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

Tag: Mysteries

The Wellington Comic Lover’s Guide to… The Bobbinsverse

Welcome to the Wellington Comic Lover’s Guide, where we take you through the Wellington City Libraries’ collection of a comic book character or series. This post is all about the sprawling webcomic-turned-print comic universe, the Bobbinsverse!

What is the Bobbinsverse?

The Bobbinsverse encompasses several comics that all take place in the same universe, centered around a fictional Yorkshire town called Tackleford. Written and drawn by John Allison, the ‘verse’ began with the webcomic Bobbins and continued into two sequel series, Scary Go Round and Bad Machinery. These comics are either slice-of-life stories or supernatural mysteries, all told with a trademark light-hearted tone.

The Bobbinsverse has since expanded into monthly print comics courtesy of BOOM! Studios, as Allison took his webcomic characters and spun them off into new adventures, such as…

Giant Days

Giant Days is about the university life of eccentric goth girl Esther de Groot (who first appeared in Scary Go Round) and her friends, naive archaeology major Daisy and prickly med student Susan. Together, the trio navigates the ups-and-downs of student life, like halls, flatting, study, romance, work-life balance, and what the future holds for them after graduation.

Giant Days reading order

Giant days : early registration / Allison, John

Giant days. Volume one / Allison, John (also on Libby)

Giant days. Volume two / Allison, John (also on Libby)

Giant days. Volume three / Allison, John (also on Libby)

Giant days. Volume four / Allison, John (also on Libby)

Giant days. Volume five / Allison, John (also on Libby)

Giant days. Volume six / Allison, John

Giant days. Volume seven / Allison, John

Giant days. Volume eight / Allison, John

Giant days. Volume nine / Allison, John

Giant days. Volume ten / Allison, John

Giant days. Volume eleven / Allison, John

Giant days. Volume twelve / Allison, John

Giant days. Volume thirteen / Allison, John

Giant days. Volume fourteen / Allison, John

Giant Days was also turned into a YA novel, which adapts the early volumes of the comic when the trio first start university.

Giant days / Pratt, Leonie

Read More

Enter the SPY-brary – can YOU complete these nefarious assignments?

Are you finding yourself sitting around over the holidays just wishing that somewhere out there, some cool librarian had put together a Fun and Friendly yet also Dastardly and Nefarious set of challenges and activities to help you distract yourself from the ever-present ennui of the holidays?

Well in case you missed our last blog post, we have!

Our April holiday Wellington City SPYbraries online challenge is well underway, and some of you out there are already arduously working away, honing your spy-skills, performing dastardly and deceptive deeds, and completing case assignments in imaginative ways.

If you’re aged 12-19, it’s not too late to register and start your Super Sleuth journey! If you haven’t already headed over to our WCL Beanstack site to check out the challenge or register, why not click the button below and register right now?!

A big reg button labelled 'click here' surrounded by friendly exclamations of 'Totally trustworthy!", 'Very clickable!' and'Friendly design!'

Click here to sign up for Wellington City SPYbraries!

To entice you to sign up, I thought I’d share some of the Interesting and Elusive case assignments that we have created to keep y’all occupied. While we have created a wide selection of case assignments for the challenge, you only have to complete four of them to earn the achievement – and for some assignments, you don’t even have to leave your house!

You can of course progress through the challenge by logging books you’ve read and writing book reviews – and there is the chance of winning a ✨spot prize✨ if you write a particularly good review! – but we think the case assignments are pretty neat. And you can also win ✨spot prizes✨ for completing these assignments in Impressive and Imaginative ways too!

Anyway, let’s get into it:

Create a paper trail

Sometimes, it is useful to have evidence that you were in a certain place at a certain time so if asked you can say “Why of course I wasn’t breaking into Te Papa as part of a well-oiled heist team with the goal of stealing the Giant Squid at 10pm last Tuesday, clearly this submission shows I was busy writing a heartfelt poem on the subject of Tūmanako, so I couldn’t possibly have been involved”.

For this assignment you are required to lay a digital-paper-trail by submitting a poem to our WCL poetry journal Tūhono. Our blog post will give you all the information about Tūhono, this year’s theme and prompt, and how to submit your poem.

Infiltrate and Ameliorate

For this assignment, you are challenged to visit a library that is unknown to you and help the librarians in their never-ending mission against their most deadly enemy, the Patron Who Puts Books Back On The Wrong Shelf. Infiltrate the library location and scan the shelves to find an item in the wrong place, then ameliorate this error and return the book its rightful location on the shelf.

*And yeah, we may be using you to do our shelf-checking for us.*


It may happen that sometime in the future your nemesis manages to capture you, then abandons you dazed and confused in the middle of nowhere. This assignment is designed to give you practice at finding your way home from an unknown location. Get some fellow investigators together and ask a trustworthy driver to drop you in an unknown location that is within walking distance of your home or base of operations. Then find your way home.

Extra for experts: Can you find your way home without using Google Maps?

Master of disguise

You never know WHO will recognise you right at the very moment you need secrecy and privacy. For this assignment you are challenged to create a disguise that hides your recognisable features. Will you create and take on a whole new identity, or change your appearance just enough that you blend in with the crowds as you follow your foe through the crowds? Or, like our friend in the picture here, will you go with a much simpler approach?

Hide the evidence

In the spirit of the phrase “to kill two stones with one bird” (we are pro-bird, anti-stone here), our aim in giving you this assignment is twofold: to allow you practice at hiding important evidence in plain sight, and to help train future crime scene investigators.

To complete this assignment, you are required to submit two photos. One, a photo of an object that you will be hiding. The other, a photo of the crime scene where your object is hidden (think I spy or Where’s Wally?). Your object should be hard to find, but not impossible. If you allow it, we will publish your puzzle on our WCL Instagram page for other investigators to practice on.

There are more assignments, but to find out what they are you’ll have to head on over and sign up for the challenge! Happy Sleuthing!

Memoirs, Mysteries, Memes and Murder: New Books for Teens in the Collection

Those summer holidays are going to be here soon, and it’s the perfect time to get stuck into some new books.  I mean, have you considered the Summer Reading Adventure yet?  We have a fresh crop of new books to add to your reading list, whether your into comics, fiction or non-fiction… or maybe all three?


Mexikid : a graphic memoir / Martin, Pedro
“Pedro Martin’s grown up in the U.S. hearing stories about his legendary abuelito, but during a family road trip to Mexico, he connects with his grandfather and learns more about his own Mexican identity in this moving and hilarious graphic memoir.” (Catalogue)

The Calvin and Hobbes portable compendium. Book 1 / Watterson, Bill
“Calvin and Hobbes is unquestionably one of the most popular comic strips of all time. The imaginative world of a boy and his real-only-to-him tiger first appeared in 1985 and could be read in more than 2,400 newspapers when Bill Watterson retired on January 1, 1996.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

All the lovely bad ones : a ghost story graphic novel / Peterson, Scott
“Travis and his sister, Corey, can’t resist a good trick. When they learn that their grandmother’s quiet Vermont inn, where they’re spending the summer, has a history of ghost sightings, they decide to do a little ‘haunting’ of their own. Before long, their supernatural pranks have tourists flocking to Fox Hill Inn, and business booms. But Travis and Corey soon find out that theirs aren’t the only ghosts at Fox Hill. Their thoughtless games have awakened something dangerous, something that should have stayed asleep. Can these siblings lay to rest the troubled spirits they’ve disturbed?” (Catalogue)


Broken hearts and zombie parts / Hussey, William
“A savagely funny gay YA romance about body image, self-acceptance and falling in love. Jesse Spark has a broken heart and in a few short weeks he’ll require major surgery to repair it – which means he only has a month to accomplish two almost-impossible tasks. 1) Shoot his epic zombie movie on a shoestring budget if he has any hope of getting into film school. 2) Fall in love before this surgery lands him with a huge scar – because how will anyone ever fancy him after that?” (Catalogue)

How to find a missing girl / Wlosok, Victoria
“Seventeen-year-old amateur sleuth Iris and her sapphic detective agency investigate the disappearance of Iris’s cheerleader ex-girlfriend, who also happens to be the creator of a notorious true-crime podcast about Iris’s missing older sister.” (Catalogue)

