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Webcomic collections

Webcomics are one of the best (although this may be controversial) things to come out of the internet. Creators has a direct path to new and diverse audiences, without meddling from publishers and often a better understanding of the current social climate than more mainstream titles. It seems that there’s a webcomic for any interest! WCL has to be a bit more…selective in the webcomic collections we acquire, but if the thought of clicking through hundreds of pages doesn’t appeal, we’ve got a decent selection.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHomestuck has been called the internet’s “Ulysses.” Possibly due to its length, possibly due to its devoted fanbase and its equally vocal detractors. It’s also incredibly hard to describe its plot. It’s also very hard to translate to a book format, as the author notes but he helpfully provides links to the actual pages where the plot is conveyed in gifs and flash animations. And it was created in MS paint, which is quite something. You’ll never read anything like it.

“A young man stands in his bedroom. It just so happens that today, the 13th of April, 2009, is this young man’s birthday. Though it was thirteen years ago he was given life, it is only today he will be given a name! What will the name of this young man be?”
-Homestuck, first lines.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGirl Genius has been running since 2005. It’s still going, and updates on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. That’s a lot of material. It is based around the adventures of Agatha Clay, who discovers that she has an ancient and mysterious birthright, as well as having the “spark” – a strange group of personality traits, which predisposes the person to acts of mad…genius. It’s one of the preeminent Steampunk works, although the author prefers the term “gaslamp fantasy.” At any rate, it’s a great webcomic but works so well in a printed format – it’s much easier to catch up! Here’s book one.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsYou probably never thought of seeking out a comic written by a five year old and professionally illustrated and you never thought you’d need it in your life but Axe Cop is really something else. It’s silly, anarchic, and really nice to look at; the comedy webcomic holy trinity. It’s really funny as well. The plot is basically the title. An axe-wielding cop fights crime, which consists of whatever a five year old deems as criminal (hint: dinosaurs are heavily involved). As a side note, the writer and the illustrator are brothers, which is adorable.

Other webcomics we have in printed format include Gunnerkrigg Court and Hark: a vagrant.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWindwitch, Susan Dennard

After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.
When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first? After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands. (Goodreads)

First lines: Blood on the floor. It weeps sideways, pooling in a moonbeam before the gentle roll of the ship sends it trickling back the other way. The prince releases the sword’s hilt and rocks back two steps, heart banging against his ribs. He’s never taken another man’s life before. He wonders if this will change him. The blade stays upright, lodged in the wood, even as the young man swekered beneath it tries to stand.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRebel Magisters, Shanna Swendson

The Rebel Mechanics aren’t the only group plotting revolution against the magical British Empire. There are rebel magisters, as well, and Verity Newton and her magister employer, Lord Henry, know that the only way for the revolution to succeed is if both groups work together. A diplomatic mission seems like the perfect opportunity for them to meet with rebels in other colonies and gather support—right under the governor’s nose. From drawing rooms, ballrooms, and the harbor in Boston to the streets of Charleston, Verity and Henry find themselves up against stubborn factions of both magisters and Mechanics and increasingly aware that they can only really count on each other as their relationship deepens. It may take a real crisis to unite the rebel movements and rally them to the cause—but could such a crisis also tear them apart? (Goodreads)

First lines: The Rebel Mechanics made a daring last minute escape from a magister sweep, safely removing all of their machines from the city, one step ahead of the redcoats. Acting on a tip from a well-placed source, the rebels vanished as if by magic, leaving the authorities baffled.

Book cover courtesy of Syndetics…And a happy new year? Holly Bourne

Evie, Amber and Lottie are having a new year party to remember. For the first time since leaving college, all three girls are back together. It’s time for fun and flirting, snogs and shots.
(And not tears or tantrums or terrible secrets) Because everything’s going great for these girls – Spinster Club for ever! Right? (Goodreads)

First lines: “I can’t believe I’m actually going to have someone to kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve.” I took two ornamental vases off the mantlepiece, ready to hide them in the airing cupboard. All the breakables were going into lockdown. Kyle made his aww baby face and wrapped his arms around my waist. I had to put the vases down on the carpet.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCrongton knights, Alex Wheatle

Living on the South Crongton council estate has its worries – and life for McKay has been even tougher since his mum died. His dad has been working all hours to keep the bailiffs from their door.
His brother is always out riding the streets at night, tempting trouble. And now, having strayed off his turf on a ‘heroic’ (if misguided) mission to help out a girl, McKay finds himself facing a friend’s crazy ex-boyfriend, some power-tripping hood-rats and a notoriously violent gangster with a vendetta which hits too close to home. Poor McKay. He never asked for trouble . . . But during one madcap night of adventure and danger, he will find out who his true friends are and what it means to stick with your family. (Goodreads)

First lines: My mum told me I was named after her Scottish granddad, Danny McKay. Apparently, once a year, he served food to the best golfers in the world in some top-ranking hotel by the sea. I don’t love gold but Mum was proper proud of her grandpops. She wanted to keep his surname so I was branded McKay Medgar Tambo. It’s not the coolest of the names but it smacks the insults of the Gateau Kid, Slop Bag and Dumpling-Butt which I had to put up with in primary school.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCarve the mark, Veronica Roth

On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?
Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows. Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another. (Goodreads)

First lines: Hushflowers always bloomed when the night was longest. The whole city celebrated the day the bundle of petals peeled apart into rich red-partly because hushflowers were their nation’s lifeblood, and partly, Akos thought, to keep them all from going crazy in the cold.

