Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Search options

Teen Blog

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

Tag: magic Page 1 of 2

We Need These eManga in Our Lives (and so do you)

We understand it’s been a dark time for many manga fans. The books you were able to borrow before our libraries closed are long finished, their covers growing thick with the dust of disappointment. Your days are growing heavy with the weight of unresolved cliffhangers. Thankfully, our eLibrary is absolutely stuffed full of manga series to keep you going until you can get your hands on printed material once again. Below are some of our faves, but be sure to check out the Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga section on OverDrive/Libby for more gold.

Overdrive cover Assassination Classroom, Volume 1, Yusei Matsui (ebook)
Volumes 1 – 5 available on OverDrive.
One of the most popular manga series currently publishing outside Japan, in Assassination Classroom we join Nagisa, Sugino, Karma, Okuda, and the other would-be assassins of Class 3E as they navigate life, death, and education under their moon-killing, pseudo-octopoid, super-organism teacher, Koro-sensei. Sound weird? Well, strap in. This is shōnen sci-fi manga at its best we’re talking about here — pretty much anything goes.

Overdrive cover Cardcaptor Sakura Omnibus, Volume 1, CLAMP (ebook)
Omnibus Volumes 1 and 2 available on OverDrive.
I love Cardcaptor Sakura unreservedly, and once you read it, you will too — and not just for its super awesome anime adaptation that aired in the late ’90s. This series has everything you’re looking for in a shōjo ‘magical girl’ manga — namely, an awesomely strong and compellingly-rendered magical girl to lead the cast, vicious beasts to fight, mythological dreamscapes to explore, complex characters that grow into their roles, and of course it can all be pulled together into a largely unknown trading card game from the year 2001 that I wish I owned. Some day, some day.

Overdrive cover Haikyu!!, Volume 1, Haruichi Furudate (ebook)
Volumes 1 – 8 available on OverDrive.
Okay, I admit it. I was skeptical about Haikyu!! at first. I mean, I’m not really one for the whole sportsball thing, so a manga about one boy’s drive to become the greatest volleyball player in Japan didn’t really sound like my cup of tea. With that out of the way, if you read one thing from this list, read this. The characters are expertly-drawn, both in terms of line and in terms of personality. The whole gamut of human experience is explored and poignantly rendered: hubris, ambition, disappointment, determination, loss, commitment, betrayal, hurt, unity — but ultimately it is this series’ big-heartedness that will win you over. Do yourself a favour and read it now.

Overdrive cover One-Punch Man, Volume 1, ONE (ebook)
Volumes 1 – 5 available on OverDrive.
I still remember the first time my friend showed me the One-Punch Man webcomic. Even then, in the summer of 2010, it seemed legendary, destined for greater things. And so it was — the manga remake is full of the charm, the absurdity, the inexplicable baldness, and the manic, supercharged energy of the original webcomic, but distilled, whisked, blended, and baked into the extended manga form. It’s a superhero story like no other, and we couldn’t recommend it more highly.

Overdrive cover Tokyo Ghoul, Volume 1, Sui Ishida (ebook)
Volumes 1 – 8 available on OverDrive.
Sui Ishida’s Tokyo Ghoul may just be one of the greatest tales in contemporary fantasy. The premise is simple — in the shadow of our regular human world there dwell mysterious, powerful, and cannibalistic demi-humans known as ghouls, kept at bay by the powerful but shadowy government-controlled CCG (Commission of Counter Ghoul), who will go to any length to exterminate ghouls from the face of the planet. The morals of each party? Grey. The storytelling? Immersive, dark, and intense. The characters? Deeply human and beautifully flawed, with motivations that gradually unwind as we get to know them. The result? A series you must read. Not for the faint of heart.

This is just the barest sliver of excellent manga you can find on OverDrive and Libby. If we don’t have what you’re after, you can always use the handy-dandy ‘Recommend to Library’ tool to suggest we purchase what you’re after. At the moment you can only recommend one title every 30 days, to make sure our librarians aren’t overwhelmed, so choose wisely!

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDon’t stop thinking about tomorrow, Siobhan Curham

Fourteen-year-old Stevie lives in Lewes with her beloved vinyl collection, her mum … and her mum’s depression. When Stevie’s mum’s disability benefits are cut, Stevie and her mother are plunged into a life of poverty. But irrepressible Stevie is determined not to be beaten and she takes inspiration from the lyrics of her father’s 1980s record collection and dreams of a life as a musician. Then she meets Hafiz, a talented footballer and a Syrian refugee. Hafiz’s parents gave their life savings to buy Hafiz a safe passage to Europe; his journey has been anything but easy. Then he meets Stevie… As Stevie and Hafiz’s friendship grows, they encourage each other to believe in themselves and follow their dreams. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe 48, Donna Hosie

Twins Charlie and Alex Douglas are the newest time travelers recruited to the Forty-Eight, a clandestine military group in charge of manipulating history. The brothers are tasked with preventing Henry VIII from marrying Jane Seymour and arrive in 1536 feeling confident, but the Tudor court is not all banquets and merriment: it is a deep well of treachery, torture, lust, intrigue, and suspicion. That makes it especially dangerous for young people who refuse to “know their place”–young women who might, say, want to marry for love instead of status, or young men who would feel free to love each other, if it weren’t forbidden. Told in alternating perspectives among Charlie, Alex, and sixteen-year-old Lady Margaret, a ladies’ maid to Queen Anne Boleyn, The 48 captures the sights, smells, sounds, and hazards of an unhinged Henry VIII’s court from the viewpoint of one person who lived that history–and two teens who have been sent to turn it upside down. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe buried ark, James Bradley

Callie risked everything to get her little sister Gracie to the safety of the Zone. But Matt, the boy she loves, has been killed by Quarantine and Gracie has been absorbed into the Change. Now Callie must learn to survive in the alien landscape of the Zone, a place where the Change is everywhere, and nothing is what it seems. That is, until she stumbles on a secret from her past that may hold the key to defeating the Change. Hunted and alone, she finds refuge in the most unexpected of places. Only to find she is in more danger than ever. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe second life of Ava Rivers, Faith Gardner

Before was hot Junes and ice cream trucks, dancing in sprinklers, loud Christmas mornings and pancakes on Saturdays. The after is everything else: police officers, investigators, tips, theories, leads, but never any answers. The case made headlines, shocked Vera’s Northern California community, and turned her family into tragic celebrities. Now, at eighteen, Vera is counting down the days until she starts her new life at college in Portland, Oregon, far away from the dark cloud she and her family have lived under for twelve years. But all that changes when a girl shows up at the local hospital. Her name is Ava Rivers and she wants to go home. Ava’s return begins to mend the fractures in the Rivers family. Vera and Ava’s estranged older brother returns. Vera reconnects with Max, the sweet, artistic boy from her childhood. Their parents smile again. But the questions remain: Where was Ava all these years? And who is she now?
(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsProject Prometheus : an Assassin Fall novel, Aden Polydoros

The Academy stole everything from Hades, their perfect assassin. Angry and leaving bodies in his wake, he finds two other ex-assassins doing the exact same thing.Tyler and Shannon once killed for The Academy and its now-defunct Project Pandora. Now they’re tracking and hunting down its scientists. So why is The Academy only after Hades? Shannon wants to flee and never look back. She knows that can’t happen, though, not with The Academy hot on their trail. Shannon will do whatever it takes to protect Tyler, even if it means teaming up with a former rival. While Shannon seeks answers to her past, Tyler wants to learn the truth about the mysterious white room, which no one has ever seen, except him. As for Hades? He simply wants revenge.They all seek answers, even if it means returning to the organization where it all started. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThat’s not what happened, Kody Keplinger

In the three years since the Virgil County High School Massacre, a story has grown up around one of the victims, Sarah McHale, that says she died proclaiming her Christian faith–but Leanne Bauer was there, and knows what happened, and she has a choice: stay silent and let people believe in Sarah’s martyrdom, or tell the truth. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMirage, Somaiya Daud