The scarlet veil / Mahurin, Shelby
“Six months have passed since Célie took her sacred vows and joined the ranks of the Chasseurs as their first huntswoman. With her fiancé, Jean Luc, as captain, she is determined to find her foothold in her new role and help protect Belterra. But whispers from her past still haunt her, and a new evil is rising–one that Célie herself must vanquish, unless she falls prey to the darkness.” (Catalogue)

09If you tell anyone, you’re next / Heath, Jack
“Jayden Jones is missing. Everyone thinks he ran away. His best friend, Zoe Ross, knows they’re wrong. Zoe’s search leads her to the 17-a secret group chat, used by anonymous teens to blackmail the powerless. To join, you have to put on a mask and record yourself completing a challenge. The challenges are always illegal. Sometimes dangerous. Maybe deadly. Who are the 17? What have they done to Jayden? And what will they do to silence Zoe?” (Catalogue)


Accountable : the true story of a racist social media account and the teenagers whose lives it changed / Slater, Dashka
“When a high school student started a private Instagram account that used racist and sexist memes to make his friends laugh, he thought of it as “edgy” humor. Over time, the edge got sharper. Then a few other kids found out about the account. Pretty soon, everyone knew. Ultimately no one in the small town of Albany, California, was safe from the repercussions of the account’s discovery. Not the girls targeted by the posts. Not the boy who created the account. Not the group of kids who followed it. Not the adults–educators and parents–whose attempts to fix things too often made them worse. In the end, no one was laughing. And everyone was left asking: Where does accountability end for online speech that harms? And what does accountability even mean?” (Catalogue)

Video game of the year : a year-by-year guide to the best, boldest, and most bizarre games from every year since 1977 / Minor, Jordan
“For each of the 40 years of video game history, there is a defining game, a game that captured the zeitgeist and left a legacy for all games that followed. Through a series of entertaining, informative, and opinionated critical essays, author and tech journalist Jordan Minor investigates, in chronological order, the innovative, genre-bending, and earth-shattering games from 1977 through 2022. Minor explores development stories, critical reception, and legacy, and also looks at how gaming intersects with and eventually influences society at large while reveling in how uniquely and delightfully bizarre even the most famous games tend to be”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

For more new books for teens in the collection, go to: https://wcl.govt.nz/whatsnew/#teens

Look No Further: New Teen Books in the Collection

October’s crop of new books for teens is a bumper one!  There’s a little bit of something for everyone in these latest arrivals, mystery, romance, survival, families, murder, suspense… even Batman’s butler Alfred in his youth.  Take a look at just a few of the new titles available this month…

Look no further / Robinson, Rioghnach
“When Nico and Ali meet at Ogilvy Summer Art Institute, a selective camp for art students in New York City, they seem like complete opposites. When a teacher assigns them as pairs for a genealogy project, Ali and Niko are shocked to find they have a lot more in common than they bargained for. On a quest to uncover their shared history, Ali finds herself falling for her roommate, who may have already fallen for another girl at Ogilvy. Surfer-bro Niko struggles to find his footing in the glamorous NYC art scene. Only when they face real heartbreak can they accept the most transformative revelation of the best art is what you make, not just what you see.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Frontera / Anta, Julio
“As long as he remembers to stay smart and keep his eyes open, Mateo knows that he can survive the trek across the Sonoran Desert that will take him from Mexico to the United States. That is until he’s caught by the Border Patrol only moments after sneaking across the fence in the dead of night. If you’d asked him if ghosts were real before he found himself face-to-face with one, Mateo wouldn’t have even considered it. But now, confronted with the nearly undeniable presence of Guillermo, he’s having second thoughts. As his journey stretches on, Mateo will have to decide exactly what and who he’s willing to sacrifice to find home.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ride or die / Musikavanhu, Gail-Agnes
“From illegal snack swapping in kindergarten to reckless car surfing in high school, Loli Crawford and Ryan Pope have been causing trouble in their uptight California town forever. Everyone knows that the mischief starts with Loli. When Loli throws the wildest party Woolridge High has ever seen just to steal a necklace, she meets X, an unidentified boy in a coat closet, who challenges her to a game she can’t refuse. Loli and X and X exchange increasingly risky missions. As she attempts to one-up X’s every move, Loli risks losing everything– including her oldest friend.” (Catalogue)

Paper planes / Wood, Jennie
“After a life altering incident, Dylan and Leighton are sent to a summer camp for troubled youth. They both need a good evaluation at the camp. Otherwise, they’ll be sent away, unable to attend high school with their friends. While participating in camp activities and chores, Dylan and Leighton are pushed onto personal journeys of self-discovery and are forced to re-examine the events that led up to the incident that sent them to camp, the incident that threatens their futures and their friendship with each other. Can Dylan and Leighton save their friendship and protect their future while trying to survive camp?” (Catalogue)

Thirty to sixty days / Wood, Alikay
“A compulsive liar with a quick-witted response to everything, Hattie Larken is willing to do whatever it takes to just skate through the rest of high school and she can escape the mind-numbing monotony of this town. Then she finds out she is dying– exposed to a parasite because of a mistake her mom’s company made. Two other kids from her class also have been exposed: Carmen, the class president with a loving family, and a totally beautiful girlfriend; and Albie, a quiet kid who survived childhood cancer only to deal with this. With only thirty to sixty days to live, they decide to: Steal and sail a boat to Miami. Adopt a turtle. Sneak into a sold-out music festival. And maybe film all their misadventures….” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Young Alfred : pain in the butler / Northrop, Michael
“Bruce Wayne wouldn’t be Batman without his righthand man, Alfred Pennyworth. But was Alfred born to be the greatest butler in the world? Not exactly… When Alfred attends the prestigious Gotham Servants School, he is a clumsy and nervous boy going to fulfill his father’s last wish–he will become…a butler! Pushed out of his comfort zone, Alfred must adjust to new surroundings and responsibilities while trying to ace his courses and get along with his classmates. But when he suspects that his school may be involved in a criminal plot, Alfred must look within himself to see if he has what it takes to be not only a butler, but a hero.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Four found dead / Richards, Natalie D.
“Tempest Theaters is closing: tonight is their last night. It’s the last remaining business in a defunct shopping mall. The moviegoers have left, and Jo and her six coworkers have the final shift, cleaning up popcorn and mopping floors for the last time. An unexpected altercation puts everyone on edge, the power goes out– and the manager disappears, along with the keys to the lobby doors and the theater safe, where the crew’s phones are locked each shift. When a body is discovered, their only escape is through the dark, shuttered mall. To survive the night, Jo and her coworkers must trust one another, navigate the ruins of the mall, and outwit a killer before he kills again.” (Catalogue)

Firebird / Sunmi
“Caroline Kim is feeling the weight of sophomore year. When she starts tutoring infamous senior Kimberly Park-Ocampo – a charismatic lesbian, friend to rich kids and punks alike – Caroline is flustered… but intrigued Their friendship kindles and before they know it, the two are sneaking out for late-night drives, bonding beneath the stars over music, dreams, and a shared desire of getting away from it all. A connection begins to smolder… but will feelings of guilt and the mounting pressure of life outside of these adventures extinguish their spark before it catches fire?” (Catalogue)

I am the Mau : & other stories / Glasheen, Chemutai
“This enticing collection of contemporary fiction is a celebration of our ubuntu- the invisible ties that bind us all together. From ancient forest guardians to modern cultural warriors, from grappling with age-old traditions to championing hair identity, these evocative stories explore the duality of Kenyan life and how to find a way between two cultures, both of which are yours.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Monstrous : a transracial adoption story / Myer, Sarah
“Sarah has always struggled to fit in. Born in South Korea and adopted at birth by a white couple, she grows up in a rural community with few Asian neighbours. People whisper in the supermarket. Classmates bully her. She has trouble containing her anger in these moments – but through it all, she has her art. She’s always been a compulsive drawer, and when she discovers anime, her hobby becomes an obsession. Though drawing and cosplay offer her an escape, she still struggles to connect with others. And in high school, the bullies are louder and meaner. Sarah’s bubbling rage is threatening to burst.” (Catalogue)

For more new books in the collection, go to: What’s new / October 2023 (wcl.govt.nz)

Prime Minister Muldoon vs. Aliens

New Zealand Prime Minister Rob Muldoon might be most remembered for drunkenly announcing a snap election in 1984 (which he lost). But have you heard the story of the time that PM Muldoon demanded that the NZ Defence Force get to the bottom of an apparent case of … UFOs?