Upcoming Fiction

This week we’ve ordered a new novel by the ever-popular Jessica Shirvington, a gothic-horror sequel, some steampunk (!), and a collection of Magnus Bane stories (among many more!).

Corruption, Jessica Shirvington (November/December) – the sequel to Disruption. “Two years ago, Maggie Stevens began the hunt. Four weeks ago, Maggie’s world fell apart, when she finally found what she’d been looking for. And when Quentin, who had blindly trusted her, unravelled her web of lies. Now, Maggie lives in the dark. But she’s not about to stay there. Not when she still has to bring M-Corp down. Not when there is still a chance she could win him back. In the exhilarating conclusion to Disruption, Maggie must do whatever it takes to show the world the truth. And the price for her quest?” (goodreads.com)

Between the Spark and the Burn, April Genevieve Tucholke – the sequel to the quite-spooky Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. “The crooked-smiling liar River West Redding, who drove into Violet’s life one summer day and shook her world to pieces, is gone. Violet and Neely, River’s other brother, are left to worry – until they catch a two a.m. radio program about strange events in a distant mountain town. They take off in search of River but are always a step behind, finding instead frenzied towns, witch hunts, and a wind-whipped island with the thrum of something strange and dangerous just under the surface. It isn’t long before Violet begins to wonder if Neely, the one Redding brother she thought trustworthy, has been hiding a secret of his own..” (goodreads.com)

Waistcoats and Weaponry, Gail Carriger (November) – the third in the Finishing School series (steampunk!). “Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style – with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what – or who – they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.” (goodreads.com)

The Bane Chronicles, Cassandra Clare – more of Magnus Bane! This is the collection of stories about everyone’s favourite cat-eyed warlock that have previously been published as ebooks (we have some of them available on Overdrive). Cassandra Clare says: “Ever wondered about the enigmatic, mysterious warlock Magnus Bane? The only character to appear in every Shadowhunter book, Magnus has a past even more shrouded in mystery than his present. I’ve teamed up with acclaimed YA writers Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan to create the Bane Chronicles, the back (and front) story of Magnus told in ten linked tales.” (goodreads.com)

New Books

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Sin-Eater’s Confession, Lisa J. Bick (287 pages) – People in Merit, Wisconsin, always said Jimmy was … you know. But people said all sorts of stupid stuff. Nobody really knew anything. Nobody really knew Jimmy. I guess you could say I knew Jimmy as well as anyone (which was not very well). I knew what scared him. And I knew he had dreams—even if I didn’t understand them. Even if he nearly ruined my life to pursue them. Jimmy’s dead now, and I definitely know that better than anyone. I know about blood and bone and how bodies decompose. I know about shadows and stones and hatchets. I know what a last cry for help sounds like. I know what blood looks like on my own hands. What I don’t know is if I can trust my own eyes. I don’t know who threw the stone. Who swung the hatchet? Who are the shadows? What do the living owe the dead?

First lines: “Call me Ben. Okay, it’s not Ishmael or anything, but the idea’s the same. Wicked and repentant, that’s me.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHalf Lives, Sara Grant (334 pages) – Present day: Icie is a typical high school teenager – until disaster strikes and her parents send her to find shelter inside a mountain near Las Vegas. The future: Beckett lives on The Mountain – a sacred place devoted to the Great I AM. He must soon become the leader of his people. But Beckett is forced to break one of the sacred laws, and when the Great I AM does not strike him down, Beckett finds himself starting to question his beliefs. As Beckett investigates The Mountain’s history, Icie’s story is revealed – along with the terrifying truth of what lies at the heart of The Mountain.

First lines: “If you’d asked me that day whether I could lie, cheat, steal and kill, I would have said ab-so-lutely not.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNine Days, Fred Hiatt (239 pages) – Set against the bustling backdrop of Hong Kong, Vietnam, and the border of China, this heart-pounding adventure takes place as two teens, an American teenage boy and his friend, a Chinese girl from his Washington, DC-area high school, must find her father who has been kidnapped—and they only have nine days.

First lines: “Already the summer heat is defeating the wheezing air-conditioning unit in a third-floor bedroom window of an apartment in Bethesda, Maryland. A fifteen-year-old girl in a T-shirt and shorts kicks off her sheet, rises and slips into the chair in front of her computer.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFar Far Away, Tom McNeal (369 pages) – Jeremy Johnson once admitted he’s able to hear voices, and the townspeople of Never Better have treated him like an outsider since. After his mother left, his father became a recluse, and it’s been up to Jeremy to support the family. But it hasn’t been up to Jeremy alone. The truth is, Jeremy can hear voices. Or, specifically, one voice: the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of the infamous writing duo, The Brothers Grimm. Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next. But when the provocative local girl Ginger Boultinghouse takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a grim chain of events is put into motion. And as anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings.

