We’ve got a great selection this week: standalones and series, plus a new graphic novel, which is always great. (For me, anyway!) Don’t forget that if you have a YA card, you can reserve these amazing books for free.
Afterworld, Lynette Lounsbury (409 pages) Dom is the youngest person ever to arrive in the Necropolis, the ‘waiting place’ between death and what comes after. And it isn’t long before he catches the attention of Satarial, a cruel Nephilim from the beginning of time, who has grim plans to use Dom as entertainment in his vicious gladiatorial games. When Dom’s still-living sister, Kaide, appears in the Necropolis too, Satarial has the leverage he needs, and the stage is set for the biggest shake-up the afterlife has seen in centuries. Dom’s only option is to compete in the Trials and attempt to win the chance to enter the Maze. In his favour he has an enigmatic young Guide, Eva, and a Guardian, Eduardo, who may not be what he seems. But will they be enough?(Goodreads)
First lines: India hit Dominic Mathers with a purtid gust that almost knocked him back tot eh airport. After all these years he wasn’t sure if he loved or hated the place. The air was hot and smelled of sweat and filth and the bloated dead dog that lay in the gutter. It was hard to do anything in India, hard to walk through the mase of desperate people, hard to think with all the noise, hard to move.
Nightmare city, Andrew Klavan (303 pages) Tom Harding only wants the truth. But the truth is becoming more dangerous with every passing minute. As a reporter for his high school newspaper, Tom Harding was tracking the best story of his life—when, suddenly, his life turned very, very weird. He woke up one morning to find his house empty . . . his street empty . . . his whole town empty . . . empty except for an eerie, creeping fog—and whatever creatures were slowly moving toward him through the fog.Now Tom’s once-ordinary world has become something out of a horror movie. How did it happen? Is it real? Is he dreaming? Has there been a zombie apocalypse? Has he died and gone to hell? Tom is a good reporter—he knows how to look for answers—but no one has ever covered a story like this before. With the fog closing in and the hungry creatures of the fog surrounding him, he has only a few hours to find out how he lost the world he knew. In this bizarre universe nothing is what it seems and everything—including Tom’s life—hangs in the balance.(Goodreads)
First lines: Tom was in heaven when the phone rang. At least, he though it was heaven. He had never been there before, and the look of the place surprised him. It wasn’t what he was expecting at all. Then again Tom had never really thought about heaven much.
Alienated, Melissa Landers (344 pages)Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them. Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket. Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking. But when Cara’s classmates get swept up by anti-L’eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn’t safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara’s locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class. Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she’s fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.(Goodreads)
First lines: Winning. Cara Sweeney had made it her business, and business was good. Honor Society president? Check. Young leader award? Check. State debate champion two years running? Double check. And when the title of valdictorian had eluded her, she’d found a way to snag that, too.
Under the Empyrean Sky, (Heartland trilogy, book 1) Chuck Wendig (354 pages) Corn is king in the Heartland, and Cael McAvoy has had enough of it. It’s the only crop the Empyrean government allows the people of the Heartland to grow, and the genetically modified strain is so aggressive that it takes everything the Heartlanders have just to control it. As captain of the Big Sky Scavengers, Cael and his crew sail their rickety ship over the corn day after day, scavenging for valuables, trying to earn much-needed ace notes for their families. But Cael’s tired of surviving life on the ground while the Empyrean elite drift by above in their extravagant sky flotillas. He’s sick of the mayor’s son besting Cael’s crew in the scavenging game. And he’s worried about losing Gwennie, his first mate and the love of his life forever when their government-chosen spouses are revealed. But most of all, Cael is angry, angry that their lot in life will never get better and that his father doesn’t seem upset about any of it. Cael’s ready to make his own luck . . . even if it means bringing down the wrath of the Empyrean elite and changing life in the Heartland forever.(Goodreads)
First lines: The corn reaches for the land-boat above it, but the corn is slow and the cat-maran is fast. The stretching, yearning stalks hiss against the boat’s bottom, making a white noise that sounds like pollen coming out of a piss-blizzard.
Her Dark Curiosity, (A madman’s daughter novel) Megan Shepherd (422 pages) Months have passed since Juliet Moreau returned to civilization after escaping her father’s island—and the secrets she left behind. Now, back in London once more, she is rebuilding the life she once knew and trying to forget Dr. Moreau’s horrific legacy—though someone, or something, hasn’t forgotten her.As people close to Juliet fall victim one by one to a murderer who leaves a macabre calling card of three clawlike slashes, Juliet fears one of her father’s creations may have also escaped the island. She is determined to find the killer before Scotland Yard does, though it means awakening sides of herself she had thought long banished, and facing loves from her past she never expected to see again. As Juliet strives to stop a killer while searching for a serum to cure her own worsening illness, she finds herself once more in the midst of a world of scandal and danger. Her heart torn in two, past bubbling to the surface, life threatened by an obsessive killer—Juliet will be lucky to escape alive.
First lines: the air in my crumbling attic chamer smelled of roses and formaldehyde. Beyond the frosted windowpanes, the rooftops of Shoreditch stretched toward the eat in sharp angles still marked with yesterday’s snow, as chimney stacks pumped smog into an already foggy sky. On nights like these, I never knew what dangers might lurk in the streets.
