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Tag: Ghosts Page 1 of 3

Halloween Movies to Make You Feel Young Again

Halloween has arrived and Wellington City Libraries has some spooktacular DVDs in the collection for your viewing pleasure and frightful night in.

Relive your childhood Halloween movie-watching ways with some of our favourite picks from our movie collection below. To complete the experience we recommend a plenitude of popcorn and a whole bunch of blankets to hide under. Even better if you can find your old teddy that used to bring you comfort in the dead of the night.

Let the scare fest begin!

image courtesy of amazon.com1. Tim Burton’s The nightmare before Christmas.

“Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town, is bored with doing the same thing every year for Halloween. One day he stumbles into Christmas Town, and is so taken with the idea of Christmas that he tries to get the resident bats, ghouls, and goblins of Halloween town to help him put on Christmas instead of Halloween — but alas, they can’t get it quite right.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.com2. Corpse bride.

“Set in a 19th century European village, this stop-motion animation feature follows the story of Victor, a young man whicked away to the underworld and wed to a mysterious corpse bride, while his real bride Victoria waits bereft in the land of the living. Though life and the Land of the Dead proves to be a lot more colourful than his strict upbringing, Victor learns that there is nothing in this world – or the next – that can keep him away from his one true love. It’s a tale of optimism, romace and a very lively afterlife, told in classic Burton style.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.com3. Paranorman.

“From the makers of Coraline comes the story of Norman, a boy who must use his special powers to save his town from a centuries-old curse. In addition to spooky zombies, he’ll also have to take on unpredictable ghosts, wily witches, and, worst of all, clueless grown-ups. But this young ghoul whisperer will soon find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.comimage courtesy of amazon.com4. Gremlins 1 and 2.

“Billy Peltzer’s father buys him a new cuddly pet. But heed these three warnings: Don’t ever get him wet. Keep him away from bright light. And the most important thing, the one thing you must never forget: no matter how much he cries, no matter how much he begs…never, never feed him after midnight.” (Catalogue). In the sequel, “A Gremlin is captured by a mad scientist, who not only helps it multiply, but gives it the ability to talk.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.com5. Addams Family Values.

“It’s love at first fright when Gomez and Morticia welcome a new addition to the Addams household – Pubert, their soft, cuddly, mustachioed boy. As Fester falls hard for voluptuous nanny Debbie Jilinsky, Wednesday and Pugsley discover she’s a black-widow murderess who plans to add Fester to her collection of dead husbands. The family’s future grows even bleaker when the no-good nanny marries Fester and has the kids shipped off to summer camp. But Wednesday still has a Thing or two up her sleeve.” (Catalogue)

6. The Witches (1989) and (2020). image courtesy of amazon.com

In the 1989 version, “Nine-year-old Luke finds that saving the world from witches is a tall order for a boy who has been turned into a mouse.” (Catalogue). In the 2021 version, “The darkly humorous and heartwarming tale of a young orphaned boy who, in late 1967, goes to live with his loving Grandma in the rural Alabama town of Demopolis. As the boy and his grandmother encounter some deceptively glamorous but thoroughly diabolical witches, she wisely whisks him away to a seaside resort. Regrettably, they arrive at precisely the same time that the world₂s Grand High Witch has gathered her fellow cronies from around the globe, undercover, to carry out her nefarious plans.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.com7. Ghostbusters 1 and 2. 

“The original “Ghostbusters” and its sequel teamed comedians Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis with director Ivan Reitman, to tell the story of a trio of paranormal investigators who must save the world from the evil clutches of the supernatural.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.com8. The Goonies.

Another oldie but a goodie! Join the Goonies on a swashbuckling adventures! Following a mysterious treasure map into a spectacular underground realm of twisting passages, outrageous booby-traps and a long-lost pirate ship full of golden doubloons, the kids race to stay one step ahead of bumbling bad guys… and a mild-mannered monster with a face only a mother could love. A family adventure classic from start to buccaneering finish.

image courtesy of amazon.com

9. Labyrinth.

“When young Sarah cavalierly wishes that goblins would take her crying baby brother away, she gets her wish. Now, she must confront Gareth – ruler of a mystical world one step removed from reality, master of the goblins who abducted her brother… and creator of the treacherous labyrinth that Sarah must solve in order to make things right.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.com10. Coraline.

“A young girl walks through a secret door that she has found in her new home and discovers an alternate version of her life. On the surface, this parallel reality is eerily similar to her real life, but much better. When her adventure turns dangerous, and her counterfeit parents, including the Other Mother, try to keep her forever, Coraline must count on her resourcefulness, determination, and bravery to get back home – and save her family.” (Catalogue).

Extra challenge… from beyond the grave!

Get into the Halloween spirit and dance your socks off zombie-style to Thriller by the late but talented Michael Jackson! Hmmm, I wonder if he would be keen to accept the vacancy of Wellington City Libraries’ library ghost?

Did you know? Wellington City Libraries’  Nao Robots, Frank and Stein, (formally known as Red and Blue) can whip out their own dance moves to to Thriller by Michael Jackson. Read more about them here.

Have a safe and happy halloween!

Beyond Marvel and DC!

There are a real flood of comic book adaptions coming out at the moment. Aquaman, Teen Titans, Spiderman, Captain Marvel…and of course, the conclusion to the Infinity War. We have plenty of those titles in our collection! But smaller publishers and lesser-known titles deserve some love too.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSheets, Brenna Thummler

In four words: love, grief, laundry, and ghosts. Marjorie is thirteen and struggling to deal with the death of her mother, the (failing) family dry cleaning business, and the pressures of school. Luckily – or unluckily – she comes into contact with Wendell, a ghost trying to deal with the very particular struggles of his afterlife. The two worlds collide with dramatic results for everyone.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOn a sunbeam, Tillie Walden

This only came across my desk in the last weeks of December but I’ve already decided it’s one of my top picks for the year’s best graphic novels. Set in a far-distant future, it depicts two teenage girls falling in love, while studying at an exclusive boarding school. But another plot thread enters the narrative; one of those girls, many years later, joins a crew who do restoration work on abandoned buildings. Did I mention this was all set in space? It’s one of the most intriguing and more importantly heart-felt narratives about loss and found family I’ve seen in a long time. The art – purely black and white- manages to be stark and lush at the same time. It’s a striking, original work.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHelen and the Go-Go ninjas, Ant Sang And Michael Bennet

Ant Sang’s one of New Zealand’s premier comic artists and Michael Bennett is a likewise acclaimed writer and director. This powerful team-up brings us this fascinating view of a New Zealand after an environmental catastrophe and strange spheres that use mind control on the few remaining human survivors. We don’t get a lot of Aotearoa-centric science fiction and a graphic novel is even rarer. But its rarity isn’t its main selling point (although worth mentioning) – this has clever sharp writing and amazing art work (check out those action scenes) so please pick it up.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBad Machinery, John Allison

I wasn’t quite sure what I was picking up when I first looked at Bad Machinery. It’s got British weirdness and teen angst in equal measure, along with a hefty dose of dark, strange humour. There are five volumes – plenty to chew through and enjoy.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBarefoot gen: a cartoon story of Hiroshima, Keiji Nakazawa

This is a classic of the graphic novel genre. The author was a Hiroshima survivor and depicts the aftermath of the nuclear bomb being dropped on that city in 1945. There is no glorification of war here; just the agony of people caught up in historical events and living through the ensuing devastation. The art despite being in the familiar ‘toon style, pulls no punches in conveying the horrors of the bombing and the years afterwards. This will stay with you a long time.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSleepless, Sarah Vaughn, writer ; Leila del Duca, artist.

The art is lush and gorgeous, the writing is excellent – I highly recommend this fantasy graphic novel which depicts the difficult life of Lady ‘Poppy’ Pyppenia – the illegitimate daughter of the deceased king – as intrigue seizes the court as her uncle takes the throne. Then there’s her bodyguard, Cyneric – a “Sleepless Knight” – who has taken a vow to protect her. Courtly intrigue, romance, assassination attempts – a must-read for fantasy fans.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe cheerleaders, Kaza Thomas

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook. First there was the car accident–two girls dead after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know his reasons. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they’d lost. That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow, Monica is at the center of it all. There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHeart of Thorns, Bree Barton

In the ancient river kingdom, touch is a battlefield, bodies the instruments of war. Seventeen-year-old Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood. Not women. Demons. The same demons who killed her mother without a single scratch. But when Mia’s father suddenly announces her marriage to the prince, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Only after the wedding goes disastrously wrong does she discover she has dark, forbidden magic–the very magic she has sworn to destroy. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe surface breaks, Louise O’Neill

Deep beneath the sea, off the cold Irish coast, Gaia is a young mermaid who dreams of freedom from her controlling father. On her first swim to the surface, she is drawn towards a human boy. She longs to join his carefree world, but how much will she have to sacrifice? What will it take for the little mermaid to find her voice? Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale is reimagined through a searing feminist lens, with the stunning, scalpel-sharp writing and world building that has won Louise her legions of devoted fans. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe survival game, Nicky Singer

Mhairi owns only two things: a gun with no bullets and her identity papers. The world is a shell of what it once was. Mhairi must prove herself worthy of existence at every turn, at every border checkpoint. And if she is going to survive, her instincts will become her most valuable weapon. But then she meets a young boy with no voice at all, and finds herself risking everything to take him to safety. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGrace and fury, Tracy Banghart

Bold, brutal and beautiful, this is a must-read with the glitter and romance of The Selection and the thrilling action and intrigue of Red Queen. In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other on an island prison where women must fight to survive. Serina has spent her whole life preparing to become a Grace – selected to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining example of the perfect woman.

But her headstrong and rebellious younger sister has a dangerous secret, and one wrong move could cost both sisters everything. Can Serina fight? And will Nomi win? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSea witch, Sarah Henning

Ever since her best friend, Anna, drowned, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. Hiding her talents, mourning her loss, drowning in her guilt. Then a girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears offshore and, though the girl denies it, Evie is convinced that her best friend actually survived. That her own magic wasn’t so powerless after all … The rise of Hans Christian Andersen’s iconic villainess is a heart-wrenching story of friendship, betrayal, and a girl pushed beyond her limits– to become a monster. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsI am out with lanterns, Emily Gale

One of us is in the dark. One of us is a bully. One of us wants to be understood. One of us loves a girl who loves another. One of us remembers the past as if it just happened. One of us believes they’ve drawn the future. But we’re all on the same map, looking for the same thing. Year Ten begins with a jolt for best friends and neighbours Wren and Milo. Along with Hari, Juliet, Ben and Adie, they tell a story of friendship, family, wild crushes, bitter feuds, and the power of a portrait. As their lives interwine, images could bring them together, and tear them apart. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsJust breathe, Andrew Daddo

Hendrix’s father has a vision – to see Hendrix run for Australia at the Olympics. Hendrix’s days are completely mapped out – what he eats, when he trains, when he sleeps – even the air he breathes. A girl was never meant to part of that vision, especially in the lead-up to the Nationals. But when Hendrix literally bowls Emily over on a training run, he just can’t get her out of his head, and chinks begin to appear in his training regime as he falls for her. But Emily has a deadly secret that she’s reluctant to share even with Hendrix. As their bond grows and Hendrix strays further from his father’s strict schedule, the tension builds to a heart-wrenching climax. (Publisher information)

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe last to let go, Amber Smith

Junior year for Brooke Winters is supposed to be about change. She’s transferring schools, starting fresh, and making plans for college so she can finally leave her hometown, her family, and her past behind. But all of her dreams are shattered one hot summer afternoon when her mother is arrested for killing Brooke’s abusive father. No one really knows what happened that day, if it was premeditated or self-defense, whether it was right or wrong. And now Brooke and her siblings are on their own. In a year of firsts–the first year without parents, first love, first heartbreak, and her first taste of freedom–Brooke must confront the shadow of her family’s violence and dysfunction, as she struggles to embrace her identity, finds her true place in the world, and learns how to let go. (Publisher information)

First lines: It’s the end of June. A Friday. Like any other day, except hotter. I take my usual shortcut home from school through the alley, where the air is dense and unbreathable, saturated with the raw smell of overheated dumpster garbage. I can taste it in the back of my throat like an illness coming on.

