We have TWO copies of Speed Freak by Fleur Beale to give away! Speed Freak was a finalist in the Young Adult category of the NZ Post Children’s (and YA) Book Awards (the winners have only just been announced – check them out here) and it has been highly praised by many readers, critics and otherwise. Tierney Reardon says “it is exactly the sort of book you might expect from award-winning author Fleur Beale; captivating, honest, and completely unique.”
Fifteen-year-old Archie Barrington is a top kart driver, aiming to win the Challenge series and its ultimate prize of racing in Europe. He loves the speed, the roar of the engine, the tactics and the thrill of racing to the limits. Craig is his main rival, and there’s also Silver, who drives likes she’s got a demon inside. Archie knows he’ll need all his skill and focus to win. But sometimes, too, you need plain old luck. Can Archie overcome the odds and win? (library catalogue)
All YOU need to do to be in the draw to win is to comment on this post and tell us what your favourite Fleur Beale book is and why! You must enter before 5pm on Friday 11th July to be in the draw – that’s two weeks from today! If you win, you must also be able to collect your prize from your choice of one of our Wellington City Libraries branches.
We must also say a HUGE thank you to Random House NZ for providing us with these books to give away to you!
This week, I’ve made two hot new discoveries that I think you’re going to love.
The first is this book by Zoë Foster:
Amazing face : clever beauty tricks, should-own products and spectacularly useful how-to-do-its / Zoë Foster.
This book came out in 2011 so I was a bit worried that some of the info wouldn’t be that relevant anymore, but WOW was I wrong!
This book is awesome – I learnt heaps about how to improve the condition of my skin (no matter what your skin type, this book can help you!), some great makeup tricks I never would have thought of and even how to volumise my very un-voluminous hair. This woman knows seriously everything about skin, beauty and products. Find it at central!
Zoë Foster is also the genius behind this rad beauty website (I hiiiiighly recommend), and this blog where she talks about her fiction writing. Amazing Face also recently came out as an app, so you can get your beauty hit on the go! You’re welcome.
My other recent discovery is gabifresh.com. I am really loving the style on this blog and have been finding it super inspiring! (fyi – am now on the lookout for a neon kimono and a beige tulle tutu skirt… So easily persuaded!) This is a collection of some of my fave looks from her page. You can check out her sweet style here or follow her on any of the usual places (my fave is Instagram).
Yes, the first trailer for Mockingjay Part 1 has appeared, guest-starring on the library tumblr. Note also the truly amazing print ads for each district – you can see them on the official Capitol website.
Well that crept up on us – the winners of the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards have just been announced! The overall winner of the Margaret Mahy Book of the year prize went to The Boring Book by Vasanti Unka! The Boring Book also won its category of Best Picture Book.
The winner of the young adult category was Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox! I know we have a number of Elizabeth Knox fans among our readers – hurrah!
“Mortal Fire is an incredibly well-written and engaging book. The story is like a jigsaw that slowly slots together and leaves the reader satisfied but haunted by the events and the characters. It is a book that operates on a supernatural, fantastical level, while still containing the core young adult material about finding out who you are,” says Barbara Else.
The other winners were Dunger by Joy Cowley (Junior Fiction), The Beginner’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing in New Zealand by Paul Adamson (Non-fiction), A Necklace of Souls by R L Stedman (Best Debut) and The Three Bears…Sort Of by Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley (Children’s Choice). We have all of the winners in our collection – click on the links above to reserve them!
John Corey Whaley is my absolute favourite contemporary YA author at the moment. I was in awe of his first novel Where Things Come Back (if you frequent this blog, you may have noticed me raving about its awesomeness before) and I just finished reading his second novel, Noggin.
JCW (as I like to call him for short) has this amazing way of writing situations that so many people would completely relate to, yet he never sounds like he is merely churning out a thinly veiled trope or cliche. Every situation he puts his characters in feels like it could only happen to them, and we’re privileged to get a small glimpse into their lives.
His first novel Where Things Come Back won the Printz Award in 2012 – this is a huge honour! The Printz Award is an American Library Association literary award that annually recognizes the “best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit”. So basically, they thought it was the best YA book written that year of ALL the YA books. All of them. That’s a lot. It also means it’s a slightly more “literary” book, but don’t let that put you off! As a first novel it’s pretty ambitious – it follows Cullen Witter, a 17 year old boy living in a small town in Arkansas during the summer before his senior year. All kinds of strange things begin to happen, starting with the sighting of a rare Lazarus woodpecker that has been extinct for more than 60 years. The townspeople become obsessed with the bird, and the whole town turns into a woodpecker carnival, celebrating it with haircuts, burgers, and anything else you can think of. Amid the strange carnival atmosphere, Cullen’s contemplative and sensitive younger brother Gabriel suddenly disappears.
