Auckland natives, Cut Off Your Hands, released their second full-length album, Hollow, recently. It’s really good. A more fully realised version of the new wave/post punk sound they’ve been producing since 2006. But why listen to me when you can preview some of the new tracks below? They do a much better job of describing the sound, since they are the sound.
If you read the title of this post and then expected a competition to win a bag, fear not, I didn’t mislead you! Simply be the first to comment on this post (and also have a valid Wellingon Libraries YA card) to win a swell Cut Off Your Hands tote bag. It’s official. You could carry library books and the other Cut Off Your Hands CDs the library has (You & I, Blue On Blue and Cut Off Your Hands) home in it. Do it!
Here’s an interesting collection of fiction: werewolves, monsters, scary trees, space cowboys, debutantes, God as a teenage boy (imagine), and a couple of pretty fetching first sentences.
Low Red Moon, Ivy Devlin (244 pages) – a star-crossed supernatural love story. Avery Hood’s parents died when she was young, mysteriously. So when she falls for Ben, the new boy in town, only to discover he triggers a disturbing memory, she must find out what really happened. The cover says this is “part murder mystery, part grief narrative, and part heart-stopping, headlong romance” which sounds fab.
First sentence: I was covered in blood when the police found me.
Black Hole Sun, David MacInnis Gill (340 pages) – a science fiction dystopian novel with space cowboys! Durango is a mercenary living on Mars who is hired by miners to protect their mine from the evil, mutant Draeu, but while doing his job Durango discovers the secret reason why the Draeu are so intent on attacking the mine. The author has a suggested playlist for his novel which you can see at largehearted boy here.
First sentence: Now come the mousies nosing out their hole, thinks Kuhru as he wipes fresh bone marrow from his snout.
The Dead Boys, Royce Buckingham (201 pages) – a horror/mystery, especially horrific if you think trees are creepy. Teddy Mathews, new in town, is disturbed to find all the boys he befriends disappear mysteriously. He’s determined to find out what’s going on, but nobody will believe him when he says he thinks the freaky great tree outside his house has something to do with it. We believe you Teddy!
First sentence: In its early years, the sycamore tree stretched its branches up toward the light, reaching for the desert sun and its life-giving energy.
The Magnolia League, Katie Crouch (348 pages) – another mystery, this time around the intrigue of a southern debutante society. After her mother dies, Alexandria must move from the West Coast of the United States to Savannah, and start a new life with her grandmother. This life involves the Magnolia League, said debutante society, which Alexandria becomes involved with, discovering a sinister secret pact between the Magnolias and the Buzzards, a hoodoo family.
First sentences: You know what I hate? Sweet tea.
The Miracle Stealer, Neil Connelly (230 pages) – Andi’s six year old brother Daniel is touted as a miracle worker: they say he can cure the sick and bring the dead back to life. People flock to town to see him, and when one of the pilgrims turns out to be some sort of dangerous stalker, Andi knows she must put an end to the madness.
First sentence: I needed to save Daniel.
The Ruby Notebook, Laura Resau (365 pages) – Zeeta and her English teacher mother travel around the globe together, each year moving to a different country. This year it’s Aix in France, which sounds ideal, but not so much when the love of your life – Wendell – doesn’t live there too. To complicate things, Zeeta starts receiving mystery notes from a secret admirer, and forms a strong connection with Jean-Claude, a street performer. When Wendell comes to visit Zeeta feels they are drifting apart, until a mystery forces them together again. But but: who is the secret admirer?
First sentences: It’s true. There’s something about the light here.
The Julian Game, Adele Griffin (200 pages) – Raye is the new girl at an exclusive academy, struggling to fit in. So when the opportunity arise for her to get involved in a game to help Ella get revenge on her ex Julian, Raye sees the chance to become accepted. But then she falls for Julian, and unleashes the enraged, nasty Ella, and things get a whole lot worse.
First sentence: “This is the craziest idea you ever had,” said Natalya.
The Things a Brother Knows, Dana Reinhardt (242 pages) – Levi’s brother Boaz returns from a tour of duty withdrawn, not himself. Levi knows something is up, so he follows him on a walk from Boston to Washington, determined to find out what’s wrong, and discover the truth about his brother, and a little bit about himself too perhaps.
First sentence: I used to love my brother.
Teenage Waistland, Lynn Biederman & Lisa Pazer (307 pages) – Three obese teenagers tell the story of their involvement in a clinical trial for a new surgery. They must meet weekly over the course of a year, learning to live a healthy life, but also learning a devastating secret that will also alter their lives.
First sentence: Marcie Mandlebaum here: sixteen years old and sporting the collective girth of the Tenafly High cheerleading squad – this according to their captain, my twitorexic stepsister, Liselle.
Wicked Girls, Stephanie Hemphill (389 pages) – a novel in verse about the Salem witch trials in the 17th century. The novel explores the lives of three girls living in Salem who accuse members of the community of witchcraft after a series of unexplained illnesses.
First sentence: Silent, not even the twitter / of insects.
There Is No Dog, Meg Rosoff (243 pages) – Imagine God is a teenage boy (Bob). He is “lazy, careless, self-obsessed, sex-mad” says the cover. So, when Lucy prays to fall in love and Bob decides to answer her prayer personally, things could get really ugly.
