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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.”

New Books

Bound, by Erica O’Rourke (353 pages) – This is the third book in the Torn series. Wow have you ever thought that there are so many series in teen fiction? This one is about mortals and magic, and Mo Fitzgerald, who has to choose between the two worlds or else lose everything and everyone.

First lines: ‘The problem with terrible ideas is that the people who have them don’t recognize how truly awful they are until it’s too late. After all, nobody deliberately chooses the worst possible course of action.

Stormdancer : The Lotus War book one, by Jay Kristoff (324 pages) – Well here it is! Feudal Japanese steampunk. Yukiko, the book’s heroine, and her flightless griffin pal must take on the Shogun and his empire. There are also chainsaw swords in this book, a little blurb tells me.

First line: ‘As the iron war club scythed toward her head, Yukiko could help wishing she’d listened to her father. She rolled aside as her cover was smashed to kindling, azalea petals drifting over the oni’s shoulders like perfumed snowflakes.

Bitter Blood : The Morganville Vampires book 13, by Rachel Caine (538 pages) – For ages vampires and humans have co-existed in Morganville, getting up to at least twelve books-worth of adventure and intrigue. Now that the draug – the creatures that kept the vampires in check – have been defeated, the vampires are becoming a little excessive, and the humans want to fight back! Also a reality television show threatens to reveal all to the world.

First lines: ‘Morganville, Texas, isn’t like other towns. Oh, it’s small, dusty, and ordinary, in most ways, but the thing is, there are these – well, let’s not be shy about it. Vampires.’

Break My Heart 1,000 Times, by Daniel Waters (342 pages) – After the Event, everyone could see ghosts. Creepy! Man. Veronica sees the ghost of a teenaged boy in her mirror each morning, but isn’t too worried. However, the ghosts seem to becoming more powerful, and Veronica and chum Kirk uncover a creepier plot of their teacher, whose dead daughter hasn’t come back; he’s now convinced that by killing a living host (i.e., Veronica) his kid might resurface.

First lines: ‘I walk through walls. I whisper at the window when I watch her leave our home. I flicker at the edges of my own memory.

Rivals and Retribution : A 13 to Life Novel, by Shannon Delany (308 pages) – This is the conclusion (and book number five) to the 13 to Life series, about two werewolf families battling it out for the town of Junction. It receives what they call ‘mixed reviews’ on Goodreads, now accessible directly through the library catalogue! Handy

First line: ‘The girl enters the barn, slipping between hay bales and a stack of buckets.

Butter, by Erin Jade Lange (296 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Butter is morbidly obese, and feels alone. So he gets a website – butterslastmeal.com – and decides that he will broadcast his own death by over-eating. As he carries out his (somewhat macabre) plan he discovers that the attention he receiving, though not exactly positive, feels like popularity, and as the deadline approaches, does he still want to go through with it? Very tense with an amazing character is what I distill from the reviews I just read.

First lines: ‘Most people would say the website is where this wild ride began. But for me is started two days earlier, on a Tuesday night in front of the TV in my living room.

Passenger, by Andrew Smith (465 pages) – This is a sequel to The Marbury Lens, about a pair of boys who run away to London and find a lens that transports them to an war-stricken alternate reality. Now they try to destroy the lens, but there is an evil that won’t let them run away so easily, especially when it has their friends. Full of coolness.

First lines: ‘This is it. Of course it wasn’t over. Things like this never end. It has been two and a half months since Freddie Horvath kidnapped some dumb kid who was too drunk to find his way home.

Unwholly, by Neal Shusterman (402 pages) – Book one of the Unwind trilogy. Here is book one! Teens can be harvested – ‘unwound’ – for body parts, which is of course not ideal, but it is the future and it is dystopian. Thrilling, affecting, and really good, I reckon, after skimming through Goodreads.

First line: ‘He’s fighting a nightmare when they come for him. A great flood is swallowing the world, and in the middle of the it all, he’s being mauled by a bear.

For Darkness Shows the Stars, by Diana Peterfreund (407 pages) – This is a sci-fi post-apocalyptic romance strongly inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion. FINALLY. Elliot North reunites with Kai, the boy she loved but refused to elope with, when she’s forced to rent land from the mysterious Cloud Feet group to which he now belongs. He’s got secrets! He’s also kind of unpleasant, but it’s justified (because of the secrets).

First lines: ‘Elliot North raced across the pasture, leaving a scar of green in the silver, dew-encrusted grass. Jeff followed, tripping a bit as his feet slid inside his too-big shoes.

Ashen Winter, by Mike Mullin (576 pages) – This is set in the US, six months after the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupted, as depicted in the first book, Ashfall. (You know that part in that film 2012 when Yellowstone explodes? Well there actually is a supervolcano there! There is one under Taupo and 26,000 years ago it plunged the earth into a volcanic winter and invented pumice.) So in this book, Yellowstone has gone up and the country is pretty post-apocalyptic; protaganist Alex must return to Iowa to find his parents.

First line: ‘Ten months had passed since I’d last seen the sun. The rich blue of that final August sky was fading from my memory.

Son, by Lois Lowry (393 pages) – The conclusion the series begun in The Giver. It is a utopian future! But, sadly, it comes with a heavy cost; a society where regimented eugenics dictates almost every aspect of interpersonal interactions. In this book, Claire, who’d been a Vessel, can not forget her son. She is desperate to get him back, and will stop at nothing to do so.