In a world dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated home. But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place. As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty–and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAre we all lemmings and snowflakes? Holly Bourne

Welcome to Camp Reset, a summer camp with a difference. A place offering a shot at “normality” for Olive, a girl on the edge, and for her new friends, who are all dealing with their own battles. But as Olive settles in, she starts to wonder – maybe it’s this messed up world that needs fixing, and not them. And so she comes up with a plan. Because together, snowflakes can form avalanches . . . A trailblazing and painfully honest novel about mental health, friendship and making this crazy world a kinder place.(Publisher summary)

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsUnder Rose-tainted skies, Louise Gornall

Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did. Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up. (Publisher summary)

First lines: I’m going to kill the damn blackbird sitting on my windowsill, chirping and squeaking at the top of its lungs. It hops back and forth, wings spread and flapping, but has zero intention of taking off.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe careful undressing of love, Corey Ann Haydu

The girls of Devonairre Street in Brooklyn, who have always been told that they are cursed to cause the deaths of anyone who falls in love with them, do not regard the curse as real until the sudden, violent death of a boy they all loved. (Publisher summary)

First lines: When the Minute of Silence hits, I have a glass vase in my hands and I almost drop it. We have been doing it for years, at 10:11 every Tuesday morning, but it takes me by surprise sometimes, still.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAnd we’re off, Dana Schwartz

Seventeen-year-old Nora Holmes is an artist, a painter from the moment she could hold a brush. She inherited the skill from her grandfather, Robert, who’s always nurtured Nora’s talent and encouraged her to follow her passion. Still, Nora is shocked and elated when Robert offers her a gift: an all-expenses-paid summer trip to Europe to immerse herself in the craft and to study history’s most famous artists. The only catch? Nora has to create an original piece of artwork at every stop and send it back to her grandfather. It’s a no-brainer: Nora is in! Unfortunately, Nora’s mother, Alice, is less than thrilled about the trip. She worries about what the future holds for her young, idealistic daughter and her opinions haven’t gone unnoticed. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Stop it, Nora. You have more self control than this. My fingers twitch on the keyboard, but my eyes don’t move from the screen. It’s not even that Nick’s Facebook profile is that interesting. It’s just…he changed his profile picture.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRoyce Rolls, Margaret Stohl

After five seasons on her family’s reality show, Rolling with the Royces, and a lifetime of dealing with her narcissistic sister, Porsche, media-obsessed mother, Mercedes, and somewhat clueless brother, Maybach, Bentley wants out. Luckily for her cancellation is looming and freedom is nigh. With their lifestyle on the brink, however, Bentley’s family starts to crumble, and one thing becomes startlingly clear– without the show, there is no family. And since Bentley loves her family, she has to do the unthinkable– save the show. (Publisher summary)

First lines: On May 4, 2016, in the early hours of the morning on one of the better streets of the Huntington Palisades, Talullah Kyong-Grunsburg (thirteen-year-old daughter of Lifespan Network president and chronic insomniac Jeff Grunburg) saw the news on her tumblr feed @AllHailMemeOverlord.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGenius: the game, Leopoldo Gout

Three underprivileged young prodigies from across the world with incredible skills in technology and engineering team up to become the heroes the world never knew they could be. As 200 geniuses from around the world go head to head in a competition hand-devised by India’s youngest CEO and visionary, the stakes are higher than anyone can imagine. Like life and death. Welcome to the revolution… and get ready to run. (Publisher information)

First lines: Albert Einstein said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” He’s right. The people I know, they always led with their creativity. And they don’t let age stop them, either.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFour weeks, five people, Jennifer Yu

Obsessive-compulsive teen Clarissa wants to get better, if only so her mother will stop asking her if she’s okay. Andrew wants to overcome his eating disorder so he can get back to his band and their dreams of becoming famous. Film aficionado Ben would rather live in the movies than in reality. Gorgeous and overly confident Mason thinks everyone is an idiot. And Stella just doesn’t want to be back for her second summer of wilderness therapy. As the five teens get to know one another and work to overcome the various disorders that have affected their lives, they find themselves forming bonds they never thought they would, discovering new truths about themselves and actually looking forward to the future. (Publisher summary)

First lines: A few word of advice for those attending Camp Ugunduzi for the first time: Contrary to what the brochure may have told your parents, siblings, grandparents, estranged uncles, teachers, psychiatrists, well-meaning friends, not-so-well meaning friends, and distant relations who “care about you” and therefore shipped you to the middle of upstate New York (read: out of their lives) for one month of summer while everyone else goes kayaking and eats hot dogs, you will probably not discover a way to change your life at this camp.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsUnplugged, Donna Freitas

In the App World, Skye is a sixteen-year-old virtual girl without any glamorous downloads or fancy effects. She joined the App World for the promise of a better, virtual life, but she’s looking forward to her seventeenth birthday, when she gets to unplug, see her mother and sister again, and decide which world she belongs in once and for all. Without warning, the border between worlds suddenly closes. Skye is trapped, and her only chance to unplug and see her family again is to find and help Rain Holt, the son of the most powerful leader in App World, who was also left behind when the border closed. But when Skye unplugs, she discovers that the reasons for the border closing are much bigger than anyone in the App World knows, and that she somehow has a part to play–a part that will turn friends into traitors and strangers into followers. And the only person she can trust–in either world–is herself. (Publisher summary).

First lines: I’ll never forget the day the news rang through the App World. It was early June and I was just a virtual girl looking forward to unplugging on her seventeenth birthday.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGrace and the fever, Zan Romanoff

Still obsessed with the boy band Fever Dream long after her friends lose interest, Grace unexpectedly meets band member Jes and embarks on an unlikely romance that leads her to confront complex truths about herself and the realities of stardom. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Heyyy girl u up?
That chatbox window blinks from gray to blue, pulsing like a heartbeat. Grace taps her fingertips against the keyboard, listening to the tiny sounds they make, like raindrops hitting glass, plink plink plink.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBreak me like a promise, Tiffany Schmidt

When new legislation threatens to destroy her family’s operations in the black-market organ trade, Maggie finds herself falling in love with Alex, a computer whiz who makes a shocking revelation. (Publisher summary)

First lines: A long, long time ago, back when I had hair as long and shiny as any of the fairy-tale princesses Mama was always shoving down my throat, I made a promise to run away with the boy I’d chosen to be my prince.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe end of fun, Sean McGinty

Seventeen-year-old Aaron is hooked on FUN, a new augmented reality experience that is as addictive as it is FUN. But when he sets off on a treasure hunt, left by his late grandfather, Aaron must navigate the real world and discover what it means to connect–after the game is over. (Publisher information.)

First lines: Dear To Whom It May Concern or Whatever. This is Aaron O’Faolain and I’ve got some Issues. The directions say I’m supposed to briefly discuss reasons for the Application for Termination of Fun.

Halloween series: Books about witches

We’ve got a lot books about witches – usually not about the terrible things that green skinned old ladies do when they cackle over cauldrons (although I’m not excluding them) – but about accusations of witchcraft, noble witches and many more besides.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWitch child, Celia Rees

This is not only one of my favourite books about witches, it’s one of my favourite novels full stop. Mary Newbury is a young woman who sees her grandmother executed for witchcraft; seeking safety, she flees to America with the first wave of Puritans. Unfortunately, she finds that suspicion and superstition are as rife in the New World as they were back home. It’s told in diary format. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll leave it to you to read the book: it’s beautifully written, tense and intelligent. It has a raft of awards, but surely a librarian’s recommendation is all the convincing you need. .