First sentences: Oh glorious, most glorious glorious! And yet again glorious!
The Curse of the Wendigo, Rick Yancey (424 pages) – sequel to The Monstrumologist. When Dr Warthrop’s mentor Dr von Helrung says he wants to prove the existence of the Wendigo, known as “He Who Devours All Mankind”, Will and Dr Warthrop find themselves in northern Canada in search of this terrible creature, and in the process unearth a truth “far more terrifying than even they could have ever imagined” (book cover) which, since their business is the study of monsters, must be pretty terrifying.
First sentence: The reader was a retired middle school English teacher whose mother had come to live at the facility in 2001.
So what are people reading in other languages? Wellington City Libraries has a small but growing collection of translated young adult fiction (as well as the super popular manga series). If you’re interested in reading something that started life in another language here’s a fairly comprehensive list of what we’ve got. Also, here are a few highlights:
Ok, it turns out that the entire time I was doing haiku reviews I was actually writing senryu. You see, haikus are about nature and are serious, while senryus are about human nature and are more humorous. How about that? Excuse the lack of poetry in this post, I need to come to grips with this revelation.
B In The Mix: The Remixes - Britney Spears. Are your favourite songs on Britney Spears albums always the dance numbers? Do you always skip past the ballads while saying, “Pffft, this lacks a certain energy and I just can’t feel it, yo.”? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re in luck. All of these songs are the dance numbers, only they are even more dancetastic thanks to Justice, Jason Nevins and various other DJs.
Give ‘Til It’s Gone - Ben Harper. The prolific singer/songwriter has enjoyed such a long career that some of his albums are no longer eligible for a YA card! Sorry, Pleasure And Pain, that Justin Bieber CD is going to cost you $1 now. Ex-Beatle drummer and voice of Thomas The Tank Engine, Ringo Starr guests on this latest effort.
4 - Beyonce. Even though her last album I Am… Sasha Fierce broke the record for most Grammys won by a female artist in one night, I’d like to put it out there that this is even better. Beyonce always has great singles, but on 4 every track is strong, making it one of those rare pop albums you prefer to listen to start to finish, rather than simply cherry picking favourites. #sashafiercewho? #team4bb!
Rome - Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi. Danger Mouse is not a man who is afraid to take some left turns on the way to crafting a pop album. From inventing the mash-up genre by making unlikely bedfellows of The Beatles and Jay-Z, to spending the early years of his career in a mouse costume, it shouldn’t really surprise that this project is a soundtrack to a spaghetti western film that doesn’t exisit. Jack White and Norah Jones “guest star” on a couple of tracks.
More new CDs coming soon…
Cross the TV epic Lost, with a reality TV show, mix in a bit of spoof and a dab of not-to-be-taken-seriously and you have Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.
50 contestants for the Miss Teen Dream Beauty Pageant crash land on a remote island while flying to the pageant. The survivors, convinced that they will soon be rescued, set about working on their tans, losing weight (due to the lack of food) and perfecting their pageant routines. But survival becomes more important as time passes with no rescue, forcing the girls to put down their pom-poms and eyeliner and combine their surprisingly vast and useful knowledge and experiences to ensure they survive until their rescuers arrive.
But strange things are happening on the island… there are lights flashing from the top of the volcano, mysterious men in suits with machine guns and a cave full of hair removal cream. And that’s before the pirates and film crew turn up.
Each survivor’s back-story and their own reasons for entering the pageant are revealed throughout the course of the book. The characters are diverse and each person develops in spirit, skill and self-awareness as they struggle to survive. At the conclusion of the story the girls are hardly recognisable from the first few chapters. The message for readers: know yourself and don’t be afraid to be yourself.
This is a humorous read that begs not to be taken seriously (especially when they start launching bottles of foundation out of catapults at their attackers) and will be a new favourite for many of us.
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!’
It’s snowing at the moment. This means we all need something interesting to watch while we are stuck inside drinking cocoa. Like this video about how language shapes our perception of colour from the BBC.
Regular service will resume when regular weather resumes. Good luck out there, Teen Blog-kateers!
The writers of Go Fug Yourself (that wonderful website that critiques celebrities fashion mistakes and is totally hilarious!) have turned their hand to writing teen fiction. Though the fug girls can be totally scathing, their writing is always witty and enjoyable. Read about their new book here.
NOT (or maybe just weird?)
Nothing is cuter than kittens. Except maybe watching kittens on youtube. What about kittens in clothes?
Vice magazine have put together a book (yes, I kid you not) about two kitties and several outfits.
As keen users of the internet you may already know this! But! In case you didn’t, and you know someone who downloads lots of movies, music, and television shows, then read this:
From the first of September the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011 becomes law, meaning that if you’re caught downloading copyrighted material from dodgy places you – or whoever owns your internet connection – could get in a lot of trouble. The new law makes it easier for the copyright holders to get you, basically; you get two warnings, and then, if you’re caught again, you get fined (up to $15,000). Although it begins at the beginning of next month, any alleged infringements made 21 days before then can (and probably will!) be considered a mark against you. This means that any filesharing from the 11th of August will count. That is tomorrow!
Here are some handy links. Do tell people, since any kind of illegal downloading will endanger whoever pays for the internet connection used.