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Classic novels




  • Books, Classic novels, Comedy, Exclusive academies for rich kids who form cliques, Horror, Mysteries, Nicola

    New books

    03.02.15 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBeware the wild, Natalie C. Parker

    It’s an oppressively hot and sticky morning in June when Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument that compels him to run into the town swamp — the one that strikes fear in all the residents of Sticks, Louisiana. Phin doesn’t return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out, and now Sterling is the only person in Sticks who remembers her brother ever existed.
    Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp’s done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance — and loner boy Heath Durham might be the only one who can help her. (Goodreads)

    First lines: It’s no secret, ours is the meanest swamp in Louisiana. Regular swamps are dangerous enough. Loud, stinking things, they hide their claws in the mid between cypress knees, beneath the surface of stale, brackish waters. There are a hundred ways to die all cloaked in the twist of pale trees – gators fast enough to catch a grown man, mosquitoes teeming with disease, stinging plants, hungry black bears, and nasty cotton mouths all filled with spire and patience.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSweet reckoning, Wendy Higgins

    It’s time. Evil is running rampant and sweet Anna Whitt is its target. Nobody knows when or how the Dukes will strike, but Anna and her Nephilim allies will do anything necessary to rid the earth of the demons and their oppressive ways. The stakes are higher than ever, and Anna is determined that the love she feels will be her strength, not a liability. But trying to protect the ones she loves while running for her life and battling demonic forces proves to be perilous—especially as faces are changing and trust is fleeting. When the Duke of Lust sends Anna’s great love, Kaidan Rowe, to work against her, Anna must decide how much she’s prepared to risk. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Not a soul in the Vegas cocktail lounge had any idea demons were in their midst. Not a soul would believe that the four gentlemen receiving appreciative stares and envious glares were some of the best workers of hell ever to walk the earth.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEternal, C.C Hunter

    All her life, Della’s secret powers have made her feel separated from her human family. Now, she’s where she belongs, at Shadow Falls. With the help of her best friends Kylie and Miranda, she’ll try to prove herself in the paranormal world as an investigator—all the while trying to figure out her own heart. Should she chose Chase, a powerful vampire with whom she shares a special bond? Or Steve, the hot shapeshifter whose kisses make her weak in the knees? When a person with dark connection to her past shows up, it’ll help her decide which guy to choose–and make her question everything she knows about herself.

    First lines: Della Tsang swung one leg outside her bedroom window. The sun had risen but hung on the eastern horizon, spilling just enough light to paint that strip of sky a blood-red. The colour had her mouth watering. Her empty stomach rumbled. She needed blood. Later. First things first.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFaking it, Gabrielle Tozer

    Things are looking up for Josie Browning. Her boyfriend, James, is crazy about her, and she’s scored a writing job at indi. Now the pressure is on for Josie to prove she’s got what it takes to help plan indi’s launch. Plus, she’s battling with flatmates, frenemies and confusing feelings for travel writer Alex. High on the perks at indi, Josie’s doing a pretty good job of faking her way in the industry – even though she still hasn’t mastered her hair straightener. But when Josie is invited to a media junket, she accidentally sets off a string of lies that threaten to ruin her reputation, love life and career forever. (Goodreads)

    First lines: We still hadn’t done it. You know: it. James and I had been together for approximately three months, two weeks, one day, ten hours and five minutes and we still hadn’t said “I love you.” I figured the words would come eventually, and when they did I wanted everything to be perfect.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe new enemy, Andy McNab

    Liam Scott has joined Recce Platoon, and it looks like he will be heading for Somalia. His mission is to gather intelligence from behind enemy lines, carrying out top-secret surveillance and dead-letter drops. But he’s new to the game and there’s a lot to learn.Soon Liam is monitoring a den of Al Shabaab militants and hunting a key terrorist target. Can Recce Platoon find their man and get out undiscovered? If the militants find them first, it’s game over…

