Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein.
“I AM A COWARD,” begins Verity. “I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was. I have always been good at pretending.”
“Verity” has been captured in a town in France because she looked the wrong way crossing the road, crashing into a truck right outside Gestapo headquarters in 1943. So, she’s not the most talented spy the British have ever seen then, or is she? Tortured by Gestapo Captain von Linden and his underlings, Verity has cracked under the intense pressure, and agreed to give up British war secrets in exchange for her clothes (”The warmth and dignity of my flannel skirt and woolly jumper are worth far more to me now than patriotism or integrity”). She tells her story on recipe cards, music scores and doctor’s prescription forms, gradually revealing the truth about herself, the British espionage effort, and her best friend Maddie – who flew her across the Channel to begin her short-lived mission – all the time loathing herself for her cowardice, and being loathed by her fellow prisoners. Her story reaches its stressful conclusion about half way into the novel, and I shall say no more!
Except, Code Name Verity is an awesome World War II espionage novel. ”Verity” is a wonderfully unreliable narrator (would you trust a spy?), and her story is of two heroic young women who throw themselves headlong into the war with unexpected and frightening consequences. Bring your hankie, or two.
Elizabeth Wein has said this novel was inspired by her research into female pilots in World War II (as a pilot herself – cool! – she wondered what role she could have played), and you can read about her other literary inspirations for the story in this Book Smugglers post here.
If you’re also interested in reading more about women’s participation in World War II (the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, for example), then here are some titles.
Also, Flygirl by Sherri L Smith is about an African American woman who pretends to be white in order to be accepted into the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).
Two interesting fashion books at the library for you this week. Firstly, this new one above is for all you ladies that are fans of jeans, blazers and Patti Smith-type dressing.
Take Ivy / [photographs by Teruyoshi Hayashida ; text by Toshiyuki Kurosu and Hajime (Paul) Hesegawa].
“Originally published in Japanese on September 20, 1965 by Fujingaho sha, Tokyo, Japan.” (Syndetics summary)
Secondly, this is for fans of what’s known as preppy style. I guess that could mean if you like letterman jackets and chinos (which are all over Hallensteins at the moment). Its kind of a strange one for a fashion book – just pictures of 1960s college students at American universities. But its been highly influential in Japan, where it was first published, sparking their years-long love of American style.
If you’re a Jodi Picoult fan, and you’re interested in Between the Lines, the new novel she has written with her daughter Samantha Van Leer, then here’s a Radio New Zealand interview they did together today, talking about the inspiration for stories, who to cast in the movie, and other such writerly things.
Here’s a lovely salute to Margaret Mahy by American author Kristin Cashore, focussing on the many reasons why MM’s young adult writing is so wonderful, and so deservedly award-winning.
If you are interested in the Olympic Games and statistics, the New York Times has a map of medals won by country from 1896 to 2008. It is pretty cool (if you’re not into stats) and very interesting (if you are). In 1984 New Zealand won enough medals for “New Zealand” to appear on its circle.
NPR.com (National Public Radio, I believe) in the US is compiling a list of the best young adult novels ever. You can vote for your favourites (a bit of good taste from New Zealand won’t hurt).
Today’s selection of soon-to-be-published books is brought to you mostly by the colour red. Reserve them now!
Girl of Nightmares, Kendare Blake (August/September). This is the sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood. “It’s been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can’t move on.
“His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live–not walk around half dead. He knows they’re right, but in Cas’s eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.
“Now he’s seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he’s asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong… these aren’t just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.
“Cas doesn’t know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn’t deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it’s time for him to return the favor.” (goodreads.com)
Unspoken, Sarah Rees Brennan (September). The first of the Lynburn Legacy books. Kami is the strange girl in town – town being Sorry-in-the-Vale in England – with her reputation for being a bit odd thanks to her imaginary friend. Kami’s not too worried about it; she has real friends too now, and has learned to incorporate the voice inside her head into her busy, not too weird life.
Then the Lynburns return to occupy the mansion that overlooks the town - including the Lynburn twins, Jared and Ash. One of the twins, particularly, resonates with Kami (why does she feel like she knows him?) as does her need to solve the mysteries of Sorry-in-the-Vale, like who is responsible for what goes on in the woods? Also, is her mother keeping a secret? What’s become of her imaginary friend?
Rebel Heart, Moira Young (October). This is the much anticipated (by me anyway) sequel to Blood Red Road. “Nothing is certain and no one is safe in the second book in the highly praised Dust Lands trilogy, which MTV’s Hollywood Crush blog called ‘better than The Hunger Games.’ It seemed so simple: defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.” (goodreads.com)
Days of Blood and Starlight, Laini Taylor (November). “In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.” (amazon.com)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone was one of our favourites from last year – the review is here.
Also: Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta – the conclusion to the Lumatere chronicles – should be available in September.
We are very sad this morning to hear that Margaret Mahy, queen of magical story and rumbustification, has died.
The Margaret Mahy pages at Christchurch City Libraries
TVNZ news tribute
Beattie’s Book Blog post
Here are some songs by a few Korean bands. Korean pop is called K-pop! (Also Japanese pop is called J-pop!) It is marked by catchy songs, incredible dancing, and hyper-fashion.
Do you like it? Should the library buy some of their CDs for the teen section? Thanks for your comments below (or on our Facebook page)!