First lines: ‘The young girl cringed when the buckled the eyeless leather mask around the upper half of her face and blinded her. It felt grotesque and unnecessary, but she didn’t object. It was the procedure.‘ 

Vessel, by Sarah Beth Durst (424 pages) – Liyana’s reason to be is to become the vessel for her tribe’s goddess; she will dance and summon the goddess, who will then bring the rain that her people desperately need. However! It doesn’t work, and Liyana is exiled. She meets a boy reportedly possessed by the trickster god, Korbyn, who seeks Liyana’s help to find five other vessels; the gods are going missing, and they’re needed.

First lines: ‘On the day she was to die, Liyana walked out of her family’s tent to see the dawn. She buried her toes in the sand, cold from the night, and she wrapped her father’s goatskin cloak tight around her shoulders.

New Books

Pirate Cinema, by Cory Doctorow (384 pages) – In near-future England, the law has become really tight with digital downloads. If you’re caught three times your household’s internet is blocked for a year. Which is actually not too dissimilar to NZ, actually. Anyway, sixteen-year-old Trent, moviemaker and downloader, gets banned, nearly destroying his family – they all rely on the internet for work. He runs away to London and joins up with like-minded people who are fighting the wealthy media conglomerates that control the government.

First line: ‘I will never forget the day my family got cut off from the Internet, I was hiding in my room as I usually did after school let out, holed up with a laptop I’d bought thirdhand and that I nursed to health with parts from here and there and a lot of cursing and sweat.

Burning Blue, by Paul Griffin (293 pages) – Rich, popular, and pretty Nicole is attacked by someone who throws acid on her face, disfiguring her. Quiet hacker Jay, who goes to her school, decides that he will find out who it was that attacked Nicole, and in the process he begins to fall for Nicole, whose personality is pretty attractive also, evidently.

First lines: ‘I was at the cemetery when it happened. I didn’t even know Nicole at the time. Well, I knew of her. Everybody did.

All You Never Wanted, by Adele Griffin (225 pages) – Alex is super-pretty, and her parents are rich, so she lives the life. Her sister, Thea, doesn’t quite have the looks, however, and she’s jealous of Alex’s boyfriend, Joshua. They have the house to themselves one weekend and plan a party; Thea also plans to sabotage Alex’s relationship, and she will do anything to get the life that Alex wants. ANYTHING

First line: ‘She gets into the car and then she can’t drive it. Can’t even start the engine for the gift of the air conditioner. She is a living corpse roasting in sun-warmed leather.

The Blood Keeper, by Tessa Gratton (422 pages) – Mab Prowd is a blood witch, and spends her time practising blood magic on the remote Kansas farm where she and other blood witches hang out, doing their thing (i.e., blood magic) and avoiding non-blood magic studies. Mab accidently activates a long-dead and powerful curse, which messes with her magic. It does result in her meeting Will Sanger, a local boy, for whom she develops an attachment. Ooooh

First line: ‘The last thing the Deacon said to me before he died was “Destroy those roses.”

The Lost Prince, by Julie Kagawa (395 pages) – This is book five of The Iron Fey series. It’s about fairies! But not Rainbow Magic fairies, that’s for sure. In this volume Ethan Chase, whose dislike of the Faery realm is such that he ignores them all, has to break his own rules when the Fey start to disappear and his family is endangered.

First lines: ‘My name is Ethan Chase. And I doubt I’ll live to see my eighteenth birthday. That’s not me being dramatic; it just is.

Illumination, by Karen Brooks (664 pages) – This is book III of The Curse of the Bond Riders, following on from Tallow and Votive. Now Tallow ‘sets in motion forces beyond her control. From Serenissima to Farrowfare, enemies – as well as those she has always trusted – plot to ensure her compliance and, ultimately, destruction. But in doing so, they make a fatal mistake – they underestimate her and the power she can wield.’ Yes I just copied and pasted that

First lines: ‘Dawn infused the glade with a sickly light. In the distance, an owl gave a tired hoot and a gentle wind stirred the trees.

The Assassin’s Curse, by Cassandra Rose Clarke (298 pages) – Ananna is told that she has to marry some dude from another pirate clan. She’s not keen so abandons ship, only to have an assassin sent after her. She accidently misuses her magic, cursing them both – her and the assassin – and binding them together. To break the curse they must complete three tasks, and soon romance blossoms betwixt them, yarrr.

First line: ‘I ain’t never been one to trust beautiful people, and Tarrin of the Hariri was the most beautiful man I ever saw.

99 Flavours of Suck, by Tania Hutley (237 pages) – Kane’s mother is a dog-whisperer with her own television show, and together they track down a sheep-killing dog for her show. He gets bitten and transforms into some kind of werewolf, which results in nonstop itching (among other things). The only way to break the curse is a kiss from his soulmate, Pippa, who unfortunately hates his guts.

First line: ‘On my babe-scale, Pippa Jensen shoots past infinity.

The Dark Unwinding, by Sharon Cameron (318 pages) – Katherine is told to sort out her uncle, who is reportedly insane and squandering the family fortune. However, she finds that he’s a genius with clockwork who has employed an entire village of people rescued from London workhouses, and his apprentice is hot. She’s torn between the family she’s part of, the people he’s helping, and the hot apprentice in this romantic gothic adventure.

First lines: ‘Warm sun and robin’s-egg skies were inappropriate conditions for sending one’s uncle to a lunatic asylum. I had settled this point four hours earlier, while miles of road slipped beneath the carriage wheels.

Regine’s Book : A Teen Girl’s Last Words, by Regine Stokke (329 pages) – Regine Stokke was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008, and started a blog in which she  wrote about the last year of her life (she died a year later). This book is reproduction of her blog and many of the comments she received from the hundreds of followers she had, and is full of photos, and you might need a box of tissues with you when you read it.

