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December 2009

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  • Competition, Library Serf

    Short short story competition: nearly at the finish line

    18.12.09 | Permalink | Comments Off on Short short story competition: nearly at the finish line

    Hello! The closing date for the short short story competition is nearly upon us (5pm Monday 21st), so if you’re writing make sure you email us your story before then. To refresh your memory about the rules, visit here; to refresh your memory about the prize pack, visit here.

    Have fun.

    Ps If you’re bored now that there’s no school and things we’ve got a few ideas of books to read while sitting in the sun wearing sunblock and eating nice things.


  • Books, Fantasy, Horror, New, Sci Fi, Simon

    New Books

    17.12.09 | Permalink | Comments Off on New Books

    Why hello there. Here are SOME of this week’s (and last week’s) new books. (The rest are forthcoming.)

    Lifegame, by Alison Allen-Gray (339 pages) – Fella and Grebe escape from the island to the outside world; a world, so they’ve been led to believe, has been subject to a cataclysmic disaster. But has it? Fella has a diary that belonged to his mother, who came from the Outside. Sci-fi thrill!

    First line: ‘The baby was brought to the Orphanage straight from the car accident that killed his mother.’

    Threads, by Sophia Bennett (254 pages) – A fairy tale about for London girls and fashion. There’s a website with more details! Interactive. ‘Girls will love it’, says Jacqueline Wilson.

    First line: ‘We’re standing in a fashion designer’s studio in Hoxton, admiring ourselves in the mirror.

    Crossing the Line, by Gillian Philip (267 pages) – Nick’s sister’s boyfriend was murdered; his father drinks and his mother is a religious maniac. He’s also in love with Orla, the sister of his murdered sister’s boyfriend. She (Orla) blames him (Nick) for his (the brother’s) death. Grim.

    First line: ‘In this life you have to look after yourself.

    Forbidden Island, Malcolm Rose (230 pages) – Mike and his pals explore an island off the Scottish coast. There are warnings! But they ignore them and find that the island is much, much more dangerous than other Scottish islands. Like Mull, Eigg, Yell, or even Fuaigh Mòr.

    First line: ‘”There’s land ahead!” Mike shouted about the growl of the motor.

    Morning in a Different Place, by Mary Ann McGuigan (195 pages) – ‘In 1963 in the Bronx, New York, eighth-graders Fiona and Yolanda help one another face hard decisions at home despite family and social opposition to their interracial friendship, but Fiona is on her own when popular classmates start paying attention to her and give her a glimpse of both a different way of life and a new kind of hatefulness.’ (Copied from the catalogue entry. Full credit!)

    First line: ‘Now I know what invisible feels like.

    You Are So Undead To Me, by Stacey Jay (265 pages) – Megan can communicate with zombies, semi-dead people who aren’t too troublesome. But someone in her school uses black magic and she and friend Ethan must team up to save homecoming from a ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE!

    First line: ‘The cold wind swept across the hill, whistling through the headstones that poked from the ground like dozens of crooked baby teeth.

    Dreaming of Amelia, by Jaclyn Moriarty (519 pages) – Amelia and Riley have transferred to Ashbury, a rich kids’ school, from Brookfield High. They are brilliant and mysterious, and soon everyone at Ashbury is obsessed with them. However! They have dark secrets. And ghosts. Also, locked doors, femme fatales, madness and passion feature.

    First line: ‘My first look at her was her name.

    The Wisdom of Dead Men, by Oisín McGann (468 pages) – Berto is the head of the ‘rich and ruthless’ Wildenstern family. He and his younger brother, Nate, want to change the cruel ways typical to their family. Nate and his sister-in-law Daisy must also investigate a spate of spontaneous combustion – and the deaths mightn’t be the fault of a Wildenstern.

    First line: ‘Vicky Miller stumbled dizzily out into the darkness, away from the house and the stranger who lay dead inside it – the man she had just killed.
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    Voices in the Dark : The Last Descendants Trilogy Book II, by Catherine Banner (455 pages) – From the reliable old catalogue, source of so many synopses: ‘Sixteen-year-old Anselm Andros’s world is turned upside-down when he learns the identity of his birth father, and this personal upheaval mirrors that of his country, Malonia, which is on the brink of another war after fifteen years of relative peace.’

    First line: ‘I want more than anything to tell you the truth about my life.