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe raging quiet, Sherryl Jordan

A book from a New Zealand author – and a fantastic one at that. Marnie is married off to support her family; unfortunately her husband’s death, a vicious community and her friendship with a man believed to be the local “idiot” result in an accusation of witchcraft. Again, a tense and intelligent novel about the dangers of superstition and fear – but also a tender and unsentimental novel about finding love and happiness in a climate of fear.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSea hearts, Margo Lanagan

I’ve long been a fan of Margo Lanagan – her short story collections Black Juice, Yellowcakes and Red Spikes are probably some of the best we have in the library. So I was pretty excited to find out that she also writes novels. Tender Morsels is amazing, but I’d suggest that Sea Hearts is the one you really want to pick up – well, if you’re looking for books on witches, anyway. Misskaella is a witch (a real one) who has the power to make women from the seals that surround their remote island. Based on the selkie myth, this is a powerful novel about love, magic and consequences.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTripswitch, Gaelyn Gordon

Three orphaned cousins go to live with their sinister aunt and then discover that things (of course) are definitely not as they seem. It’s nice to find a book about a witch in a more modern context – but the fear and horror generated by Aunt Lureene doesn’t lose anything by being removed from a historical setting. I’m always excited to find books by New Zealand authors. Gaelyn Gordon was an excellent writer (she sadly passed away in 1998) and her books deserve to be better known among the new generations of readers.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAkata witch, Nnedi Okorafor

Another modern witch story! Nnedi Okorafor is an award-winning novelist – so I was pretty excited to find this book in our collection! I hadn’t read it before this post, and I’m cursing (hah) myself now: it’s not only a great book that focusses on Nigerian witchcraft. It’s a breath of fresh air, and the heroine, Sunny, is fantastic. She not only has to deal with her burgeoning powers but the difficulties that come with Albinism in Nigeria. This book has won one award and been selected for two more, for good reason. If you only read one book on this list, make it this one.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBaba Yaga’s assistant, Marika McCoola ; illustrated by Emily Carroll.

Baba Yaga’s my favourite witch and Emily Carroll’s my favourite comic book artist so this graphic novel appearing in the new books section was a great surprise. Baba Yaga’s house on chicken feet is pretty iconic but not many people can name a fairy tale with her in it. And this is another modern story about witches! Masha must undergo a series of tests to make sure she survives the witch and her sinister house.Luckily she’s heard a lot of the stories before, which helps her in her battle with the witch. But Baba Yaga has other plans for Masha, too…

Three on a magic and manners theme

Think wit, intrigue, high society, alternative-England, Regency period (or about then), and of course magic, and you have the three following books!

Syndetics book coverSorcery and Cecelia, or, The enchanted chocolate pot : being the correspondence of two young ladies of quality regarding various magical scandals in London and the country / Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
“A great deal is happening in London this season. For starters, there’s the witch who tried to poison Kate at Sir Hilary’s induction into the Royal College of Wizards. (Since when does hot chocolate burn a hole straight through one’s dress?!) Then there’s Dorothea. Is it a spell that’s made her the toast of the town–or could it possibly have something to do with the charm-bag under Oliver’s bed? And speaking of Oliver, just how long can Cecelia and Kate make excuses for him? Ever since he was turned into a tree, he hasn’t bothered to tell anyone where he is! The girls might think it all a magical nightmare . . . if only they weren’t having so much fun.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA breath of frost / Alyxandra Harvey.
“Meet Emma Day and her two cousins, Gretchen and Penelope, are uninterested in their debutante lives. All the boring balls, tiresome curtsying and polite conversation leave much to be desired. Then a girl is found dead, frost clinging to her lifeless body, and the murder is traced to Emma. As their world is turned upside down, Emma discovers more about herself and her cousins, from her connection to the murders to the secrets of her family legacy. Now the girls must embrace their true Lovegrove inheritance in order to stop the chaos, even if that means risking their lives. Dangerously handsome Cormac Fairfax wants to help Emma – but, with secrets of his own to hide, can she trust him?The first book in a deliciously dark new trilogy. Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Ruth Warburton.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA college of magics / Caroline Stevermer
“Teenager Faris Nallaneen is the heir to the small northern dukedom of Galazon. Too young still to claim her title, her despotic Uncle Brinker has ruled in her place. Now he demands she be sent to Greenlaw College. For her benefit he insists. “To keep me out of the way, more like it ” But Greenlaw is not just any school-as Faris and her new best friend Jane discover. At Greenlaw students major in . . . magic. But it’s not all fun and games. When Faris makes an enemy of classmate Menary of Aravill, life could get downright . . . deadly.” (Syndetics summary)

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)

Mahou shoujo

means “magical girl” in Japanese. It’s a whole subgenre of anime focused on the magical abilities of special young women. Here are some books about awesome witchy magical girls:

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAkata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

“Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent,” with latent magical power. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?” (Goodreads)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWitch & Wizard, James Patterson

“Imagine you wake up and the world around you-life as you know it-has changed in an instant. That’s what has happened to Whit Allgood and his sister, Whisty. They went to sleep as normal teenagers, and woke up as wanted criminals. Accused of holding incredible powers they’d never dreamed possible. And now, just how different they are-special, even-if just beginning to be revealed in a strange new world.” (Goodreads)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray

16-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until she has a dark vision of her mother’s death which turns out to be true. Gemma is shipped of to Spence, a girls’ academy in Victorian England. There she is snubbed by her classmates until she blackmails herself into the popular clique. Gemma is distressed to find she has been followed from India by Kartik, a man who urges her to fight off her visions. But her visions are relentless and they lead her to find a long-lost magical diary. Gemma discovers she has the power to connect with other worlds, and her new friends want to come along for a bit of fun. What none of them realise is that the other worlds are influenced by a powerful menace they cannot control. This is the first in a trilogy and it is brilliant!

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPrincess Ben, Catherine Gilbert Murdock

“With her parents lost to assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia. Starved and miserable, locked in the castle’s highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts:mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle’s pantries, setting her hair on fire… But Ben’s private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat to her kingdom. Can Ben save the country and herself from tyranny?” (Goodreads)

Nik’s picks: Graphic Novels

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIn 2011, DC comics announced a massive overhaul of its superhero titles. All existing titles were cancelled, and 52 new titles were announced This was a controversial move, for many reasons, which you can read about on the wikipedia page. I’m hoping I’ll be able to take you through the continuity changes of both the Marvel and DC universes this year, but to start out, I’ll be discussing a few standalone titles that don’t require you to have extensive knowledge of the Marvel or the DC universes to enjoy. First up: The Demon Knights series, which was started by Paul Cornell. There are three volumes in the series; sadly it was cancelled in 2013. Smaller titles like this one often have a hard time reaching the sales numbers of the “classics” like Batman and Superman. That doesn’t mean that it’s not worth picking up!

The heart of the “Demon Knights” is the character of Jason Blood AND the demon Etrigan. Two separate men, bound together by the great wizard Merlin to contain the latter’s infernal power. They, along with six other characters, ranging from an Amazonian fighter to a barbarian to a Knight of Camelot, are called together to protect a small village that stands in the way of an evil horde’s path.

What I like about this title is that the “heroes” all have to face the consequences of their actions; the damage they do to the people of this new land is not brushed aside. They often struggle against the differences between their “home” worlds and the new land in which they find themselves, as well as cultural differences between them. These are not the shining, pure heroes of much of the DC universe; the characters have done truly evil things and the question of redemption hangs over their heads. Are they better than those they are fighting? There are no easy answers. Definitely worth picking up if you see it in our graphic novel collection. It’s in DC under “other”.

New Books

that are full of magic:

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBrightly Woven, Alexandra Bracken (354 pages) – The day the rains came was like any other, blistering air coating the canyon in a heavy stillness. Just as the rains come after ten long, dry years, a young wizard, Wayland North, appears, to whisk Sydelle Mirabil away from her desert village. North needs an assistant, and Sydelle is eager to see the country – and to join him on his quest to stop the war that surely will destroy her home. But North has secrets – about himself, about why he chose Sydelle, about his real reasons for the journey. What does he want from her? And why does North’s sworn enemy seem fascinated by Sydelle himself?