In alternating chapters the novel also follows the tale of a young missionary in Africa who is questioning his faith after things fail to turn out as he had prepared for. He begins to search for meaning anywhere he can find it, grasping onto the last strands of hope and familiarity of his former life. Meanwhile, Cullen and his family are distraught and drift aimlessly through the sudden loss of Gabriel. While the two stories at first seem very distant, they eventually entwine with one another, leading to the shocking climax (which I had to read three times to believe).
His second novel, Noggin, is very different. Get this – and don’t let me lose you too quickly – Travis Coates used to be dead. Now he’s not. But this is not exactly a sci-fi novel. Travis’s old body was riddled with cancer, so they chopped his head off and cryogenically froze it so that maybe at some point in the distant future it could be reattached to someone else’s body. The scientists told his parents that if they were lucky they might get to see Travis again before they died. But science moved much faster than expected and just five years after his first death, Travis, with the aid of Jeremy Pratt’s body, is ready to give life a second try. The problem is things have changed but Travis hasn’t. His best friend Kyle and girlfriend – well ex-girlfriend, kind of? – Cate are both 21 now and it’s difficult for Travis to accept that five years passed during what he felt was a short nap.
Travis has to figure out how to handle that the love of his life is suddenly engaged to somebody else, and how to face the unwanted attention he’s receiving from all over the world on account of him being the latest scientific miracle. There’s only one other person in the world who has any idea what Travis is going through. Lawrence, who was reanimated six months earlier than Travis, is the only one who can assure him yes, this IS all very weird.
Despite the bizarre premise, Noggin is probably the more accessible of JCW’s two books but I highly, highly recommend both. You can also follow John Corey Whaley on Twitter under @corey_whaley and the same on Instagram. If you’ve read or are planning to read either of these books, let me know what you think in the comments!
Tin Star, Cecil Castellucci (233 pages)On their way to start a new life, Tula and her family travel on the Prairie Rose, a colony ship headed to a planet in the outer reaches of the galaxy. All is going well until the ship makes a stop at a remote space station, the Yertina Feray, and the colonist’s leader, Brother Blue, beats Tula within an inch of her life. An alien, Heckleck, saves her and teaches her the ways of life on the space station.When three humans crash land onto the station, Tula’s desire for escape becomes irresistible, and her desire for companionship becomes unavoidable. But just as Tula begins to concoct a plan to get off the space station and kill Brother Blue, everything goes awry, and suddenly romance is the farthest thing from her mind. (Goodreads)
First lines: There are few things colder than the blackness of space. But lying here, I couldn’t imagine anything colder than the Human heart that left me half-concious at tne entrance to Docking Bay 12.
Between two worlds, Katherine Kirkpatrick (261 pages)On the treeless shores of Itta, Greenland, as far north as humans can settle, sixteen-year-old Inuit Billy Bah spots a ship far out among the icebergs on the bay–a sight both welcome and feared. Explorers have already left their indelible mark on her land and its people, and a ship full of white men can mean trouble.
The ship carries provisions for Robert E. Peary, who is making an expedition to the North Pole. As a child, Billy Bah spent a year in America with Peary’s family. When her parents went to America years later, they died in a tragic scandal. Now, Peary’s wife, daughter, and crew are in Itta to bring him supplies. Winter comes on fast, and when the ship gets caught in the ice, Billy Bah sets out to find Peary. The journey will imperil her life, and that of the man she loves.(Goodreads)
First lines: I climbed toward the sky, my fingers curling around the cold rocks, thousands of shrieking birds around me. Just under my feet the sheer red cliffs dropped to the water. Though it was summer, it was still cold and the wind felt fresh.
The edge of the water, Elizabeth George (387 pages) A mysterious girl who won’t speak; a coal black seal named Nera that returns to the same place very year; a bitter feud of unknown origin—strange things are happening on Whidbey Island, and Becca King, is drawn into the maelstrom of events. But Becca, first met in The Edge of Nowhere, has her own secrets to hide. Still on the run from her criminal stepfather, Becca is living in a secret location. Even Derric, the Ugandan orphan with whom Becca shares a close, romantic relationship, can’t be allowed to know her whereabouts.As secrets of past and present are revealed, Becca becomes aware of her growing paranormal powers, and events build to a shocking climax anticipated by no one.(Goodreads)
First lines: I was two years old when I came to my parenrs, but the only memories I have before the memories of them are like dreams. I’m carried. There’s water nearby. I’m cold. Some runs with me in his arms. My head is pressed so hard to his shoulder that it hurts every time he takes a step.