First line: ‘Tuesday, Nov 4 2008 – Disclaimer; I’ve decided to start a blog about what it’s like to get a life-threatening disease. Some of the content will therefore be too heavy for some people.

The Shadow Society, by Marie Rutkoski (408 pages) – At the age of five, Darcy Jones was abandoned outside a firestation in Chicago. She doesn’t remember much but the new boy – Conn – at her high school awakens old memories. She discovers that she’s in fact from an alternate timeline where the Great Chicago Fire never happened and where Shades prey on humans. She must infiltrate the Shadow Society to reveals what the Shades have planned.

First line: ‘Knowing what I know now, I’d say my foster mother had her reasons for throwing a kitchen knife at me.

Game Changer, by Margaret Peterson Haddix (250 pages) – KT Sutton is the star pitcher of her softball team, and so her life is pretty much softball-centred. However, she blacks out during a game and awakens in a world where sports and academia have reversed roles. Sports is taught all day long, with hours of tedious practice, while everyone obsesses over after-school academic competition.

First lines: ‘KT Sutton swung her arm in a phantom arc. Her hand released a phantom ball. The perfect pitch.

New Books – ‘spongy blades collapsing’

You guys, here are some more new books!

12 Things To Do Before You Crash and Burn, by James Proimos (121 pages) – Hercules Martino is 16, and the son of a recently deceased famous self-help guru who was no good as a dad. Staying with his uncle for Summer, Hercules is set twelve tasks that will ‘change the way he sees his past, present, and future.’ A book that is short, funny (as promised by Library Journals LLC) and in all likelihood a satisfying read.

First lines: ‘The casket is close. It was a plane crash, after all.

Light Beneath Ferns, by Anne Spollen (206 pages) – Here’s another not-so-long book; this time a ghost story, not a comedy. Elizah moves in with her mother, who is a caretaker at a cemetery. She finds a human jawbone by a river (!!!) and, at the cemetery, she meets Nathaniel, who is mysterious and, you know, maybe not all there. LITERALLY. Fans of supernatural romance probably won’t be disappointed.

First lines: ‘This story does not teach a lesson. It does not explain gravity or the pack rituals of wolves or how the sun will explode one day and leave us all inside a gray welt of ice and famine.

Down the Mysterly River, by Bill Willingham (333 pages) – Max “the Wolf” is a champion boy scout who – inexplicably! – wakes up in a strange forest with no memory of how he got there. With him is a badger, a bear, and a barn cat who are similarly clueless but can talk. They realise that they are being hunted, and it’s up to Max to solve the mystery of what’s what. This is by the writer of the Fables comics, with drawings by the comic artist throughout. ~the more you know~

First line: ‘Max the Wolf was a wolf in exactly the same way that foothills are made up of real feet and a tiger shark is part tiger, which is to say, not at all.

Vintage Veronica, by Erica S. Perl (279 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Veronica gets a summer job in the Clothing Bonanza, a second-hand clothing store. She is pretty happy about that! She loves fashion, and her job is to sort out the quality stuff from the rubbish, and she doesn’t have to deal with customers (she has low self-esteem). Two ‘outrageous yet charismatic’ salesgirls befriend her and encourage her to stalk the stock boy as a joke. Soon Veronica realises she will need to come out of her (proverbial! obviously) shell when romance blossoms.

First lines: ‘I’m sure you don’t know me. But you’ve probably seen me around. I’m that fat girl. You know, the one who dresses funny. The one who wears those ridiculous poufy skirts from the fifties that look like she hacked off the top of an old prom dress (because actually, I did).

How to Save a Life, by Sara Zarr (341 pages) – Here is the catalogue synopsis for what might be a little grim but ultimately uplifting book; ‘Told from their own viewpoints, seventeen-year-old Jill, in grief over the loss of her father, and Mandy, nearly nineteen, are thrown together when Jill’s mother agrees to adopt Mandy’s unborn child but nothing turns out as they had anticipated.’  

First line: ‘Dad would want me to be here. There’s no other explanation for my presence.

Kiss of Death, by Lauren Henderson (307 pages) – This is the final book in the series that began with Kiss Me Kill Me. Unfortunately we don’t seem to have the second and third books in the series! We will buy them. IN THE MEANTIME, here’s a brutal abridgement of the catalogue synopsis: ‘Scarlett [and] Taylor arrive in Scotland […] Old friends and enemies […] explore […] passages under Edinburgh […] [and] someone is out to get [Scarlett] […] and that person has deadly plans for her. Is it time to kiss our heroine goodbye?’

First line: ‘This is absolutely the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

The Espressologist, by Kristina Springer (184 pages) – Jane is seventeen and a barista  (someone who makes coffee). She has a theory that you can tell a lot about someone by the coffee they drink*, and she uses this to set people up on dates. She’s pretty good at it, so her boss develops it as an instore promotion. BUT she matches her best friend with Cam, which in hindsight was silly since she maybe is a little bit in love with him?
*Probably wouldn’t work in NZ where we all drink flat whites, pretty much

First line: ‘“Excuse me,” the customer says, stepping up to the counter. I quickly stop scribbling in my notebook and slide it onto the shelf under the espresso machine.

The Warlock ‘s Shadow, by Stephen Deas (291 pages) – The follow-up to The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice. When the thief-taker is hired to protect a prince, Berren (the apprentice) is pleased to get away from the tedium at the temple. He meets a girl, who happens to be a Dragon Monk, the best sword fighters ever to wield a sword. But the prince needs protection for a reason – people want to kill him and anyone who stands in their way, including young Berren. Especially Berren! Maybe

First line: ‘Kasmin didn’t see the three men come into the tavern but he knew they were there almost at once.