    First lines: The night sky was a grumbling black mass of boiling clouds, rain poring onto an already sodden earth. Liam Scott had been on the run for most of the night now and he was starting to lose track of time. But all he was really concerned about was staying one step ahead of those who were out to catch him. Because when they did, the real pain would start.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLaurinda, Alice Pung

    Laurinda is an exclusive school for girls. At its hidden centre of power is The Cabinet, a triangle of girls who wield power over their classmates – and some of their teachers.
    Entering this world of wealth and secrets is Lucy Lam, a scholarship girl with sharp eyes and a shaky sense of self. As she watches The Cabinet in action, and is courted by them – as she learns about power and repression – Lucy finds herself in a battle for her identity and integrity. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Dear Linh, remember how we used to catch the 406 bus after school, past the Victory Carpet Factory and the main hub of Sunray, through to Stanley? What an adventure, we used to think them. What a waste of time, looking back now.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe blue castle, L.M Montgomery

    Valancy lives a drab life with her overbearing mother and prying aunt. Then a shocking diagnosis from Dr. Trent prompts her to make a fresh start. For the first time, she does and says exactly what she feels. As she expands her limited horizons, Valancy undergoes a transformation, discovering a new world of love and happiness. (Gooodreads)

    First lines: If it had not rained on a certain May morning, Valancy Stirling’s whole life would have been entirely different. She would have gone, with the rest of her clan, to Aunt Wellington’s engagement picnic and Dr. Trent would have gone to Montreal. But it did rain and you shall hear what happened to her because of it.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBlackfin sky, Kat Ellis

    When Sky falls from Blackfin Pier and drowns on her sixteenth birthday, the whole town goes into mourning – until she shows up three months later like nothing happened. Unravelling the mystery of those missing months takes Sky to the burned-out circus in the woods, where whispers of murder and kidnapping begin to reveal the town’s secrets. But Sky’s not the only one digging up the past – the old mime from the circus knows what happened to her, and he has more than one reason for keeping quiet about it. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Silas’s spirit had inhabited the rusted weathervane for many years. From his perch on the school roof, he watched the townsfolk of Blackfin through his empty eye sockets as they buzzed through their lives, no more significant that the grains of sand piling up against the shoreline and on the struts of Blackfin pier.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFamous last words. Katie Alender

    Willa is freaking out. It seems like she’s seeing things. Like a dead body in her swimming pool. Frantic messages on her walls. A reflection that is not her own. It’s almost as if someone — or something — is trying to send her a message. Meanwhile, a killer is stalking Los Angeles — a killer who reenacts famous movie murder scenes. Could Willa’s strange visions have to do with these unsolved murders? Or is she going crazy? And who can she confide in? There’s Marnie, her new friend who may not be totally trustworthy. And there’s Reed, who’s ridiculously handsome and seems to get Willa. There’s also Wyatt, who’s super smart but unhealthily obsessed with the Hollywood Killer. All Willa knows is, she has to confront the possible-ghost in her house, or she just might lose her mind . . . or her life.

    First lines: Nothing glittered. I’d never been to Hollywood before, but like any other person with eyeballs and a television, I’d seen it a thousand times. I expected wide, palm-tree-lined roads and mansions that overflowed with fabulous movies stars. What I got was a normal city.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGirl on a wire, Gwenda Bond

    A ballerina, twirling on a wire high above the crowd. Horses, prancing like salsa dancers. Trapeze artists, flying like somersaulting falcons. And magic crackling through the air. Welcome to the Cirque American! Sixteen-year-old Jules Maroni’s dream is to follow in her father’s footsteps as a high-wire walker. When her family is offered a prestigious role in the new Cirque American, it seems that Jules and the Amazing Maronis will finally get the spotlight they deserve. But the presence of the Flying Garcias may derail her plans. For decades, the two rival families have avoided each other as sworn enemies. Jules ignores the drama and focuses on the wire, skyrocketing to fame as the girl in a red tutu who dances across the wire at death-defying heights. But when she discovers a peacock feather—an infamous object of bad luck—planted on her costume, Jules nearly loses her footing. She has no choice but to seek help from the unlikeliest of people: Remy Garcia, son of the Garcia clan matriarch and the best trapeze artist in the Cirque. As more mysterious talismans believed to possess unlucky magic appear, Jules and Remy unite to find the culprit. And if they don’t figure out what’s going on soon, Jules may be the first Maroni to do the unthinkable: fall. (Goodreads)