The scene: the late 70s, a time of economic inflation, energy crisis and copious moustaches. On a fateful night in December 1978, a few cargo pilots would have an experience they would never forget.

In the skies high over the Kaikōura Ranges, the crew on a freight run by Safe Air Ltd Cargo noticed lights dancing around their Armstrong Whitworth aircraft. Some of the lights seemed to follow the same trajectory as their own aircraft, for several minutes. Captain Powell also picked up an object moving towards him travelling at more than 10,000 miles an hour! The lights varied in size, and some were allegedly as large as a house. These objects even appeared on air traffic control radar in Wellington!

Raising the stakes even higher, a TV news crew from Australia promptly joined the action, and boarded another flight on the 30th December 1978, equipped with cameras – and they got results on film! In a world first, these lights were recorded on film and monitored by Wellington air traffic control. Journalist Quentin Forgarty described seeing “…this string of lights, it started as a small pinpoint of light then grew into this large pulsating globe with tinges of orange and red.”

At this point, Prime Minister Muldoon took a strong personal interest in the lights watched by many witnesses and thousands more people on television. The ‘ Kaikōura Lights’ were to be the first – and only – UFO sighting in New Zealand that lead to a full investigation. An air force Orion was sent on a reconnaissance mission and a Skyhawk jet fighter was put on stand-by to investigate any further sightings. The air force prepared a detailed document, but, alas, the mysterious lights were chalked up to lights from a Japanese squid fleet, the glow of the planet Venus or apparently even moonlight bouncing off cabbages. The radar detections in Wellington were blamed on atmospheric disturbances.

I for one and not entirely convinced by these banal explanations… perhaps you might want to do some further UFO investigation with these items from our collection and local resources👽

What to do if you see a UFO | The Spinoff

josie_UFOA comprehensive guide from The Spinoff, which even includes a link to the 1978 Kaikōura footage!

How UFOs conquered the world : the history of a modern myth / Clarke, David
“A history of the various manifestations and shifting meaning of the Twentieth Century’s single great contribution to mythology: the UFO. Neither a credulous work of conspiracy theory nor a sceptical debunking of belief in ‘flying saucers’, How UFOs Changed the World explores the origins of UFOs in the build-up to the First World War and how reports of them have changed in tandem with world events, science and culture. The book will also explore the overlaps between UFO belief and religion and superstition.” (Catalogue)

The UFO files the inside story of real-life sightings / Clarke, David
“Original records newly released by the Ministry of Defence and now held at The National Archives in Kew reveal how British Intelligence and the CIA investigated many Cold War sightings. This title presents the story of over 200 years of UFO sightings drawing on the formerly secret reports from the Ministry of Defence.” (Catalogue)

Fake news : separating truth from fiction / Miller, Michael
“This title explores journalistic and fact-checking standards, Constitutional protections, and real-world case studies, helping readers identify the mechanics, perpetrators, motives, and psychology of fake news. A final chapter explores methods for assessing and avoiding the spread of fake news.” (Catalogue)

The NZ files : UFOs in New Zealand / Hassall, Peter
“New Zealand has had its share of mysterious happenings and unidentified flying objects, and this attempts a history of UFOs in New Zealand. There have been hundreds of recorded sightings this century and possibly thousands more not recorded.” (Catalogue)

Your reading guide on how NOT to get murdered

This is a blog post NOT for the faint hearted. This is NOT a blog post full of hearts, flowers and romantic embellishments.  What you’re about to read is raw, gritty, deadly, but could very well save your life and may help you avoid getting murdered. This is a post for teens addicted to true crime stories/podcasts and interested in fiction, on ‘how NOT to get murdered,’  inspired by A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson.

Here are some basic tips on how NOT to get murdered?

  • Read the following books as cautionary tales that may prompt you to follow the advice above.

image courtesy of syndeticsA good girl’s guide to murder.

“The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final-year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?” (Catalogue). Also available as an

image courtesy of syndeticsGood girl, bad blood.

“Pip Fitz-Amobi is not a detective anymore. Her true crime podcast about the murder case she solved last year has gone viral. Yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her. But she will have to back on her word when some close to her goes missing and the police can’t do anything about it.” Also available as an eAudiobook.

image courtesy of syndeticsThey wish they were us.

The lives of Jill Newman and her friends look perfect, but nothing is as it seems. Jill’s best friend, the brilliant, dazzling Shaila, was killed by her boyfriend, but suddenly Jill starts getting texts proclaiming his innocence. But digging deeper could mean putting her friendships, and her future, in jeopardy.

image courtesy of syndeticsThe murder game.

“Luke Chase’s roommate Oscar convinces him to sneak out of their boarding school dorm to meet up with a couple of girls in the forest, have a good time, and no one will ever know. When the wife of one of their teachers is found dead in the woods the next morning, the group decides to solve the murder on their own. Will they be able to catch the killer before the killer catches them? — adapted from back cover.” (Catalogue). Also available as an eBook.

image courtesy of syndeticsWhite rabbit, red wolf.

“A gripping and gloriously treacherous thriller without guide ropes or safety nets. Leave all certainties by the door.” Frances Hardinge A taut thriller about murder, maths and the mind. Peter Blankman is afraid of everything but must confront truly unimaginable terror when his mother is attacked. Seventeen-year-old Peter Blankman is a maths prodigy. He also suffers from severe panic attacks. Afraid of everything, he finds solace in the orderly and logical world of mathematics and in the love of his family: his scientist mum and his tough twin sister Bel, as well as Ingrid, his only friend. However, when his mother is found stabbed before an award ceremony and his sister is nowhere to be found, Pete is dragged into a world of espionage and violence where state and family secrets intertwine. Armed only with his extraordinary analytical skills, Peter may just discover that his biggest weakness is his greatest strength.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of syndeticsThe boyband murder mystery.

“When frontman Frankie is arrested on suspicion of murdering his oldest friend Evan, Harri feels like her world’s about to fall apart. But quickly she realises that she – and all the other Half Light superfans out there – know and understand much more about these boys than any detective ever could. Now she’s rallying a fangirl army to prove Frankie’s innocence – and to show the world that you should never underestimate a teenage girl with a passion.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of syndeticsPride and premeditation.

“Perfect for fans of the Lady Janies and Stalking Jack the Ripper, the first book in the Jane Austen Murder Mysteries series is a clever retelling of Pride and Prejudice that reimagines the iconic settings, characters, and romances in a thrilling and high-stakes whodunit. When a scandalous murder shocks London high society, seventeen-year-old aspiring lawyer Lizzie Bennet seizes the opportunity to prove herself, despite the interference of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the stern young heir to the prestigious firm Pemberley Associates. Convinced the authorities have imprisoned the wrong person, Lizzie vows to solve the murder on her own. But as the case-and her feelings for Darcy-become more complicated, Lizzie discovers that her dream job could make her happy, but it might also get her killed.” (Catalogue). Also available as an eBook and an eAudiobook. 

image courtesy of syndetics#MurderTrending.

“In the near future, citizens can enjoy watching the executions of society’s most infamous convicted felons, streaming live on The Postman app from the prison island Alcatraz 2.0. Dee Guerrera wakes up in a haze, lying on the ground of a dimly lit warehouse, about to be the next victim of the app, found guilty of murdering her stepsister. But Dee refuses to roll over and die for a heinous crime she didn’t commit. Her newly formed posse, the Death Row Breakfast Club, needs to prove she’s innocent before she ends up murdered for the world to see. That’s if The Postman’s cast of executioners don’t kill them off one by one, first.” — Adapted from jacket. Available as an eBook.

image courtesy of syndetics#MurderFunding.