Unleashed : Wolf Springs Chronicles, by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie (385 pages) – Katelyn moves to a new town, to live with her grandfather in the middle of a forest. Her new school is Wolf Springs High. Judging from the cover and the blurb on the back that says, ‘a dark exciting tale that will have you believing in werewolves,’ I am willing to bet this is about werewolves! Book one in a series

First lines: ‘I can fly. Katelyn Claire McBride was the girl on the flying trapeze.

Hunters : Phantom – The Vampire Diaries, not really by L. J. Smith (413 pages) – This is a brand-new VD story. Apparently it was written by a ghostwriter, since the publisher who holds the copyright fired L. J. Smith. That seems a bit strange actually! Anyway, Damon is dead, Elena and Stefan can be together, but Elena dreams of Damon. And she loves him a little too. A lot maybe! Soon everyone is threatened by a new darkness.

First line: ‘Elena Gilbert stepped onto a smooth expanse of grass, the spongy blades collapsing beneath her feet.

New Books Again!

This is the rest of this week’s new books. A bit of a history theme this time, with a supernatural twist, and plenty of thrillers!

Fateful, Claudia Gray (328 pages) – it’s a supernatural romance on the Titanic! It’s 1912 and Tess has set sail for New York with the family she works for. On board she meets Alec, a handsome first class passenger. Their budding romance leads to danger for Tess though: there are werewolves, and they’re out to get him.

First sentence: It’s not too late to turn back, I tell myself.

Eternal, Gillian Shields (359 pages) – the companion novel to Immortal and Betrayal. Evie and Helen are distracted from the Mystic Way by personal tragedies, so Sarah must step up and keep them all together against imminent attack from the dark coven and Unconquered lords. Can she rely on the Mystic Way, or will she find help in other, unexpected, places?

First sentence: I am not like Evie.

Misfit, Jon Skovron (362 pages) – Jael is the daughter of a cynical former priest and a 5,000 year old demon. So, she’s not ordinary then. Things become even less ordinary when she receives a special gift on her sixteenth birthday. Now she’s got cool powers, but also demons who are after her family, not in a good way.

First sentence: Jael Thompson looks at her reflection in the bathroom mirror and frowns.

Want to go Private?, Sarah Darer Littman (330 pages) – Abby is about to start high school, and she should be more excited about it, but she’s more interested in building her friendship with Luke, a guy she’s met online. When Luke suggests they meet in person and Abby agrees and goes missing, her family and friends must figure out what’s been going on if they want to get her back.

First sentence: “How can you not be excited?”

Tunnel Vision, Susan Shaw (255 pages) – One evening, when Liza is on the way home with her mother they are attacked by a group of strange men. Liza’s mother is killed, but it transpires that Liza herself was actually the target. Liza and her father are put into witness protection, constantly on the move to escape her would-be killer.

First sentence: The laughing men weren’t leaving much room for anyone to get by, but what else was I supposed to do?

Queen of Hearts, Martha Brooks (211 pages) – Set in Canada during World War II. Marie Claire and her siblings are sent to a sanitorium when they contract tuberculosis. “a new strange land of TB exiles she must “chase the cure,” seek privacy where there is none, and witness the slow wasting decline of others. But in this moving novel about fighting a way back to normal life, it is the thing that sets back Marie Claire the most—the demise of her little brother—that also connects her with the person who will be instrumental in helping her recover.” (Amazon.com)

First sentence: On a cold evening in late spring, with the rain coming down hard around him, there’s Oncle Gérard standing outside our farmhouse, just like he’s never been away.

Hidden, Helen Frost (142 pages) – “When Wren Abbott and Darra Monson are eight years old, Darra’s father steals a minivan. He doesn’t know that Wren is hiding in the back. The hours and days that follow change the lives of both girls. Darra is left with a question that only Wren can answer. Wren has questions, too. Years later, in a chance encounter at camp, the girls face each other for the first time. They can finally learn the truth—that is, if they’re willing to reveal to each other the stories that they’ve hidden for so long…” (Amazon.com). This is a novel in verse – the author tells us that Darra’s poems also give clues about the story (read the author’s note at the back).

First sentence: I was a happy little girl wearing a pink dress, / sitting in our gold minivan, / dancing with my doll, Kamara.

And Then Things Fall Apart, Arlaina Tibensky (254 pages) – Keek’s summer is not turning out well. She’s been abandoned at her grandmother’s house, with nothing but a typewriter, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, and the chickenpox for company. The perfect opportunity, then, to work out why her life’s turned pear-shaped, and attempt to right things.

First sentence: I once watched a collector kill a monarch butterfly on a nature show by putting it under a glass dome with a piece of cotton soaked in gasoline.

Sent, Margaret Peterson Haddix (313 pages) – The Missing Book 2. “Jonah and Katherine have barely adjusted to the discovery that they are actually the missing children of history when a time purist named JB sends them, along with Chip and Alex, hurtling back in time to 1483. JB promises that if they can fix history, they can all return to their present-day lives. Now, Chip and Alex have to reclaim their true identities – as the king and prince of England. But things get complicated when they discover that according to the records, Chip and Alex were murdered. How can Jonah and Katherine fix history if it means letting their friends die?” (Amazon.com).

Sister, Missing, Sophie McKenzie (250 pages) – set two years after Girl, Missing. Lauren is now sixteen, and her birth mother takes her and her two sisters on a holiday. When one of her sisters disappears in mysterious circumstances (similar to those of her own disappearance two years earlier), can Lauren figure out what’s going on and stop the nightmare from repeating?

First sentence: I woke up to sunshine pouring in through the bedroom window of the holiday cottage.