    First lines: I planted my feet on the wire that ran parallel to the rafters. My new act involved a series of ballet-inspired moves, building to a trio of slow but tricky pirouettes, and the barn was the best place to practice. If I mastered these moves today, I’d be showing them off at the next show our traveling family circus offered- Fridays and Saturdays, entry for twelve bucks.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGet even, Gretchen McNeil

    Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers. When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Bree sat back against the chain-link fence, bouncing her tennis racket lightly against the toe of her black Converse.
    “Why do we still have physical education in school?”
    John snatched the racket out of her hand. “It’s a political conspiracy to repress the youth of America through enforced humiliation.”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHow it went down, Kekla Magoon

    When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson dies from two gunshot wounds, his community is thrown into an uproar. Tariq was black. The shooter, Jack Franklin, is white.
    In the aftermath of Tariq’s death, everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events line up. Day by day, new twists further obscure the truth.
    Tariq’s friends, family, and community struggle to make sense of the tragedy, and to cope with the hole left behind when a life is cut short. In their own words, they grapple for a way to say with certainty: This is how it went down. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Red. Black. White. That’s all I remember. It was a blur, like a dream sequence in the sort of movie that comes with subtitles. Red. Blood, spilling like red link. Black, His hair and skin, and the tar beneath him. He was kind of sprawled out, and it seemed almost right for him to be down there, like he blended in. White. I couldn’t make sense of it at first. It wasn’t a clean white, like snow. More of a wispy, dirty white, like clouds on an average winter day.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsValhalla, Ari Bach

    Violet MacRae is one of the aimless millions crowding northern Scotland. In the year 2330, where war is obsolete and only brilliant minds are valued, she emerges into adulthood with more brawn than brains and a propensity for violence. People dismiss her as a relic, but world peace is more fragile than they know. In Valhalla, a clandestine base hidden in an icy ravine, Violet connects with a group of outcasts just like her. There, she learns the skills she needs to keep the world safe from genetically enhanced criminals and traitors who threaten the first friends she’s ever known. She also meets Wulfgar Kray, a genius gang leader who knows her better than she knows herself and who would conquer the world to capture her. Branded from childhood as a useless barbarian, Violet is about to learn the world needs her exactly as she is. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Of the million people in Kyle City, there was none so aimless as Violet MacRae. That’s not to say she walked into walls or spoke in tangents, only that she lacked a purpose in life. Every night since she could speak, her parents asked her the same question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsVivian Apple at the end of the world, Katie Coyle

    Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple never believed in the evangelical Church of America, unlike her recently devout parents. But when Vivian returns home the night after the supposed “Rapture,” all that’s left of her parents are two holes in the roof. Suddenly, she doesn’t know who or what to believe. With her best friend Harp and a mysterious ally, Peter, Vivian embarks on a desperate cross-country roadtrip through a paranoid and panic-stricken America to find answers. Because at the end of the world, Vivan Apple isn’t looking for a savior. She’s looking for the truth. (Goodreads)

    First lines: There came a time when the American people began to forget God. They turned away from His churches and grew arrogant and stupid. God needed a Prophet, and He chose a man called Beaton Frick. Frick was pure of heart and mighty of resources; he lived in a kingdom called Florida.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe great Greene heist, Varian Johnson