White space, (Book 1 of The Dark Passages) Ilsa J. Blick (551 pages) Seventeen-year-old Emma Lindsay has problems: a head full of metal, no parents, a crazy artist for a guardian whom a stroke has turned into a vegetable, and all those times when she blinks away, dropping into other lives so ghostly and surreal it’s as if the story of her life bleeds into theirs. But one thing Emma has never doubted is that she’s real. Then she writes “White Space,” a story about these kids stranded in a spooky house during a blizzard. Unfortunately, “White Space” turns out to be a dead ringer for part of an unfinished novel by a long-dead writer. The manuscript, which she’s never seen, is a loopy Matrix meets Inkheart story in which characters fall out of different books and jump off the page. Thing is, when Emma blinks, she might be doing the same and, before long, she’s dropped into the very story she thought she’d written. Trapped in a weird, snow-choked valley, Emma meets other kids with dark secrets and strange abilities: Eric, Casey, Bode, Rima, and a very special little girl, Lizzie. What they discover is that they–and Emma–may be nothing more than characters written into being from an alternative universe for a very specific purpose. Now what they must uncover is why they’ve been brought to this place–a world between the lines where parallel realities are created and destroyed and nightmares are written–before someone pens their end.(Goodreads)
First lines: At first, Mom thinks there are mice because of that scritch-scritch-scritching in the walls. This is very weird. Marmalade, the orange tom, is such a good mouser. But then Mom spies a dirty footspring high up on the wall of her walk-in closet.
Lost Covenant (A Widdershins adventure) Ari Marmell (277 pages) It’s been six months since Widdershins and her own “personal god” Olgun fled the city of Davillon. During their travels, Widdershins unwittingly discovers that a noble house is preparing to move against the last surviving bastion of the Delacroix family. Determined to help the distant relatives of her deceased adopted father, Alexandre Delacroix, she travels to a small town at the edge of the nation. There, she works at unraveling a plot involving this rival house and a local criminal organization, all while under intense suspicion from the very people she’s trying to rescue.Along the way she’ll have to deal with a traitor inside the Delacroix family, a mad alchemist, and an infatuated young nobleman who won’t take no for an answer.(Goodreads)
“Thank you. Welcome to Davillon. Next!”
“Thank you. Welcome to…”
And on. And on.
And finally, a new graphic novel:
Lost at sea, Bryan Lee O’Malley (189 pages)Raleigh doesn’t have a soul. A cat stole it – or at least that’s what she tells people – or at least that’s what she would tell people if she told people anything. But that would mean talking to people, and the mere thought of social interaction is terrifying. How did such a shy teenage girl end up in a car with three of her hooligan classmates on a cross-country road trip? Being forced to interact with kids her own age is a new and alarming proposition for Raleigh, but maybe it’s just what she needs – or maybe it can help her find what she needs – or maybe it can help her to realize that what she needs has been with her all along.(Goodreads)
First lines: I have a lot on my mind and not a lot to do so it’s going to come out, all of it, and then, then, it may begin to make a sort of sense.
…but in the meantime, here’s a clue.
Try and match these opening lines with the books they belong to!
A. “There is one mirror in my house.”
B. “Dear Ed, in a sec you’ll hear a thunk.”
C. “Everyone thinks it was because of the snow.”
D. “I’ve seen Steelheart bleed.”
And the books they’re from:
Scoll down for answers!
B. Why We Broke Up
C. If I Stay
How many did you guess? At least one, from the obvious line, I hope.
Zinio is here!
What is Zinio you ask? weeelll…
Zinio is a magazine database that the library now has. It’s not just any old magazine database though. It has full story and image magazines (much like Press Display is for newspapers). And there are popular magazines you’ll want to read too – fashion mags included are Australian Vogue, US Elle, Grazia (South African, so a bit different), Nylon, Harpers Bazaar, Peppermint, Yen, Esquire, I could go on.
The best thing about Zinio is that it’s free to take out the magazines (or rather download them to your account and then read on your computer, smartphone, tablet, ipod – there’s an app) and you can keep them forever. YES, FOREVER.
All you need to start is your library card. Then you can find Zinio on our website, on our Mygateway page (under Magazines). From there you create an account on the library Zinio page. After that you need to create a Zinio account (you can you the use the same details for both accounts; you must use the same email address for both accounts). Finally, you’ll need to download the Zinio app if you’re using a tablet, ipad or smartphone. ( If you need any help take a look here for setting up and starting the app).
And away you go!
Namesake, Sue MacLeod (225 pages)It started with a history project. Mr. Gregor assigned a research paper on a figure from the Tudor era, and of course Jane Grey had to pick her namesake—Lady Jane Grey, the fifteen-year-old girl whose parents schemed to place her on the throne of England, then abandoned her to face the executioner. The project is engrossing from the start, but when Jane opens a mysterious prayer book and finds herself in the Tower of London in 1553, she ends up literally drawn into her namesake’s story. Soon, Jane is slipping into the past whenever the present becomes too unbearable, avoiding her mother’s demands, her best friend’s fickleness, her crush’s indifference. In the Tower she plays chess with the imprisoned Lady Jane, awed by her new friend’s strength and courage. And it is in the Tower, keeping vigil as the day of the execution draws near, that Jane learns that she, too, must have the courage to fight for her own happiness. (Goodreads)
First lines: She’s living in one of the houses we looked at from the hill. That’s where I see her in a dream sometimes-with a laptop, a phone, all the usual stuff. In another dream I see her at a part-time job. A coffee shop downtown. She’s pouring something for a customer when she glances up and sees her boyfriend. That’s why this dream’s the best.
No surrender soldier, Christine Kohler (198 pages)Growing up on Guam in 1972, fifteen-year-old Kiko is beset by worries: He’s never kissed a girl, and he thinks it’s possible he never will. The popular guys get all the attention, but the worst part is that Kiko has serious problems at home. His older brother is missing in Vietnam; his grandfather is losing it to dementia; he just learned that his mother was raped in World War II by a Japanese soldier. It all comes together when he discovers an old man, a Japanese soldier, hiding in the jungle behind his house. It’s not the same man who raped his mother, but, in his rage, Kiko cares only about protecting his family and avenging his mom – no matter what it takes. And so, a shy, peaceable boy begins to plan a murder. But how far will Kiko go to prove to himself that he’s a man ? (Goodreads)
First lines: Planes swarmed over Guam in droves. For a moment Lance Corporal Isamu Seto though he was home in Japan. He was washing his face in the Talofofo River when he heared the buzzing sounds. He looked up into the overcast sky and thought locusts were coming to destory the crops in his village of Saori. He blinked and shook his head. Aiee, angry locusts turn into bombers. Amerikans must be attacking.