“WELCOME TO WHO WANTS TO BE A PAINIAC?, the latest reality TV show on the hunt for the next big-hit serial killer. But don’t worry-no one is actually going to murder anyone, as real as the fake gore and pretend murder may appear . . . uh, right? Seventeen-year-old Becca Martinello is about to find out. When her perfectly normal soccer mom dies in a car crash, a strange girl named Stef appears and lets Becca know that her deceased mom was none other than one of Alcatraz 2.0’s most popular serial killers-Molly Mauler. Soon, Becca ends up on Who Wants to Be a Painiac? to learn the truth about her mom’s connection to Molly Mauler, but things turn sinister when people are murdered IRL. Will Becca uncover dark secrets and make it out of the deadly reality show alive? Or will she get cut?” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of syndeticsTwo can keep a secret.

“The New York Times bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying is back with an all-new, page-turning mystery perfect for fans of Riverdale! Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows. The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone has declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing. Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.” (Catalogue).

For more reading guides on how NOT to get murdered, click here.


Great Read – So Yesterday: a novel

So Yesterday: a novel by Scott Westerfeld

Some things are in fashion, and everyone knows. But where do these trends start? Someone did it first, before it was cool/trendy/whatever term you like, and then somehow everyone else followed. Hunter doesn’t start these things – he’s the next step, a trendsetter, he gets paid to find and identify things that are actually cool and not just weird. His boss then sells these things onto various companies who sell the “cool” product to consumers everywhere. It’s a good deal for Hunter until he meets Jen, an innovator who designs shoelaces. Together they have to find Hunter’s boss who disappears amidst a brief sighting of the most fantastic shoes Jen and Hunter have ever seen.

A mystery story which is still secondary to the fact that Scott Westerfeld has somehow come up with a (scarily possible) explanation for how trends are started and then spread. Great read, recommended if you like any of his other books or Unidentified by Rae Mariz.

New! Books!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

First sentence: I can be so, so quiet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

First sentence: My name is Michael: Michael Vyner.

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

First sentence: ‘By the gods! Stop!’

More New Books

Rose Sees Red, Cecil Castellucci (197 pages) – It is 1982 in New York and Rose is a ballet dancer who attends the High School of Performing Arts. Yrena is Rose’s neighbour, a visiting Russian dancer who, due to the Cold War between USSR and the United States, is all but a prisoner in her apartment. One night Yrena, intent on experiencing New York life, escapes through Rose’s apartment window, and the two hit the town for a wild night of adventure.

First sentence: I was black inside so I took everything black.

The Children of the Lost, David Whitley (357 pages) – the second book in the Agora trilogy that began with The Midnight Charter. Mark and Lily are exiled from the city of Agora, and find refuge in a small nearby village. Lily is happy, but Mark longs to return to Agora to take revenge and find answers.

First sentence: Gradually, Lily became aware that she was being watched.

Kick, Walter Dean Myers and Ross Workman (197 pages) – Ross Workman wrote to Walter Dean Myers saying he was a fan of his books and Walter Dean Myers replied saying let’s write a book together, so they did. True story. Kick is about a troubled boy who’s an excellent football (soccer) player, on his way to the state cup final, until he ends up in jail. Can he and his mentor, a policeman called Sergeant Brown, turn his life around?

First sentence: Bill Kelly and I had been friends since we played high school basketball together.

I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend, Cora Harrison (342 pages) – Jenny Cooper is Jane’s cousin, and goes to live with the Austens, which is an education in the world of balls, beautiful dresses, turns about the room, gossip, and other such things. When she (Jenny) falls in love, Jane is there to help her out.

First sentence: It’s a terrible thing to write: Jane looks like she could die – but it’s even worse to have the thought jumping into your mind every few minutes.

Pathfinder, Orson Scott Card (657 pages) – Rigg is able to see into people’s paths, a secret he shares only with his father. When his father dies, Rigg learns that he’s been keeping a whole lot of other secrets, about Rigg and his family. Rigg has other powers…

First sentence: Rigg and Father usually set the traps together, because it was Rigg who had the knack of seeing the paths that the animals they wanted were still using.

Firespell, Chloe Neill (278 pages) – Lily is a new girl at an exclusive academy and she doesn’t fit in and has no friends apart from her roommate Scout. When she discovers that Scout has magical powers and protects the city from supernatural monsters, Lily is keen to help, but can she, if she has no powers of her own?

First sentence: They were gathered around a conference table in a high-rise, eight men and women, no one under the age of sixty-five, all of them wealthy beyond measure.

The Body at the Tower, Y S Lee (344 pages) – the second book in the Agency Victorian detective series (the first is A Spy in the House). Mary Quinn, under cover, investigates the mysterious scandals surrounding the building of the Houses of Parliament, but there are distractions (suspicious workmates, past secrets, and the return of James Easton).

First sentence: A sobbing man huddles on a narrow ledge, clawing at his eyes to shield them from the horror far below.

The Doomsday Box, Herbie Brennan (328 pages) – a Shadow Project book. Time travel is possible, trouble is someone (secret codename Cobra) has used it to transport the black plague into the 21st Century. The supernatural teen spies of the Shadow Project must avert disaster, while also averting their own disaster, on the run from the KGB in Moscow in the 1960s.

First sentence: Opal fastened the strap around her ankle and stood up to admire her new shoes.

Zora and Me, Victoria Bond and T R Simon (170 pages) – based on events in the life of author Zora Neale Hurston. When a young man’s body is found on train tracks in a small Florida town Zora thinks she knows who did it, so she and her friends set out to prove her theory and search for the truth. Narrated by Zora’s best friend Carrie, hence the title.

First sentence: It’s funny how you can be in a story but not realise until the end that you were in one.

The False Princess, Eilis O’Neal (319 pages) – Nalia believes herself to be princess of Thorvaldor, but discovers she’s actually a stand in. She’s cast out, called Sinda, and sent to live with her unwelcoming aunt in a village where she (Sinda) learns she has magic, which is Sinda’s ticket out, albeit a dangerous ticket. This one is called “A dazzling first novel” and “an engrossing fantasy full of mystery, action, and romance”, which sounds great.

First sentence: The day they came to tell me, I was in one of the gardens with Kiernan, trying to decipher a three-hundred-year-old map of the palace grounds.

Fallout, Ellen Hopkins (663 pages) – the companion to Crank and Glass. About Kristina’s three oldest children, who must climb out from under their mother’s meth addiction and the hold it has over the family. Novel in verse form.

First sentence: That life was good / before she / met / the monster, / but those page flips / went down before / our collective / cognition.

Accomplice, Eireann  Corrigan (259 pages) – Two friends stage a kidnapping as a joke and in order to gain notoreity. Of course this is going to be a very bad idea indeed.

First sentence: The picture they usually use is one from the Activities spread of the yearbook.

Pride, Robin Wasserman (231 pages) – one in the Seven Deadly Sins series, and we have the complete set.

Some New Books

Revolution, Jennifer Donnelly (472 pages) – Andi, musical genius, New Yorker, sullen pillar of her falling apart family, unwillingly goes to Paris to get her educational life back together. While researching a relatively obscure 18th century French composer for guitar (like, you know, I hadn’t heard of him) she stumbles across the diary of Alexandrine, who may have been the companion of Louis-Charles (son of Marie Antoinette) in his last days, with whom she has a strange connection. Music students and fans may particularly get something out of this, as will people who like Courtney Summers.

First sentences: Those who can, do. Those who can’t, deejay.

The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group, Catherine Jinks (380 pages) – to think that five years ago nobody knew that “lycanthrope” was a word. This must surely be a companion to the popular Reformed Vampire Support Group? Toby discovers he has a rare and dangerous condition, and is adopted by an oddball group of people, keen to help him.

First sentences: You’ve probably heard of me. I’m the guy they found in a dingo pen at Featherdale Wildlife Park.

Extraordinary, Nancy Werlin (390 pages) – the follow up to Impossible. Phoebe is drawn to the mysterious Mallory and her brother Ryland, which may be a very bad thing for Phoebe, as they expect her to pay an “age old debt”.

First sentence: Phoebe Gutle Rothschild met Mallory Tolliver in seventh grade, during the second week of the new school year, in homeroom.

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots, Abby McDonald (293 pages) – Jenna is an urban environmentalist who has the opportunity to spend the summer with her hippie godmother in rural parts, where her urban environmentalism comes up against the locals’ pragmatic ruralism. Plus there’s romance maybe.