First lines: “The day the rains came was like any other, with blistering air coating the canyon in a heavy stillness. By late afternoon, the only thing more suffocating than the air was the dust kicked up by our feet. We were as quiet as the dead, moving from rock to crevice, always watching the path for movement.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Oathbreaker’s Shadow, Amy McCulloch (416 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert. Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all—not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin. Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed.

First lines: “Raim sat in the crook of an old, cracked tree, one leg dangling in the breeze, his head leaning back against the trunk. Long, needle-like leaves shaded him from the oppressive heat and hid him from the view of his grandfather, in case he was looking to assign Raim yet another chore. He just wanted a moment to himself.”

Shadows, Robin McKinley (368 pages) – Maggie knows something’s off about Val, her mom’s new husband. Val is from Oldworld, where they still use magic, and he won’t have any tech in his office-shed behind the house. But—more importantly—what are the huge, horrible, jagged, jumpy shadows following him around? Magic is illegal in Newworld, which is all about science. The magic-carrying gene was disabled two generations ago, back when Maggie’s great-grandmother was a notable magician. But that was a long time ago. Then Maggie meets Casimir, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. He’s from Oldworld too—and he’s heard of Maggie’s stepfather, and has a guess about Val’s shadows. Maggie doesn’t want to know … until earth-shattering events force her to depend on Val and his shadows. And perhaps on her own heritage. In this dangerously unstable world, neither science nor magic has the necessary answers, but a truce between them is impossible. And although the two are supposed to be incompatible, Maggie’s discovering the world will need both to survive.

First lines: “The story starts like something out of a fairy tale: I hated my stepfather. It’s usually stepmothers in fairy tales. Well, equal time for stepfathers.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Apprentices, Maile Meloy (432 pages) – Two years have passed since Janie Scott last saw Benjamin Burrows, the mysterious apothecary’s defiant son who stole her heart. On the other side of the world, Benjamin and his father are treating the sick and wounded in the war-torn jungles of Vietnam. But Benjamin has also been experimenting with a magical new formula that allows him to communicate with Janie across the globe. When Benjamin discovers that she’s in trouble, he calls on their friend Pip for help. The three friends are thrown into a desperate chase around the world to find one another, while unraveling the mystery of what threatens them all.

First lines: “The space between the stone library of Grayson Academy and the red brick science building created a ferocious wind tunnel, in any decent wind. Janie Scott ducked her head and leaned forward into the blast, on her way to dinner with her roommate’s parents in the town of Grayson, across the street from the school. It was November of 1954, and a cold autumn in New Hampshire.”

book cover courtesy of SydneticsFairytales for Wilde Girls, Allyse Near (432 pages) – There’s a dead girl in a birdcage in the woods. That’s not unusual. Isola Wilde sees a lot of things other people don’t. But when the girl appears at Isola’s window, her every word a threat, Isola needs help. Her real-life friends – Grape, James and new boy Edgar – make her forget for a while. And her brother-princes – the mermaids, faeries and magical creatures seemingly lifted from the pages of the French fairytales Isola idolises – will protect her with all the fierce love they possess. It may not be enough. Isola needs to uncover the truth behind the dead girl’s demise and appease her enraged spirit, before the ghost steals Isola’s last breath.

First lines: “Once upon a time, Isola Wilde was watching late-night television with her eldest brother, Alejandro, when Channel 12 broadcast a live suicide. The teenage boy in his leather jacket had hair the colour of desert dust and freckles like actual spots of desert dust. The news camera zoomed, and he blurred then sharpened, a drunken vision.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBattle Magic, Tamora Pierce (440 pages) – Mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy are visiting the mystical mountain kingdom of Gyongxe when they are suddenly called away. The emperor of Yanjing has invited them to see his glorious gardens. During their brief stay, though, the mages see far more than splendid flowers. They see the emperor’s massive army, his intense cruelty, and teh devasting magic that keeps his power in place. It’s not till they leave that they discover he’s about to launch a major invasion of Gyongxe. The mountain land is home to many temples… including the First Temple of the Living Circle, which Rosethorn has vowed to defend. With time running out, the mages race to warn their Gyongxin friends of the emperor’s plans.

First lines: “Two boy-men sat on the river’s eastern bank, where an open-fronted tent gave them shelter from the chilly spring wind. It whistled down the canyon, making the banners around them snap.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSome Quiet Place, Kelsey Sutton (331 pages) – Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions … she sees them. Longing, Shame, and Courage materialize around her classmates. Fury and Resentment appear in her dysfunctional home. They’ve all given up on Elizabeth because she doesn’t succumb to their touch. All, that is, save one—Fear. He’s intrigued by her, as desperate to understand the accident that changed Elizabeth’s life as she is herself. Elizabeth and Fear both sense that the key to her past is hidden in the dream paintings she hides in the family barn. But a shadowy menace has begun to stalk her, and try as she might, Elizabeth can barely avoid the brutality of her life long enough to uncover the truth about herself. When it matters most, will she be able to rely on Fear to save her?

First lines: “Fear is coming. As the day ends and I milk the cows, I wait for another meeting with my old friend. He comes swiftly, speeding over the plains as only one of his kind can do. Every second that he draws nearer, the cows become more agitated, eyes rolling, hooves stomping the floor. I know his only purpose for making the journey to Wisconsin is to taunt me again.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Burning Sky, Sherry Thomas (464 pages) – Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she’s being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death. Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he’s also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal. But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life

First lines: “Fire was easy. In fact, there was nothing easier. They said that when an elemental mage called forth flame, she stole a little from every fire in the world. That would make Iolanthe Seabourne quite the thief, gathering millions of sparks into one great combustion. That flame she sculpted into a perfect sphere ten feet across, suspended above the rushing currents of the River Woe.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsChasing the Valley, Skye Melki-Wegner (416 pages) – Escape is impossible. Escape is their only hope. Danika is used to struggling for survival. But when the tyrannous king launches an attack to punish her city – echoing the alchemy bombs that killed Danika’s family – she risks her life in a daring escape over the city’s walls. Danika joins a crew of desperate refugees who seek Magnetic Valley, a legendary safe haven. But when she accidentally destroys a palace biplane, suddenly Danika Glynn becomes the most wanted fugitive in Taladia. Pursued by the king’s vicious hunters and betrayed by false allies, Danika also grapples with her burgeoning magical abilities. And when she meets the mysterious Lukas, she must balance her feelings against her crew’s safety.

First lines: “It’s a quiet night when the bombs fall. Just before they start, I’m scrubbing dishes in some grungy bar. The Alehouse, it’s called. Stupid way to mark the night your life changes, isn’t it?”

New Books

the one word titles edition:

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSurfacing, Nora Raleigh Baskin (192 pages) – Though only a sophomore, Maggie Paris is a star on the varsity swim team, but she also has an uncanny, almost magical ability to draw out people’s deepest truths, even when they don’t intend to share them. It’s reached a point where most of her classmates, all but her steadfast best friend, now avoid her, and she’s taken to giving herself away every chance she gets to an unavailable — and ungrateful — popular boy from the wrestling team, just to prove she still exists. Even Maggie’s parents, who are busy avoiding each other and the secret deep at the heart of their devastated family, seem wary of her. Is there such a thing as too much truth?

First lines: “The most peaceful memory I have is of when I drown. And if I close my eyes, I can still see the sunlight, cut into white bands, broken at the water’s surface.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsReach, Hugh Brown (256 pages) – Will Clark thinks he’s a socially inept bookworm who just happens to enjoy cross-country running and taekwondo. But then his mother returns after a five-year absence overseas, and he has his first full-contact taekwondo fight, and the gorgeous comic-reading Conway Jones asks if she can be his maths tutor … Will must reassess himself, and his past, as he reaches towards a new future and lets his dreams take flight.

