Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Teen Blog

Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Category: Science! Page 1 of 6

Star Wars Day: A New Hope for us all?

Attention all Jedi, Bounty Hunters and Rebels! Star Wars Day is happening again on May the Fourth, which is observed and celebrated by fans of the Star Wars franchise.  
image courtesy of starwarsnewsnet
This year, you can celebrate by visiting your local library, relive and check out fiction, (as well as non fictioncomics and movies) all related to anything and everything from the Star Wars universe!

Read the following fiction:

image courtesy of syndeticsForce collector.

“In this Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker young adult novel set just before The Force Awakens, a restless teenager sets out to discover what connection his mysterious Force powers have to the fabled Jedi and what the Force has in store for him.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsLeia, Princess of Alderaan.

“The story of how Leia Organa comes to join the Rebellion. Sixteen-year-old Princess Leia has been taking rigorous survival courses, practicing politics, and spearheading relief missions to worlds under Imperial control so that she becomes formally named heir to the throne of Alderaan. When her parents begin acting strange, sixteen-year-old Princes Leia sets out to uncover their secrets, putting her in the path of the watchful Empire. She finds herself facing the choice of dedicating herself to the people of Alderaan, including the man she loves, or to the galaxy at large which is in desperate need of a rebel hero.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsAhsoka.

“Fans have long wondered what happened to Ahsoka after she left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars, and before she re-appeared as the mysterious Rebel operative Fulcrum in Rebels. Finally, her story will begin to be told. Following her experiences with the Jedi and the devastation of Order 66, Ahsoka is unsure she can be part of a larger whole ever again. But her desire to fight the evils of the Empire and protect those who need it will lead her right to Bail Organa, and the Rebel Alliance.” (Catalogue)


Read the following non fiction:

image courtesy of syndeticsHow Star Wars conquered the universe : the past, present, and future of a multibillion dollar franchise.

“Why do most people know what an Ewok is, even if they haven’t seen Return of the Jedi? How have Star Wars action figures come to outnumber human beings? How did ‘Jedi’ become an officially recognised religion? When did the films’ merchandising revenue manage to rival the GDP of a small country? Tracing the birth, death and rebirth of the epic universe built by George Lucas and hundreds of writers, artists, producers, and marketers, Chris Taylor jousts with modern-day Jedi, tinkers with droid builders, and gets inside Boba Fett’s helmet, all to find out how STAR WARS has attracted and inspired so many fans for so long.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsThe making of Star Wars : the definitive story behind the original film : based on the lost interviews from the official Lucasfilm archives.

“After the 1973 success of American Graffiti, filmmaker George Lucas made the fateful decision to pursue a longtime dream project: a space fantasy movie unlike any ever produced. Lucas envisioned a swashbuckling science fiction saga inspired by the Flash Gordon serials of the thirties, classic American westerns, the epic cinema of Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa, and mythological heroes. Its original title: The Star Wars. The rest is history, and how it was made is a story as entertaining and exciting as the movie that has enthralled millions for thirty years – a story that has never been told as it was meant to be. Until now.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsStar Wars encyclopedia.

“This comprehensive guide to the Star Wars series of films follows on from the re-release of the first three films. Everything from the smugglers’ spaceport on Abregado-Rae and technical explanations of the Millennium Falcon’s acceleration compensator is covered.” (Catalogue).

Watch the films: The nine-part Skywalker saga!

Original trilogy:

image courtesy of amazon.com.image courtesy of amazon.comimage courtesy of amazon.com

Star Wars [original trilogy]

Relive the exhilarating action, spectacular battles and ultimate triumph of good over evil that make Star Wars the greatest space fantasy adventure of all time – and the ultimate entertainment experience for every family. The Star Wars original trilogy episodes continue the saga with Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo leading the rebel Alliance to claim victory over the Empire and win freedom for the galaxy.

A New Hope: “In a galaxy far, far away, a psychopathic emperor and his most trusted servant – a former Jedi Knight known as Darth Vader – are ruling a universe with fear. They have built a horrifying weapon known as the Death Star, a giant battle station capable of annihilating a world in less than a second. When the Death Star’s master plans are captured by the fledgling Rebel Alliance, Vader starts a pursuit of the ship carrying them…”

The Empire Strikes Back: “Darth Vader is helping the Empire crush the rebellion determined to end the Empire’s domination of the universe. The rebels are based on Hoth, and when troops arrive to wipe them out, Han Solo and Princess Leia flee to Cloud City. Luke Skywalker, in a bid to strengthen his knowledge of the force, finds Yoda, one of the finest Jedis ever. Will they be able to get back together and halt the Empires progress?”

Return of the Jedi: “As the Emperor himself oversees the construction of the new Death Star by Lord Darth Vader and the evil Galactic Empire, smuggler Han Solo is rescued from the clutches of the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt by his friends, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Chewbacca. Leaving Skywalker Jedi training with Yoda, Solo returns to the Rebel Fleet to prepare for to complete his battle with the Empire itself. During the ensuing fighting the newly returned Skywalker is captured by Vader. Can the Rebels, and their new found friends, the Ewoks, help restore freedom to the Galaxy?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Prequel trilogy:

image courtesy of amazon.com

Star Wars [prequel trilogy].