First sentences: “Re-use! Re-duce! Re-cycle!”

Everlasting, Angie Frazier (329 pages) – In the 19th century Camille must choose between marrying rich and securing her and her father’s future, or the high seas on her father’s ship, even if this means a storm in the Tasman (!) Sea (bad) and Oscar, a “handsome young sailor” (good). But wait, there’s more: a quest through the Australian outback for an enchanted stone, murder, lies and intrigue. Action-packed adventure.

First sentence: Camille clicked the latches down on her trunk and glanced out her bedroom window.

Life, After, Sarah Darer Littman (278 pages) – Dani’s life in Argentina is blown to bits after a terrorist attack kills her aunt. Moving to the United States means a fresh start, although also troubles like speaking a different language, being a stranger, until she meets some new friends that help her pick up the pieces.

First sentence: Normal kids were happy when the bell rang at the end of the school day.

Love Drugged, James Klise (304 pages) – Jamie is semi-outed at school and does all he can to push the rabbit back into the hat, including taking drugs that will “cure” him and dating the most beautiful girl in school. But is it possible to live a life that’s basically a whole bunch of lies (and side-effects)?

First sentence: Judging by the angry mail we get, a lot of people consider me to be the villain of this story.

The Sorcerer of Sainte Felice, Ann Finnin (353 pages) – set in 15th Century France, Michael de Lorraine is rescued from execution and given refuge at a Benedictine monastery which, he discovers, contains “renegade monk-sorcerers” (how fab is that?) and a secret that could spell the end for the Abbot who rescued him. Oh, and the church (but not the renegade monk-sorcerers) still wants him dead.

First sentences: I was only an apprentice. I swear it.

13 to Life, Shannon Delany (308 pages) – Small time life has changed irrevocably for Jessie after the death of her mother, and then there’s the hot new stranger with the cool accent and a teeny little dangerous secret which the Library of Congress Cataloguing-in-Publication Data, like, totally gives away (don’t read the copyright info).

First sentence: Rio stiffened beneath my touch, striking a glossy hoof against the floor.

Boys Don’t Cry, Malorie Blackman (302 pages) – When the doorbell rings Dante expects the postie with his university exam results, not his ex-girlfriend with his baby.

First sentences: Good luck today. Hope you get what you want and need. 🙂

Paranormalcy, Kiersten White (335 pages) – Evie lives in a world populated with every supernatural being you can imagine, and she can see through their glamours. Trouble is, she can also dream prophetic dreams, and she fears she’s responsible for the recent spate of unexplained paranormal deaths.

First sentence: “Wait – did you – you just yawned!”

The Space Between Trees, Katie Williams (274 pages) – Evie (again! – different Evie) is in the wrong place at the wrong time when the body of her childhood playmate is discovered, which leads to lies, a hunt for the killer, and danger. Cool cover.

First sentence: I’m in Hokepe Woods this morning, like I am every Sunday, delivering papers and keeping an eye out for Jonah Luks.

How They Met and Other Stories, David Levithan (244 pages) – Love in all its guises is explored in 18 stories by bestselling author (Boy Meets Boy, Nick and Norah…) and much successful editor, David Levithan.

First sentence (‘Starbucks Boy’) – It was my aunt who pimped me out.

Unhooking the Moon, Gregory Hughes (374 pages) – This book won the Booktrust Teenage Prize this year. This is what the Guardian said (which I like): “Unhooking the Moon by Gregory Hughes is an extraordinary story of two orphaned siblings, the precocious, fascinating and infuriating 10-year-old Rat and her older brother Bob, who take a road trip from Canada to New York to look for their uncle on the strength of knowing his name and that he is a ‘drug dealer’.”

First sentence: Marymount Manhattan is a small cosy college on the East Side of New York.

My Name is Mina, David Almond (300 pages) – the prequel to the classic Skellig, in which you are privy to Mina’s journal, before she meets Skellig and Michael. Marcus Sedgwick (My Swordhand is Singing) loved it. Indeed, in the Guardian (again) he said,  “My Name Is Mina is a wonderful book in its own right, perhaps an even better one than Skellig. It is joyous. Thank you, David Almond; I cannot remember when a book last filled me with such claminosity.” Claminosity sounds like fun.

First sentence: My name is Mina and I love the night.

Also some continued series:

The Chamber of Shadows, Justin Richards (419 pages) – more from Eddie, George, Liz and Sir William in another horror murder mystery (so much more horrific when set in 19th Century London).

Possession, Chris Humphreys (360 pages) – book three in the Runestone saga.

Some hot new books

Clockwork Angel, Cassandra Clare (476 pages) – the first in the Infernal Devices series and featuring a couple of characters that you know and love from Mortal Instruments, Clockwork Angel introduces the shadowhunters of Victorian London (think grey, foreboding, Sherlock Holmes-ian) where an evil someone is scheming and creating, well, infernal devices.

First sentence: The demon exploded in a shower of ichor and guts.

Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (390 pages) – brace yourself to the conclusion of the Hunger Games. Will Katniss save Panem from the evil Capitol and President Snow? Will there be another games? Who will rise from the ashes? Can you stop yourself from skipping to the end while reading?

First sentence: I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer of ash settles on the worn leather.

Thirst No. 2, Christopher Pike (581 pages) – this includes Phantom, Evil Thirst and Creatures of Forever, being books 4 to 6 of the Last Vampire series first published in the mid 1990s (so kind of school mates of The Vampire Diaries in a way). Alisa, a five thousand year old vampire, has become human, but can she reconcile her past with her future?

First sentence (Phantom): Someone knocks at the door of the Las Vegas home where I stand.

One Night That Changes Everything, Lauren Barnholdt (242 pages) – Eliza’s ex-boyfriend Cooper has stolen her notebook in which she writes about everything she wants but is too afraid to do, and now he and his friends are blackmailing her, giving her one night to perform all the tasks listed in the notebook, or they’ll publish. So Eliza gets the gloves out.

First sentence: I lose everything.

Sisters Red, Jackson Pearce (344 pages) – this one has good reviews! The story of Scarlett and Rosie, who hunt the werewolves who are killing the young girls of their town. Indeed, werewolves are responsible for killing their grandmother and leaving Scarlett with terrible scars, so fair enough. Silas, an axe-wielding woodsman, helps them, and maybe causes some complications in their tight relationship. Cool cover.

First sentence: Strangers never walk down this road, the sisters thought in unison as the man trudged towards them.

I Know It’s Over, C K Kelly Martin (244 pages) – the story of Nick, who must come to terms with the news that the girl he’s just broken up with, Sasha, is pregnant. One reviewer says, “teen boys will especially applaud this portrayal of a devastated and conflicted young man who makes the right decisions, but still finds that his mistakes have repercussions”.

First sentence: The first time Sasha lay spread across my bed, I felt like the world had changed.

Bone by Bone by Bone, Tony Johnston (184 pages) – Set in Tennessee in 1950. David is living up to his father’s wishes to become a doctor, but his friendship with a black boy called Malcolm doesn’t please his father at all. So when his father’s assertion that he will kill Malcolm if he comes into the house is tested by the boys he pulls out his shotgun. Ellipsis.

First sentence: The ghost possessed the liveliest eyes I had ever seen.

Rules of Attraction, Simone Elkeles (324 pages) – written by the author of Perfect ChemistryRules of Attraction follows the story of Alex’s brother Carlos. Alex forces Carlos to come and live with him in Boulder, Colorado, away from his Mexican gang. So Carlos ends up in the home of one of Alex’s professors, in close proximity to the professor’s daughter, Kiara.

First sentence: I want to live life on my own terms.

Five Minutes More, Darlene Ryan (212 pages) – D’Arcy’s dad told her that everyone can survive for five minutes more, so when he dies in a car crash she hopes it was an accident. D’Arcy struggles to cope with his loss, with the help of her maths tutor, Seth, but Seth’s own issues surface and complicate things more.

First sentence: I play the Five Minutes More game.

Summer: Beautiful Dead, Eden Maguire (274 pages) – following from Jonas and Arizona. Darina turns her attention to the murder of Summer Madison, a singer-songwriter, posing as her agent in order to track down her killer.