This first group is Super Junior, and the song is called Sexy, Free, and Single. It was only released a week or so ago, so is very new and fresh. Super Junior has about nine or ten members! (I can’t count higher than six.) If you like it you will probably love their older song, Mr. Simple.
Aaand the next track is by SHINee. It is called Lucifer and you know what, it has the best dancing ever. Prove me wrong! It’s a couple of years old, though, but they’ve a newer song, Sherlock, which is also comes highly recommended (by me and some other people).
Another new song is No Mercy, by B.A.P. Click to watch! They are also a (large) boyband with great hair. I don’t know if I like this song as much as the others. Thoughts?
Finally! Here’s AAA’s No Cry No More. It is J-pop, okay.
So don’t forget to comment here or on our Facebook if you have any suggestions.
Next Friday, the 27th of July, is reasonably momentous. Not only is it the first day of the New Zealand International Film Festival, and the opening of the London Olympics (Saturday morning New Zealand time), it is also National Poetry Day. Carry a poem in your pocket on National Poetry Day!
This week: the beginning of a new supernatural series and the end of another. Reserve yours today!
The Raven Boys, Maggie Stiefvater (September). This book is the beginning of a new series which has been receiving a lot of attention (the next big thing). That being said, I very much enjoyed The Scorpio Races (flesh-eating horses).
Blue Sargent is the daughter of the town pyschic and has been told all her life that if she kisses her true love he will die (is this just a parently ploy? Would you risk it?). Blue’s not too cut up about this, sensibly staying away from the boys who go to Aglionby (the local exclusive academy) also known as the Raven Boys. (The Raven Boys are trouble.) But then on St Mark’s Eve, when she and her mother see the spirits of those who will die within the next twelve months, Blue sees Gansey (Raven Boy). Gansey and his friends are on a quest to discover the burial place of Owain Glendower, a legendary Welsh noble people say has been sleeping for centuries, waiting to grant his waker a favour.
A supernatural mystery/thriller! Note to Blue: don’t kiss Gansey in the next twelve months. Just in case!
Finale, Becca Fitzpatrick (October). The end of Hush, Hush! “Fates unfurl in the gripping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Hush, Hush saga. Nora is more certain than ever that she is in love with Patch. Fallen Angel or no, he is the one for her. Her heritage and destiny may mean that they will always be enemies, but there is no turning her back on him. And yet their biggest challenge lies ahead. Can their love survive a seemingly insurmountable divide? The lines are drawn, but it’s unclear which sides have been taken. And in the end, will there be enough trust left to rebuild what has been broken?” (goodreads.com)
Only a few new
books have come in this week I
am sorry to say
See You at Harry’s, by Jo Knowles (310 pages) – Fern feels a bit rejected by her family, who all have their own things to deal with. Her father run Harry’s, a restaurant, and in addition to an older sister (sarcastic and self-involved), an older brother (coming to terms with being gay), and a mother who is never around, she also has a toddler brother who is always the centre of attention. Until tragedy strikes, sadly, and Fern feels responsible and desolate. Do things get better? Usually!
First line: ‘The very best day of my life, I threw up four times and had a fever of 103 degrees.‘
New Girl, by Paige Harbison (314 pages) – Cassie is newly arrived at the exclusive and hoity-toity Manderley Academy, and finds that her spot was recently vacated by Becca Normandy. Becca was perfect in all the ways that really matter in novels set in exclusive adademies, although in this case she has been missing since the end of last year. Cassie feels like an imposter and it isn’t helped when she falls for Max, Becca’s ex-boyfriend. Is Becca out there, waiting ..?
First line: ‘The panoramic view outside the windoes of the bus showed a world that wasn’t mine.‘
Tina’s Mouth : An Existential Comic Diary, by Keshni Kashya & illustrations by Mari Araki (242 pages) – This is a graphic novel, but with a lot of text, so it’s more like an illustrated book? Tina’s parents are from India and she is from California, where she goes to the Yarborough Academy in Southern California. She creates an ‘existential diary’ for her English class, in an attempt to fix her place in the world; this book represents that diary. Also a good intro to Satre.
First lines: ‘Dear Mr. Jean-Paul Sartre, I know that you are dead and old and also a philosopher. So, on an obvious levl, you and I do not have a lot in common.‘
Secrets of the Henna Girl, by Sufiya Ahmed (269 pages) – Zeba Khan is sixteen, and life is okay. She’s just finished school in the UK and is waiting for her exam results, and excited for college and uni. First she is spending the summer break in Pakistan with her family. There she learns – to her shock! – that is she is it to marry a stranger, to protect her father’s honour. Does she hold the secrets that will help her escape?
First lines: ‘The rain was beating hard against the window. It was the typical English rain of the summer – fast and furious as it attempted to wash away the dusty, dry heat of the unbearably hot days.‘
Messy : A Novel, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (359 pages) – This is a companion book to Spoiled, about Brooke Berlin who discovers her father is a rich and famous movie-star. Now, to help her career along, she decides to start up a blog full of Hollywood inside gossip. But she doesn’t have time to actually write anything, so she hires Max, a green-haired girl who loathes celebrities, to secretely do all the work for her.
First line: ‘“You were so good in that movie. Talking dogs are my favorite.” Max McCormack felt a snicker bubbling up, like a secret, and willed it to die.‘