    Jackson Greene has reformed. No, really he has. He became famous for the Shakedown at Shimmering Hills, and everyone still talks about the Blitz at the Fitz…. But after the disaster of the Mid-Day PDA, he swore off scheming and conning for good. Then Keith Sinclair — loser of the Blitz — announces he’s running for school president, against Jackson’s former best friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby hasn’t talked to Jackson since the PDA, and he knows she won’t welcome his involvement. But he also knows Keith has “connections” to the principal, which could win him the election whatever the vote count. So Jackson assembles a crack team to ensure the election is done right: Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Megan Feldman, science goddess and cheerleader. Charlie de la Cruz, point man. Together they devise a plan that will bring Keith down once and for all. Yet as Jackson draws closer to Gaby again, he realizes the election isn’t the only thing he wants to win. (Goodreads)

    First lines: As Jackson Greene sped past the Maplewood Middle School cafeteria – his trademark red tie skewed slightly to the left, a yellow No.2 pencil balanced behind his ear, and a small spiral-bound notebook tucked in his right jacket pocket -he found himself dangerously close to sliding back into the warm confines of scheming and pranking.


  • Classic novels, Great Reads, Horror, Librarian's Choice, Nicola, Nostalgia

    Nik’s Picks: Ghost stories for Christmas

    16.12.14 | Permalink | Comments Off on Nik’s Picks: Ghost stories for Christmas

    Reading ghost stories at Christmas was a bit of a tradition in Victorian England. As a lover of all things horror I am keen to see this revived; there’s nothing like sitting down with a chilling tale, although I must admit reading ghost stories in the middle of an English winter is very different to reading them in the height of Summer! Be warned: these are not for those of a delicate constitution.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe time of the ghost, Diana Wynne Jones

    Ghost stories told from the perspective of the ghost themselves aren’t a rare trope in supernatural fiction, but this book is a cut above the rest. The ghost doesn’t know who she is; she suspects that she is one of four sisters and that she has travelled back in time to prevent something terrible from happening. Something that stems from a not-so-innocent game that the girls play. It also deals with a degree of real-life horror: the girls are actively neglected by their own parents, and their futures seem grim if the evil force cannot be quieted. It’s a subtle, creepy book, rather different from the author’s usual work. I read it again, recently, and found it as disturbing as it was when I read it as a teenager.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsScary stories – short story collection

    This is a group of creepy stories from some of the greats of horror literature: Stephen King, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe and H.P Lovecraft. There are also some more obscure writers, but each story is excellent and a worthy introduction to each writers’ work. What lifts this above other collections is the haunting illustrations by Barry Moser. They’re simple, black and white drawings that chillingly depict some faucet of the story.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe turning, Francine Prose

    This book is based off The Turn of the Screw, a novella written in 1898 by Henry James. Like the original, the narrator is sent to a strange house to look after some children. It’s been updated, however: the narrator is now male, a teenager and the story has a contemporary setting. I don’t want to give too much away, but the book asks interesting questions about just how reliable the narrator is – is he actually seeing ghosts, or are they something more sinister from something deep within his own mind? Read this and then read the original, which is here.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOn the day I died, Candace Fleming

    Mike Kowalski decides to pick up a strange girl on his way home, only for her to take him to a nearby cemetery. He is greeted by nine teenage ghosts, each with their own story to tell. This book is haunting not just because of the poignant, strange or downright terrifying tales of each of the ghosts, but the fact that many are based on real incidents from Chicago’s history – the setting for this story and almost a character in its own right.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

    I couldn’t go past the one that started it all, of course! A Christmas Carol was published in 1843, and has undergone many productions and reinterpretations since then. My favourite film version is The Muppet Christmas Carol, and my favourite book is the one pictured here: sure, Quentin Blake isn’t the scariest of artists, but his art’s gorgeous and suits the story very well. You’re never too old to enjoy a story well told, I think!


  • Classic novels, Graphic Novels, Lists, Rachel, zombies

    Show me your teeth!

    18.11.14 | Permalink | Comments Off on Show me your teeth!

    Hello! Apologies for my absence over the last couple of weeks, I was busy getting some of my wisdom teeth taken out. I wouldn’t recommend it as a lifestyle choice, but it’s not so bad in the long run. To honour of my loss of wisdom (and teeth) I thought I would feature some toothy books, ranging from orthodontic problems to toothy beasties. Sink your teeth in!

