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Category: Classic novels Page 1 of 4

Doing Classics at School? We got ya!

So, school is still a thing? Right?! I’m betting it is pretty hard to do school stuff from home as well as be around your family/bubble crew all day, as well as deal with what’s going on in the world. Lots of stuff happening, we can all agree. As I’m sure you know your teachers are doing everything they can in these hard times to keep your education ticking so be sure to say a massive thank you to the teachers in your life whenever you get a chance!

I thought I would put together a list of resources for anyone who is a CLASSICS student and is studying The Big Three.

Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, you ask?… (remembering the good ‘ol days of Percy Jackson)

No. The Odyssey, The Iliad and The Aeneid. These are three really common texts for senior High School Classics students to come across. If you’re doing something else at school -I’m sorry!- I’ll include some general resources in the bottom of this post.

Note: just like Shakespeare there are lots of different versions of ancient texts, with different page numbers, line numbers and even order of events. If you remember that a lot of these works are actually works of epic poetry it makes sense that depending on interpretation there might be quite different methods of presentation.  Remembering that some of it is poetry helps with reading it too, stick to the beat and rhyme rather than getting caught up in all the particulars and then later on go back and look up individual words you need to.

So: Check with your teacher what version of the text you are meant to be using!!!

Also: Heads up! Lots of ancient texts contain stories and imagery of violence and sexual violence, so look after yourself and check ratings of stuff (or avoid it completely if you need, talk to your teacher) if you are watching film versions.


Odyssey / Homer

Overdrive coverMini bio: Odysseus, after fighting in the Trojan War, tries to return back home to Ithaca and his wife Penelope, but because a lot of weird stuff happens to him, it takes ten years…you heard that right: ten years! 

  • This is a foundational example of a heroes quest.         
  • Odysseus is repeatedly shown to have the traits of Ancient Greek heroism through the ways that he defeats and overcomes the trials/tasks of his journey.
  • This story has been incredibly influential on storytelling since and is considered a fundamental text in our understanding of the time and ideas around manhood, heroism and what a quest is. In the end this is ultimately an adventure romp with villains, monsters, hot women with ulterior motives and a fair bit of magic.
  • In the context of this time and story, Odysseus’ decisions (somehow including the seven year fling) are meant to show that he is ultimately faithful to his his wife and overcomes temptation. I know, I know…MASSIVE double standards for men and women around sex and marriage… but back then they thought he did good!

The Iliad / Homer

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Wee bit back in time from The Odyssey. Essentially a prequel to it with overlapping characters but different leads. Takes place during the Trojan War.

Mini bio: This book is set in the final weeks of the Trojan War, which if you think about it it a pretty interesting plot device, to start at the end of something. Lots of previous events are spoken of and implied but not shown. Essentially the Greeks are surrounding Troy because Paris, a prince of Troy took Menelaus, the King of Sparta’s wife Helen back with him from Greece to Troy. She is ‘the most beautiful woman in the world blah blah blah.’ Spoiler: the Greek side wins because of the horse, you know the rest. It’s in pop culture big time.

Featuring famous characters like: our old friend Odysseus, Achilles, Hector, Paris, Helen, many other mortals and a whole bunch of gods such as Zeus, Hera, Athena, Aphrodite…

If you want to see a film version of this with some seriously famous leads watch 2004’s TROY. Not a substitute for reading the text, the plot varies a bit, but a pretty fun movie.


The Aeneid / Virgil

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While the other two are GREEK stories this one is ROMAN. This story is written to detail the story of the founding of Rome. So basically when the Greeks storm Troy via a very crafty wooden horse, most of the Trojans are killed but Aeneas gets together a group of survivors who escape and sail out of Troy go on an adventure and eventually make it to Italy where he founds Rome. Dido, who is the Queen of Carthage falls in love with Aeneas for a period, eventually the gods remind him of his destiny and he leaves her to continue on his journey to Italy.

Importantly this story has as much to do with the Roman politician and ruler at the time, AUGUSTUS, as it does the foundation of Rome. There are constantly parallels made between Augustus and Aeneas and the Roman political state of the time this text was being written. It can be understood as political propaganda in this way, a statement and praise of Virgil’s political moment in time. This said, Virgil’s motives and ideas are not that straightforward and he also uses this text to comment negatively on the politics of his time, it’s a double whammy.


In summary

Episode one: The Iliad, The Greek armies win the war against Troy with a wooden horse. Lots of other stuff happens.