First lines: “‘You want a hand?’ Will called. Lloyd Clark, wiry and tireless, was digging in his huge vegetable garden, his white singlet patched with sweat.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTowering, Alex Flinn (293 pages) – Rachel is trapped in a tower, held hostage by a woman she’s always called Mama. Her golden hair is growing rapidly, and to pass the time, she watches the snow fall and sings songs from her childhood, hoping someone, anyone, will hear her. Wyatt needs time to reflect or, better yet, forget about what happened to his best friend, Tyler. That’s why he’s been shipped off to the Adirondacks in the dead of winter to live with the oldest lady in town. Either that, or no one he knows ever wants to see him again. Dani disappeared seventeen years ago without a trace, but she left behind a journal that’s never been read, not even by her overbearing mother…until now.

First lines: “I had not been outside in years. I wasn’t sure how many, exactly, because I didn’t keep track from the beginning. I didn’t realize I’d need to.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsScowler, Daniel Kraus (288 pages) – Nineteen-year-old Ry Burke, his mother, and little sister scrape by for a living on their dying family farm. Ry wishes for anything to distract him from the grim memories of his father’s physical and emotional abuse. Then a meteorite falls from the sky, bringing with it not only a fragment from another world but also the arrival of a ruthless man intent on destroying the entire family. Soon Ry is forced to defend himself by resurrecting a trio of imaginary childhood protectors: kindly Mr. Furrington, wise Jesus, and the bloodthirsty Scowler.

First lines: “A tooth was missing and that was never a pleasant thing. It was going on thirty minutes that Ry and Sarah had been after it.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCharmfall, Chloe Neill (242 pages) – High school can be a battlefield, but for Lily Parker, surviving at St. Sophia’s School for Girls is a matter of life and death. When a Reaper infiltrates the school, Lily reaches deep into herself to draw out her magic—and finds that it’s gone! And it turns out she’s not alone. A magical blackout has slammed through paranormal Chicago, and no one knows what—or who—caused it. But Lily knows getting back her magic is worth the risk of going behind enemy lines.

First lines: “His fur was silvery gray. His eyes shifted color between sky blue and spring green, and his ears were flat against his head. I’d tripped and fallen, which put me at eye level with the giant werewolf in front of me.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRun, Tim Sinclair (235 pages) – Dee lives for parkour and the alternative worlds he invents to escape his mundane life. He knows the city better than anyone – the hidden spaces at night, the views that no one else sees, from heights that no one else can scale. With parkour, he’s not running away. He’s free. But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Soon, Dee is running for his life, running for real.

First lines: “I walk. One foot and then the next, just like everyday people. Feet on the ground just like everyday people.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTrinkets, Kirsten Smith (275 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Moe’s Shoplifters Anonymous meetings are usually punctuated by the snores of an old man and the whining of the world’s unhappiest housewife. Until the day that Tabitha Foster and Elodie Shaw walk in. Tabitha has just about everything she wants: money, friends, popularity, a hot boyfriend who worships her…and clearly a yen for stealing. So does Elodie, who, despite her goodie-two-shoes attitude pretty much has “klepto” written across her forehead in indelible marker. But both of them are nothing compared to Moe, a bad girl with an even worse reputation. Tabitha challenges the three to a steal-off and so begins a strange alliance linked by the thrill of stealing and the reasons that spawn it.

First lines: “The people who say Portland is a place where hipster thirtysomethings go to retire clearly have never been to Lake Oswego”

New Books

the edition of book titles beginning with ‘the…’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Books

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFat Angie, e. E. Charlton-Trujillo (263 pages) – Angie is broken — by her can’t-be-bothered mother, by her high-school tormenters, and by being the only one who thinks her varsity-athlete-turned-war-hero sister is still alive. Hiding under a mountain of junk food hasn’t kept the pain (or the shouts of “crazy mad cow!”) away. Having failed to kill herself — in front of a gym full of kids — she’s back at high school just trying to make it through each day. That is, until the arrival of KC Romance, the kind of girl who doesn’t exist in Dryfalls, Ohio. But can the daring new girl really change anything?

First lines: “This was the beginning. Angie bit the end of her thumbnail awaiting the result. She had – unwittingly – found a rival.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRevenge of the girl with the great personality, Elizabeth Eulberg (261 pages) – Everybody loves Lexi. She’s popular, smart, funny…but she’s never been one of those girls, the pretty ones who get all the attention from guys. And on top of that, her seven-year-old sister, Mackenzie, is a terror in a tiara, and part of a pageant scene where she gets praised for her beauty (with the help of fake hair and tons of makeup). Lexi’s sick of it. She’s sick of being the girl who hears about kisses instead of getting them, of being ignored by her longtime crush, of being taken for granted by her pageant-obsessed mom and she’s sick of having all her family’s money wasted on a phony pursuit of perfection. The time has come for Lexi to step out from the sidelines. Girls without great personalities aren’t going to know what hit them. Because Lexi’s going to play the beauty game – and she’s in it to win it.

First line: “Applying butt glue to my sister’s backside is, without question, not the first way I’d choose to spend a weekend.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsInheritance, Lisa Forrest (376 pages) – Tallulah has always know she was different. She can communicate without speaking, a secret she shares only with her childhood nanny, Irena, who warns Tallulah that gifts like hers are not always welcome. When Tallulah begins training at the prestigious Cirque d’Avenir school, it soon becomes clear the troupe is not all that it seems. As Tallulah is drawn deeper into a world of dark, ancient powers and centuries-old greed, she must call on the skills Irena taught her – and on the protection of the mysterious cuff Irena gave her for safekeeping.

First line: “Tallulah Thomson could feel an insistent press on her shoulder but she was too exhausted to move; the muggy warmth that hovered on the edge of her consciousness promised no relief from the battle she’d been caught up in.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDiva, Jillian Larkin, (280 pages) – This is the third in the Flappers series which finds the girls spending the last glorious days of summer sunbathing with socialites at Forrest Hamilton’s swanky villa. But Gloria Carmody is hiding an oh-so-scandalous secret while Clara Knowles is left heartbroken and depressed after Marcus leaves her for another girl. Lorraine Dyer thinks it will be a loveless marriage however and decides to save Marcus from it.

First lines: “All his life, Jerome had dreamed of crowds screaming his name. But this wasn’t what he’d had in mind.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNobody’s secret, Michaela MacColl (240 pages) – It’s 1846, and for fifteen-year-old Emily Dickenson, every day follows the same pattern: chores, chores, and more chores. A flirtation with mysterious, handsome young man therefore is a welcome distraction. Even if he playfully won’t tell her his name. That is, until he turns up dead in her family’s pond. Stricken with guilt, Emily sets out to discover who this enigmatic stranger was before he’s condemned to be buried in an anonymous grave. Her investigation takes her deep into town secrets, blossoming romance, and deadly danger.

First lines: “Emily lay perfectly still, hidden in the tall grass, her eyes closed tight. A chain of wildflowers lay wilted around her neck. But no matter how quiet she was, the bee would not land on her nose.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe lost girl, Sangu Mandanna (390 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Eva is the ultimate insurance policy: she’s an echo, created by the “Weavers” to be an exact replica of her original, an Indian girl named Amarra. Eva’s entire life has been dedicated to studying Amarra’s life; should Amarra die, Eva will replace her, with only Amarra’s family the wiser. Shortly after Eva and Amarra turn 16, Eva is ripped from everything and everyone she holds dear to move from England to India, where echoes are illegal (meaning her death if she is found out), to fulfill her purpose.

First lines: “I remember being in town with Mina Ma. I must have been about ten. She wanted to buy a lottery ticket and I stood outside the newsagent’s and looked in the window of the toyshop next door.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe originals, Cat Patrick (293 pages) – Lizzie is a clone, one of three 16-year-old “sisters,” raised under the strict supervision of their scientist mother. Everyone outside the house thinks Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey are the same person, Elizabeth Best, since their mother has the girls living in shifts but the girls are growing increasingly resistant to this arrangement, especially after Lizzie and Ella fall for two different boys at school. While the cloning isn’t really explored, it serves as a tool to explore themes of identity, sisterhood, and family.