More New Books

Here’s an interesting collection of fiction: werewolves, monsters, scary trees, space cowboys, debutantes, God as a teenage boy (imagine), and a couple of pretty fetching first sentences.

Low Red Moon, Ivy Devlin (244 pages) – a star-crossed supernatural love story. Avery Hood’s parents died when she was young, mysteriously. So when she falls for Ben, the new boy in town, only to discover he triggers a disturbing memory, she must find out what really happened. The cover says this is “part murder mystery, part grief narrative, and part heart-stopping, headlong romance” which sounds fab.

First sentence: I was covered in blood when the police found me.

Black Hole Sun, David MacInnis Gill (340 pages) – a science fiction dystopian novel with space cowboys! Durango is a mercenary living on Mars who is hired by miners to protect their mine from the evil, mutant Draeu, but while doing his job Durango discovers the secret reason why the Draeu are so intent on attacking the mine. The author has a suggested playlist for his novel which you can see at largehearted boy here.

First sentence: Now come the mousies nosing out their hole, thinks Kuhru as he wipes fresh bone marrow from his snout.

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The Dead Boys, Royce Buckingham (201 pages) – a horror/mystery, especially horrific if you think trees are creepy. Teddy Mathews, new in town, is disturbed to find all the boys he befriends disappear mysteriously. He’s determined to find out what’s going on, but nobody will believe him when he says he thinks the freaky great tree outside his house has something to do with it. We believe you Teddy!

First sentence: In its early years, the sycamore tree stretched its branches up toward the light, reaching for the desert sun and its life-giving energy.

The Magnolia League, Katie Crouch (348 pages) – another mystery, this time around the intrigue of a southern debutante society. After her mother dies, Alexandria must move from the West Coast of the United States to Savannah, and start a new life with her grandmother. This life involves the Magnolia League, said debutante society, which Alexandria becomes involved with, discovering a sinister secret pact between the Magnolias and the Buzzards, a hoodoo family.

First sentences: You know what I hate? Sweet tea.

The Miracle Stealer, Neil Connelly (230 pages) – Andi’s six year old brother Daniel is touted as a miracle worker: they say he can cure the sick and bring the dead back to life. People flock to town to see him, and when one of the pilgrims turns out to be some sort of dangerous stalker, Andi knows she must put an end to the madness.

First sentence: I needed to save Daniel.

The Ruby Notebook, Laura Resau (365 pages) – Zeeta and her English teacher mother travel around the globe together, each year moving to a different country. This year it’s Aix in France, which sounds ideal, but not so much when the love of your life – Wendell – doesn’t live there too. To complicate things, Zeeta starts receiving mystery notes from a secret admirer, and forms a strong connection with Jean-Claude, a street performer. When Wendell comes to visit Zeeta feels they are drifting apart, until a mystery forces them together again. But but: who is the secret admirer?

First sentences: It’s true. There’s something about the light here.

The Julian Game, Adele Griffin (200 pages) – Raye is the new girl at an exclusive academy, struggling to fit in. So when the opportunity arise for her to get involved in a game to help Ella get revenge on her ex Julian, Raye sees the chance to become accepted. But then she falls for Julian, and unleashes the enraged, nasty Ella, and things get a whole lot worse.

First sentence: “This is the craziest idea you ever had,” said Natalya.

The Things a Brother Knows, Dana Reinhardt (242 pages) – Levi’s brother Boaz returns from a tour of duty withdrawn, not himself. Levi knows something is up, so he follows him on a walk from Boston to Washington, determined to find out what’s wrong, and discover the truth about his brother, and a little bit about himself too perhaps.

First sentence: I used to love my brother.

Teenage Waistland, Lynn Biederman & Lisa Pazer (307 pages) – Three obese teenagers tell the story of their involvement in a clinical trial for a new surgery. They must meet weekly over the course of a year, learning to live a healthy life, but also learning a devastating secret that will also alter their lives.

First sentence: Marcie Mandlebaum here: sixteen years old and sporting the collective girth of the Tenafly High cheerleading squad – this according to their captain, my twitorexic stepsister, Liselle.

Wicked Girls, Stephanie Hemphill (389 pages) – a novel in verse about the Salem witch trials in the 17th century. The novel explores the lives of three girls living in Salem who accuse members of the community of witchcraft after a series of unexplained illnesses.

First sentence: Silent, not even the twitter / of insects.

There Is No Dog, Meg Rosoff (243 pages) – Imagine God is a teenage boy (Bob). He is “lazy, careless, self-obsessed, sex-mad” says the cover. So, when Lucy prays to fall in love and Bob decides to answer her prayer personally, things could get really ugly.

First sentences: Oh glorious, most glorious glorious! And yet again glorious!

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The Curse of the Wendigo, Rick Yancey (424 pages) – sequel to The Monstrumologist. When Dr Warthrop’s mentor Dr von Helrung says he wants to prove the existence of the Wendigo, known as “He Who Devours All Mankind”, Will and Dr Warthrop find themselves in northern Canada in search of this terrible creature, and in the process unearth a truth “far more terrifying than even they could have ever imagined” (book cover) which, since their business is the study of monsters, must be pretty terrifying.

First sentence: The reader was a retired middle school English teacher whose mother had come to live at the facility in 2001.

New! Books!

A selection of new fiction (good for reading while drinking hot cocoa, if you’ve got some left after learning about language and colour) which covers a bit of everything: there’s road trips (huzzah!), romance, spooky thrillers, conclusions to trilogies, and some serious subject matter for readers who want food for thought.

Blood Red Road, Moira Young (492 pages) – a dystopian road trip! Saba lives in Silverlake, a bleak wasteland. After the black-robed riders take Saba’s brother Lugh, Saba must set off on a dangerous journey in pursuit, with the help of  a clever crow, the dashing, mysterious Jack, and a group of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks.