The museum of intangible things, Wendy Wunder (292 pages)Hannah and Zoe haven’t had much in their lives, but they’ve always had each other. So when Zoe tells Hannah she needs to get out of their down-and-out New Jersey town, they pile into Hannah’s beat-up old Le Mans and head west, putting everything—their deadbeat parents, their disappointing love lives, their inevitable enrollment at community college—behind them. As they chase storms and make new friends, Zoe tells Hannah she wants more for her. She wants her to live bigger, dream grander, aim higher. And so Zoe begins teaching Hannah all about life’s intangible things, concepts sadly missing from her existence—things like audacity, insouciance, karma, and even happiness.(Goodreads)
First lines: I am a freshwater girl. I live on the lake, and in New Jersey, that’s rare. The girls on the other side of town have swimming pools, and the girls in the south have the seashore. Other girls are dry, breezy, salty and bleached. I, on the other hand, am grounded, heavy and wet.
The shadow prince (Into the Dark, Book 1), Bree Despain (481 pages)Haden Lord, the disgraced prince of the Underrealm, has been sent to the mortal world to entice a girl into returning with him to the land of the dead. Posing as a student at Olympus Hills High—a haven for children of the rich and famous—Haden must single out the one girl rumored to be able to restore immortality to his race.
Daphne Raines has dreams much bigger than her tiny southern Utah town, so when her rock star dad suddenly reappears, offering her full tuition to Olympus Hills High’s prestigious music program, she sees an opportunity to catch the break she needs to make it as a singer. But upon moving into her estranged father’s mansion in California, and attending her glamorous new school, Daphne soon realizes she isn’t the only student in Olympus who doesn’t quite belong. Haden and Daphne—destined for each other—know nothing of the true stakes their fated courtship entails. As war between the gods brews, the teenagers’ lives collide. But Daphne won’t be wooed easily and when it seems their prophesied link could happen, Haden realizes something he never intended—he’s fallen in love. Now to save themselves, Haden and Daphne must rewrite their destinies. But as their destinies change, so do the fates of both their worlds.(Goodreads)
First lines: I did the unforgivable the day my mother died, and for that I’ve been punished every moment of my life. He’s too weakminded. Impulsive. He’s too much like her. He’s too human.
Stolen songbird, Danielle Jensen (469 pages) For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined. Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity. But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader. As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.(Goodreads)
First lines: My voice rose an octave, resonating through the Goshawk’s Hollow marketplace, drowning out the bleating sheep and the hammer of the blacksmith down the way. Dozens of familiar faces abandoned their business, expressions unoform in their nervousness as they anticipated the note I had dreaded daily for the past month. She liked an audience for my failures.
Taken, David Massey (279 pages)A young crew of five are toughing it out together, sailing around the world on a gruelling charity challenge. They are used to being pushed to the limit, but nothing could have prepared them for being kidnapped. When they are taken hostage by a notorious warlord and his band of child soldiers, the trip of a lifetime turns into a one-way journey into the heart of the African jungle. When hope is all you have, survival is all you can fight for…(Goodreads)
First lines: My rucksack thuds on to the wooden pontoon and all the stress of getting here falls away with it. I feel light and dizzy, like I’ve just ditched the last thing that anchored me to reality.
Storm, Donna Jo Napoli (343 pages)The rain starts suddenly, hard and fast. After days of downpour, her family lost, Sebah takes shelter in a tree, eating pine cones and the raw meat of animals that float by. With each passing day, her companion, a boy named Aban, grows weaker. When their tree is struck by lightning, Sebah is tempted just to die in the flames rather than succumb to a slow, watery death. Instead, she and Aban build a raft. What they find on the stormy seas is beyond imagining: a gigantic ark. But Sebah does not know what she’ll find on board, and Aban is too weak to leave their raft.(Goodreads)
First lines: Each row has exactly as many pods as my fingers-ten. And there are exactly as many rows as my fingers on one hand. Five. I’ve laid them out on the ground perfectly. It’s my job to tie precisely fifty bean pods into the cloth because I’m good at numbers, better than my parents.