First lines: “What follows is the strange and fateful tale of a boy, a girl, and a ghost. The boy possessed uncommon qualities, the girl was winsome and daring, and the ancient ghost … well, let it only be said that his intentions were good.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Rithmatist, Brandon Sanderson (370 pages) – More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings — merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing — kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery — one that will change Rithmatics — and their world — forever.

First lines: “Lilly’s lamp blew out as she bolted down the hallway. She threw the lamp aside, splashing oil across the painted wall and fine rug. The liquid glistened in the moonlight. The house was empty. Silent, save for her panicked breathing. She’d given up on screaming. Nobody seemed to hear.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Murmurings, Carly Anne West (370 pages) – Everyone thinks Sophie’s sister, Nell, went crazy. After all, she heard strange voices that drove her to commit suicide. But Sophie doesn’t believe that Nell would take her own life, and she’s convinced that Nell’s doctor knows more than he’s letting on. As Sophie starts to piece together Nell’s last days, every lead ends in a web of lies. And the deeper Sophie digs, the more danger she’s in—because now she’s hearing the same haunting whispers. Sophie’s starting to think she’s going crazy too. Or worse, that maybe she’s not.

First lines: “I’m supposed to wonder why Gregor Samsa is a cockroach. Not how. Why. That’s the way Mrs. Dodd says we need to think if we’re going to analyze The Metamorphosis.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPortraits of Celina, Sue Whiting (349 pages) – Make him pay, Bayley. Make him pay. It’s as if the wooden chest is luring me, urging me to open it – daring me almost. Open me up. Look inside. Come on, just for a second; it won’t hurt. Celina O’Malley was sixteen years old when she disappeared. Now, almost forty years later, Bayley is sleeping in Celina’s room, wearing her clothes, hearing her voice. What does Celina want? And who will suffer because of it? A ghost story. A love story. A story of revenge.

First lines: “The day I turned sixteen we buried my father. No one realised what day it was. Not even me. We were too stunned. How could someone you love die – just like that?”

New Books

with extraordinary protagonists:

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSiege and Storm, Leigh Bardugo (432 pages) – Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all the while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long. The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the evil there but as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and further away from Mal.

First lines: “The boy and the girl had once dreamed of ships, long ago, before they’d ever seen the True Sea. They were the vessels of stories, magic ships with masts hewn from sweet cedar and sails spun by maidens from thread of pure gold.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPulse, Patrick Carman (371 pages) – In the year 2051, most Americans live in one of two gigantic, modern States. Faith Daniels discovers that she can move objects with her mind. This telekinetic ability is called a “pulse,” and her mysterious classmate Dylan has the same talent. They are part of a dwindling group that lives between the states and whose unusual abilities could help when the inevitable war begins.

First lines: “Faith Daniels was sleeping soundly when several things in her room began to move. She was a tall girl with long limbs that extended beyond the bed into the cool air of her bedroom.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSpirit and Dust, Rosemary Clement-Moore (384 pages) – Daisy Goodnight can speak to the dead. It’s not the result of a head injury or some near-death experience. She was just born that way. And she’s really good at it. Good enough to help the police solve the occasional homicide. But helping the local authorities clear cold cases is one thing. Being whisked out of chemistry class by the FBI and flown to the scene of a murder/kidnapping in Minnesota? That’s the real deal. Before the promotion can go to Daisy’s head, she’s up to her neck in trouble. The spirits are talking, and they’re terrified. There’s a real living girl in danger. And when Daisy is kidnapped by a crime boss with no scruples about using magic—and Daisy—to get what he wants, it looks like hers is the next soul on the line.

First lines: “The local cops kept staring at me. I couldn’t decide if it was the plaid miniskirt in subarctic temperatures, or the fact they’d never seen anyone talk to the dead before.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Creative Fire, Brenda Cooper, (348 pages) – Ruby Martin expects to spend her days repairing robots while avoiding the dangerous peace-keeping forces that roam the corridors of the generation ship The Creative Fire. The social structure of the ship is rigidly divided, with Ruby and her friends on the bottom. Then a ship-wide accident gives Ruby a chance to fight for the freedom she craves. Her enemies are numerous, well armed, and knowledgeable. Her weapons are a powerful voice, a quick mind, and a deep stubbornness, If Ruby can’t transform from a rebellious teen to the leader of a revolution, she and all her friends will lose all say in their future.