Book cover courtesy of Syndetics36 questions that changed my mind about you, Vicki Grant

Hildy and Paul each have their own reasons for joining the university psychology study that asks the simple question: Can love be engineered? The study consists of 36 questions, ranging from “What is your most terrible memory?” to “When did you last sing to yourself?” By the time Hildy and Paul have made it to the end of the questionnaire, they’ve laughed and cried and lied and thrown things and run away and come back and driven each other almost crazy. They’ve also each discovered the painful secret the other was trying so hard to hide. But have they fallen in love? (Publisher information)

First lines: There were three rapid knocks, then the door opened and a girl stumbled in, out of breath.
“Sorry. Sorry I’m late. I had to talk to my English teacher about my term paper and he wasn’t in his office and…”
Jeff jiggled his head like no problem.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRosemarked, Livia Blackburne

When Zivah falls prey to the deadly rose plague, she is destined to live her last days in isolation. Dineas, broken by torture at the hands of the Amparan Empire, thirsts for revenge against his captors; he’ll do anything to free his tribe from Amparan rule– even if it means undertaking a plan that risks not only his life but his very self. The two are thrust together on a high-stakes mission to spy on the capital, and must find common ground to protect those they love– while grappling with a mutual attraction that could break both of their carefully guarded hearts. (Publisher information)

First lines: A bitter film of ziko root coats the inside of my mouth. I run my tongue over my palate to rub out the taste, though I know it won’t work. Nothing dislodges ziko bitterness – not water, not bread, nor goat’s milk. If I’d been planning ahead, I might have brought a mint leaf to chew, but I’ve had more important things on my mind.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAkata warrior, Nnedi Okorafor

A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book. Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity. (Publisher information)

First lines: Greetings from the Obi Library Collective of Leopard Knocks’ Department of Responsibility. We are a busy organisation with more important things to do. However, we’ve been ordered to write you this brief letter of information. It is necessary that you understand what you understand what you understand what you are getting into before you begin reading this book. If you already understand, then feel free to skip this warning and jump right into the continuation of Sunny’s story and Chapter 1.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAll that was, Karen Rivers

Piper and Sloane were best friends. They grew up together, from childhood to first love, and in spite of how different they were, their friendship was supposed to last forever. That is, until Piper caught Sloane kissing her boyfriend–and just days later, Piper was found dead, washed ashore on a beach. Sloane was torn with grief and guilt. How do you make amends for hurting someone you love if that person is no longer around? And how can you ever move on and love again? (Publisher information)

First lines: What do I do now?
I’m under.
I’m gone.
I’m below.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe chaos of standing still, Jessica Brody

Ryn has one unread text message on her phone. And it’s been there for almost a year. She hasn’t tried to read it. She can’t. She won’t. Because that one message is the last thing her best friend ever said to her before she died. But as Ryn finds herself trapped in the Denver International Airport on New Year’s Eve thanks to a never-ending blizzard on the one-year anniversary of her best friend’s death, fate literally runs into her. And his name is Xander. When the two accidentally swap phones, Ryn and Xander are thrust into the chaos of an unforgettable all-night adventure, filled with charming and mysterious strangers, a secret New Year’s Eve bash, and a possible Illuminati conspiracy hidden within the Denver airport. But as the bizarre night continues, all Ryn can think about is that one unread text message. It follows her wherever she goes, because Ryn can’t get her brialliantly wild and free-spirited best friend out of her head. Ryn can’t move on. But tonight, for the first time ever, she’s trying. And maybe that’s a start. (Publisher information)

First lines: The view from the window of seat 27F is like trying to look through a snow glove after you’ve shaken it so hard the artificial white flakes don’t know which way is down.
“Restless” is a word that comes to mind.
Is it safe to land a plane in a snowstorm?

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBetween us, Clare Atkins

Between Us is the story of two teenagers – Jono and Anahita – falling in love for the first time. There’s just one thing standing between them: twenty kilometres of barbed wire fence. Anahita lives in the Wickham Point Immigration Detention Centre, where asylum seekers are detained while they wait to be ‘processed’ by the Australian government. The two teenagers meet at Darwin High School. Anahita travels from Wickham Point to school each day, passing through metal detectors, checkpoints and enduring multiple roll calls on the detention centre bus. Jono has no idea about any of this. All he knows is that there’s a beautiful new girl with dark eyes, who keeps looking over in his direction … is it possible she likes him? (Publisher information)

First lines: I start again.
I lift my right foot off the ground, and place it on the lowest step of the bus. My nerves are an electric lightning storm inside me, fraught and fiery.
The officer waves from me to get on. Her voice cracks with impatience. “Hurry up!”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNobody real, Steven Camden

Marcie is seventeen and under pressure. Pressure from Mum to go to University. Pressure from Dad to rebel and find her passion. Everyone seems to know what’s best for her. Nobody just listens. Not like her imaginary friend Thor Baker used to. When Tara’s older brother Morgan comes home from university, Marcie thinks she might have someone who understands. Then Thor Baker shows up. In the real world. Still strong, still handsome, still made to protect her and to love her. But Thor has his own ideas of what love and protection mean. And what Thor wants might not be what’s best for Marcie either. As the story builds, seen through Marcie’s eyes and Thor’s, the stakes continue to grow, until both find themselves having to choose – between what they have always wanted, and what they really need…(Publisher summary)

First lines: You’re almost twelve.
Staring through the fire at Sean. The tips of the flames lick the top branches of the bush you’ve both spent all day hollowing out.
You’re holding the stolen aerosol can. Sean’s nervous smile. Your willing apprentice.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSecond best friends, Non Pratt

Jade and Becky are best friends, but when Jade’s ex-boyfriend lets on that everyone thinks Becky is the better of the two, Jade finds herself noticing just how often she comes second to her best friend. There’s nothing Jade is better at than Becky. So when Jade is voted in as Party Leader ahead of her school’s General Election only to find herself standing against Becky, Jade sees it as a chance to prove herself. If there’s one thing she can win, it’s this election – even if it means losing her best friend. (Publisher information)

First lines: Rules for breaking up with hottest guy in school.
1. Know your reasons
2. Look fierce
3. Take your best friend for moral support (even if she puts up a fight)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsI never, Laura Hopper

Janey King’s priorities used to be clear: track, school, friends, and family. But when seventeen-year-old Janey learns that her seemingly happy parents are getting divorced, her world starts to shift. Back at school, Luke Hallstrom, an adorable senior, pursues Janey, and she realizes that she has two new priorities to consider: love and sex. (Publisher information)

First lines: Happy freaking’ New Year. Did they really think this was a good time to do this? Really? Here we are in beautiful Cabo San Lucas, where I’m enjoying a much-needed break from the stress that junior year of high school brings. At out supposedly celebratory New Year’s Eve dinner, they drop the bomb.
“Separating.” “Splitting up.” We all know those are euphemisms for the dreaded D word.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe breathless, Tara Goedjen

No one knows what really happened on the beach where Roxanne Cole’s body was found, but her boyfriend, Cage, took off that night and hasn’t been seen since. Until now. One year–almost to the day–from Ro’s death, when he knocks on the door of Blue Gate Manor and asks where she is. Cage has no memory of the past twelve months. According to him, Ro was alive only the day before. Ro’s sister Mae wouldn’t believe him, except that something’s not right. Nothing’s been right in the house since Ro died. And then Mae finds the little green book. The one hidden in Ro’s room. It’s filled with secrets–dangerous secrets–about her family, and about Ro. And if what it says is true, then maybe, just maybe, Ro isn’t lost forever. (Publisher information)

First lines: It isn’t a night for raising. It isn’t night yet at all. It’s a hazy gray afternoon, with the promise of rain. A layer of fog covers Blue Gate and the woods that surround it, but we can se inside the windows. Here a family gathers near a girl with hair that gleams. Her green eyes have a hint of gold, and she is a pretty thing. The kind of girl everyone points to and says: something big is going to happen to her one day.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHonour among thieves, Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell. Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan–a race of sentient alien ships–to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers. Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight. (Publisher information)

First lines: I feel the stars.
Energy pulses against my skin, murmuring secrets about this small galaxy, about orbits and alignments and asteroids streaming in space. Impulse makes me want to dive and cruise those currents, but I control urges. I shift my attention to the flutters of life within my skin.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOrangeboy, Patrice Lawrence

Not cool enough, not clever enough, not street enough for anyone to notice me. I was the kid people looked straight through. NOT ANY MORE. NOT SINCE MR ORANGE. Sixteen-year-old Marlon has made his mum a promise – he’ll never follow his big brother, Andre, down the wrong path. So far, it’s been easy, but when a date ends in tragedy, Marlon finds himself hunted. They’re after the mysterious Mr Orange, and they’re going to use Marlon to get to him. Marlon’s out of choices – can he become the person he never wanted to be, to protect everyone he loves? (Publisher summary)

First lines: Man, I couldn’t stop looking at her. When I closed my eyes, I still saw her. Her hair was thick and blonde, and a curl looped over her ear to her shoulder. She wore black mascara and green eyeliner and her lips looked shiny and stick. Sonya Wilson was right there next to me and it made my brain buzz.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDon’t tell the bridesmaid, Katy Birchall

Romance is in the air! Preparations for the Wedding of the Century between Anna’s dad and super famous actress Helena Montaine is in full swing (all Anna needs to do is escape having to wear the biggest meringue of a bridesmaid dress that EVER existed.) And not only that but Anna, her friends and her ACTUAL BOYFRIEND (definitely requires shouting), Connor, are about to go on a school trip in romantic Rome. So as long as Anna can avoid doing something like falling face first in the Trevi Fountain, nothing could spoil this perfect pasta-filled moment. Could it? (Publisher summary)

First lines:”You can’t keep me trapped up here forever!”
Jess folded her arms, looking very pleased with herself.
“Sure I can.”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSuperpowerless, Chris Priestly

David is sixteen. A pretty ordinary boy, in most ways – he just wants to hang out in his bedroom, reading his dad’s old comics. Comics that are full of his heroes – those figures whose lives are charmed, special, unique. Life hasn’t been easy recently for David, though. His father died just a couple of years ago, he has a fractious relationship with his mum, and he has fallen out with his best friend. But, David has a secret, which he hasn’t told anyone. He has superpowers. He can soar through the air, he has superhearing, he feels and hears everything super-keenly. So life should be easier, then, shouldn’t it? But somehow it’s not – and when David gets involved with the girl next door, gorgeous Holly Hunter, he begins to realise just how very complicated it can get. David’s harbouring another secret, a deeper darker one, and on this journey from boyhood to manhood, will he have the courage to face up to it? (Publisher summary)

First lines: David is halfway to the shop when he spies a group of girls he knows from school. He doesn’t usually employ his superpowers for such trivial things, but as they draw near he engages his power of invisibility and they walk on past as though he doesn’t even exist.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLabyrinth lost, Zoraida Cordova

Alex is a bruja and the most powerful witch in her family. But she’s hated magic ever since it made her father disappear into thin air. When a curse she performs to rid herself of magic backfires and her family vanishes, she must travel to Los Lagos, a land in-between as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland, to get her family back. (Publisher summary)

First lines: The second time I saw my dead aunt Rosaria, she was dancing.
Earlier that day, my mom had warned me, pressing a long, red fingernail on the tip of my nose,
“Alejandra, don’t go downstairs when the Circle arrives.”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe girl in between, Sarah Carroll

A homeless girl and her Ma, always hiding from the authorities, take shelter in an abandoned mill in the center of a big city, but when developers make plans to knock the mill down, everything changes, prompting the girl to wonder what kind of ghosts are haunting both the mill and her mother. (Publisher summary)

First lines: I’m invisible. Ma says I’m supposed to be so the Authorities don’t get me. She goes out into the streets almost every day but I’m not allowed. I’ve got to stay inside the mill so they don’t see me.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCity of saints and thieves, Natalie C. Anderson

After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrive in Kenya. Her mother quickly finds work as a maid for the Greyhills, a prominent family. When her mother is found shot to death in Mr. Greyhill’s personal study, Tina knows exactly who’s behind it. Tina spends the next four years surviving on the streets alone, working as a master thief for the Goondas, Sangui City’s local gang. Finally, Tina gets a chance for vengeance but as soon as she steps inside the lavish home, she’s overtaken by the pain of old wounds and the pull of past friendships, setting into motion a dangerous cascade of events that could, at any moment, cost Tina her life. (Publisher summary)

First lines: If you’re going to be a theif, the first thing you need to know is that you don’t exist. And I mean, you really have to know it. You have to own it. Bug Eye taught me that. Because if you do exist, you might snag someone’s eye who will frown and wonder who you are.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSolo, Kwame Alexander

Seventeen-year-old Blade endeavors to resolve painful issues from his past and navigate the challenges of his former rockstar father’s addictions, scathing tabloid rumors, and a protected secret that threatens his own identity. (Publisher summary)

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPhantom limbs, Paula Garner

Otis and Meg were inseparable until her family abruptly moved away after the terrible accident that left Otis’s little brother dead and both of their families changed forever. Since then, it’s been three years of radio silence, during which time Otis has become the unlikely protégé of eighteen-year-old Dara–part drill sergeant, part friend–who’s hell-bent on transforming Otis into the Olympic swimmer she can no longer be. But when Otis learns that Meg is coming back to town, he must face some difficult truths about the girl he’s never forgotten and the brother he’s never stopped grieving (Amazon.com)

First lines: When I finally heard from Meg, it was May, historically her month of choice for upending my universe. It was ungodly hour of swim o’clock – I was checking my messages in the dark with one eye half open, synapses barely firing, when the sight of Meg’s name in my inbox jolted me awake.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe names they gave us, Emery Lord

Everything is going right for Lucy, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job. Instead Lucy lands at a camp as a counselor for kids who have been through tough times. There Lucy discovers more than one old secret. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.
When her perfectly planned summer of quality time with her parents, her serious boyfriend, and her Bible camp unravels and long-hidden family secrets emerge. (Publisher information).