First sentence: Who decides what’s normal and what’s not?

Fifteen Minute Bob, Catherine Forde (244 pages) – Rory’s life gets turned upside down when his struggling muso father releases a music viral with two musician friends.

First sentence: Imagine this, okay?: It’s your Sixth Form Parents’ Night.

Secrets of my Hollywood Life, Jen Calonita (242 pages) – the cover says, “At last… What it’s really like to be a celebrity ‘It’ girl.” Kaitlin is a 16 year old actress who just wants to be normal, so she assumes a secret identity and enrolls in the local high school. So, exclusive academies in reverse.

First sentence: I’m going to let you in on a little Hollywood Secret: movie stars don’t always get along.

Also briefly:

Soft Targets, Harry Edge – book one of Kite Identity

Bright Angel, Isabelle Merlin – from the author of Three Wishes, Pop Princess and Cupid’s Arrow

Yet More New Books

Another large load from the new book factory.

Meridian, Amber Kizer (305 pages) – “dark, lovely and lushly romantic” says the cover. Meridian is half human, half angel and she’s packed off to her great aunt’s to come to terms with this fact. Here she must learn how to be who she is, work out how to use her gifts, and deal with the ever-present dark danger of the Aternocti. If you like books like Hush, Hush you might be interested?

First sentence: The first creatures to see me were the insects; my parents cleaned the bassinet free of dead ants the morning after they brought me home from the hospital.

The Mark, Jen Nadol (228 pages) – Cassandra can tell when people are about to die (there’s a glow like candlelight that only she can see). After coming to terms with this fact she sets about working out what this means, and whether she can influence fate.

First sentence: There is nothing like the gut-hollowing experience of watching someone die, especially when you know it’s coming.

The Orange Houses, Paul Griffin (147 pages) – Three outsiders – Mik, who is hearing impared; Jimmi, a street poet; and Fatima, a refugee – form a tight friendship and “set off an explosive chain of events that will alter the course of each of their lives.”

First sentence: Everybody’s eyes were like, Say what?

The Lonely Hearts Club, Elizabeth Fulberg (285 pages) – Penny swears off boys and forms The Lonely Hearts Club which becomes super popular, which is only bad when the founding member of said club finds a boy she kind of likes…

First sentence: I, Penny Lane Bloom, do solemnly swear to never date another boy for as long as I shall live.

Boys, Girls & Other Hazardous Materials, Rosalind Wiseman (279 pages) – Charlie is trying to lay low in high school, since middle school ended up getting a bit ugly, but then her old best friend, Will, arrives back in town and he’s super popular on account of being hot, and Charlie ends up in the thick of things again, which turns “near deadly”. A story of friendship and what happens when you try too hard to fit in.

First sentence: Here’s the deal.

Hold Still, Nina LaCour (229 pages) – Caitlin’s friend Ingrid committed suicide, leaving behind her journal of writings and illustrations, which Caitlin reads and processes in the subsequent year.

First sentence: I watch drops of water fall from the ends of my hair.

The Vinyl Princess, Yvonne Prinz (313 pages) – Allie’s into vinyl and works at a record shop – bliss if you’re really into music. In this environment she works on her Vinyl Princess persona, publishing her first zine, blogging, and finding the true music geeks she knows must be out there. A story riding the Zeitgeist.

First sentence: I sense him in my midst.

The Life of Glass, Jillian Cantor (340 pages) – Melissa is coming to terms with the loss of her much-loved father, and with what it means to be beautiful, on the inside and the outside.

First sentence: The last thing my father ever told me was that it takes glass a million years to decay.

Last Night I Sang to the Monster, Benjamin Alire Saenz (239 pages) – Zach is eighteen and in rehab, suffering from amnesia induced by alcohol and depression. With help he can (we hope!) work through it all toward a better life.

First sentence: I want to gather up all the words in the world and write them down on little pieces of paper – then throw them in the air.

Lockdown, Walter Dean Myers (247 pages) – Reese is in juvy and wants to get out as soon as possible, but his friend Toon is getting a hard time and it’s hard being squeaky clean when people want to push you around.

First sentence: “I hope you mess this up!”

Undead Much?, Stacey Jay (306 pages) – zombies running amok again at school, with Megan Berry having to sort out the undead mess, which is hard when one of the undead might be even hotter than your hot boyfriend (and psychic too – how can you be psychic though if you don’t have a brain?).

First sentence: Okay, this was it.

A Voice of Her Own, Barbara Dana (343 pages) – subtitled “Becoming Emily Dickinson”. Emily Dickinson is one of America’s pre-eminent 19th Century poets, an unusual character known for her poems about death (‘Because I would not stop for death he kindly stopped for me’ etc), and who wore only white and refused to conform to society’s expectations. A Voice of Her Own brings to life her childhood and her unique voice.

First sentence: It was too dreary, the last of our family’s possessions piled by the side of the road as if Gypsies had relinquished squatter’s rights and were moving on to points unknown.

A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts, Ying Chang Compestine (176 pages) – the cover says “A collection of deliciously frightening tales”. Chinese ghosts, apparently, are a bit of a nightmare unless you offer them some tempting food. Lucky, then, that this collection of short stories also contains recipes.

First sentence (from ‘Steamed Dumplings’): Long ago, in 200 B.C.E., there was a small village called Bright Stars situated in the northern mountains of China, along the midsection of the Great Wall.

Nothing, Janne Teller (227 pages) – translated from the Danish and described as ‘A Lord of the Flies for the twenty-first century’. Pierre Anthon climbs a plum tree and doesn’t come down because life is worth nothing. His friends are, unsurprisingly, concerned for him, so set about proving there is meaning in life by creating a “pile of meaning” in a sawmill, an exercise which sounds pretty cool on face value, but becomes sinister as the friends push each other beyond the limit.

First sentence: Nothing matters.

The Billionaire’s Curse, Richard Newsome (355 pages) – Gerald is a billionaire at thirteen, which sounds pretty cool, but his new status as a billionaire means he must solve a murder, with the help of his friends, because his life is in imminent danger.

First sentence: The clock on the wall chimed twice.

Drama Girl, Carmen Reid (Secrets at St Jude’s, 287 pages) – Gina, Niffy and Amy discover that mixing their home friends and their school friends can be problematic. Drama ensues.

First sentence: ‘Mom!’ Gina Peterson exclaimed, holding her arms wide for a hug.

Some new books

The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein, Libby Schmais (275 pages) – Lotus says on the back cover, “This year, I will become an existentialist, go to France and fall in love (hopefully in Paris) with a dashing Frenchman named Jean something. We will both be existentialists, believe in nothingness, and wander around Paris in trench coats and berets.” Needless to say, Lotus loves all things French and sets up a French culture club at her school, which consists of her, her friend Joni and the handsome Sean. Things possibly go a bit awry on a trip to Montreal. Told in diary form and possibly (I say possibly) will be liked by Georgia Nicholson fans.

First sentence: As you may have guessed, my name is Lotus Lowenstein and this is my diary.

Secret Army, Robert Muchamore (Henderson’s Boys, 363 pages) – This also has what appears to be a large extract from the last CHERUB book Shadow Wave (yet to be published). In Secret Army, it is January 1941 and Charles Henderson is back in Britain, “but will the military establishment allow him to enact a plan to train teenagers as spies?” (says the website) This looks to be the beginning of the CHERUB campus – you can see how it all began!

First sentence (of chapter one): “Stand by yer beds!” Evan Williams shouted.

Beautiful Creatures, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (563 pages) – a veritable doorstop of a book at nearly 600 pages, Beautiful Creatures already features in our monthly Most Wanted list. We are currently reading it to see if it is Twilight-y. Ethan Wate has been having strange recurring dreams about an unknown beautiful girl. On the first day back at school there are rumblings about a new girl in town (nobody is ever new in the town of Gatlin), and Ethan’s life takes an unexpected and unsettling turn when dream and reality mingle. That’s the start, at any rate. A gothic southern supernatural romance.

First sentence: There were only two kinds of people in our town.