Episode two: The Odyssey, Odysseus takes a really ridiculously long amount of time to get home after fighting in the Trojan War. He does get home eventually. Lots of stuff happens.

Episode three (takes place at the same time as The Odyssey, kind of in a wiggly ancient history way, well at least starts after the Trojan War like The Odyssey): The Aeneid, Aeneas takes a really ridiculously long time to get to Italy and found Rome after he escapes from Troy after the Trojan War. Lots of other stuff happens.

If you want to learn things and read something entertaining check out Stephen Fry’s Mythos and Heroes! For something less serious, Courtney Carbone’s Greek Gods (#squadgoals) really hits the spot.

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From Broadway to Bookshelf

We all know how it is. One minute you’re idly searching Spotify for your next musical theatre fix. The next minute it’s 3am and you’re four months deep into a dangerous obsession with Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill musical soundtrack and you can’t stop singing the alto part to “You Learn” over and over again even though you’ve been kicked out of home because no one wants to listen to that much alto. It’s fine, you tell yourself. All I need is Alanis. The world of jukebox musicals will keep me warm at night.

Dear reader, it is true that we all need Alanis. But we also need a balanced cultural diet that includes reading material and audiobooks to keep us off the streets. That’s where the library’s OverDrive collection comes into play again. Read on for a juicy selection of some of our musical theatre-related reads to keep you on the straight and narrow when all seems lost to the world of the musical soundtrack album.

Overdrive cover The Movie Musical!, Jeanine Basinger (ebook)
This book is an in-depth look at the singing, dancing, happy-making world of Hollywood musicals, beautifully illustrated in color and black-and-white—an essential text for anyone who’s ever laughed, cried, or sung along at the movies. Leading film historian Jeanine Basinger reveals, with her trademark wit and zest, the whole story of the Hollywood musical, from Fred Astaire, whom she adores, to La La Land, which she deplores. Whether analyzing a classic Gene Kelly routine, relishing a Nelson-Jeanette operetta, or touting a dynamic hip hop number (in the underrated Idlewild), Basinger is a canny and charismatic guide to the many ways that song and dance have been seen—and heard—on film. (adapted from OverDrive description)

Overdrive cover Dear Evan Hansen, Val Emmich (Audiobook)
A simple lie leads to complicated truths in this big-hearted coming-of-age story of grief, authenticity and the struggle to belong in an age of instant connectivity and profound isolation. This audiobook version of the novel based on the incredible 2015 musical by Pasek, Paul and Levenson is beautifully narrated by Ben Levi Ross (Evan Hansen, US Tour), Mike Faist (Connor Murphy, original cast), and Mallory Bechtel (Zoe Murphy, original cast) in this incredibly personal and human reading. Listen now — you won’t regret it.

Overdrive cover Writing Better Lyrics, Pat Pattison (ebook)
Have you ever fancied yourself a Broadway lyricist? This book is the book for you. This revised and updated 2nd Edition of the classic must-have guide for budding songwriters provides effective tools for everything from generating ideas, to understanding the form and function of a song, to fine-tuning lyrics.

Overdrive cover Les Misérables, Victor Hugo (ebook)
Look, I hear you. This book is long. But just listen for a moment — it wasn’t adapted into one of the most popular and enduring musicals of all time for nothing. This book has it all — love, death, revolution, defeat, victory, class struggles — and its rambling delightfully labyrinthine plot will keep you occupied for hours. If that all sounds like too much, we also have the eAudio version. Don’t say we aren’t kind to you. But be kind to yourself and pick this up while the Duke Classics edition is always available!

Now, get out there and read!

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEnter the dark house, Laurie Faria Stolarz

What’s your worst nightmare? For Ivy Jensen, it s the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it’s bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams. And for seven essay contestants, it’s their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake’s latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn’t even like scary movies, but she’s ready to face her real-world fears. Parker’s sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up… at least for now. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOlivia Twist, Lorie Langdon