First lines: The first prom crisis is manageable. I’m reapplying my lip color in the ladies’ room when one of the swim team girls bursts on, sobbing. Our senior captain, Mallory, is right behind her.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHouse of furies, Madeline Roux

After escaping a harsh school where punishment was the lesson of the day, seventeen-year-old Louisa Ditton is thrilled to find employment as a maid at a boarding house. But soon after her arrival at Coldthistle House, Louisa begins to realize that the house’s mysterious owner, Mr. Morningside, is providing much more than lodging for his guests. Far from a place of rest, the house is a place of judgment, and Mr. Morningside and his unusual staff are meant to execute their own justice on those who are past being saved. Louisa begins to fear for a young man named Lee who is not like the other guests. He is charismatic and kind, and Louisa knows that it may be up to her to save him from an untimely judgment. But in this house of distortions and lies, how can Louisa be sure whom to trust? (Publisher information).

First lines: My name is Louisa Rose Ditton. I work and live at Coldthistle House, a house for boarders and wanderers. A house owned by the devil. The usual reaction, and my own once upon a time, is to give a gasp of outrage if you are one of a moral persuasion, a guffaw of scepticism if you’re another.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBang, Barry Lyga

Sebastian Cody did something horrible, something no one — not even Sebastian himself — can forgive. At the age of four, he accidentally shot and killed his infant sister with his father’s gun. Now, ten years later, Sebastian has lived with the guilt and horror for his entire life. With his best friend away for the summer, Sebastian has only a new friend — Aneesa — to distract him from his darkest thoughts. But even this relationship cannot blunt the pain of his past. Because Sebastian knows exactly how to rectify his childhood crime and sanctify his past. It took a gun to get him into this. Now he needs a gun to get out. (Publisher information)

First lines: My sister is in the memory hole. She has been disappeared, vanished, eliminated, eradicated. The memory hole is a conceit from a book they made us read in school, 1984. Even though the story takes place in the past, it feels very much like the present or the near future.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBallad for a mad girl, Vikki Wakefield

Everyone knows seventeen-year-old Grace Foley is a bit mad. She’s a prankster and a risk-taker, and she’s not afraid of anything except losing. As part of the long-running feud between two local schools in Swanston, Grace accepts a challenge to walk the pipe. That night she experiences something she can’t explain. The funny girl isn’t laughing anymore. She’s haunted by voices and visions – but nobody believes a girl who cries wolf. As she’s drawn deeper into a twenty-year-old mystery surrounding missing girl Hannah Holt, the thin veil between this world and the next begins to slip. She can no longer tell what’s real or imagined – all she knows is the ghosts of Swanston, including that of her own mother, are restless. It seems one of them has granted her an extraordinary gift at a terrible price. Everything about her is changing – her body, her thoughts, even her actions seem to belong to a stranger. Grace is losing herself, and her friends don’t understand. Is she moving closer to the truth? Or is she heading for madness? (Publisher information).

First lines: I’ve been having hateful thoughts again. I wish I could cast them out like an airbourne curse or summon a superpower through sheer will. I’d choose telekinesis over flying any day-slam some saucepans, smash a few ornaments, shatter a window. I’d drag my dad across the floor, slide him up a wall, pin him to the ceiling, and laugh like a maniac as I stroll out the front door.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMy fairy godmother is a drag queen, David Clawson

Seventeen-year-old Chris’s stepmother wants her daughter, Kimberly, to marry wealthy J. J. Kennerly to save the family from financial ruin, but J. J. is gay and Chris has caught his eye. Loosely based on Cinderella. (Publisher information).

First lines: It’s really weird to see yourself on the cover of tabloid. I mean, you go into the convenience store at the corner to get an energy drink because you need something to help you stay awake so that you can study for your calculus exam the next day, and there’s your entire family on the cover.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRocks fall, everyone dies, Lindsay Ribar

Aspen Quick can reach inside you with his mind and steal anything he wants — knowledge, memories, sobriety, even love. It’s a powerful skill he’s always taken for granted. He doesn’t care how it affects you; you’ll never know what he’s doing, so you’ll never catch him. Besides, it’s his family’s centuries-old ritual that prevents the cliff above his town from collapsing and killing everyone below, so isn’t he entitled to some kind of reward for keeping everyone safe? But Aspen’s not the only Quick with the ability to steal, and this summer he becomes a target, which finally forces him to take a closer look at his family’s abilities and the secret they’ve kept hidden for so many generations. (Publisher information).

First lines: Brandy and Theo were about to break up. They just didn’t know it yet. They were fighting about this movie they’d seen last week, and Theo was going,
“What’s the point? The whole plot was just an excuse for explosions!”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStraight outta Crongton, Alex Wheattle

Life’s a constant hustle for Mo. Her mum’s boyfriend Lloyd is just another man who likes to beat down women; the South Crong streets are fraught with hazards and nasty G’s; and when it comes to matters of the heart . . . she’s still hung up on Sam. (Publisher information).

First lines: “Mum! Why d’you let him take my dinner money?”
She was sitting on her bed, tying her dressing gown belt around her waist – it needed washing but I had used the last of the bio capsules to clean my PE kit the previous evening. Sleep clogged up the corners of her eyes. Her mascara now looked as if she’d applied it with a mop.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsJuniper Lemon’s happiness index, Julie Israel

Sixty-five days after the death of her older sister, sixteen-year-old Juniper Lemon discovers the break-up letter addressed to “You” Camilla wrote the day she died. Juni is shocked–she knew nothing of this You, and now the gaping hole in her life that was her sister feels that much bigger. She’s determined to uncover the identity of You and deliver the letter. Maybe that would help fill the hole, even if only a bit. But what Juniper doesn’t expect is that in searching for You she will unearth other notes and secrets–and that may be just what she needs to sort out her own mess. (Publisher information.)

First lines: The girl in the picture doesn’t look any different. Things you see: brown eyes. Hair to the shoulders. Natural eyeliner. Things you don’t: stitches. A neck brace. The sleep rings hidden beneath her makeup. I lower my new student ID card. My throat is tight with all the changes I carry, but don’t find there.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe pearl thief, Elizabeth Wein

When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she’d imagined won’t be exactly like she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather’s estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family’s employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital. Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scottish Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister, Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she experiences some of the prejudices they’ve grown used to firsthand, a stark contrast to her own upbringing, and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation. Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime. (Publisher information)

First lines: “You’re a brave lassie.”
That’s what my grandfather told me as he gave me his shotgun.”
“Stand fast and guard,” he instructed. “If this fellow tries to fight, you give him another dose.”

Halloween Countdown: monster hunters

Friedrich Nietzsche once said something that has formed the basis of many fictional story. “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster…” Whether or not the protagonists in these stories have won that particular battle is up to you.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe monstrumologist, Rick Yancey

Will Henry, an orphan, becomes an assistant to the titular character, an acerbic man called Dr. Pellinore Warthorpe. Be warned: the monsters in this book are nasty and the author pulls no punches in describing the gore and mayhem they cause.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe haunting of Alaizibel Cray, Chris Wooding

Monsters known as wych-kin have overrun an alternate-history London. Thaniel Fox is one of the best wych-hunters in London, along side his mentor, Cathaline Bennett. But he needs all his wit and skill when he encounters Alaizibel Cray and the horrific conspiracy that surrounds her…This is one of my favourite YA novels ever. This is a book not just about a few characters but an entire city in the grip of a terror caused by human and monster alike. Disease, poverty and violence stalk the streets – the wych-kin are only the beginning of this London’s problems.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRiverkeep, Martin Stewart

Unlike the other monster-hunters, Wulliam Fobisher has his sights set on a single monster: the mormorach, a magical but deadly creature that may be able to save his afflicted father. Riverkeep’s one of the most original and interesting novels I’ve read this year, with an enthralling fantasy world populated by all sorts of strange people.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe girl from the well, Rin Chupeco

“I am where the dead children go.”
This is a rarity in the “monster hunter” genre. Okiku is an unavenged spirit who seeks to avenge the murdered souls of others – the monsters she hunts are very human and very alive. It starts out with a terrifying chapter in which this is described. This is the first in a series – make sure you read them all, it’s well worth it.

Halloween series: Hauntings

Everyone loves a good ghost story, right? We’ve got so many that it was hard to pick my favourites.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe time of the ghost, Diana Wynne Jones

This was Diana Wynne Jones’ thirteenth book ever published; a Goodreads commenter pondered if this was an accident. Even if it wasn’t, it’s a genuinely creepy story told from a ghost’s perspective, as she tries to work out which of four sisters she is and how to prevent an “accident” she knows is coming. Then there’s a strange malevolent force that the sisters seem to have called up…

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFrozen charlotte, Alex Bell

A drowning, a fire and a series of mysterious deaths at linked to a closed school; all are connected through a group of mysterious dolls known as Frozen Charlottes. Frozen Charlottes are a real type of doll by the way and their backstory is just as (if not more) morbid than the one in the book.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLong lankin, Lindsey Barraclough

An ancient evil stirs when two sisters are sent to live with their reclusive Aunt Ida. This book’s a bit of a slow burn; the terror and unease slowly growing as Cora, the elder of the two, discovers more and more about the mysteries of the old family home. This is not only a terrifying story of a ghost, but an interesting look at how a whole community can be haunted by the spectres of the past.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe graveyard book, Neil Gaiman

This is a warm, witty and sometimes outright terrifying retelling of the Jungle Book. The young hero, Nobody Owens, is raised in a graveyard by its mysterious and ghostly denizens. But a mysterious stranger threatens his home and himself, and he must find the courage to fight back. Chris Riddell – one of my favourite artists – provides some amazing illustrations as well.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticssJohnny and the Dead, Terry Pratchett

Johnny, an ordinary guy, meets a bunch of dead people in the cemetery, which is facing destruction at the hands of a local business. They’re not ghosts and get very offended when you suggest that they are, but they’re certainly not keen on being moved from their graves. Johnny decides he has to help. Unlike the others, this is more funny than scary – but well worth reading after if the other titles are keeping you awake…

Halloween series: short story collections

I enjoy settling in with a long novel as much as the next horror fan, but sometimes I like short stories: they’re like the jump scares of scary books. Here are some great collections.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsExtremities: stories of death, murder, and revenge, David Lubar

David Lubar’s better known as a writer for younger readers but this definitely belongs in the YA section. Despite the title, some of these stories have a sly, dark humour – but that doesn’t make them any less disturbing.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsScary stories, illustrated by Barry Moser with an introduction by Peter Glassman

This is a collection of “classic” horror stories – Roald Dahl, H.P Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and our very own Margaret Mahy have stories in here and it’s a good introduction to the other -but perhaps less well known to YA audiences- horror writers such as Saki and Ambrose Bierce. If you’re wanting more names to help broaden your reading. The illustrations are simple black and white – but are creepy as anything.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSlasher girls and monster boys, stories selected by April Genevieve Tucholke

There are some impressive names from YA literature in this collection; Marie Lu and Carrie Ryan to name just two. A more contemporary take on horror themed short stories, I have no doubt these will keep you up past bedtime…

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBlack Juice, Margo Lanagan

Margo Lanagan’s short stories aren’t scary in the conventional sense; there may be things that go bump in the night but more often than not they depict a muted, interior sense of unease that will persist long after you put the book down. Horror doesn’t always come the paranormal – often it’s humanity that shapes a hostile world. Lanagan also has three more short story collections availible; White time, Red Spikes and Yellowcake.

My best picks for 2015

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThis year’s been a great year for graphic novels and horror, among other things. Here are my top ten picks for the best reads of 2015.

