsiders are willing to help “space boy.” Leo isn’t sure what help he might need, but after an accident, the doctor notices his bone density is surprisingly low. When Grandpa discharges him from the hospital prematurely, the boy wonders what is really going on, and hints of conspiracy start to unfold. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: the sun is rising for 14th time today, firing the Saharan landmass like a match flame in the darkness. i am sitting in the cupola, watching the earth spin below me, desert rolling past the window of the Moon 2 space station, dunes like waves, sunlight flooding westward.


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

    New books

    08.11.17 | Permalink | Comment?

    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.


  • dystopia, Fantasy, New, Nicola, realistic fiction

    New books

    31.10.17 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIndigo Donut, Patrice Lawrence

    Seventeen-year-old Indigo has had a tough start in life, having grown up in the care system after her dad killed her mum. Bailey, also seventeen, lives with his parents in Hackney and spends all his time playing guitar or tending to his luscious ginger afro. When Indigo and Bailey meet at sixth form, serious sparks fly. But when Bailey becomes the target of a homeless man who seems to know more about Indigo than is normal, Bailey is forced to make a choice he should never have to make. A life-affirming story about falling in love and everyone’s need to belong. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: It was coming back again, like a film on a slow stream, except someone had hit the mute button. The silence made it worse- it meant everything else was turned up to full. There was the smell: old tea mugs and burnt toast and smeared takeaway boxes.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe stars beneath our feet, David Barclay Moore

    Unable to celebrate the holidays in the wake of his older brother’s death in a gang-related shooting, Lolly Rachpaul struggles to avoid being forced into a gang himself while constructing a fantastically creative LEGO city at the Harlem community center. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: What I couldn’t get out of my skull was the thought of their rough, grimy hands all over my clean sneaks. What I couldn’t get out of my heart was the joy-grabbing stone I felt there. Partly because of these two thugs trailing me now, but more because I knew Jermaine wouldn’t be here to protect my neck this time.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNothing, Annie Barrows

    Nothing ever happens to Charlotte and Frankie. Their lives are nothing like the lives of the girls they read about in their YA novels. They don’t have flowing red hair and hot romantic encounters never happen — let alone meeting a true soul mate. They just go to high school and live at home with their parents, who are pretty normal, all things considered. But when Charlotte decides to write down everything that happens during their sophomore year to prove that nothing happens and there is no plot or character development in real life, she’s surprised to find that being fifteen isn’t as boring as she thought. It’s weird, heartbreaking, silly, and complicated. And maybe, just perfect. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: “Nothing,” said Charlotte.
    “A blank book, you mean?” said Frankie. She stuffed her phone between the couch cushions and rolled over on her back.
    “Hater. We’re not that lame.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLandscape with invisible hand, M.T. Anderson

    When the vuvv first landed, it came as a surprise to aspiring artist Adam and the rest of planet Earth — but not necessarily an unwelcome one. Can it really be called an invasion when the vuvv generously offered free advanced technology and cures for every illness imaginable? As it turns out, yes. With his parents’ jobs replaced by alien tech and no money for food, clean water, or the vuvv’s miraculous medicine, Adam and his girlfriend, Chloe, have to get creative to survive. And since the vuvv crave anything they deem “classic” Earth culture (doo-wop music, still-life paintings of fruit, true love), recording 1950s-style dates for the vuvv to watch in a pay-per-minute format seems like a brilliant idea. But it’s hard for Adam and Chloe to sell true love when they hate each other more with every passing episode. Soon enough, Adam must decide how far he’s willing to go — and what he’s willing to sacrifice — to give the vuvv what they want. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Under the stars, a small town prepares for night. It is almost eleven o’clock. Down in the boxy houses, people are settling in for bed. Car headlights crawl through the tiny streets. The bright streetlamps on the town’s main drag illuminate empty parking. The businesses are closed for the day. The hills are dark.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFlying through clouds, Michelle Morgan

    It’s not easy being a teenage boy growing up in the tough neighbourhood of Glebe in the 1930s. It’s even harder when your dream is to become an aviator, your parents are dead against it, and your girlfriend’s father is the school principal. But Joe has even bigger challenges he must face and obstacles to overcome in order to achieve his dream. He has a plan and won’t let anyone stand in his way. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: The house is quiet – too quiet. I close the front door carefully, trying not to make any noise. It’s not so much that I’m late, as I shouldn’t have gone in the first place. I zigzag down the dark hall dodging the floorboards that creak. At the foot of the stairs, I toss up whether to go straight to bed or get something to eat. My hunger pains decide for me.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMidnight sun, Trish Cook