Olivia Twist is an innovative reimagining of Charles Dickens’ classic tale Oliver Twist, in which Olivia was forced to live as a boy for her own safety until she was rescued from the streets. Now eighteen, Olivia finds herself at a crossroads: revealed secrets threaten to destroy the “proper” life she has built for herself, while newfound feelings for an arrogant young man she shouldn’t like could derail her carefully laid plans for the future. Olivia Brownlow is no damsel in distress. Born in a workhouse and raised as a boy among thieving London street gangs, she is as tough and cunning as they come. When she is taken in by her uncle after a caper gone wrong, her life goes from fighting and stealing on the streets to lavish dinners and soirees as a debutante in high society. But she can’t seem to escape her past … or forget the teeming slums where children just like her still scrabble to survive. Jack MacCarron rose from his place in London’s East End to become the adopted “nephew” of a society matron. Little does society know that MacCarron is a false name for a boy once known among London gangs as the Artful Dodger, and that he and his “aunt” are robbing them blind every chance they get. When Jack encounters Olivia Brownlow in places he least expects, his curiosity is piqued. Why is a society girl helping a bunch of homeless orphan thieves? Even more intriguing, why does she remind him so much of someone he once knew? Jack finds himself wondering if going legit and risking it all might be worth it for love. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWe set the dark on fire, Tehlor Kay Mejia

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children. Both paths promise a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society. And school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio–and a chance at a forbidden love? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA prom to remember, Sandy Hall

Cora: Dating Perfect Boyfriend Jamie. Has NO IDEA how to break up with him… Paisley: Anti-prom. Somehow nominated her anxiety-ridden best friend for prom king… Henry: Hates social situations. Invited to prom by the most popular girl in school. SEND HELP! Otis: Half of one of the cutest couples in his class. Not quite ready for a post-prom hotel room… Lizzie: Shy. Excited to go to prom. With a boy. Whose name she doesn’t know. Cameron: Loner. Over high school. Just wants to meet the mysterious girl who’s been leaving him notes… Jacinta: Unnamed Nerd Girl #3. Determined to become the star of her own life, starting with prom… (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe fire keeper’s girls, L.P. Hansen

The Fire Keeper’s Girls is a story full of hope and light, a fast-paced adventure involving deep emotional trials that many teenage girls will identify with. Girls are empowered to be curious, follow their dreams and stand up for their beliefs. The characters gain insight and courage from influential women they meet, real women described in the feature pages. The author encourages girls into confident self-knowledge and raises the profile of women in the sciences.(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHappy girl lucky, Holly Smale

Introducing The Valentines. Fame – It Runs in the Family! Sisters Hope, Faith and Mercy have everything: fame, success, money and beauty. But what Hope wants most of all is love, and it doesn’t matter how far she has to go to find it. Except real-life isn’t like the movies. Even if you’re a Valentine…(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPrettyboy must die, Kimberly Reid

When Peter Smith’s classmate snaps a picture of him during an early-morning workout at the track, Peter thinks he might be in trouble. When she tweets that photo–along with the caption, “See the Pretty Boy Run,”–Peter knows he’s in trouble. But when snipers drop through the ceiling and take out his Chem teacher with a Bunsen burner, Peter’s pretty sure his trouble just became a national emergency. Because he’s not really Peter Smith. He’s Jake Morrow, former foster-kid turned CIA operative. After a massive screw up on his first mission, he’s on a pity assignment, about a dozen hit lists and now, Twitter, apparently.As #Prettyboy, of all freaking things.His cover’s blown, his school’s under siege, and he knows what his superiors would say: get the hell out. But Jake won’t run. He’s on the trail of a hacker nearly as good as he is, a hacker working with a disgraced criminal network Jake helped expose, a hacker who’s determined to hunt Jake down. If Jake fails, #Prettyboy will become #Deadboy faster than you can say, Fifteen minutes of fame. Trapped in a high school with rabid killers and rabid fans, he’ll need all his training and then some to save his job, his school and, oh yeah, his life. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA girl’s guide to kicking goals, Laura Hensaw and Steph Claire Smith

A girl’s guide to health, wellness and happiness from model/entrepreneur BFFs Steph Claire Smith and Laura Henshaw. Growing up is hard for everyone. For girls today, in a world of 24-hour connectivity, it can be harder than ever. A Girl’s Guide to Kicking Goals is about growing confidence in yourself even while your body changes. It’s a guide to smashing your goals and, when you don’t, bouncing back and trying again. Learn to be kind to yourself; stop comparing and judging others. Feel OK with the skin you’re in and shake off the bullies. Get stress- and time-management hacks to keep you calm in a super-busy world. Plus killer workouts and delicious healthy recipes for a girl on the go. Steph Claire Smith and Laura Henshaw are two models turned young entrepreneurs. They are extremely passionate about healthy living, body confidence in young women, and making social media a positive space. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOdd and true, Cat Winters

Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life–permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio. In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister–despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances–might, indeed, have magic after all. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCatching Teller Crow, Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