1) The singing bones, Shaun Tan

2) Baba Yaga’s assistant, Emily Carroll

3) Nimona, Noelle Stevenson

4) Part-time Princesses, Monica Gallagher

5) Gotham by midnight, Ray Fawkes and Ben Templesmith

6) Frozen Charlotte, Alex Bell

7) Calvin, Martine Leavitt

8) When Mr. Dog bites, Brian Conaghan

9) Our endless numbered days, Claire Fuller

10) Silver in the blood, Jessica Day George

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsForever for a year, B.T. Gottfred

When Carolina and Trevor meet on their first day of school, something draws them to each other. They gradually share first kisses, first touches, first sexual experiences. When they’re together, nothing else matters. But one of them will make a choice, and the other a mistake, that will break what they thought was unbreakable. Both will wish that they could fall in love again for the first time . . . but first love, by definition, can’t happen twice. (Goodreads)

First lines: It was my idea for us to start using our full names. It was going to help us take ourselves more seriously now we were starting high school. It’s like I used to be Carrie, this awkward eighth-grader, but now I was going to be Carolina, this amazing freshman. Oh my gosh, this sounds so dumb when I say it like that. Never mind.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNo such person, Caroline B. Cooney

Murder. One of the Allerdon sisters has been charged with a pre-meditated killing and taken to jail. It doesn’t seem possible–but it’s happening. What was supposed to be a typical summer is anything but for this seemingly ordinary family. Shortly after they arrive at their cozy family cottage on the river, Lander meets and is smitten witha handsome young man, and they begin to date. Miranda has a bad feeling about her sister’s new boyfriend. And when the family must deal with an unimaginable nightmare, Miranda can’t help feeling that the boyfriend has something to do with it. The police say they have solid evidence against Lander. Miranda wants to believe in her sister when she swears she is innocent. But as Miranda digs deeper into the past few weeks of Lander’s life, she wonders why everything keeps pointing to Lander’s guilt.(Goodreads)

First lines: At first the police are casual. She too is casual. Puzzled, but not worried. The questions become more intense. The questions frighten her. Where are the police going with this? They are not giving her time to think. Her tongue is dry and tastes of metal. Her hands are damp. Her breath is ragged.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSilver in the blood, Jessica Day George

Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate… or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.(Goodreads)

First lines: Dearest Lou,
Whoever said that travel was exotic and full of adventure has clearly not sailed on the White Lady. Before you worry yourself sick that I am sitting in some squalid cabin, suffering from seasickness, fear not! Of course it is all that is respectable and luxurious, and I would never do anything so horribly undignified as become seasick.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsShadowshaper, Daniel Jose Older

Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “No importa” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on. Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future. (Goodreads)

First lines: “Sierra? What are you staring at?”
“Nothing, Manny.”
Blatant lie. Sierra glanced down from the scaffolding to where Manny the Domino King stood with his arms crossed over his chest.
“You sure?” he said.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe cut out, Jack Heath

Fero isn’t a spy. But he looks exactly like someone who is: Troy Maschenov – a ruthless enemy agent. But what starts as a case of mistaken identity quickly turns into a complicated and dangerous plan. Fero is recruited to fight for his country. He will have to impersonate Troy, enter enemy territory, hunt down a missing agent and bring her home in time to prevent a devastating terror attack. Fero is in way over his head. Hastily trained, loaded up with gadgets and smuggled across the border, he discovers the truth about espionage. Getting in is easy. Getting out alive is hard. (Goodreads)

First lines: “We shouldn’t be here,” Fero said.
“Will you relax?” Irla demanded. “It’s about to start.”
Irla didn’t look relaxed. She was shifting her weight from foot to foot on the cobblestones.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAdrift, Paul Griffin

Matt and his best friend, John, only came out to Montauk for the summer to make a little extra cash and then head back home. A seemingly basic plan for two guys from Queens.
And then Matt meets Driana. Because it’s always about a girl, right? The girl leads to a party, the party leads to a boat, which leads to being adrift at sea with three rich kids who have no clue about how to navigate a boat, let alone actually survive. Matt and John are used to creating stability in unstable situations, but Matt’s busy falling in love at the worst possible time, and John can rub people the wrong way when he’s focused on survival. Driana is trying to keep the peace, but her friends JoJo and Stef aren’t making it easy. The longer they are out there, the lower everyone’s reserves of mental and emotional strength, which is a problem since the biggest mistakes can happen when people are tired and hungry and have no hope. How far will each of them go to survive? (Goodreads)

First lines: The surfers called it The End for its killer waves. To Everyone else it was the end of Long Island. Montauk. It’s a town of beaches and bluffs on the tip of the south fork.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe glass arrow, Kristen Simmons

In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning. (Goodreads)

First lines: Run. My breath is sharp as a dagger, stabbing through my throat. It’s all I hear. Whoosh. Whoosh. In and out. They’re here. The Trackers. They’ve followed Bian from the lowland village where he lives. The fool lead them right to us.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe accident season, Moira Fowley-Doyle

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items – but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear. But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free? (Goodreads)

First lines: So let’s raise our glasses to the accident season,
To the river beneath is where we sink our souls,
To the bruises and secrets, to the ghosts in the ceiling,
One more drink for the watery road.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHit count, Chris Lynch

Arlo Brodie loves being at the heart of the action on the football field, getting hit hard and hitting back harder. That’s where he belongs, leading his team to championships, becoming “Starlo” on his way to the top. Arlo’s dad cheers him on, but his mother quotes head injury statistics and refuses to watch games. Arlo’s girlfriend tries to make him see how dangerously he’s playing; when that doesn’t work, she calls time out on their relationship. Even Arlo’s coaches begin to track his hit count, ready to pull him off the field when he nears the limit. But Arlo’s not worried about tallying collisions. The winning plays, the cheering crowds, and the adrenaline rush are enough to convince Arlo that everything is OK—in spite of the pain, the pounding, the dizziness, and the confusion. (Goodreads)

First lines: “All I ever wanted to do was hit people, is that so bad? Does that make me a bad guy?”
That would have been funny if Lloyd was trying to be funny but he wasn’t.
“That’s not so bad, Lloyd,” I told him, “And you are not a bad guy. I think you should stop that though.”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsReawakened, Collen Houck

When seventeen-year-old Lilliana Young enters the Metropolitan Museum of Art one morning during spring break, the last thing she expects to find is a live Egyptian prince with godlike powers, who has been reawakened after a thousand years of mummification. And she really can’t imagine being chosen to aid him in an epic quest that will lead them across the globe to find his brothers and complete a grand ceremony that will save mankind. But fate has taken hold of Lily, and she, along with her sun prince, Amon, must travel to the Valley of the Kings, raise his brothers, and stop an evil, shape-shifting god named Seth from taking over the world. (Goodreads)

First lines: In the great city of Itjawy, the air was thick and heavy, reflecting the mood of the men in the temple, especially in the countenance of the king and the terrible burden he carried in his heart. As King Heru stood behind a pillar and looked upon the gathered people, he wandered if the answer his advisers and priests had given was their salvation or instead, their utter destruction.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLair of Dreams, Libba Bray

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to “read” objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners’ abilities…Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer? (Goodreads)

First lines: Every city is a ghost. New buildings rise upon the bones of the old so that each skinny steel beam, each tower of brick carries within it the memories of what has gone before, an architectural haunting. Sometimes you can catch a glimpse of these former incarnations in the awkward angle of a street or a filigreed gate, an old oak door peeking out from a new façade, the plaque commemorating the spot that was a battleground, which became a saloon and is now a park.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLegacy of Kings, Eleanor Herman

Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise. Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters. (Goodreads)

First lines: Katerina races across the meadow, scanning for any roots or rocks in her way. Her heart thumps wildly in her chest. Her legs ache. The gazelle leaps slightly ahead of her, its hooves barely touching the grass. it is a blur of tan and white, with long, black-ringed horns; a creature not fully of the earth, but also of the sky.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGotham Academy (graphic novel), Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl

Welcome to Gotham Academy, the most prestigious school in Gotham City. Only the best and brightest students may enter its halls, study in its classrooms, explore its secret passages, summon its terrifying spirits… Okay, so Gotham Academy isn’t like other schools. But Olive Silverlock isn’t like other students. After a mysterious incident over summer break, she’s back at school with a bad case of amnesia, an even worse attitude…and an unexplained fear of bats. Olive’s supposed to show new student Maps Mizoguchi the ropes. Problem: Maps is the kid sister of Kyle, Olive’s ex. Then there’s the ghost haunting the campus…and the secret society conducting bizarre rituals. Can Olive and Maps ace the biggest challenge of their lives? Or are they about to get schooled? (Goodreads)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTo this day: for the bullied and the beautiful, Shane Koyczan

In February 2013, Shane Koyczan’s passionate anti-bullying poem “To This Day” electrified the world. An animated video of the lyric narrative went viral, racking up over 12 million hits to date and inspiring an international movement against bullying in schools. Shane later performed the piece to sustained applause on the stage of the 2013 annual TED Conference.
Now this extraordinary work has been adapted into an equally moving and visually arresting book. Thirty international artists, as diverse as they are talented, have been inspired to create exceptional art to accompany “To This Day.” Each page is a vibrant collage of images, colors and words that will resonate powerfully with anyone who has experienced bullying themselves, whether as a victim, observer, or participant. Born of Shane’s own experiences of being bullied as a child, “To This Day” expresses the profound and lasting effect of bullying on an individual, while affirming the strength and inner resources that allow people to move beyond the experience. A heartfelt preface and afterword, along with resources for kids affected by bullying, make this book an invaluable centerpiece of the anti-bullying movement. (Goodreads)

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRead me like a book, Liz Kessler

Ashleigh Walker is in love. You know the feeling – that intense, heart-racing, all-consuming emotion that can only come with first love. It’s enough to stop her worrying about bad grades at college. Enough to distract her from her parents’ marriage troubles. There’s just one thing bothering her…Shouldn’t it be her boyfriend, Dylan, who makes her feel this way – not Miss Murray, her English teacher?(Goodreads)

First lines: Where’s your best friend when you need her? I mean, seriously. It’s Saturday night and here I am in Luke’s front room with his sister, Zoe, and a bunch of his mates, listening to a rock band blaring about how we’re all going to die and watching a couple of lads do something that I think is meant to be dancing but looks more like they’re being slowly electrocuted.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLullaby, Bernard Beckett

Rene’s twin brother Theo lies unconscious in hospital after a freak accident left him with massively disrupted brain function. There is hope, though. An experimental procedure—risky, scientifically exciting and ethically questionable—could allow him to gain a new life. But what life, and at what cost? Only Rene can give the required consent. And now he must face that difficult choice. But first there is the question of Rene’s capacity to make that decision. And this is where the real story begins. (Goodreads)

First lines: I remember the machine by his bed. It made a sound like sighing. Numbers twitched, unable to settle. A jagged line sawed across the screen. At least it was something to look at. Something that wasn’t him. They’d brushed his hair, as if he were already dead. A song came into my head, as if he were already dead. A song came into my head, I couldn’t chase it away. ‘Girlfriend in a Coma.’

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe alex crow, Andrew Smith

Once again blending multiple story strands that transcend time and place, Grasshopper Jungle author Andrew Smith tells the story of 15-year-old Ariel, a refugee from the Middle East who is the sole survivor of an attack on his small village. Now living with an adoptive family in Sunday, West Virginia, Ariel’s story of his summer at a boys’ camp for tech detox is juxtaposed against those of a schizophrenic bomber and the diaries of a failed arctic expedition from the late nineteenth century. Oh, and there’s also a depressed bionic reincarnated crow. (Goodreads)

First lines: “Here, kitty-kitty.”
The cat had a name -Alex-but General Parviz always called him in the same generic manner. General Parviz, all gilded epaulets, and clinking medals, a breathing propaganda poster, repeated, cooing, “Here, kitty-kitty.”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe wrath and the dawn, Renee Ahdieh

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend. She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

First lines: It would not be a welcome dawn. Already the sky told this story, with its sad halo of silver beckoning from beyond the horizon. A young man stood alongside his father on the rooftop terrace of the marble palace. They watched the pale light of the early morning sun push back the darkness with slow, careful deliberation.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDisappear home, Laura Hurwitz

In 1970, as the hippie movement is losing its innocence, Shoshanna and her six-year-old sister, Mara, escape from Sweet Earth Farm, a declining commune, run by their tyrannical and abusive father, Adam. Their mother, Ella, takes them to San Francisco, where they meet one of her old friends, Judy, and the four of them decide to head off and try to make a life together. Finding a safe haven at the farm of kind, elderly Avery Elliot, the four of them find some measure of peace and stability. Then their mother’s crippling depression returns. Confused and paranoid, Ella is convinced that she and the girls must leave before Adam finds them and extracts revenge. The girls don’t wish to leave the only stable home they’ve ever had. But as Ella grows worse and worse, events conspire to leave them to face a choice they never could have imagined. Shoshanna has always watched over her sister and once again she has to watch over her ailing mother. Will she ever live a “normal” life? (Goodreads)

First lines: Shosanna knew evil when it crossed her path. Hell, she had walked with it by her side, whispering, like a serpent in her ear, for nearly fifteen years. She and Ella knew that time had run out. The time to think maybe next month, next week had passed. What came next had to be stopped. They had to leave. Now.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBone gap, Laura Ruby

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame? Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go. (Goodreads)

First lines: The people of Bone Gap called Finn a lot of things, but none of them was his name. When he was little, they called him Spaceman. Sidetrack. Moonface. You. As he got older, they called him Pretty Boy. Loner. Brother. Dude. But whatever they called him, they called him fondly.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsExtraordinary means, Robyn Schneider

At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it’s easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French. There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times. But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down. (Goodreads)

First lines: My first night at Latham House, I lay awake in my narrow, gabled room in Cottage 6 wondering how many people had died in it. And I didn’t just wonder this casually, either. I did the math. I figured the probability. And I came up with a number: right. But then, I’ve always been terrible at math.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSkandal, Lindsay Smith

Life in Washington, D.C., is not the safe haven Yulia hoped for when she risked everything to flee communist Russia. Her father is reckless and aloof, and Valentin is distant and haunted by his past. Her mother is being targeted by the CIA and the US government is suspicious of Yulia’s allegiance. And when super-psychics start turning up in the US capitol, it seems that even Rostov is still a threat. Ultimately, Yulia must keep control of her own mind to save the people she loves and avoid an international Skandal. (Goodreads)

First lines: “Yulia Andreevna Chernina.” The general’s mouth stretches around the rubbery Russian vowels as he reads from the file before him. “Did I get that right?” He smiles at me like any mistake would be my fault, somehow. “We are here to determine whether someone of your…background is fit to serve the United States of America in her constant battle against tyranny.”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe haunting of sunshine girl, Paige Mckenzie

Based on the wildly popular YouTube channel, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl has been described as “ Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity for the new media age.” YA fans new and old will learn the secrets behind Sunshine—the adorkable girl living in a haunted house—a story that is much bigger, and runs much deeper, than even the most devoted viewer can imagine…(Goodreads)

First lines: She turned sixteen today. I watched it happen. Katherine, the woman who adopted her, baked her a cake: carrot cake, a burnt sort of orange colour with white frosting smothered over the top. A girl named Ashley came over to her house with candles, which they lit despite the sweltering Texas heat.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEvery last promise, Kristin Halbrook

Kayla saw something at the party that she wasn’t supposed to. But she hasn’t told anyone. No one knows the real story about what happened that night—about why Kayla was driving the car that ran into a ditch after the party, about what she saw in the hours leading up to the accident, and about the promise she made to her friend Bean before she left for the summer.
Now Kayla’s coming home for her senior year. If Kayla keeps quiet, she might be able to get her old life back. If she tells the truth, she risks losing everything—and everyone—she ever cared about.

