If you’re familiar with this term: good. If not, let us explain. Galentines is a (soon to be) widely celebrated holiday on the 13th of February, the day before Valentines day. If you’re unlucky in love, or just over the whole idea of Valentines, this is the holiday for you. Invented by the amazing Leslie Knope on the tv show Parks and Recreation, it’s a day to celebrate all your girl pals! No boys allowed. Typically it is celebrated with numerous compliments among friends, needlepoint portraits of one another, and waffles galore! Here’s a picture of our Galentines celebrations from last year:
Excited yet? You should be! In honor of Galentines on Wednesday, we’ve compiled a list of books about great female friendships, which we hope will inspire you to celebrate your own friends.
A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray
This one is a Librarian’s Choice pick by many of us librarians! It’s kind of like a Victorian, elongated Gossip Girl, but with fantasy bits. Gemma Doyle has grown up in India, until she has a spookily true vision of her mother’s death. She is then shipped off to Spence Academy for girls in England, where she encounters an exclusive clique. Rejected by the group as well as her less glamorous roommate Ann, Gemma blackmails herself and Ann into the clique. Gemma soon discovers she has been followed from India by a young man named Kartik, who warns her to fight off her ominous visions. Ignoring Kartik, Gemma has a vision one night of a child-spirit, which leads her to discover her visions transport her to another realm. The other girls find a way to accompany Gemma to other realms, but they find everything is not quite so simple or innocent as it first seems.
Sloppy Firsts, Megan McCafferty
While I was reading this, everyone I talked to about it was grossed out by the title. But I urge everyone to look past that because this book is brilliant! It’s more about an absent friendship and how to deal with the gap it leaves. Hyperobservant Jessica Darling’s best friend Hope has moved away from their home of Pinesville and Jessica feels more lost than ever, now that the only person she could really communicate with is gone. She can barely stand the Clueless Crew, her other so-called “friends”, her dad is obsessed with her track meets, and her mother won’t shut up about Jessica’s sister’s wedding. Everything feels terrible for Jessica, until a chance encounter with the infamous Marcus Flutie, the elusive ginger dropkick of the school, leaves her mind-bogglingly flustered. Slowly their friendship grows, but what would everyone else think if they found out what was really going on between Jessica and Marcus? This is a great bildungsroman and seriously funny. Also, Marcus Flutie has quite a sizeable group of dedicated online fans, google him if you don’t believe us!
A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend, Emily Horner
Sad but uplifting, this book is about both friendship and loss. Cass’s best friend Julia has been working on a secret project for months. When Julia is suddenly killed in a car crash, Julia’s boyfriend and drama friends make it their mission to complete the project: a musical called Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad. Cass doesn’t fit in with the drama kids, and things get infinitely worse when Heather Galloway, the girl that has made her life miserable for years, is cast as the ninja princess. Cass has had enough, so she decides to go through with her original summer plan: a cross-country road trip with Julia. Cass sets off with a bicycle and Julia’s ashes in a Tupperware container for a summer of cleansing, healing and adventure.
Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery
“Marilla and Matthew, two siblings living on Prince Edward Island, Canada, decide to adopt an orphan boy to help out on their farm. But when Matthew goes to pick up the boy from the train station, he is shocked to find little red-headed Anne Shirley, and is instantly taken to her, charmed by her enthusiasm and talent for chattering.” - Goodreads review
A new edition of this book came out recently and some people are not very happy about the cover design. What do you think?
Reunited, Hilary Weisman Graham
Back in middle school, Alice, Summer and Tiernan were best friends. But when their favourite band Level3 split up, so did their friendship. They parted ways into different social paths – popular, rebel and bookworm – but just as they’re getting ready to graduate, Level3 announce a one-time-only reunion show. Now the girls are on a 2000 mile road trip together to see the momentous show. Will their friendship be rekindled or is it over for good?