Nothing’s been the same for Beth Teller since she died. Her dad, a detective, is the only one who can see and hear her – and he’s drowning in grief. But now they have a mystery to solve together. Who is Isobel Catching, and what’s her connection to the fire that killed a man? What happened to the people who haven’t been seen since the fire? As Beth unravels the mystery, she finds a shocking story lurking beneath the surface of a small town, and a friendship that lasts beyond one life and into another. Told in two unforgettable voices, this gripping novel interweaves themes of grief, colonial history, violence, love and family. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAmelia Westlake, Erin Gough

Harriet Price has the perfect life: she’s a prefect at Rosemead Grammar, she lives in a mansion, and her gorgeous girlfriend is a future prime minister. So when she decides to risk it all by helping bad-girl Will Everhart expose the school’s many ongoing issues, Harriet tells herself it’s because she too is seeking justice. And definitely not because she finds Will oddly fascinating. Will Everhart can’t stand posh people like Harriet, but even she has to admit Harriet’s ideas are good – and they’ll keep Will from being expelled. That’s why she teams up with Harriet to create Amelia Westlake, a fake student who can take the credit for a series of provocative pranks at their school. But the further Will and Harriet’s hoax goes, the harder it is for the girls to remember they’re sworn enemies – and to keep Amelia Westlake’s true identity hidden. As tensions burn throughout the school, how far will they go to keep Amelia Westlake – and their feelings for each other – a secret? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe stars below, David Baldacci

The explosive conclusion to David Baldacci’s #1 worldwide bestselling and award-winning fantasy series! his is it. Vega Jane has tried to outrun, outsmart, and outlast her enemy, but the showdown she has dreaded is finally here. Her rag-tag crew must take a stand against a fully-trained army, knowing the odds are impossible, knowing each of them could die for nothing. But when evil comes, heroes stand to meet it. When injustice appears, the only choice is to stand and fight. Master storyteller David Baldacci sounds the drums of war in the jaw-dropping conclusion to the #1 international bestselling Vega Jane fantasy series. (Publisher summary)

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials – adaptation coming soon!

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe teaser trailer just dropped for the BBC adaptation of His Dark Materials and it’s super exciting! It has an amazing cast. Just waiting to get a glance of the daemons and I’m a happy fan. There’s no release date yet, but in the meantime, we have some “materials” of our own to help with the hype…

There are all of the books in Philip Pullman’s award winning series: Northern Lights (published in the US as The Golden Compass), The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. We also have other books set in the same universe: Once upon a time in the North, Lyra’s Oxford, and the first part of his “Book of Dust” series, La Belle Sauvage.

We also have audiobook and graphic novel versions.

Webcomic collections

Webcomics are one of the best (although this may be controversial) things to come out of the internet. Creators has a direct path to new and diverse audiences, without meddling from publishers and often a better understanding of the current social climate than more mainstream titles. It seems that there’s a webcomic for any interest! WCL has to be a bit more…selective in the webcomic collections we acquire, but if the thought of clicking through hundreds of pages doesn’t appeal, we’ve got a decent selection.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHomestuck has been called the internet’s “Ulysses.” Possibly due to its length, possibly due to its devoted fanbase and its equally vocal detractors. It’s also incredibly hard to describe its plot. It’s also very hard to translate to a book format, as the author notes but he helpfully provides links to the actual pages where the plot is conveyed in gifs and flash animations. And it was created in MS paint, which is quite something. You’ll never read anything like it.

“A young man stands in his bedroom. It just so happens that today, the 13th of April, 2009, is this young man’s birthday. Though it was thirteen years ago he was given life, it is only today he will be given a name! What will the name of this young man be?”
-Homestuck, first lines.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGirl Genius has been running since 2005. It’s still going, and updates on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. That’s a lot of material. It is based around the adventures of Agatha Clay, who discovers that she has an ancient and mysterious birthright, as well as having the “spark” – a strange group of personality traits, which predisposes the person to acts of mad…genius. It’s one of the preeminent Steampunk works, although the author prefers the term “gaslamp fantasy.” At any rate, it’s a great webcomic but works so well in a printed format – it’s much easier to catch up! Here’s book one.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsYou probably never thought of seeking out a comic written by a five year old and professionally illustrated and you never thought you’d need it in your life but Axe Cop is really something else. It’s silly, anarchic, and really nice to look at; the comedy webcomic holy trinity. It’s really funny as well. The plot is basically the title. An axe-wielding cop fights crime, which consists of whatever a five year old deems as criminal (hint: dinosaurs are heavily involved). As a side note, the writer and the illustrator are brothers, which is adorable.