First lines: We came back from spring break in Florida – me and Jen and Selma and Bean- with tans. Dark for Selena, whose skin deepened and just a kiss of golden cream for strawberry-haired bean. It has been, for all of us, our first trip without our parents.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLiberty’s fire, Lydia Syson

Paris, 1871. Four young people will rewrite their destinies. Paris is in revolt. After months of siege at the hands of the Prussians, a wind of change is blowing through the city, bringing with it murmurs of a new revolution. Alone and poverty-stricken, sixteen-year-old Zephyrine is quickly lured in by the ideals of the city’s radical new government, and she finds herself swept away by its promises of freedom, hope, equality and rights for women. But she is about to fall in love for a second time, following a fateful encounter with a young violinist. Anatole’s passion for his music is soon swiftly matched only by his passion for this fierce and magnificent girl. He comes to believe in Zephyrine’s new politics – but his friends are not so sure. Opera-singer Marie and photographer Jules have desires of their own, and the harsh reality of life under the Commune is not quite as enticing for them as it seems to be for Anatole and Zephyrine. And when the violent reality of revolution comes crashing down at all their feet, can they face the danger together – or will they be forced to choose where their hearts really lie? (Goodreads)

First lines: Jules stared intently at the image emerging under the sunlight. Blues turning to browns, the tones shifting before his eyes. Trapped behind the glass of the wooden printing frame were the ruins of the emperor’s out-of-town palace: scarred columns, gaping roof, sky and rubble, all slowly appearing in their sudden and terrible decay.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhen my heart was wicked, Tricia Stirling

16-year-old Lacy believes that magic and science can work side by side. She’s a botanist who knows how to harness the healing power of plants. So when her father dies, Lacy tries to stay with her step-mother in Chico, where her magic is good and healing. She fears the darkness that her real mother, Cheyenne, brings out, stripping away everything that is light and kind.
Yet Cheyenne never stays away for long. Beautiful, bewitching, unstable Cheyenne who will stop at nothing, not even black magic, to keep control of her daughter’s heart. She forces Lacy to accompany her to Sacramento, and before long, the “old” Lacy starts to resurface. But when Lacy survives a traumatic encounter, she finds herself faced with a choice. Will she use her powers to exact revenge and spiral into the darkness forever? Or will she find the strength to embrace the light?

First lines: My stepmother, Anna, swears magic exists in the everyday. I used to think she was full of it, but then one morning at Big Chico Creek we found a mermaid’s eye under a patch of bird’s-foot trefoil. The eye was large and perfectly round like a human’s, but it had the glittering green iris of a fish.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOne true thing, Nicole Hayes

Frankie is used to being a politician’s daughter, but it’s election time, so life’s crazier than usual. Add a best friend who’s being weirdly distant, a brother to worry about, and the fact that Frankie’s just humiliated herself in front of a hot guy – who later turns up at band practice to interview her about her music. Jake seems to like Frankie – really like her. But then everything crumbles. Photos appear of Frankie’s mum having secret meetings with a younger man – and she refuses to tell the public why. With her family falling apart around her, Frankie is determined to find out the truth – even if it means losing Jake. (Goodreads)

First lines: Most sixteen-year-olds get woken by their parents because they’re late for school, or the dog needs walking, or there’s a maths test in the first period. My mum drags me out of bed with reminders she has to fight for international peace or solves world hunger.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThings we have in common, Tasha Kavanagh

Yasmin would give anything to have a friend… And do anything to keep them.The first time I saw you, you were standing at the far end of the playing field. You were looking down at your brown straggly dog, your mouth going slack as your eyes clocked her. Alice Taylor. I was no different. I’d catch myself gazing at the back of her head in class, at her thick fair hair swaying between her shoulder blades. If you’d glanced just once across the field, you’d have seen me standing in the middle on my own looking straight at you, and you’d have gone back through the trees to the path quick, tugging your dog after you. You’d have known you’d given yourself away, even if only to me. But you didn’t. You only had eyes for Alice.(Goodreads)

First lines: The first time I saw you, you were standing at the far end of the playing field near the bit of fence that’s trampled down, where the kids that come to school along the wooded path cut across.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDon’t stay up late, R.L Stine

Ever since a car accident killed her father and put Lisa and her mother into the hospital, Lisa can’t think straight. She’s plagued by nightmares and hallucinations that force her to relive the accident over and over again in vivid detail. When Lisa finds out that a neighbor is looking for a babysitter for her young son, she takes the job immediately, eager to keep busy and shake these disturbing images from her head. But what promised to be an easy gig turns terrifying when Lisa begins to question exactly who — or what — she is babysitting. (Goodreads)

First lines: My name is Lisa Brooks and I’m a twisted psycho. I wasn’t always a total nutcase. Before the accident, I thought I was doing pretty okay. My family moved to Shadyside in February. It took a little while to adjust to a new house, a new town, and a new high school. That’s normal, right?

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOthergirl, Nicola Burstein

Louise and Erica have been best friends since forever. They’re closer than sisters and depend on each other for almost everything. Just one problem: Erica has superpowers.
When Erica isn’t doing loop-the-loops in the sky or burning things with her heat pulse powers, she needs Louise to hold her non-super life together. After all, the girls still have homework, parents and boys to figure out. But being a superhero’s BFF is not easy, especially as trouble has a way of seeking them out. Soon Louise discovers that Erica might be able to survive explosions and fly faster than a speeding bullet, but she can’t win every fight by herself.(Goodreads)

First lines: I’ve started to do a new thing where I pretend to ignore her when she taps on my window. It’s funny to sense her getting quietly furious while she’s hovering out there, hair illuminated blazing gold by the garden security light, while I carry on with home. Of course it’s not all that funny for long because Erica’s quiet fury quickly turns to an irate pounding on the glass.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsExile, Kevin Emerson

Catherine Summer Carlson knows how to manage bands like a professional—she’s a student at the PopArts Academy at Mount Hope High, where rock legends Allegiance to North got their start. Summer knows that falling for the lead singer of her latest band is the least professional thing a manager can do. But Caleb Daniels isn’t an ordinary band boy—he’s a hot, dreamy, sweet-singing, exiled-from-his-old-band, possibly-with-a-deep-dark-side band boy. And he can do that thing. That thing when someone sings a song and it inhabits you, possesses you, and moves you like a marionette to its will. Summer also finds herself at the center of a mystery she never saw coming. When Caleb reveals a secret about his long-lost father, one band’s past becomes another’s present, and Summer finds it harder and harder to be both band manager and girlfriend. She knows what the well-mannered Catherine side of her would do, but she also knows what her heart is telling her. Maybe it’s time to accept who she really is, even if it means becoming an exile herself. . . .(Goodreads)

First lines: As all true music fans know, this year is the fifteenth anniversary of one of rock’s greatest triumphs and tragedies: the release of Allegiance to North’s seminal second album, Into the Ever & After, which dropped one year after the death of lead singer and songwriter Eli White.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMisfits of Avalon, vol.1 Kel McDonald (Graphic novel)

Four modern-day misfit teens are reluctant recruits to save the mystical isle of Avalon. Magically empowered–and chained to the task–by a set of rings, and directed in their mission by a tight-lipped talking dog, they must stop the rise of King Arthur. But as they struggle to get used to their powers and each other, they’re faced with an even greater challenge: the discovery that they may not be the good guys in this story…

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBandette vol.2: Stealers, Keepers, Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Graphic novel)

Bandette returns to steal readers’ hearts once again! The teenaged master burglar has thrown down the gauntlet with the Great Thieving Race, and friendly rival Monsieur has stepped in to take the challenge. This second charming collection of the award-winning digital series sees the two competing to steal the most priceless artifacts from the criminal organization FINIS and turning over whatever they learn about its plans to the long-suffering Inspector B. D. Belgique. But FINIS’s response could make this Bandette’s final crime spree!

New books: Bumper edition!

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe unfinished life of Addison Stone, Adele Griffin

From the moment she stepped foot in NYC, Addison Stone’s subversive street art made her someone to watch, and her violent drowning left her fans and critics craving to know more. I conducted interviews with those who knew her best—including close friends, family, teachers, mentors, art dealers, boyfriends, and critics—and retraced the tumultuous path of Addison’s life. I hope I can shed new light on what really happened the night of July 28. (Goodreads)

First lines: The New York City Police Department confirmed they are investigating the death of artist Addison Stone. Her body was recovered early this morning in the East River near the Manhattan Bridge. Initial reports indicate that the victim fell while attempting to plaster a billboard at the Manhattan Bridge overpass.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThey all fall down, Roxanne St. Claire

Every year, the lives of ten girls at Vienna High are transformed. All because of the list. Kenzie Summerall can’t imagine how she’s been voted onto a list of the hottest girls in school, but when she lands at number five, her average life becomes dazzling. Doors open to the best parties, new friends surround her, the cutest jock in school is after her. This is the power of the list. If you’re on it, your life changes. If you’re on it this year? Your life ends. The girls on the list have started to die, one by one. Is it a coincidence? A curse? Or is the list in the hands of a killer? Time is running out for Kenzie, but she’s determined to uncover the deadly secret of the list…before her number’s up.(Goodreads)

First lines: I run away from home in a downpour. Guilt wends its way through my belly, knotting things up before catapulting into my throat, making it impossible to swallow or breathe. But I have to breathe. I have to exhale the taste of the words my mother and I just slung at each other.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFor the forest of a bird, Sue Saliba

Nella waits for the swallows by the creek each spring. It’s a secret vigil she’s followed ever since her father left. This year she’s going to take him with her . . . but can we ever return to the way things were?(Goodreads)

First lines: Nella stood by the creek and waited. Blue sky above and thistles below that reached her knees, she knew the swallows returned in the second week of spring. Nella was fifteen and each September, she came here. No one knew about her vigil and she held it private inside her like a thing that might die if it were to flee into the open.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPlaylist for the dead, Michelle Falkoff

Here’s what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you’ll understand. As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it’s only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.(Goodreads)

First lines: All my years of watching TV made me think it was possible you could find a dead body and not know it until you turned the person over and found the bullet whole or stab wound or whatever. And I guess in some ways that was right – Hayden was lying under the covers, tangled up in a bunch of his lame-ass Star Wars sheets (how old were we, anyway?), just like he always was when I slept at his house.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsShutter, Courtney Alameda

Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She’s aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera’s technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever. When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn’t exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she’s faced before . . . or die trying.(Goodreads)

First lines: Call it Reaper’s insomnia, but the dead wouldn’t let me sleep at night. Every time the sun went down, I swore I sensed them stirring, starving. Killing. Tonight was no different. As the boys and I pulled up to St. Mary’s hospital, the scene seized and help my nerves at knife-point. The hospital’s power? Out.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSuspicion, Alexandra Monir

“There’s something hidden in the maze.”
Seventeen-year-old Imogen Rockford has never forgotten the last words her father said to her, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family’s English country manor. For seven years, images of her parents’ death have haunted Imogen’s dreams. In an effort to escape the past, she leaves Rockford Manor and moves to New York City with her new guardians. But some attachments prove impossible to shake—including her love for her handsome neighbor Sebastian Stanhope. Then a life-altering letter arrives that forces Imogen to return to the manor in England, where she quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind Rockford’s aristocratic exterior. At their center is Imogen herself—and Sebastian, the boy she never stopped loving.(Goodreads)

First lines: I should know this room. I’ve been inside countless times. But everything looks different now. The vibrant colours have all turned gray, the view out the windows is a foreign blur, and someone must have rearranged the furniture without telling me. Everything feels out of place, and as I moved toward a favourite chair, I nearly sink into empty space.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCity of Savages, Lee Kelly

It’s been nearly two decades since the Red Allies first attacked New York, and Manhattan is now a prisoner-of-war camp, ruled by Rolladin and her brutal, impulsive warlords. For Skyler Miller, Manhattan is a cage that keeps her from the world beyond the city’s borders. But for Sky’s younger sister, Phee, the POW camp is a dangerous playground of possibility, and the only home she’d ever want.
When Sky and Phee discover their mom’s hidden journal from the war’s outbreak, they both realize there’s more to Manhattan—and their mother—than either of them had ever imagined. And after a group of strangers arrives at the annual POW census, the girls begin to uncover the island’s long-kept secrets. The strangers hail from England, a country supposedly destroyed by the Red Allies, and Rolladin’s lies about Manhattan’s captivity begin to unravel. Hungry for the truth, the sisters set a series of events in motion that end in the death of one of Rolladin’s guards. Now they’re outlaws, forced to join the strange Englishmen on an escape mission through Manhattan. Their flight takes them into subways haunted by cannibals, into the arms of a sadistic cult in the city’s Meatpacking District and, through the pages of their mom’s old journal, into the island’s dark and shocking past. (Goodreads)