Killer of enemies, Joseph Bruchac (358 pages)Years ago, seventeen-year-old Apache hunter Lozen and her family lived in a world of haves and have-nots. There were the Ones-people so augmented with technology and genetic enhancements that they were barely human-and there was everyone else who served them. Then the Cloud came, and everything changed. Tech stopped working. The world plunged back into a new steam age. The Ones’ pets-genetically engineered monsters-turned on them and are now loose on the world.Lozen was not one of the lucky ones pre-C, but fate has given her a unique set of survival skills and magical abilities. She hunts monsters for the Ones who survived the apocalyptic events of the Cloud, which ensures the safety of her kidnapped family. But with every monster she takes down, Lozen’s powers grow, and she connects those powers to an ancient legend of her people. It soon becomes clear to Lozen that she is not just a hired gun. As the legendary Killer of Enemies was in the ancient days of the Apache people, Lozen is meant to be a more than a hunter. Lozen is meant to be a hero. (Goodreads)
First lines: I’m five miles away from the walls of my prison, up in the hight country abow the Sonoran Desert. This far, surprisingly, nothing has yet attempted to maim or devour me since I settled here half an hour agao. Despite he nearby prescence that I sense of those “little problems” that I deal with out here in the wiles, I have met nothing to worry about…yet.
Panic, Lauren Oliver (408 pages)Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.(Goodreads)
First lines: The water was so cold it took Heather’s breath away as she fought past the kids crowding the beach and standing in the shallows, waving towels and homemade signs, cheering and calling up to the remaining jumpers. She took a deep breath and went under. The sound of voices, of shouting and laugher, was immeadiately muted. Only one voice stayed with her. I didn’t mean for it to happen.
No one else can have you, Kathleen Hale (380 pages)Small towns are nothing if not friendly. Friendship, Wisconsin (population: 689 , no, 688) is no different. Around here, everyone wears a smile. And no one ever locks their doors. Until, that is, high school sweetheart Ruth Fried is found murdered. Strung up like a scarecrow in the middle of a cornfield.Unfortunately, Friendship’s police are more adept at looking for lost pets than catching killers. So Ruth’s best friend, Kippy Bushman, armed with only her tenacious Midwestern spirit and Ruth’s secret diary (which Ruth’s mother had asked her to read in order to redact any, you know, sex parts), sets out to find the murderer. But in a quiet town like Friendship—where no one is a suspect—anyone could be the killer. (Goodreads)
First lines: A police officer comforts a woman on the shoulder of a rural highway. Behind them is a cornfield,. The corn is shoulde high, not yet ready to be harvested. The officer has on a Green Bay Packers hat, and the woman is wearing a sweatshirt decorated in teddy bear appliques. She is clutching a cellphone and crying hysterically. She and her husband own the cornfield. She’s just found something terrible in there.
Boy on the edge, Fridrik Erlings ( 219 pages)Henry has a clubfoot and he is the target of relentless bullying. One day, in a violent fit of anger, Henry lashes out at the only family he has — his mother. Sent to live with other troubled boys at the Home of Lesser Brethren, an isolated farm perched in the craggy lava fields along the unforgiving Icelandic coast, Henry finds a precarious contentment among the cows. But it is the people, including the manic preacher who runs the home, who fuel Henry’s frustration and sometimes rage as he yearns for a life and a home. (Goodreads)
First lines: Once again, a book open in front of him, a sea of letters floating before his eyes, the sweat forming on his brow, the pain in his stomach like he’s being punched from the inside. And the whole class around him, holding their breath, waiting for him to read out loud, waiting for him to read out loud, waiting to burst out laughing.
Pawn, Aimee Carter (343 pages)For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country. If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter. There’s only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that’s not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she’s only beginning to understand. (Goodreads)
First lines: Risking my life to steal an orange was a stupid thing to do, but today of all days, I didn’t care about the consequences. If I were lucky, the Shields would throw me to the ground and put a bullet in my brain. Sead at seventeen. It would be a relief.
Gilded, Christina Farley (339 pages) Sixteen-year-old Jae Hwa Lee is a Korean-American girl with a black belt, a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows, and a chip on her shoulder the size of Korea itself. When her widowed dad uproots her to Seoul from her home in L.A., Jae thinks her biggest challenges will be fitting in to a new school and dealing with her dismissive Korean grandfather. Then she discovers that a Korean demi-god, Haemosu, has been stealing the soul of the oldest daughter of each generation in her family for centuries. And she’s next.But that’s not Jae’s only problem.
There’s also Marc. Irresistible and charming, Marc threatens to break the barriers around Jae’s heart. As the two grow closer, Jae must decide if she can trust him. But Marc has a secret of his own—one that could help Jae overturn the curse on her family for good. It turns out that Jae’s been wrong about a lot of things: her grandfather is her greatest ally, even the tough girl can fall in love, and Korea might just be the home she’s always been looking for. (Goodreads)
First lines: Stillness fills the empty stage as I press the horn bow to my body and notch and arrow. I pull back the string. The power of it courses through me, a sizzling dire in my veins. I squint just enough so the mark crystallises while everything around it blurs.
Who I’m not, Ted Satunton (186 pages) Danny has survived everything life has thrown at him: being abandoned at birth, multiple abusive foster homes, life as a con man in training. But when his latest “protector” dies suddenly, Danny has to think fast or he’ll be back in foster care again. He decides to assume the identity of a boy who disappeared three years before. If nothing else, he figures it will buy him a little time. Much to his astonishment, his new “family” accepts him as their own–despite the fact that he looks nothing like their missing relative. But one old cop has his suspicions about Danny–and he’s not about to declare the case close(Goodreads)
First lines: It’s easier to tell you who I’m not. I’m not Kerry Ludwig or Sean Callahan. I’m not David Alvierez or Peter McLeod or Frank Rolfe. I’ve kind of wished I was David Alvierez. I don’t look Latino or anything, but it sounds exotic. Anyway, I’ve been all those guys, but none of them was me.