  • Grimm

    Some Books to Read in the Holidays

    17.12.09 | Permalink | Comments Off on Some Books to Read in the Holidays

    summerreadingIf you’re looking for something to read over summer, here’s some interesting fiction that arrived in the library some time during 2009. Where the book is a sequel or part of a series we’ve also listed the other books (in order) so as not to ruin your reading experience. We’ve also included the blurb we wrote when the books came in, for your reference.

    A Small Amount of Horror

    Fen Runners, John Gordon – Tom Townsend lost the blade of his skate in an accident on the frozen fens years ago, and since then has been plagued by nightmares. His granddaughter, Jenny, is haunted too, and then her friend Kit pulls something out of the fen water.

    The Enemy, Charlie Higson – The Enemy is the first book in a new trilogy with zombies – a whole lot of zombies. Reviews suggest this is rather scary, and overall really rather good. Plus it has black page edges. Website

    The Devouring, Simon Holt – “Your body is here, but not your soul…” says the cover. Yoicks! The Vours are “evil, demonic beings that inhabit human bodies on Sorry Night, the darkest hours of the winter solstice.” (Book cover) Website

    Zombie Blondes, Brian James – The girl on the cover has disturbingly large eyes (courtesy of artist Sas Christian). Blonde zombie cheerleaders are the most popular girls in the school that Hannah Sanders finds herself attending. It seems to be a cross between The Stepford Wives and Twilight (the concept of new girl in school coming across the undead, you understand). Worth a look.

    Wake and Fade, Lisa McMann – (for Fade) The dream catchers Janie and Cabel must expose something horrid that’s going on at Fieldridge High. Website

    The Parliament of Blood, Justin Richards – When an Egyptian mummy wakes up in the British Museum Eddie and George, Liz and Sir William (first seen in The Death Collector) are on hand to rescue the situation, which is a good thing, since they’re the only ones who know just how scary this particular mummy truly is.

    The Kiss of Death, Marcus Sedgwick (companion to My Swordhand is Singing) – Set in eighteenth century Venice. Peter is still chasing the Shadow Queen, who is amassing an impressive undead army. In amongst this is Marko and Sorrel, both trying to uncover the mysteries surrounding their fathers.

    Bit of a Laugh

    I Love You, Beth Cooper, Larry Doyle – Denis Cooverman announces to everyone at his graduation that he loves Beth Cooper, the head cheerleader. Unfortunately her boyfriend, Kevin, is on leave from the United States Army and isn’t too happy. ‘Complications ensue’. Doyle is a former writer for The Simpson, and this book is extremely funny. They made it into a movie too.

    The Reformed Vampire Support Group, Catherine Jinks – becoming undead and never aging would make you slightly nuts. Nina’s been fifteen for “a while” and finds life boring and unfun. Then one of the members of her therapy group is mysteriously staked and Nina and co have to find out who’s the culprit: their unlives are at stake (I’m sorry, that’s pretty bad). [It’s still bad.]

    Spanking Shakespeare, Jake Wizner – Shakespeare Shapiro hopes that his writing project – a memoir – will bring him ‘respect, admiration, and a girlfriend … or at least a prom date.’ He hates his name, his family is eccentric, and he’s pretty socially inept.

    Past Tense

    What I Saw and How I Lied, Judy Blundell – Evie’s father returns from World War II and everything appears normal, however a web of deception surrounds him and handsome young Peter, one of Evie’s father’s company. Evie must get to the heart of things and ultimately choose between love and family loyalty.

    Lost, Jacqueline Davies – Set in New York in the early 1900s.  The story of Essie, who lives in virtual poverty with her mother and siblings, is woven into a retelling of two historical events; the disappearance of a New York heiress and the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire. Nice cover.

    The Bride’s Farewell, Meg Rosoff – Pell runs away on the morning of her wedding and hits the road to uncover the secrets of her past. From the author of How I Live Now.