    Katie can’t leave her house during the day as she has a rare disease that makes sunlight deadly. But everything changes when one evening she meets Charlie and before the night is out, Kate is smitten. But she hasn’t told Charlie her secret…(Publisher summary)

    First lines: I have this recurring dream: I’m a little girl, sitting with my Mom, and she’s singing to me. We’re at the beach on an old blanket I still have tucked away in my closet. I hear the waves crashing as my mom’s voice rises and falls. I feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and the comfort of her arms around me.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRemember yesterday, Pintip Dunn

    Sixteen-year-old Jessa Stone is the most valuable citizen in Eden City. Her psychic abilities could lead to significant scientific discoveries–if only she’d let TechRA study her. But after they kidnapped and experimented on her as a child, cooperating with the scientists is the last thing Jessa would do. But when she discovers the past isn’t what she assumed, Jessa must join forces with budding scientist Tanner Callahan to rectify a fatal mistake made ten years ago. She’ll do anything to change the past and save her sister–even if it means aligning with the enemy she swore to defeat. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: My sister Callie didn’t kill herself so I could risk my future pulling stupid stunts. Yet here I am, hanging upside down over a cage of mice, while my best friend, Ryder Russell, anchors me with a rope and pulley as he squats in the air duct.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsVassa in the night, Sarah Porter

    When Vassa’s stepsister sends her out to buy lightbulbs in the middle of the night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters–and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair…(Publisher summary)

    First lines: When Night looked down, it saw its own eyes staring back at it. Two black eyes, both full of stars. At first Night ignored them. Probably the strange gaze was its own reflection in a puddle, or maybe in a mirror left shattered in the street. Then it noticed something that made it curious: those eyes were full of stars, but the constellations inside them were unfamiliar.


  • Books, Fantasy, Mysteries, Nicola, Real Problems, Sci Fi

    New books

    28.09.17 | Permalink | Comment?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLittle and lion, Brandy Colbert

    Suzette returns home to Los Angeles from boarding school and grapples with her bisexual identity when she and her stepbrother Lionel fall in love with the same girl. As Lionel’s bipolar disorder begins to spin out of control, it forces Suzette to confront her own demons. Can she save Lionel from himself– and will he trust her enough to do so? (Publisher summary)

    First lines: It’s bizarre to be so nervous about seeing the person who knows me best, but the past year hasn’t been so kind to Lionel and me. I’m standing outside LAX on a sun-soaked afternoon in early June when my brother’s navy-blue sedan screeches to a halt a few feet away. Part of me doesn’t mind that he’s thirty minutes late, because I needed time to get used to the idea of being back home. But now he’s here and my heart is thumping like it’s going to jump out of my mouth and there’s nowhere to go.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGenuine fraud, e. lockhart

    Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat. Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.A bad romance, or maybe three. Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains. A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her. A girl who refuses to be the person she once was. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: It was a bloody great hotel. The minibar in Jule’s room stocked potato chips and four different chocolate bars. The bathtub had bubble jets. There was an endless supply of fat towels and liquid gardenia soap. In the lobby, an elderly gentleman played Gershwin on a grand piano at four each afternoon. You could get hot clay skin treatments, if you didn’t mind strangers touching you. Jule’s skin smelled like chlorine all day.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThese things I’ve done, Rebecca Phillips

    Before: Dara and Aubrey have been inseparable since they became best friends in sixth grade. Dara is the fearless one, Aubrey the prodigy, yet despite their differences they support each other unconditionally. However, as they begin their sophomore year of high school, cracks in their friendship begin to form, testing the bond they always thought was unbreakable.
    After: It’s been fifteen months since the accident that killed Aubrey, and not a day goes by that Dara isn’t racked with guilt over her role in her best friend’s death. Now, after spending a year away from home in order to escape the constant reminders of what happened, Dara is back at her old high school to start her senior year. Dara thought the worst thing about coming home would be confronting the memories of Aubrey that relentlessly haunt her, but she soon realizes it’s not half as difficult as seeing Ethan, Aubrey’s brother, every day. Not just because he’s a walking reminder of what she did, but because the more her feelings for him change, the more she knows she’s betraying her best friend one final time. (Publisher information)

    First lines: I am a statue.
    “Dara.” My mother touches my arm. Gently, of course, the same way she’s been doing pretty much everything since I got back last week. “Mr. Lind asked you a question.”
    I shift my gaze to Mr. Lind, Hadfield High’s principal and yet another addition to the long line of concerned adults in my life.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsShimmer and burn, Mary Taranta