First sentences: Lugh got born first. On Midwinter Day when the sun hangs low in the sky.

The Shattering, Karen Healey (302 pages) – Summerton is the perfect place to live, but is it? When Keri, grieving after the suicide of her brother, starts spending more time with a couple of friends she discovers that their brothers have also died, in suspicious circumstances. Is there something dark and terrible going on in Summerton?

First sentence: The first time I broke my arm I was ready for it.

Other Words for Love, Lorraine Zago Rosenthal (354 pages) – Ari lives in the shadow of her vibrant friend Summer, but when an inheritance means she is able to attend an elite prep school she starts to come out of her shell, making new friends, and falling for Blake. Swept up in in her romance, Ari doesn’t agree with her friends that this is infatuation – knowing that instead it is true love – but when Blake starts distancing himself after family troubles, Ari comes to learn what love really means.

First sentence: In 1985 just about everyone I knew was afraid of two things: a nuclear attack by the Russians and a gruesome death from the AIDS virus, which allegedly thrived on the mouthpieces of New York City public telephones.

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Bitter End, Jennifer Brown (359 pages) – Alex is blissfully in love with gorgeous, sporty Cole, but things gradually turn nightmarish, first with Cole becoming jealous of her best friend Alex, then putting her down, then threatening her, until she is “forced to choose – between her ‘true love’ and herself.”

First sentence: If I had to describe my best friend, Bethany, in one word, it would be persistent.

In the Sea There Are Crocodiles, Fabio Geda (211 pages) – Based on the true story of 10 year old Afghan boy Enaiatollah’s five year journey from Afghanistan to Italy, and the harrowing events that took place along the way.

First sentence: The thing is, I really wasn’t expecting her to go.

Forever, Maggie Stiefvater (390 pages) – the conclusion to the story of the wolves of Mercy Falls that started with Shiver and continued with Linger. Isabel’s father is intent on getting rid of the wolves once and for all, and he’s making alarming headway with his plans: can Sam save them before it’s too late? Can he save Grace, who is now shifting between wolf and human form? Can Cole St Clair get to the bottom of the disease that causes the changes? So many questions!

First sentence: I can be so, so quiet.

Winter’s Shadow, M J Hearle (424 pages) – Winter is consumed by Blake Duchamp, the dark, brooding stranger she met at Pilgrim’s Lament. But Blake has a dark, dangerous secret – one that Winter seems to be be unwittingly doing her best to distract him from.

First sentence: Madeleine Bonnaire fled beneath the flickering street lamps of Rue Descartes.

I Am J, Chris Beam (326 pages) – J goes on a journey of self discovery working through the issues surrounding the fact that he’s always known he is a boy in a girl’s body.

First sentence: J could smell the hostility, the pretense, the utter fakeness of it all before they even climbed the last set of stairs.

The Demon’s Surrender, Sarah Rees Brennan (387 pages) – the conclusion to the trilogy that began with The Demon’s Lexicon. Sin and Mae are in competition for leadership of the Goblin Market and the Aventurine Circle is a threat to the survival of the market – and people generally – but can they be stopped? Also, can Sin get over her dislike of Alan so they can work together to defeat the magicians, and does Jamie really have control over Nick? This can’t be good, since he’s decided turn against the market and join the magicians.

First sentence: Magic was like a special guest in Sin’s life.

Life: An Exploded Diagram, Mal Peet (413 pages) – Set in Norfolk (UK) in 1962, when the Cold War means the world thinks it’s going to be annihilated by a nuclear bomb. Against this backdrop, Clem and Frankie are in a secret, furtive relationship (from opposite sides of the track, as it were). You can read Meg Rosoff’s review on the Guardian here.

First sentence: Ruth Ackroyd was in the garden checking the rhubarb when the RAF Spitfire accidentally shot her chimney-pot to bits.

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The Dead of Winter, Chris Priestley (218 pages) – The dust jacket makes this sound spooky: “When Michael Vyner goes to spend the Christmas holidays with his distant and aloof guardian, he finds himself in a dark and desolate East Anglian [UK] house – a house that harbours a terrible secret which it will fight to retain. Michael’s lonely task soon becomes clear as he is haunted not just by a solitary woman in the mists but by the terrible reason behind her death.”

First sentence: My name is Michael: Michael Vyner.

Votive, Karen Brooks (617 pages) – the sequel to Tallow. Set in the republic of Venice – La Serenissima. Tallow has lost everything, so in order to survive she takes on a new persona, and poses as a courtesan to move among the Serenissian nobility. But evil looms in the form of her enemies, who have something up their sleeves that could ruin her.

First sentence: ‘By the gods! Stop!’

Popular New Books!

Delirium, Lauren Oliver (441 pages) – It’s another Lauren book! says Lauren. What’s more dystopian than a world without love? Lena lives in a world where love is a disease (delirium), and without love life is predictable, orderly and safe. On your eighteenth birthday you get treatment to ensure you don’t become deliriously in love. But in the lead up to Lena’s eighteenth something happens…

First sentence: It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure.

The Monstrumologist, Rick Yancey (454 pages) – “Monsters are real” says the back cover, and Will Henry is apprentice to a monstrumologist. When the body of a girl and a supposedly extinct headless monster show up, Will and the monstrumologist must race to get to the bottom of this mystery, and stop further deaths.

First sentence: The director of facilities was a small man with ruddy cheeks and dark, deep-set eyes, his prominent forehead framed by an explosion of cottony white hair, thinning as it marched toward the back of his head, cowlicks rising from the mass like waves moving toward the slightly pink island of his bald spot.