    Fantasy (may contain cool gadgetry)

    The Looking Glass Wars, Seeing Redd, and Archenemy, Frank Beddor – (for Archenemy) the gripping conclusion to The Looking Glass Wars. Something strange is happening to Wonderland, and it’s not just Arch declaring himself king. Conundrums of evaporating puddles, shimmering portals, assassins, metamorphoses, action aplenty. The dude on the cover has got the coolest suit of armour and gun thingy ever. Website

    Fever Crumb, Philip Reeve – A new book in the Infernal Engines world; huge, armoured fortresses that move across the wastelands. The book has a neat cover! Website

    Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld – ‘In an alternate 1914 Europe, fifteen-year-old Austrian Prince Alek, on the run from the Clanker Powers who are attempting to take over the globe using mechanical machinery, forms an uneasy alliance with Deryn who, disguised as a boy to join the British Air Service, is learning to fly genetically-engineered beasts.’ The book has terrific illustrations throughout. [Another cool cover. Since here at teen blog we’re all about the pictures.]

    Flora Segunda and Flora’s Dare, Ysabeau S Wilce – (for Flora’s Dare) Apart from comments about the incredibly long and eccentric book titles (have a look at the catalogue link) we had this to say: Awarding-winning fantasy. And it has a giant squid.

    A Small Amount of Fantasy with Romance

    Fire, Kristin Cashore (companion to Graceling) – Fire is a human monster who is irresistible to humans (and other monsters) and is able to influence minds. Thought control: cool (in theory). This book is called a companion because it has one linking character – you get to find out what made Leck so Leck-ish. I may write a review of this book some time soon – it has some interesting positives and negatives. One positive is the creepy Prologue.

    Hush, Hush, Becca Fitzpatrick – Nora Grey isn’t interested in romance until transfer student Patch appears. He’s dreamy [sexy, more like] and mysterious and he’s also an angel, I think? [Yes indeed] If you like Twilight you may appreciate this – reviewers have commented favourably on the character of Nora compared with Bella. Facebook

    Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange and Fragile Eternity, Melissa Marr – (for Fragile Eternity, me making this up just now) After a shift in focus in Ink Exchange, the story returns to Ash, Seth and Keenan, focussing most on Seth and his conundrum (one faced by many at the moment: how does one love an immortal?). Website

    Princess Ben…, Catherine Gilbert Murdock – Again a long title! Princess Ben, held by the nasty Queen Sophia, learns the magical arts and saves the kingdom. Catherine Gilbert Murdock has previously written about the marvellous DJ Schwenk (Dairy Queen, The Off Season and now Front and Center), so this is a really different tack for her!

    Lament, Maggie Stiefvater – Deirdre is not only a gifted musician, she’s also been lumped with the gift of seeing faeries, which means she becomes entangled in a faerie war that is as old as the hills.

    Intrigue

    The Nostradamus Prophecy, Teresa Breslin – Nostradamus has predicted a massacre, but King Charles doesn’t believe him; his mother, Catherine de’ Medici, does, however. So to does Melisande, the minstrel’s daughter, who ends up with some parchments written by Nostradamus that hold the secret of the French royal line. Adventure ensues!

    The Robber Baron’s Daughter, Jamila Gavin – Philip Pullman describes this as a “rich and almost gothic drama” (Amazon.co.uk). The back cover tells me, “Nettie lives a privileged life… but everything changes when her beloved tutor, Miss Kovachev, vanishes.” The story travels between central London and (interestingly) Bulgaria.

    Romantic (but not all just for girls)

    Swim the Fly, Don Calame – 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.

    Along for the Ride, Sarah Dessen – From the library catalogue’s description: ‘When Auden impulsively goes to stay with her father, stepmother, and new baby sister the summer before she starts college, all the trauma of her parents’ divorce is revived, even as she is making new friends and having new experiences such as learning to ride a bike and dating.’

    Cruel Summer, Alyson Noel – Colby Cavendish ditches her dorky image and her dorky best friend and dreams of a summer spent larking it up on the beach. But! Her parents send her to spend summer in Greece with her aunt. Which sounds great to me, but Colby isn’t having any of it. Until she meets Yanni, that is. Yannniiii.

    Something, Maybe, Elizabeth Scott – Hannah’s parents are famous and notorious, and she’s managed to live life under the radar. But! Nothing is ever that simple, especially with crazy parents and falling in lurve.

    Boy Minus Girl, Richard Uhlig – 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.

    What They Always Tell Us, Martin Wilson – James and Alex are brothers, but they’re quite different. James has it all together and Alex is a bit of an outcast, but this year things will change: Alex starts cross country running which leads him along an unexpected path, and both brothers befriend Henry, a smart 10 year old neighbour. Critics call this book “beautifully realised”, which is rather a nice compliment for a writer.