First lines: “Four men in red uniforms surrounded three men wearing dirty gray work clothes. The reds muscled the less fortunate men down an orange hallway. Uneven light showed the scars where bots and cargo carts had bumped the metal walls and two places where graffiti had been painted over.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStormbringers, Philippa Gregory (279 pages) – Luca Vero is a member of the secret Order of Darkness, tasked with searching out and reporting signs of the end of the world. With him are his loyal friend and servant Freize, and his clerk, Brother Peter, as well as the Lady Iolde and her mysterious servant-companion Ishraq. Luca and Isolde grow more and more attracted to each other as they continue their journey to unravel the mysteries throughout Christendom. But their travels are delayed by the uprising of an intense religious crusade that threatens the balance of the civilized world. Death lingers in the air as war ravages on, but this religious conflict is nothing compared to the arrival of an intense and deadly storm.

First lines: “The five travellers on horseback on the rutted track to Pescara made everyone turn and stare: the woman who brought them weak ale in a roadside inn; the peasant building a hewn stone wall by the side of the road; the boy trailing home from school to work in his father’s vineyard.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSong of the Slums, Richard Harland (370 pages) – What if they’d invented rock ‘n roll way back in the 19th century? What if it could take over the world and change the course of history? In the slums of Brummingham, the outcast gangs are making a new kind of music, with pounding rhythms and wild guitars. Astor Vance has been trained in refined classical music. But when her life plummets from riches to rags, the only way she can survive is to play the music the slum gangs want.

First lines: “‘Come on down!’ called Verrol. There was an urgency in his voice that Astor hadn’t heard before. She joined the musicians down below, but when the young buzz guitarist offered her his instrument, she shook her head. ‘I can’t play that.'”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsImposter, Jill Hathaway (261 pages) – This is the follow up to Slide. Vee Bell is now more or less in control of her gift (or curse) of “sliding”—slipping into the mind of another person and experiencing life, briefly, through his or her eyes. But then Vee starts coming to in weird place, not knowing what she’s done. Someone is getting insider her head and messing with her mind, literally. As Vee finds herself in stranger and stranger situations with no memory of getting there, she begins to suspect that someone else she knows has the ability to slide. And this “slider” is using Vee to exact revenge.

First lines: “The dream always goes like this: I’m in the passenger seat of a car, racing down the interstate. The smell of gasoline stings my nostrils. My lips are moving, and sound is coming out, but my words don’t make sense. And I know what’s going to happen, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTouched, Corrine Jackson (341 pages) – You’d think being able to heal people with a touch would be a blessing. But to 17-year-old Remy O’Malley, it’s more like a curse. Every injury Remy heals becomes her own. She lives in fear of the day she’s forced to mend a wound from which she can’t recover – and she’s desperate to keep her ability a secret.

First lines: “Okay. This is going to hurt like hell. Taking a deep breath, I stepped into the room, my movements piercing the alcoholic haze insulating Dean.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsKeeper of the Black Stones, PT McHugh (366 pages) – Jason Evans, a shy, introverted high school freshman, thought that his mundane life was all there was – girls, golf, physics, and the occasional bully. Until he found out about the secrets his grandfather had been keeping from him … a set of stones that allowed him to jump through time … a maniacal madman who used the stones to shape history to his liking … and Jason’s own role as one of the few people in the world who could stop that man.

First lines: “The old soldier’s horse thundered across the plain toward the small village of Abergavenny, and death rode with him. The people of the village didn’t deserve to die, but within the next several hours, many of them would.”

book cover courtesy of Syndetics17 & Gone, Nova Ren Suma (353 pages) – Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common – they are seventeen and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these visions, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? Is she next? Through Lauren’s search for clues, things begin to unravel, and when a brush with death lands Lauren in hospital, a shocking truth changes everything.

First lines: “Girls go missing every day. They slip out bedroom windows and into strange cars. They leave good-bye notes or they don’t get a chance to tell anyone… Girls make plans to go, but they also vanish without meaning to, and sometimes people confuse one for the other.”

New Books

the edition of book titles beginning with ‘the…’

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe goddess inheritance, Aimée Carter (294 pages) – During nine months of captivity, Kate Winters has survived a jealous goddess, a vengeful Titan and a pregnancy she never asked for. Now the Queen of the Gods wants her unborn child, and Kate can’t stop her – until Cronus offers a deal. In exchange for her loyalty and devotion, the King of the Titans will spare humanity and let Kate keep her child. Yet even if Kate agrees, he’ll destroy Henry, her mother and the rest of the council. And if she refuses, Cronus will tear the world apart until every last god and mortal is dead. With the fate of everyone she loves resting on her shoulders, Kate must do the impossible: find a way to defeat the most powerful being in existence, even if it costs her everything. Even if it costs her eternity.

First lines: “Throughout his eternal life, Walter had witnessed countless summers, but never one as endless as this. He sat behind his glass desk, his head bowed as he read the petition before him, signed by nearly all of the minor gods and goddesses scattered throughout the world.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe girl with the iron touch, Kady Cross (377 pages) – the third installment in the Steampunk Chronicles finds mechanical genius Emily being kidnapped by rogue automatons! Finley Jayne and her fellow misfits fear the worst. What’s left of their archenemy, The Machinist, hungers to be resurrected, and Emily must transplant his consciousness into one of his automatons—or forfeit her friends’ lives. To save those she cares about, Emily must confront The Machinist’s ultimate creation—an automaton more human than machine. And if she’s to have any chance at triumphing, she must summon a strength even she doesn’t know she has.