The Darlings Are Forever, Melissa Kantor
This one’s sort of the opposite of Reunited. Jane, Victoria and Natalya are BFFs with matching necklaces and a motto: “May you always do what you’re afraid of doing.” Then they all begin high school at three different schools across New York, and their friendship seems less certain. Not being together all the time is hard for the girls, and new things are scary when you’re alone. Will their friendship stand the test of time and distance?
Happy Galentines Day everyone!
In historical milestone news, last week (the 28th of January to be exact) marked the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen! It’s a great read with a cast of oddball characters, and it will take up that “classics” spot in your school reading log quite nicely.
200 years is a long time, and there have been a whole bunch of different adaptations and versions of P+P. Here are a few of our faves:
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Of course.
The 2005 movie with Keira Knightley in it. Bingley, please.
Prom & Prejudice, a modern retelling of P+P. Same names and everything! But set in a high school.
The Lizzie Bennett Diaries, an online video series adaptation in the form of vlogs. It is super good! Also, it was co-created and developed by Hank Green of vlogbrothers fame i.e. brother of John Green.
This excellent cartoon summary version.
And finally, this has got to be the prettiest edition of the book ever:
Check it out in real life to see the extent of its prettiness – bright coloured page edges, embossing and a silky matte cover. It’s designed by Jessica Hische (my favourite graphic designer!) and you can see a few more from this series on her website.
Happy P+P anniversary, enjoy in any way you wish!
It’s almost that time again, when the freedom to read is celebrated, and when the Banned Books Week people highlight frequently-challenged books (mostly in the United States, not so much here in New Zealand). The list includes some interesting repeat-offenders, including a couple of old-timers:
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee. First published in 1960 and first challenged in 1966, To Kill a Mockingbird has got staying power, and was number 10 on the list in 2011. Not bad for a 51 year old.
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley. This was first published in 1931, and first banned in Ireland in 1932. Like To Kill a Mockingbird, it’s on the 2011 list (number 7), and is also regarded as a 20th Century classic.
Even classic novels court controversy!
Here are last week’s new books, this week! This week’s new books may be announced this week, or next week. Who can say.
Elixir : A Novel, by Hilary Duff (with Elise Allen) (330 pages) – You may have heard of Hilary Duff – she’s been on the telly and recorded some albums I think – and she now turns her hands to writing a novel. Elixir is about Clea, whose photographs begin to show a ghostly/gorgeous man at about the same time her father, a renowned surgeon, disappears.
First lines: ‘I couldn’t breathe. Wedged in the middle of an ocean of people, I gasped for air, but nothing came.‘
Bamboo People : A Novel, by Mitali Perkins (272 pages) – Chiko is forced into the Burmese army; Tu Reh is a refugee, a member of an oppressed Burmese minority, and he’s keen to join the resistance. The two boys’ stories come to a ‘violent intersection’ and an unlikely friendship forms.
First lines: ‘Teachers wanted. Applicants must take examination in person. Salaries start at -‘
Sugar and Spice : An L. A. Candy Novel, by Lauren Conrad (279 pages) – This is the last book in this series about some TV reality show (much like The Hills which made Conrad famous in the first place).
First line: ‘“Over here!” “Let’s get a shot of the two of you!” “Smile, girls!” Jane Roberts felt hands on her shoulders – her publicist? random PopTV assistants? – maneuver her into place as several paprazzi shouted out to her and Scarlett Harp.‘
The Daughters, by Joanna Philbin (297 pages) – A supermodel’s unconventional-looking daughter becomes “the new face of beauty”. Everyone is surprised but they roll with it. The first in a series.
First line: ‘“Katia!” “Katia!” “Over here!” “Over here!”‘
Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly (471 pages) – Andi is about to be expelled from her swanky Brooklyn school, so goes to Paris with her father as some sort of punishment. She finds a diary writen two centuries previously by a girl, Alexandrine, who became involved with a French prince just as the French Revolution begins. Andi finds comfort and distraction in the journal, until the past ‘becomes terrifyingly real’.