Dust of eden, Mariko Nagai (121 pages)In December 1941, thirteen year-old Mina Masako Tagawa and her Japanese-American family are sent from their home in Seattle to an internment camp in Idaho. What do you do when your home country treats you like an enemy? (Goodreads)
First lines: We held our breath for three years. We did not have anything to call our own except for the allowed number of bags: two. Te did not have anything except for a rose garden my grandfather made from hard earth and spit. We lived behind a barbed wire fence under a stark blue sky that could break your heart (as it did break my grandfather’s.)
Breaking butterflies, M. Anjelais (257 pages)Sphinxie and Cadence. Promised to each other in childhood. Drawn together again as teens. Sphinxie is sweet, compassionate, and plain. Cadence is brilliant, charismatic. Damaged. And diseased. When they were kids, he scarred her with a knife. Now, as his illness progresses, he becomes increasingly demanding. She wants to be loyal–but fears for her life. Only the ultimate sacrifice will give this love an ending.(Goodreads)
First lines: When my mother was a little girl, she walked out to the playground by herself every day after school. I can picture it easily; photos of her as a child are almost indistinguishable from photos of me when I was little.
Returning to shore, Corinne Demas (196 pages)Her mother’s third marriage is only hours old when all hope for Clare’s fifteenth summer fades. Before she knows it, Clare is whisked away to some ancient cottage on a tiny marsh island on Cape Cod to spend the summer with her father – a man she hasn’t seen since she was three. Clare’s biological father barely talks, and when he does, he obsesses about endangered turtles. The first teenager Clare meets on the Cape confirms that her father is known as the town crazy person. But there’s something undeniably magical about the marsh and the islanda connection to Clares past that runs deeper than memory. Even her father’s beloved turtles hold unexpected surprises. As Clare’s father begins to reveal more about himself and his own struggle, Clare’s summer becomes less of an exile and more of a return home.(Goodreads)
First lines: The white balloons were released from behind the pirvet hedge at the exact moment the Clare’s mother kissed her new husband. Clare watched the balloons rise. They were snatched by an errant wind and blown stage left, free now, and undisciplined.
Awakening, Natalie King (272 pages)
When Zelie Taylor pulls a lost necklace out of the icy waters of the lake, she has no idea what the consequences will be. At first the pendant is just freezing cold – unnaturally so – but then she hears a voice inside her head and Zelie thinks she must be going mad. She’s not. Seventeen-year-old Tamas’ soul has been trapped in the silver necklace since 1918. His body is nearby, sleeping, and Zelie must help him awaken.
At first Zelie would like nothing better than for Tamas’ moody, enigmatic presence to be out of her life, but after a while she isn’t so sure. And what is waiting for Tamas when he does emerge? It seems that the sinister force that trapped him all those years ago has returned and is growing more powerful.(Goodreads)
First lines: Of all the emotions, guilt leaves the greatest mark. While fear and happiness can fade, guilt remains as heavy and harsh as the day it arrived. Zelie Taylor’s guilt weighed heavy, so when Kate Hearn asked, she couldn’t say no.
The true adventures of Nicolo Zen (271 pages)Nicolo Zen is all alone in 1700s Venice, save for his clarinet, which a mysterious magician had enchanted, allowing its first player to perform expertly. Soon Nicolo is a famous virtuoso, wealthy beyond his dreams, but he can’t stop wondering if he earned the success himself — or what might happen if the spell were removed. And throughout it all, he continues to think about the girl he met in Venice, what she might be doing and if she’s safe from harm. (Goodreads)
First lines: When the Master auditioned us, we were told not to speak. Luca, his assistant, a heavyset man in a black coat, handed each of us a page of sheet music, from the first moment of the Master’s latest concerto. “Just play this,” said said gruffly, pulling his black beard,” first in D major, then in B-flat minor.”
Guy in real life, Steve Brezenoff (386 pages)It is Labor Day weekend in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and boy and girl collide on a dark street at two thirty in the morning: Lesh, who wears black, listens to metal, and plays MMOs; Svetlana, who embroiders her skirts, listens to Björk and Berlioz, and dungeon masters her own RPG. They should pick themselves up, continue on their way, and never talk to each other again.
But they don’t.
This is a story of two people who do not belong in each other’s lives, who find each other at a time when they desperately need someone who doesn’t belong in their lives. A story of those moments when we act like people we aren’t in order to figure out who we are. A story of the roles we all play-at school, at home, with our friends, and without our friends-and the one person who might show us what lies underneath it all. (Goodreads)
First lines: “This is not my life.”
