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Classic novels




  • Classic novels, dystopia, New, Nicola, Sci Fi

    New books

    06.06.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWait for me, Caroline Leech

    On her father’s farm in Scotland in 1945, Lorna Anderson’s life consists of endless chores, rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Laura is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country? But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him — from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany — the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate. (Publisher information).

    First lines: Lorna Anderson was ankle deep in muck and milk. And she was late. Again. She really didn’t have time to clean up yet another of Nellie’s messes and still make it to school before the bell. Of course, this wasn’t the first time Lorna had somewhere important to be, yet here she was, broom in hand.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSeeking Mansfield, Kate Watson

    Sixteen-year-old Finley Price has perfected two things: how to direct a world-class production, and how to fly way, way under the radar. The only person who ever seems to notice Finley is her best friend and godparents’ son, Oliver Bertram. Since Finley moved in with her godparents after the death of her father, she and Oliver have grown close. If Finley could just take Oliver’s constant encouragement to heart and step out of the shadows, she’d finally chase her dream of joining the prestigious Mansfield Theater. But when teen movie stars Emma and Harlan Crawford move across the street from the Bertrams, they shake up Finley and Oliver’s stable friendship. As Emma and Oliver grow closer, Finley realizes that Harlan’s attention is shifting to her. She discovers she might have feelings for him too. Or, is she only interested in Harlan because Oliver is taken? Finley doesn’t want to be won, and she doesn’t want to see Oliver with anyone else. To claim Oliver’s heart – and keep her own – she’ll have to find the courage to do what she fears most: step into the spotlight. (Publisher information).

    First lines: Finley Price was a fool. She stared at her computer screen with a dry mouth, absent-mindedly rubbing one of the small, circular scars branded into her right shoulder. The words “Mansfield Theatre Youth Application” mocked her in bold font, as if they knew she didn’t deserve the spot.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsContagion, Teri Terry

    An epidemic is sweeping the country. There is no cure; and you cannot be permitted to infect others. The very few of the infected who survive are dangerous and will be taken into the custody of the army. Young runaway Callie survived the disease, but not the so-called treatment. Her brother Kai is still looking for her. And his new friend Shay may hold the key to uncovering what truly happened. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Erooo…Erooo…Erooo…
    Alarms reverberate through my skull, high-pitched and insistent. I scramble out of bed. Disbelief fights reality; how do you think the unthinkable? The fail-safes have failed. This is really happening.
    Run.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThick as thieves, Megan Whalen Turner

    Kamet, a secretary and slave to his Mede master, has the ambition and the means to become one of the most powerful people in the Empire. But with a whispered warning the future he envisioned is wrenched away, and he is forced onto a very different path. (Publisher information).

    First lines: It was midday and the passageway quiet and cool. The stone walls kept out the heat while the openings near the high ceilings admitted some of the sun’s fierce light. Midday, and the houseboy was gone on an errand, probably stealing a nap somewhere, so I was alone at the door, to my master’s apartments, holding my head my hand and cursing myself for an idiot.


  • Classic novels, From the Stacks, Great Reads, Librarian's Choice, Nicola, Real Life, Real Problems, realistic fiction

    From the stacks

    03.06.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on From the stacks

    I’ve talked about our stack collection before and I promised to make it a (semi) regular feature, so here’s more picks from our YA stack collection. This time I’m highlighting some novels about teenagers facing the complexities of their lives.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTree by leaf, Cynthia Voight

    Clothide is troubled; her father, a veteran of the First World War, has become a recluse. Her brother is away for the Summer and her beloved friend, the family servant, Lou, has been dismissed by her mother. On top of this, her family are talking about selling the peninsula where they live. Clothilde wishes and prays for life to be different; but she finds the cost of these wishes is almost beyond paying. It’s a beautiful novel, which looks at love, life and relationships to the land you call home.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDeliver us from Evie, M.E. Kerr