Prom and Prejudice, Elizabeth Eulberg (231 pages) – The inspiring Jane Austen! This one’s a reworking of Pride and Prejudice (as the title suggests), set in “the very prestigious Longbourn Academy”. Lizzie is a scholarship kid, her friend Jane is not. Jane is in love with Charles Bingley, which Lizzie is happy about. She’s less happy about Will Darcy, Charles’ snobbish friend… For Pride and Prejudice fans, but not purists who might get upset about revisionings.

First sentence: It s a truth universally acknowledged that a single girl of high standing at Longbourn Academy must be in want of a prom date.

Romeo & Juliet & Vampires, Claudia Gabel (via William Shakespeare, 231 pages) – includes an excerpt from the upcoming Little Vampire Women, another in the mashups genre. This time the Montagues want to suck the Capulets’ blurd. New meaning to “blood feud” and all that. Romeo and Juliet fall in love, worryingly, and you kind of know how it’s going to end. Differently from Twilight, that is.

First sentence of Chapter One (the prologue seemed to be all about Vlad the Impaler): Juliet sat on her bed and stared at her reflection in an ornate gilded mirror, which she held close to her face.

Far From You, Lisa Schroeder (355 pages) – another novel in verse form from the author of I Heart You, You Haunt Me. After the death of her mother, Ali reluctantly goes on a road trip with her new stepmother and her baby. Trapped by a snowstorm, Ali must confront her sense of loss, as well as look to the heavens for rescue.

First verse: We’re alone / with only / the cold / and dark / to keep up / company.

Blessed, Cynthia Leitich Smith (454 pages) – continuing from Tantalize and Eternal, with characters from both, Blessed follows Quincie as she comes to terms with her vampireness, and restaurateur-ness, and also tries to get Kieren (werewolf) off murder charges while stopping Bradley Sanguini (also a vampire) in his evil tracks. In order to help with this overload of work she hires Zachary (angel) as a waiter, which is probably a good move: can he help save Quincie’s soul?

First sentence: Have you damned me? I wondered, staring over my shoulder at the lanky devil in dark formal-wear.

Firelight, Sophie Jordan (323 pages) – Dragons! Jacinda is a draki, a dragon shapeshifter, Will is a hunter of  draki, star-crossed lovers of the most dangerous kind. “Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide,” says the book cover, nicely put.

First sentence: Gazing out at the quiet lake, I know the risk is worth it.

Vesper, Jeff Sampson (288 pages) – Emily is discovering that she and her classmates are genetically engineered and have powers that come into effect at night. They’re also being hunted by a murderer.

First sentence: I was halfway out my bedroom window when my cell rang.

A Love Story: Starring My Dead Best Friend, Emily Horner (259 pages) – Cass goes on the road trip she planned with her best friend Julia just before Julia was killed in a car crash, with a bicycle, and Julia’s ashes in a tupperware container. The adjectives on the back are good: poignant, life-affirming, tender, vibrant, plus there’s a “kookiest”.

First sentence: I spent the summer with the smells of rain and grass and sky, and the horizon stretching out for ten miles in front of me.

New Books

Trance, by Linda Gerber (277 pages) – Whenever Ashlyn falls into a trance it means that someone she knows is about to die. And there’s nothing she can do about it! Stink. But! When just as her trances begin to involve (love interest) Jake, she develops a certain understanding and control.

First lines: ‘Sounds are what I remember most. The crunch of metal on metal. Shattering glass. Screams.

Wereling, by Steve Feasey (276 pages) – Fourteen-year-old Trey is the last in a bloodline of werewolves, one of the ‘few things that can actually take on a vampire.’ Is he human? Or is he a werewolf? Yes to both, I guess. He is also falling for a girl who is half vampire, just to confuse matters.

First line: ‘Trey Laporte opened his eyes, wincing against the assault of the late-morning sunshine on his retinas.

Hunger, by Jackie Morse Kessler (177 pages) – Seventeen-year-old Lisabeth is anorexic, and has subsequently? been appointed to the role of Famine, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. “Fast-paced, witty, and heart-breaking,” and a “fantastic and gripping read that never shies from its difficult subject matter.”

First lines: ‘Lisabeth Lewis didn’t mean to become Famine. She had a love affair with food, and she’d never liked horses (never mind the time she asked for a pony when whe was eight; that was just a girl thing).

Lucy Unstrung, by Carole Lazar (235 pages) – Thirteen-year-old Lucy’s mother had her when she – the mother, not Lucy! – was only fifteen. Lucy’s faith in her Grandmother, God and the Church are put to the test as her family’s income is reduced and relationships go awry. “Humour, angst, and irony.”

First line: ‘When my mom finally walks in the door at nine-fifteen, she acts like nothing’s wrong at all.

The Iron Daughter, by Julie Kagawa (359 pages) – Meghan is half human, and half Summer faery princess. She is a prisoner of the Winter faery queen – war is a’brewing between Summer and Winter – but she knows that the Iron fey are the real danger. Oh and she’s lost her powers and no one believes her. Yow.

First line: ‘The Iron King stood before me, magnificant in his beauty, silver hair whipping about like an unruly waterfall.

Freefall, by Mindi Scott (315 page) – Seth, a bass player in a teen rock band, was the last person to see his best friend, Isaac, alive. Now he has to deal with that, alcoholism, and falling in love with Rosetta, who carries her own baggage (emotional baggage, not actual bags, though sometimes she might).

First lines: ‘This was Daniel’s deal. He’d taken the order, contacted a supplier, and set it all up.