Loot, Grace Cavendish (The Lady Grace Mysteries, 201 pages) – a favourite YA series. When the crown of St Edward goes missing, Lady Grace must find out what has happened to it without anyone knowing that a) it’s gone missing and b) she’s trying to find it. Elizabeth I will not be amused if she is “publicly humiliated” (as the back cover puts it).

First sentence: Here I am, squashed into a corner of my bedchamber, far from the fire, while Mary Shelton and Lady Sarah Bartelmy fuss about new gowns that the Maids have been gifted.

Gone, Lisa McMann (214 pages) – the cover says that this the final book in the Wake trilogy, but trilogies have a habit of being tricksy and growing a fourth leg. Still, we must take it at its word: those of you who have read and enjoyed Wake and Fade must read this (let us know if it is indeed the end)! Janie must (she thinks) disappear in order to give Cabel a fighting chance at a normal life, but then a mysterious stranger arrives on the scene and Janie’s future is not what it once seemed, in fact it appears to be a whole lot worse. Tense.

First sentence: It’s like she can’t breathe anymore, no matter what she does.

Geek Magnet, Kieran Scott (308 pages) – KJ is a geek magnet, but would like to be a superstud-basketball-star-Cameron magnet (and isn’t). Tama Gold, most popular of the popular girls, kindly thinks she has the solution to KJ’s problem, but is KJ ready for such a radical turn of events? A theatrical story: “a novel in five acts”.

First sentence: Okay, so I was dizzy with power.

The Walls Have Eyes, Clare B Dunkle (225 pages) – the sequel to The Sky Inside. Martin’s family are the targets of a totalitarian government, and Martin must rescue his parents (having saved his sister Cassie), but things are treacherous, agents are following him, and Cassie looks like she’s in danger again…

First sentence(s): “She melted down? Completely?”

Viola in Reel Life, Adriana Trigiani (282 pages) – Viola is a New Yorker at boarding school in the middle of nowhere in Indiana. Needless to say she very much doesn’t like it to begin with, but just maybe it grows on her a little bit.

First sentence: You would not want to be me.

Waiting for You, Susane Colasanti (322 pages) – a love triangle story that’s very happy being a love triangle story. Marisa likes Derek (I think), but he has a girlfriend. She doesn’t particularly like Nash, but Nash likes Marisa. Plus there are other complicating factors in Marisa’s life, from family to friends, to school… Might be a good one for fans of Elizabeth Scott, Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti.

First sentence: The best thing about summer camp is the last day.

The Girl with the Mermaid Hair, Delia Ephron (312 pages) – Sukie is obsessed with the way she looks, so when her mother gives her a beautiful antique full length mirror this seems like the perfect gift, but the mirror possibly reveals more about Sukie than just her appearance.

First sentence: Sukie kept track of herself in all reflective surfaces: shiny pots, the windowed doors to classrooms, shop windows, car chrome, knives, spoons.

Funny How Things Change, Melissa Wyatt (196 pages) – “Remy, a talented, seventeen-year-old auto mechanic, questions his decision to join his girlfriend when she starts college in Pennsylvania after a visiting artist helps him to realize what his family’s home in a dying West Virginia mountain town means to him.” (catalogue summing it up well) This story has good reviews: “Good writing drives stellar characterization of this strong but introspective protagonist struggling with his own version of the universal questions of who he is and what matters most” (School Library Journal via amazon.com). I’d like a review like that one day.

First sentence: On his arm – just above his left hand – were three black letters.

Dreams of the Dead, Thomas Randall (The Waking, 276 pages) – Kara moves to Japan and to a new school where she makes friends with Sakura, whose sister was murdered on school grounds… and the killer was never found. Things get pretty bad: Kara has strange nightmares, then more bodies appear… is this Sakura’s murdered sister exacting revenge? Or Sakura? Or some other sinister thing? The book also has a “sneak peak” at the sequel.

First sentence: Akane Murakami died for a boy she did not love.

There are more books (yet more), so back soon.

So many new books. so many

There are many, many new books this week. Here they are!

Oathbreaker : Assassin’s Apprentice, by S. R. Vaught and J. B. Redmond (374 pages) – High fantasy at its highest. Aron is kidnapped and forced to become an assassin in a world of powerful magic and shapeshifters. Should he avenge his family’s death?

First line: ‘Hot winds blew across the Watchline, twisting rusted wires against rotted fence posts.

Pastworld, by Ian Beck (353 pages) – It is 2048, and London has been transformed into a giant Victorian-era themepark. Its inhabitants do not know this! Visitors are a bit like time-travellers, and Caleb – one such visitor – finds himself accused of a murder by the local olde constabulary.

First line: ‘It was the cold hour before dawn.’

The Genius Wars, by Catherine Jinks (384 pages) – The conclusion to the Genius Trilogy. Cadel must launch an all-out attack on Prosper English, who is now a fugitive determined to take down all of Cadel’s loved ones.

First line: ‘Two dented lift doors were embedded in a wall of pebblecrete.

The Waters and the Wild, by Francesca Lia Block (113 pages) – A new book from one of the best writers in YA fiction. And it’s pretty brief, so perfect for a quick & magical read.

First lines: ‘When Bee woke up, there was a girl standing in her room. “You are me,” the girl said. Then she was gone.

The Glittering Eye, by L. J. Adlington (309 pages) – Shabti wakes in a field and has no memories. And Amy, daughter of an archaeologist, arrives in Egypt. They are connected! But you won’t guess how …

First line: ‘He woke up in a barley field.

Crashed, by Robin Wasserman (440 pages) – Lia died six months ago. She’s now a mech, and has to choose between humanity and the sheer awesomeness of being a machine. The second book in a trilogy! (The first is Skinned.)

First line: ‘When I was alive, I dreamed of flying.

The Demon’s Lexicon, by Sarah Rees Brennan (329 pages) – Nick’s mother stole a charm from the most feared of magicians, and his brother, Alan, has been marked by a demon. Which leads to death! Nick must face the magicians, whose powers are sourced from demons, and he must kill them to save his brother.

First line: ‘The pipe under the sink was leaking again.

After The Moment, by Garret Freymann-Weyr (328 pages) – There is a summary inside, which I can lazily copy. ‘When seventeen-year-old Leigh changes high schools his senior year to help his stepsister, he finds himself falling in love with her emotionally disturbed friend, although he is still attached to a girl back home.’

First line: ‘Leigh Hunter thought he’d said goodbye to her almost four years ago.

The Twilight Saga – New Moon : The Official Illustrated Movie Companion, by Mark Cotta Vaz (141 pages) – Something about vampires and werewolves? Never heard of it myself. I wonder if it will be popular.

Marcelo In The Real World, by Francisco X. Stork (312 pages) – Marcelo Sandoval has a form of autism that leads him to hear music all the time. His father challenges him to work in his law firm’s mailroom, and there Marcelo faces new challenges. ‘Reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time,‘ says the blurb. 

First lines: ‘“Marcelo, are you already?” I lift up my thumb. It means that I am ready.

Headlong, by Kathe Koja (195 pages) – Lily attends the private Vaughn School, and has done so since preschool. New girl Hazel – whose background is vastly different to Lily’s privileged upbringing – and Lily become firm friends, and Hazel shows Lily what life has to offer.

First line: ‘A black circle-in-a-circle-in-a-circle, a bull’s-eye, a target: I trimmed it from the symbol sheet, painted on glue, stuck it to the underside of the vestal’s upraised wrist, one of the few blank spaces left on her.

In The Path of Falling Objects, by Andrew Smith (323 pages) – Brother Simon and Jonah take a road trip to find their other brother, who is in the army. They get a ride with a crazy man and a strange woman, and it quickly becomes the ride from Hell.

First line: ‘The only shade there is blackens a rectangle in the dirt beneath the overhang of the seller’s open stall.

Front and Center, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (254 pages) – Like everyone in her family, D.J.  Schwenk is VERY tall. And she’s wanted by College scouts, town hoops fans, and a couple of fellas. [The one that comes after Dairy Queen and The Off Season – Grimm]

First line: ‘Here are ten words I never thought I’d be saying …

Hush, Hush, by Becca Fitzgerald (391 pages) – Nora Grey isn’t interested in romance until transfer student Patch appears. He’s dreamy and mysterious and he’s also an angel, I think? If you like Twilight you may appreciate this – reviewers have commented favourably on the character of Nora compared with Bella.