    Faris grew up fighting to survive in the slums of Brindaigel while caring for her sister, Cadence. But when Cadence is caught trying to flee the kingdom and is sold into slavery, Faris reluctantly agrees to a lucrative scheme to buy her back, inadvertently binding herself to the power-hungry Princess Bryn, who wants to steal her father’s throne.Now Faris must smuggle stolen magic into neighboring Avinea to incite its prince to alliance–magic that addicts in the war-torn country can sense in her blood and can steal with a touch. She and Bryn turn to a handsome traveling magician, North, who offers protection from Avinea’s many dangers, but he cannot save Faris from Bryn’s cruelty as she leverages Cadence’s freedom to force Faris to do anything–or kill anyone–she asks. Yet Faris is as fierce as Bryn, and even as she finds herself falling for North, she develops schemes of her own.With the fate of kingdoms at stake, Faris, Bryn, and North maneuver through a dangerous game of magical and political machinations, where lives can be destroyed–or saved–with only a touch. (Publisher of summary)

    First lines: My mother tried to kill me the night the guards arrested her. Only six years old at the time, I remember her earnest face bent over mine, a hand laced through my own. She smelled strange that night, like damp stone and cold earth, and wondered where she’d been to smell so unfamiliar.
    “What are you doing?” I finally asked.
    “Saying good-bye,” she whispered back. “I love you, Faris. Remember that.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGirls made of snow and glass, Melissa Bashardoust

    At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone–has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother. Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do–and who to be–to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all. Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything–unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Lynet first saw her in the courtyard. Well, the girl was in the courtyard. Lynet was in a tree. The juniper tree in the central courtyard was one of the few trees still in leaf at Whitespring, and so it was one of the best hiding place was especially helpful on afternoons like these, when she had decided to skip her lessons without telling her tutors. The young woman who walked briskly across the courtyard did not pass directly under the tree, so she didn’t notice Lynet watching.

    In the dark spaces, Cally Black

    Tamara has been living on a star freighter in deep space, and her kidnappers are terrifying Crowpeople – the only aliens humanity has ever encountered. No-one has ever survived a Crowpeople attack, until now – and Tamara must use everything she has just to stay alive. But survival always comes at a price, and there’s no handbook for this hostage crisis. As Tamara comes to know the Crowpeople’s way of life, and the threats they face from humanity’s exploration into deep space, she realises she has an impossible choice to make.

    First lines: Gub’s silent giggles escape in little puffs. Tiny hands wrap around my neck too tight, his dinosaur toy digging into my skin. Gub’s legs cling at my hips as mama-monkey him up and down the cabin on my back. I keep his feet tucked in with my hands so we can dance without bumping the walls, never mind how hard that is in a cabin this small.

    Gap year in ghost town, Michael Pryor

    The Marin family are outcasts of the ghost hunting world. They run a to-man operation in inner city Melbourne. Anton has the Ghost-sight, but his father does not. Rani Cross is supremely skilled in hand-to-hand combat, with enhanced speed and strength thanks to her magical initiation into the Company of the Righteous. When it comes to ghost-hunting methodology, Anton and Rani don’t see eye to eye – Anton likes to ‘ease their passage’ to the next world, while Rani’s all about the slashing. But Melbourne is under threat; with a massive spike in violent ghost manifestations, Anton and Rani must find a way to work together to keep supernatural forces at bay. And what with all the blindingly terrifying brushes with death, Anton must decide if he really wants in on the whole ghost hunting biz anyway. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Let’s get this straight-ghosts are everywhere. I can see them. You can’t. And, see them or not, they’re dangerous. This is why my family has hunted ghosts for hundreds of years: to protect people like you. And don’t forget that this whole thing is abso-freaking-lutely serious, so whatever you do, don’t mention any of those movies. Or sing the song. Especially don’t ask me who you gonna call.


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

    New books

    30.08.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    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.


  • 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.