Relive the nonstop excitement, thrilling discoveries and ultimate triumph of good over evil that make Star Wars the greatest space fantasy adventure of all time – and the ultimate entertainment experience for every family. The Star Wars prequel trilogy episodes begin the saga with young Anakin Skywalker’s descent to the dark side as he transforms from child slave to Jedi apprentice to Darth Vader, the most feared villian in the galaxy!

Phantom Menace: “Set thirty years before the original Star Wars film, Episode I introduces Anakin Skywalker, a boy with special powers, unaware that the journey he is beginning will transform him into the evil Darth Vader.”

Attack of the Clones: “Set 10 years after the events of The phantom menace and the galaxy has undergone significant change, as have Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Padme.”

Revenge of the Sith: “Torn between loyalty to his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the seductive powers of the Sith, Anakin Skywalker ultimately turns his back on the Jedi, thus completing his journey to the dark side and his transformation into Darth Vader.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sequel trilogy:

image courtesy of amazon.comThe Force Awakens:

“As Kylo Ren and the sinister First Order rise from the ashes of the Empire, Luke Skywalker is missing when the galaxy needs him most. It’s up to Rey, a desert scavenger, and Finn, a defecting stormtrooper, to join forces with Han Solo and Chewbacca in a desperate search for the one hope of restoring peace to the galaxy.” (Catalogue)


image courtesy of amazon.comThe Last Jedi.

“The Skywalker saga continues as the heroes of The Force Awakens join the galactic legends in an epic adventure. Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysteries of the Force and secrets of the past.” (Catalogue)


image courtesy of amazon.comThe Rise of Skywalker.

“When it’s discovered that the evil Emperor Palpatine did not die at the hands of Darth Vader, the rebels must race against the clock to find out his whereabouts. Finn and Poe lead the Resistance to put a stop to the First Order’s plans to form a new Empire, while Rey anticipates her inevitable confrontation with Kylo Ren.” (Catalogue)


Check out the official trailer for Star Wars: The Bad Batch, which arrives on the Disney channel on May 4th, as well as the trailer for popular Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, which  follows the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.



Enjoy!… and May the Fourth be with you!

It’s Seaweek!

The sea. There’s a lot of it. There are many things in it. Some things, unfortunately, should not really be in there. And there are many things lurking deep down that we only have the slightest inkling of. Which is pretty cool when you think about it!

But anyway, you may be wondering why I am writing about the deep, dark, insurmountable ocean that encircles and embraces our tiny islands down here at the bottom of the world. That’s easy to answer. It’s Seaweek!

Seaweek is an annual week-long celebration of marine science, of sustainable practices (check out our very own page on the environment), and (of course!) the sea. There are a whole lot of exciting events being run all over the country this week, and you’re encouraged to get out there and do your own thing as well.

You could go check out a marine ecology lab, organise your own beach clean-up, or just take some time out of your week to go connect with the sea.

It may now be officially autumn, but only just! I’d advise you to take advantage of what sun we have left to dive off one of the pontoons at Oriental Bay or just swim at your local beach. Or, you know, a not so local beach would do as well. And there are quite a few scattered around the Wellington coast.

Go swimming, or walk along a beach and count the seagulls, or collect a handful of seashells then realise that you have no reason to keep them and leave them behind on the sand. Take a kayak out, go sit on a rock along the south coast and watch the waves, or channel your inner artist and draw, write, or create something inspired by the ocean.

If you’d rather just sit inside away from the blustery sea-breeze (plenty of those in Wellington!) then here are some sea-themed titles to inspire you:

Children of the Sea / Daisuke Igarashi 

“Three sea-touched children are the only ones who can understand the strange message the oceans are sending.

When Ruka was younger, she saw a ghost in the water at the aquarium where her dad works. Now she feels drawn toward the aquarium and the two mysterious boys she meets there, Umi and Sora. They were raised by dugongs and hear the same strange calls from the sea that she does. Ruka’s dad and the other adults who work at the aquarium are only distantly aware of what the children are experiencing as they get caught up in the mystery of the worldwide disappearance of the ocean’s fish.” (Catalogue)

Ingo Series / Helen Dunmore  

“As they search for their missing father near their Cornwall home, Sapphy and her brother Conor learn about their family’s connection to the domains of air and of water.” (Catalogue)

Alone on a wide, wide sea / Michael Morpurgo  

“How far would you go to find yourself? When Arthur is shipped to Australia after WWII he loses his sister and his home, but he is saved by his love of the sea. Years later, Arthur’s daughter Allie has a boat her father built her that will take her back to England to search for her long-lost aunt. The lyrical, life-affirming new novel from the bestselling author of Private Peaceful.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Into the Drowning Deep / Mira Grant  

“Seven years ago Atagaris set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy. Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost. Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves.” (Catalogue)