First line: ‘Those who can, do. Those who can’t, deejay.’
Behemoth, by Scott Westerfeld (Illustrations by Keith Thompson) (485 pages) – This is the second book in the Leviathan Trilogy. We wrote about the first book here. This a great read – it has steam-powered mechs, genetically-engineered flying ships, and a Tesla cannon. That’s right – a freaking TESLA CANNON.
First line: ‘Alek raised his sword. “On guard, sir!”‘
Duff : The Designated Ugly Fat Friend, by Kody Keplinger (280 pages) – Seventeen-year-old Bianca detests Wesley, who calls her “the Duff”. Not Hilary Duff! But family troubles and other circumstantial occurences result in the pair becoming more than enemies. Less than enemies? They fall in love, in any case.
First line: ‘This was getting old.’
Scandal, by Kate Brian (228 pages) – The lastest in the Private series. ‘After her terrifying Carribean vacation,’ says the back cover, ‘Reed can’t wait to get back to Easton and resume her normal life of classes, shopping trips and late-night gossip sessions.’ Reed’s in for a shock, however, as Billings house has been demolished and the Billings girls have been separated by the admin.
First line: ‘We came from all corners of campus.‘
Boost, by Kathy Mackel (248 pages) – Savvy is over six feet tall, and only thirteen. When you’re tall everyone asks you if you play basketball over and over, let me tell you, but Savvy actually does play and loves it. But she’s too light! So she turns to steroids.
First line: ‘I stood at the free throw line, all eyes on me.‘
Jane, by April Lindner (373 pages) – This is a modern re-telling of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë’s cheery classic novel. This is set in the present, so Rochester becomes Nico Rathburn, world-famous rockstar, and Jane Moore, an orphaned student-turned-nanny is the protaganist. Sticks to the original story while being ’something totally new and captivating,’ according to Cecily von Ziegesar.
First line: ‘The chairs in the lobby of Discriminating Nannues, Inc., were less comfortable that they looked.’
Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (260 pages) – From the authors of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which is also a movie! Will this be a movie also? Yes, apparently.
First line: ‘Imagine this: you’re in your favourite bookstore, scanning the shelves.‘
The Three Loves of Persimmon, by Cassandra Golds (211 pages) – Persimmon Polidori owns a florist shop in an underground train station. She meets up with a brave little mouse named Epiphany, and undergoes ‘the trials of love, heartbreak, doubt and the discovery of her own true nature.’
First line: ‘In a tiny hole under the train tracks on the deepest level of a vast underground railway station, lived a mouse called Epiphany.‘
The Blue-Eyed Aborigine, by Rosemary Hayes (247 pages) – This historical novel is based on fact; in 1629, the crew of a Dutch ship mutinied and the boat wrecked near Australia. Two of the crew, a cabin boy and a young soldier, survive and their fates are linked with ‘discoveries that intrigue Australians to this day.’
First lines: ‘Jan Pelgrom was miserable. He’d been a cabin boy for more than five years.‘
The Jumbee, by Pamela Keyes (385 pages) – Esti Legard moves to a Caribbean island for her senior year in high school. There she ‘finds herself torn between a mysterious, masked mentor and a seductive island boy’, in a scenario borrowed from the classic novel, The Phantom of the Opera.
First line: ‘“Paul is dead!”‘
The Ghosts of Ashbury High, by Jaclyn Moriarty (480 pages) – The catalogue has this to say: ‘Student essays, scholarship committee members’ notes, and other writings reveal interactions between a group of modern-day students at an exclusive New South Wales high school and their strange connection to a young Irishman transported to Australia in the early 1800s.’
Raised by Wolves, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (418 pages) – At the age of four, Bryn’s parents were killed by bad werewolves. She was taken and raised by good werewolves! Years later she discovers that her pack are keeping secrets. Dark werewolf secrets about her family, that she’s determined to uncover (the secrets, not her family).