The Nazi hunters: how a team of spies and survivors captured the world’s most notorious Nazi, Neil Bascomb, (215 pages)A thrilling spy mission, a moving Holocaust story, and a first-class work of narrative nonfiction. In 1945, at the end of World War II, Adolf Eichmann, the head of operations for the Nazis’ Final Solution, walked into the mountains of Germany and vanished from view. Sixteen years later, an elite team of spies captured him at a bus stop in Argentina and smuggled him to Israel, resulting in one of the century’s most important trials — one that cemented the Holocaust in the public imagination. (Goodreads)
First lines: A remote stretch of unlit road on a windy night. Two cars appear out of the darkness. One of them, a Chevrolet, slows to a halt. and its headlights blink off. The Buick drives some distance farther, then turns onto Garibaldi Street, where it too stops and its lights turn off.
In honor of this wonderful display at Blue Willow Bookstore in Texas, here’s a collection of books with blue covers.
The Sky Inside, Clare B. Dunkle
Martin lives in a perfect world. Each year a new generation of genetically-engineered children is shipped out to meet their parents. Residents keep track of seasons by taking down the snow from their windows and replacing it with flowers. Every morning families gather to vote on matters of national importance. Today it is the colour of the president’s drapes. It’s business as usual, until a stranger comes to take away the smallest children, including Martin’s sister. No one’s talking about it, and Martin decides he has just two options – continue living in the unspoken looming danger zone, or leave the dubious safety of his home, HM1, and make his way through the supposed wasteland outside.
The Six Rules of Maybe, Deb Caletti
Scarlett Hughes is very concerned with the lives of everyone around her all the time, and spends very little time thinking of herself. Out of the blue her sister Juliet comes home from school, pregnant and married to a man she seems to have no interest in, but who is completely besotted with her. Scarlett is prompted to think introspectively and consider the necessity of dreams and speaking the truth.
How To Steal A Car, Pete Hautman
Some girls act out by drinking, taking drugs, harming themselves, harming others. Kelleigh steals cars instead. In How to Steal a Car we are taken on a turbulent journey through Kelleigh’s day-to-day life, one car theft at a time.
(I like that this upends the ridiculous cars-are-for-boys trope!)
Bait, Alex Sanchez
After Diego lands himself in probation for fighting, he doesn’t trust his probation officer, Mr. Vidas anymore. But Diego soon realises he needs Mr. Vidas’s help to keep his anger under control. To do that, he must confront the nightmares and memories he has been hiding from. But will anyone believe him, even if he does open up and tell the truth?
North Child, Edith Pattou
It was clear Rose had a special fate from the day she was born. But her mother keeps the mysterious circumstances of Rose’s birth a secret, hoping to keep her from leaving home. But Rose’s nature can’t be denied forever. So when a great white bear turns up one cold autumn evening asking Rose to come away with it in exchange for health and prosperity for her family, she jumps at the chance. The bear takes Rose to an empty castle fortress, where she is joined nightly by a mysterious stranger. Slowly she begins to learn his identity, but in doing so she loses her heart and begins to realise her journey has only just begun.
Chasing Brooklyn, Lisa Schroeder
Brooklyn can’t sleep. Her boyfriend Lucca died only a year ago, and her best friend Gabe recently died of an overdose. She is haunted by Gabe every time she closes her eyes, but she can’t fathom why Lucca doesn’t appear too. Nico can’t stop running, from the pain of the loss of his brother Lucca. But emotions run high when Lucca’s ghost starts leaving messages for Nico, telling him to reach out to Brooklyn. But neither will admit they’re being haunted, and until then, no one can rest.
Fat Angie, e. E. Charlton-Trujillo (this one features in the display above!)
Angie is broken. By her mother, her bullies, and her own belief that her war-hero sister could still be alive, Angie struggles to get through each day. Hiding under a mountain of junk food doesn’t work and things are looking bleak, until the arrival of KC Romance, the kind of girl who doesn’t exist in Dryfalls, Ohio. She is the only one who doesn’t see Angie as “Fat Angie” and knows all too well that the package doesn’t always match what’s inside.
I’m pretty proud of our non-fiction section. It’s small but concise. It has lots of books that will teach you about all the important things you need to know: from passing algebra to how to cook roast chicken, from surviving high school to how to get dressed in the morning. In this series, I’ll look at one or two books from each dewey section, highlighting my favourites. Some sections will have more books than others, due to size or the variety of topic contained within. If you have any books you’d like to spotlight, please leave them in the comments!
000s – Generalities
This book is a miscellany of the bizarre unexplained phenomena that puzzle ‘experts’ everywhere; an A-Z of oddness. It’s fairly tongue-in-cheek, and if you’re not convinced you’ll at least be entertained. I’m a bit of a conspiracy theoriest nut (although I find them enjoyable rather than believable) so I had a lot of fun reading this. It’s a fairly exhaustive selection, and it even introduced me to a few I hadn’t heard of before…
100s – Philosophy and Psychology
i.d : stuff that happens to define us
This is a collection of real stories, each illustrated, with an Q and A with the story teller about what happened next. It’s so much more than the sum of its parts, however. Each illustration conveys the emotion of the story being told, whether positive or negative. Each discusses a certain incident; the moment when a teenager learns to stop being negative about her body, or the time an immigrant girl really feels at odds with her mostly white companions. The illustrations themselves are done in a scratchy, naive style, which help to convey the fraught emotions of each of the stories.
200s – Religion
Islam is in the news a lot these days, but without talking about the context of this religion. It’s a bit simplistic to say that this book will teach you “everything” you need to understand about Islam -an extremely diverse faith- but it’s an extremely good place to start. It looks at the different sects within Islam, some of its cultural traditions (again, it’s an extreme diverse faith!) and its core tenets. It also discusses the history and the contributions Islamic people have made to the world, which are often left out of discussions. It really helped me gain a pretty good, if basic, understanding of Islam and its definitely worth picking up if you follow international events.