The Tricksters / Margaret Mahy  

“The Hamiltons look forward to their annual Christmas holiday on the New Zealand coast. Jack and Naomi, their five children and their guests are settling in to the chaotic family atmosphere at the sprawling home known as Carnival’s Hide when the world is thrown out of order by the unexpected arrival of three visitors. Charming, enigmatic and sinister, the three brothers have come to stay. Only 17-year-old Harry questions their strange ways, but even she isn’t sure what is real anymore: are they really related to Teddy Carnival, said to have drowned on that beach many years ago, or are they tricksters – conjured by her overactive imagination? This will be a Christmas to be remembered, where long-buried secrets will be revealed and no one will ever be quite the same.” (Catalogue)

Red Rocks / Rachael King  

“While holidaying at his father’s house, Jake explores Wellington’s wild south coast, with its high cliffs, biting winds, and its fierce seals. When he stumbles upon a perfectly preserved sealskin, hidden in a crevice at Red Rocks, he’s compelled to take it home and hide it under his bed, setting off a chain of events that threatens to destroy his family. Red Rocks takes the Celtic myth of the selkies, or seal people, and transplants it into the New Zealand landscape, throwing an ordinary boy into an adventure tinged with magic.” (Catalogue)

Te Taiao – The Environment and Your Future

In this age of global climate change, and amongst the deniers, te taiao – the environment, is ever-changing and ever-important. It has recently come to the fore in a hugely political movement, globalised since the first speech of Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg. This blog series will look at three aspects of climate change. Firstly, the scoop on global climate change issues, secondly on local or Aotearoa-based climate issues and thirdly, how yourselves as rangatahi can enact change against the climate crisis.

Firstly, the global picture

Acidification of our oceans

Drivers of hypoxia and acidification in our oceans

Factors showing the driving of acidification in our oceans.

Due to the vastly industrialised world, and the ever-increasing pollution from factories and car exhausts, our oceans are becoming acidified. This is because the oceans absorb 30 per cent of the carbon dioxide released from land use and emissions (Ocean Service, 2020). It means we have less organisms in the sea, and people’s livelihoods will be affected. The behaviour of non-calcifying creatures are also affected, leading to different catchments being available. It affects directly the coral reefs, which provide amazing habitats for many sea-going creatures, and the acidic waters are actually dissolving some sea creatures shells right now (Bennett, 2020).

Salinity of water bodies i.e. lakes

Due to the salination effects on waterways from climate change, the waterways have increased in temperature about 2-4 degrees since the 1960s (Cheng L. et al. 2020). This has meant an ever-increasing salination rate, causing widespread damage to local aquatic and marine populations. What this means is that areas will become drier than before, eliminating vital habitat for various creatures, and a lessening of resources for humans to consume.

Read More

Te Taiao and Aotearoa

Kia ora e hoa,

In the wake of the recent Climate Change Emergency listed by the government (02/12/2020) – this is where Aotearoa has joined 32 other nations and territories in declaring a Climate Change Emergency, seeking strong actions – we need to discuss the current situation happening across our country. So whakarongo mai, and let’s get learning.

Destructive fire shown at Pigeon Valley 2020

Pigeon Valley fire in 2020. Photo: Dawn Gaul / Stuff NZ

Ngaherehere and destructive fires

Adding to the replacement forest created by the logging industry, we have been getting destructive fires that have wiped out habitat for native birds and flora.. Professor James Renwick in 2020, has stated that climate change is behind the conditions for larger and more destructive forest fires to be emerging. Fires like that in Tasman and Napier in previous years have been because Papatūānuku is getting drier and drier, making perfect conditions for bush ignition setting forests ablaze.

Raglan coastal region

Raglan coastal region

Te Moana with loss of biodiversity, over-fishing and sea-level rise

Te moana (the ocean) is one of the earth’s greatest resources, reflecting the sun’s harmful radiation as well as providing ample food supplies, and the ever-important coral reefs which feed the life cycle of aquatic life and help combat climate change. However, with salination and sea-level rise occurring, the coral reefs are being destroyed as they cannot adapt to the changing acidity of our oceans. This is critical as the coral reef recycles carbon dioxide and releases oxygen into the atmosphere – losing them is like losing the breath of Tangaroa. Plastics continue to litter our oceans and even the beaches, causing widespread deaths of creatures on land and sea.

Read More

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 SyndeticsQueen of air and darkness, Cassandra Clare

Innocent blood has been spilled on the steps of the Council Hall, the sacred stronghold of the Shadowhunters. In the wake of the tragic death of Livia Blackthorn, the Clave teeters on the brink of civil war. One fragment of the Blackthorn family flees to Los Angeles, seeking to discover the source of the disease that is destroying the race of warlocks. Meanwhile, Julian and Emma take desperate measures to put their forbidden love aside and undertake a perilous mission to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead. What they find in the Courts is a secret that may tear the Shadow World asunder and open a dark path into a future they could never have imagined. Caught in a race against time, Emma and Julian must save the world of Shadowhunters before the deadly power of the parabatai curse destroys them and everyone they love. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe pretty brilliant experiment book, Jade Hemsworth