    Everyone’s talking about Evie Burrman and nothing good. In a small, conservative town this has serious implications for her family. It’s narrated by Evie’s brother Parr, who’s torn between his love for his sister and his need for acceptance. Evie is a wonderful, interesting character in her own right, who stands firm in belief to be true to herself. This book was published in 1994, so some of the writing and attitudes may seem a bit dated, but it’s sensitive and tender – a LGBTQ classic for a reason.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe year they burned the books, Nancy Garden

    Teenagers and adults clash over sex education in this novel, set in a small town. The staff at the school newspaper fight amongst themselves about how to deal with this; issues about freedom of speech, belief and freedom are all debated, and some of the characters have higher stakes in this than others. At its core it is a struggle between what the teen characters want to decide for themselves and what the adults want to decide for them – a topic that is still relevant today. Although that cover hasn’t aged nearly as well!

    The pigman, Paul Zindel

    There are some books that just stay with you, and The Pigman is one of them. Two teenagers entangle their lives with that of a lonely old man, all of them seeking a respite from loneliness. But external circumstances and their own frailty have tragic consequences. It was written in 1968, but still feels incredibly modern in its approach to characters and story.


  • Classic novels, Comedy, dystopia, New, Nicola

    New books

    25.11.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsUnboxed, Non Pratt

    Unboxed is about four teenagers who come together after several months apart. In previous years, they had put together a time capsule about their best summer with a friend who was dying. Now that their friend has passed, they reunite to open the box.(Goodreads)

    First lines: It seems worse to break a promise to the dead than it does to break one made to the living. Why else would I be standing by the gates of my old school waiting for a bunch of strangers I used to call friends? Ben, Dean, Millie, Zara. Me-Alix. Five friends, five years…it feels like a lifetime.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOur chemical hearts, Krystal Sutherland

    Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love that he’s been hoping for just hasn’t been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything’s about to change. Grace isn’t who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys’ clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It’s obvious there’s something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn’t your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland’s brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love. (Goodreads)

    First lines: I always thought the moment you met the great love of your life would be more like the movies. Not exactly like the movies, obviously, with the slow-mo and the hair blwoing in the breeze and the swelling instrumental soundtrack. But I at least thought there would be something, you know?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFoulsham, Edward Carey

    Foulsham, London’s great filth repository, is bursting at the seams. The walls that keep the muck in are buckling, rubbish is spilling over the top, back into the city that it came from. In the Iremonger family offices, Grandfather Umbitt Iremonger broods: in his misery and fury at the people of London, he has found a way of making everyday objects assume human shape, and the real people into objects. Abandoned in the depths of the Heaps, Lucy Pennant has been rescued by a terrifying creature, Binadit Iremonger, more animal than human. She is desperate and determined to find Clod. But unbeknownst to her, Clod has become a golden sovereign and ‘lost’. He is being passed as currency from hand to hand all around Foulsham, and yet everywhere people are searching for him, desperate to get hold of this dangerous Iremonger, who, it is believed, has the power to bring the mighty Umbitt down. But all around the city, things, everyday things, are twitching into life… (Goodreads)

    First lines: They told me I was the only child in the whole great building, but I wasn’t. I knew I wasn’t. I heard them sometimes, the other children. I heard them calling out somewhere down below.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe secret diary of Lydia Bennet, Natasha Farrant

    Lydia is the youngest of the five Bennet girls. She’s stubborn, never listens, and can’t seem to keep her mouth shut–not that she would want to anyway. She’s bored with her country life and wishes her older sisters would pay her attention . . . for once! Luckily, the handsome Wickham arrives at Longbourn to sweep her off her feet. Lydia’s not going to let him know THAT, of course, especially since he only seems to be interested in friendship. But when they both decide to summer in the fasionable seaside town of Brighton, their paths become entangled again. At the seaside, Lydia also finds exciting new ways of life and a pair of friends who offer her a future she never dreamed of. Lydia finally understands what she really wants. But can she get it? (Goodreads)

    First lines: I am fifteen years old today, and this journal was a present from Mary. She says I must write in it every day to improve my mind.
    “Whatever for,” Mamma cried, “when she is so pretty?”
    Father asked, “Are we even certain Lydia has a mind?”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe diabolic, S.J Kincaid

    A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.

    Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe. When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Everyone believed Diabolics were fearless, but in my earliest years, all I knew was fear. It preyed on me the very morning the Impryreans viewed me in the corrals. I couldn’t speak, but I understood most words I heard.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGirl in the shadows, Gwenda Bond

    Eighteen-year-old Moira Mitchell grew up in the shadows of Vegas’s stage lights while her father’s career as a magician soared. More than anything, Moira wants to be a magician too, but her father is dead set against her pursuing magic. When an invitation to join the Cirque American mistakenly falls into Moira’s possession, she takes action. Instead of giving the highly coveted invitation to its intended recipient, Raleigh, her father’s handsome and worldly former apprentice, Moira takes off to join the Cirque. If she can perform alongside its world-famous acts, she knows she’ll be able to convince her dad that magic is her future. But when Moira arrives, things take on an intensity she can’t control as her stage magic suddenly feels like…real magic. To further distract her, Raleigh shows up none too pleased at Moira’s presence, all while the Cirque’s cocky and intriguing knife thrower, Dez, seems to have it out for her. As tensions mount and Moira’s abilities come into question, she must decide what’s real and what’s an illusion. If she doesn’t sort it out in time, she may forever remain a girl in the shadows. (Goodreads)

    First lines: I was waiting in the winds backstage at the Menagerie Hotel and Casino, preparing the equipment for my first stage illusion. Straightjackeet, check. Oversized timer and mood-music speakers, check. And most important, transparent coffin, check.


  • Classic novels, From the Stacks, Great Reads, Librarian's Choice, Mysteries, New Zealand, Nicola, Nostalgia

    From the stacks

    02.11.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on From the stacks

    Did you know that we have a secret area of the library known as the stacks? It’s where we keep:

    *Items that are still in demand which are in a deteriorating condition and cannot be replaced.
    *Out of print items of special interest.
    *Classic titles or titles by classic authors in a deteriorating condition of which replacement editions cannot be readily sourced.
    *Valuable editions of titles.
    *Copies of fiction titles written by major ‘Prize’ winning authors.

    (From our Collection development policy)

    It’s a treasure trove of awesome books which really need a bit more love. You can get these books by reserving them or going up to the second floor and asking at the desk. Here are a few of my favourites. There’s a fair amount in the stack, so I may make this a regular feature.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWatermark, Penelope Todd

    In a month or so we’ll be hitting a record breaking summer. Or at least, we hope so! This is an incredible novel about a summer that’s as wonderful and strange as any you could ever live. Zillah, an eighteen year old who’s having doubts about the future that her life so far have been building to – something has to break. So she heads off, away from safety, to a place suggested by a mysterious letter. There she meets an enigmatic brother and sister. Events take a turn for the dangerous as both the natural world and the people around her move in their own mysterious patterns. There are two sequels; Dark and Zillah.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMontmorency, Eleanor Updale

    A young thief gets a second chance – of sorts – when a doctor decides that rather than consign the unammed man to death, he’ll try a series of experiments to rebuild his shattered body. The man that results from this is named Mortmorency. Mortmorency is clever and quick and tries to engineer his escape, but there are parts of his life that he can’t quite leave behind. Mortmorency’s set in Victorian London, so a literal world away from Watermark.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe sea-wreck stranger, Anna Mackenzie

    Ness is a young woman struggles against the inflexible traditions of her island society. She has the sea in her blood, or so she says, in a place that hates and fears the sea. A stranger washes up with the tide, and suddenly her future becomes even more uncertain and dangerous than she could have imagined. The world that MacKenzie has written is completely fictitious yet familiar and realistic. It’s one of the best novels I’ve read in a while – which makes me happy to have looked in the stacks in the first place!

    Spider Mansion, Caroline MacDonald

    I wasn’t prepared for how creepy I’d find this novel. It’s a simple enough premise: the Day family run a business out of their home, a beautiful historic home. The Todd family come to stay…and don’t leave. The Todds exert a strange hold over the Days, and tensions escalate and events spiral out of control.