Other webcomics we have in printed format include Gunnerkrigg Court and Hark: a vagrant.

YA classics (part one)

I tend to feature a lot of new books on this blog but perhaps it’s time to highlight some YA “classics”.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Outsiders, S.E Hinton (1967)

This is the archetypal story of young men living on the wrong side of the tracks, as defined by an often hostile society. Told from the perspective of Ponyboy, a member of a gang of Greasers who details their rivalry with the “socs” another gang, and the disaster and violence their conflict causes. There are plot elements which would be familiar to readers today; abusive or neglectful parents, class differences, crime and the strength people draw from their friends.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsI am the cheese, Robert Cormier (1977)

I’ve never read a book quite like I am the cheese. It’s a twisting, complex tale of identity and corruption, told through the eyes of a young boy who has witnessed something truly traumatic and must deal with the consequences. To describe it any further would spoil the plot, so if you are intrigued, I suggest you pick it up. I think the only book that comes vaguely close is E. Lockhart’s We were liars, although the stakes are much, much higher in Cormier’s book.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSkellig, David Almond (1998)

Magical realism is a common genre for YA fiction at the moment but Skellig was a pioneer in the genre. It manages to capture the soaring heights of the “magical” whilst also effectively depicting the realism; the two are beautifully balanced. The main character, Michael, is struggling to cope in a new home and with a baby sister who is dangerously ill. Then he finds a strange creature – possibly angelic, but never defined- in his shed, the titular Skellig. The two plots interweave and it’s a particular favourite of mine.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAnnie on my mind, Nancy Garden (1982)

LGBTQ fiction has come along way since 1982 but Annie on my mind was groundbreaking when it was first published. That being said, the themes of love, heartbreak and identity are still being written about. It’s worth reading anyway, if only to see how far writing on these themes have come. It’s also 48 on the ALA’s most challenged books from 1990 – 2000.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNoughts and Crossses, Malorie Blackman (2002)

Examinations of race and racism are coming to the forefront of YA fiction; The Hate u give by Angie Thomas is probably the most recent and most well-known of these books. But before then, the Noughts and Crosses series examined race relations with a twist – in this alternate universe, noughts (people with white skin) are disadvantaged and crosses (people of colour) occupy positions of ultimate privilege. It’s also a love story, thriller, and a brilliant read. It’s also the first book in a series.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStorm-wake, Lucy Christopher

Moss has lived with her pa on a remote island for as long as she remembers. The Old World has disappeared beneath the waves – only Pa’s magic, harnessing the wondrous stormflowers on the island, can save the sunken continents. But a storm is brewing, promising cataclysmic changes. Soon, two strange boys wash up on the shore. As the clouds swell and the ocean churns, Moss learns to open her eyes to the truth about her isolated world … (Publisher summary)

First lines: The story starts with a dream, and its dreamer.
He was younger then, rolling in the belly of his boat, on rougher waters than expected inside those harbour walls. The first day of spring, and he felt at the end of the world. And still, the storms stayed.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOne small thing, Erin Watt

Beth’s life hasn’t been the same since her sister died. Her parents try to lock her down, believing they can keep her safe by monitoring her every move. When Beth sneaks out to a party one night and meets the new guy in town, Chase, she’s thrilled to make a secret friend. It seems like a small thing, just for her. Only Beth doesn’t know how big her secret really is… Fresh out of juvie and determined to start his life over, Chase has demons to face and much to atone for, including his part in the night Beth’s sister died. Beth, who has more reason than anyone to despise him, is willing to give him a second chance. A forbidden romance is the last thing either of them planned for senior year, but the more time they spend together, the deeper their feelings get. Now Beth has a choice to make–follow the rules, or risk tearing everything apart… again. (Amazon summary)

First lines: “Hey there, pupster.” I laugh as Morgan, the Rennicks’ dog, races across the lawn and jumps up on my khaki pants.
“Sorry, Lizzie,” she says, rushing over to pull the big black mutt off without much success. She’s small and he’s so big that they’re about the same size.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsArthur: the seeing stone, Kevin Crossley-Holland

In late twelfth-century England, a thirteen-year-old boy named Arthur recounts how Merlin gives him a magical seeing stone which shows him images of the legendary King Arthur, the events of whose life seem to have many parallels to his own. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Tumber Hill! It’s my clamber-and-tumble-and-beech-and-bramble hill! Sometimes, when I’m standing on the top, I fill my lungs with air and I shout. I shout.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAscension, Victor Dixen