Inspired by Netflix’s original series, Project Mc2 (TM), The Pretty Brilliant Experiment book has over 20 experiments introduced by our favorite Nov8 (that’s Innovate) agents: McKeyla McAlister, Adrienne Attoms, Bryden Bandweth, and Camryn Coyle. Learn about electricity, chemical reactions, physics, and biology while crafting an hour glass, creating crystals, and making ice cream! Then record your own observations after reading the scientific analysis accompanying each activity. The ingredients are affordable and easy-to-find, and each DIY experiment can be completed safely at home with parents and friends. (Amazon.com)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA daring sacrifice, Jody Hedlund

In a reverse twist on the Robin Hood story, a young medieval maiden stands up for the rights of the mistreated, stealing from the rich to give to the poor, but she never anticipates falling in love with the wealthy knight who represents all she’s come to despise. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSoulbinder, Sebastien De Castell

A failed mage learns that just because he’s not the chosen one it doesn’t mean he can’t be a hero in the fourth book of an exciting adventure fantasy series from Sebastien de Castell. For Kellen, the only way to survive is to hide. His curse is growing stronger, bringing dark and violent visions, and the bounty hunters dogging his heels get closer every day. Desperate, he searches for a mysterious order of monks rumored to have a cure. But salvation comes with a high price. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTrans Teen Survival Guide, Owl and Fox Fisher

Frank, friendly and funny, the Trans Teen Survival Guide will leave transgender and non-binary teens informed, empowered and armed with all the tips, confidence and practical advice they need to navigate life as a trans teen. Wondering how to come out to your family and friends, what it’s like to go through cross hormonal therapy or how to put on a packer? Trans youth activists Fox and Owl have stepped in to answer everything that trans teens and their families need to know. With a focus on self-care, expression and being proud of your unique identity, the guide is packed full of invaluable advice from people who understand the realities and complexities of growing up trans. Having been there, done that, Fox and Owl are able to honestly chart the course of life as a trans teen, from potentially life-saving advice on dealing with dysphoria or depression, to hilarious real-life awkward trans stories. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFinding Baba Yaga, Jane Yolen

You think you know this story. You do not. A harsh, controlling father. A quiescent mother. A house that feels like anything but a home. Natasha gathers the strength to leave, and comes upon a little house in the wood: A house that walks about on chicken feet and is inhabited by a fairy tale witch. In finding Baba Yaga, Natasha finds her voice, her power, herself…(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBlack rabbit summer, Kevin Brooks

Pete Boland was busy doing nothing that SUMMER. Long, stiflingly hot, lazy days stretched ahead of him. THEN SHE CALLED. It was Nicole. ‘Listen, Pete . . . you know that funfair, up at the recreation ground . . . I thought we could all meet up . . . You know, for old times’ sake. BUT, where there are old times there are old tensions. And as secrets, bitterness and jealousies resurface, five old friends are plunged into the worst night of their lives . . .(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe tomorrow code, Brian Falkner

When Tane and Rebecca receive digital messages warning of the impending disaster, there is a chance to alleviate the threat. As they piece the clues together, they discover that the messages are being sent by their future selves, and they must stop The Chimera Project – a devastating apocalyptic plague – from being released. But they soon discover that changing the past in order to protect the future will be more difficult than they first thought. As a strange white cloud begins to move across New Zealand – and people start disappearing – Tane and Rebecca find that, not only may they be too late, but it may be impossible to stop at all. The cloud is made up of antibodies designed to attack human beings and has been created by Mother Nature herself as an antidote to the destructive human race. As the mist devours everyone and everything in its wake, Tane and Rebecca realize there is no way out – this plague is going to destroy the earth and their only hope is to take refuge from impending doom. As the end of the world begins, Tane stumbles on a way to prevent this from happening – they will send new messages to themselves from the future and change the course of history. Only this time they will get it right. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe dark intercept, Julia Keller

The earth is in ruins. Years of warfare, plague, and disaster have ravaged the planet and driven its people into despair. The powerful and wealthy have abandoned Earth and created New Earth, a utopia in the sky where the last of the elite can start fresh. On New Earth, citizens are free from danger thanks to a surveillance device that lives beneath their skin. A device that keeps their new home crime-free through meticulous emotional surveillance. A device called the Intercept.Violet Crowley has never gone hungry. She’s endured neither violence nor fear. As the only daughter of New Earth’s Founding Father, Violet has spent her entire life in comfort and safety. That is, until her friend, colleague, and long-time crush, Danny Mayhew, gets into a deadly altercation on the streets of Old Earth. In an instant, Violet risks her father’s fury and intercedes to rescue Danny. When Danny can’t explain his actions, Violet launches a secret investigation to find out what he’s hiding. An investigation that will lead her to question everything she’s ever known about Danny, her father, and the power of the Intercept. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDamsel, Elana K. Arnold

The rite has existed for as long as anyone can remember: When the king dies, his son the prince must venture out into the gray lands, slay a fierce dragon, and rescue a damsel to be his bride. This is the way things have always been. When Ama wakes in the arms of Prince Emory, she knows none of this. She has no memory of what came before she was captured by the dragon or what horrors she faced in its lair. She knows only this handsome young man, the story he tells of her rescue, and her destiny of sitting on a throne beside him. It’s all like a dream, like something from a fairy tale. As Ama follows Emory to the kingdom of Harding, however, she discovers that not all is as it seems. There is more to the legends of the dragons and the damsels than anyone knows, and the greatest threats may not be behind her, but around her, now, and closing in. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIt’s not summer without you, Jenny Han

Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach? It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come. But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started–at Cousins Beach. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMonsters of virtue, L.J Ritchie

Eugenics: noun. The science of improving a population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. New Zealand, 1932. The height of the Great Depression. In the wilds of the Ōtaki River Gorge, the newly-formed Eugenics Department gathers the best and brightest in an attempt to create perfection.… But what makes a perfect person? Fifteen-year-old Eve knows she’s not one – but with her sister’s life on the line, she’d better convince her new classmates that she could be. Together with uneasy allies Orion and Nyx, she’ll pry into the dark heart of this fledgling utopia. Will the future that awaits them there be one worth fighting for? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGiant days, Non Pratt

Based on the hit graphic-novel series from BOOM! Studios, the publisher behind Lumberjanes, Giant Days follows the hilarious and heartfelt misadventures of three university first-years: Daisy, the innocent home-schooled girl; Susan, the sardonic wit; and Esther, the vivacious drama queen. While the girls seem very different, they become fast friends during their first week of university. And it’s a good thing they do, because in the giant adventure that is college, a friend who has your back is key–something Daisy discovers when she gets a little too involved in her extracurricular club, the Yogic Brethren of Zoise. When she starts acting strange and life around campus gets even stranger (missing students, secret handshakes, monogrammed robes everywhere . . .), Esther and Susan decide it’s up to them to investigate the weirdness and save their friend. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSwing, Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hesse

Best friends Walt and Noah decide to use their voices to grow more good in the world, but first they’ve got to find cool. Walt is convinced junior year is their year, and he has a plan to help them woo the girls of their dreams and become amazing athletes. Never mind that he and Noah failed to make the high school baseball team yet again, and Noah’s love interest since third grade, Sam, has him firmly in the friend zone. Noah soon finds himself navigating the worlds of jazz, batting cages, the strange advice of Walt’s Dairy Queen-employed cousin, as well as Walt’s “Hug Life” mentality. Status quo seems inevitable until Noah stumbles on a stash of old love letters. Each page contains the words he’s always wanted to say to Sam, and he begins secretly creating artwork using the lines that speak his heart. But when his private artwork becomes public, Noah has a decision to make: continue his life in the dugout and possibly lose the girl forever, or take a swing and finally speak out? At the same time, numerous American flags are being left around town. While some think it’s a harmless prank and others see it as a form of peaceful protest, Noah can’t shake the feeling something bigger is happening to his community. Especially after he witnesses events that hint divides and prejudices run deeper than he realized.As the personal and social tensions increase around them, Noah and Walt must decide what is really true when it comes to love. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLast pick [1], Jason Walz

Three years ago, aliens invaded Earth and abducted everyone they deemed useful. The only ones spared were those too young, too old, or too “disabled” to be of value. Living on Earth under the aliens’ harsh authoritarian rule, humanity’s rejects do their best to survive. Their captors never considered them a threat–until now. Twins Sam and Wyatt are ready to chuck their labels and start a revolution. It’s time for the kids last picked to step into the game. In this first volume of Jason Walz’s dystopian graphic novel trilogy, the kids last picked are humanity’s last hope. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLost soul, be at peace, Maggie Thrash

Following her acclaimed Honor Girl, Maggie Thrash revisits a period of teenage depression in a graphic memoir that is at once thoughtful, honest, and marked by hope. A year and a half after the summer that changed her life, Maggie Thrash wishes she could change it all back. She’s trapped in a dark depression and flunking eleventh grade, befuddling her patrician mother while going unnoticed by her father, a workaholic federal judge. The only thing Maggie cares about is her cat, Tommi . . . who then disappears somewhere in the walls of her cavernous house. So her search begins — but Maggie’s not even really sure what she’s lost, and she has no idea what she’ll find. Lost Soul, Be at Peace is the continuation of Maggie’s story from her critically acclaimed memoir Honor Girl, one that brings her devastating honesty and humor to the before and after of depression. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOn a sunbeam, Tille Walden

Two timelines. Second chances. One love. A ragtag crew travels to the deepest reaches of space, rebuilding beautiful, broken structures to piece the past together. Two girls meet in boarding school and fall deeply in love–only to learn the pain of loss. With interwoven timelines and stunning art, award-winning graphic novelist Tillie Walden creates an inventive world, breathtaking romance, and an epic quest for love. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBanana Sunday, Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover

Kirby is about to start a new school with three talking primates in tow. Unlike other students, Kirby Steinberg begins her time at Forest Edge school with a speech to the entire student body introducing her unusual entourage that’s composed of three talking simians: eggheaded orangutan Chuck; Go-Go the gorilla, who is hungry and tired in equal measure ; and spider monkey Knobby, who has a fondness for romance. Although Kirby claims the simians were secret experiments of her scientist father, school reporter Nickels smells something deeper to this story and decides to investigate. Meanwhile, Kirby’s new school is filled with human drama, including mean girl Skye’s relentless bullying and gentle romantic tension with lovably goofy Martin. Will Kirby be able to navigate all these pitfalls and look after her rascally primate posse? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe complete Angel Catbird, story by Margaret Atwood and art by Johnnie Christmas