  • Classic novels, Great Reads, halloween countdown, Horror, Librarian's Choice, Nicola, Short stories

    Halloween series: short story collections

    10.10.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on Halloween series: short story collections

    I enjoy settling in with a long novel as much as the next horror fan, but sometimes I like short stories: they’re like the jump scares of scary books. Here are some great collections.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsExtremities: stories of death, murder, and revenge, David Lubar

    David Lubar’s better known as a writer for younger readers but this definitely belongs in the YA section. Despite the title, some of these stories have a sly, dark humour – but that doesn’t make them any less disturbing.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsScary stories, illustrated by Barry Moser with an introduction by Peter Glassman

    This is a collection of “classic” horror stories – Roald Dahl, H.P Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and our very own Margaret Mahy have stories in here and it’s a good introduction to the other -but perhaps less well known to YA audiences- horror writers such as Saki and Ambrose Bierce. If you’re wanting more names to help broaden your reading. The illustrations are simple black and white – but are creepy as anything.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSlasher girls and monster boys, stories selected by April Genevieve Tucholke

    There are some impressive names from YA literature in this collection; Marie Lu and Carrie Ryan to name just two. A more contemporary take on horror themed short stories, I have no doubt these will keep you up past bedtime…

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBlack Juice, Margo Lanagan

    Margo Lanagan’s short stories aren’t scary in the conventional sense; there may be things that go bump in the night but more often than not they depict a muted, interior sense of unease that will persist long after you put the book down. Horror doesn’t always come the paranormal – often it’s humanity that shapes a hostile world. Lanagan also has three more short story collections availible; White time, Red Spikes and Yellowcake.


  • Classic novels, Great Reads, Grimm, Horror, Mysteries, New Zealand, Nicola

    Halloween series: Books about witches

    05.10.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on Halloween series: Books about witches

    We’ve got a lot books about witches – usually not about the terrible things that green skinned old ladies do when they cackle over cauldrons (although I’m not excluding them) – but about accusations of witchcraft, noble witches and many more besides.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWitch child, Celia Rees

    This is not only one of my favourite books about witches, it’s one of my favourite novels full stop. Mary Newbury is a young woman who sees her grandmother executed for witchcraft; seeking safety, she flees to America with the first wave of Puritans. Unfortunately, she finds that suspicion and superstition are as rife in the New World as they were back home. It’s told in diary format. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll leave it to you to read the book: it’s beautifully written, tense and intelligent. It has a raft of awards, but surely a librarian’s recommendation is all the convincing you need. .

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe raging quiet, Sherryl Jordan

    A book from a New Zealand author – and a fantastic one at that. Marnie is married off to support her family; unfortunately her husband’s death, a vicious community and her friendship with a man believed to be the local “idiot” result in an accusation of witchcraft. Again, a tense and intelligent novel about the dangers of superstition and fear – but also a tender and unsentimental novel about finding love and happiness in a climate of fear.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSea hearts, Margo Lanagan

    I’ve long been a fan of Margo Lanagan – her short story collections Black Juice, Yellowcakes and Red Spikes are probably some of the best we have in the library. So I was pretty excited to find out that she also writes novels. Tender Morsels is amazing, but I’d suggest that Sea Hearts is the one you really want to pick up – well, if you’re looking for books on witches, anyway. Misskaella is a witch (a real one) who has the power to make women from the seals that surround their remote island. Based on the selkie myth, this is a powerful novel about love, magic and consequences.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTripswitch, Gaelyn Gordon

    Three orphaned cousins go to live with their sinister aunt and then discover that things (of course) are definitely not as they seem. It’s nice to find a book about a witch in a more modern context – but the fear and horror generated by Aunt Lureene doesn’t lose anything by being removed from a historical setting. I’m always excited to find books by New Zealand authors. Gaelyn Gordon was an excellent writer (she sadly passed away in 1998) and her books deserve to be better known among the new generations of readers.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAkata witch, Nnedi Okorafor

    Another modern witch story! Nnedi Okorafor is an award-winning novelist – so I was pretty excited to find this book in our collection! I hadn’t read it before this post, and I’m cursing (hah) myself now: it’s not only a great book that focusses on Nigerian witchcraft. It’s a breath of fresh air, and the heroine, Sunny, is fantastic. She not only has to deal with her burgeoning powers but the difficulties that come with Albinism in Nigeria. This book has won one award and been selected for two more, for good reason. If you only read one book on this list, make it this one.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBaba Yaga’s assistant, Marika McCoola ; illustrated by Emily Carroll.