First lines: “A giant tentacle slapped the front of the submersible, driving the small craft backward in the water. A crack no wider than a hair split across the view screen as suckers the size of dinner plates pulled free.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe circle, Sara B. Elfgren & Mats Strandberg (596 pages) – On a night after the apparent suicide of high school student Elias Malmgren, a blood-red moon fills the night sky. The same night, six of his classmates are drawn by an invisible force to an abandoned theme park on the outskirts of town. As the weeks pass, each of them discover they now possess a unique magical power. They are the Chosen Ones. In this gripping first installment of The Engelsfors Trilogy, a parallel world emerges in which teenage dreams, insanely annoying parents, bullying, revenge, and love collide with dangerous forces and ancient magic. This book was originally published in Swedish which is why the names may seem unusual.

First lines: “She’s waiting for an answer but Elias doesn’t know what to say. No answer would satisfy you. Instead he stares at his hands. They are so pale that he can see every vein in the harsh fluorescent lighting.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe book of broken hearts, Sarah Ockler (357 pages) – Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one. But home all summer without her sisters and with an adorably cute Vargas boy, Jude finds herself wondering if, when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking. Or will history simply repeat itself?

First lines: “The law of probability dictates that with three older sisters, a girl shall inherit at least one pair of cute shorts that actually fit. Agreed?”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe double-edged sword, Sarah Silverwood (333 pages) – Finmere Tingewick Smith was abandoned on the steps of the Old Bailey. Under the guardianship of the austere Judge Harlequin Brown and the elderly gentlemen of Orrery House, Fin has grown up under a very strange set of rules. He spends alternate years at two very different schools and now he’s tired of the constant lies to even his best friends, to hide the insanity of his double life. But on his sixteenth birthday, everything changes. The Judge is killed, stabbed in the chest with a double-edged sword that’s disturbingly familiar, and from that moment on, Fin is catapulted into an extraordinary adventure.

First lines: “Finmere Tingewick Smith sat on the second step of the Old Bailey in the exact spot where he’d been abandoned in a small cardboard box sixteen years earlier. He sniffed, the icy November chill making his nose run.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe night of the solstice, L. J. Smith (326 pages) – by the same author of The vampire diaries and Night world comes this gripping new magical adventure about four siblings who join forces with a talking vixen to rescue the vixen’s mistress, the sorceress Morgana Shee. For years Morgana guarded the solitary gate between Earth and the Wildworld, a shimmering parallel universe where legends still live. She alone holds the secret of the mirrors that serve as the last passage to enchantment. Armed only with courage and determination, the siblings and the vixen must save Morgana and stop the evil sorcerer Cadal Forge before he can pass through a gate to Earth during the winter solstice.

First lines: “The vixen was waiting. Dapples sunlight fell around her onto the soft dirt beneath the orange trees, gilding her russet fur and striking an occasional brief gleam from her yellow eyes.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe program, Suzanne Young (405 pages) – Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone — but so are their memories.

First lines: “The air in the room tastes sterile. The lingering scent of bleach is mixing with the fresh white paint on the walls, and I wish my teacher would open the window to let in a breeze. But we’re on the third floor so the pane is sealed shut – just in case anyone gets the urge to jump.”

New Books

the rad covers edition:

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAroha, Anaru Bickford (284 pages) – In the year 2019, Māori teenager Aroha lives in the United States with her aunt and uncle, and is tormented daily by the cousin who holds her responsible for ripping their family apart. Aroha also suffers from dreams that have plagued her since her childhood in New Zealand, in which the world ends in a wall of fire. Are these dreams, or premonition? Nightmare, or prophecy? Aroha’s story is a journey to find love and accept responsibility … at the end of the world.

First lines: “There is a myth that attempts to explain the last days. It describes the end of the world as a coming together of two lovers: the earth and the sky reunited, plunging the world once again into darkness. Let me assure you – the end of the world was nothing that any myth or legend could have prepared you for.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsReturn to me, Justina Chen (341 pages) – Nothing is going as planned for Rebecca Muir. She’s weeks away from starting college – at a school chosen specifically to put a few thousand miles of freedom between Reb and her parents. But her dad’s last-minute job opportunity has her entire family moving all those miles with her. And then there’s the matter of her unexpected, amazing boyfriend, Jackson, who is staying behind on the exact opposite coast. Reb started the year knowing exactly what her future would hold, but now that her world has turned upside down, will she discover what she really wants?

First lines: “If you believed my so-called psychic of a grandmother, she predicted that I would almost die. Her eerie, creepy forewarning made no difference at all. I was seven. I still jumped into the murky lake. I still dropped to its mossy bottom. I still almost drowned.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSteal my sunshine, Emily Gale (333 pages) – Hannah is a fifteen-year-old girl whose greatest desire is to belong and be loved by her family. However, dark family secrets threaten everything. Combined with Hannah’s contemporary story, is her eccentric grandmother’s painful story about a shameful aspect of Australia’s history and how it affected thousands of girls and women: the forced adoptions that saw ‘wayward girls’ and single mothers forced to give up their babies by churches and hospitals.