300s – Social Sciences
Where children sleep
This is a fascinating collection detailing, like it says in the title, the places where children from around the world sleep. A two page-spread consists of the photo of each child, a small description of where they live, their home life and their ambitions, with a full page colour photo of their ‘room’. It’s a simple concept that never comes across as patronising or proselythising; it manages to communicate the massive inequality in different parts of the world, as well as social issues that affect the featured childrens’ lives.
400s – Langauge
This book is never going to set the world on fire but your English teacher will thank you for reading it, especially if you’re having trouble writing essays. While studying where and when to use things like commas might seem a bit redundant, this book will help you use them skillfully, which might mean the difference between a merit and an excellence.
The Reed Field Guide to New Zealand Native trees
A great read for the budding botanists (ha ha) out there. It’s a classic, and for good reason; it’s got plenty of pictures showing the distinguishing features of each type of tree. I like to think of these kind of books as ones that will be useful during a zombie apocalypse: telling the difference between rangiora and ongaonga could certainly save you a lot of pain and trouble! Each section on the tree contains pictures of its leaves, fruit or flowers, and stems or trunks. While there’s not a whole lot of written information in this book, it also lists other books that could be helpful.
600s – Technology
A trend among cookbooks aimed at a YA audience is that they try a bit hard to be ‘trendy’: losts of ‘slang’, lots of references to texting, and criminal overuse of the word “mates.” Luckily, this book skips all those traps, focusing instead on simple, easy recipes that might even be healthy. They’re split into sections by meal, with and index at the back. There’s a handy guide at the beginning, explaining what tools you’ll need, how to tell if certain meats are cooked, and various other ‘how to’ sections that are pretty useful.
Style Me Vintage: make up
The verdict every year seems to be that the ‘vintage’ look is ‘in.’ But what do the fashion scribes mean by vintage? Marilyn Monroe-esque fifties glamour or the frivilous flapper look of the twenties? The dewey freshness of the seventies or the enigmatic sleekness of the thirties? Once you’ve worked that out, come and grab this book. It’s got looks for every decade from the twenties to the eighties; by matching the right make up to your outfit, you can be assured of steering clear of fashion anachronism. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from mixing the looks up: a fifties mouth with a twenties eye, for serious glam. It’s also got some great tips and techniques for beginners, like how to put on false eyelashes. Which are apparently essential for a few looks…
700s – Arts and Recreation
Back and Beyond: New Zealand painting for the young and curious
The 700s, with their focus on the arts, often provide the most visually appealing books to be found anywhere in the library. This is a prime example, featuring gorgeous reproductions of amazing paintings from New Zealand artists both traditional and contemporary. Each painting is accompanied by a brief text describling the themes of the piece and the artist’s other work. It’s never dry or boring; it manages to convey both the common themes and the diversity in paintings from New Zealand.
Legends, Icons and Rebels: Music that changed the world
This is a fantastic new book that profiles 27 artists who changed the face of music forever. Again, it’s a lovely looking book, with a beautiful full page depiction of each musician. It contains a brief biograpy of each person, and explains their influence on music. For example, I didn’t know that Little Richard mentored The Beatles AND Jimi Hendrix AND toured with the Rolling Stones. Pretty awesome, if you ask me! It also has a two CDs, each with a famous song from each artist or group.
800s – Literature
Critical Companion to William Shakespeare
Shakespeare plays form a pretty much intrinsic part of the English ciruculum. But even the most conscientious English teacher might have trouble helping you to navigate the themes, characters and language of whatever play you’re studying. That’s where this book comes in handy: it has information on all of Shakespeare’s plays, each of them broken down into easy to read sections. There’s a scene by scene synopsis of the play, a commentary on the themes, and then an entry on each character and what motifs they embody. It’s fairly dense (as you might imagine) but never becomes unintelligable.
900s- History and Geography
Diary of a Soviet Schoolgirl
The brutal conditions of Soviet Russia are often neglected in the study of history. This diary, written by a teenage girl from 1932-1937, demonstrates just how hard the lives of ordinary people were during this time. Nina Lugovskaya’s father was arrested for being a “counter-revolutionary” and Nina herself was eventually arrested and sent to a gulag. What makes this diary especially fascinating is that the passages that were used as evidence against her are underlined, and this has been kept in this reproduction of the diary. It shows just how seemingly minor complaints could be interpreted as showing author was “preparing to kill Stalin.” It also shows the persistance of other facets of ‘ordinary’ teenage life: Nina talks about about boys, her friends and her disdain for school and her teachers. Unlike the Diary of Anne Frank, this story has a happier coda: Nina survived her time in the gulag, and was eventually pardoned.
Lady Gaga: Critical Mass Fashion
If you’re in the mood for something a bit lighter (and you’re a Gaga fan) then this is perfect for you. Even if you’re not, you can’t fault the book on the aesthetic front: there are some stunning photographs of Lady Gaga’s extreme outfits, which are definitely worth a look. It’s not a hard-hitting expose of Gaga’s metoric rise, rather a faintly fluffy piece of biography, but it’s a fun palate cleanser about one of the most notorious pop stars of the last 10 years.
Something for fantasy lovers, something for creepy fairy tale lovers and something for lovers of historical glamour.