    Cover courtesy of SyndeticsSmile, Raina Telgemeier

    “Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.” (Goodreads)

    Cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhite Fang, Jack London

    “In the desolate, frozen wilds of northwest Canada, White Fang, a part dog, part wolf cub soon finds himself the sole survivor of a litter of five. In his lonely world, he soon learned to follow the harsh law of the North – kill or be killed. But nothing in his young life prepared him for the cruelty of the bully Beauty Smith, who buys White Fang from his Indian master and turns him into a vicious killer – a pit dog forced to fight for money. Will White Fang ever know the kindness of a gentle master or will he die a fierce deadly killer?” (Goodreads)

    Cover courtesy of SyndeticsDracula, Bram Stoker

    “Jonathan Harker is sent by his law firm to Castle Dracula to discuss business with Transylvania noble Count Dracula. His nightmare experience there is just the start of a macabre chain of events. Harker soon finds himself in a race against time to free his wife, Mina, and other souls who are in thrall to the evil count. Dracula must be destroyed at all costs…” (Syndetics summary)

    Cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan

    “In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best, and the fence that protects her village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth must remain intact. After fence is breached, Mary’s world is thrown into chaos, and she must choose between her village and her future.” (Syndetics summary)

     
    Cover courtesy of SyndeticsChomp, Carl Hiaasen

    “Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he’s grown up with all manner of critters, but his father is the unpredictable one. When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called “Expedition Survival!”, Wahoo figures he’ll have to do a bit of wrangling himself — to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show’s boneheaded star, before the shoot is over. And Wahoo’s acquired a shadow named Tuna — a girl who’s sporting a shiner courtesy of her old man and needs a place to hide out. They’ve only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties head out and promptly get lost themselves. And then Tuna’s dad shows up with a gun…” (Adapted from Goodreads)

    Cover courtesy of SyndeticsSwamplandia!, Karen Russell

    “The Bigtree alligator wrestling dynasty is in decline, and Swamplandia!, its island home and gator-wrestling theme park, is swiftly being encroached upon by a competitor. To save her family, Ava must journey on her own to a perilous part of the swamp called the Underworld.” (Syndetics summary)


  • Classic novels, dystopia, Movies, Rachel

    Coming (not very) soon to a cinema near you

    21.10.14 | Permalink | Comments Off on Coming (not very) soon to a cinema near you

    A bunch of movies have been announced for release next year, but some aren’t to be seen until the year after! So we’ll be waiting a while. But here are some of the book to movie adaptations we are excited to hear about, no matter how far away they are:

    Cover courtesy of SyndeticsPaper Towns (by John Green)

    There is no news on this yet – no cast or director announced – but it has a release date already! July 31, 2015. They had better get onto it then, that’s not even very far away!

    Pan (based on Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie)

    Starring Rooney Mara, Hugh Jackman and Amanda Seyfried, this sounds like it will be amazing (although Rooney Mara’s casting as Native American Tiger-Lily is questionable). It’s directed by Joe Wright (who also directed Hanna, Atonement, Pride & Prejudice (with Keira Knightley), Anna Karenina… With few exceptions, he sure does seem to direct a lot of adaptations of classic novels.
    According to ScreenRant: “The story not only reveals how young Peter found his way to Neverland, but also how be initially befriended the pirate James Bartholomew Hook – in the days before the latter’s surname became quite literal, after he lost one of his hands, replaced it a hook, and become Pan’s sworn enemy.” Sounds interesting!

    Cover courtesy of SyndeticsMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (by Ransom Riggs)

    All we know is it stars Eva Green and will be directed by Tim Burton. We’re sold. (We also have the book as a graphic novel, if you want a peek into the potential visuals.)