First lines: “The morning it started Mum freaked out about the Christmas tree. It had been thirty degrees most of the night and I wasn’t sure if I’d been asleep for any of it. I could tell from the safety of my bedroom that Mum had woken up foul: heavy footsteps in the kitchen, cupboard doors slammed in, the dishwasher drawers yanked out and rammed in again.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBattle lines, Will Hill (702 pages) – The third installment of the epic Department 19 series promises to promises to deliver higher—and sharper—stakes than ever before! Secret government unit Department 19 is recovering from evil vampire Valeri Rusmanov’s deadly attack on their base. The Department’s newest member, teenage operator Jamie Carpenter, is tasked with training up a new squad, as his friends and colleagues desperately search for ways to try to stop what is coming.

First lines: “In the village of Crawthorne is an alarm. A direct copy of a World War Two air-raid siren, it is bright red, and sits atop a pole two metres above the ground.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsChosen at nightfall, C. C. Hunter (399 pages) – The cover describes this as Shadow Falls novel as “the magnificent final chapter in the breathtaking series!” And based on the reserve queue, more than a few of you are eager to read it! So here it is: Kylie’s most powerful enemy returns to destroy her once and for all, there’s only one way to stop him–to step into her full powers and make a stunning transformation that will amaze everyone around her.

First line: “Kylie Galen looked up from the slice of pepperoni pizza on the fine china plate and tried to ignore the ghost swinging the bloody sword right behind her grandfather and great-aunt.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBy any other name, Laura Jarrat, (355 pages) – Nobody can know the truth – Holly’s life depends on it. Holly is fifteen years old, but she’s only been “Holly” for a matter of months. Because of something that happened, she and her family have had to enter witness protection and have all assumed new identities. All, that is, except her sister Katie, who is autistic. Starting at a new school mid-term is hard enough at the best of times, and Holly has no clue who she is any more. Lonely and angry, she reaches out to friends – new and old. But one wrong move will put all their lives in danger.

First line: They told me to pick something unobtrusive, then they handed me a book of baby names and a cup of hot chocolate from a machine, and they left me there in the white room.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsInferno, Sherrilyn Kenyon (451 pages) – the fourth ‘Chronicles of Nick’ book finds our protagonist unable to trust anyone but the being he has been warned will ultimately kill him (Death). If Nick is to survive this latest round, he will have to sacrifice a part of himself. However, the best sacrifice is seldom the sanest move. Sometimes it’s the one that leaves your enemies confused.

First line: “Silhouetted by the setting sun, and completely rusted out on the inside from his hatred of every living thing, Nick stood on the top of what remained of the old Jax Brewery building, watching his once beloved city burn to the ground.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsUnravel me, Tahereh Mafi (461 pages) – Juliette has escaped to Omega Point, the headquarters of the rebel resistance and a safe haven for people with abilities like hers. She is finally free from The Reestablishment and their plans to use her as a weapon, but Warner, her former captor, won’t let her go without a fight. Haunted by her past and terrified of her future, Juliette knows that in her present, she will have to make some life-changing choices. It’s the second in a trilogy though so make sure you read Shatter me first.

First lines: “The world might be sunny-side up today. The big ball of yellow might be spilling into the clouds, runny and yolky and blurring into the bluest sky, bright with cold hope and false promises about fond memories, real families, hearty breakfasts, stacks of pancakes drizzled in maple syrup sitting on a plate in a world that doesn’t exist anymore.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Subterranean Stratagem, Michael Pryor, (362 pages) – The follow up to The Extinction Gambit finds Kingsley and Evadne, the Extraordinaires, struggling to contain Kingsley’s wolfish side and save their juggling and escapology act. The secret to controlling the wolfishness is in Kingsley’s mysterious past. Was he really raised by wolces? Who were his parents? What happened to them? What begins as a quest to restore Kingsley’s past becomes an adventure that pits the Extraordinaires against forces that could shatter the minds and souls of millions.

First lines: “The giant steel jaws on either side of Kingsley Ward were quivering. Being suspended upside down as he was, it was difficult to judge the trap’s eagerness to close on him, so he ignored the metal monstrosity and focused his attention on wrenching himself free from the straitjacket.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEmilie and the Hollow World, Martha Wells (301 pages) – While running away from home, Wmilie’s plan to stow away on a steamship go awry. Suddenly she’s on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure. Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine to journey to the dark interior of the planet in search of her new guardian’s missing father. Emilie must take daring action if they are ever to return to the surface alive.

First line: “Creeping along the docks in the dark, looking for the steamship Merry Bell, Emilie was starting to wonder if it might be better to just walk to Silk Harbor.”

Looking forward to:

Here are some action-filled books we’ve got coming in the next few months. Some steampunk, even!