First line: ‘Chauncey was with a farmer’s daughter on the grassy banks of the Loire River when the storm rolled in, and having let his gelding wander in the meadow, was left to his own two feet to carry him back to the chateau.

Warrior King, by Sue Purkiss (265 pages) – It is the ninth-century. King Alfred the Great has a plan – a good plan! – to get rid of the Vikings invading Britain (I guess they were bad?), but what will it mean for Fleda, his daughter?

First line: ‘Alfred couldn’t find his mother.

Confessions of a First Daughter, by Cassidy Calloway (214 pages) – Morgan’s mum is the president of the US. Morgan’s tendency for ‘screwing things up’ means that she often makes the news, always for the wrong reasons. When her mother has to go on a secret mission, Morgan steps in for her; with a little makeup, no one will spot the difference. Maybe.

First line: ‘I wonder if my mother ever feels like throwing up before she delivers an important speech.

Unsigned Hype, by Booker T. Mattison (206 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Tory Tyson and his partner Fat Mike enter the Unsigned Hype contest on a radio station. If he makes it his whole life will change. BUT will he win?

First line: ‘Somebody’s banging on my front door and it’s rocking the house harder than the beat I’m laying down in my bedroom.

Academy 7, by Anne Osterlund (257 pages) – Aerin and Dane are both new to the most exclusive academy in the whole UNIVERSE. Their secrets will soon unite them in this genre-spanning sci-fi romance mystery.

First line: ‘Aerin tried to ignore the bloodstain on the control panel of the Fugitive.’
(There aren’t enough fishhooks.)

The Center of the Universe : Yep, That Would Be Me, by Anita Liberty (286 pages) – A ‘profound, touching and hilarious’ story of one girl’s junior and senior years at high school. I read parts! It IS hilarious.

First lines: ‘My name is Anita Li … That was stupid. Why am I introducing myself?

Chasing the Bear : A Young Spenser Novel, by Robert B. Parker (169 pages) – Robert B. Parker has written a LOT of novels about Spenser, a private eye who solves mysteries. They’re all in the adult fiction collection. This book is for younger readers and is about Spenser’s youth in Wyoming.

First line: ‘I was sitting with the girl of my dreams on a bench in the Boston Public Garden watching the swan boats circle the little lagoon.

Would You Rather?, by Chris Higgins (261 pages)

Serendipity Market, by Penny Blubaugh (268 pages)

Rowan the Strange, by Julie Hearn (332 pages)

This Week in New Books

This week there’s lad lit, chick lit (complete with pink covers), some history lessons, thrillers, studies in complex psychology and rites of passage, spy books, serious stuff, frivolous stuff, books written in traditional prose, books that throw things like emails and lists in too.

North of Beautiful, by Justina Chen Headley (373 pages) – I was going to summarise this in my own words, but the last paragraph on the dust jacket seems to be just the ticket: a novel “about a fractured family, falling in love, travel, and the meaning of true beauty.” Fans of Sarah Dessen and Elizabeth Scott have a read and tell us what you think.

First sentence: Not to brag or anything, but if you saw me from behind, you’d probably think I was perfect.

A Certain Strain of Peculiar, by Gigi Amateau (261 pages) – Mary Harold, a 13 year old psychological mess retreats to her family home in Alabama where hard work, her Grandma Ayma, and friendship help her recover her sense of self and things like that.

First sentence: What happens in my mind sometimes is complicated.

Just Another Hero, by Sharon M Draper (280 pages) – the conclusion to the story begun in The Battle of Jericho and November Blues. The alarm goes off in school and everyone assumes it’s just a prank, but it’s not. Certainly not.

First sentence: “Grab his arms!”

Swim the Fly, by Don Calame (345 pages) – you thought right: this is a novel where swimming is involved. It’s a humorous coming-of-age novel which wonders if it’s harder to swim the 100 metres butterfly or impress a really hot girl. Doing the one well might cause the other to happen, and hopefully it’s not a case of neither.

First sentence: “Movies don’t count,” Cooper says.

Boy Minus Girl, by Richard Uhlig (246 pages) – Les seems to be the harmless, shy, geek type in whose life girls just don’t feature (see title), but then Uncle Ray arrives, who is quite the opposite and therefore either potentially a really good role model or a really bad influence.

First sentence: “Seduction Tip Number 1.”

City of Ghosts, by Bali Rai (385 pages) – a story based on events during the 1919 Amritsar massacre.

First sentence: Udham Singh watched the chairman of the meeting, Lord Zetland, gathering up his notes as another member of the panel answered a question.

If the Witness Lied, by Caroline B. Cooney (213 pages) – something terrible happened to Jack’s family three years ago and now his aunt has decided that the only way to heal and move on is to have some sort of healing and moving on fest – on camera. The press are dead keen, too (Jack’s not), and the re-hashing leads Jack and sisters to ask probing questions about what really happened.

First sentence: The good thing about Friday is – it’s not Thursday.

Killing God, by Kevin Brooks (233 pages) – from the author of Black Rabbit Summer. The blurb says: “Dawn Bundy is fifteen. She doesn’t fit in and she couldn’t care less. Dawn has other things on her mind. Her dad disappeared two years ago and it’s all God’s fault. When Dawn’s dad found God, it was the worst time ever. He thought he’d found the answer to everything. But that wasn’t the end of it.”

First sentence: This is a story about me, that’s all.

Girls to Total Goddesses, by Sue Limb (314 pages) – Zoe and Chloe have seven days to glamourise themselves. Will they do it? Will dastardly things foil their fabulous plans?

First sentence: “Right,” said Chloe.

The Agency: A Spy in the House, by Y S Lee (341 pages) – it’s Victorian London and Mary Quinn is a seventeen year old spy working for The Agency. The first book in a promised detective trilogy.

First sentence: She should have been listening to the judge.

Tales of the Madman Underground, by John Barnes (531 pages) – an epic tome. Karl Shoemaker is in his senior year at high school in 1973. Subtitled “An Historical Romance 1973”, I’m thinking this is one of those stories about completely normal boys that make for good reading and a laugh (see a bit further up too).

First sentence: I had developed this theory all summer: if I could be perfectly, ideally, totally normal for the f irst day of my senior year, which was today, then I could do it for the first week, which was only Wednesday through Friday.

Touch, by Francine Prose (262 pages) – something happened to Maisie at the back of the bus, and she becomes embroiled in the out-of-control aftermath; lies, rumours, stories that don’t match, the press… when your story is so heavily scrutinised working out what’s true and what’s not becomes increasingly difficult.

First sentence: “Are the boys who assaulted you present in the courtroom?”

It’s Yr Life, by Tempany Deckert and Tristan Bancks (280 pages) – Sim and Milla are opposites (poor/rich, male/female etc) and they have to email each other for a school assignment: the story unfolds from there. A story told in emails (like some others mentioned here).

First sentence: 10th Grade English Assignment: Communication.

The One, by Ed Decter (316 pages) – the first Chloe Gamble novel, because (the book says) there’s always more Chloe. Chloe is a big city girl in small town Texas, dreaming of becoming famous. Again a novel in manuscript excerpts, emails and not-to-do lists etc.

First sentence: When the police came to see me about the “incident” I told them a lot of things about Chloe Gamble, but I didn’t tell them about this manuscript.

Summer Sun & Stuff According to Alex, by Kathryn Lamb (172 pages) – the third pink cover this week. Alex’s boyfriend Mark is going to Italy with some other girl’s family and Alex and her friends are determined that she will get him back, but things never pan out in expected ways.

First sentence: I am HOME ALONE!!!!!

Ghostgirl: Homecoming, by Tonya Hurley (285 pages) – sequel to Ghostgirl, and also with a very cool cover and fancy silver-gilded page edges. After graduating Dead Ed Charlotte is a little dismayed to discover she now has to complete an internship at a hotline for teens.

First sentence: Dying of boredom wasn’t an option.

Plus some others:

Diary of a Snob: Poor Little Rich Girl, by Grace Dent (247 pages)

The Battle of Jericho, by Sharon R Draper (337 pages)

November Blues, by Sharon R Draper (383 pages)