Quaking, by Kathryn Erskine (236 pages) – Matilda, or Matt as she prefers, is a goth girl who goes to live with a Quaker family in Pennsylvania. Her new town is deeply patriotic (about the war in the Middle East) and threats of violence against her new family mesh unhappily with her experience with bullying.

First line: ‘Families come in all varieties but with no warranties.

Inferno, by Robin Stevenson (229 pages) – Dante dislikes her high school. A lot! She wants to be more open about her sexuality, her only friend has moved away, and when she makes new friends she soon finds things can get worse (as hinted at by the title).

First line: ‘The sun is barely up, but the sky is already blue and cloudless.

The Presence : A Ghost Story, by Eve Bunting (195 pages) – Catherine’s best friend died in a car accident and Catherine is left in shock, depressed, and feeling responsible. On holiday she encounters a hot stranger who tells her he can contact the dead – is he for real or is he a figment of her imagination? Suspense!

First line: ‘The ghost stood on the church stairs, watching, waiting for Catherine.

Acting Up, by Ted Staunton (263 pages) – Sam is 6’4″ and slouches so as to not draw attention to himself. I’ve been there, Sam! He also lives in a ‘town full of loonies’ – another coincidence? Also he must grow up and learn what it is to be an adult. Ha.

First line: ‘“You can’t do that,” Sam Foster said, breaking through the knots of students outside the Little Hope Variety.

Saturday Night Dirt, by Will Weaver (171 pages) – “In a small town … the much-anticipated Saturday night dirt-track race  … becomes … an important life-changing event for all the participants on and off the track,” says the catalogue, mostly.

First lines: ‘“Torque wrench.” Trace Bonham, seventeen, short and stocky with unsmiling brown eyes, turned to the big toolbox on wheels.

The Rosie Black Chronicles Bk 1 : Genesis, by Lara Morgan (459 pages) – Five centuries from now, in the city of Newperth (Australia I’m thinking!) is divided into the ‘Centrals’, the much poorer ‘Bankers’, and the fringe-dwelling ‘Ferals’. Rosie, a Banker, finds a box that a mystery organisation will kill to have, and so she’s on the run with Pip, a Feral, and his boss.

First line: ‘Rosie shone her torch down among the scattered bricks.

More New Books

We have a few new books that continue already established series. I won’t go into too much detail about each (just because) but your favourite vampire/werewolf/spy series may be one of them.

Awakened : A House of Night Novel (Book 8 ), by P.C and Kirstin Cast (290 pages)
Demon Games : Changeling (Book 4), by Steve Feasey (343 pages)
Only The Good Spy Young : The Gallagher Girls (Book 4), by Ally Carter (265 pages)
Twelfth Grade Kills : The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod (Book 5), by Heather Brewer (325 pages)
Keys To the Repository : Blue Bloods (sort of a tie-in to the series), by Melissa de la Cruz (227 pages)

Here are the other new books!

A Waltz for Matilda, by Jackie French (479 pages) – This is a novelisation of the poem that is also a song (which I used to think was Australia’s nation anthem, oddly) about Matilda, her father (the swagman!), the billabong, and ‘Australia’s early years as an emerging nation.’

First lines: ‘August 1894 – Dear Dad, I hope you are well.

Whisper My Name, by Jane Eagland (394 pages) – A spooky book about Meriel, who lives with her strict Victorian grandfather. It is a solitary life but she’s not always alone – someone is ‘reaching out to her, someone who is close than she thinks …’

First line: ‘Meriel decided to place her deckchair as far as she could from Mrs Fitzgerald’s, but still within earshot.

Hit List, by Jack Heath (256 pages) – Teenager Ash and her pal Benjamin find stolen artifacts and return them to their owners for a fee. But when they’re asked to rescue a captive girl they soon find themselves up against corrupt governments, ruthless corporations, and assassins. Assassins! 

First lines: ‘Practice. It would take practice, but it could be done.

The Exiled Queen : A Seven Realms Novel, by Cinda Williams Chima (586 pages) – This is the second book in the series. We wrote about the first one here. In this installment, according to the catalogue, ‘two teenagers, one fleeing from a forced marriage and the other from a dangerous family of wizards, cross paths and fall in love.’

First line: ‘Lietenant Mac Gillen of the Queen’s Guard of the Fells hunched his shoulders against the witch wind that howled out of the frozen wastelands to the north and west.’

Send Simon Savage, by Stephen Measday (266 pages) – Simon is thirteen when his father drowns. A secret government agency then tells him that he has the right DNA to handle the rigours of time travel, and he will be the first to travel into the future. Which he does! His missions are risky, but someone has to do it.

First line: ‘Simon spent a great Saturday body boarding with a few mates in rolling surf at the southern end of Bondi Beach.

Solitary : Escape from Furnace, by Alexander Gordon Smith (232 pages) – This is the sequel to Lockdown. Alex Sawyer attemped to escape from Furnace prison, where he has been imprisoned on false charges, but he failed and is now in solitary confinement. ‘… hurtle from thrill to chill in this rocket-paced prison-break odyssey where nightmares are made.’ Yeow!

First lines: ‘I have a confession. I’m not a good person.’

The Last Dragonslayer, by Jasper Fforde (281 pages) – Back in the day magic was powerful, but now it’s regulated by the government and it’s cheaper for people to get things done non-magically. But! Fifteen-year-old Jennifer, who runs an employment agency for magicians and soothsayers, begins to have visions that hint at dragons and Big Magic. (Fforde is a very funny writer, and has a lot of quality books in the adult section. Let me recommend them to you.)

First line: ‘It looked set to become even hotter by the afternoon, just when the job was becoming more fiddly and needed extra concentration.

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