Diamonds and Deceit, Leila Rasheed (At Somerton #2) – this is the second book in the series that is touted as being like Downton Abbey. “London is a whirl of balls and teas, alliances and rivalries. Rose has never felt more out of place. With the Season in full swing, she can’t help but still feel a servant dressed up in diamonds and silk. Then Rose meets Alexander Ross, a young Scottish duke. Rose has heard the rumors about Ross’s sordid past just like everyone else has. Yet he alone treats her as a friend. Rose knows better than to give her heart to an aristocrat with such a reputation, but it may be too late. Ada should be happy. She is engaged to a handsome man who shares her political passions and has promised to support her education. So why does she feel hollow inside? Even if she hated Lord Fintan, she would have no choice but to go through with the marriage. Every day a new credit collector knocks on the door of their London flat, demanding payment for her cousin William’s expenditures. Her father’s heir seems determined to bring her family to ruin, and only a brilliant marriage can save Somerton Court and the Averleys’ reputation. Meanwhile, at Somerton, Sebastian is out of his mind with worry for his former valet Oliver, who refuses to plead innocent to the murder charges against him–for a death caused by Sebastian himself. Sebastian will do whatever he can to help the boy he loves, but his indiscretion is dangerous fodder for a reporter with sharp eyes and dishonorable intentions.” (goodreads.com)
The Nethergrim, Matthew Jobin – “Everyone in Moorvale believes the legend: The brave knight Tristan and the famed wizard Vithric, in an epic battle decades ago, had defeated the evil Nethergrim and his minions. To this day, songs are sung and festivals held in the heroes’ honor. Yet now something dark has crept over the village. First animals disappear, their only remains a pile of bones licked clean. Then something worse: children disappear. The whispers begin quietly yet soon turn into a shout: The Nethergrim has returned! Edmund’s brother is one of the missing, and Edmund knows he must do something to save his life. But what? Though a student of magic, he struggles to cast even the simplest spell. Still, he and his friends swallow their fear and set out to battle an ancient evil whose powers none of them can imagine. They will need to come together – and work apart – in ways that will test every ounce of resolve.” (goodreads.com) Goodreads suggests that if you read and enjoyed the Ranger’s Apprentice books you might like this one.
The Mirk and Midnight Hour, Jane Nickerson – “Seventeen-year-old Violet Dancey has been left at home in Mississippi with a laudanum-addicted stepmother and love-crazed stepsister while her father fights in the war – a war that has already claimed her twin brother. When she comes across a severely injured Union soldier lying in an abandoned lodge deep in the woods, things begin to change. Thomas is the enemy – one of the men who might have killed her own brother – and yet she’s drawn to him. But Violet isn’t Thomas’s only visitor; someone has been tending to his wounds – keeping him alive – and it becomes chillingly clear that this care hasn’t been out of compassion. Against the dangers of war and ominous powers of voodoo, Violet must fight to protect her home and the people she loves.” (goodreads.com) This is based on the folk tale ‘Tam Lin’. We don’t know much about this one! Except it’s Scottish. Interesting.
Do you use Goodreads? It’s a great way to keep track of what books you’ve read as well as what you would like to read in the future. You can give books ratings and write reviews, as well as follow the reviews and blog posts of your favourite authors.
So many books pass by my gleaming, book-loving eyes every day that it’s impossible to read them all. But I keep a to-read list on Goodreads so that perhaps one day I can try. Here are some I’m particularly curious about but haven’t gotten around to reading yet:
As Simple As Snow, Gregory Galloway
I originally wanted to read this because it was recommended by John Green, whether it was via his Youtube channel, his blog, or somewhere else entirely I just can’t remember. It’s about the narrator and his girlfriend Anna who is full of energy and enthusiasm. She’s complicated and interesting and fun, and all of sudden, a week before Valentines Day, she disappears. A dress placed beside a hole in the frozen river is the only clue to what may have happened. Mysterious!
Beauty Queens, Libba Bray
When I first saw this one I wasn’t immediately drawn towards it. That was until I read another of Libba Bray’s books (A Great and Terrible Beauty) and discovered how fantastic it was, after which I very much wanted to read Beauty Queens as well. As for the story, fifty contestants from the Miss Teen Dream pageant are stranded on an island together after their plane crashed on the way to the pageant. Do they continue to practice for the talent portion of the contest, or just try and survive the island?
Swamplandia, Karen Russell
I have read a couple of Karen Russell’s short stories before, including the one this novel is based on. They are both wonderful and whimsical and a wee bit creepy. Swamplandia! is about Ava, a resourceful but terrified twelve-year-old who is tasked with single-handedly caring for the seventy ‘gators of her family’s declining alligator wrestling dynasty. A more sophisticated competitor known as the World of Darkness is encroaching on the land and business of Swamplandia and it’s a lot for young Ava to handle. Not to mention her mother has just died, her father is AWOL, her sister is having an affair with a ghost and her brother has defected to the World of Darkness to try and save their own family business. To save her family, Ava must embark on a harrowing and perilous journey to the part of the swamp known as the Underworld and make it back in one piece.
Brooklyn Burning, Steve Brezenoff
When you’re sixteen and no one understands you, sometimes you just have to run. This is what Kid does, and ends up in the streets of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. These streets provide the background for Kid to fall hopelessly in love and then nearly lose it all. This is the tale of two summers of fires, music, loss and love in Brooklyn.
The thing that stood out to me about this book is that you are never told the gender of the protagonist. It’s left fluid, which allows anyone to fit themselves into the protagonist’s proverbial shoes.
The Clockwork Scarab, Colleen Gleason
Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes are the sister and niece, respectively, of Bram Stoker and Sherlock Holmes, so vampire hunting and mystery solving is in their blood, like it or not. When two society girls go missing, who better to investigate than this team of two? The only clue to solving the mystery is a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high – if Evaline and Mina can’t figure out why the belles of London are in grave danger, they’re next.
I love the concept of extending known and classic stories into new territories, so I have high expectations for this one!
My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary, Rae Earl
This one caught my attention when I began watching the show My Mad Fat Diary, which I hadn’t realised was based on a book, specifically this one by Rae Earl. Sharon Rooney does an amazing job at portraying Rae in the TV show and I’m intrigued to see what the writing is like and compare and contrast the differences to the show. A main divergence is that the show is set in the mid-90s, whereas the book is set in the mid-80s. This makes quite a difference to the feel of the story, as Rae is very reliant on music as a coping mechanism for her depression. Rae is a strong, sassy and very relatable teenage girl dealing with friends, boys and her mum, just like so many of us.