Everything is spinning on the curb in front of Vic B’s bar. I shouldn’t have been drinking. I knew that beforehand. I knew that as I drank. I know that now, sitting on said curb, with my head on my knees and a puddle of chunky vom next to my feet.
Drama Queens in the house, Julie Williams (426 pages)Sixteen-year-old Jessie Jasper Lewis doesn’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t surrounded by method actors, bright spotlights, and feather boas. Her parents started the Jumble Players Theater together, and theater is the glue that holds her crazy family together. But when she discovers that her father’s cheating on her mother with a man, Jessie feels like her world is toppling over. And on top of everything else, she has to deal with a delusional aunt who is predicting the end of the world. Jessie certainly doesn’t feel ready to be center stage in the production that is her family. But where does she belong in all of this chaos? (Goodreads)
First lines: The theater is lit up like an opening night gala celebrating the first show of a new season. It’s graduation night, the second Thursday in June, and this gala is all about me. JESSIE JASPER LEWIS…my name on the marquee in lights.
The Archived, Victoria Schwab (321 pages)Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.
Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive. Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what she once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive. Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall. (Goodreads)
First lines: The Narrows remind me of August nights in the South. They remind me of old rocks and places where the light can’t reach. They remind me of smoke – the stale, settled kind – and of storms and damp earth. Most of all, Da, they remind me of you.
Don’t look back, Jennifer L. Armentrout (369 pages) Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.
Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash. But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive? (Goodreads)
First lines: I didn’t recognise the name on the street sign. Nothing about the rural road looked familiar or friendly. Tall, imposing trees and overgrown weeks choked the front of the dilapidated home. Windows were boarded up/ There was a gaping hole where the front door had been. I shivered, wanting to be far away from here…wherever here was.
Hello, groin Beth Goobie (272 pages)When Dylan Kowolski agrees to create a display for her high school library, she has no idea of the trouble it’s going to cause–for the school principal, her family, her boyfriend Cam and his jock friends, and her best friend Jocelyn. And for Dylan herself. If only her English class had been studying a normal, run-of-the-mill, mundane book like Lord of the Flies instead of Foxfire things wouldn’t have gotten so twisted. Then the world wouldn’t have gone into such a massive funk. And then Dylan wouldn’t have had to face her deepest fear and the way she was letting it run her life. (Goodreads)
First lines: We were coming around a bend in the road just before the Dundurn Street bridge. I was double-riding my best friend, Jocelyn Hersch, on my bikem and we were running late, Difedenbaker Collegiate’s last warning bell about to sound. So I was tearing along with my head down, pretty much oblivious to the local scenery, when Joc tightened her grip on my waist and let out a yelp that could have raised the dead.
Deadfall, Chris Ryan (338 pages)Zak Darke is sent on what seems like a straightforward surveillance op in South Africa but it soon turns into the toughest, most dangerous mission he has ever faced. An old enemy has teamed up with a terrifying gang of child soldiers and Zak is caught in the middle. Having travelled to the heart of the African jungle, will he make it out alive …? (Goodreads)
First lines:There has been a thin layer of frost on the ice-cold bottle of Coke. Beads of Condensation ran down the glass. Just like the bead of sweat that ran down the side of Zak’s face. This should be an easy op. Why, then, did he feel so on edge?
Dance of the dark heart, Julia Hearn (233 pages)Jack Orion is a tormented soul. His childhood companion, and one true love, has been cruelly snatched away from him and now nothing matters to him but being reunited with her.
From the goatherd’s shack to the court of King Henry VIII, Jack will not be diverted from his path.And wherever he goes he plays his fiddle like a demon, while the demon in his head urges him on. But Jack is dangerous, and he has a dark heart. If you had the chance to dance with the devil . . . would you? (Goodreads)
First lines: There had been omens. Bad ones. A blood-coloured ring around the moon. Crows on the woodpile, watching the shack. A tree that fell without being axed, keeling over in its prime, like a man with a curse on him. Old Scratch noted these occurances -the moon, the crows, the tree – but kept his own counsel. For one thing, he had no one to tell.