A genetic engineer caught in the middle of a chemical accident all of a sudden finds himself with superhuman abilities. With these new powers he takes on the identity of Angel Catbird and gets caught in the middle of a war between animal/human hybrids. What follows is a humorous, action-driven, educational, and pulp- inspired superhero adventure–with a lot of cat puns. (Publisher summary)

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWant, Cindy Pon

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

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

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhen Dimple met Rishi, Sandhya Menon

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

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

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

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

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

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTash hearts Tolstoy, Kathryn Ormsbee

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

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

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNerve, Jeannie Ryan

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

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

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSlave power, Raewyn Dawsom

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

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

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

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

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

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWreck, Fleur Ferris

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

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

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsKid got shot, Simon Mason

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

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

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe book of heroes, Miyuki Miyabe

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

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

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBecoming Aurora, Elizabeth Kashmer

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

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

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBoone Shepard, Gabriel Bergmoser

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

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

Moon boy, Kathy Sutcliffe

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

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

Freedom swimmer, Wai Chim

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

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

New graphic novel spotlight: The unbelievable Gwenpool

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe unbelievable Gwenpool, written by Chris Hastings, artists Danilo Beyruth, Gurihiru

What happens when a comic book fan is suddenly blasted into the Marvel Universe? Utter chaos – imagine Deadpool as a teenage girl. Her costume is pink, she has no plans and for a for a while her closest ally is a talking duck. (That would be Howard the Duck, last seen in the post credits scene in Guardians of the Galaxy). Then she gets a job as a freelance assassin, then as a henchmen for a major player in the MU – encountering various other Marvel heroes and villains along the way. I’m looking forward to Gwen’s further adventures…

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsForbidden, Eve Bunting

Sixteen-year-old Josie Ferguson has just lost both her parents. She is sent to live with an unknown aunt and uncle in a town on the stormy northwest coast of Scotland. But the townspeople, including her relatives, are as cold and hostile as the sea. Josie has never felt so alone. Then Eli appears. Mysterious but kind—and handsome—he sparks a desire in Josie unlike anything she has ever experienced. Even though she’s been warned that Eli is forbidden, she can’t stop thinking about him. And the locals are harboring a secret. When curious, determined Josie sets out to uncover it, the truth is more horrific than she could have imagined. (Goodreads).

First lines: We had arrived.
I’d taken two traps, a coach, and a carriage to get here from my old, beloved home in Edinburgh. It was sad and strange to think of myself as an orphan now that my parents had died. But that was what I was. Sorrow threatened to overwhelm me. But I told myself to be brave and to consider myself fortunate to have an aunt and an uncle to go to. Though an orphan, I would have a family again.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThicker than water, Brigid Kemmerer

Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.
Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years. The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers. Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden… (Goodreads).

First lines: I hate this suit. Mom bought it two weeks ago, and I hated it then. But she started with the whole please and for me and just this once and I gave in. Because she knows my buttons. Knew. She knew my buttons. I hate the past tense. I’m definitely not a suit guy. She knows that. Damn it.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHide and seek, Jane Casey

It’s Christmas in Port Sentinel, the tiny English town where Jess Tennant has been living for more than a year now. Jess wasn’t sure how she felt about moving to Port Sentinel when her mom dragged her there right in the middle of high school, but even Jess has to admit the town has completely outdone itself for the holidays. There’s a Christmas market complete with mini ice-rink and fairy lights, and the bare trees stand stark against the sky. But for Gilly Poynter, one of Jess’s classmates, the Christmas season is anything but magical. She’s disappeared, leaving behind only her diary and a lot of questions. Has she run away from her unhappy home, or has something more sinister happened? And will Jess be able to find her before it’s too late?(Goodreads).

First lines: As parties went, it was a fairly typical Port Sentinel night out: too many people crammed into a large, expensive house, most of them determined to have fun. If there was one thing I’d learned in the five months I’d been living in Port Sentinel, it was that any excuse for a party would do. The mere fact it was Friday night counted.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBlack widow: forever red, Margaret Stohl

Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives. Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments—until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type. Until now.
When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned—and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams…(Goodreads).

First lines: Natasha Romanoff hated pierogies – but more than that, she hated lies. Lying she was fine with. Lying was a necessity, a tool of her tradecraft. It was being lied to that she hated, even if it was how she had been raised.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTruthwitch, Susan Dennard

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others. In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well. Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.
Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness. Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.(Goodreads).