There are heeeeaps more books on my to-read shelf so I’ll follow up with another installment in the future. What books are you excited to read, new or old?
Ulf Stark, author of around 30 books for children and young adults, is in town for the New Zealand Festival’s Writers Week. This Swedish author has also written film, TV and theatre scripts and been nominated twice for the Hans Christian Andersen Award.
See Ulf live at the Hannah Playhouse (Downstage Theatre) on Sunday March 9th at 12:15pm
We have three of Ulf’s books, including a signed copy, to give away to one lucky individual thanks to Gecko Press. To win please tell us Ulf’s home country by email to email@example.com, Tweet @WCL_LIbrary or comment on the post on our Facebook page. (We will announce a winner on the morning of Thursday March 13th).
Justin from the library Online Services Team meet with Ulf on Saturday morning. Here is their Q & A:
(J) How did you get into making books?
(U)So, I was not very talented in anything. And actually I disliked writing when I was very young because I was left-handed and we were forced to do right-handed in school. So that was the worst thing to have to write things. Then during my teen ages a lot of things changed. When you are a teenager you are looking in the mirror and you don’t recognise your face, you don’t recognise your feelings either. And then I read a lot of books. Not the younger books I had read before, but the real books. I think there is something, when you are in your teenage years you don’t feel confident to talk to your parents, or you don’t want to talk to them about the subjects that are near you – not about sexuality, not about a lot of things. So I had those conversations with the books and that was fine I think. Then we got a teacher in school who I liked very much and she liked my writing as well. I don’t think that teachers are aware of the power they have. So I started writing and then I came in contact with young authors and I was beginning to write. I wrote my first book when I was 18. It was a collection of poems. It was not that good – it was awful I would say.
(J)Did it get published?
(U)Yes it was. I got 500 Swedish Crowns and then I wrote another collection of poems, a little bit better and then a novel for the adults. Then I was 25 and I understood that I hadn’t anything else to write about. So I worked a little bit, for ten years or something. Then I started writing again in 1984 I think with this one [Fruitloops & Dipsticks] and it was a little success in Sweden and the Nordic countries. Suddenly I got money for writing. I had been working in the bureaucracy beforehand for a lot of years, training in education so it was quite good.
(J)Do you think the break helped?
(U)I think what helped with the job was that I was teaching about the differences about the male and the female. I was very interested in this difference, what is it to be a man and what is it to be a female? Why are we so different? So this is [Fruitloops & Dipsticks] sort of an investigation of the differences. An investigation of me being a male writer taking place in a girl.
(J)That would have been quite difficult?
(U)Yeah. It was quite difficult so I decided to let her be a boy after a while. It was much easier that way. It was published in a lot of countries. It is still published in a lot of new countries – in Russia for example. And they do a new edition now because of [Vladimir] Putin’s laws.
(J)Has it been censored?
(U)You cannot write anything about sexuality for young people under 16 years.
(J)Is that frustrating for you, knowing that they’re censoring your work?
(U)A little bit frustrating but on the other hand this edition [uncensored Fruitloops & Dipsticks] still exists in Russia. So I think the interest for the first edition has increased because it is forbidden.
(J)I think that’s a good way to make people interested in something, isn’t it. Tell them they can’t have it.
(U)Yeah. What could there be in this book? I’m not so disturbed by it. I am disturbed by Putin.
(J)Your books are originally written in Swedish aren’t they? Do you feel like they lose something when translated? Is there is a stark difference in the mood or the feel?
(U)There could be. I don’t think it’s because of the translation, it’s more because of the cultural differences.
(J)Yeah, I know that in German for instance there are words for things that would take a sentence to say in English.
(U)Yes – different associations and all this. But when it’s translated into so many countries I think it’s more universal.
(J)Have you ever had any unexpected reactions to your work?
(U)Yeah. Perhaps, take this one for example [Fruitloops & Dipsticks]. I was in Belarus, which is almost a dictatorship.
(J)Ex-Soviet isn’t it?
(U)Yes. I wrote a book called The Dictator and I was there and we had readings. It was translated so a local was reading it. They had to read in Russian [Fruitloops & Dipsticks] and I was astonished by the interest in sexuality. I mean there is not much in that book, I just felt like a sexual therapist or something when I came there. In Sweden now I can be astonished because of how they react. In this one [Can You Whistle, Johanna?] there is a Grandfather smoking a cigar. It could be a problem and that was why it was very hard to get the book into the USA. Just because he was smoking. I told her [literary agent] that he was dyeing at the end.
(J)So there is a health message there?
(U)Yes. If you smoke a cigar you will die. So there are moralistic reactions to the books. Often it is the parents who complain about the books.
(J)What we can we expect to hear or learn in your Writers Week programme?
(U)I just don’t know because I don’t know the questions. Perhaps you could get a clue about Swedish books. I mean, I am not representative of all the authors in Sweden, but I think what is common for us is a view from the child’s perspective. To be loyal with the child’s side, not being a story teller from up high. I think that is important. Some of these books are biographical in some way. In this one [My Friend Percy’s Magical Gym Shoes] the character Ulf is almost burning up society because he wants his friend Percy to see the fireworks coming. Then he sprays water on the fire and I got applause for that. But they didn’t like that in Spain. They thought the parents would have hit him at least a little bit.
(J)At least you don’t have to live there!
(U)But I think it’s better to hear of us making a lot of crazy things. He has to think about himself, his feeling, and think it was wrong, “I did wrong.” It’s an inner process. He has to think, I have done something stupid and see the consequences already, not that the act itself is punishable.
(J)Do you feel like there is a big difference between Swedish writing when compared to English?
(U)Yes, I think I was in England and they have very few books for the smaller kids that have discussions on things like death. That was a taboo.
(J)Do you find they are for entertainment?