    Baba Yaga’s my favourite witch and Emily Carroll’s my favourite comic book artist so this graphic novel appearing in the new books section was a great surprise. Baba Yaga’s house on chicken feet is pretty iconic but not many people can name a fairy tale with her in it. And this is another modern story about witches! Masha must undergo a series of tests to make sure she survives the witch and her sinister house.Luckily she’s heard a lot of the stories before, which helps her in her battle with the witch. But Baba Yaga has other plans for Masha, too…


  • Classic novels, dystopia, Espionage, Graphic Novels, Horror, Nicola, Sci Fi

    New books

    09.09.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLong dark dusk, JP Smythe

    The moment she learned the horrible truth about her life on Australia, the derelict ship overrun with violent gangs, Chan Aitch made it her mission to save everyone she could from their fate worse than death. But her efforts were in vain. Now, everyone she cares about is dead or in prison, and Chan is more alone than ever before. As the only person to have escaped Australia’s terrible crash-landing back to Earth, Chan is now living in poverty on the fringes of a huge city. She believes Mae, the little girl she once rescued on the Australia, is still alive – but she has no idea where Mae is, or how to find her. Everything on Earth is strange and new, and Chan has never felt more lost. But she’ll do whatever it takes to find Mae, even if it means going to prison herself. She’s broken out of prison before. How hard could it be to do it again? (Goodreads)

    First lines: She says that her name is Alala, but I’m not sure if I believe her. She says that it has a meaning, that in the language her ancestors spoke it would carry some weight, but she doesn’t know what it is now. Nobody remembers. It’s a word that has been lost, from a language that went under the sea.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhat I couldn’t tell you, Faye Bird

    When love turns to jealousy, when jealousy turns to rage, when rage turns to destruction…Laura was head over heels in love with Joe. But now Laura lies in a coma and Joe has gone missing. Was he the one who attacked her? Laura’s sister Tessie is selectively mute. She can’t talk but she can listen. And as people tell her their secrets, she thinks she’s getting close to understanding what happened on that fateful night. (Goodreads)

    First lines:
    “I love you.”
    She said it.
    She just said it.
    She’d been waiting to say it, and there it was.

    The fail safe, Jack Heath

    Everyone seems to know who Fero is – except Fero. Is he a ruthless boy soldier from Besmar, or an innocent teen recruit from Kamau? He’s running out of time to decide. If he doesn’t help a renegade spy steal a politician’s briefcase, his two countries could end up in a full blown nuclear war – the kind that no one wins. (Goodreads)

    First lines:
    “Why are we doing this?” Fero asked.
    “Because potassium iodide stops radiation from-”
    “From reaching the thyroid gland. You said. But won’t the shelter protect us.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStreet soldier, Andy McNab

    Sean Harker is good at two things: stealing cars and fighting. One earns him money, the other earns him respect from the gang that he calls family.
    A police chase through the city streets is just another rite of passage for Sean . . . as is getting nicked. But a brutal event behind bars convinces him to take charge, and turn his life around. Now he must put his street skills to the ultimate test: as a soldier in the British Army. And the battlefield is London, where innocent people are being targeted by a new and terrifying enemy. Undercover, under threat – only Sean Harker can save the streets from all-out war. (Goodreads)

    First lines: A helicopter roared in enemy airspace. Its searchlight speared out of the warm night and swept over the rooftop. Sean Harker swore and ducked into the shadow of an air vent.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe last descendants, Matthew J. Kirby