First lines: Everything had gone horribly wrong. None of Safiya fon Hasstrel’s hastily laid plans for this hold up were unfolding as they ought. First, the black carriage with the gleaming gold standard was not the target Safi and Iseult had been waiting for. Worse, this cursed carriage was accompanied by eight rows of city guards blinking midday sun from their eyes.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSound, Alexandra Duncan

As a child, Ava’s adopted sister Miyole watched her mother take to the stars, piloting her own ship from Earth to space making deliveries. Now a teen herself, Miyole is finally living her dream as a research assistant on her very first space voyage. If she plays her cards right, she could even be given permission to conduct her own research and experiments in her own habitat lab on the flight home. But when her ship saves a rover that has been viciously attacked by looters and kidnappers, Miyole—along with a rescued rover girl named Cassia—embarks on a mission to rescue Cassia’s abducted brother, and that changes the course of Miyole’s life forever. (Goodreads)

First lines: The butterflies keep dying. Their gossamer corpses line the back wall of Dr. Osman’s office -spotted swallowtails and the dark-tinged bird-wings-all suspended in squat acrylic resin cylinders behind her desk.
“It has to be a genetic disorder.” I hold the latest casualty, a common blue, out to Dr. Osmani in my gloved hand. “They can’t handle the atmosphere.”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsYoung man with camera, Emil Sher

T– is used to getting grief. He gets it from his mom, who blames herself for his accident years earlier. He gets it from Mr. Lam, who suspects every kid of stealing from his shop. Worst of all, he gets it from Joined at the Hip, a trio of bullies so vicious that they leave T– terrified of even using his entire name. But T– has his own strength too: his camera, which captures the unique way he sees the world. His pictures connect him to Ms. Karamath, the kind librarian at school; his friend Sean, whose passion for mysteries is matched only by his love for his dog; and especially Lucy, a homeless woman who shares his admiration for the photographer Diane Arbus. When Lucy is attacked by Joined at the Hip, T– documents the assault on film. But the bullies know he has the photographs, and their anger could be deadly. What’s the right thing for T– to do? Do pictures ever tell the whole truth? And what if the truth isn’t always the right answer? (Goodreads)

First lines: This is not a fire hydrant. And the truth is, a hydrant isn’t always a hydrant. Sometimes it’s a perch. I stood on my perch to take a picture of Ruby. Ruby is Mr. Lam’s daughter. Mr. Lam is the owner of McCreary’s Corner Store, which is a lie, since the store is in the middle of the block and should be called McCreary’s Nowhere-Near-the-Corner Store.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGathering deep, Lisa Maxwell

When Chloe Sabourin wakes in a dark, New Orleans cemetery with no memory of the previous days, she can hardly believe the story her friends tell her. They say Chloe was possessed by a witch named Thisbe, who had used the darkest magic to keep herself alive for over a century. They tell her that the witch is the one responsible for the unspeakable murders that nearly claimed the life of Chloe’s friend, Lucy. Most unbelievable of all, they say that Thisbe is Chloe’s own mother. As she struggles with this devastating revelation and tries to rebuilt her life, Chloe wants nothing to do with the magic that corrupted her mother…especially since she feels drawn to it.
Now, a new series of ritualistic killings suggests that Thisbe is plotting again, and Chloe is drawn unwillingly back into the mystical underworld of the French Quarter. To stop Thisbe before she kills again, Chloe and her friends must learn what they can from the mysterious Mama Legba. But when her boyfriend Piers vanishes, Chloe will have to risk everything and embrace her own power to save the one person she has left… even if that means bringing down her mother. (Goodreads)

First lines: Hair don’t weigh no more than a soul, but taken all together, it’s got the sort of gravity that anchors a person. Shh. Shh. The scissors whispered their sharp commands, and pieces of who I was fell all around me. I wanted to scream, to tell them I’d changed my mind. But I couldn’t seem to make my mouth form the words.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe suffering, Rin Chupeco

Seventeen-year-old Tark knows what it is to be powerless. But Okiku changed that. A restless spirit who ended life as a victim and started death as an avenger, she’s groomed Tark to destroy the wicked. But when darkness pulls them deep into Aokigahara, known as Japan’s suicide forest, Okiku’s justice becomes blurred, and Tark is the one who will pay the price… (Goodreads)

First lines: I’m no hero, believe me. I’ve never rescued babies from burning buildings. I’ve never volunteered to save humpback whales or the rain forest. I’ve never been to protest rallies, fed the hungry in Africa, or righted any of the eighty thousand things that are wrong with the world these days. Heroism isn’t a trait commonly found in teenage boys.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe rosemary spell, Virginia Zimmerman

Best friends Rosie and Adam find an old book with blank pages that fill with handwriting before their eyes. Something about this magical book has the power to make people vanish, even from memory. The power lies in a poem—a spell. When Adam’s older sister, Shelby, disappears, they struggle to retain their memories of her as they race against time to bring her back from the void, risking their own lives in the process.(Goodreads)

First lines:For ten years, my father’s furniture and books lurked in the study he abandoned. I don’t remember a time when we thought he might come back, but his belongings were like a bookmark, holding a place in our lives, until Mom found out he’d moved to London.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThis raging light, Estelle Laurie

Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she’s about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend’s brother.(Goodreads)

First lines: Mom was supposed to come home yesterday after her two-week vacation. Fourteen days. Said she needed a break from everything (See also: Us) and that she would be back before the first day of school.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThrough the woods, Emily Carroll (Graphic novel)

Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss. These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll. Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there…(Goodreads)

First lines: When I was little I used to read before I slept at night. And I read the light of a lamp clipped to my headboard. Stark white and bright, against the darkness of my room. I dreaded turning it off. What if I reached out…just past the edge of bed and something waiting there, grabbed me and pulled me down, into the dark-

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe mystery of hollow places, Rebecca Podos

All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when Imogene was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as “troubled waters.”
Now Imogene is seventeen, and her father, a famous author of medical mysteries, has struck out in the middle of the night and hasn’t come back. Neither Imogene’s stepmother nor the police know where he could’ve gone, but Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. And she decides it’s up to her to put to use the skills she’s gleaned from a lifetime of reading her father’s books to track down a woman she’s only known in stories in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she’s carried with her for her entire life.
(Goodreads).