    Tough Love

    Wintergirls, Laurie Halse Anderson – Lia’s best friend Cassie has died from anorexia, and now Lia faces the same fate. ‘One girl’s chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.’

    Ostrich Boys, Keith Gray – Three boys take – well, steal, really – their late friend’s ashes after his depressing and dispiriting funeral, and travel 261 miles to a tiny hamlet in Scotland called Ross (which was also his first name).

    Living Dead Girl, Elizabeth Scott – This rather grim tale is about Alice, who is abducted by someone when 10-years-old and held captive for years. Has an edge-of-your-seat ending.

    Ghost Medicine, Andrew Smith – After the death of his mother, Troy just wants to spend the summer hanging out with his friends and being sort of invisible, but life gets in the way with complex, dangerous twists and turns. [I liked this book.]

    Once Was Lost, Sara Zarr – “As the tragedy of a missing girl enfolds in her small town, fifteen-year-old Samara, who feels emotionally abandoned by her parents, begins to question her faith.” (Catalogue entry)

    The World’s Turned to Custard

    The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins – (for Catching Fire) Set in a post-apocalyptic future where a new, authoritarian government pits teens against one another on television. Now that the hunger games are over (or are they?) can Katniss survive the Capitol’s scrutiny? Website and Facebook

    Bang, Bang, You’re Dead, Narinder Dhami – A gunman is rumoured to be somewhere in Mia’s school, and the place is being evacuated. Mia has a dreadful feeling that the gunman is her brother, Jamie, who has been acting very weird lately. Can she get to him in time? This book has a terrific twist at the end that’s right I read the end first

    Brainjack, Brian Falkner – Sam Wilson, brilliant teenage computer hacker, has a go at the computer systems of the White House. This reckless obsession leads Sam into a dangerous world of ‘espionage and intrigue; of cybercrime and imminent war.’ Dangerous, sure, but pretty exciting you must admit.

    Small-Minded Giants, Oisin McGann – Beyond the huge domed roof of Ash Harbour, deadly storms and Arctic temperatures have stripped the Earth bare. Sinister bodies reign supreme, and undercover operations are rife. When sixteen-year-old Sol Wheat’s father goes missing and is accused of murder, Sol sets out to find out why, and in doing so uncovers the harsh reality behind the city… (thanks Adrienne)

    The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer, Patrick Ness – Things aren’t going well for Todd; Viola is in the hands of Mayor Prentiss and he (Todd) has been imprisoned, then there’s the question of the Answer: who are they? Very cool cover. [Maybe cool cover = cool book? Although they do say you shouldn’t think that.]


  • Reviews

    Best of 2009: Stephanie’s Picks

    17.12.09 | Permalink | Comments Off on Best of 2009: Stephanie’s Picks

    Stephanie, being busy buying books (lucky for some!), has offered up these two thought-provoking titles as her favourites of the year (plot summaries included from the catalogue):

    Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson

    Eighteen-year-old Lia comes to terms with her best friend’s death from anorexia as she struggles with the same disorder.

    Hate List, by Jennifer Brown

    Sixteen-year-old Valerie, whose boyfriend Nick committed a school shooting at the end of their junior year, struggles to cope with integrating herself back into high school life, unsure herself whether she was a hero or a villain.


  • Music, Simon

    Glee

    16.12.09 | Permalink | Comments Off on Glee

    The first soundtrack to Glee (there’s a second one out, I think, in the US?) is now in the library catalogue. You can reserve it here. Lots of people want to listen to it! (Apparently Kurt does an amazing cover of Defying Gravity.) Tres exciting, do admit.


  • Library, Simon, Top 10

    Things people search for the most

    10.12.09 | Permalink | 2 Comments

    Here is a new list of the Top 10 things people search for in the library catalogue (and here is the old one!). The catalogue is called Easyfind as it easily finds things (obvs) and also recommends similar things.

    So here they are, in order of popularity. 

    1. Twilight
    2. New Moon
    3. Book
    4. Jodi Picoult
    5. My Sisters Keeper
    6. The Lovely Bones
    7. Lovely Bones
    8. thriller
    9. Cherub
    10. 24

    I think it’s pretty cool that about a third of them are for items in the YA section. (The 11th on the list is Stephenie Meyer and the 12th is Eclipse.) SO significant.