    Nothing in Owen’s life has been right since his father died in prison, accused of a crime Owen is certain he didn’t commit. Monroe, the IT guy at school, might finally bring Owen the means to clear his father’s name by letting him use an Animus — a device that lets users explore the genetic memories buried within their own DNA. The experience brings Owen more than he bargained for. During a simulation, Owen uncovers the existence of an ancient and powerful relic long considered legend — the Trident of Eden. Now two secret organizations will stop at nothing to take possession of this artefact — the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar Order. It soon becomes clear to Owen that the only way to save himself is to find the Trident first. Under the guidance of Monroe, Owen and a group of other teenagers enter a simulation of memories they all share within their DNA: the 1863 draft riots in New York City. Owen and his companions will find themselves tested on the gritty streets of New York, and their experiences in the past will have far-reaching consequences in the present. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The informant cleared his throat across the dinner table, his long frock coat unbuttoned, his hair greased and curled at his temples. Evening had quickly overtaken the townhouse, and the man had emptied his plate before delivering his message.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAn unexpected hero, L.P Hansen

    What could be worse, Matt Turner wonders, than having to leave your parents, friends and the buzz of big city life for a remote rural school that’s so small it only has two classrooms, and two teachers who are married to each other? The twelve-year old soon finds out that worse things can happen. A school project plunges him into his worst nightmare – he has to make a speech in public. Matt decides to speak about New Zealand’s First World War pacifist, Archibald Baxter. But is that a good idea in a district where almost every family has lost someone to war?” (Back cover)

    First lines: Matt rummaged in his backpack, pretending to be looking for something so he could be the last one getting on the bus. It was his first morning at this country school, so he could be the last one getting on the bus.

    Addendum:

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIt was with a heavy heart that I discovered that, a week after my post on Mary Shelley, a graphic adaptation of Frankenstein – “Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein” appeared on the new books shelf. Bad timing! But then this has to be one of the best graphic adaptations of any classic novel I’ve ever read. It takes text directly from Frankenstein, and the illustrator/editor, Gris Grimly, is an amazing artist. The art itself has a gothic, vaguely steampunk vibe; Boris Karloff eat your heart out, because this is the best depiction of the ‘monster’ I’ve ever seen. Please, please, if you’ve got any interest in Frankenstein, pick this one up.


  • Author Spotlight, Books, Classic novels, Horror, Nicola

    Mary Shelley and Frankenstein

    01.09.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on Mary Shelley and Frankenstein

    I’ve been remiss in my duties – I completely missed Tuesday was the 219th anniversary of the birth of the great Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein. Not only did she write Frankenstein -argued to be the first science fiction novel ever- she had a fascinating life. Her mother was the great Mary Wollstonecraft, an early proto-feminist who wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in which she argued for equality in education in men and women. Sadly, her mother died shortly after Mary was born. But the rest of her life was no less interesting. She flouted convention by running off with the still-married poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Their social circle included the notorious Lord Byron and John William Polidori, creator of perhaps the first vampire story in modern fiction (although the authorship is still debated today.)

    The genesis of Frankenstein began during a sojourn by Lake Geneva. Lord Byron proposed that each of the guests each write a ghost story. Mary struggled for some time, but eventually, after a strange dream, began to write Frankenstein. She was only eighteen at the time, which is pretty impressive. The rest of her life was pretty hard; she had to deal with the death of her husband, some of her children, and debt. But Frankenstein remains a classic. And of course I have recommendations! Frankenstein is a great source of inspiration for writers.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFrankenstein, or, The modern prometheus, Mary Shelley

    Of course I have to start with the book that started it all. It’s not just a straightforward science fiction story; it looks at the possibilities and potential abuses of scientific knowledge, questions of personhood as well as guilt and responsibility. Frankenstein’s “monster” is not the green-faced, bolt-necked, incoherent monster of the movies. Rather he’s able to articulate his suffering as on outcast in a way that still resonates: “I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHideous love : the story of the girl who wrote Frankenstein, Stephanie Hemphill

    This book tells the story of Mary Shelley herself; her life from her childhood to the death of her husband. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking novel told in free verse poetry. Don’t let that put you off picking it up, though – not a word is wasted. It’s sparse and beautiful and affecting – much more than any other biography of Mary Shelley I’ve read.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMan made boy, Jon Skovron

    What if Frankenstein’s monster and the Bride of Frankenstein had a son? Simply called Boy, he struggles to fit in with The Show, a refuge for other strange (mostly magical) creatures. He longs for a life outside, so makes the decision to leave – then goes on a road trip, while struggling to deal with a creation of his own. There’s also a sequel, This broken wondrous world.