  • Comics, dystopia, Environment, GLBT, Graphic Novels, Great Reads, Horror, Nicola, Sci Fi

    Summer reading: Best stories about survival

    08.12.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on Summer reading: Best stories about survival

    Whether in the face of the elements, climate change, mysterious conspiracies or zombies…here are my top picks for books about surviving (or not) against the odds. These aren’t easy reads, but they’re testament to the human spirit in challenging and overcoming.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHatchet, Gary Paulsen

    This is a classic and for good reason. After a plane crash, Brian finds himself alone with only the titular hatchet to help him survive in the middle of the wilderness. I haven’t read it for a while and I really appreciated it on the re-read. There are few other characters that appear but the majority of the book is Brian vs. nature. “One flip of the coin”, Brian thinks at one point, is all that stands between him and disaster. My heart was in my mouth until the very end.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNot a drop to drink, Mindy McGinnis

    “Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.” Lynn is lucky; she lives by a pond in a world where there is little water. She will defend it, even if it means killing to do so. But a stranger comes Lynn has to make some hard decisions about what to do about her water. Often these survival novels deal with people who are lacking something – this is one of the few that deals with the choices an individual has to make when they have control of the resources; when it’s not a question of your survival, but other people’s.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA drop of night, Stefan Bachmann

    Anouk is contacted by a mysterious corporation, asking her to apply for a spot on a team of “talented young people” to explore an archaeological site, unlike any other. This one is an underground palace dating from the French Revolution somewhere near Paris. Of course, not everything is what it seems. I really enjoyed this book; it’s an intriguing premise and the book’s pace doesn’t let up.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe girl who owned a city, by O.T. Nelson ; adapted by Dan Jolley ; illustrated by Joëlle Jones

    This is one of my favourite graphic novels ever. A plague has killed off everyone over the age of 12, leaving the children in a world where their main threat is each other. Is it survival of the fittest or is there an option to create a better world?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBleeding earth, Kaitlin Ward

    Lea and her girlfriend Aracely have enough to deal with in their lives, hiding their relationship from Aracely’s father. Then the earth starts bleeding, literally, and their struggle for survival begins. Quite apart from the representation of GLBTQ characters in genre fiction (which is great!), this a heartrending story of realising what the people you love are capable of when their lives are on the line.


  • dystopia, Fantasy, Horror, New, Nicola, Real Life, Sci Fi, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    New books

    10.03.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCurio, Evangeline Denmark

    Grey Haward has always detested the Chemists, the magicians-come-scientists who rule her small western town. But she has always followed the rules, taking the potion the Chemists ration out that helps the town’s people survive. A potion that Grey suspects she—like her grandfather and father—may not actually need. By working at her grandfather’s repair shop, sorting the small gears and dusting the curio cabinet inside, Grey has tried to stay unnoticed—or as unnoticed as a tall, strong girl can in a town of diminutive, underdeveloped citizens. Then her best friend, Whit, is caught by the Chemists’ enforcers after trying to protect Grey one night, and after seeing the extent of his punishment, suddenly taking risks seems the only decision she can make. But with the risk comes the reality that the Chemists know her family’s secret, and the Chemists soon decide to use her for their own purposes. Panicked, Grey retreats to the only safe place she knows—her grandfather’s shop. There, however, a larger secret confronts her when her touch unlocks the old curio cabinet in the corner and reveals a world where porcelain and clockwork people are real. There, she could find the key that may save Whit’s life and also end the Chemists’ dark rule forever. (Goodreads).

    First lines: The chemist came just before closing. Granddad shot Grey a warning look as he hurried to the front of the store. Time to make herself unnoticeable. As if that were possible.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe love that split the world, Emily Henry

    Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.
    Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.
    That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau. (Goodreads).

    First lines: The night before my last official day of high school, she comes back. I feel her in my room before I even open my eyes. That’s how it’s always been.

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

    London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap? (Goodreads).

    First lines: In the sun-warmed quiet of her uncle’s library, Lady Helen Wrexhall spread the skirt of her muslin morning gown and sank into the deep curtsey required for Royal presentation: back held straight, head slightly bowed, left knee bent so low it nearly touched the floor. And, of course, face set into a serene Court smile.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRevenge and the wild, Michelle Modesto

    The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler. Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways. But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.(Goodreads)

    First lines: Westie had left the valley at dawn to head home. The sun had risen soon after and followed her throughout the day. By four it just felt spiteful. Though her skin was burned and blistered, she preferred the sun over darkness during her travels.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsShallow graves, Kali Wallace

    Breezy remembers leaving the party: the warm, wet grass under her feet, her cheek still stinging from a slap to her face. But when she wakes up, scared and pulling dirt from her mouth, a year has passed and she can’t explain how. Nor can she explain the man lying at her grave, dead from her touch, or why her heartbeat comes and goes. She doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past. Haunted by happy memories from her life, Breezy sets out to find answers in the gritty, threatening world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight, and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she discovers is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.(Goodreads)

    First lines: The first time I killed a man it was an accident. He didn’t have any identification on him. He was white, probably in his mid-fifties. Average build, average height. Smoker. No tattoos or distinguishing scars. His fingerprints matched those found at a thirty-year-old crime scene in North Dakota: a family murder, both parents, son and two daughters, all killed one night at the dinner table. Nobody was ever arrested.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThese vicious masks, Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