First lines: Through our wall of windows, I watch darn stand up and take on the city. It throws a thick, molten net over the sky-scrapers, sets the river on fire, and makes me restless to be outside. It’s our last day downtown, and I want to enjoy every second of it.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsX, Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon

Malcolm Little’s parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that’s nothing but a pack of lies—after all, his father’s been murdered, his mother’s been taken away, and his dreams of becoming a lawyer have gotten him laughed out of school. There’s no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls, and reefer. But Malcolm’s efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory when what starts as some small-time hustling quickly spins out of control. Deep down, he knows that the freedom he’s found is only an illusion—and that he can’t run forever. X follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.(Goodreads)

First lines: Friends tell me trouble’s coming. I ease out of the restaurant onto the sidewalk, gun in my pocket. Hand in there, too, keeping it close for good measure. I gotta get back to my pad, and quick now. One foot in front of the other. Keep my head down, hope no one sees me.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsYaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass, Meg Medina

One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is.(Goodreads)

First lines: “Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass.”
A kid named Vanesa tells me this in the morning before school. She springs out with no warning and blocks my way, her textbook held at her chest like a shield. She’s tall like me and caramel. I’ve seen her in the lunchroom, I think. Or maybe just in the halls. It’s hard to remember.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHidden, Donna Jo Napoli

Lost at sea when her sister is taken captive on a marauding slave ship, Brigid is far removed from the only life she knew as a princess and the pampered daughter of an Irish king. Now Brigid has few choices. Alone and abandoned, she disguises herself as a boy and vows to find her innocent sister taken into slavery. Through her search many years pass and she grows from being a child to a woman, tough Brigid does not give up. She lives from the land, meets friend and foe along the way, and gains a reputation as a woman thought to be fierce enough to conquer men. It is not fierceness that guides her but the love of isster and the longing for her family to be united. One day she finds her way, knowing that her only real power comes from within herself.(Goodreads)

First lines: The shock of the cold makes me go instantly rigid. I lift my arms and break the water’s surface and claw at my cheeks till I manage to pull the gag down, and I’m gasping. White glitters the water, the air. Splashes come from somewhere. My arms flail. Shivers seize me. I clamp my jaw shut to hold down the chattering.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWaiting for Gonzo, Dave Cousins

Meet Oz . . . he’s got a talent for trouble but his heart’s always in the right place (well, nearly always).
Uprooted from his friends and former life, Oz finds himself stranded in the sleepy village of Slowleigh. When a joke backfires on the first day at his new school, Oz attracts the attention of Isobel Skinner, the school psycho – but that’s just the beginning.
After causing an accident that puts his mum in hospital, Oz isn’t exactly popular at home either. His older sister’s no help, but then she’s got a problem of her own . . . one that’s growing bigger by the day. Oz knows he’s got to put things right, but life isn’t that simple, especially when the only people still talking to you are a hobbit-obsessed kid and a voice in your own head!(Goodreads)

First lines: Listen, G- this is important and there isn’t much time. I want you to know what really happened, because things weren’t supposed to end like this. I blame Marcel Duchamp, but he’s dead, so there’s not much anybody can do to him now.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMonkey wars, Richard Kurti

When the Langur monkey troop rises to power on the dusty streets of Calcutta, it is at a price. A brutal massacre drives the Rhesus troop out of the place they called home and forces them to embark on a dangerous journey. But one Langur monkey, Mico, is prepared to stand up to the tyrannical Langur regime and fight for truth, friendship and love. As Mico uncovers the secrets and lies at the heart of the corrupt Langur leadership, he quickly realizes he is playing a dangerous game. And when monkeys turn on each other, there can be no survivors…(Goodreads)

First lines: They struck at noon. Monkeys shrieked in confusion as langur fighters sprang down from the cemetery walls, howling in an attacking frenzy. As they stormed through the tombs, fear and panic flashed everywhere. And with the screams came the smell of blood.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLike water on stone, Dana Walrath

It is 1914, and the Ottoman Empire is crumbling into violence. Beyond Anatolia, in the Armenian Highlands, Shahen Donabedian dreams of going to New York. Sosi, his twin sister, never wants to leave her home, especially now that she is in love. At first, only Papa, who counts Turks and Kurds among his closest friends, stands in Shahen’s way. But when the Ottoman pashas set their plans to eliminate all Armenians in motion, neither twin has a choice. After a horrifying attack leaves them orphaned, Shahen and Sosi flee into the mountains, carrying their little sister, Mariam. Shahen keeps their parents’ fate a secret from his sisters. But the children are not alone. An eagle named Ardziv watches over them as they run at night and hide each day, making their way across mountain ridges and rivers red with blood. (Goodreads)

First lines: Three young ones,
one black pot,
a single quill,
and a tuft of red wool
are enough to start
a new life
in a new land.
I knew this is true
because I saw it.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsVango: between sky and earth, Timothee de Fombelle (translated by Sarah Ardizzone)

In a world between wars, a young man on the cusp of taking priestly vows is suddenly made a fugitive. Fleeing the accusations of police who blame him for a murder, as well as more sinister forces with darker intentions, Vango attempts to trace the secrets of his shrouded past and prove his innocence before all is lost. (Publisher’s information).

First lines: Forty men in white were lying facedown on the cobbled square. It looked like a giant snowfield. Swallows whistled as they brushed past the bodies. Thousands of people were watching the spectacle. The cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris spread her shadow over the assembled crowd.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThere will be lies, Nick Lake

In four hours, Shelby Jane Cooper will be struck by a car. Shortly after, she and her mother will leave the hospital and set out on a winding journey toward the Grand Canyon.All Shelby knows is that they’re running from dangers only her mother understands. And the further they travel, the more Shelby questions everything about her past—and her current reality. Forced to take advantage of the kindness of unsuspecting travelers, Shelby grapples with what’s real, what isn’t, and who she can trust . . . if anybody. (Goodreads)

First lines: I’m going to be hit by a car in about four hours, but I don’t know that yet. The weird thing is, it’s not the car that’s going to kill me, that’s going to erase me from the world. It’s something totally different. Something that happens eight days from now and threatens to end everything.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsKilling time in Crystal City, Chris Lynch

Crystal City called for him, and Kevin answered. And why wouldn’t he? His relationship with his father is broken—as is his arm. With barely anyone to miss him or care if he’s gone, it seemed like the perfect time for Kevin to run away to his estranged uncle and create an entirely new identity. New name. New attitude. New friends. Maybe even a new girl. From the first moment of adventure, Kevin’s life takes a turn for the exciting. Making friends seems easy with his new persona, especially when a group of homeless beach bums instantly includes him in their crew. But do they like the real Kevin, or the guy he’s pretending to be? And will this new lifestyle help Kevin escape from the misery of his former life—or will it drag him right back into the reasons he left home? (Goodreads)

First lines: I came for the name. I should probably be embarrassed to admit making a decision on such lameness. But I figure if you are aiming for a place to do a total reboot on your entire self, then you aim for a place with a name like Crystal City.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFalling Kingdoms, Morgan Rhodes

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love. (Goodreads)

First lines: She’d never killed before tonight.
“Stay back,” her sister hissed.
Jana pressed against the stone wall of the villa. She searched the shadows that surrounded them, briefly looking up at the stars, bright as diamonds against the black sky.

We Ordered These Books and They Look Really Good

Some fiction sequels we’ve been hanging out for.

The Wicked Will Rise, Danielle Page – the sequel to Dorothy Must Die, a subversive retelling of the Wizard of Oz books by Frank L. Baum. “Amy Gumm must do everything in her power to kill Dorothy and free Oz. To make Oz a free land again, Amy Gumm was given a mission: remove the Tin Woodman’s heart, steal the Scarecrow’s brain, take the Lion’s courage, and then Dorothy must die… But Dorothy still lives. Now the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked has vanished, and mysterious Princess Ozma might be Amy’s only ally. As Amy learns the truth about her mission, she realizes that she’s only just scratched the surface of Oz’s past – and that Kansas, the home she couldn’t wait to leave behind, may also be in danger. In a place where the line between good and evil shifts with just a strong gust of wind, who can Amy trust – and who is really Wicked?” (goodreads.com) We should get this in early April, all things being equal.

Miss Mayhem, Rachel Hawkins – the sequel to Rebel Belle, and with a cover that’s just as blingy. “Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant. Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her… or connect her to David for life.” (goodreads.com) This is also due out in early April.

The Shadow Cabinet, Maureen Johnson – the third in the Shades of London, a spooky series about Rory, who discovers she can see dead people, some of whom are perfectly pleasant and some of whom are definitely not. I am still reeling from Jack the Ripper (book 1, not really a spoiler). The second book ends on a massive cliffhanger (at least I hope it is), so really looking forward to this one. We should be getting it in the next few weeks.

“Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory’s classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte’s in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming. Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her spectral nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they’ll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself – and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret.” (goodreads.com)

New books

Book cover coutesy of SyneticsWhen Mr. Dog bites, Brian Conaghan

Dylan Mint has Tourette’s. For Dylan, life is a constant battle to keep the bad stuff in – the swearing, the tics, the howling dog that escapes whenever he gets stressed. And, as a sixteen-year-old virgin and pupil at Drumhill Special School, getting stressed is something of an occupational hazard. But then a routine visit to the hospital changes everything. Overhearing a hushed conversation between the doctor and his mother, Dylan discovers that he’s going to die next March.
So he grants himself three parting wishes: three ‘Cool Things To Do Before I Cack It’.
It isn’t a long list, but it is ambitious, and he doesn’t have much time. But as Dylan sets out to make his wishes come true, he discovers that nothing – and no-one – is quite as he had previously supposed. (Goodreads)

First lines: When I found out, the first thing I did was type “100 things to do before you die” into Google. The Internet is, like, wow! How do those Google people make their thingy whizz about the world in a mega-swoosh style before sending me, Dylan Mint, all this big-eye info? No one could answer that question – I know this for a fact because I’ve googled it myself, six tines, and there is nada on it.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe summer I wasn’t me, Jessica Verdi

Lexi has a secret. She never meant for her mom to find out. And now she’s afraid that what’s left of her family is going to fall apart for good. Lexi knows she can fix everything. She can change. She can learn to like boys. New Horizons summer camp has promised to transform her life, and there’s nothing she wants more than to start over. But sometimes love has its own path… (Goodreads)

First lines: My mother drives right past the New Horizons sign.
“Um, Mom?” I touch her arm gently. She doesn’t respond. She’s zoning out again. But these moments have been happening a lot less often lately. Maybe soon they won’t be happening at all.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe astrologer’s daughter, Rebecca Lim

Avicenna Crowe’s mother, Joanne, is an astrologer with uncanny predictive powers and a history of being stalked. Now she is missing.
The police are called, but they’re not asking the right questions. Like why Joanne lied about her past, and what she saw in her stars that made her so afraid. But Avicenna has inherited her mother’s gift. Finding an unlikely ally in the brooding Simon Thorn, she begins to piece together the mystery. And when she uncovers a link between Joanne’s disappearance and a cold-case murder, Avicenna is led deep into the city’s dark and seedy underbelly, unaware how far she is placing her own life in danger.(Goodreads)

First lines: My mother always called it the eventuality. Not the maybe, or the probably.
“It’s going to happen,” she would tell me calmly. “I even know when. It’s a twist in my stars. It’s written there, and we have to accept it.”
My mother, Joanne Nielsen Crowe. She has a name, she’s not a was.