First line: ‘“Bronwyn Alessia St. Vincent Clare!”‘
100% Justin Bieber : First Step 2 Forever : My Story, by Justin Bieber (236 pages) – This is the tween pop star’s official autobiography, discussing his rapid rise to power. Where to next for Bieber? It has loads of photos and a reasonable amount of text.
The Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield may be losing his grip on the kids, suggests the New York Times in this here article. Apparently his primary concerns – about phoniness and so on – have dated and aren’t quite as relevant to teens as they once were.
(Read a related post here.)
What’s making the news in the book world at the moment?
Twilight’s very big in France. So much so that French teenagers are also discovering Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (spurred on by Bella’s keen interest). This Guardian article made me laugh – especially the bit where the reader complains that Wuthering Heights is “written in the language of my great grandmother.” Well, yes. Edward’s looking very dapper in the photo too. Haven’t read Wuthering Heights yet? Perhaps you should (warning, book may contain the language of your great great great great grandmother).
If you’re a fan of the House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast check out this article on their latest book, Hunted (which we currently don’t have but will soon). You can also listen to the second chapter, courtesy of MacMillan Young Listeners.
Hot on the heels of Charlie Higson’s popular, specially commissioned Young Bond series (about James Bond when he was studying at Eaton and shortly after), there’s going to be a Young Sherlock Holmes series too (the Guardian again). I’m guessing he won’t be smoking his pipe, but the hat’s actually quite voguish now, and a younger Watson might have a few more clues. Haven’t read The Great Adventures of Sherlock Holmes yet? Perhaps you should.
(For more classic books in the YA collection don’t forget to visit our classic books book list, complete with plot summaries in haiku.)
A new Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book – the sixth – has been commissioned by the estate of its author. There are already five in the series (which began as a trilogy). If you’re not familiar with the books you may have seen the film, which was pretty good, in my opinion. The new book will be written by Eoin Colfer, who wrote the Artemis Fowl series. The original author of the Hitchhiker’s books, Douglas Adams, died in 2001.
The Three Musketeers
Alexandre Dumas, translated by Lord Sudley
Contrary to the title of this classic, the main character, d’Artagnan, is not a Musketeer himself. He goes to Paris to seek his fortune, where he befriends three musketeers, and begins a life of romance and adventure.
When Dumas wrote this in the 1800s (Lord Sudley notes in the introduction) he was using “modern language”, rather than that of the 1600s (the era in which the tale is set). Still, it’s sometimes hard to understand!
Although daring, The Three Musketeers is lacking in emotion. Still, the fact that it’s harder to relate to doesn’t make it any less appealing.
~ Mereana (13)
Anne of Green Gables turns one hundred this year, and to celebrate an extensive website has been put together. It has an introduction to Anne, a list of Anne books (and there are lots), and an Anne quiz. If you’re new to the Anne of Green Gables books you will want to read from the beginning, which the library – believe it or not – has for you. If you don’t want to read it, you can always watch the television series (and two sequels).
An Anne book was written and published this year; Before Green Gables, a prequel to the original book.
For more links and news, check out Blogging Anne of Green Gables.
Monday (yes, I know I’m two days late) was Bastille Day. Celebrating the storming of the Bastille (a prison in Paris used by the unpopular monarchy to lock dissidents up) in 1789 , effectively kicking off the French Revolution and the beginning of modern France, Bastille Day is a pretty big celebration.
The French Revolution is, like many historical events, a great setting for a story. Read about Marie Antoinette’s journey to France in Marie Antoinette : Princess of Versailles, or watch the recent film, Marie Antoinette. (Neither depict her demise, happily.) Dip into the classics with The Scarlet Pimpernel, heroic rescuer of hunted aristocrats;and A Tale of Two Cities, about a heroic rescuer of another hunted aristocrat. Cat Royal larks it up in revolutionary France in Den of Thieves; a young English highwaywoman finds herself in revolutionary France in Sovay; and in The Red Necklace, the hunted daughter of an aristocrat is heroically rescued.
Au revoir, les enfants.