First lines: The bedtime story my dad used to tell me began with my grandmother’s body. Back when my dad wasn’t yet my dad, but a young forensic pathologist at Good Shepherd Hospital the city, a dead woman landed on his table. She was middle-aged and unremarkable, her hair colourless, her face like a vacant moon.

Travel through time (and space?)

Time travel is one of my absolute favourite plot tropes, and it can be handled very differently from story to story. Sometimes more serious, sometimes less so. It’s also interesting to see how different interpretations deal with time continuity, and what happens when the past (or future) is altered. Here are a few time-travel picks which I hope you’ll enjoy!

Syndetics book coverThe here and now / Ann Brashares.
“Prenna and her doctor mom are not your average immigrants. No, they have immigrated to New York from the 2090s, a future of climate-change extremes and mosquito-borne plagues that wipe out entire families and civilizations. The few who have survived the plagues and the journey back to 2010 have been charged with two challenges: change the course of environmental history and assimilate into the culture without disclosing their origins or becoming intimate with the natives. Prenna knows her friendship with Ethan is red-flag behavior. When an elderly homeless man warns her that she and Ethan must prevent a murder on May 17, 2014 just days away she realizes she must defy the community and its counselors for civilization’s greater good.” (Booklist)

Syndetics book coverThe 57 lives of Alex Wayfare / MG Buehrlen.
“For as long as Alex Wayfare can remember, she has had visions of the past. Vivid visions that make her feel like she’s really on a ship bound for America, or riding the original Ferris wheel at the World’s Fair. It isn’t until she meets Porter, a stranger who knows more than should be possible about her, that she learns the truth; her visions aren’t really visions. Alex is a Descender — capable of traveling back in time to her past lives. But the more she descends, the more it becomes apparent that someone doesn’t want Alex to travel again. And they will stop at nothing to make this life, her fifty-seventh, her last.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverTempest / Julie Cross.
The year is 2009.  Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun. That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future. Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities. But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler.  Recruit… or kill him.” (Goodreads)

Syndetics book coverA thousand pieces of you / Claudia Gray.
Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him. Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.” (Goodreads)

Syndetics book coverTimebound / Rysa Walker.
“When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes the old woman is delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when a murder in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from blinking out of existence. Kate learns that the 1893 killing is part of something much more sinister, and Kate’s genetic ability to time-travel makes her the only one who can stop him. Risking everything, she travels to the Chicago World’s Fair to try to prevent the killing and the chain of events that follows. Changing the timeline comes with a personal cost, however—if Kate succeeds, the boy she loves will have no memory of her existence. And regardless of her motives, does she have the right to manipulate the fate of the entire world?” (Goodreads)

Syndetics book coverAfter Eden / Helen Douglas.
“Eden Anfield loves puzzles, so when mysterious new boy Ryan Westland shows up at her school she’s hooked. On the face of it, he’s a typical American teenager. So why doesn’t he recognise pizza? And how come he hasn’t heard of Hitler? What puzzles Eden the most, however, is the interest he’s taking in her. As Eden starts to fall in love with Ryan, she begins to unravel his secret. Her breakthrough comes one rainy afternoon when she stumbles across a book in Ryan’s bedroom – a biography of her best friend – written over fifty years in the future. Confronting Ryan, she discovers that he is there with one unbelievably important purpose … and she might just have destroyed his only chance of success.” (Goodreads)

Syndetics book coverSteel / Carrie Vaughn.
“Sixteen-year-old Jill has fought in dozens of fencing tournaments, but she has never held a sharpened blade. When she finds a corroded sword piece on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued and pockets it as her own personal treasure. The broken tip holds secrets, though, and it transports Jill through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Stranded in the past and surrounded by strangers, she is forced to sign on as crew. But a pirate’s life is bloody and brief, and as Jill learns about the dark magic that brought her there, she forms a desperate scheme to get home—one that risks everything in a duel to the death with a villainous pirate captain.” (Goodreads)

Syndetics book coverTimeRiders / Alex Scarrow.
“Liam O’Connor should have died at sea in 1912. Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010. Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2026. Yet moments before death, someone mysteriously appeared and said, ‘Take my hand …’ But Liam, Maddy and Sal aren’t rescued. They are recruited by an agency that no one knows exists, with only one purpose—to fix broken history. Because time travel is here, and there are those who would go back in time and change the past. That’s why the TimeRiders exist: to protect us. To stop time travel from destroying the world…” (Goodreads)

Page 1 of 6