When the tripods came, John Christopher (151 pages)Long ago, the Tripods–huge, three-legged machines–descended upon Earth and took control. Now people unquestioningly accept the Tripods’ power. They have no control over their thoughts or their lives. But for a brief time in each person’s life–in childhood–he is not a slave. For Will, his time of freedom is about to end–unless he can escape to the White Mountains, where the possibility of freedom still exists. The Tripods trilogy follows the adventures of Will and his cohorts, as they try to evade the Tripods and maintian their freedom and ultimately do battle against them. (Goodreads)
First lines: An explosion of noise woke me. It sounded if a dozen express trains were about to hit the shed. I rolled over in my blanket, trying to get out of the way, and was aware of a blaze of orange, lighting up boxes and bits of old farm equipment and tackle. An ancient rusting tractor looked briefly like an overgrown insect.
Dear Killer, Katherine Ewell (359 pages)Rule One—Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.
Rule Two—Be careful.
Rule Three—Fight using your legs whenever possible, because they’re the strongest part of your body. Your arms are the weakest.
Rule Four—Hit to kill. The first blow should be the last, if at all possible.
Rule Five—The letters are the law.
Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known. But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there. (Goodreads)
First lines: Rule one. Nothing is right, nothing is wrong. That is the most important guideline, and the hardest one for most people to understand – but I have understood it my entire life, from the moment I laid my hands on that first victim’s neck to this very moment as I think about the blood under my fingernails and the body I have so recently left behind.
The Nethergrim, Matthew Jobin (356 pages) 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)
First lines: The best horse I ever knew was a bay stallion with a white star on his face. Jis name was Juniper- a strange name for a steed of war, but that’s what he was called when he was born, and his rider never changed it.
Women in space, Karen Bush Gibson (206 pages)When Valentina Tereshkova blasted off aboard Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963, she became the first woman to rocket into space. It would be 19 years before another woman got a chance—cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982—followed by American astronaut Sally Ride a year later. By breaking the stratospheric ceiling, these women forged a path for many female astronauts, cosmonauts, and mission specialists to follow. Women in Space profiles 23 pioneers, including Eileen Collins, the first woman to command the space shuttle; Peggy Whitson, who logged more than a year in orbit aboard the International Space Station; and Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space; as well as astronauts from Japan, Canada, Italy, South Korea, France, and more. Readers will also learn about the Mercury 13, American women selected by NASA in the late 1950s to train for spaceflight. Though they matched and sometimes surpassed their male counterparts in performance, they were ultimately denied the opportunity to head out to the launching pad. Their story, and the stories of the pilots, physicists, and doctors who followed them, demonstrate the vital role women have played in the quest for scientific understanding.(Goodreads)
The smart girl’s guide to going vegetarian, Rachel Meltzer Warren (224 pages)What would you love. Love what you eat. No labels. No fuss. It’s not about what you call yourself–it’s about how you feel. Whether you’re going vegan, vegetarian, fish-only, chicken-only, or all veggies except grandma’s famous pigs-in-a-blanket, this book is your new best friend. Eating less meat can boost your energy, help you lose weight, and it’s better for the environment. If you’re looking to cut down on meat or cut it out completely, here you’ll find awesome advice and the answers you need to make it work for you.(Goodreads)
Betty Cornell’s teen-age popularity guide, Betty Cornell (141 pages)Available again for a whole new generation of readers, the original 1950s popularity guide that was the inspiration for teen author Maya Van Wagenen’s memoir Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek! Filled with fun tips and vintage wisdom, Betty Cornell’s Teen-Age Popularity Guide offers advice and guidance for teens who want to be poised, self-confident, and “shiny bright.” Betty covers topics ranging from “Figure Problems,” “Good Grooming,” and “What to Wear Where” to hints on dating, hosting a great party, and becoming “the most popular girl in your set!” (Goodreads)
First lines: I believe in fate. Not everyone does, but after what I’ve experienced because of this book in your hands, I would be crazy not to. This book found my dad years before I was born. I can imagine it, sitting on a cluttered book-shelf at a thrift store, no dust jacket, just a faded, torn, blue cover and a spine that read the name in bold red letters: BETTY CORNELL’S TEEN-AGE POPULARITY GUIDE.
Have you seen The Fault In Our Stars at the movies yet? I have and it was FAN-TAS-TIC! It has already been called “one of the most valuable young adult films Hollywood has produced in the last decade.” That’s pretty impressive.
In the types of stories below the protagonist is usually unwell, or has a terrible terminal illness. Sometimes these stories deal with family matters and finding closure. They may be romance stories, tinged with the sadness that their happiness may come with an expiry date. I’ve collected a few of these books here for all the TFIOS lovers, or just for those who can’t get enough of the happy-sadness of tragic romance. Although not all of them are completely sad, I promise!