Quicksilver, R J Anderson (May) – the sequel to Ultraviolet. “Back in her hometown, Tori Beaugrand had everything a teenaged girl could want – popularity, money, beauty. But she also had a secret. A secret that could change her life in an instant, or destroy it. Now she’s left everything from her old life behind, including her real name and Alison, the one friend who truly understood her. She can’t escape who and what she is. But if she wants to have anything like a normal life, she has to blend in and hide her unusual… talents. Plans change when the enigmatic Sebastian Faraday reappears and gives Tori some bad news: she hasn’t escaped her past. In fact, she’s attracted new interest in the form of an obsessed ex-cop turned investigator for a genetics lab. She has one last shot at getting her enemies off her trail and winning the security and independence she’s always longed for. But saving herself will take every ounce of Tori’s incredible electronics and engineering skills – and even then, she may need to sacrifice more than she could possibly imagine if she wants to be free.” (goodreads.com)

Level 2, Lenore Appelhans (soon) – “Felicia Ward is dead. Trapped in a stark white afterlife limbo, she spends endless days replaying memories, of her family, friends, boyfriend… and of the guy who broke her heart. The guy who has just broken into Level 2 to find her. Felicia learns that a rebellion is brewing, and it seems she is the key. Suspended between heaven and earth, she must make a choice. Between two worlds, two lives and two loves.” (goodreads.com)

Emilie & the Hollow World, Martha Wells (April) – “While running away from home for reasons that are eminently defensible, Emilie’s plans to stow away on the steamship Merry Bell and reach her cousin in the big city go awry, landing her on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure. Taken under the protection of Lady Marlende, Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine, and with the assistance of Lord Engal, journey to the interior of the planet in search of Marlende’s missing father. With the ship damaged on arrival, they attempt to traverse the strange lands on their quest. But when evidence points to sabotage and they encounter the treacherous Lord Ivers, along with the strange race of the sea-lands, Emilie has to make some challenging decisions and take daring action if they are ever to reach the surface world again.” (goodreads.com)

New Books

The Voyage of the Unquiet Ice, by Andrew McHagan (384 pages) – This is book two of the Ship Kings series. I haven’t read the first one, sorry! You should though. BECAUSE. In this volume, Dow Amber has at last a ship, but he does he – an outsider! – belong with the Ship Kings? Also he has to travel to the frozen north to save the empire from rebellion and treachery.

First line: ‘In the beginning – at least as Ship Kings scholars would tell the tale – there was only inhabitated land in all the world, and that was Great Island.

The Girl with Borrowed Wings, by Rinsai Rossetti (290 pages) – Frenenqer Paje feels trapped by the desert she lives in, and the rules set by her father. She meets a boy who happened to be a shapechanger – a ‘Free’ – who has no obligations and not attachments. He shows her the freedom she wants and is that a little romance? Why yes, the blurb seems to hint at it.

First line: ‘I am unlike most other people because I began, not in the body of my mother, but in the brain of my father.

Oblivion, by Anthony Horowitz (667 pages) – This is book five (and the last book!) in the Power of Five series. It has a lot of pages! Just over 666, which would sort of seem appropriate as it’s about earth getting (almost) destroyed by the powers of darkness. There’s an app you can download that makes the cover ‘come alive’ when you hold your cellular telephone in front of it. I am trying it! Well hey that’s pretty cool

First lines: ‘It was the week before my sixteenth birthday when the boy fell out of the door and eveything changed. Is that a good start? Miss Keyland, who taught me at the village school, used to say that you have to reach out and grab the reader with the first sentence.

The Paladin Prophecy, by Mark Frost (549 pages) – This is the first in a series. Will West has always been encouraged by his parents to NOT do his best but to stay in the middle of his class. When he mistakenly reveals that he’s some kind of genius he is recruited by a secret organisation with super technology, and he begins to notices that men in dark hats and cars are following him and his family everywhere. Also there is a centuries-old war between secret societies that he’s now a part of, alarmingly. 

First line: ‘“The Importance of an Orderly Mind” – Will West began each day with that thought even before he opened his eyes. When he did open them, the same words greeted him on a banner across his bedroom wall: “#1: THE IMPORTANCE OF AN ORDERLY MIND.”

Deadwater Lane, by Stephen Barker (290 pages) – When Christopher (Christo) was younger he was in a car accident that killed an elderly man and left him with a slight brain injury that has reduced his memory. He also got blamed, and as part of his community service he must help a lonely old man. His best friend has betrayed him with his girlfriend and so Christo seeks revenge (inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo). The best revenge is classical, usually.

First lines: ‘When I think back carefully I can see now that Ferdy was smiling. The dash threw up an eerie blue light and I remember a cold twinkle in his eyes as the grin began to spread across his face; teeth picked out ultra-white amongst purple shadows.

The Crimson Crown : A Seven Realms Novel, by Cinda Williams Chima (598 pages) – This is the last book in the series. Which is just as well because 1. you can read them all now and  be satisfied with a conclusion, and 2. we are literally running out of room on the shelves to accomodate them. They are big books! So, 3. imagine relaxing on a beach (or wherever) while on holiday reading them. Don’t get sand in them though.