Book cover courtey of SyndeticsAmity, Micol Ostow

When Connor’s family moves to Amity, a secluded house on the peaceful banks of New England’s Concord River, his nights are plagued with gore-filled dreams of demons. destruction, and revenge. Dreams he kind of likes. Dreams he could make real, with Amity’s help.
Ten years later, Gwen’s family moves to Amity for a fresh start. Instead, she’s haunted by lurid visions, disturbing voices, and questions about her own sanity. But with her history, who would ever believe her? And what could be done if they did?
Because Amity isn’t just a house. She is a living force, bent on manipulating her inhabitants to her twisted will. She will use Connor and Gwen to bring about a violent end as she’s done before. As she’ll do again. And again. And again.(Goodreads)

First lines: Here is a housel bones of beam and joints of hardware, stone foundation smooth, solid as the core of the earth, nestled, pressed, cold and flat and dank against the hard-packed soil and all of its squirming secrets.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsKate Walden directs: Night of the zombie chickens, Julie Mata

Night of the Zombie Chickens is supposed to be Kate Walden’s breakout film. But her supporting actresses-her mother’s prize organic hens-are high maintenance, to say the least. Thank goodness Kate’s best friend Alyssa is the star. She’s great at screaming and even better at killing zombies in creative ways. But when Alyssa turns into a real-life soulless zombie and ditches Kate for the most popular girl in seventh grade, Kate suddenly finds herself both friendless and starless. Now, thanks to Alyssa’s new crowd, Kate is the butt of every joke at school and consigned to the loser table at lunch. If movies have taught Kate anything, it’s that the good guy can always win-with the right script. And her fellow social outcasts may be the key to her own happy ending. Kate hatches the perfect revenge plot against her former best friend, but even though her screenplay is foolproof, Kate soon realizes that nothing-in filmmaking or in life-ever goes exactly as planned. Especially when there are diabolical hens out to get you.(Goodreads)

First lines: The last normal day of my life is a Saturday, and it starts pretty much like every other morning. When I go downstairs to the kitchen, my dad rattles his newspaper and my mother mumbles something in my direction and yawns.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsForget me, K.A Harrington

On the three-month anniversary of her boyfriend Flynn’s death, Morgan uploads her only photo of him to FriendShare to get some closure—but she’s shocked when the facial recognition software suggests she tag him as “Evan Murphy.” She’s never heard of Evan, but a quick search tells her that he lives in a nearby town and looks exactly like Flynn. Only this boy is very much alive. Digging through layers of secrets and lies, Morgan is left questioning everything she thought she knew about her boyfriend, her town, and even her parents’ involvement in this massive web of lies.(Goodreads)

First lines: He lied to me. That was my first thought when I saw him. I was alone in my car, on the way to the party where Toni and my other friends were waiting. As I drove down Lincoln Road, my eyes went to the tall chain-link fence that bordered the old amusement park.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAs red as blood, Salla Simukka

In the midst of the freezing Arctic winter, seventeen-year-old Lumikki Andersson walks into her school’s dark room and finds a stash of wet, crimson-colored money. Thousands of Euros left to dry—splattered with someone’s blood.
Lumikki lives alone in a studio apartment far from her parents and the past she left behind. She transferred into a prestigious art school, and she’s singularly focused on studying and graduating. Lumikki ignores the cliques, the gossip, and the parties held by the school’s most popular and beautiful boys and girls. But finding the blood-stained money changes everything. Suddenly, Lumikki is swept into a whirlpool of events as she finds herself helping to trace the origins of the money. Events turn even more deadly when evidence points to dirty cops and a notorious drug kingpin best known for the brutality with which he runs his business. As Lumikki loses control of her carefully constructed world, she discovers that she’s been blind to the forces swirling around her—and she’s running out of time to set them right. When she sees the stark red of blood on snow, it may be too late to save her friends or herself.(Goodreads)

First lines: All around lay glittering white. Over old snow, a new, clean layer of soft flakes had fallen fifteen minutes earlier. Fifteen minutes earlier everything had still been possible. The world had looked beautiful, the future flickering somewhere in the distance, brighter, freer, more peaceful.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMonument 14, Emmy Laybourne

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong. In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.(Goodreads)

First lines: Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t hug her and tell her that you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not – you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe ghosts of Heaven, Marcus Sedgewick

A bold, genre-bending epic that chronicles madness, obsession, and creation, from the Paleolithic era through the Witch Hunts and into the space-bound future. Four linked stories boldly chronicle madness, obsession, and creation through the ages. Beginning with the cave-drawings of a young girl on the brink of creating the earliest form of writing, Sedgwick traverses history, plunging into the seventeenth century witch hunts and a 1920s insane asylum where a mad poet’s obsession with spirals seems to be about to unhinge the world of the doctor trying to save him. Sedgwick moves beyond the boundaries of historical fiction and into the future in the book’s final section, set upon a spaceship voyaging to settle another world for the first time. (Goodreads)

First lines: She is the one who goes on,
when the others remain behind.
The one who walks into the darkness,
when others cling to the light.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe young elites, Marie Lu

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites. Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all. Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.
Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.(Goodreads)

First lines: I’m going to die tomorrow morning.
That’s what the Inquisitors tell me, anyway, when they visit my cell. I’ve been in here for weeks- I know this only because I’ve been counting the number of times my meals come.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFeral, Holly Schindler

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.
But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened. But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley…(Goodreads)

First lines: In the rugged, underbrush-riddled rural town of Peculiar, Missouri, at the beginning of a January sleet storm, and beneath the dimming orange hues of dusk, a body lay half out of the window that led to the high school basement.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsI hunt killers, Barry Lyga

Jasper “Jazz” Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say. But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal’s point of view. And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod. In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?(Goodreads)

First lines: By the time Jazz got to the field outside town, yellow police tape was everywhere, strung from stake to stake in a sort of drunken, off-kilter hexagon. The field was thick with cops – state troopers in their khakis, a cluster of deputies in their blues, even a crime-scene tech in jeans and a Windbreaker.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe fall, Bethany Griffin

Madeline Usher is doomed. She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.
Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.(Goodreads)

First lines: The first thing I notice is that my blanket is gone. The last of my nightly rituals is to pull it all the way to my chin, and it never falls away, no matter what nightmares I wrestle before I wake.

Non Fiction

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSome assembly required, Arin Andrews

Seventeen-year-old Arin Andrews shares all the hilarious, painful, and poignant details of undergoing gender reassignment as a high school student in this winning memoir. We’ve all felt uncomfortable in our own skin at some point, and we’ve all been told that it’s just a part of growing up. But for Arin Andrews, it wasn’t a phase that would pass. He had been born in the body of a girl and there seemed to be no relief in sight. In this revolutionary memoir, Arin details the journey that led him to make the life-transforming decision to undergo gender reassignment as a high school junior. In his captivatingly witty, honest voice, Arin reveals the challenges he faced as a girl, the humiliation and anger he felt after getting kicked out of his private school, and all the changes, both mental and physical, he experienced once his transition began. Arin also writes about the thrill of meeting and dating a young transgender woman named Katie Hill and the heartache that followed after they broke up. Some Assembly Required is a true coming-of-age story about knocking down obstacles and embracing family, friendship, and first love. But more than that, it is a reminder that self-acceptance does not come ready-made with a manual and spare parts. Rather, some assembly is always required.(Goodreads)

First lines: Getting dumped at prom sucks. I mean, getting dumped period sucks, obviously. But to have it happen in formal wear in front of hundreds of people adds a humiliating slap across the face that an I-just-want-to-be-friends text can’t compete with.

Image courtesy of Syndetics120 ways to annoy your mother (and influence people), Ana Benaroya

Ana Benaroya, a brilliant, young, independent American illustrator, has brought together 120 tips that provide an ironic, witty and gently subversive twist on all the guides to life for would-be prom queens and cheerleaders. This book provides the things that really matter for a teenage rebel, including How Not to Make Eye Contact with Your Mother and How to Turn Your Life into a Soap Opera, alongside humorous pointers for cultural and social advancement, such as How to Appreciate Jazz Music, and dreamy, surreal ideas, such as How to Fly and How to Breathe Fireballs. (Goodreads)

Newly Ordered

This Shattered World, Amie Kaufman (December). This is a companion novel to These Broken Stars (in which Lilac and Tarver are stranded alone on a planet after a catastrophic spaceship crash (Lilac, unfortunately, in a very impractical green dress)). In This Shattered World, we are introduced to new characters, Flynn and Lee, who are on opposing sides in a war on Avon, a terraformed planet: “Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.” (goodreads.com) Post-exam reading.

The Iron Trial, Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. This is the first book in a new series (Magisterium) from extremely popular YA writing friends. The Magisterium is an academy for students with a gift for magic. “In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will — is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It’s a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.” (goodreads.com) Will it be as Harry Potter-ish as it seems, we want to know.

Atlantia, Ally Condie (November). From the author of the popular Matched trilogy.  “For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above – of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self – and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden – she has nothing left to lose. Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths” (goodreads.com).

Ghost House, Alexandra Adornetto. “After the loss of her mother, Chloe Kennedy starts seeing the ghosts that haunted her as a young girl again. Spending time at her grandmother’s country estate in the south of England is her chance to get away from her grief and the spirits that haunt her. Until she meets a mysterious stranger… Alexander Reade is 157 years dead, with secrets darker than the lake surrounding Grange Hall and a lifelike presence that draws Chloe more strongly than any ghost before. But the bond between them awakens the vengeful spirit of Alexander’s past love, Isobel. And she will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who threatens to take him from her. To stop Isobel, Chloe must push her developing abilities to their most dangerous limits, even if it means losing Alex forever… and giving the hungry dead a chance to claim her for their own” (goodreads.com)

Best new graphic novels

Our graphic novel section is growing bigger by the day! Here are some of my picks, from the historical to the hysterical.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBoxers and Saints – Gene Luen Yang Book cover courtesy of Syndetics

These two graphic novels tell the story of the Boxer rebellion from different points of view. The Boxer Rebellion was a clash between the occupying colonial powers in China and a pro-nationalist and anti-Christian movement that became known as the Boxers. Gene Luen Yang captures the hard lives of the protagonists: Little Bao, who fights for the Boxers, and Vibiana, who is Christian. Both books are heart-breaking stories of people caught up in larger events beyond their control.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun
This book serves as a stand-alone inthe Sixth Gun series. The Horsemen go their seperate ways, trying to escape the dreadful choices they made. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who hasn’t read the Sixth Gun series, but for those who have, it’s an interesting look at our primary antagonists. As usual, the artwork is both lush and disturbing, with reddish tones and black shadows predominating.  The Sixth Gun was mentioned in one of my earlier blog posts about graphic novels, and is well worth picking up.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDoctor Who: Dead Man’s Hand
Continuing the Western theme, here’s a new adventure featuring the Eleventh Doctor and Clara. They go to Deadwood, a frontier town in 1882, to pay their respects to the famous gunslinger, Wild Bill Hickock. But as always with the Doctor, nothing is as it seems.  The town is being terrorized by a sinister, masked gunman.  They meet up with real-life figures Calamity Jane and Oscar Wilde, who was on a tour of America at the time. (Bet you didn’t know that!) The art’s decent, but the real star is the story, which clips along in true Doctor Who style.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe thrilling adventure hour
A comic anthology featuring a plethora of awesome stories, by a whole range of different authors and artists.  Western, science-fiction, steampunk, superheroes: there’s something here for everyone.  The art and writing is consistently amazing, keeping close to the “pulp” feeling of the book. My pick for best story? “Beyond Belief” a screwball comedy about a pair of psychics who keep the various supernatural factions of their city from war in between drinking cocktails and delivering killer quips.

New Books

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOut of this Place, Emma Cameron (402 pages) – Luke spends his days hanging out at the beach, working shifts at the local supermarket, and trying to stay out of trouble at school until he can be on his own. Bongo gets wasted, blocking out memories of the little brother Social Services took away from his addict mom and avoiding the stepdad who hits him. And Casey, the girl they both love, longs to get away from her strict, controlling father and start anew in a place where she can be free. When their lives all take very different and surprising paths, will these three friends find a way to come together again?

First lines: “A cave on Pebble Beach, /a bike ride from home, /where the sting of salt air /tears away the built-up wondering /of what to do- /on the last day of holidays, /about Casey, /with my life. /Tomorrow, /school will throw a cover /over the last six weeks /and pack it away. /I don’t mind.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLast Chance Angel, Alex Gutteridge (367 pages) – What would you do for another chance at life? When Jess is knocked off her bike in a traffic accident, she finds herself at the gates of heaven before her destined death date. Given one last chance to say goodbye, she heads back to Earth to visit friends and family. Closely kept secrets are revealed to the now-invisible Jess, and one shocking discovery leads her to the biggest choice she’ll ever have to make.

First lines: “It was a spur of the moment decision to take the bike, one of those uncharacteristic impulses which can change your life and your death. We’d been given this really hard maths homework and I’d left it until the last minute. Even my brother, Jamie, couldn’t work it out and he’s two years older than me and went through all the GCSE stress last year. There was no point bothering Mum.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Rose Throne, Mette Ivie Harrison (390 pages) – Ailsbet loves nothing more than music; tall and red-haired, she’s impatient with the artifice and ceremony of her father’s court. Marissa adores the world of her island home and feels she has much to offer when she finally inherits the throne from her wise, good-tempered father. The trouble is that neither princess has the power – or the magic – to rule alone, and if the kingdoms can be united, which princess will end up ruling the joint land? For both, the only goal would seem to be a strategic marriage to a man who can bring his own brand of power to the throne. But will either girl be able to marry for love? And can either of these two princesses, rivals though they have never met, afford to let the other live?

First lines: “”Princess Ailsbet, your father demands your attendance at court this morning,” said Duke Kellin of Falcorn, bowing. He was King Haikor’s new favourite, looked hardly older than Ailsbet, and was dark-haired, tall, broad-shouldered, and handsome in a dark sable cloak over a silver-embroedered tunic.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLinked, Imogen Howson (359 pages) – Elissa used to have it all: looks, popularity, and a bright future. But for the last three years, she’s been struggling with terrifying visions, phantom pains, and mysterious bruises that appear out of nowhere. Finally, she’s promised a cure: minor surgery to burn out the overactive area of her brain. But on the eve of the procedure, she discovers the shocking truth behind her hallucinations: she’s been seeing the world through another girl’s eyes. Elissa follows her visions, and finds a battered, broken girl on the run. A girl—Lin—who looks exactly like Elissa, down to the matching bruises. The twin sister she never knew existed. Now, Elissa and Lin are on the run from a government who will stop at nothing to reclaim Lin and protect the dangerous secrets she could expose—secrets that would shake the very foundation of their world.