Six girls, six boys. Each in the two separate bays of a single spaceship. They have six minutes each week to seduce and to make their choices, under the unblinking eye of the on-board cameras. They are the contenders in the Genesis programme, the world’s craziest speed-dating show ever, aimed at creating the first human colony on Mars.
Leonor, an 18 year old orphan, is one of the chosen ones.
She has signed up for glory.
She has signed up for love.
She has signed up for a one-way ticket.
Even if the dream turns to a nightmare, it is too late for regrets. (Goodreads summary)

First lines: “Léonor, how does it feel to be leaving the Earth for ever?
“Léonor, are you looking forward to it?”
“Léonor, are you scared?”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWereworld: nest of serpents, Curtis Jobling

War grips the seven realms. Young Werewolf Drew Ferran, rightful king of Westland, has rushed to the aid of the besieged Staglords, whose mountain stronghold is surrounded by the forces of the Werelion Prince Lucas. And deep in the haunted Dyrewood forest the Wereladies Gretchen and Whitley seek sanctuary within the city of Brackenholme. As Lyssia’s greatest war rumbles towards a thunderous climax, the lines between friend and foe are blurred. What if the enemy is one of their own? (Publisher summary)

First lines: “Did you hit him, master?”
The Lionguard scout lowered his bow, ignoring his apprentice. He stared out across the Longridings, squinting through the twilight at the evading Greencloak.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFugitive six, Pittacus Lore

he Human Garde Academy was created in the aftermath of an alien invasion of Earth. It was meant to provide a safe haven for teens across the globe who were suddenly developing incredible powers known as Legacies. Taylor Cook was one of the newest students and had no idea if she’d ever fit in. But when she was mysteriously abducted, her friends broke every rule in the book to save her. In the process, they uncovered a secret organization that was not only behind Taylor’s kidnapping but also the disappearance of numerous teens with abilities. An organization that has dark roots in the Loric’s past, untold resources, and potentially even a mole at their own school. Now these friends, who have become known to other students as the “Fugitive Six,” must work together to bring this mysterious group to an end before they can hurt anyone else. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Duanphen watched the beggar as he scurried through traffic with his bucket and rag. The boy couldn’t have been more than twelve, small, with a mop of greasy black hair. He picked his cars smartly – shiny ones with tinted with windows and drunk passengers.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAfrika, Colleen Craig

Thirteen-year-old Kim, travels to South Africa with her journalist mother and must come to terms with the country’s diverse and often shocking history with the realization that she is not as removed from this powerful story as she thought. (Publisher information)

First lines: “Let’s go,” said Kim as the plane came to complete stop on the runway,
Her mom, the sort who could not stay still for a moment, sat like a statue beside her.
“I can’t,” she said.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAdam and Eve and Pinch-Me, Julia Johnston

“If you don’t want your heart broken, don’t let on you have one.” Sara Moone is an expert on broken hearts. She is a foster child who has been bounced from home to home, but now she is almost sixteen and can not live in the system forever. She vows that she will live in a cold, white place where nobody can hurt her again. But there is one more placement in store for Sara. She is sent to live with the Huddlestons on their sheep farm. There, despite herself, Sara learns that there is no escape from love. It has a way of catching you off guard, even when you try to turn your back. (Publisher summary)

First lines: Just shut up. I’d like to tell my brain to just shut up. Have you ever noticed how you can’t make your mind stop thinking even though you try to think about absolutely nothing?

You might like…dystopias

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDystopias are a constant in YA fiction – what happens when imperfect humans try to create a perfect world. The dictionary defines it as “an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives.” But I think the idea that this was an attempt to make a perfect world is an important one. Of course one must ask: perfect for whom?

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSeries like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner being among our most popular titles. Other notable titles include Sally Gardner’s Maggot Moon – which won the Carnegie Medal in 2013. The Giver by Lois Lowry is a classic of YA literature for good reason, although it has a subtler approach to the genre than others.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOf course we have the two “parents” of the genre. 1984 is the George Orwell classic. Later we have Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Another book that’s in the media a lot and – warning, it’s tough going – is The Handmaid’s tale by Margaret Atwood. Another favourite classic is Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower.

Our ten most popular YA books for September

  1. Girl Online, Zoe Sugg
  2. The fault in our stars, John Green
  3. Th1rteen r3asons why, Jay Asher
  4. Gone, Michael Grant
  5. The fall, Robert Muchamore
  6. Mortal Engines, Phillip Reeve
  7. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
  8. Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
  9. The Maze runner, James Dashner
  10. Everything, everything, Nicola Yoon

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.

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