First lines: ‘It was the largest gathering of the Spirit clans Raisa had ever seen. They came from all over the Fells – from Demonai Camp to the west, from Hunter’s Camp to the east, and from the rugged northern reaches and the river valleys near the West Wall.’

Dustlands : Rebel Heart, by Moira Young (424 pages) – This is book two in the Dustlands trilogy, and is, according to the cover, better than The Hunger Games. Truly a claim to test (by reading them all). Anyway, here’s the synopsis from Amazon: ‘Saba has rescued her kidnapped brother and defeated the fanatical Tonton. But the price to be paid for her violent victory is terible. Jack has disappeared – and can no longer be trusted. A new and formidable enemy is on the rise in the dustlands. No one is safe. And Saba must confront the terrible secret hidden in the darkest depths of her soul.’

First lines: ‘It’s late afternoon. Since morning, the trail’s been following a line of light towers. That is, the iron remains of what used to be light towers, way back in the Wrecker days, time out of mind.

Zom-B, by Darren Shan (217 pages) – B. Smith has a racist dad, nightmares about killer babies, and a lot of other things to deal with. He finds it easier to agree with his father, rather than argue, especially since his dad is abusive as well as a bigot. However, when there’s a zombie apocalypse, and B’s school is attacked, B must ally himself with anyone he can if he wants to survive. Serious real-world issues + addition of supernatural gore, and the first in a series (of three I think).

First line: ‘It was the darkest, most wretched hour of the night when the dead came back to life and spread like a plgue of monstrous locusts through the village of Pallaskenry.

Cuttlefish, by Dave Freer (299 pages) – This is alternative-history fiction! And I leave it to the catalogue to explain. ‘In an alternate 1976 dominated by coal power and the British Empire, Clara Calland and her mother, an important scientist, embark on a treacherous journey toward freedom in Westralia aboard a smugglers’ submarine, the Cuttlefish, pursued by Menshevik spies and Imperial soldiers.’

First lines: ‘It was after midnight, and London’s lights shimmered on the waters that had once been her streets. Something dark moved down there, in the murky depths.’

Poison Tree, by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (219 pages) – Might copy & paste this one as well, since its blurb is pretty oblique and difficult to summarise: ‘Alysia has quickly moved to a position of responsibility in SingleEarth, working among shapeshifters and witches who fight against vampires, but she is hiding secret alliances that could put her fellow mediators at risk.’

First lines: ‘There was blood on her hands, congealing slowly. The body in her arms was cold, its once-vibrant cheer forever vanished from the world.

Starstruck, by Lauren Conrad (293 pages) – The latest Fame Game novel, about a bunch of people in Hollywood who star in a reality show about a bunch of people in Hollywood, written by someone who was in a (slightly-scripted, apparently?) reality show about a bunch of people in Hollywood. So somewhat authentic. In this book Madison does time, Kate has a hit single, and Carmen is overshadowed by her mother.

First line: ‘Madison Parker stood in the echoing marble foyer of the Beverly Hills Courthouse, her back pressed against the wall and he purse clutched tightly in her freshly manicured fingers.

Shadows, by Ilsa J. Bick (518 pages) – Book two of the Ashes trilogy. An apocalyptic thriller full of horror and gore and a love triangle, according to (the somewhat mixed) reviews on Amazon.com. If that sounds like your cup of tea, read the first book, er, first.

First line: ‘FUBAR: that was Jed’s name for it. Once a Marine, always a Marine. He didn’t know what to call the kids. Some said zombies, but that wasn’t right.

Yesterday, by C. K. Kelly Martin (355 pages) – This is about sixteen-year-old Freya Kallas, who lives in a future (2063) where climate change has left the world a bit of a dystopic nightmare. It is also about a Freya Kallas who lives in Toronto in 1985 and whose memory is a bit fuzzy. If that makes sense? To explain further might spoil things! Noooo

First line: ‘When I’ve wailed for so long and so hard that my throat is in shreds and my fingernails ripped and fingertips bloody from clawing at the door, I collapse in front of it curled up like a dead cat I saw on an otherwise spotless sidewalk as a child once.

Black Spring, by Alison Croggan (286 pages) – This story is inpired by Wuthering Heights, which is, if you’ve not read it, a gothic classic. However, this has – judging from the cover’s synopsis  –  witchcraft thrown in to make it even more gothic. Gothicky? You know.

First line (I wanted to add the excellent second line but it’s too long): ‘After the last long winter, I needed to get as far away from the city as I possibly could.

Cover Lookalikes

This:

And this:

I thought.

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin we mentioned on Tuesday: it’s a bleak steampunk, dystopian love triangle which sounds intriguing. Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake is the sequel to the ghost story Anna Dressed in Blood, in which Cas has waking nightmares of Anna being tortured by the Obeahman in some sort of hellish hell: can he bring her back to save her from eternal suffering? I like the idea of a story based on the idea that the ghost stories people tell around campfires are actually true. <3 ghosts.

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