    England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.(Goodreads)

    First lines: Death. This carriage was taking me straight to my death.
    “Rose,” I said, turning to my younger sister. “In your esteemed medical opinion, is it possible to die of ennui?”
    “I…can’t recall a documented case.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe sister pact, Stacie Ramey

    Allie is devastated when her older sister commits suicide – and not just because she misses her. Allie feels betrayed. The two made a pact that they’d always be together, in life, and in death, but Leah broke her promise and Allie needs to know why. Her parents hover. Her friends try to support her. And Nick, sweet Nick, keeps calling and flirting. Their sympathy only intensifies her grief. But the more she clings to Leah, the more secrets surface. Allie’s not sure which is more distressing: discovering the truth behind her sister’s death or facing her new reality without her.(Goodreads)

    First lines: The last thing we did as a family was bury my sister. That makes this meeting even harder to face. I don’t have to be a psychic to know what everyone thinks when they look at me. Why did she do it? Why didn’t I? And the thing is, after all that happened, I’m not sure I know to the answer to either.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA madness so discreet, Mindy McGinnis

    Grace Mae knows madness. She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum. When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.(Goodreads)

    First lines: They all had their terrors. The new girl believed that spiders lived in her veins. Her screams sliced through the darkness, passing through the thin walls of Grace’s cell and filling her brain with another’s misery to add to the pressures of her own.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMy sister Rosa, Justine Larbalestier

    Che Taylor has four items on his list: 1. He wants to spar, not just train in the boxing gym. 2. He wants a girlfriend. 3. He wants to go home. 4. He wants to keep Rosa under control. Che’s little sister Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and so good at deception that Che’s convinced she must be a psychopath. She hasn’t hurt anyone yet, but he’s certain it’s just a matter of time. And when their parents move them to New York City, Che longs to return to Sydney and his three best friends. But his first duty is to his sister Rosa, who is playing increasingly complex and disturbing games. Can he protect Rosa from the world – and the world from Rosa?(Goodreads)

    First lines: Rosa is pushing all the buttons. She makes the seat go backwards and forwards, the leg rest up and down, in and out, lights on, lights off TV screen up, TV screen down. We’ve never been in business class. Rosa has to explore everything and figure out what she’s allowed to do and how to get away with what she isn’t.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe red cardigan, J.C Burke

    Sometimes Evie sees things that other people don’t. She’s wary of the other kids at school, of what they might see in her drawings, or of what they would say if they knew she was different. So most of the time she blocks it all out and pretends she’s just like everyone else. But a missing girl is trying to tell Evie something. A girl who is very persistent, who will not give up until she is found. A girl who once wore the red cardigan Evie now wears. And Evie can no longer ignore the question that needs an answer . Who is the girl in the red cardigan?(Goodreads)

    First lines: She searches for the smell. She finds it- the sweet perfume of a Murraya bush in summer. It’s the only memory of her grandfather and it’s still exactly as it was. She is sitting on his knee in an old green kitchen. A loose thread hangs from his singlet. Winding it around her finger, she listens to him speak.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsInto the dim, Janet B. Taylor

    When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.(Goodreads)

    First lines: Everyone in town knew the coffin was empty. I think that’s what packed the pews – the pure curiosity of the thing. They didn’t come for love or admiration. Nope. They came for the show. They came because it was big news. A juicy scandal that jolted our small southern town like spikes of summer lightning.


  • Comics, DVDs, Sci Fi, William

    Have you seen the latest Star Wars footage?

    26.11.15 | Permalink | Comments Off on Have you seen the latest Star Wars footage?

    The Official trailer was released six weeks ago, but it looks like there has now been a new “TV Spot” (a fancy word for an ad) with some brand new footage in it.

     

    If you are someone like me who flicks through our Star Wars encyclopaedias, and hasn’t watched the movies in years, we have them all if you need to catch up.

    Or maybe you have already seen those 100 times, and want to delve deeper into the Star Wars galaxy? We have plenty of comic books detailing all sorts of backstories and side stories.

    I think that Star Wars : Darth Vader and the ghost prison by Blackman and Alessio sounds great: “Darth Vader and a crippled young Lieutenant must uncover secrets from Anakin Skywalker’s Jedi past in order to save the Emperor and defeat a coup from within the Empire’s own ranks.” (Syndetics)

    Am I missing any other great Star Wars resources? Let us know if there is something we have (or should have) that you really enjoy!


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