First lines: “My part is first half. I go to student government, chemistry, trigonometry, psychology, and history at school, then do the rest of the day at home.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThis is what happy looks like, Jennifer E. Smith (404 pages) – Perfect strangers Graham Larkin and Ellie O’Neill meet online when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an e-mail about his pet pig, Wilbur. The two 17-year-olds strike up an e-mail relationship from opposite sides of the country and don’t even know each other’s first names. What’s more, Ellie doesn’t know Graham is a famous actor, and Graham doesn’t know about the big secret in Ellie’s family tree. When the relationship goes from online to in-person, they find out whether their relationship can be the real thing.

First lines: “Hey, we’re running pretty behind here. Any chance you could walk Wilbur for me tonight?”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMind Games, Kiersten White (241 pages) – from the same author who brought you the Paranormalcy trilogy comes a new novel about two sisters, bound by impossible choices but who are determined to protect each other no matter the cost. Seventeen-year-old Fia and her sister, Annie, are trapped in a school that uses young female psychics and mind readers as tools for corporate espionage – and if Fia doesn’t play by the rules of their deadly game, Annie will be killed.

First lines: “My dress is black and itchy and I hate it. I want to peel it off and I want to kick Aunt Ellen for making me wear it.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Lucy variations, Sara Zarr (304 pages) – Sixteen-year-old San Franciscan Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. Her chance at a career has passed, and she decides to help her ten-year-old piano prodigy brother, Gus, map out his own future, even as she explores why she enjoyed piano in the first place.

First lines: “Try harder, Lucy. Lucy stared down at Madame Temnikova’s face. Which seemed incredibly gray. Try. Harder. Lucy.”

New Books

The magical edition:

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRise of the fallen, Teagan Chilcott (202 pages) – Appearing as students at a local Brisbane high school, Emilie and Cael are centuries-old elementals on the run. Their inseparable bond starts to fray when Soul, an irresistible demon, comes on the scene and Emilie follows him into the savage world where she and Cael were once kept captive.

First lines: “There was nothing but silence as I lay back on the soft, green grass of the oval. It was a clear day; the clouds that usually speckled the bright sky were missing.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsInvisibility, Andrea Cremer and David Levithan (358 pages) – Stephen has been invisible for practically his whole life — because of a curse his grandfather, a powerful cursecaster, bestowed on Stephen’s mother before Stephen was born. So when Elizabeth moves to Stephen’s NYC apartment building from Minnesota, no one is more surprised than he is that she can see him. A budding romance ensues, and when Stephen confides in Elizabeth about his predicament, the two of them decide to dive headfirst into the secret world of cursecasters and spellseekers to figure out a way to break the curse.

First lines: “I was born invisible. I have no idea how this worked. Did my mother go to a hospital, expecting me to be just another normal, visible baby?”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSpellcaster, Claudia Gray (389 pages) – Descended from witches, high school senior Nadia can tell as soon as her family moves to Captive’s Sound that the town is under a dark and powerful spell. A sickness is infecting everyone and everything in the town, especially Mateo, the teenage local whose cursed dreams predict the future. Despite the forces pulling them apart, Nadia and Mateo must work together to break the chains of his curse, and to prevent a coming disaster that threatens the entire town.

First lines: “Before anything else, Nadia felt the chill. She wasn’t sure why. Her father already had the car’s heat on because of the awful weather.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPantomime, Laura Lam (390 pages) – R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide. Gene, the daughter of a noble family, runs away from the decadence of court to this circus of magic, where she meets runaway Micah, a runaway who has quickly become the circus’s rising star. But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.

First lines: “”Well, boy,” the ringmaster said. “What can you do?” I swallowed. The clown who had found me eavesdropping tightened his grip on my shirt.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsScarlet in the snow, Sophie Masson (318 pages) – When Natasha is forced to take shelter from a sudden, terrible blizzard, she is lucky to see a mansion looming out of the snow. Inside, it is beautiful despite the empty frames instead of paintings that hang on the walls. In the garden, she finds one perfect red rose about to bloom, a vivid splash of scarlet against the snow. Dreamily she reaches out a hand, only to have a terrifying, gigantic creature who looks like a cross between a bear and a man and demand vengeance on her for taking his rose. Sound familiar? There’s plenty of twists and intrigue to make this fairy tale fresh. Natasha will have a long journey, and many ordeals, ahead of her before there can be a happy ending.

First lines: “‘Ah, there you are! I might have known I’d find you up here, scribbling like some old clerk. Look at you – you’ve got ink all over your fingers! No, stop, don’t do that, Natasha, you’ll get it on your nose too!'”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFathomless, Jackson Pearce (291 pages) – Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant until Celia meets Lo who is fighting to remember her past. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea – a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid – all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she’s becoming. There’s only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her … and steal his soul.

First lines: “There are lights at the surface. Lights so unlike the sun, that can’t reach down into the depths of the ocean. Lights we can see only when we look outside the water.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBetween the lives, Jessica Shirvington (330 pages) – For as long as she can remember, every 24 hours Sabine ‘shifts’, living each day twice. She has one life in Wellesley, Massachusetts (where she is rich, popular and has the charmed future) and a completely different life in Roxbury, Boston (where she is poor, a delinquent and with a hopeless future). All Sabine has ever wanted is the chance to live one life. When it seems this might finally be possible, Sabine begins a series of dangerous experiments to achieve her goal. But is she willing to risk everything to get it?

First lines: “I am a liar. Not compulsive. Simply required. I am two people. Neither better than the other, no superpowers, no mystical destinies, no two-places-in-one-time mechanism – but two people.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA necklace of souls, R L Stedman (366 pages) – In a hidden kingdom a mysterious Guardian protects Dana’s people with the help of a magical necklace. But evil forces are also seeking the power of the necklace, and as the Guardian grows weaker these forces threaten to destroy the kingdom. With the help of her best friend, Will, and the enigmatic N’tombe, Dana, the rightful heir, must claim the power of the necklace and save her people. But the necklace takes a terrible toll on whoever wears it – a toll that Dana may not be prepared to face.

First lines: “A true dream is when the events I see in my sleep have, or will happen. It’s a talent that runs in my family. I was thirteen when I had my first true dream. This was my dream.”

New Books

the rad covers edition:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some terrible magic this way comes

Advent (Advent Trilogy book one), by James Treadwell

A December night 1537 and a powerful mage boards a ship for England. There is a shipwreck and none survive. What has happened to the box he was carrying? The box with a magic mirror and ring inside?

Present day: Gavin knows he is different. He still has his childhood imaginary friend, Miss Grey for a start and he dreams very strange dreams. His parents don’t like him and when they get the chance to go overseas, they pack him off to his Aunt Gwen who lives outside Truro, on an estate called Pendurra. But his aunt isn’t there to meet his train and she isn’t in her cottage and when a girl with dead eyes bangs on his door at midnight and then shuffles away, Gavin is certain this is not going to be an ordinary holiday! The next day he meets the owner of Pendurra and his daughter. The very same dead looking girl whom he’d seen the night before but now very much alive. Marina and Gavin spend time exploring, finding strange things happening and finally realise that ‘magic is rising…’

~ Raewyn

New Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Books

Here are some of the new books we’ve got in the library! Just some, mind you. This is not a representative sample. Oh no no

Time Between Us, by Tamara Ireland Stone (368 pages) – This book is set in 1995, which, incredibly for some of us, was nearly eighteen years ago. I am almost too depressed to continue. Haha ha. Anna, who lives back then, meets Bennett, who is from the now (2012) but can travel through time. They fall in love, but their relationship is complicated by the whole time travel thing. You might say it is literally tested by time.  

First line: ‘Even from this distance I can see how young he looks. Younger than the first time I saw him.

Crewel : A Novel, by Gennifer Albin (360 pages) – Crewel is not a mispelling of ‘cruel’*, as I thought, but it is a type of embroidery, and teen Adelice is able to embroider the very fabric of reality. She is manipulated by the Manipulation Services into becoming a Spinster, which means living apart from her home and family. Part one of the ‘Crewel World’ series.
* the pun still stands though

First lines: ‘They came in the night. Once, families fought them, neighbours coming to their aid. But now that peace has been established, and the looms proven, girls pray to be retrieved.