    And then there a whole bunch of extremely exciting ones which we have zero details on, aside from the fact that they’re a happening thing:

    Cover courtesy of SyndeticsA Great and Terrible Beauty (by Libba Bray)
    Wicked Lovely (by Melissa Marr)
    The Scorpio Races (by Maggie Stiefvater)
    Wither (by Lauren DeStefano)
    The Diviners (also by Libba Bray)
    The Night Circus (by Erin Morgenstern)
    Daughter of Smoke and Bone (by Laini Taylor)
    Matched (by Ally Condie)

    We are waiting anxiously to see all of these! What are you most looking forward to seeing on the big screen?


  • Classic novels, eLibrary, Librarian's Choice, Lists, Rachel

    Write to me, won’t you?

    19.08.14 | Permalink | Comments Off on Write to me, won’t you?

    Following on from my last post, you may remember that I mentioned Jaclyn Moriarty often writes in an epistolary style, meaning the narrative is constructed of letters, emails, memos, newspaper clippings, blogs, text messages… You get the idea. Books written in this style can be very quick reads because they can be very casual and conversational, particularly with diary entries. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite epistolary novels (I read quite a lot of them…)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSloppy Firsts, Megan McCafferty

    Sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated when her best friend Hope leaves their hometown of Pineville, New Jersey. Jessica is hyper-observant and without Hope to communicate with, Jessica feels more out of her depth than ever. Now she has to work out how to deal with the craziness of her classmates, her dad’s obsession with Jessica’s track meets and her mother’s obsession with Jessica’s sister Bethany’s lavish wedding – all without any help from Hope, bar the occasional email. And then Jessica begins to strike up an unlikely friendship with the biggest rebel in school Marcus Flutie… Jessica’s diary entries are hilarious, but balance out the humour well by dealing with serious issues, such as death and family drama. And it’s the first in a series of 5!

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAngus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison

    Georgia Nicholson is vain, a bit hysterical and boy-crazy. She has a lot of wild tales to tell about her mad little sister Libby, her feral cat Angus and the time she shaved her eyebrows and dressed up as a stuffed olive. Georgia’s just trying to be a regular 14-year-old girl but it’s not so easy. Set in England, this book (the first in a series) is fabbity fab fab and you’ll be speaking in Georgia’s completely made up slang and bent over in stitches by the time you’re finished with it! We also have this as an Overdrive eBook.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie

    Junior is a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Junior has never felt like the rez life fitted him, so he takes matters into his own hands and leaves the rez school in order to go to the all-white local high school. Being Indian makes him stand out enough in the school, but he also has “an enormous head, gigantic feet, crazy eyes, ten more teeth than normal, a stutter, and a lisp” but Junior is not a complainer! He just wants to get through school and break away from the life he has been destined to live. The novel is interspersed with drawings and is based partly on the author’s own experiences. It’s a must read!

    Letters From The Inside, John Marsden

    “Mandy wants a pen-pal. Tracey answers the ad. The two girls write to each other about their families, their lives, their ambitions and their fears. But there are dark secrets surrounding Mandy and Tracey – secrets they can hardly bear to confront, let alone share.” Goodreads

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsI Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith

    Seventeen-year-old Cassandra lives with her family in a ramshackle castle in England. Over a turbulent six months, Cassandra attempts to hone her writing skills by chronicling in her diary the changes within the castle and her own first experience in love. I Capture the Castle is a “classic” novel that is timeless and the humour stands up today just as it did when it was first published.


  • Books, Classic novels, Fantasy, Grimm, Horror, Librarian's Choice

    Nik’s Picks: Fractured fairytales

    11.08.14 | Permalink | Comments Off on Nik’s Picks: Fractured fairytales

    Who doesn’t love a good fairytale? Handsome knights, beautiful princesses, wicked witches, gingerbread cottages…but these books offer a much darker different take on classics such as the Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping beauty, and many others besides. Many of these are truer to the original spirit of the stories than those pretty Disney movies you might have watched as a kid. And a warning: there’s not always a “happily ever after”…

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLies, knives and girls in red dresses, Ron Koertge
    I’ve featured this book before; it’s one of my favourites. It’s a collection of poetry, that often deals with the twisted consequences of the “happily ever after.” It’s nothing you’ve ever read before. Ron Koertege pulls no punches; these poems are often brutal but still beautifully written. The first lines perfectly capture the eerie spirit of this book.