(U)We have a lot of animals dying in Swedish literature. Even here [Can You Whistle, Johanna?] the grandfather is dying at the end. Often when you are writing about death, even in Sweden I would say it is just the rituals that you are writing about. Whether it’s something like putting flowers on or saying something because you are afraid of the reaction of sadness. I think it’s good. I think children have to be confronted with real feelings, so they should be a little bit sorry. They are not dying and hopefully they have their parents to discuss things and say something to. I have no fear of writing about something.
(J)What would be your advice to a young author?
(U)Not taking any advice I think. You have to find your own way but I think reading is a very good way of learning how to write because you could say I don’t like that way of writing. You could find your own way by reading other books, not imitating them but see what you want to do and see how it is made in other books. Start with poems, I think that’s a good short way to see what happens. And then perhaps short stories, I think starting a big novel project when you are thirteen is not good.
(J)It’s one way to pop your self-esteem isn’t it? Do you have any personal author recommendations?
(U)I don’t know if we read the same books here in New Zealand and in Sweden. My mother used to read a lot of Astrid Lindgren and so did I. I think for my own kids I read a lot of Roald Dahl books to my son and more tragic stores for my daughter who just loved tragedy. You could also read a lot of the old books, not just the new ones. These days everything is so up-to-date I think it is good to have a historical perspective as a child. I am writing books now about the 60s and 50s, there are no mobile telephones in this and they don’t want to read it. But it’s just like you could read a book from Sweden, I think it is important to take part of and experience different cultures.
(J)Do you think kids have changed?
(U)Yeah. I think the technique is changing a lot in the daily life of children. When I was coming here on my flight for 40 hours I saw what people were doing. People choose a lot of films and the whole time they were looking at blue screens and they got a blue face. It was reflecting and I was doing the same. I had a lot of good books I thought I would read but it is an easy way just to put my finger on the screen. You have to have dull time I think. Dull time is where you awaken creativeness. I am trying to have a dull life.
(J)Do you have much of a relationship with the internet? Do you use social media or blogs?
(U)No very little actually. My wife does but I really think that I have a need for moral contemplation and not so much being on the net. Perhaps I prefer meeting personally, I’m a bit afraid of being addicted the screen.
(J)We’ve already kind of touched on it – what is your process of writing, how do you turn an idea into a book?
(U)I see it more like an organic process. I have a lot of writing friends who are doing very exact shadows of what they should do in each chapter and also the schools are teaching children how to write and the disposition is so mechanical. I’ve tried that model too. Now I just start a story and see what happens. The more interesting persons are more interesting than the story.
(J)So you focus on the character than the character?
(U)Yes, for instance there are lots of books for the very, very young people but then I was thinking that there are no books for the unborn. So I did a book about a boy having a chat with a mother’s stomach to the child inside giving answers to the child in there about what happens when you come out. That was the theme.
(J)That’s a strange sort of thing to think up, where did an idea like that come from?
(U)I think I saw a stomach somewhere and thought what would I teach a small child or say this the life coming to you.
(J)Do you think you’re quite a curious person by nature?
(U)Yeah. I think so. I’m curious about all the things that haven’t got answers. I think the daily life of children, coming to school and learning things, there are answers. Often education is built on a question and an answer and then they could have the idea that there are answers for everything. But for the very, most important things there are no answers. You have to make up the answers yourself. What is the meaning of life? Okay, this is the meaning of life. Okay there it was. Why are you falling in love with a person and not with another person? Why are we dying? What’s in the universe? There are a lot of things that children from the beginning are very interested in.
(J)But they stop asking?
(J)If you could have a coffee with any human being, either been or alive, who would it be and what would you ask them?
(U)Umm. I think it would be nice to meet god.
(U)Yeah. I have a lot of questions. I wrote a book about god, it was my last book. God created the earth but he was a little bit tired of inventing everything. So he first invented the Darwinist evolution theory so that he only had to do the small things like the fishes and now the creation could go on. But then when he woke up there are human beings, the animals – but he didn’t plan to make the shadows. They are dark so he decided to put them to the other side of earth, the side he couldn’t see. They call this the night. And what happens is you get a sort of Prozac world, no shadows, no darkness, no sadness.
(J)Fake smiles on everybody?
(U)Yes, everyone is going about smiling. So there are no stories, no fairytales, no dreams. It’s a drugged world. I find it quite funny to write about the fear of happiness and that you have a need for the shadows. Then there is a boy and a girl just going to find their shadows again and they found it the god is there to clean it up again. They say no, no don’t do that we need our shadows, even the sorrowness. God is thinking okay, okay you are write and he puts them back again. I think that applies to books also. You need to have the shadow sides and the night sides. I think we will have a lot to discuss over coffee.
Wellington City Libraries has many of Ulf’s books available for loan, check them out here.
I don’t know if you’ve ever checked out Lilliana Vazquez’s blog cheapchicas.com? I did for the first time today and it’s soooo cool – lots of tips for getting the latest looks and trends into your wardrobe for cheap prices that won’t make your eyes water. Yay! Definitely a worthy addition to your list of favourite fashion blogs. Even more good news, we now have Lilliana’s sweet new book at the library:
The cheap chica’s guide to style : secrets to shopping cheap and looking chic / Lilliana Vazquez with Jessica Jones.
“Priceless tips and tricks to shopping on a budget, from America’s favorite frugal fashionista. Stylish bargain-hunters have been flocking to Lilliana Vazquez’s CheapChicas.com since 2008 for tips and tricks on how to shop smart, copy their favorite designer looks, and dress chic for less. Now a go-to destination for women eager for affordable fashion, the site has established Lilliana as a nationally recognized style expert. Now, in The Cheap Chica’s Guide to Style, Lilliana is spilling her secrets! Fun quizzes will help readers define their style and budget. And Lilliana lays out the best places-from stores to flash-sale sites to their own closets- to score stylish deals. Approachable and beautifully designed, The Cheap Chica’s Guide to Style is the must-have accessory for 2013 and beyond”– Provided by publisher.
I can’t wait to get my hands on it – I’m all for saving my fashion funds!! Reserve your copy now.