My Book of Life by Angel, by Martine Leavitt (246 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Angel is taken in by Call, who soon has her addicted to drugs and working on the streets. It’s when her best friend disappears and she has an innocent to save that she finds she has the strength to do what she couldn’t for herself. Told entirely as a long, kind of depressing poem.

First line: ‘When Serena went missing
I look in all the places she might go

A Corner of White, by Jaclyn Moriarty (413 pages) – This is the first in a series called ‘The Colours of Madeleine.’ Madeleine lives in Cambridge, and discovers a crack in reality between our world and the Kingdom of Cello, just large enough for her and Elliot to exchange letters. Can Madeleine help Elliot solve the mystery of his father’s whereabouts and his mother’s illness?

First line: ‘Madeleine Tully turned fourteen yesterday, but today she did not turn anything at all.

Origin, by Jessica Khoury (393 pages) – Pia has been genetically breed to produce a new race of humans who will never die. She lives in a compound deep in the Amazon rainforest, but when she finds a secret way out she meets Eio, a nearby village with whom she forms an attachment. The pair of them begin to work out the details of Pia’s life, and she discovers that there is much more to life than living forever.

First lines: ‘I’m told that the day I was born, Uncle Paolo held me against his white lab coat and whispered, “she’s perfect.” Sixteen years later, they’re still repeating the word.

Glass Heart, by Amy Garvey (310 pages) – Wren Darby has powers that are actually quite impressive, but when she uses them she risks losing control. She forms an attachment with Gabriel, who warns her not to go overboard on the reality altering, and she discovers things about her family that are shocking revelations. Yikes, Wren!

First line: ‘I’m flying, soaring, swooping, dizzy with power and the sharp bite of the December air on my cheeks.

Call The Shots, by Don Calame (457 pages) – This is a follow on from Swim the Fly and Beat the Band. Sean is jealous that his two best friends have awesome girlfriends. His parents are going to have a baby soon, and his sister is convinced that he’s gay. SO to remedy all this he plans to make their own horror film, and then enter it in a competition. But making a film isn’t easy!

First lines: ‘“It’s my best idea yet.” Coop’s got a huge grin on his face as he wrestles his ice skate onto his left foot. “It came to me last night while I was launching a mud missile.”

Eve & Adam, by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate (291 pages) – Eve (short for ‘Evening’) is in a nasty car crash, and rushed to her mother’s research facility to recuperate. Bored, she gets the chance to create a boy using an ‘amazing simulation’ that teaches human genetics – it makes eyes, hair, even personality. WILL he be perfect?

First line: ‘I am thinking of an apple when the streetcar hits and my leg severs and my ribs crumble and my arm is no longer an arm but something unrecognisable, wet and red.

Flock, by Wendy Delsol (394 pages) – Here’s what the catalogue has to say. ‘Katla’s hopes of dodging unfinished business during her senior year are dashed by the arrival of two “Icelandic exchange students,” Marik and Jinky, who have come to collect Katla’s frail baby sister and take her to the water queen.’ The sequel to Frost.

First line: ‘Spending the morning ball-and-chained to a new kid was not my idea of a good kickoff to our senior year.

Be My Enemy, by Ian McDonald (269 pages) – Everett Singh continues his search of the multiverse for his missing father, who could be anywhere – there are billions of parallel universes out there. Here he must visit three Earths: one that is frozen and barren; one that has had aliens occupying the moon since the 60s; and the third where nanotechnology has cornered what remains of humanity in the ruins of London. Sequel to Planesrunner.

First line: ‘The car came out nowhere. He thought it might have been black in the split second that he saw it.

Looking forward to:

This week, a feudal, Eastern dystopian fantasy adventure, flying shapeshifters, and Russian spies who are after potions during the Cold War.

Stormdancer, Jay Kristoff (The Lotus War number 1). “Griffins are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shogun, they fear that their lives are over. Everyone knows what happens to those who fail him, no matter how hopeless the task. But the mission proves far less impossible, and far more deadly, than anyone expects – and soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. But trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and Buruu soon discover a friendship that neither of them expected. Meanwhile, the country around them verges on the brink of collapse. A toxic fuel is slowly choking the land; the omnipotent, machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure; and the Shogun cares about nothing but his own dominion. Yukiko has always been uneasy in the shadow of power, when she learns the awful truth of what the Shogun has done, both to her country and to her own family she’s determined to do something about it. Returning to the city, Yukiko and Buruu plan to make the Shogun pay for his crimes – but what can one girl and a flightless griffin do against the might of an empire?” (goodreads.com)

The Girl With Borrowed Wings, Rinsai Rossetti. “A stunningly written tale of an isolated girl and the shape-shifting boy who shows her what freedom could be – if only she has the courage to take it. Controlled by her father and bound by desert, Frenenqer Paje’s life is tediously the same, until a small act of rebellion explodes her world and she meets a boy, but not just a boy – a Free person, a winged person, a shape-shifter. He has everything Frenenqer doesn’t. No family, no attachments, no rules. At night, he flies them to the far-flung places of their childhoods to retrace their pasts. But when the delicate balance of their friendship threatens to rupture into something more, Frenenqer must confront her isolation, her father, and her very sense of identity, breaking all the rules of her life to become free.” (goodreads.com)

The Apothecary, Maile Meloy. “It’s 1952 and the Scott family has just moved from Los Angeles to London. Here, fourteen-year-old Janie meets a mysterious apothecary and his son, Benjamin Burrows – a fascinating boy who’s not afraid to stand up to authority and dreams of becoming a spy. When Benjamin’s father is kidnapped, Janie and Benjamin must uncover the secrets of the apothecary’s sacred book, the Pharmacopoeia, in order to find him, all while keeping it out of the hands of their enemies – Russian spies in possession of nuclear weapons. Discovering and testing potions they never believed could exist, Janie and Benjamin embark on a dangerous race to save the apothecary and prevent impending disaster.” (goodreads.com). This book also has illustrations by Ian Schoenherr, who drew the bridges and maps in Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (they are cool bridges and maps).

New Books

Arcadia Awakens, Kai Meyer (394 pages) – Rosa Alcantara comes from a New York Sicilian family. On a visit back to the home country, Rosa is introduced to the world of the Mafia, but with a large twist. Not only is the underworld of crime and deadly family rivalries alive and well, but there seems to be a mysterious, supernatural element to it: strange beasts roam the hills of Sicily, and the feuding families have dark, dangerous secrets. It is perhaps unwise, then, to fall in love with a member of the enemy family. But then who’s wise? (Not Rosa, nor Alessandro.)

First sentence: “One day,” she said, “I’ll catch dreams like butterflies.”

The Convent, Maureen McCarthy (419 pages) – “Peach is nineteen and pretty happy with the way things are. She has her university work, two wildly different best friends, her sister, Stella, to look after and a broken heart to mend. But when she takes a summer job at a cafe in the old convent, her idea of who she is takes a sharp turn – into the past. Where once there were nuns, young girls and women who had fallen on hard times, Peach discovers secrets from three generations of her family. As their stories are revealed, Peach is jolted out of her comfort zone. But does she really want to know who she is?” (Book cover)

First sentence: My sister and I often rode past the convent that summer.

Another Faust, Daniel & Dina Nayeri (387 pages) – this novel is a companion to Another Pan, and Another Jekyll, Another Hyde. Set in an exclusive academy (which we like). Five children from various cities across Europe mysteriously disappear, only to turn up seeveral years later in New York, together with an unusual governess. Together they attend the Manhattan Marlowe School, exhibiting unusual powers bestowed on them by their governess. Having unusual powers is a bit of a head rush, but there’s a dangerous side, which they may discover to their detriment.