  • Classic novels, Comedy, Fantasy, Librarian's Choice, Shakespeare

    Will Shakespeare was a boss

    16.03.15 | Permalink | 1 Comment

    Hey cool cats – school’s back which is great because knowledge is important. I mean Herminone Granger was the true hero of the Harry Potter series.

    For those of you who are wanting to extend your mega minds – I’ve got a list of epic Shakespearean-themed stories.

    If you’re feeling like the cleverest kid in town don’t limit yourself to just reading retellings of the classic plays. Shakespeare’s own writing is moving and hilarious. Just check out how mad he was with writing insults:

    “Thou art as loathsome as a toad!” Titus Andronicus

    “Away you three-inch-fool!” Taming of the Shrew

    “Thou art a boil, a plague sore!” King Lear

    “You, minion, are too saucy,” The Two Gentlemen of Verona

    “Thou art as fat as butter!” Henry IV Part One

    Here’s a list of retellings for all you Shakespearean fiends:

    “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope” by Ian Doescher.
    Star Wars meets Shakespeare – I can’t think of anything better. “The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ’Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearsome Stormtroopers, signifying…pretty much everything.” (Goodreads)

    “As You Wish” by Jackson Pearce.
    “Ever since Viola’s boyfriend broke up with her, she has spent her days silently wishing—to have someone love her again and, more importantly, to belong again—until one day she inadvertently summons a young genie out of his world and into her own. He will remain until she makes three wishes. Jinn is anxious to return home, but Viola is terrified of wishing, afraid she will not wish for the right thing, the thing that will make her truly happy. As the two spend time together, the lines between master and servant begin to blur, and soon Jinn can’t deny that he’s falling for Viola. But it’s only after Viola makes her first wish that she realizes she’s in love with Jinn as well . . . and that if she wishes twice more, he will disappear from her life—and her world—forever.” (Goodreads)

    “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead” by Tom Stoppard.
    This comedic play would be ideal if you were looking for something cool to do in Drama class. “Hamlet told from the worm’s-eye view of two minor characters, bewildered Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Echoes of Waiting for Godot resound, reality and illusion mix, and where fate leads heroes to a tragic but inevitable end.” (Goodreads)

    “Ophelia” by Lisa M Klein.
    This looks awesome. “In this re-imagining of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, it is Ophelia who takes centre stage. A rowdy, motherless girl, she grows up at Elsinore Castle to become the queen’s most trusted lady-in-waiting. She catches the attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, and their love blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of madness, and ultimately, Ophelia must choose between her love for Hamlet and her own life.” (Goodreads)

    “Wondrous Strange” by Lesley Livingston.
    “17 year-old Kelley Winslow doesn’t believe in Faeries. Not unless they’re the kind that you find in a theatre, spouting Shakespeare—the kind that Kelley so desperately wishes she could be: onstage, under lights, with a pair of sparkly wings strapped to her shoulders. But as the understudy in a two-bit, hopelessly off-off-Broadway production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, wishing is probably the closest she’s going to get to becoming a Faerie Queen. At least, that’s what she thinks… In this fun, urban fantasy, Kelley’s off-stage life suddenly becomes as complicated as one of Shakespeare’s plot twists when a nighttime trip to Central Park holds more than meets the mortal eye.” (Goodreads) Also available for download from OverDrive! eBooks are cool as.

    “King of Shadows” by Susan Cooper.
    “Only in the world of the theatre can Nat Field find an escape from the tragedies that have shadowed his young life. So he is thrilled when he is chosen to join an American drama troupe traveling to London to perform “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in a new replica of the famous Globe theater. Shortly after arriving in England, Nat goes to bed ill and awakens transported back in time four hundred years — to another London, and another production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Amid the bustle and excitement of an Elizabethan theatrical production, Nat finds the warm, nurturing father figure missing from his life — in none other than William Shakespeare himself. Does Nat have to remain trapped in the past forever, or give up the friendship he’s so longed for in his own time?” (Goodreads)


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