Before I Die, Jenny Downham
Tessa has just a few months to live, and she’s going to make the most of it. She compiles a “to-do before I die” list and, released from the “normal” constraints of life she craves new experiences that her failing body has difficulty keeping up with. Tessa’s relationships with her father, brother, estranged mother, best friend and new boyfriend all begin to crystallize, but does Tessa have enough time for closure with them all?
It’s Kind Of A Funny Story, Ned Vizzini
A semi-autobiographical novel of late author Ned Vizzini’s time spent in a psychiatric hospital, this novel is dark yet hilarious. During his time in the hospital he meets a number of other patients – some friendly, others reclusive and delusional. Described as a cross between The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Girl, Interrupted and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Vizzini’s honesty throughout is both painful and heartwarming.
The Sky Is Everywhere, Jandy Nelson
“In the months after her sister dies, seventeen-year-old Lennie falls into a love triangle and discovers the strength to follow her dream of becoming a musician.” (library catalogue)
Remember, if you or someone you know is experiencing depression, you can phone The Lowdown on 0800 111 757 or text a counselor for free on 5626 at any time for support, or even just someone to talk to. You can also call Youthline on 0800 37 66 33 or text them on 234. You can text or phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Sneakers : the complete limited editions guide / written and designed by U-Dox.
Sneakers, I guess you either love them or hate, wear them or don’t. But either way you can’t deny their practicality and ubiquity. Their popularity in ‘fashion’ comes and goes. Right now I would say they’re having a moment – 90s revival Stan Smiths, high-fashion Celine / Vans rip-offs, ever-present Converse, high-tech mimimalist Nikes. The library has some new sneaker books for you to enjoy and obsess over. This lovely, glossy Thames and Hudson pictorial above and the newly reprinted classic tome below.
Where’d you get those? : New York City’s sneaker culture, 1960-1987 / Bobbito Garcia.
Documenting more than 400 pairs of sneakers in a highly illustrated, chronological format, this expanded edition includes new sneakers.
The Mark of the Dragonfly, Jaleigh Johnson (386 pages)Piper has never seen the Mark of the Dragonfly until she finds the girl amid the wreckage of a caravan in the Meteor Fields. The girl doesn’t remember a thing about her life, but the intricate tattoo on her arm is proof that she’s from the Dragonfly Territories and that she’s protected by the king. Which means a reward for Piper if she can get the girl home. The one sure way to the Territories is the 401, a great old beauty of a train. But a ticket costs more coin than Piper could make in a year. And stowing away is a difficult prospect–everyone knows that getting past the peculiar green-eyed boy who stands guard is nearly impossible. Life for Piper just turned dangerous. A little bit magical. And very exciting, if she can manage to survive the journey. (Goodreads)
First lines: Micah brought the music box to her on the night of the meteor storm. Piper never slept on these nights, when debris from other worlds feel from the sky. Restlessness kept her awake in bed, staring at the slanted ceiling of her tiny house.
The ring and the crown, Melissa De La Cruz (372 pages)Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?
Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. But even with the aid of Emrys’ magic, Eleanor’s extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen’s Guard. Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie’s face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she’s always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she’s always dreamed of–the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor’s court: trust no one. (Goodreads)
First lines: In 1429, the English army and its formidable magicians were led to victory by their Merlin, Emrys Myrddyn, defeating Charles VI of France and his dark Witch, Jeanne of Arkk. Henry VI was crowned King of England and France. Since the fifteenth century, the sun has never set on the Franco-British Empire.
Afterlife: Book 3 in the Parallon series, Dee Shulman (427 pages)Eva is on the brink of death. Ripped from her own world she’s woken in another, only to discover the devastating truth about the lethal fever she’s been fighting – and the enemy that’s chased her and Seth through time. Now the reckless twenty-first century girl and the fearless Roman gladiator must face the final battle. But it’s not just their love at stake; the fate of the universe is in their hands. (Goodreads)
First lines: “No!” Zackary stared at the cage in horror. How could this be happening to him now? He thought he’d finally cracked this thing. In fact he was so sure this time that he’d virtually written his Nobel Prize acceptance speech. So what the hell was happening to that rat? It was definitely sick.