    Here are some of the searches that didn’t get an results. They are also called ‘orphaned queries’, depressingly.

    ‘ultamate biplane’, ‘stunt biplane’, ‘the profet’, ‘stephine meyer’, ‘shime’, ‘build chicken coop’, and ‘rock n roll swindle enter your query here’.


  • Music, Reviews, Synthesiser Patel

    Write About Music

    10.12.09 | Permalink | 8 Comments

    It’s nearly the end of the year and in the blogosphere that can only mean it’s nearly time for year end lists, favourite books, movies, Kanye West outbursts, pretty much everything will be ordered from one to ten. 

    I’ll be counting down the top ten YA CDs of the year in a week or two and I’d love to have some contributions from you all. Send in a review of your album of the year, or even just a list of your favourites, results will be tabulated and a list produced. When the post goes up the best reviews will be included so you can print it out, stick it on the fridge and say “Me, I’m famous. I contributed to a stupidly pseudonymed blogger’s slightly meaningless year end list. What did you do this year, huh?” and all your friends will say “Damn ______ is totes for the win and they also have really awesome taste in music.” So get to it!

    The cut off date for submissions will be Monday the 28th of December at midnight.


  • Music, New, Synthesiser Patel

    Listen To These

    09.12.09 | Permalink | Comments Off on Listen To These

    karen o and the kidsThe Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O has teamed up with an all-star cast of indie rock noteworthies to score (probably) the most anticipated children’s movie ever. Where the wild things are : motion picture soundtrack, is the result. And what a result it is! For fans of shouting, stomping and making a wild rumpus.

    them crooked vulturesAnother all-star cast teaming up this week are Them Crooked Vultures with their self-titled effort. With Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters and Nirvana), Josh Homme (Queens Of The Stone Age, Eagles Of Death Metal, Kyuss) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) on board you can probably hazard a guess at what this sounds like. You’re right by the way.

    cascadaCascada is a Euro-dance trio with an impressive string of hits to their name. Evacuate The Dancefloor is their latest effort, I don’t think the point is to evacuate the dancefloor though, rather to rush onto it. At least I would imagine so. Basshunter fans might enjoy, it’s very popular anyway, evidenced by its long reserve queue.

    New Zealand drum and bassers Shapeshifter have a new one called The System Is A Vampire. There are drums, there are basses, there are even bits with singing – all of which adds up to some very popular local drum and bass. Expect to hear this blasting out of boy racers’ cars all summer long.

    Ministry Of Sound’s Annual series continues with The Annual 2010. The new installment is mixed by John Course, The Aston Shuffle & Goodwill and includes music from the likes of Mika, Bob Sinclair, Wolfmother, Dizzee Rascal and others. Sure to be a hit over summer.

    New Zealand dub pioneers Salmonella Dub return with Freak Controller. It’s a generous two-disc affair packed full of dubby-dubness from the scene veterans. The second CD includes a song called Bungle Fun, which raises a smile at Teen Blog HQ.

    The Vans Warped Tour has been in existence for a long time now, and has helped break many, many nu-metal acts over its run. Who will be the next big shouty band to take over airwaves? Two CDs of contenders and other, longer tenured bands await on Warped tour : 2009 tour compilation.

    Speaking of bands making it on the Warped Tour, The Used rose to popularity after a strong showing while on it in the early part of the decade. Before that they were homeless, so hey, large collections of shouty men with drop-tuned guitars travelling around are beneficial to society. Sort of. A tighter more polished screamo sound from The Used on Artwork.


  • Grimm

    The Listener’s Best Books of 2009

    07.12.09 | Permalink | Comments Off on The Listener’s Best Books of 2009

    Here’s another Best of 2009 list, this time compiled by David Larsen in the Listener (December 5 2009 issue). One or two were published last year.


  • Roberto B., Sport

    World Cup Draw Announced

    05.12.09 | Permalink | 2 Comments

    The draw for the Fifa World Cup 2010 was announced last night, see the groups here. The All Whites must finish first or second in their group to advance to the knockout stages, getting past Italy, Paraguay and Slovakia to do it. A tough ask, but not entirely impossible. My pick for the final is Spain over The Netherlands, what do you think?


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