First lines: “As Elissa and her mother entered the waiting room, the sky above Central Canyon City was a chill, predawn gray, the spaceport a colorless blaze on the horizon. Lines and points of light pricked up from the canyon floor far below.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCatch Rider, Jennifer H. Lyne (279 pages) – Tough-as-nails fourteen-year-old Sid may not have expensive boots like the privileged teen riders in Virginia, but she knows her way around horses. Working with her Uncle Wayne since childhood, she’s learned to evaluate horses, break and train them, care for them . . . and ride like a professional. Amid turmoil at home, she dreams of becoming a catch rider—a show rider who can ride anything with hooves. In this salty, suspenseful teen novel, an unexpected opportunity to ride a top-notch horse in an equitation show takes the small-town girl all the way to Madison Square Garden.

First lines: “It was raining hard and the lightning was getting close. I ran the red gelding down the path in Dunn’s Gap and listened for that moment when a horse is at a full gallop and none of his feet touch the ground, because during that split second, we’re flying.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCrown of Midnight, Sarah J. Maas (418 pages) – After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes. Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon — forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice. Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

First lines: “The shutters swinging in the storm winds were the only sign of her entry. No one had noticed her scaling the garden wall of the darkened manor house, and with the thunder and the gusting wind off the nearby sea, no one heard her as she shimmied up the drainpipe, swung onto the windowsill, and slithered into the second-floor hallway.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTall Tales from Pitch End, Nigel McDowell (377 pages) – Ruled by the Elders, policed by an unforgiving battalion of Enforcers and watched by hundreds of clockwork Sentries, Pitch End is a town where everybody knows their place. Soon-to-be fifteen-year-old Bruno Atlas still mourns the death of his Rebel father ten years ago, and treasures the book of stories he secretly uncovered: the Tall Tales from Pitch End. After discovering a chilling plot planned by the Elders, Bruno flees, escaping to the mountains where a bunch of disparate young Rebels are planning a final attack on Pitch End. With secrets and betrayal lying around every corner, Bruno will find himself fighting not only for his life, but the life of the town.

First lines: “Bruno Atlas didn’t speak, didn’t scream, only thought with eyes shut tight and a mind full of crimson fireworks: This is it and I’ll be gone soon. I’ll not be here any more. I’m going to die.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWild Awake, Hilary T. Smith (375 pages) – Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away: You will remember to water the azaleas. You will take detailed, accurate messages. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen: A stranger calls who says he knew your sister. He says he has her stuff. What stuff? Her stuff. You tell him your parents won’t be able to— Sukey died five years ago; can’t he— You pick up a pen. You scribble down the address. You get on your bike and go. Things . . . get a little crazy after that. Also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

First lines: “It’s the first day of summer, and I know three things: One, I am happy. Two, I am stoned. Three, if Lukas Malcywyck’s T-shirt was any redder I would lean over and bite it like an apple.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhen You Were Here, Daisy Whitney (257 pages) – Danny’s mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that she was hanging on to see. Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He doesn’t know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore. When he gets a letter from his mom’s property manager in Tokyo, where she had been going for treatment, it shows a side of his mother he never knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to connect with his mother’s memory and make sense of her final months, which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew. There, among the cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lies in how she died.

First lines: “When someone you love has died, there is a certain grace period during which you can get away with murder. Not literal murder, but pretty much anything else. “

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAbsent, Katie Williams (180 pages) – When seventeen-year-old Paige dies in a freak fall from the roof during Physics class, her spirit is bound to the grounds of her high school. At least she has company: her fellow ghosts Evan and Brooke, who also died there. But when Paige hears the rumor that her death wasn’t an accident–that she supposedly jumped on purpose–she can’t bear it. Then Paige discovers something amazing. She can possess living people when they think of her, and she can make them do almost anything. Maybe, just maybe, she can get to the most popular girl in school and stop the rumors once and for all.

First lines: “”When you die,” Lucas Hayes once told me, “it’s like every wound your body has ever had – every skinned knee, paper cut, pimple – opens up and says See? I told you so.” Lucas had held Brooke Lee as she’d jittered and bucked, rolled and foamed, and – yeah – died, so I figured he knew what he was talking about. My best friend, Usha Das, took a different view.”

New Books

featuring fairy tales and ghosts

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Shadow Girl, Jennifer Archer (325 pages) – For as long as Lily Winston can remember, she has never been alone. Iris, a shadowy figure who mimics Lily’s movements and whispers in her ear, is with her always—but invisible to the rest of the world. Iris is Lily’s secret. But when Lily’s father is killed in a tragic accident, his cryptic final words suggest that he and Lily’s mother have been keeping secrets of their own. Suddenly, Iris begins pushing Lily more than ever, possessing her thoughts and urging her to put together the pieces of a strange puzzle her father left behind. As she searches for answers, Lily finds herself drawn to Ty Collier, a mysterious new boy in town. Together, Lily and Ty must untangle a web of deception to discover the truth about her family, Iris, and Lily’s own identity.

First lines: “Ty Collier shivered as he paused in front of the Daily Grind coffee shop to wipe his boots on the mat beside the door. Cold weather was nothing new to him; he had grown up freezing his butt off every winter in Baltimore. But this morning something besides the frigid air raised goose bumps on his skin.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSpy for the Queen of Scots, Theresa Breslin (402 pages) – As lady-in-waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots, the beautiful Ginette – known as Jenny – is the young queen’s closest childhood friend. Growing up in the elegant but ruthless French court, surrounded by enemies and traitors – not least the jealous, manipulative Catherine de Medici, and Mary’s own scheming half-brother, James – Jenny has always been fiercely loyal to her mistress. But when she overhears a mysterious whispered plot, closely followed by several unexplained deaths at court, she puts her own life in danger and turns spy for Mary. Jenny quickly realises not a soul at court can be trusted, and when she and Mary return to their Scottish homeland for Mary to claim her throne, they face even greater peril.

First lines: “”They are ready for you, my lady.’ ‘But I am not yet ready for them,’ Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, replied abruptly, looking up from her writing desk in a disdainful manner. Then she recovered herself and spoke more kindly to the man standing at the door of her chamber. ‘I need a few extra minutes to prepare. Would you grant me that courtesy?'”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBack to Blackbrick, Sarah Moore Fitgerald (227 pages) – Cosmo’s brother Brian died when he was ten years old. His mum hides her grief by working all the hours God sends and Cosmo lives with his grandparents. They’ve been carefree days as Granddad buys him a horse called John and teaches him all he knows about horses. But the good times have to come to an end and although he doesn’t want to admit it, Cosmo knows his Granddad is losing his mind. So on one of the rare occasions when Granddad seems to recognise him, Cosmo is bemused that he gives him a key to Blackbrick Abbey and urges him to go there. Cosmo shrugs it off, but gradually Blackbrick draws him in. Cosmo arrives there, scared and lonely, and is dropped off at the crumbling gates of a huge house. As he goes in, the gates close, and when he turns to look, they’re rusty and padlocked as if they haven’t been opened in years. Cosmo finds himself face to face with his grandfather as a young man, and questions begin to form in his mind: can Cosmo change the course of his family’s future?

First lines: “My granddad was pretty much the cleverest person I ever met so it was strange in the end to see the way people treated him – as if he was a complete moron. We were waiting for a train one day, not bothering anyone, when this boy said to me, ‘Hey. Hey you. What’s wrong with the old man?'”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsElegy, Tara Hudson (386 pages) – A stalker ghost, misguided Seers, and spellbinding wraiths—Amelia Ashley has faced them all. Now, in the third of the Hereafter books, her greatest hope is to spend the rest of her afterlife with her living boyfriend, Joshua. But the demonic forces return to give her an ultimatum: turn herself over to the darkness or watch them murder one living person per week until she does. Amelia fears she might really be doomed, until the forces of light give her another option. She can join them in their quest to gather souls, with a catch: Once she joins them, she can never see Joshua again. Faced with impossible choices, Amelia decides to take her afterlife into her own hands—and fight back.

First lines: “Once again, I’m staring at my own death. My heart is pounding. My breath is coming in short spurts. And I can’t stop digging my fingernails into the heels of my palms, just so I can feel the little crescents of pain they create.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe New Normal, Ashley Little (222 pages) – Tamar Robinson knows a lot about loss – more than any teenager should. Her younger sisters are dead, her parents are adrift in a sea of grief, and now Tamar is losing her hair. Nevertheless, she navigates her rocky life as best she can, not always with grace, but with her own brand of twisted humor. Life goes on, and regrets are useless. Tamar isn’t the most popular girl at school or the best-looking, but she’s whip-smart, morbidly funny and – most important of all – tenacious.

First lines: “I am losing my hair. I don’t know why. I’m only sixteen. I’m not starving myself. I’m not undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments. But I have been losing shitloads of hair.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe River Charm, Belinda Murrell (302 pages) – When artistic Millie visits a long-lost aunt, she learns the true story of her family’s tragic past. Could the mysterious ghost girl Millie has painted be her own ancestor? In 1839, Charlotte Atkinson lives at Oldbury, a gracious estate in the Australian bush, with her Mamma and her sisters and brother. But after the death of Charlotte’s father, things start to go terribly wrong. There are murderous convicts and marauding bushrangers. Worst of all, Charlotte’s new stepfather is cruel and unpredictable. Frightened for their lives, the family flees on horseback to a stockman’s hut in the wilderness. Charlotte’s mother and the children must fight to save their property, their independence and their very right to be a family. Will they ever return together to their beautiful home?

First lines: “Millie wasn’t sure if she was asleep or awake, but there seemed to be a strangely shimmering girl standing at the end of her bed. The girl hovered there, in an old-fashioned white dress – high-necked, long-sleeved and flowing to her ankles. Her long, dark hair tumbled around her pale, pale face.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Watcher in the Shadows, Carlos Ruiz Zafon (261 pages) – When fourteen-year-old Irene Sauvelle moves with her family to Cape House on the coast of Normandy, she’s immediately taken by the beauty of the place–its expansive cliffs, coasts, and harbors. There, she meets a local boy named Ishmael, and the two soon fall in love. But a dark mystery is about to unfold, involving a reclusive toymaker who lives in a gigantic mansion filled with mechanical beings and shadows of the past.

First line: “Those who remember the night Armand Sauvelle passed away would swear that a purple light flashed across the sky, leaving in its wake a trail of blazing ashes that faded away over the horizon – a light that his daughter, Irene, never saw, but that would haunt her dreams for years to come.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNameless : a tale of beauty and madness, Lili St. Crow (328 pages) – When Camille was six years old, she was discovered alone in the snow by Enrico Vultusino, godfather of the Seven—the powerful Families that rule magic-ridden New Haven. Papa Vultusino adopted the mute, scarred child, naming her after his dead wife and raising her in luxury on Haven Hill alongside his own son, Nico. Now Cami is turning sixteen. She’s no longer mute, though she keeps her faded scars hidden under her school uniform, and though she opens up only to her two best friends, Ruby and Ellie, and to Nico, who has become more than a brother to her. But even though Cami is a pampered Vultusino heiress, she knows that she is not really Family. Unlike them, she is a mortal with a past that lies buried in trauma. And it’s not until she meets the mysterious Tor, who reveals scars of his own, that Cami begins to uncover the secrets of her birth…to find out where she comes from and why her past is threatening her now.

First lines: “Of all the cars in New Haven to fall before, I chose Enrico Vultusino’s long black limousine. The Dead Harvest had been dry for once, but Mithrus Eve had brought a cargo of snow, a white Mithrusmas for New Haven after all.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStill Star-Crossed, Melinda Taub (340 pages) – Romeo and Juliet are gone. Will love live on? Despite the glooming peace that’s settled on Verona after the recent tragedy, Montagues and Capulets are brawling in the streets. Faced with more bloody battles, Prince Escalus concludes that the only way to truly marry the fortunes of these two families is to literally marry them together. Everyone is skeptical, but none more so than the pair selected, for the most eligible Montague bachelor is Benvolio, Romeo’s best friend, still anguished by the loss of his companions, and the chosen Capulet maid is Juliet’s older cousin Rosaline, the girl Romeo first loved and whose refusal of Romeo’s affection paved the way for bloodshed. Contrary to their late cousins, there’s no love lost between Benvolio and Rosaline, yet they forge a bond to end the renewed feud not only to escape their forced betrothal, but to save their lives and the city of Verona itself.

First lines: “In fair Verona’s streets, the sun was hot. Late summer was upon the city, and the sun, oh, it beat. It dazzled off the cobblestones so the beggars groaned and burnt their bare dirty feet. It poured down on the merchants so the sweat trickled down their necks on market day. And the great families – well, they were safe in their cool stone houses, cellars deep enough to hold a bit of chill in, but when they did emerge after sunset, the air was still hot and thick.”

New Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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