First sentences: Victoria didn’t have time to play. She didn’t have time for friends or laughing or jumping or any other things little kids do.

The Kill Order, James Dashner (327 pages) – For Maze Runner fans. Before the Maze, there were the sun flares, and the infectious disease of the mind that drove the people of the eastern United States to madness, threatening humanity. Amongst all the chaos, Mark and Trina wonder if there is something they can do to stop the devastation of civilisation as they knew it.

First sentence: Teresa looked at her friend and wondered what it would be like to forget him.

Such Wicked Intent, Kenneth Oppel (310 pages) – the disturbing story of young Victor Frankenstein continues (after This Dark Endeavour). Victor has turned away from alchemy, but can’t resist the temptation when another possible way to cheat death presents itself. He, Elizabeth, Henry and Konrad travel through a portal into the spirit world and “unknowingly unlock a darkness from which they may never return” (cover).

First sentence: The books flew open like startled birds trying to escape the flames.

Endless, Jessica Shirvington (449 pages) – the fourth Violet Eden book. “Angels are real. They aren’t always kind. Violet Eden is certain of all this because she is Grigori – part angel, part human. She has felt the influence of both light and dark. When Hell unleashes its worst, Violet must embrace every facet of her angel self to save the people she cares about and the world as she knows it. But death is not the worst thing that Violet will face. For her, the endless question ‘Can love conquer all?’ will finally be answered.” (goodreads.com)

First sentence: What do you do the moment your father discovers your dead mother is still alive, standing in his apartment looking not a day older than the day she died – over seventeen years ago?

Throne of Glass, Sarah J Maas (405 pages) – Celaena is an assassin, freed from hard labour by Crown Prince Dorian, provided she defeat 23 other assassins and assorted killers in a gladiatorial competition. The winner becomes King’s Champion. Sounds simple enough, except that before the competition begins the competitors all start dying in mysterious and horrible circumstances. Something evil is afoot, and can Calaena find the cause before her world is destroyed?

First sentence: After a year of slavery in the Salt Mines of Endovier, Calaena Sardothien was accustomed to being escorted everywhere in shackles and at sword-point.

New Books

Here are this week’s fortnight’s month’s new books, where I literally judge books by their covers.

Article 5, by Kristen Simmons (364 pages) – It is the near future and things have changed! The US has revoked its Bill of Rights, and replaced it with some ‘Moral Statutes’. Instead of police, law is enforced by soldiers, who don’t hesitate to arrest for bad behaviour. When Ember’s rebellious single mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes, she leaves her previously unassuming and safe life behind and becomes a rebel with a cause. The Handmaid’s Tale for teens maybe!

First lines: ‘Beth and Ryan were holding hands. It was enough to risk a formal citation for indecency, and they knew better, but I didn’t say anything.

The Catastrophic History of You and Me, by Jess Rothenberg (375 pages) – Brie is sixteen, and tastes great on crackers with quince. Just kidding! She is an actual human who is sixteen, and when her boyfriend tells her he doesn’t love her, she dies of a broken heart.  And now, stuck in limbo, she must watch everyone deal with her death, while she too must go through the five stages of grief. Luckily (to balance the whole unluckily dying situation) she has the ghost of a boy who died in the 80s to help her.

First line: ‘There’s always that one guy who gets a hold on you. Not like your best friend’s brother who gets you in headlock kind of hold.’

What Boys Really Want, by Pete Hautman (297 pages) – Lita and Adam are both sixteen, and have been friends for ages.  They try not to interfere with one anothers’ love lives, mistaken though they think the other is, but when Adam steals content from Lita’s anonymous blog for a self-help book he is writing, What Boys Really Want, things get hilariously complex.

First line: ‘The idea for the book came to me as a bunch of us were tubing down the Apple River on a nice, sunny day, the last weekend before school started.

The Survival Kit, by Donna Freitas(351 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Rose is popular! But when her mother dies, none of that matters so much. Rose’s late mother has left her a ‘Survival Kit’; an iPod, a picture of peonies, a crystal heart, a paper star, a box of crayons, and a tiny handmade kite. What can they mean? Well you will have to read the book won’t you.

First line: ‘I found it on the day of my mother’s funeral, tucked in a place she knew I would look. There is was, hanging with her favorite dress, the one I’d always wanted to wear.

Tiger’s Voyage, by Colleen Houck (543 pages) – This is book three in the Tiger’s Curse series. Books one and two are already in! I don’t recall seeing them, but they’re in the catalogue. And the catalogue never lies. Here’s what it says about this part of the series: ‘After battling the villanous Lokesh, Kelsey and the Indian princes Ren and Kishan return to India, where Kelsey learns that Ren has amnesia, and five cunning dragons try to keep the trio from breaking the curse that binds them.’

First line: ‘Behind the thick glass of his Mumbai penthouse office once again, Lokesh tried to control the incredible rage slowly circling through his veins.

Under the Never Sky, by Veronica Rossi (376 pages) – After some kind of ecological apocalypse, humanity splits – some live in the Reverie, a kind of haven from the storms that assault the planet, while others survive on the earth, mutated and living pretty primitive lives. Aria leaves the safety of the Reverie to find her missing mother, and meets Perry, an outsider who is also searching for someone. His mutation seems to be looking like a male model! They fall in love! A forbidden romance. ‘Should appeal to both teen and adult readers far beyond dystopia fans’, says Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.

First lines: ‘They called the world beyond the walls of the Pod “the Death Shop.” A million ways to die out there. Aria never thought she’d get so close.

Where Things Come Back, by John Corey Whaley (228 pages) – Here is what the catalogue says: ‘Seventeen-year-old Cullen’s summer in Lily, Arkansas, is marked by his cousin’s death by overdose, an alleged spotting of a woodpecker thought to be extinct, failed romances, and his younger brother’s sudden disappearance.’ However! There is a lot more to this multi-award winning book than just that short sentence!

First lines: ‘I was seventeen years old when I saw my first dead body It wasn’t my cousin Oslo’s. It was a woman who looked to have been around fifty or at least in her late forties.

Someone Else’s Life, by Katie Dale (485 pages) – Another book about a girl coping with her dead mum. Rosie learns that she might have inherited Huntington’s disease, which has recently killed her mother … or she might not, since she also learns that she was actually switched at birth. She discovers a secret that could ‘shatter the lives of everyone around her,’ which can’t be much fun for Rosie, or the girl who might  actually have inherited Huntington’s. Sounds grim. 🙁

First lines: ‘Sunlight dances over the little girl’s dark curls as she toddles clumsily through the dry grass.

Immortal Beloved, by Cate Tiernan (389 pages) – From the catalogue! ‘New name, new town, new life. Nastasya has done it too often to count. And there,s no end in sight. Nothing ever really ends . . . when you’re immortal.’ And now, from Youtube!

First line: ‘Last night my whole world came tumbling down. Now I’m running scared.

(We also have the sequel, Darkness Falls.)

Advent, by James Treadwell (439 pages) – This is book 1 in the ‘Advent Trilogy’. Gavin, a disenfranchised youth is sent to his eccentric aunt’s place in Cornwall. At the same time magic returns to the world, 500 years after it was locked away. Its return to the modern world is disruptive and not at all benign. And! Some reviews suggest that this could be the new Tolkien, so there you go.

First line: ‘On a wild night in deep winter in the year 1537, the greatest magus in the world gathered together and dismissed his household servants, wrapped himself in his travelling cloak, took his staff in one hand and in the other a small wooden box sealed with pitch and clasped with silver, and stepped out into the whirling sleet, bound for the harbour and – so he expected – immortality.

Hollow Pike, by James Dawson (314 pages) – Witchcraft! Horror! Lis London has nightmares that someone is trying to murder her. She dismisses the local legends of witchcraft but  … should she? Probably not! This has been enjoyably reviewed on Amazon, where it gets a pretty good rating of 4.5 stars.

First line: ‘Lis knew she was dreaming, although this brought little comfort as the blood ran over her face.’

Page 1 of 2