Burn: Book 3 of the Pure trilogy, Julianna Baggot (418 pages)Inside the Dome, Patridge has taken his father’s place as leader of the Pures. His struggle has led him here, intent upon bringing down the Dome from the inside, with the help of a secret resistance force. But things are not as simple from his new position of power and he finds himself tempted by his father’s words: perhaps if the world is to survive it needs the Dome – and Partridge – to rule it…As Partridge’s resolve weakens, Pressia and Bradwell continue piecing together the clues left to them from the time before the Detonations. It is their hope that they will be able to heal the Wretches, and free them from their monstrous fusings and the Dome’s oppression once and for all. But everything depends, too, on Partridge. Separated by distance and history, can they still trust their friend and ally? Or is the world doomed to an eternity of war and hardship?
First lines: He knows the ending. He can see it almost as clearly as he saw the beginning.
“Start there,” he whispers into the wind. His wings are bulky. The quills ruffle; some drag behind him. He has to tighten his wings against the wind as he walks through the stubble fields toward the stone cliff. He wants to go backward, to tunnel and dig to the little boy he once was.
Fat Boy vs. the cheerleaders, Geoff Herbach (311 pages)When the high school cheerleading team takes over a soda vending machine’s funds, which were previously collected by the pep band, Gabe Johnson, an overweight “band geek” tired of being called names and looked down on, declares war. (Publisher’s summary)
First lines: Ripping off the pop machine last night wasn’t meant to be funny. It was my duty to all the geeks, burners and oddballs in the school because that machine sucks. Robbing it was serious business, okay? Why are you laughing, Mr. Rodriguez?
We were liars, e. Lockhart (225 pages)A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth. (Goodreads)
First lines: Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family. No one is a criminal. No one is an addict. No one is a failure. The Sinclairs are athletic, tall and handsome. We are old-money Democrats. Our smiles are wide, our chins square, and our tennis serves aggressive.
Free to fall, Lauren Miller (469 pages) Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision making for the best personal results. Just like everyone else, sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn knows the key to a happy, healthy life is following what Lux recommends. When she’s accepted to the elite boarding school Theden Academy, her future happiness seems all the more assured. But once on campus, something feels wrong beneath the polished surface of her prestigious dream school. Then she meets North, a handsome townie who doesn’t use Lux, and begins to fall for him and his outsider way of life. Soon, Rory is going against Lux’s recommendations, listening instead to the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore — a choice that leads her to uncover a truth neither she nor the world ever saw coming. (Goodreads)
First lines: It came in a plain white envelope, which made both more and less of its significance. More, because their decision was printed in ink, on thick cotton paper, which felt a little like they’d carved it in stone. Less, because there was nothing about that nondescript rectangle to imply there was life-changing information inside.
We’ve recently splashed out on new copies of 20th century classics for the Young Adult fiction collection, including a couple of new additions:
The Princess Bride, William Goldman. I always get William Goldman and William Golding confused and wonder how the person who wrote Lord of the Flies could have also written The Princess Bride (and how cool if he did), but he didn’t! Details are important! The Princess Bride is a modern classic. It also has the best movie adaptation ever, which you must also watch (possibly after reading the book). Summary from catalogue: “A tale of true love and high adventure, pirates, princesses, giants, miracles, fencing, and a frightening assortment of wild beasts.” What’s not to love?
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath. Not sure if there’s a book more different to The Princess Bride than The Bell Jar? This is Sylvia Plath’s lone novel, first published in 1963 just before she died, and tells the story of Esther and her struggle with depression. “When Esther Greenwood wins an internship on a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer. But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther’s life begins to slide out of control…” (Catalogue summary).
We’ve also got more of To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), The Outsiders (S E Hinton), Lord of the Flies (William Golding), and The Catcher in the Rye (J D Salinger) coming. Look out for them at a library near you very soon!
For more on classic novels visit our Classic Novels (in Haiku) page here.
Additionally, on the subject, we’ve recently ordered:
I Kill the Mockingbird, Paul Acampora. “When Lucy, Elena, and Michael receive their summer reading list, they are excited to see To Kill A Mockingbird included. But not everyone in their class shares the same enthusiasm. So they hatch a plot to get the entire town talking about the well-known Harper Lee classic. They plan controversial ways to get people to read the book, including re-shelving copies of the book in bookstores so that people think they are missing and starting a website committed to ‘destroying the mockingbird.’ Their efforts are successful when all of the hullabaloo starts to direct more people to the book. But soon, their exploits start to spin out of control and they unwittingly start a mini revolution in the name of books.” (goodreads.com)