    Do you want to sleep? Find another storyteller. Do you
    want to think about the world in a new way?

    Come closer. Closer, please.
    I want to whisper in your ear.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe stepsister scheme, Jim C. Hines
    This is another book that deals with a “happily ever after” that’s gone wrong, but The Stepsister Scheme’s tone is a bit lighter. After Cinderella’s Prince Charming is kidnapped, she teams up with Snow White and Sleeping Beauty to kick some Fae buttock and rescue her husband. Despite this focus on action, there are some cool dark threads that run through the book.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBook of a thousand days, Shannon Hale
    Maid Maleen is a rather obscure Brothers Grimm fairytale, which documents the imprisonment of a Princess in a tower for seven years. Unlike Rapunzel, however, no rescuer is immediately forthcoming. Book of a Thousand days transplants the story from Europe to the Asian Steppes, and it’s a fascinating and engrossing story that neglects the “magical” elements of faiytales for a more realistic tone.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe rose and the beast:fairy tales retold, Francesca Lia Block
    This is an awesome collection of short stories, told in Block’s unique voice. It’s a potent mixture of realism and Americana – the fey, somewhat feral heroines run away from home, go to L.A, or the desert, or wherever – only to find that the monsters have followed them. These haunting stories that stay with you, right until after you’ve closed the book.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTroll’s-eye view: a book of villainous tales, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
    For something much darker, you can’t go past this collection, which features some of the best YA authors writing today. Each tale shows the other side of the fairy-tale’s primary encounter: what does the giant’s wife have to say about the young man who climbed up her beanstalk? The answer may surprise you…

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe replacement, Brenna Yovanoff
    This should be compulsory reading for those who think that faeries are sweet and gentle creatures who spend their time rescuing princesses in distress. The faeries of The Replacement are implacable, inhuman creatures who have made a deal with the town of Gentry: economic security for the life of one child. The story is narrated by Mackie, a “replacement” changeling, who was swapped out for a human child and now dying because of his allergies to blood and iron, a nice nod to traditional superstitions about faeries. It’s a an interesting take on a slightly overdone subject, that retains the grimness of the original stories.

    Book cover sourtesy of SyndeticsAsh, Malinda Lo

    Ash is not your typical Cinderella story, although it begins the same: Ash’s father dies and the main character is reduced to a mere servant. Ash does receive help from the faerie, but his intentions may not be entirely benevolent. Then she meets the King’s huntress, the enigmatic Kaisa, and has to decide between her fairytale ending or one, more uncertain, that may end in true love. I like this particular retelling because it avoids the traps of many; getting too caught up in the glitter and not enough time spent on character development. The lesbian romance at its heart also separates it, and adds an interesting twist on a very old story.


  • Books, Classic novels, Rachel and Rebecca

    Galentines!

    11.02.13 | Permalink | Comments Off on Galentines!

    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:

    Galentines

    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.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA 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.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSloppy 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!

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA 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.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAnne 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?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsReunited, 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?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe 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!


  • Classic novels, Miss A. Laney, zombies

    Happy birthday Pride and Prejudice!

    08.02.13 | Permalink | Comments Off on Happy birthday Pride and Prejudice!

    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:

    Book cover courtesy of Syndetics

    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!


  • Books, Classic novels, Library, Library Serf, News

    Banned Books Week starts 30 September

    25.09.12 | Permalink | Comments Off on Banned Books Week starts 30 September

    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!

    (The Top 10 list of challenged books in 2011 is here. The list of most frequently challenged authors is here.)


  • Books, Classic novels, Exclusive academies for rich kids who form cliques, New, Sci Fi, Simon

    New Books

    30.11.10 | Permalink | Comments Off on New Books

    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.


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